Palace of Caiaphas
The House of Caiaphas or
Palace of Caiaphas was the place where the High Priest of Israel
resided, and it was here that Jesus was tried informally by the
Sanhedrin. Peter also denied Jesus in one of the courts of this
Illustration of the Palace of
Caiaphas in First Century Jerusalem
The House of Caiaphas
The palace of the high priest where
the Lord Jesus was examined before the Council in Jerusalem, the
Sanhedrin, was not only mentioned in the Bible but also became a
site for a Christian church to be built, on the Hill of the Upper
The idea that this is the exact
site of the House of Caiaphas is open for debate. Before Christ and
during the time of Nehemiah, the high priest resided on the western
side of the temple court area. During the time of the Maccabees the
high priest resided at the Asmonaean Palace. Josephus makes mention
that during the time of Jesus in first century Jerusalem, the house
of Ananias (High-priest during the time of Gessius Florus) stood
near the Palace of the Asmonaeans, on the eastern part of the Upper
Caiaphas The High Priest
Caiaphas, who’s name means
"searcher" was appointed high priest (after Simon ben Camith) by the
procurator Valerius Gratus, under Tiberius, 18 A.D. He continued in
office from A.D. 26 to 37, when the proconsul Vitellius deposed him.
He was the president of the Jewish council (Sanhedrim) which
condemned the Lord Jesus to death, Caiaphas declaring Him guilty of
As a Sadducee and opposed to the
teaching of the resurrection, Caiaphas took a leading part in the
persecution of the Early Church. The final appearance of Caiaphas in
the New Testament was in Acts 4:6 he is named second among the
Sadducean leaders who assembled to try Peter and John:
Caiaphas was the official high priest during the ministry and trial
of Jesus (Matt 26:3, 57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49; 18:13, 14, 24, 28;
It was Caiaphas who, unknowingly, made the incredible prophecy
concerning God’s plan of sacrificing Jesus for the sins of the
nation and even the whole world:
John 11:49-50 And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that
year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, nor do you consider
that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people,
and not that the whole nation should perish."
The Romans made sure that they had total control over the all the
affairs of Judea, they reserved the right to appoint not only the
civil ruler but also the religious leader of the Jews, the high
Josephus relates that "Joseph who was also called Caiaphas"
was made high priest by the Procurator Valerius Gratus (18 A.D.) and
that he was removed by the Procurator Vitellius (36 A.D.). His
successor was "Jonathan the son of Ananus," (Annas of the NT)
(Antiq. XVIII. ii. 2; iv. 3) .
Thus the high-priesthood of Caiaphas lasted some eighteen years,
standing in marked contrast to the rapid changes in the office both
before and after him. He was shrewd and adaptable enough to appease
the Romans. According to John 18:13 he was the son-in-law of Annas,
who had been deposed as high priest in A.D. 15 by Valerius Gratus.
Neither Caiaphas nor his father-in-law is named in the gospel of
John 18:13 "And they led Him away to Annas first, for he was the
father-in-law of Caiaphas who was high priest that year."
Caiaphas is first mentioned in the New Testament in the Gospel of
Luke at the beginning of John the Baptist's ministry:
Luke 3:1-3 "Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius
Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being tetrarch
of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and the region of
Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and
Caiaphas were high priests, the word of God came to John the son of
Zacharias in the wilderness. And he went into all the region around
the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of
It is interesting that Luke phrases his statement, "Annas and
Caiaphas were high priests" (sing.) The expression indicates an
abnormality. Conservative scholars hold that it fittingly reflects
the real situation. As high priest and head of a powerful family,
Annas continued to exercise great influence through his son-in-law
Caiaphas who was the official high priest. The fact that Annas did
continue to exert great influence after he was removed seems evident
from the fact that he was able to obtain appointment to the office
for five of his sons.
After Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, the Sanhedrin met to
discuss what to do about Jesus and ultimately plotted Jesus’ death:
John 11:47-54 "Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered
a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many
signs. If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him,
and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation."
And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to
them, "You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is
expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not
that the whole nation should perish." Now this he did not say on his
own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that
Jesus would die for the nation, and not for that nation only, but
also that He would gather together in one the children of God who
were scattered abroad. Then, from that day on, they plotted to put
Him to death."
The proposal of Caiaphas was accepted by the Sanhedrin. John remarks
that the words of Caiaphas were prophetic; they had a higher meaning
than he realized. The suggestion to sacrifice Jesus to save the
nation expressed the mystery of God's plan of salvation for all men
through Christ's death.
