The Agreed Resolve The Sermon Continued Acts 5:1-11 Ananias & Sapphira “Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” (Acts 5:4) 10| Removal | Acts 5:6 “And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him” (Acts 5:6). Expositional preaching or study is natural for those who believe in the interaction of the Living Word and the Written Word. Cross Style is a commitment to the cross being the style of the Christian life, which we cannot have without death to self-centeredness. The interaction of the Living Word and the Written Word will continually reveal any residue of self-centeredness. The Living Word is the presence of Jesus residing in the believer. Every aspect of the believer’s life comes under the influence of His presence. The believer begins to think, feel, and desire like Jesus. But this cannot happen unless Jesus speaks to us through the Written Word. The Scriptures are merely a written document unless the Living Word begins to communicate the Written Word to the heart of the believer. Then the Written Word becomes the whisperings of the Lover of our souls. Therefore, we must involve ourselves in the Scriptures that God might reveal the truth. We dare not impose our theology or cultural persuasion on the Scriptures. We must allow the principles or concepts of the Written Word to shape us. For this to happen, we must abandon ourselves to what Jesus has to say to us. We must consistently guard against adjusting the Scriptures to our desires. It is easy to go beyond what the Scriptures say and impose our legalism, which is the struggle in the story of Ananias and Sapphira. There are so many details to the story that are not present. Luke gave other details that raise the question of “why?” Why did Luke put those details in the story? What was the concept he was trying to tell us? Peter confronted Ananias with his embezzlement and lying. The truth struck Ananias in his heart, and he died. He did not repent of his sin; we must assume from the rest of the Scriptures that he did have that option. It does not say that God struck Ananias dead; we only know that death occurred. “And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him” (Acts 5:6). These same young men later were tasked with removing the dead body of his wife, Sapphira (Acts 5:10). Did Luke intend to communicate a spiritual concept to us through this study? Was it an insignificant detail of the story? Why did Luke include such a statement? There is a difficulty with the statement’s grammar. When we read it in the English language, it appears that Ananias died, and immediately the young men rushed to remove his body. They wrapped him in the appropriate cloth, carried him to the burial site, and buried him, which violates the customs for burial in every culture. No one notified or involved Sapphira in her husband’s burial. The church assumed the responsibility of burying Ananias on their terms. One must wonder at the validity of this account. The Greek presentation of the passage gives us a better understanding. There are two main verbs in our verse. The first “wrapped up” (systello), a combination of “sun” (together) and “stello” (to repress, withdraw oneself, contract, shrink, wrap together, envelop, wind in a garment or robe). As a rule, “systello” emphasizes the element of shrinking or diminishing. The second main verb is “buried” (thapto), having to do with the funeral rites. There are two remaining verbs, “arose” and “carried out” that are participles, verbs that act as adverbs giving content to the main verbs. “Anistemi” is the Greek word translated “arose,” used in the sense of rising up to take action, a combination of “ana,” which means “again” and “histemi,” meaning to stand. “Anistemi” is used consistently for “resurrection.” Why did Luke include this statement? “And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.” The most startling issue of these four verbs is that they are all in the aorist tense. The verbs used in connection with the death and burial of Sapphira are also in the aorist tense (Acts 5:10). It is complicated to translate the aorist tense in the English language. We do not have anything equivalent to it, because it is a non-tense verb. It is a snapshot of the action of a moment. There was no indication when that moment happened, for it is not under the consideration of this tense. In the English translation, it appears that upon the death of Ananias, the young men immediately arose, carried him out, and buried him. Three hours later, his wife came in, not knowing her husband was dead and buried. But this is not the case indicated by the aorist tense. This tense allows for Ananias’ and Sapphira’s burial together at a later time. Luke does not try to relate the details of this burial to us, for it is not crucial to the truth and purpose of the passage. If Luke was not giving the details of the burial of Ananias and Sapphira, what was his intent? Why did Luke include this statement? “And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him” (Acts 5:6). We want to be careful not to make more of the details than Luke intended. He did not focus on a historical account of the early church’s actions. Yet, as in his Gospel account, he relates all of these stories and encounters. The reason is that the spiritual world always reveals itself on the stage of the physical. Is there a spiritual concept related to us in the physical details he gives? If Luke desired to describe the physical aspects, he would have given more to complete the burial information. He stated the activities in this verse in ways that were not necessary. In a previous study, we discovered there is a war taking place. This war occurred in the spiritual realm, but the physical realm displayed its actions. Luke gave the story of Ananias and Sapphira as a negative illustration to those who are not “all in.” Christianity cannot survive outside of completeness existing between God and man because both are required to give themselves entirely to the other. No one can question the completeness of God’s giving. He displayed it clearly in the life and death of Jesus. “But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). This total abandonment must take place in the life of man. Life is the result of completeness in the relationship, and death is the result of the lack of completeness. Relationship with Jesus cannot tolerate half-heartedness, which our passage clearly relates. Answer Factual Our passage begins with the word “And,” translated from the Greek word “de.” In some versions of the Bible, “de” is not translated. It is a continuative conjunction with the primary function being a contrast, which we must keep in mind in the meaning of our sentence. If Luke intended to link two equal ideas, he would have used the Greek word “kai.” Therefore, in the context of Ananias’ soul departing from him, Luke proposed the awareness of the presence of God. We acknowledge in Luke’s statement that “fear” came upon everyone. We also assume the movement of God’s presence in the convicting words of Peter to Ananias. The Holy Spirit confronted Ananias about his sin. He did not repent, yet something happened to his soul in the refusal of the opportunity. Death occurred. The clash of Light and darkness produced overwhelming consequences. The