Ananias [Ănanī'as]—jehovah is gracious. This name is the Greek form of Hananiah, meaning, “Jehovah hath been gracious” from the Aramaic, meaning, “beautiful.”
1. The disciple who conspired with his wife to deceive the apostles in regard to the value obtained for their property (Acts 5:1-6).
How opposite Aquila and Priscilla are Ananias and Sapphira, both of whom agreed to a dishonest transaction! They were not compelled to sell their property but because of a recognized custom among the early Christian fraternity of having one common fund to draw upon, these two disciples wanted to maintain the appearance of self-denying liberality. There was no harm in keeping back part of the price—they might have kept back all. Their evil consisted in pretending to give all. Their lying was combined with hypocrisy. A certain part was retained, likely the greater part which would look more like the whole.
Peter, supernaturally endowed to detect and expose the fraud of Ananias and Sapphira, was their instrument of sudden death. Punishment was:
I. Prompt—it followed immediately the committal of sin.
II. Decisive—it marked the magnitude of sin.
III. Conspicuous—it was before many witnesses.
IV. Divine—it was not an act of Peter who simply reproved the two who, united in crime, were not separated in death (Ps. 19:13). It was God who punished them.
2. A godly disciple of Damascus to whom was made known the conversion of Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:10-17; 22:12), and who baptized Saul.
3. The high priest anointed by Herod (Acts 23:2; 24:1).