And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that you tell us whether (the word "whether" denotes which of two), (1) You are the Christ/Messiah and (2) the Son of God."

So my question is why would the high priest Caiaphas ask Jesus if He was the Son of God?

  • Where do you get the idea that Jews consider themselves sons of God? I hope it’s not Psalm 82 where it says they will die like men, because men already die so clear these were not men. Dec 16, 2019 at 23:18
  • 1
    Thank you for your question. I meant that the Jews consider themselves "sons of God" in a "generic" or general sense. God said that Israel was His son. At Jeremiah 31:9, God says "I am a Father to Israel. And no, I was not referencing Psalm 82:6. How about I do this and delete the part that says, "since the Jews consider themselves sons of God as well? So here's the question? "Why would the Jews ask Jesus if He was the Son of God?
    – Mr. Bond
    Dec 17, 2019 at 0:22
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    1. It is the High Priest who is 'adjuring', and the question is : Did the High Priest have any authority to 'adjure'. 2. The question is : what OT scriptures make it clear that the Messiah will be Divine ? Thus if Jesus of Nazareth (or anyone else) claims to be Messiah, they are also, automatically, claiming divinity.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 17, 2019 at 11:19
  • The High Priest uses Strong 1844 ἐξορκίζω. The demonic spirit 'adjures' in Mark 5:7 using Strong 3726 ὁρκίζω, a very similar word.
    – Nigel J
    Dec 17, 2019 at 19:08
  • Where are you getting the phrase 'which of these two' at Matthew 26:63? The terms 'the Messiah' and 'the Son of God' are here being used synonymously. No translation I have read (just read 16 of them) translates it that way. They all treat it as a question of whether Jesus is the Messiah, also known as the Son of God. May 21, 2021 at 4:26

3 Answers 3


First, "whether" doesn't mean only "which of the two," but expresses inquiry (i.e. here, a trial) "if [it be true that]." (ει συ ει: "if you are [really]"). Second, "the Christ, the Son of God" are one person and claim: there is no "or" or "and" anywhere here.

As to why they consider it blasphemous: it's clear from the entirety of the New Testament that Jesus' claim to be the "Son of God" clearly went beyond the normal usage and meaning, and denoted a relationship of nature, not of adoption. Hence passages like, "Thou being a man, make thyself God, [calling yourself the Son of God]" (John 10:33, 36b).


In keeping with my initial question of, "Why did the high priest at the trial of Jesus ask Him if He was the Son of God? It's been my experience if you ask someone, "Who is Jesus Christ" they will say 9 out of 10 times, "He is the Son of God." If you ask "What does that mean" they usually say God chose Jesus to die for the sins of the world. In short, most always they consider Jesus Christ a man only. Sometimes they will say He was perfect and did not commit any sins when He lived.

Now, I'm going to say first that the Jews knew all the time what Jesus was claiming and that's why they accused Him of blasphemy. Or to put it another way, "What did Jesus say to the Jews that caused them to want to kill Him for blasphemy? At John 5:17, "My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working." Verse 18, "For this cause therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God." When Joseph and Mary His mother were looking for Jesus at Luke 2:49 Jesus says, "Why is it you were looking for Me? Did you not know I had to be about MY FATHER'S affairs.?

What did Jesus say at John 8:58, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham sprang into existence, I am." The Jews said, "Therefore the Jews picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple."

John 10:30, "I and the Father We are one." The Jews took up stones again to stone Him." Jesus was claiming in this verse that He and His Father are one in nature. The Jews understood what Jesus was saying. It goes without saying that Jesus and His Father are also one in purpose in protecting the sheep but the immediate context has to do with Jesus claiming to be God.

What do the Jews say at verse 31, "The Jews's took up stones again to stone Him." Verse 32, "I showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?" Verse 33, "For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out God."

Now, the Jews were under Roman rule and they could not have a trial unless they first got permission from the Romans. This is why they went to Pilate and even though Pilate found no fault in Jesus he gave into their demands. At John 19:6, "When therefore the chief priests and the officers say Him, they cried out saying, Crucify crucify! Pilate said to them, "Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him." Verse 7, "The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and by that law He ought to died because (or why), He made Himself out the Son of God." The law that the Jews accused Jesus of breaking is found at Leviticus 24:16.

At Matthew 16:13, Jesus ask His disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is? Verse 15, "But who do you say that I am?" At verse 16 Peter says, "Thou are the Christ/Messiah, the Son of the living God." Jesus says at verse 17, "Blessed are you, Simon because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven."

So now we get back to the trial at Matthew 26:63 and notice the question the high priest ask Jesus. "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ/Messiah, the Son of God?" In other words, Caiaphas asked if Jesus was "The Messiah, the Son of (God)" thus asking if Jesus was the ONE person who was BOTH the Messiah and the Son of God, committing him to the view of a divine Messiah. At Luke 22:70, Jesus said, "Yes, I am."

At Matthew 26:65, Then the high priest tore his robes saying, "He has blasphemed!" What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy." It should be noted that claiming to be the Messiah is not a blasphemous offense. People have been claiming even before Jesus to this very day.

The charge of blasphemy was not false. They rightly convicted Jesus of blasphemy--NOT because He blasphemed, but because they did not believe He is who He said He was.

