Caiaphas [Cā'iaphăs]—a searcher or he that seeks with diligence. Joseph Caiaphas, the son-in-law of Annas, was high priest of the Jews for eighteen years (Matt. 26:3, 57).
Dr. David Smith refers to this wicked man whom the Spirit of God used to declare divine purposes as, “a man of masterful temper, with his full share of the insolence which was a Sadducaean characteristic.” The Sadducees were a sect among the Jews, so called from their founder Sadoc who lived about 260 years before Christ. Their principal tenets were:
I. There is no angel, spirit or resurrection; the soul finishes with the body (Matt. 22:23; Acts 23:8).
II. There is no fate or providence—all men enjoy the most ample freedom of action—absolute power to do good or evil.
III. There is no need to follow tradition. Scripture, particularly the first five books of the Bible, must be strictly adhered to. Caiaphas, as an ardent Sadducee, figures three times in the New Testament.
A. At the raising of Lazarus. After the miracle at Bethany, the rulers were alarmed at the popularity of Jesus which the resurrection of Lazarus brought Him, and convened a meeting of the Sanhedrin to decide what should be done with Jesus. Caiaphas presided and with a high hand forced a resolution that Jesus should be put to death (John 11:49, 53).
B. At the trial of Jesus. At a further meeting of the Sanhedrin when Jesus appeared before its members and was tried and condemned, Caiaphas again displayed his character by his open determination to find Jesus guilty. Since he was the high priest, his announcements were clothed with authority, but his shameless disregard of the forms of law to bring about the death of Jesus, revealed his warped conscience (Matt. 26:57; 58; John 18:24). Yet Caiaphas used language somewhat prophetic when he said that it was expedient for one man to die for the people, and Christ did die for Jew and Gentile alike. By His death He broke down the middle wall (Eph. 2:14-18).
C. At the trial of Peter and John. Caiaphas also took part in the examination of Peter and John when called in question over the marvels of the healing of the lame man. The manifestation of God’s power was so evident that Annas and Caiaphas could do nothing about the apostles (Acts 4).