Now it is observable that the high Priesthood was at this time become an annual office, and the Passover was the time of making a new high Priest.
For Gratus the predecessor of Pilate, saith Josephus, made Ismael high Priest after Ananus; and a while after, suppose a year, deposed him, and substituted Eleazar, and a year after Simon, and after another year Caiaphas; and then gave way to Pilate. So Vitellius at one Passover made Jonathas successor to Caiaphas, and at the next Theophilus to Jonathas.
Hence Luke tells us, that in the 15th year of Tiberius, Annas and Caiaphas were high Priests, that is, Annas till the Passover, and Caiaphas afterwards.
Accordingly John speaks of the high Priesthood as an annual office: for he tells us again and again, in the last year of Christ’s preaching, that Caiaphas was high Priest for that year, John 11:49, 51; 17:13. And the next year Luke tells you, that Annas was high Priest, Acts 4:6. Theophilus was therefore made high Priest in the first year of Caius, Jonathas in the 22d year of Tiberius, and Caiaphas in the 21st year of the same Emperor: and therefore, allotting a year to each, the Passion, when Annas succeeded Caiaphas, could not be later than the 20th year of Tiberius, A.C. 34.
Thus there remain only the years 33 and 34 to be considered; and the year 33 I exclude by this argument. In the Passover two years before the Passion, when Christ went through the corn, and his disciples plucked the ears, and rubbed them with their hands to eat; this ripeness of the corn shows that the Passover then fell late: and so did the Passover A.C. 32, April 14. but the Passover A.C. 31, March 28th, fell very early. It was not therefore two years after the year 31, but two years after 32 that Christ suffered.