Now there was a believer in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord spoke to him in a vision, calling, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord!” he replied. The Lord said, “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to Me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon Your name.” But the Lord said, “Go, for Saul is My chosen instrument to take My message to the Gentiles and to kings, as well as to the people of Israel. And I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” So Ananias went and found Saul. He laid his hands on him and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road, has sent me so that you might regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Instantly something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized. Afterward he ate some food and regained his strength. Saul stayed with the believers in Damascus for a few days.Acts 9:10-19
- How did Ananias get the courage to go to see Saul? I can’t imagine that happening? I would never be able to do something like that.
- I have always thought Ananias had a lot of guts. You would want to make sure that it was really God that you heard. Even then I think that my knees would be a bit soft.
I don’t intend to discuss the contrast between Ananias and Saul any further as I have already contrasted both Saul and Ananias in Gem 1519 – Imagine the Emotion Both Sides of the Divide (Acts 9:3-16). But I will address the matter of Ananias’ courage. Naturally there was no way Ananias would have wanted to go and see Saul. There has to be something supernatural or God inspired which motivated Ananias to visit the one who was destroying Christians. That Ananias knew that is clear from his response to Jesus, “But Lord,” exclaimed Ananias, “I’ve heard many people talk about the terrible things this man has done to the believers in Jerusalem! And he is authorized by the leading priests to arrest everyone who calls upon Your name.” Both of those factors were scary. The answer to Ananias’ courage lies in his own encounter with Jesus. Firstly the Lord appeared to him in a vision and told him to go. That in itself was compelling reason to go. I suspect Ananias had the kind of relationship with God which enabled him to hear God speak to him. Notice the instant response from Ananias. “Ananias. . . Yes Lord.” Compare that with Saul’s, “Who are You, lord?”.
Ananias has heard God before. Hearing God speak to you overcomes any barriers of doubt and it carries you through the tough times as well. When you KNOW God wants you to do something then all elements of doubt fade into the background. Ask Tania. There have been many times we have faced adversity in the course of doing what we have been doing for the past 38 plus years now. But when people ask Tania how she has stuck at this task God has given us, her answer is always, “When you know God is in it you don’t have a choice. That carries you through the hard stuff”. Furthermore Ananias knew exactly what he had to do. Namely – “Go over to Straight Street, to the house of Judas. When you get there, ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying to Me right now. I have shown him a vision of a man named Ananias coming in and laying hands on him so he can see again.” God has told Ananias to go, told him what to do and told him Saul knows a guy called Ananias is coming. He was also told to lay hands on Saul. In the laying on of hands is the identification with God’s action in another’s life and a request for God’s anointing and enablement for the one you are praying for. Ananias was also told that Saul was praying – I.e receptive. When Ananias makes his statement about the terrible things Saul has done and the involvement of the Sanhedrin he is told that Saul was chosen of God to bring His message to the Gentiles, the Jews and to kings. Now Ananias knows the scale of what he is to be involved with. Now you have to admit that is pretty exciting. I imagine it would have been a privilege for Ananias to have been involved in this action in the end of his discussion with Jesus. When he was made aware of the impact his action would have and the importance of God’s selection of Saul he would have been ready. I know I would have been. When you know God is involved all else fades into the background.
- Why did Ananias lay hands on Saul? What did that signify?
- Isn’t the one who lays hands on another normally the one who is a minister?
- Doesn’t the flow go from greater to lesser?
As I indicated above, the laying on of hands is an identification with the one receiving. It signifies the impartation of divine enabling but it also could have signified a commissioning or release to the task that was ahead. Yes it is probably right for us to question, why did God send Ananias to commission or pray for enablement for Saul? Why not Peter? Wouldn’t Peter have been a better choice? He represented the apostles and the leadership of the growing band of believers. However this wasn’t a decision made by the disciples, the apostles, the church leaders of anyone else. It was a choice made by God. Just as God chose Saul as His Chosen Vessel; God also chose Ananias to be the channel by whom God would call Saul. There are many times that God chooses a least likely candidate to impart His call or His blessing. Why? So that the message is God is the one calling. It is not by human means or a matter of some recognised human authority or highly regarded person to give a line of succession. No! God is calling and that is all that matters. I have commented before about people who wait for the pastor to pray for them to be healed rather than have one of “no repute or status” pray for them. That attitude automatically demonstrates that person is looking in the wrong direction. It is not important that a certain human being is involved; rather it is important that God is involved. In Saul’s case He is and that is all that matters.
- What happened when Ananias laid hands on Saul?
- Was it to restore his sight?
- So it was a prayer for healing.
- Or was it to impart the Holy Spirit upon Saul?
There is much debate about this among the experts. I believe it was more a case of commissioning Saul to his task and therefore imparting the Holy Spirit to him than healing. I think the healing was thrown in for good measure. I can’t help but think that the way in which this all happened and the use of Ananias in the process was another example like Stephen and Phillip where a so-called lower rank of believer was used to demonstrate the fact that the status of the imparter doesn’t matter. It is all immaterial when God is involved.
- Was it Ananias who baptised Saul?
- What gave him the authority to do that?
Yes clearly Ananias was the one who baptised Saul. There was no other around. Who gave him the authority? The Risen LORD gave him the authority and I am sure Saul was not about to quibble. My question here would be why do we always think in terms of what human authority was behind this action when it is indisputable that God is behind it. Just relax and go with the flow. The bureaucracy or human agent involved is not important. What is important is that God is behind this and that is all the matters. Given the way Luke has written this account it is abundantly clear that God Himself was behind it all. That is the point of this section.
- How could Saul be baptised without a confession of faith?
This is a more significant question. For someone to be baptised surely there has to have been repentance and a turning to God. The doctrine held by the Church (universal) in this matter is that there should be repentance and a confession of faith. Go back to Gems 1373 and 1374 and the links between Baptism, Repentance and Believe. What about the Church catechism – now on the basis of your confession of faith I baptise you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? Where is the indication that Saul had repented and confessed his faith in Christ? I wouldn’t worry about that if I were you. Let’s leave it to God who judges justly. However I also think there is strong indication that Saul has moved from “Who are You, lord?” through the process of “behold he is praying” to the point of being ready to be baptised. I think all the indications are that it was the right time to baptise Saul and the right person to do it. Besides, all the indications of what happened subsequent to Saul’s baptism indicate that is was a genuine baptism – both by water and the Holy Spirit. So once again relax and leave it to God and don’t worry about whether all Church policy and doctrine was followed. God was happy to use a little known Jewish believer in Jesus as Messiah to baptise a firebrand like Saul without seeing Ananias credentials, so we don’t have to worry about it. Besides that, it’s done now.
God gives His toughest battles to His toughest soldiers.Rick Godwin
The only person who cannot learn anything is the one who already is convinced that he knows everything.Anon
It was when I found out I could make mistakes and God would still use me that I knew I was on to something.Anon
I used to think that prayer should have the first place and teaching the second. I now feel it would be truer to give prayer the first, second and third places and teaching the fourth.James Fraser
We who have Christ’s eternal life need to throw away our own lives.George Verwer