Ananias is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Hananiah which means “God has graciously given.” Three characters are known by this name in the Bible and interestingly, all three of them are recorded in the book of Acts.
The first character, named Ananias, was a man in Jerusalem, who with his wife Sapphira, tried to deceive the disciples of God, by stating that the portion that they had offered to the disciples was all that they had received from the sale of their property. They were both struck dead that very day. The disciples tell Ananias, that he had not only tried to deceive them, but in fact, he and his wife were deceiving God by lying to the Holy Spirit of God. This is Ananias, the liar. (Acts 5:1-5).
The second character, named Ananias was a disciple in Damascus, who was asked of God, to go meet with Saul. Saul who was murdering and persecuting Christians had, had an personal enlightening encounter with Jesus that left him blind. Saul was told by God that a man named Ananias would come and see him. Ananias first tries to negotiate with God, stating that this Saul was the persecutor of Christian and by virtue of his visit with Saul, Ananias would be putting his very life in danger. Nonetheless, upon clear direction from the Lord, Ananias visits Saul, despite his fear and minsters to him. This is Ananias, the devout. In fact, when Paul, refers to this Ananias, he calls him a devout man, according to the law who had a good report of all the Jews who dwelt in Damascus (Acts 22:12). When Ananias meets with Saul, Ananias puts his hand on Saul and addresses Saul as brother, telling him that the Lord Jesus Christ was the one who sent him and asks him to receive his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit of God (Acts 9:17). Ananias tells Saul that he was chosen of God the Father, so that Saul would know God’s will and see Jesus, the Just One, and hear Jesus’ voice. Ananias brings God’s mission to Saul stating that Saul would be God’s witness and asks him not to delay any further, but to rise and be baptized and wash away his sins by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 22:14-16). Miraculously, Saul receives his sight and being filled with God’s Holy Spirit, straight away begins to preach Jesus, that Jesus is the Son of God.
This third character named Ananias who is mentioned in the Bible was a high priest. He asked the people standing next to Paul to smite Paul (the repented saved Saul) in his mouth, figuratively forbidding him to talk, when Paul puts the defense of the gospel of Jesus and preaches about Jesus to all those who had taken him to trial. Paul calls this high priest a whitewashed wall, an idiom that is used to describe a hypocrite or someone who is dirty on the inside, but painted white (as a white wall) on the outside. When Paul calls the high priest a hypocrite, those standing by Paul, actually question Paul on his audacity to insult (revile) Ananias, whom they refer as God’s high priest (Acts 23:1-5). This is Ananias, the hypocrite high priest.
So what can we learn from these characters named Ananias?
From Ananias, the liar, we can learn that when we try to deceive God’s people, we are not only deceiving men, but God. This can have fatal consequences.
From Ananias, the devout disciple from Damascus, we can learn that when God directs us to do something for him, even if it is risky for our lives, we must be willing to do it and take action. We must treat even those who persecute us a “brothers” and our message to those who are blinded in their minds by the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), must be for them to receive their sight, by seeing Jesus, the Just One, who justified all by his sacrifice, seeking his act to wash away their sins by calling on his name. We must live a life in such a way that people would call us devout disciple of Christ and all around us would be able to give of us, a good report.
From Ananias, the hypocrite high priest, we can learn that we need to be clean in the inside. While external appearances and actions of piety may earn us a title as God’s high priests, we are in deed like whitewashed walls, if we are not clean on the inside.
Acts 5:1-5 (KJV)
1 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
2 And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
4 Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
5 And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Acts 9:10 (KJV)
10 And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord.
Acts 22: 12-16 (KJV)
12 And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there,
13 Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him.
14 And he said, The God of our fathers hath chosen thee, that thou shouldest know his will, and see that Just One, and shouldest hear the voice of his mouth.
15 For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.
16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.
Acts 23: 1-5 (KJV)
1 And Paul, earnestly beholding the council, said, Men and brethren, I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day.
2 And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth.
3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God’s high priest?
5 Then said Paul, I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest: for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.