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Bible Commentaries

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary
John 11

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAP. 11, 12.] JESUS, DELIVERED TO DEATH, THE RESURRECTION, AND THE LIFE, AND THE JUDGMENT.


Verse 1

1.] δέ, not transitional,—but expressing a contrast to the sojourn in Peræa, and thus conveying the reason why our Lord’s retirement (see ch. John 10:40) was broken in upon. Meyer (but not in edns. 2, 3), and Greswell, maintain that ἀπό means present residence,— ἐκ, nativity. But this distinction is wholly untenable: and all the inferences drawn from it in Mr. G.’s dissertation (vol. ii. p. 481 ff.) fall to the ground (see reff., especially last).

Bethany is designated as ‘the village of Martha and Mary,’ to distinguish it from that Bethany beyond Jordan, which has just been alluded to (not named, perhaps to avoid the confusion), ch. John 10:40. Mary and Martha are mentioned as already well known from the current apostolic teaching (see Prolegg. to John, § ii. 11).


Verses 1-44

1–44.] The raising of Lazarus. On the omission of this, the chief of our Lord’s miracles, by the three other Evangelists, see Prolegg. ch. 1 § John 11:1.


Verse 2

2.] Another reference ιο a fact which, as our Lord prophesied, was known wherever the gospel was preached. This reference containing, as it does, the expression τὸν κύριον (= our Lord), q. d. ‘as we all well know,’—is a striking illustration of that prophecy. John himself relates the occurrence, ch. John 12:3, being necessary for the course of his narrative.


Verse 3

3.] The message (see John 11:21; John 11:32) evidently was to request the Lord to come and heal him: and implies that the sickness was of a dangerous kind.


Verse 4

4.] The only right understanding of this answer, and our Lord’s whole proceeding here is,—that He knew and foresaw all from the first,—as well the termination of Lazarus’s sickness and his being raised again, as the part which this miracle would bear in bringing about the close of His own ministry.

αὕτη ἡ ἀσθ.] “Ostendit Christus, notum sibi, quod tanquam nescienti indicabatur.” Grot. οὐκ ἔστ. πρὸς θάν.] Its result as regards Lazarus will not be death (see Matthew 9:24 (153), and notes):—but (see ch. John 2:11; John 9:3) it has a higher purpose,—the glory of God;—the glorification, by its means, of the Son of God. And this δοξασθῇ—how was it accomplished? By this miracle leading to his death,—which in John’s diction is so frequently implied in that word. (It need hardly be remarked, with Olsh. and Trench, that the glorifying of the Son of God in Lazarus himself is subordinately implied. Men are not mere tools, but temples, of God.)

It is doubtful whether these words were the answer sent back to the sisters, or were said to the disciples. In either case, they evidently carried a double meaning, as again those in John 11:11.

John 11:5 explains ὃν φιλεῖς. Observe ἠγάπα here; while we have ὃν φιλεῖς in John 11:3, where there was no possibility of misunderstanding the import: cf. note on Matthew 5:46, and Trench, New Test. Synonyms, p. 45.


Verse 6

6.] οὖν connects with John 11:4, ‘Having then said this,—although He loved, &c., He abode,’ &c.: μέν pointing on to ἔπειτα μ. τ. in next verse.

In all probability Lazarus was dead, when He spoke the words John 11:4;—or at all events before the messenger returned.


Verse 7

7.] If the οὖν in John 11:6 referred to this verse, the connexion must have been made by καὶ μετὰ τ.: the ἔπειτα cuts off all connexion (Galatians 1:18), and throws back the οὖν as explained above.

The question, why our Lord did not go at once on receiving the message, is not to be answered by any secondary reasons, such as the trial of the faith of those concerned, or the pressing nature of His own ministry in Peræa,—but by referring back to John 11:4,—because, for the glory of God, He would have the miracle happen as it did and no otherwise. Compare Meyer.


Verse 8

8.] νῦν = ἀρτίωςbut now. ἐζήτουν, were seeking: ὑπάγεις, art thou going?


