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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 5 - Verse 5

Verse 5. An Ananias hearing these words, etc. Seeing that his guilt was known; and being charged with the enormous crime of attempting to deceive God. he had not expected to be thus exposed; and it is clear that the exposure and the charge came upon him unexpectedly and terribly, like a bolt of thunder.

Fell down. Greek, Having fallen down.

Gave up the ghost. This is an unhappy translation. The original means simply, he expired, or he died. See Barnes "Mt 27:50".

This remarkable fact may be accounted for in this way:

(1.) It is evidently to be regarded as a judgment of God for the sin of Ananias and his wife. It was not the act of Peter, but of God; and was clearly designed to show his abhorrence of this sin. See Barnes "Ac 5:11".

 

(2.) Though it was the act of God, yet it does not follow that it was not in connexion with the usual laws by which he governs men, or that he did not make use of natural means to do it. The sin was one of great aggravation. It was suddenly and unexpectedly detected. The fact that it was known—the solemn charge that he had lied unto God —struck him with horror, His conscience would reprove him for the enormity of his crime, and overwhelm him at the memory of his act of wickedness. These circumstances may be sufficient to account for this remarkable event. It has occurred in other cases that the consciousness of crime, or the fact of being suddenly detected, has given such a shock to the frame that it has never recovered from it. The effect commonly is that the memory of guilt preys secretly and silently upon the frame, until, worn out with the want of rest and peace, it sinks exhausted into the grave. But there have not been wanting instances where the shock has been so great as to destroy the vital powers at once, and plunge the wretched man, like Ananias, into eternity. It is not at all improbable that the shock in the case of Ananias was so great as at once to take his life.

Great fear came, etc. Such a striking and awful judgment on insincerity and hypocrisy was fitted to excite awful emotions among the people. Sudden death always does it; but sudden death in immediate connexion with crime is fitted much more deeply to affect the mind.

{f} "these words" Ac 5:10,11 {*} "gave up the ghost" "died" {a} "great fear" Ps 64:9

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