High Priests of New Testament Times | Index
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Caiaphas
ka'-a-fas, ki'-a-fas (Kaiaphas; Caiaphas = Kephas (compare Dods in Expositor's
Greek Test, I, 803), and has also been interpreted as meaning "depression"):
Caiaphas was the surname of Joseph, a son-in-law of Annas (compare John
18:13), who filled th e post of high priest from about 18-36 AD, when he was deposed
by Vitellius (compare Josephus, Ant, XVIII, ii, 2; iv, 3). He is mentioned by
Luke as holding office at the time of John the Baptist's preaching in the
wilderness (Luke 3:2).
Caiaphas took a leading part in the trial and condemnation of Jesus. It was in
his court or palace that the chief priests (Sadducees) and Pharisees, who
together constituted the Sanhedrin, assembled "that they might take Jesus by
subtlety, and kill him" (compare Matthew 26:3,4; John 11:49). The regal claims of the
new Messiah and the growing fame of His works had made them to dread both the
vengeance of imperial Rome upon their nation, and the loss of their own
personal authority and prestige (compare John 11:48). But Caiaphas pointed a way out
of their dilemma:
let them bide their time till the momentary enthusiasm of the populace was
spent (compare Matthew 26:5), and then by the single sacrifice of Jesus they could
at once get rid of a dangerous rival and propitiate the frowns of Rome
(compare John 11:49,50; 18:14). The commentary of John upon this (John 11:51,52)
indicates how the death of Jesus was indeed to prove a blessing not only for Israel
but also for all the children of God; but not in the manner which the
cold-blooded statecraft of Caiaphas intended. The advice of the high priest was accepted
by the Sanhedrin (John 11:53), and they succeeded in arresting Jesus. After
being led "to Annas first" (John 18:13), Jesus was conducted thence in bonds to
Caiaphas (John 18:24), According to Mt He was led immediately upon His arrest to
Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57). Mr and Lu do not refer to Caiaphas by name. His
conduct at this preliminary trial of Jesus (Matthew 26:57-68), its time and its
procedure, were almost entirely illegal from the standpoint of then existing
Jewish law (compare JESUS CHRIST, THE ARREST AND TRIAL OF; and A. Taylor Innes, The
Trial of Jesus Christ). False witnesses were first called, and when Jesus
refused to reply to their charges, Caiaphas asked of Him if He were "the Christ, the
Son of God " (Matthew 26:63). Upon our Lord's answering "Thou hast said"
(Matthew 26:64), Caiaphas "rent his garments, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy: what
further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard the blasphemy"
(Matthew 26:65). Upon this charge was Jesus found "worthy of death" (Matthew
26:66). Caiaphas is also mentioned in Acts 4:6 as being among those who presided
over the trial of Peter and John.
C. M. Kerr
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition
that is available from Crosswire Software.
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'CAIAPHAS'". "International
Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.