Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
The way in which these two names occur in the New Testament has given some trouble to commentators. They are found in St. Luke's Gospel, mentioned both together at the commencement of the preaching of John the Baptist, and are there called "the high priests." St. Matthew, in the narrative of our Lord's trial, speaks only of Caiaphas, and calls him "the high priest." But St. John, who also mentions Caiaphas as "the high priest," tells us that Jesus, after His arrest, was first brought to Annas, as if he were of chief importance, and then was sent by him to Caiaphas, Lastly, in the Acts, we have Annas called the high priest, and the name of Caiaphas mentioned at the same time, but no title is given to the latter. But we know from Josephus that Annas (Ananus), who was father-in-law to Caiaphas, was made high priest by Quirinus (Cyrenius), A.D. 7, and continued in that office for seven years, when he was deprived of it by Valerius Gratus, and was never chosen to be high priest afterwards. It is clear, however, that from the earliest times down to a date after the composition of the Acts of the Apostles, there were often circumstances under which two men were called high priests at the same time. That one who had once been high priest, but had ceased to be in office, would still be called high priest, is evident from that principle which is laid down in several places in the Talmud, that "you may elevate in the matter of a sacred thing, or office, but you cannot bring down." As with us, "once a bishop, always a bishop." We see, therefore, that when Annas had been high priest, it was not only likely that he would continue to be so called, but that, according to Jewish usage, he could be called nothing else. The age of Annas, and the influential position naturally occupied by one who had been acting high priest himself, whose son had twice held the same office, and who was father-in-law to the present high priest, are sufficient to warrant the action of the crowd in taking Christ to Annas first; while in the passage of the Acts, the mention of Annas at the head of the list, with the title of high priest, was nothing more than was due to his years and to the relationship in which he stood to Caiaphas, while the omission of the high priest's title after the name of Caiaphas is no more a proof that he was not also high priest than the language of St. Mark's Gospel, where it is said, "Go your way, tell His disciples, and Peter," is evidence that Peter was not one of the disciples.
(J. Rawson Lumby, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.