Mercy in the words of the Popes;

“God’s face is the face of a merciful Father who is always patient. Have you thought about God’s patience, the patience he has with each one of us? That is his mercy. … He waits for us; he does not tire of forgiving us if we are able to return to him with a contrite heart. ‘Great is God’s mercy,’ says the Psalm.”Pope Francis, Angelus, March 17, 2013

“Mercy is in reality the core of the Gospel message; it is the name of God himself, the face with which he reveals himself in the Old Testament and fully in Jesus Christ, the Incarnation of creative and redemptive love.” — Pope Benedict XVI, Divine Mercy Sunday 2008

“And is not mercy love’s ‘second name’ (Dives in Misericordia, 7), understood in its deepest and most tender aspect, in its ability to take upon itself the burden of any need and, especially, in its immense capacity for forgiveness?”Pope John Paul II, Divine Mercy Sunday 2000


And Jesus teaches in the gospel of Matthew;

"Blessed are the merciful,for they will be shown mercy."(Matthew5:7)

But how come in the story of Ananias and Sapphira, God had immediately struck death upon both of them for speaking lies. And the worst part, Ananias & Sapphira perhaps have no idea that when they speak a lie to Peter they also had directly spoken a lie to the Holy Spirit;

Ananias and Sapphira

5 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

Was God "unmerciful" to Ananias & Sapphira in Acts5:1-10?

The church teaches that speaking a lie is a grave matter that can lead to mortal sin but the Church also teaches that one can avail pardon thru Sacraments of Confession.Why does this narration somehow implied God does not give a second chance for Ananias & Sapphira.

Three significant reflections of the Vatican II Popes on the Infinite Mercy of God to all mankind especially sinners plus Jesus very gospel speaks of God Mercy seems not in harmony with St.Lukes narration in Book of Acts.

The story of Anannias & Sapphira is commonly understood as a harsh judgement by God by never giving them a chance to repent is a complete contradiction to the teaching of Jesus and the reflections of the three Popes on the Divine Mercy.

Looking for answer that support the teaching of Jesus & Popes that Ananias & Sapphira received the Mercy of God.

2 Answers 2


Certainly, "Ananias & Sapphira received the Mercy of God" Only a short time before their conspiracy to be deceitful about their giving to the Church, they had received the outpouring of the Blessed Holy Spirit on that glorious and gracious Day of Pentecost. They (and all the other Christians) had been gifted with those tongues of fire above their heads, when the Holy Spirit rushed into that upper room, enabling them to miraculously speak different languages. Acts chapter 2, and they'd witnessed over 3,000 people being converted in one day due to Peter's preaching. They knew about his healing of the crippled beggar. They knew how Peter and John had stood up to the Sanhedrin (who tried to stop their preaching). Then came the sharing of the believers' possessions.

That's when Ananias and Sapphira thought they could enter into that, but not in the same spirit as all the others. They wanted to hold back some of the profits for themselves. Now, if they'd been up-front and said at the outset they were only giving a percentage of the money - fair enough. Peter made that point (Acts 5:4).

The trouble was, the couple had been mercifully gifted with the Holy Spirit yet denied his power and authority over them. They knew they were lying, not to men, but to the Holy Spirit. They knew far more about the awesome Holy Spirit, experientially, than most Christians seem to know today.

They both died. Yet nobody can say what God's judgment of them will be in the final analysis. The Day of Resurrection and Judgment is yet to come, and Christ does all the judging. We leave the matter entirely with him and do not speculate. There is no question of God and Christ being merciful. Just because we don't have answers to very particular questions is no reason to become doubtful. Here is a quote from this article on "Mercy" in this Catholic Encyclopedia of Theology:

"In theology, mercy is axiomatically predicated of God as one of his essential attributes, because being infinite in every perfection (D 1782) his just and holy nature precludes all cruelty and unfair severity...

