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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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high priest of the Jews, succeeded Simon, son of Camith; and after possessing this dignity nine years, from A.M. 4029 to 4038, he was succeeded by Jonathan, son of Ananas, or Annas. Caiaphas was high priest, A.M. 4037, which was the year of Jesus Christ's death. He married a daughter of Annas, who also is called high priest in the Gospel, because he had long enjoyed that dignity. When the priests deliberated on the seizure and death of Jesus Christ, Caiaphas declared, that there was no room for debate on that matter, "because it was expedient that one man should die for the people, that the whole nation should not perish,"

John 11:49-50 . This sentiment was a prophecy, which God suffered to proceed from the mouth of the high priest on this occasion, importing, that the death of Jesus would be for the salvation of the world. When Judas had betrayed Jesus, he was first taken before Annas, who sent him to his son- in-law, Caiaphas, who possibly lived in the same house, John 18:24 . The priests and doctors of the law there assembled to judge our Saviour, and to condemn him. The depositions of certain false witnesses being insufficient to justify a sentence of death against him, and Jesus continuing silent, Caiaphas, as high priest, said to him, "I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God!" To this adjuration, so solemnly made by the superior judge, Jesus answered, "Thou hast said; nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." On hearing these words, Caiaphas rent his clothes, saying, "What farther need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard his blasphemy. What think ye?" They answered, "He is worthy of death." And as the power of life and death was not at this time in their hands, but was reserved by the Romans, they conducted him to Pilate, that he might confirm their sentence, and order his execution.

Two years after this, Vitellus, governor of Syria, coming to Jerusalem at the passover, was received very magnificently by the people. As an acknowledgment for this honour, he restored the custody of the high priest's ornaments, to the priests, he remitted certain duties raised on the fruits of the earth, and deposed the high priest Caiaphas. From this it appears that Caiaphas had fallen under popular odium, for his deposition was to gratify the people.

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Caiaphas'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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