clash of Light and darkness produced a consequence in Ananias’ life. The young men rushed in to remove his dead body. What would be the natural continuation of the presence of death in the presence of life? What would you expect when darkness appears amid light? Death occurs but cannot remain. Death cannot be present amid life! God is not mad; He does not fly off in fits of rage. He is not that way. Do not underestimate the wonder of God’s presence! The Scriptures repeatedly remind us of the wonder of God’s presence. John’s Gospel records three chapters of Jesus’ interaction with the disciples in the upper room before His crucifixion (John 14, 15, and 16). Jesus gave a final discourse to the disciples on the wonder of what is to come, the fullness of the Holy Spirit. He spoke in these terms, “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (John 14:20). This oneness with the Father is intimacy and merger. The merger between Jesus and man creates the new Kingdom person, a new creature. The disciples could not comprehend such a relationship from their old covenant status until they experienced the fullness of the Holy Spirit. At the core of His discourse, Jesus gave a physical illustration, a parable of the merger between God and man. He told the parable of the True Vine (John 15:1-8), using the word “abide” seven times in the eight verses. Abiding is how a branch remains in the vine. The vine and branch are distinct and yet one. The branch shares the life of the vine, bears the fruit of the vine, and even looks like the vine; nevertheless, it remains a branch. According to Jesus, if anyone does not abide in the vine’s life, immediate death occurs. The living vine cannot tolerate the death of the branch. The vinedresser removes, gathers, and burns the branch (John 15:6) without anger, meanness, or judgment. His action is “factual!” Death cannot abide in the presence of life! Matthew wrote about several accounts of Jesus in the presence of demons. Jesus came into the country of Gergesenes (Matthew 8:28-34). Two demon-possessed men were living among the tombs. They dwelt amid death; in the presence of death, they were fierce, so that no one could pass that way. When Jesus approached them, they cried out, “What have we to do with You, Jesus, You Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the time” (Matthew 8:29)? The Greek word “basanizo,” translated “torment,” refers to torture. The demons’ existed in death (the tombs), and Life (Jesus) stepped into their presence. Life entering death is torture, and the two cannot abide together. Listen to the language of the demons. “If You cast us out permit us to go away into the herd of swine” (Matthew 8:31). The demons asked Jesus to allow them to escape His presence of Life by entering the swine. Jesus was not angry, mean, or judgmental when He sent the demons into the pigs. Life and death cannot abide together, which is the Bible’s factual answer. Aggressive Forceful “And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him” (Acts 5:6). This verse has an aggressive tone to it. The two main verbs are “wrapped up” and “buried.” The first word in the Greek text is “arose,” a participle setting the tone for the two main verbs. The Greek word for “arose” is “anistemi,” used in a variety of applications throughout the New Testament. The writers used “anistemi” consistently for “resurrection from the dead.” “Anistemi” speaks of a sick person made well, someone lying down getting up, and another sitting now standing. The use of “anistemi” involves movement. Why did Luke give this additional information? He highlighted the aggressive work of death’s removal from the presence of life. “Life and death cannot abide together” is not only a fact, but there is an aggressive element of the two repelling each other. Luke’s introduction to this tone is crucial. Returning to the parable of the True Vine (John 15:1-8), the intimacy between the vine and the branch is in sharing life. John used the word “abide” seven times in eight verses. When the branch does not abide in the life, death occurs. Jesus clarified this principle when He said, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6). The Greek word translated “cast out” and “thrown” is “ballo,” correctly translated except for the tone. “Ballo” used many times in the New Testament has the same tone, always impulsive and without hesitation. “Ballo” has no thought involved, no calculation with thoughtful action. Luke did not need to put this information in the details, but he emphasized the aggressive action of death’s removal from the presence of life. The participle “arose” modifies the main verb “wrapped up” (systello). “Systello” focuses on the idea of shrinking or diminishing though it can also refer to compression, crowding, or brevity. We see this in Light and darkness. The presence of Light diminishes and shrinks darkness. Light is an aggressive repellant to darkness. Light and darkness cannot abide together! Light does not punish darkness; light does not lose its temper; light does not judge. The nature of light aggressively repels darkness. The old idea that “we must have a little sin, or we would have no fun at all” is ridiculous. The Christian’s surrender must be a complete abandonment to Jesus, or he is not a Christian. There are no half-Christians, and no one becomes a Christian on a trial basis. We are either all in or all out. Absolute Filling The final Greek word in the Greek text is “thapto,” translated “buried.” “Thapto” is not used often in the New Testament, but in our passage, burial is the removal of death. It bespeaks the final result of death and destruction. The Apostle Paul did a fantastic thing with this word. In some sense, he rescued the word from the negative and made it positive. He added a prefix to “thapto.” In the Book of Romans, he speaks of “synthapto.” The prefix of death is “with” or “together with (syn).” “Therefore we were buried with (synthapto) Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). The wages of sin is death, and we have all sinned; therefore, all the consequences of death in its separation and destruction will be our experience. Death buried Ananias and Sapphira. The fact is life cannot tolerate death, and it is an aggressive separation. Life removes death and darkness, and death and darkness abide in destruction. But Paul proposed the merger of my sinful being with the righteousness of Christ’s life. It is the mystery of the cross, beyond our wildest dreams. Jesus marched into the middle of my darkness and death; He set aside His light and life so He could embrace all that I am in darkness and death. If I merge completely with Him in death and darkness, all that transpired in Jesus’ resurrection, I will know. But we must carefully consider the critical element, which is together with Jesus. I must have complete abandonment and absolute surrender to Him. It only happens in “together with” Him. Outside of Jesus, I dwell in death alone. In my union with Him, His death and life become mine! His death and His presence are not mine without Him. In that sense, life and death are never mine because I am His! Again, Jesus calls us to come under His influence. We cannot partially surrender or commit. I must get in our get out! I choose to be His alone!