The body of people in Jerusalem — who were living as Jesus taught — was one in mind & heart (238). No one claimed personal ownership of anything; they all shared with one another everything they had.
Those who owned fields or houses would sell them & turn over to the witnesses the money received from these sales. The witnesses would then distribute the money to other members of the body, according to their needs.
For example, there was Joseph, a Levite born in Cyprus; the witnesses called him Barnabas (which means “encourager”). He sold a field he owned & turned the proceeds over to the witnesses in this way. The bottom line was that no member of the body was left in need.
But there was another man named Ananias who, with his wife Sapphira, sold some property that belonged to them. They said they were giving all the proceeds to the witnesses for the church, but they actually kept part of the money for themselves.
The Holy Spirit helped Peter know this, so Peter said to Ananias, “Why did you give in to Satan’s temptation & lie to the Holy Spirit, by keeping part of the money you received for your property? Although the money from the sale of the property was yours, it wasn’t right for you to lie to God about how much you were giving!”
As soon as Ananias heard this, he fell down dead! Those who saw this happen (& later those who heard about it) were shocked & frightened. At Peter’s instruction, some young men came in, wrapped up the body of Ananias, carried him out, and buried him.
About three hours later Sapphira, came in, not knowing what had happened to Ananias. Peter asked her, “Was the money that you gave the full amount that you & your husband received for your property?” “Yes,” she answered, “it was the full amount.”
Because Peter was deeply grieved by their rebellion against the Holy Spirit, he said to Sapphira, “Why did you & your husband challenge the Holy Spirit? Those men standing at the door have buried your husband, and now they are waiting to bury you!”
At once Sapphira fell down dead at Peter’s feet! The young men came in & carried her out & buried her beside her husband.
The church members who were present (& all the others who eventually heard of this) were again shocked & frightened by this unexpected display of God’s power.
(238) Acts 4:32-5:11