6 Co-Conspirators in the Death of Jesus

Who ordered Jesus to be crucified?

The death of Christ involved six co-conspirators, each doing their part to push the process along. Their motives ranged from greed to hatred to duty. They were Judas Iscariot, Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin, Pontius Pilate, Herod Antipas, and an unnamed Roman centurion.

Hundreds of years earlier, the Old Testament prophets had said the Messiah would be led like a sacrificial lamb to slaughter. It was the only way the world could be saved from sin. Learn the role each of the men who killed Jesus played in the most important trial in history and how they co-conspired to put him to death.

Judas Iscariot - Betrayer of Jesus Christ

Judas Iscariot
Judas Betraying Jesus With a Kiss by James Tissot. SuperStock / Getty Images

Judas Iscariot was one of Jesus Christ's 12 chosen disciples. As the group's treasurer, he was in charge of the common money bag. While he did not have a part in ordering Jesus to be crucified, Scripture tells us Judas betrayed his Master for 30 pieces of silver, the standard price paid for a slave. But did he do it out of greed, or to force the Messiah to overthrow the Romans, as some scholars suggest? Judas went from being one of Jesus' closest friends to a man whose first name has come to mean traitor. Learn more about Judas' role in the death of Jesus.

Joseph Caiaphas - High Priest of the Jerusalem Temple

Jesus Before Caiaphas
Getty Images

Joseph Caiaphas, High Priest of the Jerusalem temple from 18 to 37 A.D., was one of the most powerful men in ancient Israel, yet he felt threatened by the peace-loving rabbi Jesus of Nazareth. He played a key role in the trial and execution of Jesus Christ. Caiaphas feared Jesus might start a rebellion, causing a clampdown by the Romans, at whose pleasure Caiaphas served. So Caiaphas decided Jesus had to die. He accused the Lord of blasphemy, a crime punishable by death under Jewish law. Learn more about Caiaphas' role in the death of Jesus.

The Sanhedrin - Jewish High Council

The Sanhedrin, Israel's high court, enforced Mosaic law. Its president was the High Priest, Joseph Caiaphas, who leveled charges of blasphemy against Jesus. Although Jesus was innocent, the Sanhedrin (with the exceptions of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea) voted to convict him. The penalty was death, but this court had no actual authority to order the execution. For that, they needed the help of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. Learn more about the Sanhedrin's role in the death of Jesus.

Pontius Pilate - Roman Governor of Judea

Pilate
Illustration of Pilate washing hands as he gives orders for Jesus to be flogged and Barabbas to be released. Eric Thomas / Getty Images

As Roman Governor, Pontius Pilate held the power of life and death in ancient Israel. He alone had the authority to execute a criminal. But when Jesus was sent to him for trial, Pilate found no reason to put him to death. Instead, he had Jesus brutally flogged then sent him to Herod, who sent him back. Still, the Sanhedrin and Pharisees were not satisfied. They demanded that Jesus be crucified, a torturous death reserved for only the most violent criminals. Always the politician, Pilate symbolically washed his hands of the matter and turned Jesus over to one of his centurions to carry out the death sentence. Learn more about Pontius Pilate's role in the death of Jesus.

Herod Antipas - Tetrarch of Galilee

Herodias In Triumph
Princess Herodias carries John the Baptist's head to Herod Antipas. Archive Photos / Stringer / Getty Images

Herod Antipas was tetrarch, or ruler of Galilee and Perea, appointed by the Romans. Pilate sent Jesus to him because Jesus was a Galilean, under Herod's jurisdiction. Herod had earlier murdered the great prophet John the Baptist, Jesus' friend and kinsman. Instead of seeking the truth, Herod ordered Jesus to perform a miracle for him. When Jesus was silent, Herod, who was afraid of the chief priests and Sanhedrin, sent him back to Pilate for execution. Learn more about Herod's role in the death of Jesus.

Centurion - Officer in Ancient Rome's Army

Roman Centurion
Giorgio Cosulich / Stringer / Getty Images

Roman centurions were hardened army officers, trained to kill with sword and spear. One centurion, whose name is not given in the Bible, received a world-changing order: crucify Jesus of Nazareth. Acting under the orders of Governor Pilate, the centurion and the men in his command carried out the crucifixion of Jesus, coldly and efficiently. But when the deed was over, this man made a remarkable statement as he looked up at Jesus hanging on the cross: "Surely this man was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:39 NIV). Learn more about the Centurion's role in the death of Jesus.