Acts 4:6
And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
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(6) And Annas the high priest . . .—These are mentioned by themselves as representing the section that had probably convened the meeting, and came in as if to dominate its proceedings. The order of the first two names is the same as in Luke 3:2, and as that implied in John 18:13; John 18:24. Annas, or Ananus, had been made high priest by Quirinus, the Governor of Syria, filled the office A.D. 7-15, and lived to see five of his sons occupy it after him. At this time, Joseph Caiaphas was the actual high priest (see Note on John 11:49), having been appointed in A.D. 17. He was deposed A.D. 37. He had married the daughter of Annas; and the latter seems to have exercised a dominant influence, perhaps, as the Nasi, the Prince, or President, of the Sanhedrin, during the remainder of his life. If he presided on this occasion, it may explain St. Luke’s calling him “the high priest.”

John.—This may have been the Johanan ben Zaccai, who is reported by Jewish writers to have been at the height of his fame forty years before the destruction of the Temple, and to have been President of the Great Synagogue after its removal to Jamnia. The identification is, at the best, uncertain; but the story told of his death-bed, in itself full of pathos, becomes, on this assumption, singularly interesting. His disciples asked him why he wept: “O light or Israel, . . . . whence these tears?” And he replied: “If I were going to appear before a king of flesh and blood, he is one who to-day is and to-morrow is in the grave; if he were wroth with me, his wrath is not eternal; if he were to cast me into chains, those chains are not for ever; if he slay me, that death is not eternal; I might soothe him with words or appease him with a gift. But they are about to bring me before the King of kings, the Lord, the Holy and Blessed One, who liveth and abideth for ever. And if He is wroth with me, His wrath is eternal; and if He bind, His bonds are eternal; if He slay, it is eternal death; and Him I cannot soothe with words or appease with gifts. And besides all this, there are before me two paths, one to Paradise and the other to Gehenna, and I know not in which they are about to lead me. How can I do aught else but weep?” (Bab-Beracoth, fol. 28, in Lightfoot: Cent.-Chorogr., Acts 15)

Alexander.—This name has been identified by many scholars with Alexander, the brother of Philo, the Alabarch, or magistrate of Alexandria (Jos. Ant. xviii. 8, § 1; xix. 5, § 1). There is, however, not the shadow of any evidence for the identification.

As many as were of the kindred of the high priest.—The same phrase is used by Josephus (Ant. xv. 3, § 1), and may mean either those who were personally related by ties of blood with the high priest for the time being, or the heads of the four-and-twenty courses of priests. (See Notes on Matthew 2:4; Luke 1:5.) All these had probably taken part in our Lord’s condemnation.

4:5-14 Peter being filled with the Holy Ghost, would have all to understand, that the miracle had been wrought by the name, or power, of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, whom they had crucified; and this confirmed their testimony to his resurrection from the dead, which proved him to be the Messiah. These rulers must either be saved by that Jesus whom they had crucified, or they must perish for ever. The name of Jesus is given to men of every age and nation, as that whereby alone believers are saved from the wrath to come. But when covetousness, pride, or any corrupt passion, rules within, men shut their eyes, and close their hearts, in enmity against the light; considering all as ignorant and unlearned, who desire to know nothing in comparison with Christ crucified. And the followers of Christ should act so that all who converse with them, may take knowledge that they have been with Jesus. That makes them holy, heavenly, spiritual, and cheerful, and raises them above this world.Their rulers - The rulers of the Jews; doubtless the members of the Sanhedrin, or Great Council of the nation. Compare Acts 4:15. See the notes on Matthew 2:4; Matthew 5:22. The expression their rulers looks as if this book was written for the Gentiles, or Luke would have said our rulers.

Elders - Presbyters, or those who were chosen from among the people to sit in the Sanhedrin. It is probable that the rulers were those who held also some other office, but were also authorized to sit in the Great Council.

Scribes - See the notes on Matthew 2:4.

And Annas ... - See the notes on John 18:13. It is by no means certain that Annas was at that time the high priest, but he had been, and doubtless retained the title. He was father-in-law to Caiaphas, the high priest; and from this fact, together with his former dignity, he is mentioned first.

Caiaphas - Son-in-law of Annas, and now exercising the office of the high priest, John 18:13.

John, and Alexander ... - Of these persons nothing more is known. It is clear that they were members of the Great Council, and the mention of their names shows that the men of chief authority and influence were assembled to silence the apostles. Annas and Caiaphas had been concerned in the condemnation of Jesus, and they would now feel a special interest in arresting the progress of the gospel among the people. All the success of the gospel reflected back light upon the wicked ness of the act of condemning the Lord Jesus. And this fact may serve, in part, to account for their strong desire to silence the apostles.

