About five thousand people now worshiped with the apostles at
Jerusalem. These believers worshiped God together in Solomon's porch in the temple. Among them were some who earned just enough
to buy food and clothing. Others were in need. Still others had plenty and enough to spare. Those who had more than they needed
shared until every one had enough. Their hearts were filled with love for one another.
Barnabas owned a piece of land. He sold it and laid the money at the apostles' feet. The apostles used the money to care for the poor
Those who had houses or lands or goods did the same. Among these followers none were hungry or without shelter.
Ananias and his wife Sapphira had a piece of land too. They sold it, intending to give the money to the apostles. After seeing the money, they did not want to give all of it. They decided to take
most of it to the apostles and keep the rest for themselves. "But we
will pretend to give it all," they agreed.
Ananias took his bag of gold to the apostles. Peter did not praise Ananias. Instead he looked at him and said, "Ananias, why have
you let Satan tempt you to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part
of the money? The land was your own, and after you sold it the
money was yours. You did not have to give it unless you wanted to.
Instead you pretended to give all. You have not lied to men but to God." When Ananias heard these words, he fell dead.
Three hours later Sapphira came looking for her husband. Peter asked her, "Did you and your husband sell your land for this amount of money?"
"Yes," Sapphira answered when she saw the amount.
Then Peter asked, "Why did you and your husband agree to do this wrong?" And Sapphira, too, fell dead.
Great fear came upon the early church and upon those who were not believers. Everyone was afraid to pretend to be a believer unless his sins had been forgiven and he was doing what was right.