Ananus Son of Ananus has been Proposed as 1 of the 2 Witnesses Despite having Killed Christians Including James, the Head of the Christian Church in Jerusalem.

It is interesting to note that the high priest Ananus the son of Ananus has been proposed as a possible candidate for one of the two witnesses.  This is shocking since the two witnesses–if nothing else–should be regarded as righteous men.  However, as stated above, Ananus the son of the Ananus had Jesus’ biological brother James alongside other Christians in Jerusalem unjustly put to death.  This is a horrendous sin as Jesus’ brother James, nicknamed James the Just, was the leader of the church in Jerusalem according to early church tradition in addition to being a man widely respected and revered for his saintly character.  As cited above, the Church historian Eusebius believes that it was because of this crime that the Jews suffered during the Jewish War.  And Eusebius appears to be correct in his assessment as the Whore of Babylon symbolizing adulterous Jerusalem is depicted holding a goblet full of the blood of the saints in Revelation 17:3-6 presumably as a symbol of the crime for which she is punished (see the preterist commentary on Revelation 17).  Thus here we have Ananus son of Ananus guilty of the sin of the Whore of Babylon and yet he is to be considered a possible candidate for one of the two witnesses?  Josephus writes the following in Antiquities of the Jews concerning the death of James alongside some of his Christian companions:

But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned: but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent. Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest.1

Maybe Ananus repented and God then used him to preach as one of the two witnesses to his fellow Jews?  Ananus ben Ananus killed James in the year A.D. 62 which is possibly the same year Revelation was written give or take one or two years. Interestingly, at this time John appears to be told that the time for repentance is over: ‘“Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near.  Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.” (Rev 22:10-11) Here we see that at the time in which John saw his vision at Patmos the time for repentance seems to have expired.

The other problem with the idea that Ananus ben Ananus would have repented assuming the time for repentance had not already expired is that Ananus ben Ananus is may be the worst offender of all Jews responsible for the execution of the saints. If God had a Most-Wanted list, Ananus Ben Ananus might be number one or two on that list right next to Caiaphas, Ananus’ brother-in-law, or Ananus senior, Ananus’ father.  So the only two people who might challenge Ananus ben Ananus for the title of the most wicked Jew of Jerusalem who brought judgment on the Whore of Babylon were members of Ananus ben Ananus’ immediate family!

  1. Josephus The Antiquities of the Jews 20.9.1.