Passover to Pentecost to Persecution – Ananias

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.  This 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 leaderin this church.  It is easy to imagine that a great deal of resources was 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 amount 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 like 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.  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 records about him and 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!  He may have even been the one who gave Saul permission to go to Damascus. Control is the issueI 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 justified everything he did under some rule in the Law.

http://clipart.christiansunite.com/Bible_Characters_Clipart/Paul_the_Apostle_Clipart/index2.shtml

 

Passover to Pentecost to Persecution – Peter

Acts 12: 1-18 Peter’s escape from prison.  It seems that I missed a very important New Testament Passover.  Herod was trying to please the Jews and decided to kill the Apostles.  This took place during the Feast of the Unleavened Bread (Passover).

Imagine Peter seating in jail waiting to be killed.  All of the thoughts that must have been going through his mind: The Last Supper, the Garden, the rooster, and the morning on the Lake when Jesus questioned his love three times.  No wonder he thought the angel was just a dream!

This story brings in John Mark (writer of the Gospel and Peter’s nephew) as a witness to many things in story of the New Church.  It does not say that Mark left with Peter just that Peter very wisely got out of town. The James (Book of James)  in verse 17 is Jesus’ brother who must have already been very important in leading the new church.

Rhoda and those praying are frequently the stars of this story for all the wrong reasons.  The group was praying (supposedly for Peter), Jesus released him and they could not believe the miracle had happened as they had prayed for.

There is no time stamp to tell us how many years since Pentecost this story took place.  So, if I was doing a movie of this I would put the sixteen soldiers who were executed because of the disappearance as the ones who beat Jesus and gambled for His clothes and arrested the Apostles the first time.

http://clipart.christiansunite.com/1526899261/Bible_Characters_Clipart/Peter_Clipart/Peter019.jpg

Passover to Pentecost to Persecution

Over the years Acts 2 => 9 has been the picture of the early church and has been combed through very carefully for “how it should be done”.  I have always thought that Stephen was stoned and the Apostles beaten because the Devil hated the Church. I have taught and heard sermons on “having everything in common”. I have also heard sermons on how those practices border on Communism, and God was just stopping the problem from growing.  It is truly amazing how we can turn a coin and see true stuff on both sides!

I will not argue either of those points but add this thought into the mix.  First, we need to

look at Acts 1:8 where Jesus reminded the disciples to witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the rest of the world.  Now, we look at Acts 8:1 when the persecution started and the disciples were scattered from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria. I am thinking that Jesus had to “turn things around” and get the disciples to go out and start witnessing. I have a feeling that the Church had gotten too comfortable with how everything was working and was not thinking about “going out”.

They had resources, Leaders, a power base to work from (Jerusalem), and the example Jesus had given them when they were with Him (they had a common purse). (See the topics in Week 4.) I think the Beta Program had and was working in Acts 5 and 6 but everyone was comfy and did not want to leave Jerusalem.

Jesus used what the Devil meant for harm to move the Church into spreading the Gospel.