Sapphira = beautiful, sapphire. In Sapphira we have an example of the saying, "Beauty is only skin deep," &c.
In the fledgling Christian community at Jerusalem, one couple emerged as deceitful, for lying about the money they were donating to help build the new church. Ananias and Sapphira, his wife, claimed to be giving every cent of the proceeds from the sale of a piece of property to the church to help fund it, but in fact, they weren't; they were withholding a substantial sum. They were faulted for deliberately duping others, and for being hypocrites.
Ananias and Sapphira lived during the time of the Apostles, when the early Christians pooled their money to help establish and support their churches. When the Apostles were alive, the monies were given to them, and they distributed whatever was needed to the poor and others in need.
Ananias sold a piece of his property and, instead of turning over all of the proceeds to the Apostles, he retained some of the money. Sapphira knew what he'd done and how much money he'd kept for them. She knew that he would take the rest and lay it at the feet of the Apostles, but she wouldn't go with him to do it.
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? 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.
Ananias dropped dead on the spot. Some nearby young men lifted Ananias from the floor, wrapped his body in a shroud, and buried him. Sapphira, looking for her husband, came to Peter. He asked her directly, “Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much?” And she said, “yea, for so much.” Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out”. And Sapphira, like Ananias before her, fell down dead. They carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
So as we read this part of Scripture, we should be aware of this solemn warning. Never promise the Holy Spirit something and then almost immediately, without any change of circumstance, change your mind and not fulfill your oath. Don't try to con God. He knows what your thinking. Below is a type of the unforgivable sin. See Luke 12:10.
Acts 5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife,
(The lesson here is that we do not judge a man or woman by their name only. Names are attached to persons whose principles were bad. Note that Satan does this also.)
sold a possession,
2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it,
(i.e. they planned it.)
and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
3 But Peter said,
(Peter didn't know this, the Holy Spirit informed him.)
"Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Spirit,
(It was his [i.e. Ananias] mouth that said it.)
and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived
(Implying careful deliberation, not sudden temptation.)
this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God."
5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost:
(= expired. Only here, v.10; 12:23. A medical word. This gives another thumb print Acts was written by Luke, a medical doctor. Gr. ekpneô. Cp. Mark 15:37.)
and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
(After the people that witnessed this thing, and saw Ananias dying right before their eyes, they had to take a closer look of what commitments they were making to God. It becomes a little more difficult to get converts after this. The Holy Spirit got the message across, "Don't mess with the Holy Spirit of God." Don't lie to the Father, He know your every thought as you think it. Then the Holy Spirit can give the unction to a pastor or a man, such as Peter was at this time, and the thing is known. The only one that becomes fooled in your lies to God, is you. It is Satan that can tempt you by the old spirit of greed.
Greed can really bind you up. Those second thoughts of ownership, once you have committed something to God or a ministry, can come upon you in temptation by Satan, and your bold mind turns to mush. If you promise a certain thing to the Father, then make sure that you stick to that promise. However today there are many rip-off artist that play games with God's people to make them create vows to them in the Lords name. When you make a vow to them, that vow is not to God, and when that ministry goes against God's Word, then whatever vow you made is a commitment against the work of God. Be careful what ministry, or person you make commitments to, that you follow through with for you could be in much trouble before the Lord. You pay God to where ever the true word of God is given you from.
Remember in God's eyes, when you earn your money, it is yours to do what you want to with it. What you give to the Lord in tithe, you will be blessed with, from Him, and He knows the intent of your giving. If it takes some pastor to jar you lose of your coins, or some gimmick, then there is no blessing that comes from it, if it isn't given freely. A begger is a begger regardless if he is at the city gate, or in a congregation, and the blessings given to each are the same.)
6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
7 And it was about the space of three hours after,
(= as it were an interval. Another medical word, Gr. diastêma. 3 hours = 1 watch. Be on guard on your watch.)
when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
(She repeated the false price.)
9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
(It is so silly to think that you can fool God; when you do that, you are only fooling yourself. God knows you every thought, so why even try. That is why only God can judge you, and man can't, for only God knows your very intent of the acts you do. This is the example that is being set forth here, so that the others will see what will happen.)
10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
(Never put your trust in earthly things. God is as firm today as He was here.)
11 And great fear
(or better translated, reverence or love for God.)
came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
(The entire church learned from this object lesson, and learned to revere the power of the Holy Spirit, and the knowledge that God has in understanding there very thoughts.)