Verse 9-10

9, 10.] Our Lord’s answer is first general, John 11:9-10,—then particular, John 11:11.

οὐχὶ δώδ.] See on ch. John 9:4, where the same thought is expressed. But here it is carried further,—‘I have a fixed time during which to work, appointed me by my Father; during that time I fear no danger, I walk in His light, even as the traveller in the light of this world by day: and (by inference) ye too are safe, walking in this light, which light to you is Myself,—walking with Me:—whosoever walks without this light,—without Me,—without the light of the divine purpose illumining the path of duty, stumbles,—because he has no light in him.’ In him, for ‘the light of the body is the eye,’ and the light must be in us in order to guide us. Shut it out by blinding the eyes, and we are in darkness. So too of spiritual light.

The twelve-hour division of the day was common among the Jews by this time, being probably borrowed from Babylon ( οἱ ἕλληνες τὰ δυώδεκα μέρεα τῆς ἡμέρας παρὰ βαβυλωνίων ἔμαθον, Herod. ii. 109). As the day in Palestine varied in length from 14h. 12m. in summer to 9h. 48m. in winter, these hours must also have varied considerably in length at the different seasons (see Winer, Realwört. art. ‘Tag’). I may remark that this verse refutes the fancy of Townson and others, also upheld by Bp. Wordsworth (who passes this verse without remark), that St. John adopts the so-called Asiatic method of reckoning time: see on ch. John 1:40; John 4:6 alli(154).

Notice δώδεκα emphatically prefixed, implying (as Bengel,—“jam multa erat hora, sed tamen adhuc erat dies”) that though the conflict was far spent, there were yet more hours of daylight, and it could not yet be said ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα, ch. John 17:1. Cf. ch. John 7:30; John 8:20; John 12:27 : and consult Meyer’s able and exhaustive note.


Verse 11

11.] The special reason for going, which the disciples appear not to have borne in mind, having probably supposed from John 11:4 that Lazarus would recover.

ὁ φίλ. ἡμ.] “Quanta humanitate Jesus amicitiam suam cum discipulis communicat!” Bengel. And the ἡμῶν gives a reason why they should go too.

This κεκοίμ. might have recalled to three at least of the disciples that other saying, Matthew 9:24. But the former οὐ πρός θάν. had not been understood,—and that error ruled in their minds.

ἐξ υπνισθῆναι οὐ χρὴ λέγειν, ἀλλʼ ἀφ υπνισθῆναι. Phryn. ed. Lobeck, p. 224.


Verse 12

12.] They evidently understand the sleep announced to them by Jesus as a physical fact,—if he has fallen asleep,—and a token of a favourable crisis, and σωθήσεται (as in E. V. he shall do well), = his recovery,—will probably be the result.


Verse 15

15.] “Notice that Jesus rejoices not over the sad event itself, but that He was not there, which might prove salutary to the disciples’ faith.” Meyer. The ἵνα πιστ. is not to be taken as the great end of the miracle (expressed in John 11:4), but the end as regarded them. Beware of the imaginary ecbatic ἵνα, which does not exist.

ἀλλά breaks off: “indicat, satis argumentorum allatum esse.” Herm. ad Viger. p. 811.


Verse 16

16.] θωμᾶς, in Aramaic הּאֹמָא = δίδυμος.

The remark means, Let us also go (with our Master, implied in the καί), that we may die with Him (not, with Lazarus, as Grot.). This is in exact accord with the character of Thomas, as shewn in ch. John 14:5; John 20:25;—ever ready to take the dark view, but deeply attached to his Lord.


Verse 17

17.] Jesus remained two days after the receipt of the message: one day the journey would occupy: so that Lazarus must have died on the day of the messenger’s being sent, and have been buried that evening, according to Jewish custom: see John 11:39, and Acts 5:6-10.


Verse 18

18.] The geographical notice is given, to account for the occurrence detailed in the next verse. A stadium = ⅛ of a Roman mile.

