The most recent Naked Bible podcast featured some discussion of the point of the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira. I made the comment that Luke wanted readers to see a patterning contrast between others who sold something and “laid the money at the apostles’ feet” vs. what Ananias and Sapphira “laid at the apostles’ feet.” But an alert listener (hat tip to Rachel) commented on the blog in response to the episode that the incident was reflecting another pattern. Rachel referenced a University of Durham dissertation by Brian Thomas Hoch to which I’d linked some time ago. The 2010 dissertation is available online:
“The Year of Jubilee and Old Testament Ethics: A Test Case in Methodology. Doctoral thesis, Durham University
Here is page 292 — a table showing the literary and conceptual relationships (patterning) between Gen 1-3, the sin of Achan in Joshua 7, and Acts 5. (Note: I tried re-saving it in more readable orientation but it wouldn’t do it – download it and rotate it in Adobe).
You’ll want to get the dissertation at the link above and read pages 288-295 for the author’s explanation. He sees thematic continuity and connections between Adam’s sin and restoration, Achan’s sin and the restoration of Israel, and Ananias and Sapphira’s sin in the context of the new people of God (the Church) and the impending final Jubilee (the consummation of the new kingdom of God — not Israel, but a global kingdom). He writes:
It is the sin and consequence within the type-scene of a new salvation history setting that provides an application to biblical ethics. The new age of Jubilee fulfillment in Jesus Christ was marred by Ananias and Sapphira, an Adam and Eve type who stole devoted money from God. Just as Achan’s sin signaled that a new era awaited final redemption, so the sin in Acts 5 shows that, even after the resurrection, salvation history is still moving forward. The Jubilee’s influence on the biblical story, and its instruction to follow the ethics of ‘covenantal brotherhood’ is not yet complete. The type-scene makes us aware that there is (figuratively) one more Jubilee cycle to be run before the end of it all.
Honestly, you’d have to read the dissertation’s early content on the Jubilee motif to really get what he’s suggesting. If you’re interested, dig in! This sort of “echoing” of ideas happens all through Scripture. It’s macro-level analysis, but that’s often where the good stuff is.