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(an uh ni' uhs) GREEK: HANANIAS
"Yahweh has been gracious"

A Christian in Damascus, Ananias was the unwilling instrument of the Lord, who ordered him to cure the blindness that had stricken Saul while he was traveling to the city to seek out and denounce followers of Jesus. Ananias knew of Saul's relentless persecution of the faithful in Jerusalem and complained of the evils he had done. Nonetheless, the Lord insisted that he had chosen Saul to carry out his divine plan. Ananias fulfilled his mission, seeking out Saul at the house of Judas on "the street called Straight" (Acts 9:11). There he laid hands on him, miraculously curing his blindness. Saul was immediately baptized and began his life's work of preaching to the Gentiles under his Roman name, Paul.


The high priest of the temple in Jerusalem for many years, Ananias was a violent opponent of Paul's attempts to convert the Jewish people. He went so far as to order witnesses at Paul's hearing before the Sanhedrin to "strike him on the mouth" (Acts 23:2). Paul had to be taken into safekeeping by the Roman tribune, who brought him to the governor at Caesarea under heavy escort. Ananias appeared there to further his case against Paul as an agitator and "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5).


Lying to God before the church brought punishment to Ananias and his wife Sapphira, wealthy members of the Christian congregation in Jerusalem. According to the book of Acts, the church at this time, in order to be able to care for the needy, was practicing a policy in which "no one said that any of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had everything in common" (Acts 4:32). In response, many, including Barnabas, sold their property and laid the proceeds at the feet of the apostles. Ananias and Sapphira did the same, but, unlike the others, they held back some of their profit while claiming that they had given all. Peter accused Ananias of lying to the Holy Spirit and to God. Hearing the apostle's judgement, Ananias fell down and died, as did Sapphira three hours later.

{E2 Dictionary of Biblical People}

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