Easton's Bible Dictionary
A common Jewish name, the same as Hananiah.
(1) 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 , 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."
(2) 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 ( Acts 22:12 ).
(3) The high priest before whom Paul was brought in the procuratorship of Felix
( Acts 23:2 , 23:5 , 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
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(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 (Paul) 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
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
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
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
| (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.
4. Ananias, the Revised Version (British and American) Annis, the Revised Version,
margin, Annias (1 Esdras 5:16). See \ANNIS\.
5. A son of Emmer (1 Esdras 9:21) = Hanani, son of Immer in Ezra 10:20.
6. 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.
7. One of those who stood by Esdras while he read the law to the people (1 Esdras
9:43) = Anaiah in Nehemiah 8:4.
8. One of the Levites who explained the law to the people (1 Esdras 9:48) = Hanan
in Nehemiah 8:7.
9. 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).
10. Son of Gideon, mentioned as an ancestor of Judith (Judith 8:1).
11. Another Ananias is mentioned in The Song of the Three Children (Azariah) (verse
D. Miall Edwards
ananias, announced paul to be a preacher of the gospel, bible commentary, bible history, bible reference, bible study, held back some proceeds of his possessions (and died), high priest, deceived apostles