by Luke Wayne
The public ministry of the prophet John the Baptist began somewhere between the years 27-29 AD. Scholars base these dates on the detailed information in Luke 3:1-2, where Luke tells us that John's ministry began in the 15th year of Tiberius Caesar, during the time when Herod Antipas and his brother Phillip were tetrarchs, and while Annas and Caiaphas were High Priests. Tiberius Caesar began his reign in 14 AD (though certain factors in the transition of leadership during the last years of Caesar Augustus prompt some scholars to contend that Tiberius' reign can be counted from as early as 12 AD). This would put his fifteenth year at 29 AD (or possibly 27). Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea from 26-36 AD. Herod Antipas and Phillip were sons of Herod the Great (who was in power at Jesus' birth) and began reigning as Tetrarchs over portions of their father's kingdom the year of his death in 4 BC, and reigned until 39 and 34 AD, respectively. Annas was officially High Priest from 6 AD to 15 AD when Roman authorities removed him from office. His son-in-law, Joseph Caiaphas, served as High Priest from 18-36 AD, however, Annas continued to exert his authority in Judea and through the High Priesthood, and in addition to Caiaphas, had five biological sons who would at one point or another hold the office in his stead. Luke, therefore, is justified in listing the Priesthoods of Annas and Caiaphas somewhat collectively. Taken together, The Gospel of Luke's data is consistent. The year(s) he gives us based on Tiberius reign fall well within the years of the other figures he lists. This information allows us to place the ministry of John the Baptist precisely in history, and to have a much clearer picture of the world in which he prepared the way for the coming of our Lord.