Ananias Ministers to Paul Part 2 of 3
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
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.
And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in,
It is clear from this that as in the case of Peter and Cornelius afterward, there was a mutual preparation of both parties. But we are not given any account of the vision which Paul received of Ananias coming to him and putting his hands on him for the restoration of his sight, except for the allusion to it in the vision which Ananias had.
and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.
The directions were clear and he learned that the ex-persecutor was praying (v. 11), having received a preparatory vision, himself.
13 Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man,
A report of the ravages wrought by Saul against the Christians had come to Damascus, probably reported by the refugees who had fled there to escape persecution. The objections by Ananias, and the removal of them by the Lord, display in a very touching manner the childlike relation of the believing soul to its Redeemer. The Savior speaks with Ananias as a man does with his friend. Ananias poured out all the forebodings of his heart concerning this man. But when assured that Saul was now praying (v. 11) instead of persecuting, Ananias went to the house of Judas on Straight Street (v. 11).
How much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem:
The church is comprised of “saints” (set apart ones). “Thy saints,” says Ananias to Christ, indicates that he recognized that Christ is God. And in the next verse, Ananias describes the disciples as those “that call on Christ’s name.” It appears from this that Ananias was a resident of Damascus and not a refugee from Jerusalem.
It is obvious that Ananias feared what Saul might do.
14 And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
From this, we know that the terror not only of the great persecutor’s name, but of his commission to Damascus, had traveled before him from Jerusalem to Damascus. One can imagine the effect of the news on the Christians in Damascus. They knew that Saul had been on his way to capture them. They had prayed for divine intervention. Perhaps they had even dared to pray for Saul’s conversion. Now they hear that the arch-enemy of the faith had become a Christian. They can hardly believe their ears.
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:
But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way:
The Lord tells Ananias, “Do as you have been told, without arguing.”
for he is chosen vessel unto me,
The expression “chosen vessel” lit., “a vessel of election” is often used by Paul to illustrate God’s sovereignty in election—“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man, therefore, purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work” (2 Tim. 2:20-21; also see Rom. 9:21, 23; 2 Cor. 4:7). There was perfect continuity between Paul’s salvation and his service; God chose him to convey His grace to all people (Gal. 1:1; 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:11). The vessel (Saul) was carefully selected for his suitability. It is easy for us to see that as we look backward across the centuries. Who was better for the task than Paul? Yet he was not a perfect Christian man. No one was more conscious than he of his imperfections—he had physical handicaps and spiritual weaknesses. But in his case, the imperfections of the vessel is all a part of God’s plans.
to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:
Paul was called for several purposes, and one was to “bear the name of Jesus.” Notice that he was not called a witness as the disciples were. Although he may have seen Jesus at His crucifixion, he had not walked with Him in the days of His flesh. He really knew nothing about Him until that day on the road to Damascus. Now he was to bear that name. That is the same name we are to bear today, the name of Jesus. Paul began his ministry preaching to Jews (Acts 13:14; 14:1; 17:1, 10; 18:4; 19:8) though his message was largely rejected; but his primary calling was to Gentiles—“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office” (Rom. 11:13, also Rom. 15:16). God also called him to witness to kings such as Agrippa (Acts 25:23-26:32) and likely Caesar (Acts 25:10-12; 2 Tim. 4:16-17). He who had caused many others suffer was to be made an example of suffering for Christ’s sake (v. 16). Most of his suffering would come from the hands of his Jewish brethren.
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
From this, we know that Paul’s commission did not come directly from God but through a God-appointed disciple. By contrast, his apostolic authority did come directly from Christ, not by succession through one of the apostles— “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) . . . But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:1, 11-12).
“He has done much against that Name,” said the Lord to Ananias, “but now when I show him what great things he must suffer for that Name, he shall count it his honor and privilege.” He was chosen to suffer for Jesus Christ. In my opinion, there has never been anyone else who has suffered for the Lord as Paul has suffered. None of us dare say, “I’m suffering more than anyone else. Why does God let this happen to me?” We may be suffering or we may think we are suffering more than we are. At any rate, none of us suffer as Paul the apostle had to suffer for the Lord.