And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;
And not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
Caiaphas was high priest for at least 11 years. The reference to being high priest that same year does not limit him to just that year; it was simply during his tenure that these events took place.
His speech is is most interesting, on several counts.
Ye know nothing at all: Apparently Caiaphas held himself in quite high regard, assuming that he understood far better than the rest of the priests. Josephus, perhaps the best-known historian of that age, claims that rudeness, even to each other, was common among these religious leaders. Clearly, they thought more highly of themselves than they ought to think (Romans 12:3).
Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.: In my own words: “Don’t you get it that it is far more convenient that one Man should die for all the people, and keep Rome from destroying our entire nation?” Caiaphas was certainly thinking in logical, self-preserving terms. He was not thinking morally or biblically, and he should have known better. Even more remarkable are the next two verses.
And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad: John makes it clear that Caiaphas was uttering a prophecy, not of his own wisdom, but as the one in the office of the high priest. Jesus would die for the nation (the Jews); furthermore, His death would unify all who believed in Him, including those who were already scattered to different parts of the earth.
Caiaphas was doing his best to persuade the others that Jesus should die; He should do so to preserve the Hebrew nation from Roman destruction; and that His death would unite believers in Jerusalem and elsewhere.
Did he know what he was saying? I don’t think so. He did not accept Jesus as the prophesied Messiah. He saw Him as nothing more than a rebel risen from the rabble of poor, countryside working people who were desperate to get out from under the thumb of Roman tyranny. He did not credit the Source of the power with which Jesus performed His miracles. He had no respect or regard for the Person of the Son of God, because he did not accept Jesus as the Son of God.
Here’s an interesting quote from John Trapp, a respected Bible commentator who lived in the 1600’s and whose work is still read today:
“Wholesome sugar may be found in a poisoned cane, a precious stone in a toad’s head, a flaming torch in a blind man’s hand.”
Caiaphas was the poisoned cane, the toad’s head, the blind man’s hand. Sometimes God uses us for His purpose even when we don’t have a clue.