(Anʹnas) [Greek abbreviation of Hebrew Hananiah, meaning “Jehovah has been gracious”].
Appointed high priest about 6 or 7 C.E. by Quirinius, the Roman governor of Syria, and serving until the year 15. (Luke 2:2) Annas was therefore high priest when Jesus, at the age of twelve, amazed the rabbinical teachers at the temple. (Luke 2:42-49) Procurator Valerius Gratus removed Annas as high priest, for reportedly overstepping his Roman-assigned jurisdiction. Though he no longer had the official title, yet it was quite evident that he continued to exercise great power and influence as high priest emeritus and predominant voice of the Jewish hierarchy. Five of his sons, as well as his son-in-law Caiaphas, were each in turn high priest. Bible writers were careful to recognize Annas’ dominant position, calling him the “chief priest,” whereas they referred to Caiaphas by his title “high priest.” (Matt. 26:3; Luke 3:2) Jesus when arrested was first taken to Annas for questioning, and then was sent to Caiaphas for trial. (John 18:13) The name of Annas heads the list of the foremost opponents of the apostles of Jesus Christ.—Acts 4:6.
The wealthy and powerful house of Annas was of the tribe of Levi, and the sale of sacrifices at the commercial bazaars inside the temple grounds was one of their chief sources of income—reason enough why they sought to kill Jesus, who twice cleansed the temple, which they had made a “cave of robbers.” (John 2:13-16; Matt. 21:12, 13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45, 46) An additional reason for Annas’ hatred of Jesus and his apostles was likely Jesus’ teaching of the resurrection, the raising of Lazarus in living proof, and the preaching and teaching of the same doctrine by the apostles, for Annas, if a Sadducee, would not believe in the resurrection.—Acts 23:8.