Acts 5:4 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 5:4, NIV: Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.'

Acts 5:4, ESV: While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.”

Acts 5:4, KJV: Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

Acts 5:4, NASB: While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men, but to God.'

Acts 5:4, NLT: The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren't lying to us but to God!'

Acts 5:4, CSB: Wasn't it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn't it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God."

What does Acts 5:4 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The church in Jerusalem is inundated with people from other areas who do not have access to their assets. There are no remote banks, ATMs, or wire services in the first century. Those who are local sell property to provide for the needs of thew poor. A man named Ananias has dedicated the full proceeds of a piece of land to the church. In the end, he dishonestly keeps some of the money, effectively embezzling what is rightfully God's.

At this stage, the majority of Christians are Jews or Jewish converts. They still go to the temple (Acts 3:1) and observe Jewish traditions. Presumably, they still follow the Mosaic law's requirements of sacrifices and tithing to the priests and Levites. In addition, they voluntarily give of their own possessions to support the travelers who came to Jerusalem for Pentecost and stayed after becoming Christians (Acts 2:44–45; 4:32, 34–35). Just like circumcision and feast days, tithing is not and has never been required for Christians. Tithing was a rule given to Israel to support the temple, the priests, and the Levites.

The early church shows how Christian giving is more radical. First, Christians are to give cheerfully and as they feel is appropriate in their heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). Second, we are not necessarily to dedicate ten percent of our income, we are to dedicate everything we have—even ourselves "as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual worship" (Romans 12:1).

Even so, like Ananias and Sapphira, what we own is ours. We should not use the worshipful act of giving to impress others or to try to win favor with God. Selfish intent makes what ought to be good into an act of pride.