A tale of two Ananiases

This is a brief, dichotomous tale of two Ananiases — men about whom significant narrative appears in the document we call “Acts.”  Sit back, but don’t relax too much.  (Remember, it’s brief.)

Ananias #1 (chapter 5)

He was named “Ananias.”

As the new movement was burgeoning, he was in the thick of things.  He had good intentions—at least, at first … sort of.  Given 15/20 hindsight, we might say he was more interested in impressions and attention than in genuineness and integrity.  He was killed.  (Not just “died.”  Was killed.)

Ananias didn’t marry too well.  She was killed, too.

The end (of them, but not of God’s people).

Ananias #2 (chapter 9)

He was named “Ananias.”

After the envious Jews murdered Stephen, it’s possible that this man was part of the dispersion that ended up putting him in Damascus.  He, too, was in the thick of things as the new movement was burgeoning.  He, too, was interested in impressions — and was particularly concerned about the impression Saul had been making.  He had good intentions and was worried that those intentions were being turned on their head.  This Ananias was not only a man of integrity but also one with good hearing.  He was instructed by the Spirit of God.  Not just “led,” but instructed to do something very specific.  He listened.  He was used.  Likely in view of their common Jewish heritage, or in anticipation of future relationship, he called Saul “brother.”  Ananias was more interested in God’s purposes than in making an impression on anyone, and he initiated Saul officially into The Way.  History was changed.

The beginning (of something very big).

* * *

Two Ananiases.  Two very different Ananiases. . . .

The name “Ananias,” which was a variant of the name of the high priest Annas, is also said to be related etymologically to the personal name of God, and might have meant something like “Cloud of God” or “God is gracious” in the ears of the ancients.  In one case above, the grace of God seems almost absent—for the man Ananias and his wife Sapphira, that is.  And yet, in the exhilarating, continuing story of the early weeks and months of The Way, God’s grace is surely shown as an empowering force—not only behind the scenes, but woven throughout, in the historical writings of Luke.


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