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Biblical People

Biblical People: Caiaphas

We recognize Caiaphas as a central player in the unethical, corrupt, and self-seeking plot that results in the crucifixion of Jesus. Caiaphas’s name shows up in the writings of Matthew, Luke, and John. Though we don’t know much about him, here’s what we are aware of.

First, he’s the high priest—the main man—when the religious leaders railroad Jesus into a wrongful execution. 

Next, he’s the son-in-law of another high priest, Annas. 

Third, he’s most likely rich. Matthew writes that the religious leaders meet at Caiaphas’s palace to develop a scheme to do away with Jesus. We can suspect that Caiaphas, like other highly-placed, influential religious leaders, is well-off. However, knowing he lives in a palace suggests just how financially lucrative the high priesthood is. 

Caiaphas and the other religious leaders see Jesus as a threat to the prestige, power, and possessions they’ve amassed through their religious positions. They want to stop Jesus—not so much because of his theology—but because they fear losing their wealth, influence, and public respect.

Jesus must die.

Given all this, it’s easy to see Caiaphas as a villain. And though he is, another passage lets us see him as a prophet, one supernaturally influenced.

After Jesus raises Lazarus (1) from the dead, the religious leaders hold an emergency meeting of the governing board, the Sanhedrin. Frustrated with Jesus, they wonder what to do. Then Caiaphas speaks up. “You don’t get it!” he says. “Let’s have one man die for all the people, instead of putting the whole country at risk.” 

Caiaphas doesn’t say this on his own, John notes, but he prophesies of Jesus’s sacrificial death to save his people.

Are we willing to see good things in otherwise bad people?

[Discover more about Caiaphas in Matthew 26:3–5, Matthew 26:57, Luke 3:1–2, John 11:49–52, John 18:12–14, John 18:24, and Acts 4:5–6.]

Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.