Ananias

Ananias [N] [H] [S]

a common Jewish name, the same as Hananiah.

  • One of the members of the church at Jerusalem, who conspired with his wife Sapphira to deceive the brethren, and who fell down and immediately expired after he had uttered the falsehood ( Acts 5:5 ). By common agreement the members of the early Christian community devoted their property to the work of furthering the gospel and of assisting the poor and needy. The proceeds of the possessions they sold were placed at the disposal of the apostles ( Acts 4:36 Acts 4:37 ). Ananias might have kept his property had he so chosen; but he professed agreement with the brethren in the common purpose, and had of his own accord devoted it all, as he said, to these sacred ends. Yet he retained a part of it for his own ends, and thus lied in declaring that he had given it all. "The offence of Ananias and Sapphira showed contempt of God, vanity and ambition in the offenders, and utter disregard of the corruption which they were bringing into the society. Such sin, committed in despite of the light which they possessed, called for a special mark of divine indignation."

  • A Christian at Damascus ( Acts 9:10 ). He became Paul's instructor; but when or by what means he himself became a Christian we have no information. He was "a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt" at Damascus ( 22:12 ).

  • The high priest before whom Paul was brought in the procuratorship of Felix ( Acts 23:2 Acts 23:5 Acts 23:24 ). He was so enraged at Paul's noble declaration, "I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day," that he commanded one of his attendants to smite him on the mouth. Smarting under this unprovoked insult, Paul quickly replied, "God shall smite thee, thou whited wall." Being reminded that Ananias was the high priest, to whose office all respect was to be paid, he answered, "I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest" ( Acts 23:5 ). This expression has occasioned some difficulty, as it is scarcely probable that Paul should have been ignorant of so public a fact. The expression may mean (a) that Paul had at the moment overlooked the honour due to the high priest; or (b), as others think, that Paul spoke ironically, as if he had said, "The high priest breaking the law! God's high priest a tyrant and a lawbreaker! I see a man in white robes, and have heard his voice, but surely it cannot, it ought not to be, the voice of the high priest." (See Dr. Lindsay on Acts, in loco .) (c) Others think that from defect of sight Paul could not observe that the speaker was the high priest. In all this, however, it may be explained, Paul, with all his excellency, comes short of the example of his divine Master, who, when he was reviled, reviled not again.

    These dictionary topics are from
    M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
    published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Ananias". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

  • Ananias [N] [E] [S]

    or Ananiah
    Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names. Public Domain. Copy freely.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

    Bibliography Information

    Hitchcock, Roswell D. "Entry for 'Ananias'". "An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names". . New York, N.Y., 1869.

    Ananias [N] [E] [H]

    (whom Jehovah has graciously given )

    1. A high priest in ( Acts 23:2-5 ; 24:1 ) He was the son of Nebedaeus. He was nominated to the office by Herod king of Chalcis in A.D. 48; was deposed shortly before Felix left the province and assassinated by the Sicarii at the beginning of the last Jewish war.
    2. A disciple at Jerusalem, husband of Sapphira. ( Acts 5:1-11 ) having sold his goods for the benefit of the church he kept back a part of the price, bringing to the apostles the remainder as if it was the whole, his wife being privy to the scheme. St. Peter denounced the fraud, and Ananias fell down and expired.
    3. A Jewish disciple at Damascus, ( Acts 9:10-17 ) of high repute, ( Acts 22:12 ) who sought out Saul during the period of blindness which followed his conversion, and announced to him his future commission as a preacher of the gospel. Tradition makes him to have been afterwarded bishop of Damascus, and to have died by martyrdom.

    [N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
    [E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
    [H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

    Bibliography Information

    Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Ananias'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.

    ANANIAS (1)

    an-a-ni'-as (Ananias; Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek, Hananias; chananyah, "Yah has been gracious"):

    The name was common among the Jews. In its Hebrew form it is frequently found in the Old Testament (e.g. 1 Chronicles 25:4; Jeremiah 28:1; Daniel 1:6).

    See HANANIAH.

    1. A Disciple at Jerusalem:

    Husband of Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10). He and his wife sold their property, and gave to the common fund of the church part of the purchase money, pretending it was the whole. When his hypocrisy was denounced by Peter, Ananias fell down dead; and three hours later his wife met the same doom. The following points are of interest.

    (1) The narrative immediately follows the account of the intense brotherliness of the believers resulting in a common fund, to which Barnabas had made a generous contribution (Acts 4:32-37). The sincerity and spontaneity of the gifts of Barnabas and the others set forth in dark relief the calculated deceit of Ananias. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow.