I want you to notice something. When Jesus ask Peter who He was, Peter replied, You are the Christ/Messiah the Son of God. The high priest ask Jesus, "Are you the Christ/Messiah, the Son of God." At John 20:30-31 it says, "Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book." Verse 31, "but these have been written that you may believe, THAT JESUS IS THE CHRIST/MESSIAH, THE SON OF GOD; and that believing you may have life in His name."

I want to add the following here because I want to address one of the comments regarding "The Son of God" idiom and my answer is to long just to comment on. First of all the Jews new or understand what Jesus was claiming by asking Jesus to swear as to Him being the Son of God. So why did they ask Him that question since they themselves believe there are sons of God as well? The Jews have an "idiom" known as the "son of" idiom and the Bible is filled with these idioms. Sons of the prophets refer to men belonging to a prophetic band. (1 Kings 20:35). Son of goldsmiths, a goldsmith. In the New Testament we have "Sons of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2, are those characterized by disobedience. Or "Son of perdition, (John 17:12; 2 Thessalonians 2:3) Judas the lost one and the son of destruction known as the antichrist.

At (Nehemiah 3:8) Both "Son of God" and "Son of Man" are Messianic titles. Jesus himself authenticates these titles by claiming them for Himself. The "Son of Man" was the title derived from the figure who appears in Daniel 7. I've already explained how the "Son of God" idiom which was understood by the Jews in what Jesus said to the Jews. John 5:18, being equal to His "OWN" Father. John 10:30, "I and the Father, we are one." That is one in nature. And at John 19:7, "He ought to die because He made Himself out the Son of God." Bottom line, the Jews and others simply did not believe what Jesus claimed to be unfortunately to their eternal detriment.

  • Excellent answer, although I disagree with your view that when asked what the Son of God means, "most always they consider Jesus Christ a man only. Sometimes they will say He was perfect and did not commit any sins when He lived." Anti-trinitarians will deny the divinity of Jesus and some think the pre-mortal Jesus was a created spirit being, but most Christians understand that Jesus was God incarnate - God with us. The Apostle John understood that clearly and didn't mince his words in the opening chapter of his gospel!
    – Lesley
    Jan 1, 2020 at 12:33

This is a question as to why the high priest, Caiaphas, would ask Jesus if He was the Son of God. The context of his question is shown in the gospel accounts, and has a direct bearing on discovering the reasons for that particular question.

First, consider the decision of the religious leaders to get Jesus put to death, but not during the Passover festival, in case the crowds rioted. They planned to get him killed after that, and when Judas Iscariot came along, offering to betray Jesus at a convenient time (convenient to the plotters), they were delighted. So, prior to the Passover being celebrated, it was the determined council of the religious leaders, directed by Caiaphas, to do away permanently with who they considered to be a pestilent fellow, by getting him killed. See Matthew 26:1-5 & 14-16.

Once Judas had left the Passover supper, knowing no doubt that Jesus and the apostles would then go to Gethsemane, events were precipitated and the religious leaders began to lose control of events. Judas reported to his pay-masters that he would identify who to arrest in the dark garden that night. Now let me quote from this book which shows why Caiaphas asked that question:

"The chief priests and all the council laboured throughout that night to create appearances which would justify their lawless and unjust condemnation, a condemnation determined not simply when Jesus was brought before him, but two days previously. Mk. 14:1,2 Where was the legality, let alone the justice, of such proceedings, in which the judge first pronounced the verdict, then laboured mightily through the darkness of the night to fabricate some sort of makeshift evidence to justify the sentence already passed?...

'They sought for witnesses against Jesus to put him to death; and found none', Mk. 14:55...Hence the religious authorities laboured long and hard through the night, rousing one after another from their beds to lend assistance to a murder decided long before the perjurers blundered their way through the darkness to the unlawfully called assembly. 'And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him... but neither so did their witness agree together', Mk. 14:57,59.

Beside himself with frustration, the high priest stood up in the midst, and demanded of Jesus - who had maintained a composed silence throughout the proceedings - Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus continued to hold his peace.

'Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?' But why ask that? Because that was the reason for the premeditated murder. Jesus' silence had forced the issue, bringing the high priest to ask the question which gave him away, together with all those who had determined that death was the only possible destiny for Christ and the gospel." Mark, John Metcalfe, pp 204-205

When Caiaphas then raged at Jesus' affirmative answer, "What need we any further witnesses?" the irony is stark: they had not even found one reliable witness; their various testimonies disagreed! He might as well have said, "What need we any witnesses?" But Caiaphas' claim that Jesus had spoken blasphemy was wrong; Jesus had spoken truth. For this, he was handed over to Pilate, and Pilate had to struggle with the same issue of Jesus' few words being the truth.

Caiaphas wanted Jesus to perjure himself during his illegal trial, but the fact that Jesus stating the truth about himself would be considered perjury in their eyes, proves another aspect of the illegality of that trial.

We all have to decide on Jesus' words of truth. He is, indeed, the only-begotten Son of God, as the whole of the New Testament clearly shows. Will we bow before him as such and take up our cross to follow him, or will be like the baying mob crying for his crucifixion, because we will not have this man to rule over us?

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