Acts 19:11-14 says this

11 And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. 13 Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14 Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this.

Is this the high priest who executed Jesus?


Acts 19:14 New International Version

Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.

There are 24 such chief priests.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

The word might mean that he was at the head of one of the twenty-four courses into which the priests of the Temple were divided.

Matthew 21:15 shows the plausibility of this interpretation:

But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, "Hosanna to the Son of David," they were indignant.

Pulpit Commentary agrees with this sentiment:

not, of course, in the sense of high priest, but in that wider sense of the word which comprised the chiefs of the twenty-four courses and the members of the Sanhedrim and all who had ever been high priests or who were of the kindred of the high priest

So, it could be an ex-chief-priest as well.

Is this the high priest who executed Jesus?

Most likely not.


ἀρχιερεύς Strong 749 occurs 124 times in the NT writings, according to Young (referring to the TR).

64 times it is translated (in the KJV) by 'chief priest(s)' and 59 times as 'high priest' it being clear by both context, singularity/plurality, and the inclusion of a name (e.g. Caiaphas) which is the correct nomenclature. Once, it is translated as 'chief of the priests', a somewhat strange translation, being ambiguous.

Note: It may refer to Jesus Christ himself, as in Hebrews where the word is used ten times to emphasise that He is the fulfilment and the reality of the office of high priest, as held by Araron and his sons.

See Hebrews 2:17, 3:1, 4:14, 4:15, 5:5, 5:10, 6:20, 7:26, 8:1, 9:11.

The proper translation, therefore, in Acts 19:14, without any further specific information from Luke, should be 'chief priest' not 'high priest'.

And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. [Acts 19:14 KJV]

and there were certain -- seven sons of Sceva, a Jew, a chief priest -- who are doing this thing; [Acts 19:14 YLT]


The Greek word, ἀρχιερεύς (archiereus) is literally, "leading priest" is used in three distinct senses in the NT:

  1. "High Priest" - the person who was president of the Sanhedrin, eg, Matt 26:57, 62, 65, Mark 60, 63, John 18:19, 22. These are all articular, that is, are designated, "The High Priest" in the Greek.
  2. Jesus as our heavenly High Priest, Heb 2:17, 3:1, 4:14, 5:10, 6:20, 7:27, 8:1, 9:11, etc.
  3. A Priest of high rank, "Chief Priest"eg, Matt 2:1, 16:21, 20:18, 27:41, Mark 31, 11;27, 14:43, 53, 15:1, Luke 9:22, 20:1, Acts 4:23, 9:14, 23:14, 25:15, 22:30, etc. These occurrences are most often without the article, "a chief priest" [as distinct from "the High Priest"]. According to BDAG this includes the following:

". . . members of the Sanhedrin who belonged to high priestly families; ruling high priests, those who had been deposed, and adult male members of the most prominent priestly families ..."

It may have also included some leading priests of lower orders but this cannot be confirmed.


Acts 19:14 is simply "a chief priest" (no article) and thus denotes a meaning consistent with #3 above. Whether this person was alive and present at Jesus' trial before the Sanhedrin a few years earlier cannot be known. However, it was NOT the High Priest.

This can be confirmed as the chief priest in Acts 19 was named "Sceva" while the High Priest in charge of Jesus' trials was Annas and son-in-law Caiaphas, John 18:13, 24, Acts 4:6, Luke 3:2, etc.

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