Who Did Ananias and Sapphira Lie To?
By Paul Chung
Does Acts 5:3-4 say the Holy Spirit is God or that they lied to the “Almighty God” as it is His Spirit?
Acts 5:3-4 (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? 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.”
In verse 3, Peter says that Ananias lied to the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit, but in verse 4 Peter says Ananias lied unto God. It would seem that God is equated with the Holy Spirit.
The Trinitarian logic on this verse is that Ananias lied to the Holy Spirit, but the next verse says he lied to God. Therefore they reason that the Holy Spirit is God, the third person of the Godhead.
However, if we follow through with the same reasoning, it would also require Peter to become the Holy Spirit and also make Peter God, since Ananias actually lied directly to Peter.
There are numerous instances in both the Hebrew and Christian Greek Scriptures where the following principle applies: Actions by God’s representatives are logically equivalent to actions by God Himself.
Example: The anointing of David, son of Jesse, provides a clear example.
In 1 Samuel 10:1, we note:
“Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured it upon his head, and kissed him, and said, is it not because the LORD hath anointed thee to be captain over his inheritance?” (KJV)
In 1 Samuel 12:1, it says: "And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I [Samuel] have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you." (KJV)
In this verse, it was Samuel who directly anointed Saul to be King of Israel.
In verse 13 however, we read: "Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and, whom ye have desired! and, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you."
Here we see that it was the LORD who set a king over Israel.
If we applied the same logic that many apply to Acts 5:3, we would conclude that Samuel is God. However, using common sense we understand that Samuel represented God when he anointed Saul as king over Israel.
1 Samuel 16:13 adds: "Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah." (KJV)
Again, 2 Samuel 5:3 relates: "So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord: and they anointed David king over Israel.” (KJV)
Finally, at 2 Samuel 12:7: "And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man. Thus saith the LORD of Israel, I anointed thee King over Israel, and I delivered thee out of the hand of Saul.” (KJV)
Did Samuel anoint David or did God anoint David? Those involved in anointing David as King over Israel were acting for God; their acts were equivalent to God performing these acts. Clearly, no one should conclude that these passages are evidence that Samuel and God are one and the same being, because they are both described as performing the very same act.
The point is, there is not a single evidence in Acts 5:3-4 to suggest that the Holy Spirit is another being, distinguished from God’s own spirit.
Ellen White comments,
“Peter asked, 'Was it not thine own?' thus showing that no undue influence had been brought to bear upon Ananias and Sapphira to compel them to sacrifice their possessions to the general good. They had acted from choice. But in pretending to be wrought upon by the Holy Ghost, and attempting to deceive the apostles, they had lied to the Almighty.” (Spirit of Prophecy, Vol. 3, p. 285.1}
Note: According to Ellen White, Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Almighty... The Almighty primarily refers to the Father; never did the Scripture refer to the Holy Spirit as the Almighty.