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What can we learn from the life of Caiaphas?


Acts 4:6

KJV - 6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

Clarify Share Report Asked September 02 2015 Mini David Lakes

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
I would say that the life of Caiaphas primarily illustrates the hazards of selective reading of Scripture, and of allowing external circumstances or self-interest to adversely affect one's perspective on religious matters.

Caiaphas (whose full name was Joseph Caiaphas) was the Jewish high priest of Palestine beginning in AD 26. He was a son-in-law of Annas (a former high priest himself, who still wielded considerable authority and influence through Caiaphas, as well as through Annas' own sons, five of whom also served as high priest).

Caiaphas had become high priest through appointment by the Roman procurator (imperial governor) of Palestine, Valerius Gratus, who had held that office from AD 15 to 26 (immediately prior to Pontius Pilate).

In his capacity as high priest, Caiaphas had to be very adept and circumspect in balancing his religious responsibilities as the authoritative interpreter and representative of the Jewish religion, and of God's dealings with Israel, with the secular realities arising from owing his position to the Roman occupiers of Palestine -- that is, trying to placate the procurator and the Emperor, while also seeking to gain political advantage over them, and to preserve and enhance his own power and authority, as well as that of the priestly class. These conflicting priorities adversely affected his judgment with regard to Jesus and His ministry.

Caiaphas may also have shared the perspective of some others in Israel at that time who were aware of the prophecies of the Messiah contained in the Old Testament, but who chose to focus on the prophecies that depicted the Messiah as a powerful, triumphant King (which will be fulfilled when Jesus comes again at the close of the present age), while overlooking passages (such as Isaiah 53) that describe the Messiah as a suffering servant, whose main purpose would be spiritual (reconciling a holy God with sinful humanity by His sinless life, and by His atoning death and resurrection).

The gospels depict Caiaphas' thoughts and actions as being primarily motivated by political considerations, and by a concern that the popularity of Jesus might be perceived by the Romans as a threat to the Emperor's authority, and thus cause the Romans to take away the degree of religious liberty that they had granted the Jews.

When Joseph of Arimathea, who was a member of the Sanhedrin (the ruling Jewish religious body), suggested (in John 7) that the Sanhedrin at least listen to what Jesus had to say before condemning Him, the leaders (who would undoubtedly have included Caipahas) told him to search the scriptures and see for himself that no prophet was predicted as coming from Galilee, although such a prophecy did exist in Isaiah 9.

And when the Sanhedrin was again discussing (in John 11) what to do about Jesus after He had raised Lazarus from the dead (which had been witnessed by many of the religious authorities), Caiaphas plainly showed that, rather than being convinced of Jesus' authority and identity as the Messiah by the miracle that He had performed, his main concern was that Jesus be put to death, so that the Romans would not punish the entire Jewish people because of Jesus' actions and popularity.

Most significantly to me, when Caiaphas, through his collaboration with Judas, had succeeded in having Jesus arrested, condemned, and crucified, and when Jesus cried out from the cross, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" (which was actually the first verse of Psalm 22), Caiaphas was apparently not able (or willing) to discern the fulfillment of the prophetic words of that psalm by the events that were taking place, which he had had a role in bringing about.

There is also no sign of any change in Caiaphas' views after Jesus' resurrection, as shown by Matthew 28:11-15. When the guards at Jesus' tomb reported that Jesus had risen from the dead, the chief priests told the guards to say that Jesus' disciples had come and stolen His body while the guards were asleep.

September 03 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Shirley H. prayer warrior
Chief priest Caiaphas is referenced in John 18:13; John 11:49-52; John 18:23,24; Acts 4:1-22. 
I find he is also referred to in Matthew 26:3,4.

I suggest we look closely at the book of Matthew. But, let's start at chapter 26:1, "Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.

Then the chief priests, the scribes and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called CAIAPHAS, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him."

Now, let's look at John 11:49-52 "And one of them CAIAPHAS, being high priest that year, said to them, You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people and not that the whole nation should perish." VERSE 51 Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied (He What?) That Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad.

Not on his own authority? He prophecied! Oh my! I see that the Sovereign Hand of God is in control. God will always have His way. Nothing can stop Him. His plans will always prevail! Remember Matthew 26:1.

September 04 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

My picture Jack Gutknecht ABC/DTS graduate, guitar music ministry Baptist church
Great question, David Lakes!

Caiaphas utilized language fairly prophetic when he said that it was convenient for one man to expire for the individuals, and Christ died for Jew and Gentile the same. By His demise, He separated the center divider (Eph. 2:14-18) by breaking down this barrier.

November 03 2020 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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