Was Ananias a Levite?

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posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
18,598
1,131
113
#1
the addition of chapters & verses to the scripture is undoubtedly helpful in some respects, but it also makes us sometimes act as though scripture comes in these numbered 'packets' and is not related to the preceding of following texts.

[HR][/HR]
we see a thread about Ananias, for example, so we open up the book of Acts and we start reading at the place marked chapter 5 - without looking at chapter 4.

this story isn't isolated from the rest of the text in the way the chapter designation may make it seem however: ch. 5 v. 1 starts with the word "
but" or "however" -- clearly tying it to the preceding paragraphs.


Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement),and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.

(Acts 4:36-37, 5:1-2)


Immediately previous to this, in Acts 4:32-35, we're told how the believers were pooling all their resources and acting very socialist, indeed even communist ((oh the horrors)). Barnabas, a Levite, sold property and symbolically laid the money at Peter's feet.
But Ananias also sold property and kept some of the price back.

it is very significant that Barnabas, a Levite, had property to sell in the first place. as a Levite, it was against the Law for him to own property. we ought to ask ourselves how it came about that he did, and what it meant for him to be doing this, and why it is written for us in obvious conjunction with Ananias & Sapphira?


is it likely that Ananias was also a Levite?

[HR][/HR]
what does it mean if he was?
if he was, then the property he owned, he should never have owned, and should never have been sold to him.
what Peter said to him and his wife indicates Peter understood that they had conspired together to do what they did - why? is it really so simple as wanting to hoard some of the money?
could the conspiracy have gone deeper than that?

where does this take place, and who is there watching? Acts 5:12 tells us they were at Solomon's Porch - at the temple. if the setting is the temple mount, then they were meeting in the religious public square - where the Pharisees would also be nearby - just as Jesus had often done. when Jesus was teaching here, we have story after story of the Pharisees and others conspiring together to tempt Him, to trick Him, to catch Him in something so they could turn the people against Him. is it possible this was continuing here?

supposing what Peter says is literally true:

Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?
(Acts 5:9)​

suppose they were not just conspiring to keep money, but they were in fact conspiring specifically to put the Spirit to the test. suppose this was a Levite, in league with the Pharisees, wishing to trap Peter. what's the trap?

Barnabas, a Levite, is not supposed to own property. he repents fully, sells it and effectively gives all the money over to God. do the Pharisees see an opportunity here, and plant Ananias, also a Levite owning property, to sell it but only give a portion, not all, of his illegally-gotten gain. he only half-repents? what can they say then, about the believers, if Ananias is among them, still wealthy with mammon, and neither Peter nor the Spirit of God takes any notice? how does that put the Spirit to the test, and how can they use this scenario to defame the church?


[HR][/HR][HR][/HR]

this might be going nowhere, but i just wanted to put it out there and see what y'all think. it seems to me that there was more going on here than what's typically brought out in pre-fab sermons, and maybe some of you can help me piece it together -- or maybe not. thanks for reading & thinking about it :)




 

Locutus

Senior Member
Feb 10, 2017
3,779
78
48
#2
Yes, he had 37 properties and sold them on the 37th of month.
 

ComeLordJesus

Senior Member
Dec 26, 2017
307
15
18
#3
Maybe the regulations didn't apply to Levites in other countries like Cyprus.
 

Locutus

Senior Member
Feb 10, 2017
3,779
78
48
#4
Barnabus could also have been a Pharisee and had obtained land illegally:

Mat 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
 

MarcR

Senior Member
Feb 12, 2015
5,486
173
0
#5
the addition of chapters & verses to the scripture is undoubtedly helpful in some respects, but it also makes us sometimes act as though scripture comes in these numbered 'packets' and is not related to the preceding of following texts.

[HR][/HR]
we see a thread about Ananias, for example, so we open up the book of Acts and we start reading at the place marked chapter 5 - without looking at chapter 4.

this story isn't isolated from the rest of the text in the way the chapter designation may make it seem however: ch. 5 v. 1 starts with the word "
but" or "however" -- clearly tying it to the preceding paragraphs.


Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement),and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.

