Awhile ago, I had been reading a particular study theme in Lee T. Dahn’s blog showing both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts have an underlying theme that contrasts the priestly family of Annas with the Priesthood of Christ, the one being corrupt and the other holy. The basic strategy, which I wish to share today, comes as a result of Mr. Dahn’s understanding, which anyone could see if he were to click on the link to his blog above.
Both the books of Luke and Acts were written to Theophilus, whom Mr. Dahn identifies, and I quite agree, as the son of Annas and high priest serving from 37-41 CE. In fact, Annas (high priest from 6-15 CE) would have been serving when 12-year-old Jesus astonished his listeners, and he (Annas) had seven sons or descendents (answering to the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19:14). They are: Eleazar,[i] Joseph Caiaphas[ii] (son-in-law), Jonathan,[iii] Theophilus,[iv] Matthias,[v] Ananus[vi] and Matthias[vii] (grandson of Annas and son of Theophilus). In contrast, Jesus also had seven brethren or representatives of his Priesthood who are responsible for the New Testament writings. They are: Matthew,[viii] Peter,[ix] Luke,[x] John,[xi] Paul,[xii] James[xiii] and Jude.[xiv]
Mr. Dahn makes a point that the account of the seven sons of Sceva in Acts 19:14-17 is more like a parable rather than a literal occurrence, and Theophilus would have understood this. The parable refers to the corrupt priesthood of Annas, showing it has been inept in producing fruit to God. The name Sceva is from the Latin, meaning left-handed connoting sinister or evil. Here we have the high priest, Annas, with his seven descendents unable to produce fruit to God. In fact, both he and his household are overcome with the evil they, in name, attempt to expel (Acts 19:16). They ended up fighting God (cp. Acts 5:34-39)! Both Annas and Caiaphas were instrumental in getting Jesus crucified. They also attempted in vain to destroy the new-born Church of Christ (Acts 2 to 5). Caiaphas was the presiding high priest in whose court Stephen was condemned and stoned. A few years later, Herod Agrippa beheaded James, the Apostle (John’s brother), perhaps under the advice of Jonathan the former high priest, who had a proclivity in meddling in state affairs or Matthias[xv] who served as high priest about that time. About two decades later Ananus served as high priest and instigated a trial which resulted in the stoning of James, the Lord’s half-brother.
Thus we see that this priestly house (Acts 19:16) was overcome by the evil they attempted to dispel in the name of the Law of the God whom Paul preached (Acts 19:13) – remembering that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, the only God the Jews ever knew!
On the other hand, Paul preached justification by faith apart from the Law (Acts 13:38-39) to both Jew and Greek (Acts 13:16), and everywhere he went the strongholds of the enemy were coming down. From Antioch of Pisidia, where the synagogue filled up with gentiles to hear what Paul had to say about Jesus, to the synagogues of Macedonia, where both Jews and gentiles believed, spiritual strongholds were broken, and while all this was going on the priesthood of Sceva attacked the work of God.
Finally, Paul brought the message of justification by faith apart from the Law (Acts 13:38-39) to Achaia and then to Ephesus (the stronghold of Artemis or Diana) and the name of Jesus was magnified (Acts 19:17) to the consternation of the priesthood of Sceva who fought Paul every step of the way. As Paul was winding down his third missionary journey, a riot broke out in Ephesus, but this time it wasn’t of Jewish origin. The pagan businessmen rose up in protest of the depletion of their markets (Acts 19:18-19; 21-41), all because of Paul’s ministry there. Such is the contrast between the two priesthoods—that of Annas and that of Jesus. The one was barren though they searched the world for even one disciple (Matthew 23:15), while the other made such a stir that the world itself protested over the loss of so many of its own to Christ and of the diminishing income it could expect. Praise God for the anointing of his work among us!
[i]Serving between 16-17 CE.
[ii] Serving between 18-35 or 36 CE.
[iii] Serving between 35 or 36-37 CE. and cir. 52-58 CE (see JOSEPHUS: Antiquities; 20.7.2 & 20.8.5)
[iv] Serving between 37-41 CE.
[v] Serving between 42-43 CE.
[vi] Serving only three months in 62 CE.
[vii] Serving between 65-67 CE.
[viii] Matthew, the author of the Gospel Matthew
[ix] Peter is responsible for Mark’s Gospel, for it is a transcript of Peter’s sermon at Rome; Peter also is responsible for 2 epistles.
[x] Luke is responsible for the Gospel of Luke and Acts.
[xi] John is responsible for the Gospel of John, 3 epistles and the book of Revelation.
[xii] Paul is responsible for 9 epistles to 7 churches, 4 epistles to 3 pastors, and traditionally the author of the book of Hebrews.
[xiii] James, the brother of the Lord, authored one epistle.
[xiv] Jude, the brother of James the Less, authored one epistle.
[xv] Jonathan, high priest for a second time under Felix, requested Claudius to put Felix in charge of Judea in the place of Cumanus who had been banished, but he interfered so much in Felix’s affairs that the governor bribed Jonathan’s friend to have him murdered [JOSEPHUS: Antiquities 20.8.5].