Ananias – Jah has favored or covered. I like to start studies by looking up the meanings of names of people and places. Sometimes the name reflects what is happening in the story, this time it seems like a split decision on how well these three men fit the name. Ananias is a variant of several Old Testament names.
Ananias the Liar Acts 5:1
Ananias and his wife Sapphira are only remembered for their creed and lying to the Holy Spirit. The value of this passage is not that they dropped dead, but that attempting to deceive the Spirit will not get you where you want to go! In the context of its position in the book, you have to wonder why it happened. Certainly, people have and are doing acts similar or worse today.
It is very easy for me to believe that Ananias was attempting to become a leader in the church. It is easy to imagine that a lot of resources were starting to be available to the church as it grew in numbers. Luke sandwiches this story with Barnabas (4:37), mighty miracles, a showdown with the religious government, and then talks about a new level of leaders that would control a great number of resources (6:1).
There are similarities between Ananias and Simon, the witch, in 8:9 – 25. Simon was a threat to the work in Samaria because he saw the Baptism in the Spirit as a money maker. If Simon could wield this gift people may be favorable to his needs and wants because once again he would be someone of importance.
The mystery here is the final outcome is not mentioned with Simon as it was with Ananias. Grace has to let me think he turned out okay! Unlike Ananias, Luke mentions that he believed and was baptized (8:13), was astonished by real miracles, and asked for forgiveness (24). I want to think Simon saw his mistake and was not willing to mock the Spirit once his error was pointed out to him. It sounds like the Gospel at work to me.
Ananias of Damascus Acts – Chapter 9 and 22:12
This man may be the most underrated person in the Bible. Yes, I have heard sermons about him but this study opened my eyes to his great qualities! In 9:12 Jesus sent him because He knew he would go. Ananias had to overcome come his fears to lay hands on Saul/Paul. It is reasonable to believe that he was also Paul’s first tutor and mentor in the Way. Ananias was important enough that Paul shared this story with Luke. In 22:12 Paul again talks about Ananias and praises him for his faith in Jesus and his faithfulness to the traditions he had grown up with. This is the second time that Luke mentions him because Paul was bragging on him to a hostile crowd. This is what we know; now let us think of some possibilities.
Ananias may have gone to Damascus because of the persecution after Stephen’s death. But it is possible that he just lived there. Damascus is close to Galilee so it is possible that he heard Jesus speak around the lake. It is also possible that he was among the 3000 on the day of Pentecost. He may have been a leader of the Way in Damascus. At the very least people knew him and trusted him (Paul would have only been accepted because of someone like him).
Ananias the High Priest – Acts Chapter 23 – 26
As honorable as Ananias of Damascus was this one is not! As a member of the High Priest family, it is very probable that he was present for the death of Jesus, Pentecost, the trials of the Apostles, and the stoning of Stephen and the persecution of the Way! Control is the issue I see as the problem the Sadducees had with Jesus and His followers. They had a good moneymaker in the Temple and they did not want anyone to disturb their income.
Among his questionable acts: ordering Paul struck, and agreeing to the killing of Paul (at least twice). He played loose and fast with the rules and it is probable that he could justify everything he did under some rule in the Law.