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Unread 01-24-2021, 04:55 AM   #1
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Ananias and Sapphira

Re-reading this again (Acts 5:1-11), it is a story that is very rough. It makes me uncomfortable every time I read it.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this story.



When I read it as a kid, it felt like a warning story about stealing from God and/or remembering to pay my tithes.

I always saw "stealing from the church" as a "worst crime" than normal theft, as it felt like stealing from God. I have been very self-aware of this. Like, whenever I borrowed something from church, I make sure to pay for it. Even as an adult, I find this story has affected the way I think/feel.
As an example, yesterday we were recording a service. The church has some Christian themed masks and we all took one to wear during the service. One of the singers took a handful of them and put them in her handbag. This made me really uncomfortable. If she had done it somewhere else I would of course have not liked it, but somehow it "hurt" me more that she "stole" from the church. I have no theological grounding for this feeling, but I have noticed that it has been present in my life.

Another effect it might have had, is that as a kid, I wouldn't dream of not paying my tithes. I never paid tithes out of fear or without wanting to. But it probably strengthened the idea that my tithe already belongs to God. Re-reading as an adult, I feel like it is more about punishment for lying, than about the economical side of it.

I could write a lot more thoughts that come to mind when reading this story, but I would rather hear from you guys. Also if there is some deeper theological or historical details that are important to understand.

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Unread 01-24-2021, 01:25 PM   #2
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It's sort of along those lines, but sort of isn't. Their sin wasn't withholding or stealing from the Church, but lying about saying they gave everything.

I guess there could be a lot of deeper contextual things there too. Jesus says if you can't be trusted with little things, then you ant be trusted with big things. When this happened, it was during a time of great persecution - you could potentially argue that their dishonesty didn't bode well for keeping the rest of their group alive.

It is a tough passage, and definitely an odd one since it doesn't occur anywhere else in the NT.
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Unread 02-02-2021, 11:37 AM   #3
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I really hate that I havent posted anything on this... I swear I am going to in the near future. It is an interesting little section in Acts!
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Unread 02-02-2021, 02:02 PM   #4
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through my obviously biased lens, I view their great sin as lying to the "church" (that is to say, other believers), to bolster their own spiritual standing. whether it actually happened, or is an exaggerated tale, who really knows. but I've seen this passage used time and again to fear, control and manipulate others.



looking forward to hearing other perspectives on this.
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Unread 02-02-2021, 09:01 PM   #5
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through my obviously biased lens, I view their great sin as lying to the "church" (that is to say, other believers), to bolster their own spiritual standing. whether it actually happened, or is an exaggerated tale, who really knows. but I've seen this passage used time and again to fear, control and manipulate others.



looking forward to hearing other perspectives on this.
I agree and would like to hear how you have seen the passage misused. Sounds like it could be interesting.

I think that it was more than just lying to other believers. Peter said that they lied to the Holy Spirit. I see it as a vow to God in front of all of them that they had no intention of fulfilling. Throughout scripture vows are of the utmost importance and have consequences.
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Unread 02-03-2021, 10:54 AM   #6
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I agree and would like to hear how you have seen the passage misused. Sounds like it could be interesting.

I think that it was more than just lying to other believers. Peter said that they lied to the Holy Spirit. I see it as a vow to God in front of all of them that they had no intention of fulfilling. Throughout scripture vows are of the utmost importance and have consequences.
I'm with you here. Peter says that they lied to God, not men.
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Unread 02-03-2021, 08:10 PM   #7
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I've often wondered if their fate would be different had they had said, "We sold the property and here is half of the money."
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Unread 02-03-2021, 08:27 PM   #8
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Does anyone think it was like peer pressure in the first place which led them to make the vow?
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Unread 02-03-2021, 10:56 PM   #9
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I'm not saying I necessarily agree with it, but this commentary kind of explains the position I have always heard on this passage - that it was more of a social status fraud than anything else.


https://www.theologyofwork.org/new-t...ity-acts-51-11


on the manipulation part, the biggest thing that comes to mind is the kind of stuff that I witnessed at the Bill Gothard seminar I went to earlier in my life. they had you under peer pressure to make all sorts of vows / covenants for all sorts of things, then using this passage (among others) to crank up the fear to 200% that God would kill you if you broke any of them. in a Charismatic non-denominational church I attended after the Narrowgate cult, they used this passage to drive home that God killed disobedient Christians. I vaguely recall the context being about healing, though I can't quite remember how it all fit together.
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Unread 02-04-2021, 08:29 PM   #10
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I'm not saying I necessarily agree with it, but this commentary kind of explains the position I have always heard on this passage - that it was more of a social status fraud than anything else.


https://www.theologyofwork.org/new-t...ity-acts-51-11


on the manipulation part, the biggest thing that comes to mind is the kind of stuff that I witnessed at the Bill Gothard seminar I went to earlier in my life. they had you under peer pressure to make all sorts of vows / covenants for all sorts of things, then using this passage (among others) to crank up the fear to 200% that God would kill you if you broke any of them. in a Charismatic non-denominational church I attended after the Narrowgate cult, they used this passage to drive home that God killed disobedient Christians. I vaguely recall the context being about healing, though I can't quite remember how it all fit together.
This has always puzzled me. Christianity should empower us through the Holy Spirit. We are taught by the Holy Spirit. We have but one Father. How do people allow themselves to be blind followers? How do people give up the freedom that they find in Christ? I simply don't understand it.
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Unread 02-05-2021, 01:56 AM   #11
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Hi all,

I actually spent a lot of time on this after I posted here. Talked to a few people, watched a lot of sermons and teachings. I wrote a document with notes on it (in Danish). I even decided to share my findings at church group.

I will try to translate my notes to english over the weekend and post here.
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Unread 02-08-2021, 08:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tlj009 View Post
This has always puzzled me. Christianity should empower us through the Holy Spirit. We are taught by the Holy Spirit. We have but one Father. How do people allow themselves to be blind followers? How do people give up the freedom that they find in Christ? I simply don't understand it.

a separate issue altogether, but the power dynamics within a religious organization are in my opinion completely counter-gospel. I believe this power dynamic leads to just about every kind of spiritual, sexual, verbal, physical, emotional and physical abuse that we see running rampant in modern white evangelical culture. again, a totally separate topic - but when leadership actively or even passively endorses such power dynamics, the people fall in line or face extreme abuses. I'm not excusing them, mind you - but neither am I blaming them for being dumb sheep.
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Unread 02-08-2021, 02:07 PM   #13
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a separate issue altogether, but the power dynamics within a religious organization are in my opinion completely counter-gospel. I believe this power dynamic leads to just about every kind of spiritual, sexual, verbal, physical, emotional and physical abuse that we see running rampant in modern white evangelical culture. again, a totally separate topic - but when leadership actively or even passively endorses such power dynamics, the people fall in line or face extreme abuses. I'm not excusing them, mind you - but neither am I blaming them for being dumb sheep.
You may be right. I wouldn't mind hearing more of your thoughts on it if you feel like posting them.
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Unread 02-08-2021, 05:38 PM   #14
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You may be right. I wouldn't mind hearing more of your thoughts on it if you feel like posting them.

I posted a little in my own Journal, but could elaborate more there if you have questions or want to dialogue it out. my own thoughts are a mewing newborn kit, not at all formed or solidified.
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Unread 02-08-2021, 10:21 PM   #15
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The moral of the story is that there is nothing God hates more than lying.
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