At Jerusalem - εἰς eis. This was the usual place of assembling the Sanhedrin. But the Jewish writers (see Lightfoot on this place) say that 40 years before the destruction of the city, on account of the great increase of crime, etc., the Sanhedrin was removed from place to place. The declaration of Luke that they were now assembled in Jerusalem, seems to imply that they sometimes met in other places. It is probable that the members of the Sanhedrin were not in the city at the time mentioned in Acts 4:3, and this was the reason why the trial was deferred to the next day.

6. Annas … and Caiaphas—(See on [1947]Lu 3:2).

John and Alexander—of whom nothing is known.

Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas; both these are said to be high priests, Luke 3:2; whether they bare this office by turn each other year, as some think, or that the Roman power put in and out whom they pleased, and in courtesy he that was laid aside still retained the title during his life, is not very material.

John, thought to be the son of Annas.

Alexander, a man of great repute amongst them, as Josephus says.

As many as were of the kindred of the high priest; their relation many times preferring them to a place in their great council, or sanhedrim.

Were gathered together at Jerusalem; or in Jerusalem; either such as were in the city, being called together on such an extraordinary occasion; or else they sent also unto men of greatest note, that lived nigh thereunto. And Annas the high priest,.... So called, either because he had been an high priest, though he was not now, but Caiaphas his son-in-law; or because he was the Sagan of the high priest, and had all the other priests under his government; and is mentioned first, because he was father-in-law to Caiaphas; See Gill on Luke 3:2 he could not be called so, because he was "prince", or president of the council; for not he, but Gamaliel, was president at this time. And

Caiaphas; who was properly high priest, and continued so for three years after the death of Christ:

and John; who is thought by Dr. Lightfoot to be the same with Jochanan, or John ben Zaccai; a famous Jewish Rabbi, who lived at this time, and until, and after the destruction of Jerusalem: this Rabbi was "a priest" (t), as this John was, of the kindred of the high priest; he lived also at Jerusalem; for it is said of him (u), that he sat in the shadow of the temple, and expounded all the whole day; and a very remarkable story is told of him, which happened just about this time (w); which is, that

"forty years before the destruction of the temple--the doors of the temple opened of themselves, when Rabban Jochanan ben Zaccai reproved them, saying, O temple, temple, wherefore dost thou fright thyself? I know thee, that thine end shall be, to be destroyed; for so prophesied of thee Zechariah, the son of Iddo, Zechariah 11:1. "Open thy doors, O Lebanon", &c.''

The chief objection to him, as that learned writer observes, is, that he lived and died a Pharisee, whereas this John seems to have been a Sadducee; see Acts 5:17. This puts me in mind of John the high priest, who ministered in the high priesthood fourscore years, and at last became a Sadducee (x): Beza's ancient copy reads "Jonathan: and Alexander"; whose surname was Lysimachus, and had the title of "Alabarcha"; he was a very rich man (y): after Alexander the great had been at Jerusalem, this name became frequent among the Jews; and it is said (z) to be promised him, and was fulfilled, that every son that was born to the priests that year he entered Jerusalem, should be called Alexander; and therefore it is no wonder to hear of an Alexander among the kindred of the high priest; frequent mention is made of , "Rabbi Alexander", in the Jewish writings (a):

and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest; by whose means they were become members of the sanhedrim:

were gathered together at Jerusalem; where the great council only sat, until the destruction of it; it seems by this, that some of the members of it lived in the country; it may be in some of the villages adjacent, where they might be easily and quickly sent for, upon any occasion, as they very likely now were; the Syriac version leaves out the words "at Jerusalem".

(t) Juchasin, fol. 20. 2.((u) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 26. 1.((w) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 39. 2. & Hieros. Yoma, fol. 43. 3.((x) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 29. 1.((y) Joseph Antiqu. l. 20. c. 4. sect. 2.((z) Juchasin, fol. 14. 1. & 159. 1. Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 18. 2.((a) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 53. 2. Chagiga, fol. 5. 1. Megilla, fol. 17. 2. Nedarim, fol. 41. 1. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 1. & passim.

And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the {d} kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

(d) From whom the high Priests were usually chosen and made. At this time the former high Priest was stepping down, and a new high Priest was being appointed.

