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Jesus’ Coming with the Clouds

29 Jan
coming in the clouds

from Google Images

John tells us in Revelation 1:7 that Jesus would come with the clouds, and every eye would see him. But, what does he mean by saying this? Should we expect to see Jesus riding upon a puffy, white, cumulus cloud some day? Some people may think this is exactly what the text, and others like it, means. In other words, the most apocalyptic book among the records of the New Covenant must be taken literally, and, therefore, Jesus has not yet come! I have even seen paintings that indicate Jesus would literally return to the earth riding upon a cloud and all his saints with him. This, however, is far too literal an interpretation for an apocalyptic text such as this one.

According to scripture, when God is said to have come in the clouds (Psalm 97:2), he comes in judgment against the nation mentioned in the text. The Lord came in judgment against Egypt, riding upon a swift cloud (Isaiah 19:1). Coming in the clouds is an apocalyptic picture of him coming to judge the wicked (Nahum 1:3). The prophet, Joel, prophesied of the Day of the Lord as a day of clouds, when a great and powerful army would come against his people, the Jews. The land would be like a paradise before this army, but they would leave a wilderness behind them (Joel 2:1-3).

Jesus prophesied of such a time, telling the high priest he would see him sitting at the right hand of God and coming in the clouds (Matthew 26:64). This meant he would judge Israel, and his doing so was given as a sign that he was in the heavens; in other words, Jesus reigned as Messiah (Matthew 24:30). Speaking of the high priest, this was Annas, who had five sons, a grandson and a son-in-law, all of whom reigned as high priests in the first century AD. One of his sons even officiated that position twice, but was murdered by Felix, the Roman procurator for meddling in his affairs. Josephus tells us that Annas lived to see the beginning of the Jewish war with Rome. He tried to flee from the rebels, but was caught and slain. He died on the 6th day of the 6th month in the year 66 AD after being a high priest for 60 years (6-66 AD).

Of course, when John said “every eye would see him” (Zechariah 12:10), he didn’t mean literally. The point is that Jesus’ judgment of his people, the Jews, would be so swift and destructive that no one in the civilized world would miss it. Everyone would know of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, but no one would physically see Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven. After all, who would ever seriously believe that the Egyptians or Pharaoh had actually seen the Lord coming in the clouds (Isaiah 19:1)? Such language is apocalyptic in character and not meant to be taken literally. Rather, the author concludes that the fulfillment of his prophecy simply couldn’t be missed or misunderstood.

According to John, the Jews of Jesus’ generation (cf. Matthew 23:36; 24:34), i.e. those who pierced him (Revelation 1:7) would see the judgment of Jesus, their Messiah, come upon them. That judgment came to pass in the form of the Roman army successfully defeating them and destroying their capital, Jerusalem, and their Temple.

In Revelation 1:8 Jesus says: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending.” However, some believers, usually those who don’t accept the divinity of Jesus, will say the Father is speaking in this scripture, just as it was he who spoke in Matthew 3:17 and Luke 9:35. Drawing upon similar language in Revelation 1:4 “who is, who was, and who is to come” where it obviously points to God, our Father, the conclusion is then assumed the same is true for Revelation 1:8.

Nevertheless, there are clear reasons why we should interpret Revelation 1:8 as being the words of Jesus. First of all, in Revelation 1:11 John turned to look behind himself, because he heard a great voice, and, when he turned, he saw one like the Son of Man (the Messiah) who said “I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last…” Certainly, this refers to Jesus. In Revelation 11:17 the 24 elders fell down before the Throne of God and worshiped, saying, “We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.” The identity of the One that the 24 elders worshiped is understood in the identity of the One who has taken to himself great power and reigned. That one is Jesus (Revelation 11:15). Moreover, Jesus uses the phrase “I am… the beginning and the ending” (Revelation 1:8) in Revelation 1:17 “I am the first and the last” (cf. Revelation 2:8 and 22:`12-13, 16). So, John records Jesus’ words in Revelation 1:8, and, in doing so, he shows us that Jesus is an eternal Being. In other words, Jesus is God!