(Acts 4:36-37, 5:1-2)


Immediately previous to this, in Acts 4:32-35, we're told how the believers were pooling all their resources and acting very socialist, indeed even communist ((oh the horrors)). Barnabas, a Levite, sold property and symbolically laid the money at Peter's feet.
But Ananias also sold property and kept some of the price back.

it is very significant that Barnabas, a Levite, had property to sell in the first place. as a Levite, it was against the Law for him to own property. we ought to ask ourselves how it came about that he did, and what it meant for him to be doing this, and why it is written for us in obvious conjunction with Ananias & Sapphira?


is it likely that Ananias was also a Levite?

[HR][/HR]
what does it mean if he was?
if he was, then the property he owned, he should never have owned, and should never have been sold to him.
what Peter said to him and his wife indicates Peter understood that they had conspired together to do what they did - why? is it really so simple as wanting to hoard some of the money?
could the conspiracy have gone deeper than that?

where does this take place, and who is there watching? Acts 5:12 tells us they were at Solomon's Porch - at the temple. if the setting is the temple mount, then they were meeting in the religious public square - where the Pharisees would also be nearby - just as Jesus had often done. when Jesus was teaching here, we have story after story of the Pharisees and others conspiring together to tempt Him, to trick Him, to catch Him in something so they could turn the people against Him. is it possible this was continuing here?

supposing what Peter says is literally true:

Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?
(Acts 5:9)​

suppose they were not just conspiring to keep money, but they were in fact conspiring specifically to put the Spirit to the test. suppose this was a Levite, in league with the Pharisees, wishing to trap Peter. what's the trap?

Barnabas, a Levite, is not supposed to own property. he repents fully, sells it and effectively gives all the money over to God. do the Pharisees see an opportunity here, and plant Ananias, also a Levite owning property, to sell it but only give a portion, not all, of his illegally-gotten gain. he only half-repents? what can they say then, about the believers, if Ananias is among them, still wealthy with mammon, and neither Peter nor the Spirit of God takes any notice? how does that put the Spirit to the test, and how can they use this scenario to defame the church?


[HR][/HR][HR][/HR]

this might be going nowhere, but i just wanted to put it out there and see what y'all think. it seems to me that there was more going on here than what's typically brought out in pre-fab sermons, and maybe some of you can help me piece it together -- or maybe not. thanks for reading & thinking about it :)








I think there might be some confusion here. The Levites were never restricted from owning property. The Levites received the tithe from all Israel. It was their property. The Levites received the tithe instead of a land inheritance. Nothing prevented them from buying or owning land. The Levitical cities had dedicated pasture land on the outskirts for their animals. The property sold by Barnabas might have been something of value other than land.
 

MattforJesus

Senior Member
Apr 15, 2017
1,315
73
48
#6
Act 2:44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
Act 2:45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Act 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
Act 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
Act 4:35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
Act 4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
Act 4:37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

When the Church first started the saints had all things common,and did not call their things their own,but shared everything,and possessions and goods,that was not a necessity,were sold and the money distributed to the saints that had need,so no one lacked their necessities.

The Church was doing this before Barnabas sold his land,and gave the money to the disciples to distribute to the poor,and Ananias was not following the example of Barnabas,but was doing what the saints has been doing since the start of the Church.

Whether Ananias was a Levite or not has nothing to do with the story and what he and his wife did.

The saints agreed to sell all their possessions and goods,and have the money distributed to the poor,but they were not forced to do it,neither was God dropping people for not doing it,for is their possession and goods to do what they want with their own,and God does not drop people today that have possessions and goods,not a necessity,for if that were true there would be a lot of people dropping today.

You might go to Church and the pastor and 9o percent of the Church is gone,and you ask what happened,and the person would say they dropped like flies,for that is how many people have possessions and goods that is not a necessity.

So God does not force us to sell our possessions and goods,and He did not do it at the early Church either.

God likes when we give money to those who are poor,but we are not forced to do it,so the story with Ananias is different,and he was not following the example of Barnabas,but was doing what was going on at the time,agreeing with it,and promising to God he would do it,which was his mistake.

