Ananias Ministers to Paul Part 3 of 3
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the 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.
And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul,
Once his doubts were removed, Ananias made his way to that house befitting the reception of the representative of the high priest in Jerusalem. Ananias thoroughly identified himself with the Lord’s purpose: Brother Saul, he said, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road . . . has sent me. How beautifully childlike is the obedience of Ananias to the “heavenly vision!” Again, the placing of hands meant identification, for Saul now belonged to the people he had formerly persecuted. It was a touching display of Christian grace and love, Ananias expresses full fellowship with the new convert by laying his hands on him, calling him “Brother Saul,” (meaning fellow Christian) and explaining the purpose of his visit. How encouraging those words must have been to Saul! Any person who loves the Lord Jesus Christ is a brother to any other believer. Unfortunately, I must add that brothers don’t always act like brothers.
The expression “putting his hands on” was also used of Jesus when he healed (Mark 6:5; Luke 4:40; 13:13; 28:8). It was also used to illustrate taking a prisoner, and in the Old Testament, offerers of sacrifices laid their hands on the animal as an expression of identification. But in the symbolic sense, it signified the affirmation, support, and identification with someone and their ministry (1 Tim. 4:14; 5:22; 2 Tim. 1:6; Num. 27:23).
The intervention of Ananias supports the view that, in New Testament times, there was no idea of any special succession of grace flowing from the apostles. Ananias acted in a prophetic capacity, and his protest (vv. 13-14) is not that of a stubborn servant, but is rather a sign of holy familiarity with his Lord.
It should be noted here that the Holy Spirit was given to Saul by the laying on of hands by a simple disciple. Ananias was what the commentators call a “laymen.” That the Lord would use one who was not an apostle should certainly be a rebuke to those who seek to confine spiritual prerogatives to the “clergy.” One of the most important lessons we can learn from Acts is that Christianity is a lay movement, and that the work of witnessing was not committed to a special class, such as priests or clergymen, but to all believers.
the Lord, even Jesus,
This term clearly shows in what sense the term “Lord” is used in this book. It is Jesus that is meant, almost without exception, in the epistles also.
that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest,
This knowledge by an inhabitant of Damascus of what had happened to Saul before entering the city, would show him immediately that this was the man whom Jesus had already prepared him to expect.
hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.
Ananias, probably without and advance instruction concerning the Holy Spirit, took it for granted that the Spirit would descend upon him; and this would not necessarily occur after he was baptized Cornelius and his group received the Holy Ghost before they were baptized (Acts 10:44-48)—but immediately after the recovery of his sight by the laying on of Ananias’ hands.
In contrast to the baptism of the Spirit, which is the one-time act by which God places believers into His body, the filling is a repeated reality of Spirit-controlled behavior that God commands believers to maintain. Peter and many others were filled with the Spirit again (Acts 4:8, 31; 6:5; 7:55) and so spoke boldly the Word of God. The fullness of the Spirit affects all areas of life, not just speaking boldly (Eph. 5:19-33).
The Spirit had already been active in Paul’s life; convicting him of sin (John 16:9), convincing him of the lordship of Christ (1 Cor. 12:3), transforming him (Titus 12:5), and indwelling him permanently (1 Cor. 12:13). He was then filled with the Spirit and empowered for service (Acts 2:4, 14; 4:8, 31; 6:5, 8; Eph. 5:18). Saul received the Spirit without any apostles present because he was a Jew (the inclusion of the Jews in the church had already been established at Pentecost) and because he was an apostle in his own right because Christ personally chose him and commissioned him for service—“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” (Rom. 1:1). The reception of the Holy Spirit through the laying on of Ananias hands was an exceptional experience and not the normal thing
18 And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales:
This shows that the blindness, as well as the cure, was supernatural—substances like scales would not form naturally in so short a time. Some have the opinion that this only a vivid way of describing the sense of returning sight.
And he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.
Saul was baptized as directed by Ananias—“And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Ananias commanded him to be baptized, and wash away his sins after he had received the fullness of the Spirit. This, of course, was the baptism of water, and was a sign of a break with the past, and in all external things, a falling into line with spiritual change that had been created in him. Acts 22:16 conveys the impression that it was necessary for Saul to be baptized in order to be saved, but that was not the case. Saul washed away his sins by “calling on the Lord”—“And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 22:16); “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13). The water had nothing to do with his salvation. He had been baptized by the Holy Spirit—that is, he had been saved on the Damascus road. When Ananias had laid his hands on him, he had been filled with the Holy Spirit for service. And now he was baptized with water.
When a person is truly “saved” certain things always happen. There are certain marks that show the reality of their salvation. This was true of Saul of Tarsus. What were these marks? Francis W. Dixon lists a few of them:
1) He met the Lord and heard His voice (vv. 4-6). He received a divine revelation, and only that could have convinced him and made him the humble inquirer and devoted follower that he became.
2) He was filled with the longing to obey the Lord and to do His will (v. 6).
3) He began to pray (v. 11).
4) He was baptized (v. 18).
5) He united in fellowship with God’s people (v. 19).
6) He began to testify powerfully (v. 20).
7) He grew in grace (v. 22).
19a And when he had received meat, he was strengthened.
Paul was weak as a result of his three day fast and the additional shock of his “exposure” to the resurrected Christ, but may not have realized it due to his internal struggle as he waited for the man who was to restore his sight. However, several things may have helped him regain his strength: his encounter with Ananias, his healing, his filling with the Spirit, his water baptism, and his eating some food.