Acts 4:6. Ἄννας: Caiaphas, the son-in-law of Annas, was the high priest actually, in office, but like other retired high priests, the latter retained not only the title, but also many of the rights and obligations of the office. Josephus certainly appears to extend the title to ex-high priests, and so in the N.T. where ἀρχιερεῖς appear at the head of the Sanhedrim as in this passage (ἄρχοντες), the ex-high priests are to be understood, first and foremost, as well as the high-priest actually in office. The difficulty here is that the title is given to Annas alone, and this seems to involve that he was also regarded as president of the Sadducees, whereas it is always the actual ἀρχιερεύς who presides, cf. Acts 5:17; Acts 7:1; Acts 9:1; Acts 22:5; Acts 23:2; Acts 23:4; Acts 24:1. But not only is the laxity of the term to be considered, but also the fact that Annas on account of his influence as the head of the γένος ἀρχιερατικόν may have remained the presiding ἀρχιερεύς in spite of all the rapid changes in the tenure of the high-priestly office under the Romans. These changes the Jews would not recognise as valid, and if the early chapters of Acts came to St. Luke as seems probable from Jewish Christian sources, Annas might easily be spoken of as high-priest. His relationship to Caiaphas helps to explain the influence and power of Annas. On Hamburger’s view (Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, ii., 8, p. 1151,“Synhedrion”), that a Rabbi and not the high-priest presided over the Sadducees, see Edersheim, History of the Jewish Nation, p. 522, and Schürer, u. s., p. 180. For Annas, see Jos., Ant., xviii., 2, 12, xx., 9, 1, and see further “Annas” in B.D.2 and Hastings’ B.D.—Ἰωάννης: identified by J. Lightfoot (cf. also Wetstein) with the famous Johanan ben Zacchai, president of the Great Synagogue after its removal to Jamnia, who obtained leave from Vespasian for many of the Jews to settle in the place. But the identification is very uncertain, and does not appear to commend itself to Schürer; see critical note above.—Ἀλέξανδρος: of him too nothing is known, as there is no confirmatory evidence to identify him with the brother of Philo, alabarch of Alexandria, and the first man of his time amongst the Jews of that city, Jos., Ant., xviii., 8, 1, xix., 5, 1, xx., 5, B.D.2 and Hastings’ B. D., “Alexander”.6. and Annas the high priest] was there. The verb is understood. Annas (called Ananus in Josephus), son of one Seth, was made high-priest (a.d. 7) by the Roman governor Quirinus [Cyrenius], and so continued till a.d. 14 (Joseph. Antiq. xviii. 2. 1). We do not find that he was ever again appointed to the office, though St Luke here calls him high-priest. But the way in which he is mentioned at the time of the trial of Christ, who was brought, as we read, before Annas first (John 18:13), and sent by him afterwards bound unto Caiaphas, shews that, though not actual high-priest, yet his position in the eyes of the people of Jerusalem was one which justified them in bringing Jesus to him as soon as he was seized. It is difficult to explain from the words of the New Test, the relation of these two men in their office. Caiaphas is expressly called high-priest by St John, yet we are not told why Christ was not at once brought to him. It may be that one was acting high-priest, while the other was nasi or president of the Sanhedrin. Moreover it is not improbable that Annas, having been high-priest before, and only deposed from the office by the Roman governor Gratus, would, both during the short high-priesthood of his son Eleazar (a.d. 16), and the longer high-priesthood of Caiaphas, his son-in-law (a.d. 25–37), exercise much influence by reason of his age and experience, and might, from his former tenure of the office, even be spoken of as high-priest. It is clear that he was at the head of one of the most influential Jewish families, for before his death, five of his sons had been high-priests (Joseph. Antiq. xx. 9. 1). We can see from Luke 3:2, where both Annas and Caiaphas are said to be high-priests, that there was some laxity in the common use of the title. So far only does the New Testament carry us, but when we come to examine the Old Testament, and the records of later Jewish literature, there seems every reason to conclude that the expressions which seem somewhat hard to reconcile are exactly those which would naturally be employed. We find that Moses, who is himself counted (Psalm 99:6) God’s priest on the same level with Aaron, anointed not Aaron only, but his sons at the same time (Exodus 40:12-15) to be high-priests. Also (Numbers 31:6) Phinehas the son of Eleazar is sent to the war against the Midianites with “the holy instruments” (Le. the Urim and Thummim), which shews that he was high-priest at the same time as Eleazar his father. Again in later times (2 Kings 25:18) we have mention made of “Seraiah the chief priest and Zephaniah the second priest,” which the Targum explain as “high-priest and Sagan” or deputy high-priest. The Talmud makes it very clear that there was a special arrangement for providing on some occasions such a deputy for the high-priest. Thus (Mishna Joma i. 1) it says, “Seven days before the day of atonement they remove the high-priest from his house to the chamber of the assessors, and they provide another priest in his place lest any disqualification should befal him.” On this passage Rashi’s note is “to be high-priest instead of him.” and a little later on in the same treatise (T. B. Joma 39 a) it is said concerning the services of the day of atonement: “Rabbi Khanina the Sagan of the priests (and so one qualified to speak on the duties of the office) said: Why does the Sagan stand on the right hand of the high-priest (when the lots are being cast for the goats)?” The answer is, “So that if any disqualification should befal him, the Sagan may go in (to the Holy of Holies) and perform the service in his stead.” Cp. also Midrash Rabbah on Leviticus (par. 20 ad fin.). “If there was any defilement on Aaron, Eleazar served (as high-priest), and if there was any defilement on Eleazar, Ithamar served.” (On the slight matters which caused such ceremonial defilement, see note on Acts 10:28.) And in the same chapter we find “Had not Elisheba (Exodus 6:23, the wife of Aaron) joy in this world who saw five crowns (i.e. subjects for rejoicing) in one day? her brother-in-law (Moses) a king (Deuteronomy 33:5); her brother (Naashon) nasi, i.e. president, of the tribe of Judah; her husband high-priest; her two sons, sagans of the high-priest; and Phinehas her grandson anointed for the war.” These notices make it clear that from the earliest times down to a period posterior to the date of the Acts, there were occasions, and these not unfrequent, when two men were called high-priests at the same time.

