God’s Word for You
Acts 9:10-12 The vision of Ananias
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, January 28, 2020
10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” “Here I am, Lord,” he replied. 11 The Lord said to him, “Get up, go to Straight Street, to the house of Judas, and ask for a man called Saul of Tarsus. He is praying there. 12 He has seen a man named Ananias in a vision coming and laying his hands on him to restore his sight.”
This is obviously not the same Ananias that we briefly met in chapter 5. The name was common in Israel. There was a Jewish high priest with this name (Acts 23:2, 24:1); it might have been the name Hanani from the Old Testament, which was the name of several men (Nehemiah 1:2; 1 Chronicles 25:4) including the prophet (seer) of 2 Chronicles 16:7-10 imprisoned by King Asa.
Luke presents us with some geographical details here which although not crucial to the story are nevertheless part of the inspired text. The two cities mentioned, Damascus and Tarsus, were at this time two of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world (today Tarsus is in ruins). Damascus still has a “Straight street” (Darb al-Mustaqim), and the house of Judas mentioned in the text is traditionally thought to have been located on the west end, but this cannot be said with certainty. When Dr. Lenski visited Damascus in 1925, he said that he and his group had doubts as to whether this really was the same street.
Tarsus was an important city on the border between Palestine and Asia Minor (Turkey). It had an excellent harbor, good natural resources nearby, and the fortification guarding the main mountain pass (the Cilician Gates) into Asia Minor and especially the regions of Cappadocia, Lycaonia and Galatia. In the hands of the Romans since about 66 BC, it had a population of perhaps half a million people at this time.
Notice that Ananias sees a vision while praying. There are other visions at this time (see Acts 10:1-23, 11:5, 16:9 and 18:9), sometimes of Jesus, and sometimes of someone or something else. The Lord was working more directly with his apostles and missionaries in those early days of the church, perhaps because the word of the new covenant, the New Testament, was not yet written down, and new instructions were sometimes necessary. Such visions were only given to men like Peter and Paul, men who were (or were about to be) full of the Holy Spirit, and who had the wisdom to put the vision into its proper context, obeying the word of the Lord. Before anyone today wishes that they might see a vision of Christ or hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, they should consider very carefully whether they would instantly love the message given to them by God. Some men received instructions that were difficult (Jonah 1:2; Ezekiel 24:16-17), and others received instructions that we would find impossible to carry out today (Genesis 22:2). Would we behave as Paul did when Agabus warned him about what was in store for him in Jerusalem (Acts 21:11)? Or when Jesus warned Peter about his death (John 21:18-19)?
What might have been the most significant for Ananias is that Saul was praying. He was no longer breathing out threats and murder. Now he was praying for the salvation of his wretched soul. Ananias had the door of the gospel flung open for him by the Lord himself. What would he do? What if the Lord put into your path a murderer and a man who had letters of authority enabling him to execute whatever Christians he found? We will hear Ananias’ reply next.
Pastor Timothy Smith