Meyer remarks, that ἦν does not necessarily imply that the places no longer existed when the Apostle wrote, but may arise from the word occurring in context with a history which is past. So Xen. Anab. i. 4. 9, αἱ δὲ κῶμαι ἐν αἷς ἐσκήνουν παρυσάτιδος ἦσαν. But seeing that John alone uses this form of designation (cf. ch. John 18:1; John 19:41), and that he probably wrote after the destruction of Jerusalem, it is more natural (as Meyer himself confesses) to explain the past tense by his regarding Jerusalem and its neighbourhood as laid waste at the time when he published his Gospel.


Verse 19

19.] Lightfoot (Hor. Hebr. in loc.) gives an account of the ceremonies practised during the thirty days of mourning.

The rec(155). reading, τὰς περὶ ΄. κ. ΄., would mean Martha and Mary and their friends—the women mourning with them. The expression is foreign to N.T. diction elsewhere, and might be used here for decorum, seeing that they were men who came: or as indicating that the house was one of large hospitality and acquaintance.


Verse 20

20.] The behaviour of the two sisters is quite in accordance with their character, Luke 10:38-42; and thus we have a most interesting point of connexion between two Gospels so widely various in their contents and character. Stier thinks (John 11:19, edn. 2), as also Trench (Mirr. 398, edn. 2), that Mary did not hear of the approach of Jesus, and that we must not bring the characters to bear on this case (?).


Verse 21

21.] This saying has evidently been the leading thought of the four days since their brother’s death. Mary repeats it, John 11:32.


Verse 22

22.] She seems to express some expectation of the raising of her brother; but it is too great a thing for her to venture to mention:—possibly she had not dared to form the thought fully, but had some vague feeling after help, such as she knew He would give. I can hardly see, as some have done, a “verbum minus dignum” (Bengel) in the form of her expression, ὅσα ἂν αἰτήσῃ τὸν θ. κ. τ. λ. It was said in the simplicity of her faith, which, it is true, was not yet a fully ripened faith: but it differs little from our Lord’s own words, John 11:41.

The repetition of ὁ θεός after τὸν θεόν is to be noticed, as expressive of her faith in the unity of purpose and action between Jesus and God.


Verse 23

23.] I believe these words of our Lord to contain no allusion to the immediate restoration of Lazarus; but to be pædagogically used, to lead on to the requisite faith in her mind. I have to learn whether ἀναστήσεται in this direct absolute sense could be used of his recall into human life.


Verse 24

24.] She understands the words rightly, but gently repels the insufficient comfort of his ultimate resurrection.


Verse 25-26

25, 26.] These words, as Stier observes, are the central point of the history; the great testimony to Himself, of which the subsequent miracle is the proof. The intention of the saying seems to have been, to awaken in Martha the faith that He could raise her brother from the dead, in its highest and proper form. This He does by announcing Himself ( ἐγώ, I, and no other …) as ‘THE RESURRECTION’ (q. d.—that resurrection in the last day shall be only by my Power, and therefore I can raise now as well), and more than that, THE LIFE ITSELF: so that he that believeth in me (= Lazarus, in her mind), even though he have died ( ἀποθάνῃ, past) shall live; and he that liveth (physically, ‘is not yet dead’) and believeth in me, shall never die: i.e. ‘faith in Me is the source of life, both here and hereafter; and those who have it, have Life, so that they shall NEVER DIE’ physical death being overlooked and disregarded, in comparison with that which is really and only death. Compare 4 Maccabees 7:19. The ζῶν must be (against Lampe, Olshausen, and Stier) taken of physical life, for it stands opposed to κἂν ἀποθάνῃ.

ὁ πιστ. εἰς ἐμέ is the subject of both clauses; in the former it is said that he κἂν ἀποθ., ζήσεται: in the second, that he ζῶν, οὐ μὴ ἀποθάνῃ. Olshausen’s remark, that ζῶν and ἀποθ. in the second clause must both be physical, if one is, is wrong; the antithesis consisting, in both clauses, in the reciprocation of the two senses, physical and spiritual; and serving in the latter clause, as a key hereafter to the condition of Lazarus, when raised from the dead.