 

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6 Comments

Posted by on January 29, 2019 in Apocalypse, Book of Revelation

 

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6 responses to “Jesus’ Coming with the Clouds

  1. librarygeek

    April 24, 2019 at 00:39

    Still, I can see why people expect this to be physical rather than symbolic. Acts 1:9-11 especially makes one believe the angels are describing a physical thing the disciples would one day see, not a metaphor for God’s judgement. Was Christ’s assension a metaphor?

    However, as you are likely right, what does 1Thes 4:17 mean? “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. ” If coming in the clouds is a metaphor for God’s judgement, what do the dead in Christ and living Christians have to do with that?

     
    • Eddie

      April 24, 2019 at 08:12

      Greetings Shari, and thank you for reading and for you questions.

      Concerning Acts 1:11, the event was both physical and spiritual. Jesus returned to Mount Olives in the person of the Roman armies. See my study: In Like Manner.

      The Judgment involved both the good and the evil of mankind. He rewarded each according to his works (see Matthew 16:27-28). Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians was partly in response to their sadness over the false idea that those who died in the Lord prior to his coming would be lost forever. Paul told them, no, they would rise from the dead to be with the Lord. As for those who are alive and remain, the Lord claimed he would be with us forever. The picture is that folks in a city went out of the city to meet an approaching dignitary and accompanied him back to their city. That the picture Paul is drawing on here, and it is fulfilled at the coming of Christ in that he and the Father make their abode with mankind after the Judgment (see Revelation 21).

       
  2. Patricia Watkins

    February 1, 2019 at 22:58

    Hi Eddie,

    The absolute necessity for Christ’s AD 70 return to include His physical, glorified, resurrected body form is based on the information we are given about Christ’s priesthood in Hebrews 2 and 7. To become the advocate for the “seed of Abraham”, we know Christ had to take part of the same flesh and blood forms that we have, by means of His incarnation. His crucifixion blood sacrifice was then taken to heaven’s mercy seat at His ascension on resurrection day, and offered to God, but He still retained the “flesh and bones” form that He displayed to the disciples during those 40 days afterward (Luke 24:39).

    To preserve His status as our human / divine high priest, it is necessary that Christ remain in that same form. Our prayers being heard and our acceptance before God as the brethren of Christ depend on this very fact. Hebrews 7 makes this point quite clear; that other high priests didn’t continue in their office because they physically died. But Christ “being raised from the dead dieth no more” (Rom. 6:9). He “ever liveth to make intercession” for us as the ultimate high priest, just like the deathless Melchizedek with “an endless life”. He “continueth ever” in that same resurrected, incorruptible form. As long as we need an intercessor and a representative before God’s throne, that’s how long Christ will have to stay in His glorified, resurrected human body form.

    Job expressed the need for this kind of advocate for us in heaven in Job 9:32-33 when he said, “For He is not a man as I am, that I should answer Him, and we should come together in judgment. Neither is there any DAYSMAN BETWIXT US that might lay a hand on us both.” Such was the case under the Old Covenant. But not now. Now, under the New Covenant, we do have our “daysman” that can lay a hand on God’s side of things as well as on us at the same time.

    The God-Man Jesus Christ exists in both divine and human realms at the same time, and is the bridge by which we have access to the Father. Ever since His resurrection, that same glorified, human body goes with Him everywhere. Of necessity, if Christ returned in AD 70 to earth, that same glorified body was manifested, when the saints of that AD 70 resurrection could “see Him as He is” (I John 3:2). I’m sorry if you feel this is forcing the point, Eddie, but Hebrews 2 and 7 seem quite dogmatic about this concept of a perpetual, deathless human body for Christ as our high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

    On the Annas discussion? No argument that Annas the patriarch of the whole clan was the mastermind behind much of the church’s earliest persecution, and especially the one who plotted with Caiaphas to destroy Christ. I’ve no doubt Annas probably did hang around in the background at Jesus’ trial, because it says in Matt. 27:1 that ALL the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus, and then led Him to Pilate – Annas among them most likely – with Caiaphas being the spokesman, as you have mentioned.

