Science in Christian Perspective

Letter to the Editor


What is the Point of the Death of Ananias?
David F. Siemens, Jr.
2703 E. Kenwood St.
Mesa, AZ 85203

From: PSCF 39 (December 1987): 250

One may ask why Jerry Bergman revised Acts 4:32-5:11 in the December 1986 JASA so that it would support his claim:

This passage vividly shows that community concern was not a Christian option, but a requirement that was practiced by all the faithful.

The crucial section is Peter's statement in Acts 5:3, 4, where Bergman omits the part I have italicized. In the Jerusalem Bible, which is the version he used, this reads:

"Ananias," Peter said, "bow can Satan have so possessed you that you should lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the money from the land? While you still owned the land, wasn't it yours to keep, and after you sold it wasn't the money yours to do with as you liked? What put this scheme into your mind? It is not to men that you have lied, but to God. "

Ananias and Sapphira died, not because they withheld part of the proceeds, but because they claimed that the part they gave to the apostles was the total sum realized. Lying killed them. Lying has its source in Satan (John 8:44). Lying leads to perdition (Revelation 21:8, 27; 22:15).

Was what Joseph Barnabas gave to the apostles everything he owned? There is no way of telling. All we know from the Scripture is that it was the total proceeds from the sale. Did others do as he did? We do not know. The others that are mentioned earlier (4:34, 35) may have, but Peter's statement suggests that a gift of part of the proceeds was sometimes, at least, made. But no certain conclusion can be drawn from this lack of definite information.

We need to learn to be very careful in dealing with Scripture, with other written material, and with the raw data on which we base our conclusions. It is much too easy for us to slant matters, however good our intentions. And we unfortunately often fail to challenge a slant, though we intend careful objectivity.