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13 They[a] brought him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year.[b]

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  1. John 18:13 tn Grk “up, and brought.” Because of the length and complexity of the Greek sentence, a new sentence was started here in the translation.
  2. John 18:13 sn Jesus was taken first to Annas. Only the Gospel of John mentions this pretrial hearing before Annas, and that Annas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who is said to be high priest in that year. Caiaphas is also mentioned as being high priest in John 11:49. But in 18:15, 16, 19, and 22 Annas is called high priest. Annas is also referred to as high priest by Luke in Acts 4:6. Many scholars have dismissed these references as mistakes on the part of both Luke and John, but as mentioned above, John 11:49 and 18:13 indicate that John knew that Caiaphas was high priest in the year that Jesus was crucified. This has led others to suggest that Annas and Caiaphas shared the high priesthood, but there is no historical evidence to support this view. Annas had been high priest from a.d. 6 to a.d. 15 when he was deposed by the Roman prefect Valerius Gratus (according to Josephus, Ant. 18.2.2 [18.34]). His five sons all eventually became high priests. The family was noted for its greed, wealth, and power. There are a number of ways the references in both Luke and John to Annas being high priest may be explained. Some Jews may have refused to recognize the changes in high priests effected by the Roman authorities, since according to the Torah the high priesthood was a lifetime office (Num 25:13). Another possibility is that it was simply customary to retain the title after a person had left the office as a courtesy, much as retired ambassadors are referred to as “Mr. Ambassador” or ex-presidents as “Mr. President.” Finally, the use of the title by Luke and John may simply be a reflection of the real power behind the high priesthood of the time: Although Annas no longer technically held the office, he may well have managed to control those relatives of his who did hold it from behind the scenes. In fact this seems most probable and would also explain why Jesus was brought to him immediately after his arrest for a sort of “pretrial hearing” before being sent on to the entire Sanhedrin.

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