Joseph Caiaphas (AD 18-36) was a Jewish leader in the first century. All four Gospel accounts place Caiaphas at the center of Jesus Christ’s interrogation by Jewish authorities and his delivery to Pilate. What is surprising about the way in which Caiaphas’ story is told is that the synoptic Gospels authors largely pass over the subject of his motivation for acting against Jesus.
Interestingly, the Gospel of John provides a glimpse into Caiaphas’ motivation to impede and thwart Jesus Christ’s growing popularity: Caiaphas’ was concerned that more people would follow Jesus once they heard about the raising of Lazarus (John 11:47-54). But during the trial scenes, it is Annas, his father-in-law, who directs the proceedings while Caiaphas waits patiently offstage. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not include the miracle of Lazarus or the motives of Caiaphas; all three find it sufficient to relate the story of a Galilean Messiah who travels to Jerusalem for Passover only to find hostile Jewish leaders who ultimately take his life. Perhaps such facts did not appear necessary to their accounts of the Atonement.
Christian sources have been unanimous in their denunciation of Caiaphas and his father-in-law Annas for their roles in the hearing and execution of Jesus of Nazareth. Surprising to some may be the fact that Jewish sources have also denounced the family of Caiaphas and Annas. Many scholars have attributed to Caiaphas the practice of allowing inside the gates of the temple the vendors who sold the animals of sacrifice, a practice that was directly condemned by Jesus Christ. Jesus’ actions in driving the moneychangers and vendors from the temple may have been an act directed at Caiaphas’ business practices in the temple.
Another interesting facet of Caiaphas’ tenure is the complete absence of conflict between the high priest and Rome. Josephus reports that Pilate committed numerous atrocities against Jewish institutions, yet these sources do not relate any action or reaction by Caiaphas. Caiaphas was removed from office in the same year as Pilate, suggesting that Caiaphas’ tenure was closely linked with that of Pilate. The story of Caiaphas’ reign is told in the framework of complicity, corruption, and self-aggrandizement, both in Christian and Jewish sources.
Living out a great season of my life, thanks to Jesus Christ, and two wonderful daughters, a great life's work. Loving this opportunity to share faith online... I'm a single Mom, convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, second-gen Italian, from the East coast originally. Love the fine arts, dance, frozen yogurt, temples, scriptures, writing, jazz, helping others reach their potential, king salmon, ....and not in that order. God is good. I feel it deeply when people have a misconception of Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ, His Son, that lessens or cheapens Them and blinds one's ability to feel His presence or to trust in an ultimately good eternal end to life's circumstances.