There can hardly be any reference in John 11:26 to the state of the living faithful at the Lord’s coming ( πάντες οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα, πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγησόμεθα, 1 Corinthians 15:51),—for although the Apostle there, speaking of believers primarily and especially, uses the first person,—the saying would be equally true of unbelievers, on whose bodies the change from to τὸ φθαρτόν to ἀφθαρσία will equally pass, and of whom the οὐ ἀποθάνῃ here would be equally true,—whereas the saying is one setting forth an exclusive privilege of ὁ ζῶν κ. πιστεύων εἰς ἐμέ. Besides, such an interpretation would set aside all reference to Lazarus, or to present circumstances.


Verse 27

27.] Her confession, though embracing the great central point of the truth in the last verse, does not enter fully into it. Nor does she (John 11:40) seem to have adequately apprehended its meaning. ὅτι μὲν μεγάλα περὶ ἑαυτοῦ εἶπεν, ἔγνω· πῶς δὲ ταῦτα εἶπεν, ἠγνόησε· διὰ τοῦτο ἕτερον ἐρωτηθεῖσα, ἕτερον ἀποκρίνεται, Euthym(156)

ἐλώ, I, for my part: πεπίστευκα, have convinced myself, and firmly believe.’

ὁ ἐρχ.] Who should come: see reff.


Verse 28

28.] Her calling her sister is characteristic of one who (as in Luke 10:40) had not been much habituated herself to listen to His instructions, but knew this to be the delight of Mary. Besides this, she evidently has hopes raised, though of a very faint and indefinite kind. προσδοκήσασά τι ἀγαθὸν ἀπὸ τῶν λόγων αὐτοῦ. Euthym(157)

λάθρα] ἵνα μὴ οἱ παρόντες ἰουδαῖοι τοῦτο γνῶσι, καὶ ἴσως καταμηνύσωσιν αὐτὸν τοῖς ἐπιβουλεύουσιν. Euthym(158) This fear was realized (John 11:46).

φωνεῖ σε] This is not recorded. Stier thinks that the Lord had not actually asked for her, but that Martha sees such an especial fitness for her hearing in the words of John 11:25-26, that she uses this expression. But is it not somewhat too plainly asserted, to mean only calling by inference? Meyer regards the φωνεῖ σε as proving it to have been a fact.


Verse 31

31.] ἵνα κλ. ἐκεῖ—as is the custom even now in the East [see an affecting account in Lamartine’s, Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. English Translation, vol. ii. pp. 76–78].


Verse 32

32.] The words of Mary are fewer, and her action more impassioned, than those of her sister: she was perhaps interrupted by the arrival of the Jews: cf. John 11:33.

Kühner, Gram. § 627, Anm. 4, remarks that when the genitive of the enclitic personal pronoun is prefixed to its substantive, a slight sense of the dativus commodi is given: “non mihi frater mortuus esset.”


Verse 33

33.] In explaining this difficult verse, two things must be borne in mind: (1) that ἐμβριμάομαι can bear but one meaning, that of indignor (“infremuit,” Vulg.),—the expression of indignation and rebuke, not of sorrow. This has been here acknowledged by all the expositors who have paid any attention to the usage of the word. (2) That both from ὠς εἶδεν, &c.,—from καὶ ἐτάραξ. ἑαυτ., and John 11:35,—the feeling in the Lord was clearly one of rising sympathy, which vented itself at last in tears.

These two things being premised, I think the meaning to be, that Jesus, with the tears of sympathy already rising and overcoming His speech, checked them, so as to be able to speak the words following. I would read ἐνεβρ. τ. πν., καὶ ἐτ. ἑαυ., καὶ εἶπεν in immediate connexion, as expressing the temporary check given to the flow of His tears,—the effort need to utter the following question. And I would thus divest the self-restraint of all stoical and unworthy character, and consider it as merely physical, requiring indeed an act of the will, and a self-troubling,—a complication of feeling,—but implying no deliberate disapproval of the rising emotion, which indeed immediately after is suffered to prevail. What minister has not, when burying the dead in the midst of a weeping family, felt the emotion and made the effort here described? And surely this was one of the things in which He was made like unto His brethren. Thus Bengel: “Ita Jesus austeriore affectu lacrymas hic cohibuit, et mox John 11:38 abrupit. Eoque major earum fuit auctoritas.”

