In Acts Chapter 9 after Saul’s conversion that for three days after his arrival in Damascus that he prayed and fasted. Then Ananias showed up and healed him. The question that arises to me is how far into those three days did God begin to talk to Ananias about going to Saul and heal him. It could be understood from the text that it was only shortly before his visit that the Lord spoke and Ananias quickly agreed to visit Saul. But considering Saul’s fearsome reputation it might have taken Ananias some time to have the confidence to leave his house and seek out Saul in the “street called Straight.” One could have expected the church in Damascus to have been praying for God to intervene, though they probably were not expecting the way he intervened. Hoping for God to strike Saul down dead not giving him ‘new life.’ The conversation between the Lord and Ananias is covered in six verses given to him in a vision and Ananias expressed his doubts before apparently agreeing to go. What is recorded was probably the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, as when he actually went to Saul he adds that he was there to give Saul the Holy Spirit as well. After the vision ended there would have been doubts arising in Ananias’ mind almost immediately along the lines of “was that just a dream or what?” One suspects Ananias would have also consulted other members of the church leadership about his vision to discuss it. They no doubt came to the conclusion, “we will stay here and pray for you.” Relieved that they had not been chosen to visit Saul themselves. He might have made discreet enquiries about Saul and his situation to find out if he was really blind, but sooner or later the delaying tactics would have had to end and he was faced with certain arrest if the vision had been false. We know Saul’s conversion was genuine but Ananias did not have that hindsight. Saul came with an escort who one assumes was still guarding him so Ananias had to get past them to see Saul. Did Ananias reason that “if this is from the Lord and Saul is expecting me I will announce myself to those with him and they will let me see him? If they say no, then I have been mistaken.” Possibly. When he was ushered in he addressed Saul as “Brother” though initially this might have been through gritted teeth because of his reputation. In fact, the Lord had said to Ananias that Saul would suffer for the Lord’s name which might be a hint that Ananias had been praying earlier for Saul to suffer. However, any such feeling seems to have dissipated almost immediately, as Saul was healed with the laying on of his hands and subsequent baptism. Of course, Saul did not actually the title of the post as far as we know but he might have been entitled to
Another question arises as to how many of his escorts also became converts to Christ. After all they saw the healing of Saul’s blindness. In verse 25 is states that Saul’s followers helped him escape from Damascus by lowering over the city walls. Now the wording might be to detach blame for any consequences to the local church from Saul’s escape. Did those who followed him to Damascus still follow him at the time of his departure? Just a thought.
David Rose 2016