Priests of the Bible 17 Ananias
Sadly, our last two named priests of the Bible, Caiaphas and Ananias, were on the wrong side when it came to following the will of God, notwithstanding God is sovereign and we are reminded, despite man’s worst efforts, God’s purposes prevail. In Caiaphas case’, it was his attitude toward and designs to entrap Jesus that led to His arrest and execution.. In Ananias’ case, it was his hostile attitude toward Paul that led to him being put under house arrest, which in our first text (that follows) included ordering Paul to be struck, and from our second text the opposition that Ananias appeared to be the primary instigator eventually led to Paul being shipped off to Rome for trial under Caesar. Ananias the priests is referred to by name twice in the Bible: “And the high priest Ananias commanded them that stood by him to smite him on the mouth” Acts 23:2 and “And after five days Ananias the high priest descended with the elders, and with a certain orator named Tertullus, who informed the governor against Paul” Acts 24:1.
According to Wikipedia (and backed up by extra biblical sources): “Ananias son of Nedebeus was a high priest who, according to the Acts of the Apostles, presided during the trials of the apostle Paul at Jerusalem (Acts 23:2) and Caesarea (Acts 24:1). Josephus, Antiquities xx. 5. 2, called him “Ananias ben Nebedeus”. He officiated as high priest from about AD 47 to 52. A. C. Hervey described him as “a violent, haughty, gluttonous, and rapacious man, and yet looked up to by the Jews”. In the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles, Paul was called to appear before the Jewish Sanhedrin, on the instructions of the commander of the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. Ananias heard Paul’s opening defense and commanded those who stood by him “to strike him on the mouth”. Paul described him as a “whitewashed wall” and testified that God would strike Ananias for this unlawful act. Those who stood by accused Paul of reviling or insulting the High Priest, to which Paul replied that he did not know that he (or it) was the High Priest. Seeing that there were both Pharisees and Sadducees on the Sanhedrin (see Acts 23:4–9 for the whole context): But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” (Acts 23:6, NKJV) … Quadratus, governor of Syria, accused Ananias of being responsible for acts of violence. Ananias was sent to Rome for trial (52 CE), but was acquitted by the emperor Claudius. He continued to officiate as high priest until 58 CE. Being a friend of the Romans, Ananias was murdered by the people at the beginning of the First Jewish-Roman War.”
It is a shame, having begun our series on named priests, who were significant, on a high: Aaron and Melchizedek, we end it on a low: Caiaphas and Ananias, even though, as Paul realised, their office demanded respect as the scriptures required. While the Bible account concentrated on the facts, both these priests were compromised and seemed more intent on maintaining their position of power and keeping to the status quo rather than do what Priests of the YHWH were meant to do and represent Him to the people and do whatever the truth (Jesus is the Truth and Paul was preaching Jesus) should have led them to do. While we would point to any number of priests as examples we can follow, it is clear, whether it be Jesus being hung on a cross or Paul being arrested and put on trial, whoever is the priest in charge and whatever authority they might exercise that God’s purposes can never be thwarted.