When Jesus was first arrested He was first taken to Annas who was
the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year" (John
John 18:19-24 "The high priest then asked Jesus about His
disciples and His doctrine. Jesus answered him, "I spoke openly to
the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where
the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing. Why do you
ask Me? Ask those who have heard Me what I said to them. Indeed they
know what I said." And when He had said these things, one of the
officers who stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand,
saying, "Do You answer the high priest like that?" Jesus answered
him, "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well,
why do you strike Me?" Then Annas sent Him bound to Caiaphas the
Next Jesus was taken "bound to Caiaphas the high priest." John's
gospel does not recount the night trial before Caiaphas and the
Sanhedrin, but it is found in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark (cf.
Matt 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65):
Matt 26:57-68 And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away
to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were
assembled. But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest's
courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.
Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false
testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. Even
though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at
last two false witnesses came forward and said, "This fellow said,
'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three
days.' " And the high priest arose and said to Him, "Do You answer
nothing? What is it these men testify against You?" But Jesus kept
silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, "I put You
under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son
of God!" Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say
to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right
hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." Then the
high priest tore his clothes, saying, "He has spoken blasphemy! What
further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His
blasphemy! What do you think?" They answered and said, "He is
deserving of death." Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and
others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, "Prophesy
to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?"
Ultimately in the morning they handed Jesus over to Pontius
Pilate the Roman governor:
Matt 27:1-2 "When morning came, all the chief priests and elders of
the people plotted against Jesus to put Him to death. And when they
had bound Him, they led Him away and delivered Him to Pontius Pilate
Acts 4:5-12 "And it came to pass, on the next day, that their
rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest,
Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of
the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they
had set them in the midst, they asked, "By what power or by what
name have you done this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit,
said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this
day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means
he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the
people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom
you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands
here before you whole. This is the 'stone which was rejected by you
builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' Nor is there
salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven
given among men by which we must be saved."
Caiaphas is no doubt that same "high priest" mentioned in Acts
5:17-21, 27; 7:1; 9:1 as the bitter persecutor of the Christians.
Acts 5:17-18 "Then the high
priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect
of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, and laid
their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison."
Heart Message - The Paradox of the Priesthood
Caiaphas - Bible History Online
Caiaphas - Life of Jesus
Caiaphas in Unger's Bible Dictionary
Palace of Caiaphas
in Easton's Bible Dictionary
Smith's Bible Dictionary - Caiaphas
Before Annas and Caiaphas - Alfred Edersheim
Ossuary of Caiaphas
CAIAPHAS in the Bible Encyclopedia -
Biblical Definition of Caiaphas
CAIAPHAS in Naves Topical
Hitchcock's Bible Names - Caiaphas
The Palace of Caiaphas
The Trial of Christ
Preparation for the Sacrifice
Then the chief priests and the elders of the
people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose
name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in
some sly way and kill him. "But not during the Feast,"
they said, "or there may be a riot among the people."
They took Jesus to the high
priest, and all the chief priests, elders and teachers
of the law came together. Peter followed him at a
distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest.
There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the
fire. Mark 4:53, 54
The location of the Palace of Caiaphas, where the
religious leaders plotted to kill Jesus of Nazareth, and
after his arrest convened his trial, has long been of
interest to Christians touring the holy sites and to those
who study the scriptures. The Palace of Caiaphas was also
the place where the Apostle Peter was confronted in the
palace courtyard, not with swords and physical battle for
which he was prepared, but with public shame and ridicule in
spiritual battle, which he had not foreseen.
Since Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD and the inhabitants
scattered, and since Christians and Jews were persecuted
throughout the empire, it is easy to see why exact locations
are difficult to pinpoint. But with the conversion of
Emperor Constantine in 312 AD and the legalization of
Christianity in his Edict of Milan, the historic sites were
slowly but surely being sought out.
Cyril, Bishop of Jerusalem in the mid 4th Century referred
to the ruined palace of Caiaphas in his preaching saying,
“its present desolation manifests the power of him who was
once judged in it.” Catechisms 13.38
Josephus said it was located in the upper city, a bit south
of the Jaffa Gate, where the ruling class and the wealthy
A pilgrim to Jerusalem in 530 AD named, Theodosius wrote
down his observations in a work called “On
the Topography of the Holy Land” where he identified the
ruins of Caiaphas’s palace just beneath a church dedicated
to St. Peter. Also see
Caiaphas: Friend of Rome and Judge of Jesus? By Helen
The chilling thought on Caiaphas is that though he was a
High Priest for God, he yet embodied such a hard hearted
religious pride that he could not recognize the Son of God
standing before him and instead was filled with a murderous
hatred. His self-deception stands as a warning to all who
would move up in a religious hierarchy that pride in one's
righteousness, knowledge and position can be so blinding
that one could stand and fight against God Himself, thinking
he serves the God he is actually persecuting. Chilling.
