Word Summary
archiereus: high priest
Original Word: ἀρχιερεύς
Transliteration: archiereus
Phonetic Spelling: (ar-khee-er-yuce')
Part of Speech: Noun, Masculine
Short Definition: high priest
Meaning: high priest
Strong's Concordance
high priest, chief priest.

From arche and hiereus; the high-priest (literally, of the Jews, typically, Christ); by extension a chief priest -- chief (high) priest, chief of the priests.

see GREEK arche

see GREEK hiereus

Thayer's Greek Lexicon
STRONGS NT 749: ἀρχιερεύς

ἀρχιερεύς, ἀρχιερέως, , chief priest, high priest.

1. He who above all others was honored with the title of priest, the chief of the priests, הַגָדול כֹּהֵן (Leviticus 21:10; Numbers 35:25 (later הָרֹאשׁ כֹּהֵן, 2 Kings 25:18; 2 Chronicles 19:11, etc.)): Matthew 26:3, and often in the Gospels, the Acts, and the Epistle to the Heb. It was lawful for him to perform the common duties of the priesthood; but his chief duty was, once a year on the day of atonement, to enter the Holy of holies (from which the other priests were excluded) and offer sacrifice for his own sins and the sins of the people (Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9:7, 25), and to preside over the Sanhedrin, or supreme Council, when convened for judicial deliberations (Matthew 26:3; Acts 22:5; Acts 23:2). According to the Mosaic law no one could aspire to the high priesthood unless he were of the tribe of Aaron, and descended moreover from a high priestly family; and he on whom the office was conferred held it till death. But from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, when the kings of the Seleucidae and afterward the Herodian princes and the Romans arrogated to themselves the power of appointing the high priests, the office neither remained vested in the pontifical family nor was conferred on anyone for life; but it became venal, and could be transferred from one to another according to the will of civil or military rulers. Hence, it came to pass, that during the one hundred and seven years intervening between Herod the Great and the destruction of the holy city, twenty-eight persons held the pontifical dignity (Josephus, Antiquities 20, 10; see Αννας). Cf. Winers RWB under the word Hoherpriester; Oehler in Herzog vi., pp. 198ff; (BB. DD., see under the words, High Priest, Priest, etc. The names of the 28 (27?) above alluded to are given, together with a brief notice of each, in an article by Schürer in the Studien und Kritiken for 1872, pp. 597-607).

2. The plural ἀρχιερεῖς, which occurs often in the Gospels and Acts, as Matthew 2:4; Matthew 16:21; Matthew 26:3; Matthew 27:41; Mark 8:31; Mark 14:1; Mark 15:1; Luke 19:47; Luke 22:52, 66; Luke 23:4; Luke 24:20; John 7:32; John 11:57; John 18:35; Acts 4:23; Acts 5:24; Acts 9:14, 21; Acts 22:30; Acts 23:14, etc., and in Josephus, comprises, in addition to the one actually holding the high priestly office, both those who had previously discharged it and although deposed continued to have great power in the State (Josephus, Vita38; b. j. 2, 12, 6; 4, 3, 7; 9; 4, 4, 3; see Αννας above), as well as the members of the families from which high priests were created, provided they had much influence in public affairs (Josephus, b. j. 6, 2, 2). See on this point the learned discussion by Schürer, Die ἀρχιερεῖς im N. T, in the Studien und Kritiken for 1872, p. 593ff and in his Neutest. Zeitgesch. § 23 iii., p. 407ff (Prof. Schürer, besides reviewing the opinions of the more recent writers, contends that in no instance where indubitable reference to the heads of the twenty-four classes is made (neither in the Sept. 1 Chronicles 24:3; 2 Chronicles 36:14; Ezra 10:5; Nehemiah 12:7; nor in Josephus, Antiquities 7, 14, 7) are they called ἀρχιερεῖς; that the nearest approximations to this term are periphrases such as ἄρχοντες τῶν ἱερέων, Nehemiah 12:7, or φυλαρχοι τῶν ἱερέων, Esra apocr. (1 Esdr.) (94); Josephus, Antiquities 11, 5, 4; and that the word ἀρχιερεῖς was restricted in its application to those who actually held, or had held, the high priestly office, together with the members of the few prominent families from which the high priests still continued to be selected, cf. Acts 4:6; Josephus, b. j. 4, 3, 6.)

3. In the Epistle to the Hebrews Christ is called 'high priest,' because by undergoing a bloody death he offered himself as an expiatory sacrifice to God, and has entered the heavenly sanctuary where he continually intercedes on our behalf: ; cf. Winzer, De sacerdotis officio, quod Christo tribuitur in the Epistle to the Hebrews (three Programs), Leips. 1825f; Riehm, Lehrbegriff des Hebräerbriefes, ii., pp. 431-488. In Greek writings the word is used by Herodotus 2 ((37), 142) 143 and 151; Plato, legg. 12, p. 947 a.; Polybius 23, 1, 2; 32, 22, 5; Plutarch, Numa c. 9, others; (often in Inscriptions); once (viz., Leviticus 4:3) in the Sept., where ἱερεύς μέγας is usual, in the O. T. Apocrypha, 1 Esdr. 5:40 1 Esdr. 9:40, and often in the books of Maccabees.