    For my side of the discussion, it’s really not an issue if Christ in Matt. 26:64 was addressing Annas, Caiaphas, or the whole assembly of Jews at the trial. Frankly, ALL of them within the sound of His voice who were conspiring to put Him to death were guilty of “piercing” the Savior, and would be part of the “every eye” group in Rev. 1:7 who saw Christ return bodily to the Mount of Olives in AD 70. If any of these guilty of piercing Christ had DIED before then, (as I believe Annas and Caiaphas had), they would have witnessed the returning Christ in their “resurrection to damnation” as they were being destroyed by God’s consuming fire in Jerusalem’s AD 70 “Lake of Fire” (the “second death” of the city and the nation). If any of “they who pierced Him” were still ALIVE in AD 70 Jerusalem, these may have been those who were also promised a view of the returning Christ in the glory of His kingdom, with His angels, when He would “reward every man according to his works” (Matt. 16:27-28 and Mark 9:1).

    Eddie, your account of the high priest Ananias ben Nebedeus being sent to Rome is a bit off track from what I’m reading in Josephus. Jonathan the high priest was sent along WITH Ananias to Rome in AD 52, to give an answer to Claudius about a Jewish versus Samaritan conflict (Wars 2.12.6). Claudius was absolutely convinced to take the part of the Jews in this case (Wars 2.12.7 and Ant. 20.6.3), so both high priests Ananias ben Nebedeus and Jonathan son of Annas would have been vindicated and allowed to return to Jerusalem.

    Ananias ben Nebedeus’ term in office lasted from AD 47-58, which means he was the high priest (not Annas) who was present at Paul’s trial before Felix, just as Acts 23:2 tells us. Ananias ben Nebedeus shouldn’t be confused with the high priest Annas, (the father of Jonathan the high priest), because they are listed separately in the story about the Jewish versus Samaritan conflict in Wars 2.12.5 and 6, compared with the parallel account in Ant. 20.5.2, where Ananias ben Nebedeus’ full name is mentioned.

    Just checking the index for Josephus’ work, the entry for Ananias ben Nebedeus has him and his brother Ezekias being slain together in War 2.17.9. It wasn’t Annas ben Seth who was slain in Jerusalem by the Zealots in AD 66.

    Ananias ben Nebedeus was a disreputable sort of high priest as well, since it was his servants sent out to steal the tithes of the priests from the threshing-floors, resulting in some of them dying of starvation (Ant.20.9.2). You ask what this high priest Ananias ben Nebedeus could have done to antagonize the Zealots. Just the mere fact that the high priests were aligned with Rome and received their appointment from them was enough to make the radical Zealots hate them.

    Remember the 10 “horns” on the Judean Scarlet Beast that “hate the whore” (Jerusalem)? This is civil strife and hatred between fellow Israelites being shown; those 10 generals elected to supervise the war effort (Wars 2.20.3-4), versus the harlot Jerusalem who had prostituted herself to win Rome’s favor and support. It was this INTERNAL civil strife which actually brought the nation down – with the Romans absent from Jerusalem from the time Gallus was defeated in AD 66 until the final few months of the Great Tribulation which lasted from AD 66-70. In between those years, it was truly “a house divided against itself”, which “could not stand”.

    As for the definition of “kings of the earth” being high priests, here are the verses used to establish that.

    #1) Exodus 19:6 – “And ye shall be unto me a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS and an holy nation.” The leadership over Israel was originally intended to be her high priesthood – not a typical monarchy like the nations around her. When the Jews rejected this set-up in favor of a “real” king, God announced His displeasure to Samuel. When they said they wanted a king LIKE the nations around them, this is a tacit admission that they already HAD a “king” – a high priest who represented them before God – which they wanted to reject in favor of a royal monarchy instead.