Not only that, but the sovereignty of God can so plan and
execute in the affairs of man that such a hardened high
priest would serve to fulfill the type of Aaron, the first
high priest who would place the lamb on the altar on
Passover to commemorate the original blood of the lambs
placed on the doorposts in Egypt, when Israel was protected
from judgment, set free from bondage and set out for the
How awesome and powerful can God be that this High Priest
Caiaphas placed Jesus on the altar of the Cross, thus truly
fulfilling the purpose of his office, and of the Mosaic
Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high
priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all!
You do not realize that it is better for you that one
man die for the people than that the whole nation
perish." He did not say this on his own, but as high
priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for
the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also
for the scattered children of God, to bring them
together and make them one. John 11.49-52
rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without
yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb,
has been sacrificed.
This Ossuary of
Caiaphas was discovered in Jerusalem by archaeologists. It was
carved from limestone and bears the name "Caiaphas", the name of the
Temple High Priest during the time of Christ. Ossuaries were
typically used to hold the bones of the dead.
The Jewish High Priests from 200 B.C
to the Reign of Herod the Great
1. Simon II the Just, 220-190 B.C.
2. Onias III, 190-174 B.C.
3. Jason/Jeshua,175-172 B.C.
4. Menelaus, 172-162 B.C.
5. Alcimus, 162-156 B.C.
6. Jonathan, 153-142 B.C.
7. Simon, 142-135 B.C.
8. John Hyrcanus I, 134-104 B.C.
9. Aristobulus I, 104-103 B.C.
10. Alexander Jannaeus, 103-76 B.C.
11. Hyrcanus II, 76-67 B.C.
12. Aristobulus II, 67-63 B.C.
13. Hyrcanus II, 63-40 B.C.
14. Antigonus, 40-37 B.C.
The Jewish High Priests from
Herod the Great to the Destruction of Jerusalem
15. Ananel, 37-36 B.C. (Appointed by Herod
16. Aristobulus III, 35 B.C.
17. Jesus, son of Phiabi, ? -22 B.C.
18. Simon, son of Boethus, 22-5 B.C.
19. Matthias, son of Theophilus, 5-4 B.C.
20. Joseph, son of Elam, 5 B.C.
21. Joezer, son of Boethus, 4 B.C.
22. Eleazar, son of Boethus, 4-1 B.C. - (Appointed by Herod
23. Jesus, son of Sie, 1 - 6 A.D.
24. Annas, 6-15 A.D. (Appointed by Quirinius)
25. Ishmael, son of Phiabi I, 15-16 A.D. (Appointed by Valerius
26. Eleazar, son of Annas, 16-17 A.D.
27. Simon, son of Kamithos, 17-18 A.D.
29. Jonathan, son of Annas, 37 A.D. (Appointed by Vitellius)
30. Theophilus, son of Annas, 37-41 A.D.
31. Simon Kantheras, son of Boethus, 41-43 A.D. (Appointed by Herod
32. Matthias, son of Annas, 43-44 A.D.
33. Elionaius, son of Kantheras, 44-45 A.D.
34. Joseph, son of Kami, 45-47 A.D. (Appointed by Herod of Chalcis)
35. Ananias, son of Nebedaius, 47-55 A.D.
36. Ishmael, son of Phiabi III, 55-61 A.D. (Appointed by Herod
37. Joseph Qabi, son of Simon, 61-62 A.D.
38. Ananus, son of Ananus, 62 A.D.
39. Jesus, son of Damnaius, 62-65 A.D.
40. Joshua, son of Gamal iel, 63-65 A.D.
41. Matthias, son of Theophilus, 65-67 A.D.
42. Phinnias, son of Samuel, 67-70 A.D. (Appointed by The People)
Some dates cannot be known for certain.
The Bible mentions a lot
- Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of
judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the
judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat
- And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John,
and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high
priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
26:3 - Then assembled together the chief priests, and the
scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high
priest, who was called Caiaphas,
26:57 - And they that had laid hold on Jesus led [him] away
to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the
elders were assembled.
- Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word
of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.
- And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to
Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year.
- Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews,
that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.
- And one of them, [named] Caiaphas, being the high
priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
- Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high