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Ananias of Damascus
Ananias of Damascus is mentioned in the book of Acts chapter 9. There is no other reference to this special disciple in Scripture, except in ch. 22:12, where Paul describes him as “a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt” in Damascus. It is possible that these characteristics made him the leader of the Christian church and qualified him to be the Lord’s messenger to Saul.
How he became a believer is not given in the book of Acts. He may have followed the Lord during His earthly ministry or have been among the early converts on the day of Pentecost or at a later time. He then may have escaped from Jerusalem due to the persecution that came after the death of Stephen.
The Disciple and Saul
The story of Ananias in relation to Saul’s conversion starts after the Damascus experience. “Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight” (Acts 9:10-12). Ananias expressed readiness to execute the Lord’s instructions.
God through a vision prepared Ananias to visit Saul, and also prepared Saul for a visit from Ananias. This experience shows similarity to the preparation of Peter and Cornelius through visions (Acts 10:1–8). God informed His messenger that Saul was praying which is a contrast between the threatening and slaughter that the persecutor did as he drew near to Damascus.
But Ananias hesitated and said, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name” (verses 13,14). Nevertheless, the Lord told him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake” (verses 15,16). God chose Saul to carry Christ’s name, to the Gentiles and before kings like Agrippa (Acts 26:1, 2), and possibly Nero (2 Timothy 4:16).
Ananias hesitation to visit Saul showed that he had good relationship with Jerusalem, for he knew of the trouble that the persecutor had raised against the early converts, and of the goal of his mission to Damascus.
Ananias did as the Lord commanded and went to Saul’s house and laid his hands on him. And he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once.” And he arose and was baptized. And Paul ate food and was strengthened. Then, he spent some days with the disciples at Damascus (verses 17-19).
The godly man exhorted Saul to get baptized for this service was regarded a condition for admission into the church (Matthew 3:6; Acts 22:16). Then, Saul broke his three day fast, got baptized, and eventually became known as Paul, the disciple to the Gentiles.
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In His service,