That one who had been high-priest should still retain the title may be seen from the principle laid down in several places in the Talmud, (see Mishna Shekalim vi. 6, ed. princ. Jerus.), viz. that “you may elevate in a sacred office or service, but you cannot bring down,” as with us “once a Bishop, always a Bishop.” The illustration given is that you might lay the shewbread on a marble table first, and afterwards on a golden one, but the contrary order of proceeding was forbidden. (For another illustration, see note on Acts 6:3.) Therefore Annas, having been high-priest, could, according to Jewish usage, never be called by any lower title.

The relationship between Annas and Caiaphas and the seniority of the former is enough to explain the conduct of the crowd in bringing Jesus to him first: while the omission of the word high-priest (Acts 4:6) with the name of Caiaphas is no more a proof that he was not also known to be high-priest, as well as Annas, than the words of St Mark’s Gospel (Acts 16:7), “Go your way, tell his disciples and Peter,” can be made evidence that Peter was not one of the disciples. For a similar phrase cp. Acts 5:29 and the note there.

and Caiaphas] He was also called Joseph, and was son-in-law to Annas.

and John] This is the same name as Johanan, and Lightfoot concludes that this person was the famous Johanan ben Zaccai, who by his influence with Vespasian procured permission for many of the Jews to settle in Jamnia (Yavneh) after the destruction of their city, and himself became head of the synagogue there.

and Alexander] of whom nothing is known more than can be gathered from this mention of him.

and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest] And these would probably all be of the Sadducees’ party.

were gathered together at (MSS. in) Jerusalem] These words which A. V. places at the end of Acts 4:6 are in the Greek a part of Acts 4:5, and it is better to insert them there, because the MSS. of most authority make the names in Acts 4:6 all nominatives and subjects to a new verb. It may have been that some of the authorities were not residents in Jerusalem, but had to be summoned.Acts 4:6. Τὸν ἀρχιερέα, the High Priest, the chief of the priests) This is to be understood of Caiaphas also.—Ἀλέξανδρον, Alexander) This name was frequent among the Jews from Alexander the Great.Verse 6. - Annas the high priest was there for Annas the high priest, a.V. This is the same Annas as is mentioned in Luke 3:2 and John 18:13, and is described as "father-in-law to Caiaphas." He is called by Josephus, Ananus. The succession of the high priests was so irregular, and their tenure of the office so uncertain, in these later years of the Jewish commonwealth, being dependent upon the caprice of the civil rulers who appointed and deposed them at their pleasure, that it does not surprise us to find Annas and Caiaphas high priests at the commencement of John the Baptist's ministry, then Caiaphas at the time of our Lord's passion, and now Annas again. It is possible, however, that Annas may have continued to be president of the Sanhedrim, and be called high priest, even when not actually so. He seems to have lived to old age. He is mentioned by Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 20, 60:1) as having had the singular felicity not only of enjoying the high priesthood himself for a great length of time, but of having five sons promoted to the dignity of high priest, viz. Eleazar, Jonathan, Theophilus, Mat-thins, and Ananus (or Annas). Caiaphas (John 18:13). Of John and Alexander nothing further is known, but Farrar conjectures that John may be "the celebrated Johanan Ben Zakkai, and Alexander perhaps the wealthy brother of Philo" ('Life of St. Paul,' 1. p. 107). Of the kindred of the high priest; rather, of the high priestly race. The high priests were only taken from certain families; the members of which were called ἀρχιερεῖς, or chief priests, A.V. (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 26:47, etc.), Many of these would naturally be the near relations of the high priest.
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