Ananias in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
1. High priest (Acts 23:2, etc.; Acts 24:1). Son of
Zebedaeus, succeeded Joseph, son of Camydus, and was
followed by Ismael, son of Phabi Herod, king of Chalcis A.D.
48, appointed him. The prefect Ummidius Quadratus in A.D. 52
sent him to be tried before the emperor Claudius on the
charge of oppressing the Samaritans. Cumanus the procurator,
his adversary, was not successful but was banished; so that
Ananias seems not to have lost office then, but lost it
before Felix left the province; and was at last assassinated
by the Sicarii (zealot assassins and robbers) early in the
last Jewish war. Violent tempered to such a degree that he
caused Paul to be smitten on the mouth for saying, "I have
lived in all good conscience before God"; himself on the
contrary "a whited wall." Compare Matthew 23:27.
2. A disciple at Jerusalem, Sapphira's husband (Acts
5). Having sold his property for the good of the church
professedly, he kept back part of the price, and handed the
rest to the apostles. Peter stigmatized the act as "lying to
the Holy Spirit," who was in the apostles, and whom
notwithstanding he thought he could elude. Ananias instantly
fell down and expired. That this was no mere natural effect
of excitement appears from the sentence expressly pronounced
by Peter on Sapphira, and immediately executed by God, whose
instrument of justice Peter was. The judgment had the
salutary effect designed, of guarding the church in its
infancy from the adhesion of hypocrites; for "great fear
came upon all the church and upon as many as heard it; and
of the rest durst no man join himself to them, but the
people magnified them."
Ananias was sincere up to a certain point, for he
had cast in his lot with the despised "Nazarenes," but he
wished to gain a high name in the church by seeming to have
given his all, while he really gave but a part. He was not
obliged to throw his property into a common Christian fund
(as Peter's words show, "after it was sold, was it not in
thine own power?") It was a compromise between love of
Christian applause and worldliness; "Satan filled his heart"
as "Satan entered into Judas" (Luke 22:3).
At the beginning of the course of the New Testament
church an awful example was given to guard her in guileless
sincerity from the world's corruption's; just as at the
beginning of the course of the Old Testament church, Israel,
a similar example was given in Achan's case, to warn her
that she was to be a holy people, separate from and
witnessing against the world's pollution's by lust (Joshua
7). The common fund which the first disciples voluntarily
brought was a kind of firstfruits to the Lord in entering on
possession of the spiritual Canaan, as Jericho's spoil was a
firstfruit to Jehovah of the earthly Canaan. The need there
was for such a prescient warning appears from the last
protest of the same apostle Peter in his 2nd Epistle,
against the growing covetousness and lust within the church.
3. A Jew Christian at Damascus, "a devout man
according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews
which dwelt there" (Acts 9:10, etc., Acts 22:12, etc.). By
the Lord's direction in a vision, he sought out Saul in his
blindness and foodlessness for three days after Jesus'
appearing to him; putting hands on Saul, Ananias was the
Lord's instrument of restoring his sight, and conveying to
him the Holy Spirit, that he might be "a chosen vessel to
bear Jesus' name before the Gentiles, and kings and Israel,
as a witness unto all men of what he had seen and heard,
suffering as well as doing great things for His name's sake.
Ananias told him, "Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy
sins, calling on the name of the Lord." How striking that
Ananias, whom Saul would have seized for prison and death,
should be the instrument of giving him light and life.
Tradition makes Ananias subsequently bishop of Damascus and