Act 5:1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
Act 5:2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
Act 5:3 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?
Act 5:4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.

They kept back part of the price of the possession,which was no big deal if they would of promised to the disciples,and then kept some of the money,but they promised to God,and then backed out of giving all the money.

For Peter said it was your possession to do with it what you wanted,and because the other saints are selling their possessions and goods,does not mean you have to go along with it,for if you want you do not have to sell it,and if you want you can sell it,and keep all the money to yourself,but you lied to the Spirit and said you would do this thing,and then you kept some money for yourself.

If Ananias would of lied to Peter,or any of the disciples he would of been alright if he kept back part of the money,but he lied to the Spirit.

And that is why you do not promise,because you might not keep it,which the Bible says you do not have the power to make one hair white or black,so let your conversation be yes,and no,and do not promise.God can promise for He will keep it,but we may not,so if you promise to people and do not keep it you are alright,but do not promise to God and do not keep it.

Act 5:5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Act 5:6 And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
Act 5:7 And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
Act 5:8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Act 5:9 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.
Act 5:10 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.
Act 5:11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

Peter did not address Ananias on whether he held back some of the money,for he laid it at the apostles feet testifying he did,but he addressed Sapphira whether she sold the land for that much money when Peter knew they got more and kept some of it,as if giving her a chance to repent of it,and come clean,and say we did hold back some of the money,but she lied and she dropped.

So the moral of the story do not promise to God,and not keep it.If you are going to lie,lie to your pastor,and say,sure pastor I will give you one hundred dollars next week,but only give fifty,for you can get away with that,but do not promise to God and then not keep it.

Of course do not lie to your pastor.

So Ananias was not following the example of Barnabas,but was doing what the early Church was doing before Barnabas sold his possession.

And Barnabas being a Christian was not a Levite anymore as far as the priesthood activities,and Jesus made all the saints kings and priests unto God the Father,and did Barnabas buy the land after he became a Christian,or if he did own land prior to being a Christian was it not counted against him.

I do not believe Barnabas sold the land because he was a Levite and had to get rid of it,but because he wanted to help the poor and needy as the early Church was doing.
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
18,598
1,131
113
#7
I think there might be some confusion here. The Levites were never restricted from owning property. The Levites received the tithe from all Israel. It was their property. The Levites received the tithe instead of a land inheritance. Nothing prevented them from buying or owning land. The Levitical cities had dedicated pasture land on the outskirts for their animals. The property sold by Barnabas might have been something of value other than land.
thank you

the Lord instructed that cities & pasture land around them were to be set aside out of the inheritance of all the tribes for the Levites to dwell in (Leviticus 35:1-2) - but this land was never to be sold (Leviticus 25:34), and any houses belonging to Levites that had been sold were to be returned in the Jubilee year (Leviticus 25:31-33). Levi was not to have a share of the inheritance ((land)) of the tribes, because the LORD is their portion (Deuteronomy 10:9 e.g.), but they were to possess, permanently, cities and fields within the inheritance of each tribe. what's the status of this land, then, reconciling Deuteronomy with Leviticus? all the land belongs to God (Leviticus 25:23), and everyone resides in it as foreigners and strangers.

Acts 4:37 seems to me to be clearly "a field" i.e. a piece of land, which Barnabas had owned. how can we get from the text the conclusion that it isn't land?
it would have been wrong for him to sell any of the land set aside for Levi around one of the cities set aside for Levi, and if he owned any property in Israel, it was property designated as inheritance to one of the tribes - which should also have been returned at Jubliee, right? not permanent ownership (Leviticus 25:23) in any case other than a house in a walled city - can the word in Acts 4:37 mean a house in a walled city?

it's of course possible that we're taking about a field outside of Israel, since he was 'of Cyprian birth' - but the scripture takes the time to point out that he is a Levite. why? what's significant about Joseph, called Baranabas, being a Levite who owned a field and sold it, and gave all the price of it before the apostles feet, and how does that fact figure into Ananias being set up as a contrast to what he did?
 

