Ananias, High Priest

Daily Devotional

Average reading time is about 3 minutes

“After five days Ananias the high priest came down with the elders and a certain orator named Tertullus. These gave evidence to the governor against Paul” (Acts 24:1).

Sometimes the Bible presents little ironies in the midst of harrowing stories. As we join the scene in Acts 23 and 24, Paul, a Pharisee— and as such a de facto member of the Sanhedrin—who now followed Jesus, was being confronted by the Jewish high priest Ananias, the son of Nedebaios. The name “Ananias” is a version of a Hebrew word meaning “God is merciful.”

God is merciful, but this high priest wasn’t. Paul provoked him, you could argue, by calling him a “whitewashed wall,” a structure that looks nice on the outside but is corrupt within. But Ananias ordered temple guards to strike Paul on the mouth, and later arranged for Felix, the Ro- man governor, to put Paul on trial. Mercy? Not with this high priest.

And for a supposed minister, Ananias wasn’t much loved. One Bible commentary says he was known as “a violent, haughty, gluttonous, and rapacious man,” yet the Jews “looked up” to him. The Romans weren’t overly fond of him either. The regional governor sent Ananias to Rome for trial, but he was acquitted by the emperor Claudius.

Paul’s treatment at the hands of the Romans in Jerusalem was no picnic, but God’s hand was upon him. He survived his trials and was instrumental in spreading the gospel throughout much of the known world.

Ananias wasn’t as fortunate. At the start of the first Jewish-Roman War, the high priest was killed by rebellious Jews. Four years after the start of the war in ad 66, Jerusalem fell, just as Jesus had prophesied.

What lesson can we draw from Ananias’ corrupt, callous life? Avoiding sin would be an obvious one, but perhaps the greater one is to listen to God’s messengers with an open mind. Had he done so with Paul, perhaps a whole generation might have been saved.

Lord, thank You for lessons from those who should have known better! Help me to keep my heart open to Your word, and to the voice of those bringing it.



Daily Devotional Verses

For Further Study: Acts 23, 24; Matthew 23:25; Luke 11:39

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