Saturday, September 24, 2016

Acts 5:3,4 - Ananias Lied to God, Not to Men

But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit, and to keep back [part] of the price of the land? While it remained, did it not remain thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thy power? How is it that thou hast conceived this thing in thy heart? thou has not lied unto men, but unto God. -- American Standard Version
Our trinitarian neighbors often point to this scripture as being one of the scriptures that prove that the Bible teaches their trinity dogma. Actually, we find nothing at all in the verses that say that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is more than one person, or that Jesus is a person of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The claim is that the holy spirit is being called "God" in Acts 5. Actually, this scripture does not directly call the holy spirit "God." Nor is it saying that Ananias spoke directly to God or to the holy spirit. It was evidently Peter that Ananias directly lied to. Since Ananias lied directly to Peter, how was it that he lied to the holy spirit and to God? At most, from this scripture, one could gather that the holy spirit is "God", but there is nothing in the scripture that gives reason to assume that the holy spirit is a separate person of God. This thought would have to added to what is said.
"Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart, to lie to the holy Spirit, and to keep back part of the price of the land?" -- Acts 5:3
Of course, the very and actual full being of Satan did not fill the heart of Ananias. Satan filled Ananias' heart in the same manner as God fills and dwells in the hearts of his people -- by his Spirit, his influence. (Romans 8:11; 1 Corinthians 3:16) Satan's Spirit is one of covetousness and selfishness, which does not hesitate at deceit to accomplish its ends. Peter, who had been made the recipient of a special gift by means of the holy spirit of discerning of spirits, (1 Corinthians 12:10) was able to read the heart, to read the spirit, and thus could see that Ananias and Sapphira were acting dishonestly, pretending to do what they were not really doing. In this connection, the apostle uses the words "God" and "holy Spirit" interchangeably, saying, in verse 3, that they had lied unto the holy Spirit, and, in verse 4, that they had lied unto God. The thought is the same. God's personal holy Spirit, acting through the apostles, was God's personal representative, most emphatically; and consequently, in lying to the apostle who also represented God as well as his holy Spirit, Ananias and Sapphira were lying to God, lying to the holy Spirit of God, whose agent and representative Peter was.

Now we will note other instances in the Bible where an action is attributed to Jehovah but which are also attributed to a human that represented Jehovah. One such instance is 1 Samuel 12:1,13. Verse one says: "Samuel said to all Israel, Behold, I have listened to your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you." It was Samuel who directly appointed Saul as King of Israel. In verse 13 however, we read: "Now therefore see the king whom you have chosen, and whom you have asked for: and, behold, Jehovah has set a king over you." Here we see that it is Jehovah 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 Jehovah. However, using common sense we understand that Samuel represented Jehovah when he appointed Saul as king over Israel.

Another example is the anointing of David as King of Israel. 1 Samuel 10:1; 12:7 tells that Jehovah anointed David. Samuel 16:13 says Samuel anointed David. Again, Samuel is not Jehovah, but rather he represented Jehovah who anointed him.

We might also take the case of Saul of Tarsus, before he became the apostle Paul, and the statements made concening his persecuting the church. In Philippians 3:6 Paul described himself as persecuting the church. However, in Acts 9:5, we read: "He [Saul] said, 'Who are you, Lord?' The Lord said, 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.'" Should we conclude from this that the church is Jesus. No, but we remember the words of Jesus to his disciples: "He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me." -- Matthew 10:40.

See our study on Similarities for more examples.

The trinitarian logic on this, however, 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, and then they further reason that God is one, and thus, they further imagine, assume, add to, and read into what is stated that the Holy Spirit of God is a person of God, etc. If we follow through with the trinitarian reasoning, however, the trinitarian logic would also require the holy spirit is Peter, since Ananias actually lied directly to Peter. Viewed from the way trinitarians often use scriptures to prove the trinity, this would produce a trinity: Holy Spirit, God, and Peter. The reality is that lying to Peter and the church was tantamount to lying to God whom Peter represented as an apostle, and lying against the influence of God's Spirit. Nevertheless, the holy spirit is essentially God, since it is God's personal "set apart" [holy] spirit, that he utilizes to do his will. This does not mean that the holy spirit is a separate person of God.
Thus we find nothing in Acts 5:3,4 that justifies the trinity doctrine. There is certainly nothing at all that even hints of three persons in one God. Nor is there anything to justify the teaching that the Holy Spirit itself is a person of God Almighty.

John 4:24

Some have used John 4:24 in an effort to prove that the holy spirit is God himself. There we read: "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and truth." An attribute of God's being is that he is spirit, invisible power. The scriptures place the invisible spirit in contrast with what is seen by the flesh. That which is spirit comes and goes as the wind, "and you hear its sound, but don't know where it comes from and where it is going." (John 3:8) Likewise, one born [or, begotten, as many wish it] of the spirit, one who is led by God's spirit, he walks not after the flesh, not by what he sees by the flesh, that which is visible to the human eye, but rather the invisible things he sees by the spirit through faith. (Romans 8:4,14; 2 Corinthians 5:7; Galatians 5:16,25) Thus, "we don't look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal." -- 2 Corinthians 4:18. God's being an invisible, powerful, spirit being does not give any reason to think that the holy spirit is a separate person of God.

However, the scriptures also say that "God is a devouring fire", (Deuteronomy 4:24; see also Hebrews 12:29) We would not turn this around and say that a devouring fire is God, or that a "devouring fire" is a person of God. We also read that "God is love". Again, we would not turn this around and say that "Love" itself is God, or that "Love" is person of God.

What we don't see in John 4:24 is any hint that God's being spirit means that the holy spirit of God is a person of God. However, as said before, the holy spirit, being that extension of his power sent by God to accomplish his will, can in this sense been seen as a personal extension of God himself, although it would not give the proper thought to turn this around and say that the holy [set apart, dedicated] spirit itself is God.

God's holy spirit is likened to God's finger, His hand or His arm (as the power of God). -- Ezekiel 3:14; 8:3; 37:1; Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20.

As the revealing of truth, the holy spirit appears to be likened to God's "mouth". (1 Kings 8:24; 2 Chronicles 6:4; 36:12,21; Ezra 1:1; Isaiah 1:20; 40:5; 45:23; 48:3; 58:14; 62:2; Jeremiah 9:12,20; Ezekiel 33:7; Micah 4:4; Matthew 4:4; Mark 12:36; Acts 1:17; 28:25; Hebrews 3:7; 9:8; 10:15,16; 2 Peter 1:21) Are we to think of God's mouth as a separate and distinct person of God (using trinitarian terminology)?

Studies on the holy spirit may be found at:


  1. Thank you for this Bible explanation Brother Day. The following written in the first paragraph may be a typo perhaps - just wanted to let you know in case you were unaware of the issue :((It was Peter that Ananias directly lied to. Since Ananias lied directly to Peter, how ...)). Hebrews 6:10.

    1. Thanks for your comments. I do many times make typos. I am not sure, however, what you are see as a typo.

    2. I just reread the passage again and realized all sounds good so it was most definately a mistake on my end. Thank you for all your wonderful explanations on Biblical matters that you share. May God Bless you richly in His own best ways. Philippians 4:8