    (2) The crime of Ananias consisted, not in his retaining a part, but in his pretending to give the whole. He was under no compulsion to give all, for the communism of the early church was not absolute, but purely voluntary (see especially Acts 5:4) Falsehood and hypocrisy ("lie to the Holy Spirit" Acts 5:3), rather than greed, were the sins for which he was so severely punished.

    (3) The severity of the Judgment can be justified by the consideration that the act was "the first open venture of deliberate wickedness" (Meyer) within the church. The punishment was an "awe-inspiring act of Divine church-discipline." The narrative does not, however, imply that Peter consciously willed their death. His words were the occasion of it, but he was not the deliberate agent. Even the words in Acts 5:9 are a prediction rather than a judicial sentence.

    2. A Disciple at Damascus:

    A disciple in Damascus, to whom the conversion of Saul of Tarsus was made known in a vision, and who was the instrument of his physical and spiritual restoration, and the means of introducing him to the other Christians in Damascus (Acts 9:10-19). Paul makes honorable mention of him in his account of his conversion spoken at Jerusalem (Acts 22:12-16), where we are told that Ananias was held in high respect by all the Jews in Damascus, on account of his strict legal piety. No mention is made of him in Paul's address before Agrippa in Caesarea (Acts 26). In late tradition, he is placed in the list of the seventy disciples of Jesus, and represented as bishop of Damascus, and as having died a martyr's death.

    3. A High Priest at Jerusalem:

    A high priest in Jerusalem from 47-59 AD. From Josephus (Ant., XX, v, 2; vi, 2; ix, 2; BJ, II, xvii, 9) we glean the following facts:

    He was the son of Nedebaeus (or Nebedaeus) and was nominated to the high-priestly office by Herod of Chalcis. In 52 AD he was sent to Rome by Quadratus, legate of Syria, to answer a charge of oppression brought by the Samaritans, but the emperor Claudius acquitted him. On his return to Jerusalem, he resumed the office of high priest. He was deposed shortly before Felix left the province, but continued to wield great influence, which he used in a lawless and violent way. He was a typical Sadducee, wealthy, haughty, unscrupulous, filling his sacred office for purely selfish and political ends, anti-nationalist in his relation to the Jews, friendly to the Romans. He died an ignominious death, being assassinated by the popular zealots (sicarii) at the beginning of the last Jewish war. In the New Testament he figures in two passages.

    (1) Acts 23:1-5, where Paul defends himself before the Sanhedrin. The overbearing conduct of Ananias in commanding Paul to be struck on the mouth was characteristic of the man. Paul's ire was for the moment aroused, and he hurled back the scornful epithet of "whited wall." On being called to account for "reviling God's high priest," he quickly recovered the control of his feelings, and said "I knew not, brethren, that he was high priest:

    for it is written, Thou shalt not speak evil of a ruler of thy people." This remark has greatly puzzled the commentators. The high priest could have been easily identified by his position and official seat as president of the Sanhedrin. Some have wrongly supposed that Ananias had lost his office during his trial at Rome, but had afterward usurped it during a vacancy (John Lightfoot, Michaelis, etc.). Others take the words as ironical, "How could I know as high priest one who acts so unworthily of his sacred office?" (so Calvin). Others (e.g. Alford, Plumptre) take it that owing to defective eyesight Paul knew not from whom the insolent words had come. Perhaps the simplest explanation is that Paul meant, "I did not for the moment bear in mind that I was addressing the high priest" (so Bengel, Neander, etc.).

    (2) In Acts 24:1 we find Ananias coming down to Caesarea in person, with a deputation from the Sanhedrin, to accuse Paul before Felix.

    D. Miall Edwards


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'ANANIAS (1)'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.  

    ANANIAS (2)

    (Apocrypha), an-a-ni'-as:

    (1) Ananias, the Revised Version (British and American) Annis, the Revised Version, margin, Annias (1 Esdras 5:16). See \ANNIS\.

    (2) A son of Emmer (1 Esdras 9:21) = Hanani, son of Immer in Ezra 10:20.

    (3) A son of Bebai (1 Esdras 9:29) = Hananiah in Ezra 10:28. The two last are mentioned in the list of priests who were found to have strange wives.

    (4) One of those who stood by Esdras while he read the law to the people (1 Esdras 9:43) = Anaiah in Nehemiah 8:4.

    (5) One of the Levites who explained the law to the people (1 Esdras 9:48) = Hanan in Nehemiah 8:7.

    (6) Ananias the Great, son of Shemaiah the Great; a kinsman of Tobit, whom Raphael the angel, disguised as a man, gave out to be his father (Tobit 5:12 f).

    (7) Son of Gideon, mentioned as an ancestor of Judith (Judith 8:1).

    (8) Another Ananias is mentioned in The So of the Three Children (Azariah) (verse 66).

    D. Miall Edwards


    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Bibliography Information
    Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'ANANIAS (2)'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.