Ananias Ministers to Paul Part 1 of 3
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
March 4, 2014
Acts of the Apostles
Lesson III.B.2: Ananias Ministers to Paul (9:10-19a)
10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision,
Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house
of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold , he prayeth,
12 And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might
receive his sight.
13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy
saints at Jerusalem:
14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the
Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, t
he Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest
receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose,
and was baptized.
19a And when he had received meat, he was strengthened.
In this passage, we have the visions of the blinded Paul and the Christian Ananias which took place in Damascus. Ananias was understandably reluctant to approach this notorious persecutor, who had come to Damascus expressly to arrest Christians like himself. Ananias was instructed to come to Saul, restore his sight, baptize him, and reveal his commission to him. The commission is given in verses 15-16. Paul will now be a witness for Christ; the former persecutor of Christ would now be persecuted for his own witness to
10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias;
Ananias was a common name among the Jews, which in its Hebrew form was Hananiah. Three men have this name in the New Testament. The most important of the three was the disciple from Damascus whom God used to minister to Saul (Paul) after his conversion. We know nothing about Ananias except what this passage tells us. He was one of the leaders of the Damascus church, and as such, he was one of Saul’s targets. Paul describes him as “a devout man according to the Law,” with a good testimony before others—“And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, (Acts 22:12). Now, this is not a description of His Christian character, but of his Hebrew character. He was not a Hellenist, but a Hebrew. Paul is the last man to describe a Christian as a devout man according to the Law.
When Ananias laid he hands on Saul, he received his sight and was filled with the Holy Spirit. We do not know how the Gospel came to Damascus nor how Ananias was converted. The book of Acts does not give us a complete history of the early church, but reports only the important events of its growth. It is significant that Ananias was simply a disciple (and not an apostle) in that Paul’s apostleship was not founded on the ministry of another apostle (Gal. 1:1, 12). Tradition says that later Ananias became bishop of Damascus and died a Martyr. Another Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira was part of the early church at Jerusalem (Acts 5:1-10). Their act of selling property to appear as though they were giving like the others (Acts 4:32-37), and then keeping part of the money, resulted in God’s judgment of their hypocrisy with death.
The third Ananias was the high priest and president of the Sanhedrin at the time of Paul’s arrest (Acts 23:2). His haughtiness at the time of Paul’s arrest was characteristic of his whole tenure. His apparent cooperation with the conspirators who were seeking to assassinate Paul (Acts 23:12-15) further reveals his unscrupulous character. Ananias himself was murdered by assassins for his cooperation with the Romans.
Why was Ananias of Damascus chosen to convey Saul’s commission instead of the apostles in Jerusalem? The answer may be found in one of the following reasons:
a) As a Jewish Christian, who adhered to the ‘customs’ of Judaism, Ananias was an unimpeachable witness to the truth of Saul’s call and apostleship.
b) It was fitting that Saul, the leading persecutor of the disciples, should be received into the fellowship by one of the despised Nazarenes in Damascus whom he had intended to seize.
c) An ecclesiastical reason becomes clear as we read Galatians 1:15-2:10, for it had to be made clear that Paul’s apostleship was not received from men, but directly from the Lord.
And to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
It was the Lord Jesus who spoke to Ananias. No surprise is expressed that the voice of the Lord was actually heard by this man. Jesus was alive from the dead, and Ananias was not surprised when he heard Him speak.
11 And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth,
And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight,
Paul spent three days in the house on Straight Street. There is still a street with this name in Damascus, running from the east gate to the west through the city Maundrell.
And inquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus:
There is something touching in the thoroughness of these directions. Tarsus, the city of Saul’s birth, was the capital of the province of Cilicia lying along the northeast coast of the Mediterranean. It was a large and populous city on the river Cydnus (Acts 21:39) near the border of Asia Minor and Syria, and under the Romans, it had the privilege of self-government. It served as both a commercial and educational center. The wharves on the Cydnus were crowded with commerce, while the university ranked with those of Athens and Alexandria as the finest in the Roman Empire.
Any attempt to identify this Judas of the house on Straight Street with another Judas of the New Testament is utterly unwarranted. The Judas who entertained Saul entertained him as the ambassador of the high priest, and was full of amazement at the strange thing that had happened to him in those days.
For, behold, he prayeth,
Paul was “breathing out threatenings and slaughter” as he left Jerusalem intent on arresting Christian men and women in Damascus; but as he waits in the house on Straight Street he is struggling after receiving light and life from the Persecuted One. Look at him now, the proud Pharisee, the unmerciful oppressor, the daring blasphemer, prayeth! Now he began praying in another manner than he had done, before he said his prayers, now, he prayed them. Regenerating grace causes people to pray; it is easier to find a living man without the ability to breath, than it is to find a Christian who doesn’t pray. This is a beautiful picture of how Ananias would find the persecutor!