THE THREE ANANIAS (Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ )

In the New Testament we encounter three persons with the name of Ananias. First, Ananias the false Christian; second, Ananias the Christian disciple at Damascus, and third, Ananias, the High Priest.

I. ANANIAS THE FALSE DISCIPLE

The event involving the false disciple named Anamias and his wife Sapphira is narrated in the 5th chapter of the Acts.

But there was a man named Ananias, who with his wife Sapphira sold some property that belonged to them. But with his wifes agreement he kept part of the money for himself and handed the rest over to the apostles. Peter said to him, Ananias, why did you let Satan take control of you and make you lie to the Holy Spirit by keeping part of the money you received for the property? Before you sold the property, it belonged to you; and after you sold it, the money was yours, why, then, did you decide to do such a thing? You have not lied to men - you have lied to God! As soon as Ananias heard this, he fell down dead; and all who heard about it were terrified. The young men came in, wrapped up his body, carried him out, and buried him.

About three hours later his wife, not knowing what had happened, came in. Peter asked her, Tell me, was this the full amount you and your husband received for your property?

Yes, she answered, the full amount

So Peter said to her, Why did you and your husband decide to put the Lords Spirit to the test? The man who buried your husband are now at the door, and they will carry you out too! At once she fell down at his feet and died. The young men came in and saw that she was dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband (Act 5, 1-10).

II. ANANIAS THE CHRISTIAN DISCIPLE

We read the whole story of Ananias, the Christian disciple at Damascus in the 9th and the 22nd chapters of the Acts. He did a significant role in welcoming and baptizing Saul at Damascus.

There was a Christian in Damascus named Ananias. He had a vision, in which the Lord said to him, Ananias!

Here I am, Lord, he answered.

The Lord said to him, Get ready and go to Straight Street, and at the house of Judas ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying, and in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he might see again

Ananias answered, Lord, many people have told me about this man and about all the terrible things he has done to your people in Jerusalem. And he has come to Damascus with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who worship you

The Lord said to him, Go, because I have chosen him to serve me, to make my name known to Gentiles and kings and to the people of Israel. And I myself will show him all that he must suffer for my sake

So Ananias went, entered the house where Saul was, and placed his hands on him. Brother Saul, he said, the Lord has sent me - Jesus himself, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here. He sent me so that you might see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit At once something like fish scales fell from Sauls eyes, and he was able to see again. He stood up and was baptized; and after he had eaten, his strength came back (Acts 9, 10-19).

Then, later at Pauls trial at Jerusalem Paul acknowledges Ananias with affection and gratitude.

In that city was a man named Ananias, a religious man who obeyed our Law and was highly respected by all the Jews living there. He came to me, stood by me, and said, Brother Saul, see again! At that very moment I saw again and looked at him. He said, The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see his righteous Servant, and to hear him speaking with his own voice. For you will be a witness for him to tell everyone what you have seen and heard. And now, why wait any longer? Get up and be baptized and have your sins washed away by praying to him (Acts 22, 12-16).

III. ANANIAS THE HIGH PRIEST

We find the story of the High Priest called Ananias also in the Acts. He was the High Priest at Jerusalem and chairperson of the Jewish council.

During Pauls trial at the instance of Roman tribune the Council met to draw up charge against Paul. In the Acts we read:

Paul looked straight at the Council and said, My fellow-Israelites! My conscience is perfectly clear about the way in which I have lived before God to this very day The High Priest Ananias ordered those who were standing close to Paul to strike him on the mouth. Paul said to him, God will certainly strike you - you whitewashed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the Law, yet you break the Law by ordering them to strike me!

The men close to Paul said to him, You are insulting Gods High Priest!

Paul answered, My fellow-Israelites, I did not know that he was the High Priest. The scripture says, You must not speak evil of the ruler of your people (Acts 23, 1-5).

Later the Roman Governor Felix called High Priest Ananias and other Jewish elders to Caesarea to present their care against Paul.

Five days later the High Priest Ananias went to Caesarea with some elders and a lawyer named Tertullus, They appeared before Felix and made their charges against Paul (Acts 24, 1).

In turn Paul defended himself before Felix who kept him in Prison for two years until his successor Governor Festus took charge.

According to Whos Who the New Testament by Ronald Brownrigg, Ananias was murdered by his fellow countrymen in Jerusalem, during the siege of the city by Titus in the year 69-70 in revenge of Ananias pro-Roman tendencies.

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