    #2) I Samuel 2:10 (LXX) – Hannah’s prayer of praise extols a God who “…gives strength to OUR KINGS…” Hannah had to be referring to God strengthening the high priests, because Saul, the first “real” king over Israel hadn’t even been born yet.

    #3) Acts 23:5 – When Paul was on trial before Felix, he referred to Ananias the high priest as “the RULER OF THY PEOPLE”, in reference to the title given to the high priest in Exodus 22:28.

    #4) Psalms 102:22 (LXX) – An aged King David was considering the glories of Zion and Jerusalem, which the Lord would build up. “…the Lord looked upon the earth from heaven; to hear the groaning of the fettered ones, to loosen the sons of the slain, to proclaim the name of the Lord in Zion, and His praise in Jerusalem, when the people are gathered together, AND THE KINGS (plural) to serve the Lord.” This is plural high priests, gathering together with the people to serve the Lord in the periodic feast day celebrations. Since this is plural “KINGS”, it has to be high priests, since there would only have been one royal monarch reigning on Israel’s throne in Jerusalem – not two at the same time.

    #5) Exodus 29:30 – In keeping with the idea of Israel being a “KINGDOM of priests” – the high priest’s vestments included a CROWN with “Holiness to the Lord” engraved on it.

    #6) Zechariah 6:9-14 – In preparation for the post-exilic return, God told Zechariah to make CROWNS of silver and gold to put on the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the “HIGH PRIEST”. Joshua would be serving in the rebuilt temple, where he would “sit and RULE upon his THRONE: and he shall be a PRIEST upon his THRONE…” It’s symbolic language that shows the high priest was regarded as a “king” over Israel.

    #7) Daniel 8:24-25 – The particular high priest that Antiochus Epiphanes IV would set himself against was called the “PRINCE OF PRINCES”. There are also multiple references to “THE PRINCE” in Ezekiel 44, 45, and 46, who, as a high priest, would offer the sacrifices in the rebuilt temple.

    #8) Matthew 17:25 – Christ assigns the full title of “KINGS OF THE EARTH” to the HIGH PRIESTS along with their sons who were “free” from paying the half-shekel annual Temple Tax didrachma coin. The high priests and their sons were exempt from paying this particular Tyrian half-shekel coin for the temple’s use, since OT law dictated that only the priestly tribe of Levi was not numbered (Numbers 1:47-50), and thus did not have to pay the yearly half-shekel that other tribes had to pay for every male over 20 years old (Exodus 30:12-16).

    That was the whole point of Christ’s question to Peter: “Of whom do the KINGS OF THE EARTH take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of others?” The high priests took this anual Temple Tax money from the “other” tribes’ members, not from their own sons, since the Levite sons were “free” from having to pay this.

    As a son of His Father’s House, the temple, Christ would become the ultimate high priest. More than anyone else, Jesus really shouldn’t have had to pay that half-shekel Temple Tax. Yet He displayed His utter humility by paying it anyway – not only for Himself, but for Peter also.

    #9) Rev. 16:14 (Interlinear) – “For they are spirits of demons doing signs, to go forth to the KINGS OF THE EARTH’ (tes ges – referring to the LAND of Israel here and in multiple places in Rev.), “and of the habitable world whole” (tes oikoumenes holes – in contrast to just the land of Israel alone) “to gather them unto the battle of the day great of God the Almighty.”

    Just as in Rev. 16:14, the category of “them that dwell on the EARTH” (tes ges – Israel) is a separate identity from those in “EVERY NATION and kindred and tongue and people” in Rev. 14:6 (the Gentile world).

    The moderate high priesthood loyal to Rome (some of the “kings of the earth”) ended up finally battling not only the Zealot factions whose leaders came from “Galilee of the nations”, but they fought the nation of Idumea also, who sent 20,000 under 4 commanders to attack the 2 moderate high priests leading Jerusalem in AD 67/68. Plus, we have Titus with his troops culled from various nations of the known world, and the kings Antiochus of Commagene and Sohaemus of Sophene from the Euphrates that came to assist Titus. Everybody from the “kings of the earth” high priests in Israel to the “kings of the whole habitable world” ended up getting a piece of AD 70 action.

