Acts 5:3 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 5:3, NIV: Then Peter said, 'Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land?

Acts 5:3, ESV: But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?

Acts 5:3, KJV: But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

Acts 5:3, NASB: But Peter said, 'Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the proceeds of the land?

Acts 5:3, NLT: Then Peter said, 'Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself.

Acts 5:3, CSB: "Ananias," Peter asked, "why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land?

What does Acts 5:3 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Ananias—not the man who Saul met with after His encounter with Jesus (Acts 9:10–19)—has presented some of the proceeds from the sale of a piece of land to the apostles for the care of the church members. Unfortunately, he seems to have vowed to God that he would donate all the money and has decided to bring only part of it (Acts 5:1–2). He is within his rights to give as much as he decides, but he had already decided to give it all. By going back on his word, and much more so by lying about it to the congregation, he "kept back" or embezzled part of donation. He took that which rightfully belonged to God.

The fact that Satan has filled Ananias' heart is often interpreted to mean he does not have saving faith. Jesus said the church would be infiltrated by those who were not truly Christians, and who would do damage to believers in the church (Matthew 13:24–30). Because it is so early in the history of the church, God takes care of these "weeds" immediately. In general, though, Jesus says "weeds" will remain undisturbed until the time of judgment.

It is also possible that Ananias and Sapphira are believers. In that case, this might be an extreme example of 1 John 5:16 in action. When a believer is in unrepentant sin to the point it hurts others and the reputation of the church, God may choose to take that believer "early," from a human perspective.

Ananias' belief that he could lie to God is ridiculous. In Psalm 139:1–16, David goes into great detail about how God knows everything about him. God knows Ananias' actions, thoughts, habits, and the words he will speak before he can get them out of his mouth. He cannot hide from the Holy Spirit, whether in the land of the dead, the bottom of the sea, or the darkest night. It's a wonder Ananias thought he could hide from his lies in the church.