ComeLordJesus

Senior Member
Dec 26, 2017
307
15
18
#8
thank you

the Lord instructed that cities & pasture land around them were to be set aside out of the inheritance of all the tribes for the Levites to dwell in (Leviticus 35:1-2) - but this land was never to be sold (Leviticus 25:34), and any houses belonging to Levites that had been sold were to be returned in the Jubilee year (Leviticus 25:31-33). Levi was not to have a share of the inheritance ((land)) of the tribes, because the LORD is their portion (Deuteronomy 10:9 e.g.), but they were to possess, permanently, cities and fields within the inheritance of each tribe. what's the status of this land, then, reconciling Deuteronomy with Leviticus? all the land belongs to God (Leviticus 25:23), and everyone resides in it as foreigners and strangers.

Acts 4:37 seems to me to be clearly "a field" i.e. a piece of land, which Barnabas had owned. how can we get from the text the conclusion that it isn't land?
it would have been wrong for him to sell any of the land set aside for Levi around one of the cities set aside for Levi, and if he owned any property in Israel, it was property designated as inheritance to one of the tribes - which should also have been returned at Jubliee, right? not permanent ownership (Leviticus 25:23) in any case other than a house in a walled city - can the word in Acts 4:37 mean a house in a walled city?

it's of course possible that we're taking about a field outside of Israel, since he was 'of Cyprian birth' - but the scripture takes the time to point out that he is a Levite. why? what's significant about Joseph, called Baranabas, being a Levite who owned a field and sold it, and gave all the price of it before the apostles feet, and how does that fact figure into Ananias being set up as a contrast to what he did?
I found this.

"Barnabas, as a convert to Christ, was no longer under the Levitical Law. While the passage states that he was of the tribe of Levi, it does not say that, as a Christian, he continued to participate in any Levitical worship. Therefore, he could easily have acquired land after his conversion, which put him in a position to be able to sell it and donate the proceeds to the fledgling Christian church."

Also thought that making a point of him being a Levite it showed that it was possible for anyone to believe in Jesus.

 
Last edited:

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
5,786
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#9
is it likely that Ananias was also a Levite?

Not likely. Had he been a Levite, he would have been identified as such. And someone casting aspersion on Barnabas is really uncalled for.


 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
18,598
1,131
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#10
Whether Ananias was a Levite or not has nothing to do with the story and what he and his wife did.

. . .

And Barnabas being a Christian was not a Levite anymore

. . .

I do not believe Barnabas sold the land because he was a Levite and had to get rid of it,but because he wanted to help the poor and needy as the early Church was doing.

the Spirit made sure that the fact Joseph/Barnabas was a Levite was recorded for us here - so i assume it is certainly not insignificant, but integral to what is written.

perhaps it is only to bring out what the Law says about the Levite - that the LORD is to be their portion.

we don't see believers being stricken dead all over the place in scripture for failing to give - Paul writes later that whoever gives must do so not under compulsion but out of whatever they purpose in their hearts. this is a significant event, which Peter describes it as a conspiracy against the Spirit, which is recorded right after we hear of Peter & John being apprehended & threatened to 'cease and desist' from proclaiming the gospel, and right before we hear of all the apostles being rounded up and imprisoned ((and released then by angels)).

what i'm really asking here is whether that 'agreement to tempt the Spirit' extended beyond just Ananias and Sapphira, given that the context is the apostles and other believers meeting in the temple and the priests, sadducees & pharisees all conspiring together against them -- and why, in that setting, it's significant that Barnabas was a Levite who sold a piece of land & gave up all of the price of it, and how the significance of that is tied to what Ananias and Sapphira did, what they intended by what they did, and what the consequences of what they did would have been if the Spirit had not immediately slain them this way?

it seems like from the narrative that for some reason, this was a great evil that had to be dealt with severely - and publicly so.
*shrug* maybe there's nothing here and it's just a random factoid the Spirit felt like tossing in, and there's no moral lesson here beyond what you said:

So the moral of the story do not promise to God, and not keep it. If you are going to lie, lie to your pastor,and say,sure pastor I will give you one hundred dollars next week, but only give fifty, for you can get away with that, but do not promise to God and then not keep it.