    Jerusalem, I agree, WAS the harlot riding the Judean Scarlet Beast, but her representatives were the 8 “heads” as “kings” on that Beast that she was “reigning over” by sitting upon them. If Jerusalem the harlot was also the high priests, she couldn’t very well have been sitting on herself. To have Jerusalem reigning over the “kings of the earth” was an upside down state of affairs, because those high priest “kings of the earth” were supposed to be the judges administering justice in Jerusalem (Deut. 176:8) – not allowing the harlot Jerusalem to corrupt the sacred role these high priests were supposed to fill. Instead, these high priests were unfaithful to their sacred task – they “committed fornication” along with the harlot Jerusalem, who had sold her soul to the Romans for profit and security.

    Eddie, you have said that the “kings of the earth” phrase ALWAYS refers to kings of the Gentile nations in scripture. Not in Acts 4:25-27. “The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against His Christ.” Peter interprets the Psalmist’s prophecy as having been fulfilled when the people of Israel were convinced by their high priests to condemn Christ, with Herod and Pontius Pilate rubber-stamping the crucifixion of Christ at their urging. A local event in Israel alone – not one committed on Gentile turf.

    None of this lengthy material above may sway your opinion, Eddie, but I didn’t want you to think I was basing this idea of “kings of the earth” = high priests of Israel on just a single text.

     
    • Eddie

      February 2, 2019 at 13:25

      Greetings Patricia, and once again, thank you for reading my studies and for your comment. Lord bless you.

      I don’t share your understanding about the **necessity** of Christ’s **physical** return in 70 AD. I have no idea why anyone would believe Christ must retain his physical body that was crucified. If we don’t need our physical bodies to serve the Lord after we die, why would Jesus? I understand the need of his using his resurrected body to show his disciples that it was, indeed, he who was crucified that had risen from the dead, but after that, what reason is there given in the New Covenant Scriptures that would account for his need to retain that same body?

      Concerning Hebrews 2. Jesus’ office as High Priest concerned his offering of himself at Calvary. Nothing else is said of the matter there, so why would he need to retain that body after he was sacrificed and presented to the Father, according to Hebrews 2?

      Concerning Hebrews 7, why would he need to retain his physical body, which he had while ministering to mankind on earth. Certainly, he dies no more, but neither do we. So, if we have no need for our physical bodies after we go to be with the Lord, why would Jesus have need of his. The whole idea of his physical body in Hebrews and elsewhere was that it was the needed as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

      We need to keep in mind that Jesus’ sacrifice of himself on our behalf is equally an exact image of the suffering of God (Hebrews 1:3) over the fact that we have rebelled. As High Priest, he represents us to our Father and our Father to us. He is the suffering God as well as the suffering man. Keep in mind that it is **man** who crucified him. In effect, this is what we do as rebels to God, concerning whom it is impossible to die. Jesus the Image of God on the cross (Hebrews 1:3; 2Corinthians 5:19).

      Concerning our discussion on Annas and Ananias, son of Nebedaius, after reading Josephus again at Wars 2.12.5-6 and Antiquities 20.5.2, I have to agree with you that I had that wrong in some respects. First of all, the son of Nebedaius never went to Rome, at least Josephus didn’t say he did. According to Wars, it was Jonathan, Ananias (both high priests) and Ananas, son of Ananias. So the high priest, Ananias, was Annas of the Bible and two of his sons that were sent to Rome.

      Since nothing is said of the son of Nebedaius, we must assume that he was either dead or removed from office prior to the president of Syria sending the ruling Jews to Rome, because Wars 2.12.6 does say that Quadratus sent “those who were of the greatest power among them…” Since Nebedaius wasn’t “among them” he couldn’t have been the ruling high priest. Instead, Josephus a short while later says Felix, who succeeded Cumanus as procurator of Judea, had Jonathan, the high priest, murdered for meddling in his affairs (viz. seeking to get him to execute Paul); see Antiquities 20.8.5. Ananias, son of Nebedaius, may have been replaced with Jonathan by Agrippa who undoubtedly attended the Passover celebration at Jerusalem, when the disturbance in Samaria occurred. When such things occurred the ruling high priest was often replaced.