God's mercy is not really acknowledged until it is accepted as incalculable, and so man must not sin against it by presumption... God's sovereign freedom (Rom 9-11) will only be elucidated at the end of time (2 Cor 4:14)." (Article by Adolf Darlap, Ed. Karl Rahner, p954)

It is not our job to work out such details as those pertaining to the last moments of the earthly lives of Ananias and Sapphira and how that might impact their eternity. They experienced a time of adverse judgment then, which is to be a lasting warning to all God's people who need to grasp the immensity of what it is to have received the promised Holy Spirit Jesus said would be sent, after he returned to heavenly glory.

  • How do we know that Ananias and Sapphira were present in the Upper Room, rather than amongst the 3,000 converted at Pentecost or among those which were daily added to the Church after Pentecost? I remember years ago hearing an explanation for this, but cannot remember what it was.
    – davidlol
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 11:49
  • @davidlol You have a point, there. We don't know they were in the Upper Room. Yet even if they were not, they were clearly considered to be part of that Spirit-filled congregation thereafter, and all converted people were also filled with the Holy Spirit. The power was such that non-Christians were in awe of their gatherings in the Temple courts, "the Lord adding to their number daily those who should be saved" Acts 2:47.
    – Anne
    Commented Jan 3, 2022 at 12:44

Was God “unmerciful” to Ananias & Sapphira in Acts5:1-10?

The answer is no, as scriptures tell us that God is Merciful:

Merciful and gracious is the Lord (Ps. 111:4)

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. - Titus3:5

David said to God, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” - 2Samuel24:14

The Lord is good to all, He has compassion in all He has made. - Psalm145:9

Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. - Luke6:36

But because of His great love for us, God who is rich in mercy - Ephesians2:4

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. - Hebrews4:16

Even Apostle Peter speaks of the great mercy of God:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. - 1Peter1:3

We can see from scriptures that our loving God is rich in mercy. we have the teachings of Pope St. John Paul II the Great’s 1980 encyclical Dives in misericordia" and Pope Francis announced a Year of Mercy with his 2015 Misericordiae vultus.

For more on God Divine Mercy here is a latest article expounding on the coming Divine Mercy Sunday.

Nothing God Won’t Redeem Merciful and gracious is the Lord (Ps. 111:4), who, out of great love with which He loved us (Eph. 2:4) and [out of] unspeakable goodness, gave us his Only-begotten Son as our Redeemer, so that through the Death and Resurrection of this Son He might open the way to eternal life for the human race, and that the adopted children who received his mercy within his temple might lift up his praise to the ends of the earth. In our times, the Christian faithful in many parts of the world wish to praise the divine mercy in divine worship, particularly in the celebration of the Paschal Mystery, in which God’s loving kindness especially shines forth. Acceding to these wishes, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II has graciously determined that in the Roman Missal, after the title “Second Sunday of Easter,” there shall henceforth be added the appellation “(or Divine Mercy Sunday),” and has prescribed that the texts assigned for that day in the same Missal and the Liturgy of the Hours of the Roman Rite are always to be used for the liturgical celebration of this Sunday. https://www.hprweb.com/2019/04/the-tender-heart/


Therefore, the answer based on scriptures and the teaching of the Two Popes of our times is our God is Merciful to all mankind as God desires the salvation of all souls.

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."(1Timothy2:3-4)

To answer your specific on the case of Ananias & Sapphira. By the very meaning of the name Ananias it already proclaim that God is merciful or ***"Yahweh Has Been Gracious". ***http://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Ananias.html#.XL46E4kzZdg

  1. It's clear in the passage that the sin of Ananias & Sapphira was "lying" and they did not "blaspheme" the Holy Spirit, lying and blasphemy are two different sins. Lying although a grave matter as written in the 8th commandment but it is not a blasphemy that the scriptures described in Matthew 12:32 like the "unforgivable sin".

  2. Did Ananias & Sapphira committed a "mortal sin"? According to Catholic Church teaching three conditions must be satisfied for it to become a "mortal sin". The answer if we look at the passages is No!, Why? Ananias doesn't know that when he lied to the Apostle he was actually lying also directly to the Holy Spirit as Peter explain it to him. So, the "absence of full knowledge" on the part of Ananias & Sapphira makes their sin not mortal. Although they committed a grave matter with intent but the lack of full knowledge on their part was very clear.

3.Ananias died in the judgement or in the Hands of God. We know that King David stated that it is better to die in the Hand of God rather than hands of man more so in the hands of satan.

