Acts 5:5

Alvin and Gracie York

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. Acts 5:5

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Peter has just accosted Ananias with his deceitfulness, telling him that what he has done is to lie to God and not to men. With that stated, Luke next records the punishment that immediately follows, beginning with, “Then Ananias.”

There is a sense of separation from Peter by saying this. It doesn’t say, “Then Peter reached out and…” or any such thing. What occurs is only to Ananias. It has nothing to do with anything Peter either initiated or that he was subsequently involved in. The effects are upon Ananias, and they came upon “hearing these words.”

Again, this is still indicating a separation from Peter and from anyone else. Ananias is the only one involved, and the event occurs simply upon hearing. He heard the charges and, Luke records, he “fell down and breathed his last.”

The meaning is plain and obvious. Apart from any action by Peter or anyone else, Ananias simply keeled over and was dead. In his description of the event, Luke uses a rare word, ekpsuchó. It is found for the first of only three times, all in Acts. It is also found in the Greek translation of the OT and also in ancient Greek medical writers. It comes from ek, meaning “out,” and psuchó, meaning “to breathe out,” but with the sense of blowing to make cool.

One can think of him collapsing to the floor, and out comes his final breath. There was no appeal, there wasn’t even time for him to beg forgiveness. Instead, he was laid low, and his breath was extinguished. Whether he was a saved believer or not, the judgment upon him was given as an example of what any one of us deserves for such an offense. Even if immediate judgment isn’t forthcoming, that is a demonstration of mercy, not that the Lord isn’t aware of the offense.

As for those who heard of such things, Luke records, “So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.” This was one of the reasons for the swift, strict, and sudden event. It was to instill in the minds of the people the terrifying nature of just how close the judgment of the Lord can be at any time. It is not as if God is far off and unconcerned. He is right among His people, and He is perfectly aware of the things that we do – be they right or wrong.

It is a common practice among Charismatics and Pentecostals to claim to be “slain in the Spirit.” They fall down and roll around on the ground in supposedly ecstatic states. This type of religion is not found in the epistles, and it does damage to the beauty of the Christian experience, sensationalizing what should be a dignified approach to the holiness of God. When Ananias was slain in the Spirit, it was a permanent effect, and it was because he deserved what happened to him.

If believers were punished for treating the holiness of God with such contempt every time they did so, there would very quickly be a lot fewer people filling the halls of churches.

Life application: Paul says the following in his epistles –

“‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:8-10

And again –

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13,14

We hear the word, we believe, and we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. And yet, for many, the rest of their lives is a walk with the Lord that is one of doubt and uncertainty. “I know that I believe the gospel, but how do I know I’m really (really, really) saved?”

It is as if they want an outward confirmation that what happened to them really took hold. Ananias got a confirmation that what he did really was known to God. It was a costly lesson. God is under no obligation to give us any outward sign that we have been saved, nor should any such sign ever be expected.

But this is just what charismatics claim is the case. It is as common as sand on the beach to hear them teach that speaking in tongues is a sign of having the Spirit. Such a false teaching completely damages the purpose and intent of the word “faith.” It nullifies it in the believer, and for the rest of his life, he is looking for the next sensational proof of his holiness.

The Bible never teaches such a thing, nor does it teach that we should doubt that the Lord has saved us once we have believed the gospel. What the word does teach us is to ensure the gospel we have accepted is the true gospel, and to be certain that the Jesus we have received is the true Jesus. If we are certain of this, let us accept that we have been saved, and let us live lives of gratitude – not doubt – for that salvation. This is certainly something that is pleasing to the Lord.

Heavenly Father, give us wisdom in Your word so that we live faithful lives that are properly balanced in our doctrine. Help us to stay away from strange, unbiblical doctrines. And keep us from those who would misdirect us in our walk with You. You are pleased with our faith. And so, may we be people of faith as we live out our lives in Your presence. Amen.