      Concerning Ananias and Wars 2.17.8-9, the index for Josephus cannot be an authority for which Ananias Josephus describes. Nevertheless, Annas of the Bible fits this Ananias better than the son of Nebedaius, because there is nothing of note in Josephus that would bring joy to the hearts of the rebels over the death of the son of Nebedaius. However, Annas, who was Rome’s first choice for high priest in 6 AD, and whose family ruled more than any other during the first century AD, would have been prized by the rebels who hated anything that was tainted by Rome.

      Concerning Ananias and Antiquities 20.9.2, the context would make this Ananias the same who had five sons who officiated the high priesthood (Antiquities 20.9.1), i.e. Annas of the Bible. In fact, the interpretation of Josephus’ translator, William Whiston, has it that it is Annas, son of Seth, who stole the tithes from the officiating priests, thus causing some of their deaths. So we have Annas of the Bible, still alive, according to Josephus cir. 62 AD, just four years prior to the beginning of the war.

      Concerning our discussion on “the kings of the earth” and the Scriptures you offered to support your point of view, Exodus 19:6 is speaking of the whole nation, not the high priests. And, it doesn’t mention “kings of the earth.”

      Concerning Exodus 29:30, first of all this doesn’t mention the “kings of the earth.”. Secondly, you are reaching, because there is nothing here that would point to the high priest as a king of the earth. Remember, the Lord was the King at this time, and there was no king is Israel (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25), before Saul (cp. 1Samuel 8:5, 7).

      Concerning 1Samuel 2:10, first of all it doesn’t mention “kings of the earth.”. Secondly, Hannah couldn’t have been prophesying about the current high priest, because Samuel later prophesied that both Eli and his sons would die on the same day. Hannah’s prophecy concerned the Messiah. The word is in the singular in the Hebrew.

      Concerning Psalms 102:22, first of all it doesn’t mention “kings of the earth.”. Secondly, in the Hebrew it is “kingdoms” meaning the 12 tribes. David was concerned that the Lord would take away his rulership before his time (Psalm 102:23-24) and prayed that the Lord wouldn’t do it.

      Concerning Zechariah 6:9-14, first of all it doesn’t mention “kings of the earth.”. Secondly, they are governors of the Temple and the rulers of the people—and there was no king in Israel.

      Concerning Daniel 8:24-25, first of all it doesn’t mention “kings of the earth.” Secondly, the Prince of princes is Jesus. The little horn is the high priest who came against Jesus and later his disciples. That would be Annas.

      Concerning Matthew 17:25, first of all, Jesus used an abstract. He could not have referred to the reigning governors of the Jews, because he referred to those who paid the tax as “strangers” (NASB) or “foreigners” (NET). That is, Jesus was taking his example for gentile rulers. Israelites were referred to as ‘cousins’ (Luke 1:36) or brethren (Acts 3:17).

      Concerning Acts 23:5, “ruler of the people” does not make him one of the “kings of the earth.” This is an interpretation you have placed upon this Scripture, but the clear reading of the text would not lead one to believe the high priest was also the king. The Maccabees were of this sort, but, since the time of the Maccabees and the rise of Herod, the high priests were never called kings.

      Concerning Acts 4:25-27, please note that the “kings of the earth” in verse-26 answers to “heathen” in verse-25, while the “rulers” in verse-26 answers to “the people” in verse-25. Both take council together against the Lord’s Anointed.

      Thanks again Patricia for reading my studies and for your comment. We disagree, but I enjoy proving the study I made on this subject. If it is able to stand against criticism, then this adds to its value. Lord bless you.

