Acts 9:17

Monday, 1 August 2022

And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him 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.” Acts 9:17

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After accepting the Lord’s words concerning Saul (Paul), Ananias complies with the directive to meet with him. That now is seen with the words, “And Ananias went his way.”

Ananias was initially reluctant to comply with the Lord’s words, but after realizing that the Lord actually had a plan that was already figured out and that he was to be an active participant in it, he yielded to the Lord’s will and departed to Straight Street “and entered the house.”

This is exactly what he was initially instructed to do. In verse 9:11, it said, “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.’” Therefore, this is now that house belonging to Judas. Having entered it, Luke next records, “and laying his hands on him.”

The verb is an aorist participle. It should read, “and having laid his hands on him.” Luke is methodically detailing each step as it occurs in the order of events. As for this one, this is exactly what Saul was told would be the case in his vision in verse 9:12 –

“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.”

This would be the confirmation to Saul (Paul), as well as to Ananias, that everything that has occurred has been carefully orchestrated by the Lord. Each man would be able to bear witness that the outcome was shown to them in advance and that it occurred just as it was revealed to them. With that understood, and with Ananias having laid his hand on him, “he said, Brother Saul.”

It is obvious that this goes beyond the fellowship of being Jews. It is an indication that because the Lord has accepted Saul, he is to be considered a believing brother in the Lord. As such, he welcomes him with words regarding this fellowship, by first proclaiming the One who made it possible, saying, “the Lord Jesus.”

The very One that Saul had implicitly persecuted through the active persecution of His people was now being proclaimed over him as the One who had granted him mercy and taken him to be an apostle. Ananias notes that it is this Lord Jesus “who appeared to you on the road as you came.” This now forms a link to verse 9:5 –

“And he said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’
Then the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’”

Any possibility that Saul was simply confused or maybe driven mad by his own guilt, thus fabricating the entire vision (as some have claimed), is now erased. The Lord who appeared on the road is the One who is now being presented by Ananias once again to bring about Saul’s deliverance from the darkness that overshadowed him. This is seen in Ananias’ words that Jesus “has sent me that you may receive your sight.”

This should actually say, “that you may regain your sight.” Saul had a vision of the Lord on the road. He was unable to see after that occurred. He was then given another vision where a man named Ananias would come and put his hands on him so that he might regain his sight. And now, a man named Ananias has come and put his hands on him, claiming authority as the Lord’s emissary to do exactly that.

No part of the equation is missing, and so there can be no question left in the mind of either man about the surety of the Source of the events now taking place. And more, new information is given for us to consider. Saul is not only to receive his sight, but Ananias adds, “and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

This is a unique occurrence so far in Acts where the Holy Spirit is given apart from the presence of any apostle. It is also given without any noted sequence of events in relation to Paul’s baptism. Nothing is said if the Holy Spirit is received at this time, during the baptism, or after it. Ananias simply ties the event in with the laying on of his hands, and so only an inference can be made that Saul is immediately filled with the Spirit at this moment.

As such, it is completely out of the sequence of events given in Acts 2 which was the command given to those of Israel who had listened to Peter at Pentecost –

“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

Saul did not need to repent (change his mind) because he had just spent the last three days doing exactly that. Therefore, he was already aware of who Jesus was and had accepted that He is the same One who had been crucified and resurrected.

Because Saul received the Spirit apart from the presence of the apostles, it confirms that his commission is to be considered one directly from the Lord as an apostle, and one bearing a unique charge. The record of Acts, and the later writings of Peter, will confirm this special commission, as do Paul’s own epistles.

Life application: The church did not begin at this time. The church has already been in place for an extended period, having begun in Acts 2 with the coming of the Holy Spirit. The significance of the event now occurring in Acts 9 is that the nation of Israel will become less and less of a focus in redemptive history for an unknown, but extended period of time – exactly as the curses of Deuteronomy 28 proclaim.

During this time, any individual – Jew or Gentile – may partake of the benefit of inclusion in the church. This will become perfectly evident as the focus on Paul becomes preeminent. But it will begin to be seen not with Paul, but with Peter. That is coming in Acts 10. Acts is giving an orderly and methodical account of why Israel as a nation was to be set aside during a time of national punishment. When that time is over, the time of the Gentiles will also come to a close.

The church is not “spiritual Israel,” nor does it replace national Israel, and the church does not receive the Old Testament promises that were made to Israel. The church is a body that grows out of the completed work of Jesus Christ. National Israel is a body from which Christ came, and to which promises that are yet to be fulfilled will be realized.

Keep your theological boxes straight, and you will avoid great error in your theology and doctrine.

Lord God, how faithful You are to Israel. They rejected You when they rejected the coming of Christ Jesus. And yet, You have kept them just as You promised You would, and You have brought them back to the land in order to fulfill the promises You made to them in Your word. How sure we can be that we will receive the same careful attention! We need not worry if we fail You. You will never fail us. Great are You, O God! Amen.