From the Book of Acts we read the words of Ananias to the apostle Paul:

Acts 22:15-16: "For you will be a witness for [Christ] to all men of what you have seen and heard. 16Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name" (emphasis added).

Paul presumably understood the imperative of this command by God through Ananias. Why or how would he delay "washing away his sins"?

  • @Lucian Verse 6: "Now why do you delay?" Ananias appears to have believed that Paul was delaying. Just sayin'.
    – Xeno
    Jul 27, 2021 at 0:15
  • Done. Good catch.
    – Xeno
    Jul 27, 2021 at 0:26
  • I thought you were suggesting that Paul refused or delayed being baptized, after having been invited, by Ananias, to become a Christian. It's simply a (common) expression, the phrase doesn't literally mean that someone was consciously considering baptism, and equally-consciosuly postponing or delaying it (presumably for some lengthy period of time, prior to the moment when one of the two speakers made the suggestion). It's like two people spotting a rabbit, and one of them saying to the other: Why delay ? Let's catch it, and cook us a nice dinner !
    – Lucian
    Jul 27, 2021 at 0:43
  • @Lucian Yes, I wondered about that point below: "[Ananias] may still have had great reservations about Paul, the one who so viciously persecuted the Church. His language may, therefore, have been especially [curt] and abrupt to Paul." He probably had very little patience for Paul.
    – Xeno
    Jul 27, 2021 at 0:58
  • 2
    It simply means hurry up don't delay. Doesn't mean he is delaying. Figure of speech same as the ad banners. Hurry.!
    – Michael16
    Jul 27, 2021 at 8:07

2 Answers 2


The book of Acts contains three accounts of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus that are all slightly different; each has unique features.

  • Acts 9:1-18 which simply says that Paul was immediately baptized
  • Acts 22:6-16 which has the question of Ananias, "And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, calling on His name.’ (V16)
  • Acts 26:12-18 does not mention baptism.

Recall that Paul was the supreme legalistic believer - before conversion he thought that keeping the law somehow made him right with God and commended him to God. It was only after his conversion that Paul understood the centrality of God's love and grace; thus, keeping the law did not make God love him any more.

I assume that having had the Damascus road experience, that Paul may have thought that he had to do some legal works of the law in order to make him right with God. Perhaps Ananias detected some hesitation?

In any case, Ananias, obviously under the direction of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:10-15) perfectly illustrated the miracle of God's love, grace and forgiveness of the persecuting Paul by saying, "Why delay? Be baptized immediately to wash away your sins ..."

God is very kind indeed!!

  • It had occurred to me that Ananias may still have had great reservations about Paul, the one who so viciously persecuted the Church. His language may, therefore, have been especially rough and abrupt to Paul. +1.
    – Xeno
    Jul 26, 2021 at 23:05

Paul's life was turned upside down in Acts 22:

8 “ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.

Paul asked his 1st question.

“ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. 9My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.

10“ ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked.

Paul asked his 2nd question.

“ ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’ 11My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.

Paul was struck and needed help. He was no longer in charge.

12“A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. 13He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.

Things were moving along and happening fast.

14“Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. 15You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard.

Paul was told his purpose. All the while, Paul had been obedient to everybody.

16And now what are you waiting for?

This is a rhetorical question.

Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’

Paul obeyed immediately. Paul's life was turn upside down in this episode. His character changed. There were not any signs of resistance in these verses.

Why would the apostle Paul “delay” being baptized (Acts 22:16)?

He didn't. All the while he was helpless and just waiting for things to happen to him and he obeyed everyone. He was not in charge during this whole episode. He just followed along.

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