       
  3. Patricia Watkins

    January 29, 2019 at 22:52

    Hi Eddie,

    One point I might bring up when considering a metaphoric “cloud-coming” of God back in the Old Testament days compared to a supposedly similar metaphoric “cloud-coming” of Christ in AD 70 is that Christ after His ascension still retained His glorified, resurrected human body. That means any “cloud-coming” of Christ under the conditions of the New Covenant must necessarily have involved that same physical, glorified, incorruptible, resurrected human body. God was not incarnate in the Old Testament days, but in the New Testament, He was. Christ kept that physical identity so that He could “continue forever” (Heb. 7:24-25) as our deathless high priest. Granted, Christ in resurrected form has the option of invisibility (as in Luke 24:31), or of manifesting Himself as John, Paul, and Stephen all saw Him, but it is a physical form nonetheless that would have been present at Jerusalem in AD 70.

    Checking one more item you are presenting in this post: the mention of the particular high priest that Jesus addressed at His trial. Jesus was only briefly sent to Annas FIRST (John 18:13-15), but immediately after that, He was sent to the high priest Caiaphas who presided over Christ’s interrogation. Caiaphas was the one who Christ predicted would hereafter witness His sitting at God’s right hand and coming in the clouds. Caiaphas did see this – post mortem – because Caiaphas was pictured in the Lazarus-and-the-rich-man parable as the “rich man” (the high priest) who had “5 brothers” (5 sons of Annas) in his “Father’s house” (the temple). Just like the “rich man” in the parable being tormented in the flames after death, Caiaphas experienced Jerusalem’s Lake of Fire conditions when the wicked in Hades (the grave) were thrown into it for destruction in AD 70 (Rev. 20:14).

    Eddie, you have stated both here and in a recent comment from your post “Understanding the Apocalypse” that Annas ben Seth was killed in AD 66. It was not Annas, but ANANIAS ben Nebedeus who was killed in Jerusalem by the Zealot Menahem, as found in Wars 2.17.9. Soon after that, in vengeance for his father Ananias’ murder, Eleazar and his faction retaliated by killing Menahem and his followers in Jerusalem. It’s not difficult for us to get these men Annas and Ananias mixed up, because the name of Annas is variously interchanged with “Ananias”, “Ananus”, and “Hanan” in Josephus and elsewhere.

    The translator’s notes (Whiston) in Josephus’ Ant. 20.9 claim that the high priesthood of Annas the Elder lasted about 23 years (after he was appointed in AD 6). Other sources claim Annas’ high priesthood lasted around 10 years from AD 6-15 when he was deposed by Gratus, and that he probably died around AD 40, when he would have been in his mid-60’s. (This would have been right around the same time Barnabas left Jerusalem to seek Paul and join him in his ministry to the Gentiles – Acts 11:25-26. If both Annas and Caiaphas had died by then, it seems Barnabas would have been relieved of the threat of persecution by these two major enemies of the Jerusalem church, enough to free him up to pursue evangelism outside of Jerusalem.)

    I only bring this subject up, Eddie, because it has a bearing on the Rev. 17:10-11 prophecy of the 5 “kings of the earth” who had “fallen” by the time John was writing revelation (around AD 59, as I am thinking). If Annas ben Seth only lived until the AD 40 period, he would have been one of the 5 fallen “kings of the earth”. This “kings of the earth” term was the way Christ referred to the high priests and their sons in Matthew 17:25 who were “free” from paying the annual half shekel for the Temple tax.

    In my own studies, I’ve corrected that Rev. 17:10-11 list of 5 fallen “kings” / high priests to include Annas ben Seth, his son-in-law Caiaphas, his son Eleazar, his son Jonathan, and his son Matthias. That leaves Annas’ son Theophilus as the one “king” / high priest that still “IS” alive as John was writing Revelation, another son Ananus, who had “not yet come” into his very brief 3-month term of office in AD 62, and one grandson Mattathias, as an 8th “king” who was “of the seven” who served from AD 65-66. It was your post, Eddie, on the subject of Theophilus being featured in Acts1:1 and Luke 1:3 (and still being alive until at least AD 62) that helped me confirm more precisely which of Annas’ high priest sons were included in the number of the “5 fallen kings” list. That may not have been your intended result, but I thank you anyway. One piece of the puzzle at a time…

     
    • Eddie

      January 30, 2019 at 08:19

      Greetings Patricia, it’s always a pleasure hearing from you. Lord bless you.

