Caiaphas was the appointed high priest by Valerius Gratus predecessor of Pontius Pilate (Josephus Antiquities xviii. 2. 2) about A.D. 18 or 19, and he continued in office till about A.D. 36. He was a Sadducee, proud and cruel, overbearing and intolerant, but weak and vacillating in character (John 11:49, 50). He is pictured in the Gospels as a man of policy and expediency (John 18:14).
Caiaphas was the son in law of Annas who was deposed by the Romans, still popularly honored as high priest (John 18:13, 24; Acts 4:6). Originally the office of high priest was supposed to be hereditary and thus for life, but under Herodian and Roman rule, high priests were often appointed and deposed in rapid succession.
Annas and Caiaphas were the two high priests during Jesus’ public ministry (Luke 3:2). After Christ was arrested in Gethsemane, He was brought to Annas for investigation (John 18:13; 19–23) and was afterward sent by him to the current high priest, Caiaphas. And they gathered the Sanhedrin for the trial of Jesus (Matthew 26:57).
During Jesus’ trial before Annas and Caiaphas, the Lord was falsely accused by witnesses who had conflicting reports (Mark 14:56). Getting frustrated, Caiaphas then asked Jesus “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” (verse 61). Jesus answered, “I am. . . . And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven” (verse 62). At this point, Caiaphas tore his clothes and announced that Jesus had blasphemed and condemned to death (verses 63–65).
Caiaphas had unwittingly prophesied of Jesus’ death saying “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 11:49–51; John 18:14). Caiaphas’ hate and persecution continued even after the resurrection of Christ and was set on the Lord’s disciples as well for he questioned Peter and John for spreading the gospel (Acts 4:6).
In His service,
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