Of course do not lie to your pastor.


 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
18,598
1,131
113
#11

Not likely. Had he been a Levite, he would have been identified as such. And someone casting aspersion on Barnabas is really uncalled for.



bringing up the fact that Joseph/Barnabas is a Levite who sold land and placing it side-by-side with another person who sold land seems like drawing an explicit comparison/contrast to me.

so the placement in the text may itself be an indication that he is a Levite, is what i'm asking about.

this of course hinges on what the significance of Barnabas being a Levite is -- whether that's significant at all, and because it's mentioned in the text ((and not everyone's tribe is always mentioned)) i take the default position that it is in fact significant.
 

Zmouth

Senior Member
Nov 21, 2012
2,917
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#12
Re: Was Ananias a Levite?


Would you believe that Ananias was the same high priest Annas?

Of course, Ananias is written Ananias and not Annas, so it is obviously couldn't be the same person. So would that mean that the Gospels of Matthew and Luke weren't referring unto Noah written of in Genesis?

Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Matt 26:65-67


And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth. Acts 23:2



The property sold by Barnabas might have been something of value other than land.
Act 4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
Act 4:37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
LOL, talk about conflict of interest....
 

Nehemiah6

Senior Member
Jul 18, 2017
5,786
541
113
#13
this of course hinges on what the significance of Barnabas being a Levite is -- whether that's significant at all, and because it's mentioned in the text ((and not everyone's tribe is always mentioned)) i take the default position that it is in fact significant.
You are correct in that the mention of Barnabas being a Levite is significant. Firstly the priest and Levites had generally rejected the Lord Jesus Christ while He was on earth, and the fact that many of those same priests and Levites were saved after His resurrection is significant.

Now according to the OT the priests and Levites received the tithes (and land) from all the other tribes for their own sustenance. And here we find a Levite -- under the New Covenant -- not only giving of his possessions generously, but above and beyond any tithe, to show how Christian liberality works. This is a significant illustration of Christian giving vs OT tithing.
 

Zmouth

Senior Member
Nov 21, 2012
2,917
39
48
#14

the Lord instructed that cities & pasture land around them were to be set aside out of the inheritance of all the tribes for the Levites to dwell in (Leviticus 35:1-2) - but this land was never to be sold (Leviticus 25:34), and any houses belonging to Levites that had been sold were to be returned in the Jubilee year (Leviticus 25:31-33). Levi was not to have a share of the inheritance ((land)) of the tribes, because the LORD is their portion (Deuteronomy 10:9 e.g.), but they were to possess, permanently, cities and fields within the inheritance of each tribe. what's the status of this land, then, reconciling Deuteronomy with Leviticus? all the land belongs to God (Leviticus 25:23), and everyone resides in it as foreigners and strangers.
That rule dated back to Pharaoh;

Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands. Gen 47:22


And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh's. Gen 47:26
 

Dino246

Senior Member
Jun 30, 2015
5,363
767
113
#15
I had to do a little hunting to find this...

Leviticus 25:29-30 allows for the permanent transfer of ownership of houses within walled cities if not redeemed within a year (the jubilee is irrelevant in this case). It does not preclude permanent ownership from Levites.
 

posthuman

Senior Member
Jul 31, 2013
18,598
1,131
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#16
I had to do a little hunting to find this...

Leviticus 25:29-30 allows for the permanent transfer of ownership of houses within walled cities if not redeemed within a year (the jubilee is irrelevant in this case). It does not preclude permanent ownership from Levites.
Leviticus 25 talks about land being redeemed, and homes being redeemed, or else returned at Jubilee to the owners according to inheritance, with homes inside walled cities being the only exception. could we be looking at Barnabas redeeming land that he'd held in trust because of debt? then we have a picture of him giving all the redemption price over to God, and if Ananias is doing the same, then he is withholding some of the redemption price from God. is the great evil being punished here then, that lie that some of the price of redemption does not apply to God?
 

ComeLordJesus

Senior Member
Dec 26, 2017
307
15
18
#17
The passage only says: "
Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth," so to assume there was a Levitical priesthood in Cypress could be carrying it too far.