      Concerning Jesus’ physical body, to have Jesus return on a cloud in a physical body in 70 AD is pure conjecture. This was not done under the Old Covenant, and there is no reason force such an idea into the Scriptures of the New Covenant. For what purpose **must** Jesus come “physically in 70 AD? Did someone need to ‘touch’ him? Even if he was seen with one’s physical eyes, how would one determine that Jesus was ‘physically’ there? After all, folks under the Old Covenant did physically see the Angel of the Lord, but the Angel of the Lord wasn’t ‘physical’ – was he? We need to let the Scriptures just say what they mean without our forcing something we believe upon them without Biblical support.

      Concerning which high priest Jesus addressed in Matthew 26:64, technically, you have the better support in the Scriptures (Matthew 26:57). However, Annas was the power behind the ‘throne’ so to speak. He was the supreme authority, just as Aaron retained his authority, although his sons officiated the high priesthood. The Jews looked upon the appointment of high priests as an appointment for life, despite the Romans and Herod replacing them according to their own desires. John 18:22 shows that Annas was still recognized as ‘high priest’ even though Caiaphas officiated (John 18:24). Luke 3:2 even recognizes Annas as the high priest as well as Caiaphas. Moreover, there is no reason to believe that Annas remained where he was after he sent Jesus to Caiaphas (John 18:24). I believe he was too arrogant and evil to stay away from the proceedings. During the trial Jesus said nothing, and this especially irritated Annas whom history represents as a cruel man, even the Talmud mentions this fact. Every persecution mentioned in Acts was initiated by Annas’ family, when one of his sons (or Caiaphas his son-in-law) were officiating the high priesthood. This leads me to believe the ‘high priest’ mentioned in Matthew 26:62-63 is none other than Annas, although Caiaphas officially led the proceedings.

      Concerning the death of Annas as recorded in Josephus (Wars 2.17.7-9), this was Annas, son of Seth. Josephus records that Ananias, son of Nebedaius was sent to Rome in chains, cir. 52 AD. Jonathan, son of Annas, replaced him (probably self-appointed, but permitted by Rome when they came to Jerusalem, expecting to find it in rebellion but found it peaceful under Jonathan’s leadership). There is no reason to believe he returned. Moreover, the rebels became “puffed up” as a result of Annas’ death. Josephus records many of the evil deeds of Annas and his family, but none come to mind, regarding Ananias, son of Nebedaius. Why, then, should the rebels rejoice in his death. I can understand their joy over finding Annas dead, but there is no objective evidence to account for their joy over the son of Nebedaius. Finally, it seems fitting that it should be him. Here we have recorded in history the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 26:64.

      Concerning your interpretation of Revelation 17:10-11, I believe we discussed this before. I believe your interpretation that the high priests are meant is founded upon Revelation 16:14 where you believe the “kings of the earth” and “of the world” point to two different kinds of rulers—rulers over the Jews (kings of the earth) and rulers over the nations (of the world). I consider that interpretation very subjective. Nowhere in the Scriptures of the Old Covenant do we find such a distinction. The “kings of the earth” **always** refer to kings of the gentiles or nations. The harlot of Revelation 17 is decked out in robes of the same color as those of the high priest. The harlot is Jerusalem and those who represent her, such as the high priests and the Temple which are decked in the colors of purple and scarlet and gold. The nations—i.e. the kings of the earth, commit fornication with her—Jerusalem, the high priests etc. There is absolutely no foundation for the high priests being called “the kings of the earth”. Nowhere else in the Bible—both covenants—are they referred to in such a manner.

       

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