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Caiaphas, formally known as Joseph Caiaphas, was a Jewish High Priest during the early and central parts of the New Testament, and was most likely present during Jesus Christ's trial before the Sanhedrin of the time. He is infamous for being a major player in the arrest, trial, and eventual Crucifixion of Christ.


Early Life[]

Joseph Caiaphas was born into a wealthy Jewish Sadducee family. Through marriage he became son-in-law to Annas who had been high priest from 6-15 AD and was an influential eminence-grise in the Sanhedrin.

Caiaphas was the high priest during the time of Jesus and was a member of the Sadducees.[1] He was appointed High Priest of the Jews by the Roman procurator Valerius Gratus in about A.D. 18. Gratus was the predecessor of Pontius Pilate.

He called for Jesus' death, when he and other community leaders became alarmed at the rising popularity of Jesus. After Jesus was arrested, he was taken to Annas, also a high priest, who was also the father-in-law of Caiaphas. Annas questioned Jesus and then sent Him to Caiaphas. After the trial before Caiaphas, Jesus was sent to Pilate, the Roman governor.[2]

Caiaphas was afraid that Jesus' popularity would entice a large number of people to gather and to possibly stage an uprising for independence. Such an event would be dealt with severely and harshly by the Romans. Caiaphas expressed this concern when he said that it would better for one man to die than for a whole nation to suffer.[3] This was soon after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead.

Caiaphas was also present at the trial of the Apostles John and Peter. He was one of the leaders who questioned the two men about the miraculous healing of a lame man at one of the gates of the Temple.[4]

He was also the high priest who sent Saul (later Paul the Apostle) to Damascus with letters of introduction for the purpose of rounding up believers of Jesus.

In 36AD, Pilate fell out of favor with Emperor Tiberius and in 37 AD, Caiaphas also fell out of favor as high priest. He was removed from the position by Pilate's successor Marcellus


  1. Luke 3:2 (Link)
  2. John 18:12-28 (Link)
  3. John 11:43-50 (Link)
  4. Acts 4:6-7 (Link)