How could Ananias give Paul the Holy Spirit?

Question:

If Paul was an apostle, he was supposed to receive the Holy Spirit from another apostle or directly from God, yet he received it from a disciple. I thought only apostles had the ability to give the Holy Spirit.


Answer:

"But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake." So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he regained his sight, and he got up and was baptized" (Acts 9:15-18).

"And I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.' ... A certain Ananias, a man who was devout by the standard of the Law, and well spoken of by all the Jews who lived there, came to me, and standing near said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And at that very time I looked up at him. And he said, 'The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. 'Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name'" (Acts 22:10,12-16).

"But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you" (Acts 26:16).

In each account it says Christ appointed him and made him an apostle. This appointment was confirmed by the will of Jesus and the Father and not by man (Galatians 1:1).

Paul states that Jesus himself taught him directly. "For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. ... But when God, who had set me apart even from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus" (Galatians 1:11-12, 15-17).

Perhaps combining the accounts will give a clearer picture of what happened"

"And I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?'

And the Lord said to me, 'Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do.

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias."

And he said, "Here I am, Lord."

And the Lord said to him, "Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight."

So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

Standing near to me he said, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' And immediately there fell from my eyes something like scales, and I regained my sight, and at that very time I looked up at him.

And he said, 'The God of our fathers has appointed you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear an utterance from His mouth. For you will be a witness for Him to all men of what you have seen and heard. Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.'" and he got up and was baptized."

In Acts 9, when Jesus appears in a vision to Ananias, he is not commanded to give the Holy Spirit but only give back Paul's sight by laying hands him. Ananias was also told to relay a message from God. Part of the message was to tell Paul that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit, learn directly from Christ himself and be baptized, which matches what Scripture says (Galatians 1:1; I Timothy 1:1,12,2:7). In none of the other scriptures does it tell us exactly when Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit, just that it would happen. When exactly did Paul receive the Holy Spirit as the other Apostles? We are not told, we just know it eventually happen, beyond that I would be speculating.

As a side note, the idea of being filled with the Spirit has different meanings in the Bible.

  • Having God and His teachings in your life (Acts 6:3-5; 11:24; 13:52; Ephesians 5:18).
  • Having the power of God (miraculous gifts) given to you (Acts 2:4; 13:9).
  • Having the inspiration to speak the words of God (Acts 7:55).

We then must ask which is being referred to with Paul here?

by Alan Feaster