International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
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 the post of high priest from about 18-36 A.D., 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; John 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 Matthew He was led immediately upon His arrest to Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57). Mark and Luke 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