"David said to God, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” - 2Samuel24:14

  1. Ananias & Sapphira might not know that Satan is the one who deceived them and put malice in their heart to withheld portion of the money which as part of the community vows to share whatever they have in full to meet the needs of all the church members. Satan had infiltrated the heart of Ananias & Sapphira like what he did to Judas as St. Peter stated “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit ". St. Peter was familiar to the tragic death of Judas when the malice of satan entered his heart that led to his suicide.

Why hath Satan filled thine heart? - The narrative is obviously intended to leave the impression that St. Peter's knowledge of the fact came from a supernatural insight. He had that prophetic gift which gave him insight into the hearts of men, and through this outward show of generous devotion he read the baseness and the lie. And that evil he traced to its fountain-head. Like the sin of Judas (John 13:2; John 13:27), it had in it a malignant subtlety of evil, which implied the perversion of conscience and will just at the moment when they seemed to be, and, it may be, actually were, on the point of attaining a higher perfection than before. The question "why" implies that resistance to the temptation had been possible. Had he resisted the Tempter, he would have fled from him (James 4:7).(Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers) https://biblehub.com/acts/5-3.htmqgdfghfhgfjhgjghhjgcxfgfdgnnvbmbjuuij

  1. The Apostle Peter is not only the Chief Shepherd but he is also a priest and Jesus gave Peter the Keys to God's Kingdom. We can see from the passage that Peter not only identifies the "root of sin", he also explain to Ananias what kind of sin that he committed as Ananias thought it was just a simple sin of lying to the Apostles but he was gravely mistaken when Peter indwelt by the Holy Spirit convicted him of his true sins. The question is, if you were in the feet of Peter whom Jesus entrusted the care of His flock towards their salvation, will you lead a sinner to seek the Mercy of God after explaining the nature of his sin? The answer is yes, as Ananias "heard" what Peter had explained and he gave up his spirit to God, meaning he embraced the judgement of God. Remember Ananias & Sapphira did not commits mortal sin but God acting on His Mercy prevented Satan to fully corrupt their heart like what he did to Judas. Ananias & Sapphira with the help of the priestly powers of St. Peter had accepted the judgement of God and as King David had said it is better to die in the Hand of God. If St. Peter did not intervene immediately, Ananias & Sapphira's heart might be fully corrupted by satan like Judas and we know the possibility for despair and suicide is immenent.

  2. We can see from this passage that God gave His Mercy to Ananias & Sapphira by revealing and convicting them of their sins before it take roots deeply into their heart. The intervention of St. Peter is an act of mercy of God using the priestly powers of Peter to discern the heart of sinners and the power to give absolution of their sins.

As St. Augustine had said in his commentary on this passage:

... There are likewise different opinions among the Fathers, respecting the salvation of Ananias and Saphira. Some are of opinion, that as their fault was great, they died, and perished in their sin. but the ideas we are fond to cherish of the infinite mercy of God, would rather incline us to say, with St. Augustine, "I can believe that God spared them after this life, for his mercy is great ... They were stricken with the scourge of death, that they might not be subject to eternal punishment." (St. Augustine, Serm. cxlviii. olim. 10. et in Parmen.) George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary https://www.studylight.org/commentary/acts/5-5.html

  1. Lastly, we can see from the Book of Acts that God wanted to preserve the unity of the infant church and God would not allow satan to sow disunity by sowing malice in the heart of church members even if it will cause great fear among the followers. Satan was uprooted early by St. Peter to preserve the unity and God used to St. Peter to set an example to the rest of the followers that one must lived by obedience to their vows in community/church life and point out the importance of obeying their leaders as they are indwelt by the power of the Holy Spirit to fulfill the mission of the church towards the salvation of all souls.

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. - Acts4:32

To summarize, God was "Merciful" to Ananias & Sapphira as they both died knowing their sins and they died in the presence of a Priest who have the power to absolve their known sins in the hour of death. As we can see Ananias "heard" and Peter called the attention of Sapphira to "listen" stating his concern for her soul.But, most importantly they both died in the hands of a loving and merciful God who desires their salvation.


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