Cai'aphas (ΚαÞάφας, perhaps from the Chald. כִּיפָא, depression), called by Josephus (Ant. 18:2, 2) Joseph Caiaphas (Ι᾿ώσηπος, ὁ καὶ Καιάφας), was high- priest of the Jews in the reign of Tiberius Caesar, at the beginning of our Lord's public ministry (Lu 3:2), A.D. 25, and also at the time of his condemnation and crucifixion (Mt 26:3,57; Joh 11:49; Joh 18:13-14,24,28; Ac 4:6), A.D. 29. The Procurator Valerius Gratus, shortly before his leaving the province (A.D. 25), appointed him to the dignity, which was before held by Simon ben-Camith. He held it during the whole procuratorship of Pontius Pilate, but soon after his removal from that office was deposed by the Proconsul Vitellius (A.D. 36), and succeeded by Jonathan, son of Ananus (Joseph. Ant. 18:4, 3). Some in the ancient Church confounded him with the historian Josephus, and believed him to have become a convert to Christianity (Assemani, Biblioth. Orient. 2:165). His wife was the daughter of Annas, or Ananus, who had formerly been high-priest, and who still possessed great influence and control in sacerdotal matters, several of his family successively holding the high- priesthood. The names of Annas and Caiaphas are coupled by Luke, "Annas and Caiaphas being the high-priests;" and this has given occasion to no small amount of discussion. Some maintain that Annas and Caiaphas then discharged the functions of the highpriesthood by turns ; but this is not reconcilable with the statement of Josephus. Others think that Caiaphas is called high-priest, because he then actually exercised the functions of the office, and that Annas is so called because he had formerly filled the situation. But it does not thus appear why, of those who held the high- priesthood before Caiaphas, Annas in particular should be named, and not Ishmael, Eliazer, or Simon, who had all served the office more recently than Annas. Hence Kuinol and others consider it as the more probable opinion that. Caiaphas was the high-priest, but that Annas was his vicar or deputy, called in the Hebrew סָגָן, sagans. Nor can that office be thought unworthy of a man who had filled the pontifical office, since the dignity of sagan was also great. Thus, for instance, on urgent occasions he might even enter the Holy of Holies (Lightfoot, Hor. Heb. ad Luc. 3:2). Nor ought it to seem strange or unusual that the vicar of a high-priest should be called by that name. For if, as it appears, those who had once held the office were after by courtesy called high-priests, with greater justice might Annas, who was both a pontifical person and high-priest's vicar, be so called. In fact, the very appellation of high-priest is given to a sagan by Josephus (Ant. 17:6, 4). (See the commentators on Lu 3:2, particularly Hammond, Lightfoot, Kuinol, and Bloomfield.) SEE ANNAS. Caiaphas belonged to the sect of the Sadducees (Ac 5:17). (See Hecht, De Sadducceismo Caiaphce, Bud. 1718.) SEE HIGH-PRIEST.
The wonderful miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead convinced many of the Jews that Christ was sent fromi God; and the chief priests and the Pharisees,. alarmed at the increase of his followers, summoned a council, and pretended that their liberties were in danger; that the Romans would become jealous of them, and that their destruction was inevitable if something were not done at once to check his progress. Caiaphas was a member of the council, and expressed his decided opinion in favor of putting Jesus to death, as the only way of saving the nation from the evils which his success would bring upon them. His language was, "Ye know nothing at all; nor consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not" (Joh 11:49). This counsel was wicked and unjust in the highest degree; but as there was no offense charged, it seemed the only plausible excuse for putting Christ to death. The high-priest's language on this occasion was prophetic, though he did not intend it so. The evangelist, in giving an account of this extraordinary occurrence, enlarges on the prophetic language of the high- priest, and shows the extent and blessedness of the dispensation of mercy through Jesus Christ. Nothing of this, however, was in the mind of the cruel and bigoted high-priest. After Christ was arrested, he was first taken before Annas, who sent him to his son-in-law Caiaphas, who probably lived in the same house; he was then arraigned before Caiaphas, and an effort was made to produce false testimony sufficient for his condemnation. This expedient failed; for though two persons appeared to testify, they did not agree, and at last Caiaphas put our Savior himself upon oath that he should say whether he was indeed the Christ, the Son of God, or not. The answer.
was, of course, in the affirmative (q.v.), and was accompanied with a declaration of his Divine power and majesty. The high-priest pretended to be greatly grieved at what he considered the blasphemy (q.v.) of our Savior's pretensions, and forthwith appealed to his enraged enemies to say if this was not enough. They answered at once that he deserved to die, and then, in the very presence of Caiaphas, and without any restraint from him, they fell upon their guiltless victim with insults and injuries. As Caiaphas had no power to inflict the punishment of death, Christ was taken from him to Pilate, the Roman governor, that his execution might be duly ordered (Mt 26:3,57; Joh 18:13,28). The bigoted fury of Caiaphas exhibited itself also against the first efforts of the apostles (Ac 4:6).
Treatises more or less general on the character and conduct of Calaphas in the above transaction have been written in Latin by Baumgarten-Crusius- (Opusc. p. 149 sq.), Hase (Brem. 1703, also in Iken's Thesaur. 2:549 sq.), Hecht (Buding. 1719), Haufen (Viteb. 1713), Hoder (Upsal, 1771), Hofmann (in Menthenii Thes. 2:216-222), Lungershausen (Jea. 1695), Saltznann (Argent. 1742), Scharbau (Lubec, 1715), Schickendanz (Fcft. and V. 1772), Weber (Viteb. 1807), Seltner (Altdorf, 1721); in French by Dupin (Paris, 1829). See also Evans, Script. Biog. 2:257.