What Is the Sanhedrin?

By | March 29, 2016

The term “Sanhedrin” is not found in the KJV, yet the term is often used among believer when talking about the days and events surrounding the life of Christ. It is the name given to the council of Jewish leaders.

The council is believed to have been composed of 70 Jewish men, and the high priest was the head of it – making him the 71st member. Some Jews claim that it began when Moses appointed 70 men to assist him, but the connection is doubtful.

Apparently, according to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, the council was first seen in history about the time of Antiochus the Great (223-187 B.C.). Through the years, they still had retained much of their power, but it was removed at times, or limited. At one point, Herod the Great ordered all of them to be put to death, and then he reformed it with men who were friendlier to his ideas.

During the time of Christ and in the days of the Apostles, the Sanhedrin met several times that are recorded for us in the Bible. At the time, they were composed of Pharisees and Sadducees. They were the ones who ultimately turned Christ over to Pilate to die, and they were the same ones who tried to ban the Apostles from preaching about Christ in the Book of Acts.

Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, and Saul of Tarsus (Paul) is also believed to have been a member. It is believed that students of the members of the Sanhedrin were also allowed to sit in on the sessions. The organization was undoubtedly disbanded by Rome at the time of its destruction in 70 AD.

Some Bible scholars think that it was a requirement that a man be married before he could be a member of the Sanhedrin. Yet, as far as is known, Paul was never married. It is possible (my opinion) that he was only a student – in preparation for membership.

The Sanhedrin only had power over Judea proper. It had no authority over Galilee or Syria. It also was largely limited to matters of Mosaic Law, but civil matters had to be relegated to the Roman courts.

This is a good place to remind believers that we are responsible to submit to appointed authorities, as revealed in Romans 13. We are also to pray for them, too, that we may lead “quiet and peaceable” lives (I Timothy 2:2).

Evangelist Mike Valles

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2 thoughts on “What Is the Sanhedrin?

  1. Trippple

    And I thought they were the ruling counsel over all Israel. Wasn’t Joseph of Aremethia also on the Sanhedrin. He is the one who begged for Jesus body to be place in his tomb wasn’t he?

  2. Mike Valles Post author

    Yes, quite correct. Joseph was also a member of the Sanhedrin. It also appears that Joseph and Nicodemus were not present when Christ was condemned – at least there is no Biblical record of them trying to prevent it.


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