Meyer’s explanation deserves mention: that our Lord was indignant at seeing the Jews, His bitter enemies, mingling their hypocritical tears (Crocodilsthranen) with the true ones of the bereaved sister. But, not to say how unworthy this seems of the Person and occasion, the explanation will find no place in John 11:38 : for surely the question of the Jews in John 11:37 is not enough to justify it. Still perhaps any contribution to the solution of this difficult word is not to be summarily rejected.

τῷ πν. is not the dat. after ἐνεβρ.,rebuked His spirit,’—but in Spirit: see ἐν ἑαυτῷ, John 11:38.

Indignation over unbelief and sin, and death the fruit of sin, doubtless lay in the background; but to see it in the words (with Olsh., Stier, and Trench), seems unnatural.

ἐτάραξεν ἑαυτόν is understood by Meyer, and perhaps rightly, as describing an outward motion of the body,—He shuddered: and so Euthym(159): διέσεισε (not, as Bloomf. somewhat confidently asserts, a blunder of the scribes for διεσείσθη, but the (so-called) intrans. sense of σείω, in which it was used of this very act of ‘shaking’ bodily: of. Xen. Cyneg. iii. 4, αἱ δὲ τὰ ὦτα μὲν ἀκίνητα ἔχουσιν, ἄκρᾳ τῇ οὐρᾷ σιέουσιν: ib. vi. 15, ταχὺ ταῖς οὐραῖς διασείουσαι: cf. also the impersonal usage, Thuc. iv. 52, τοῦ αὐτοῦ μηνὸς ἱσταμένου, ἔσεισεσυμβαίνει γὰρ τινάσσεσθαι τὰ ἀνώτερα μέρη τῶν οὕτως ἐμβριμωμένων· Cyril’s comment is, ἐπειδὴ οὐ μόνον θεὸς κατὰ φύσιν ἀλλὰ καὶ ἄνθρωπος ἦν ὁ χριστός, πάσχει καὶ νῦν τὸ ἀνθρώπινον· ἀρχομένης δέ πως ἐν αὐτῷ κινεῖσθαι τῆς λύπης, καὶ νευούσης ἤδη πρὸς τὸ δάκρυον τῆς ἁγίας σαρκός, οὐκ ἐφίησιν αὐτὴν τοῦτο παθεῖν ἐκλύτως, καθἁπερ ἔθος ἡμῖν, ἐμβριμᾶται δὲ τῷ πνεύματι, τουτέστι τῇ δυνάμει τοῦ ἁγίου πνεύματος ἐπιπλήττει τρόπον τινὰ τῇ ἰδία σαρκίʼ ἡ δέ, τὸ τῆς ἑνωθείσης αὐτῇ θεότητος οὐκ ἐνεγκοῦσα κίνημα, τρέμει τε καὶ θορύβου πλάττεται σχῆμα καὶ συγχέεται. πένθος γὰρ οἶδεν ἀναῤῥιπίζειν. τοῦτο γὰρ οἶμαι σημαίνειν τὸ ἑτάραξεν ἑαυτόν.


Verses 35-38

35–38.] It is probable that the second set of Jews (John 11:37) spoke with a scoffing and hostile purport: for John seldom uses δέ as a mere copula, but generally as but; see John 11:46; John 11:49; John 11:51.

It is (Trench, p. 407, edn. 2) a mark of accuracy in the narrative, that these dwellers in Jerusalem should refer to a miracle so well known among themselves, rather than to the former raisings of the dead in Galilee (Strauss has made this very point an objection), of which they probably may have heard, but naturally would not thoroughly believe on rumour only. Again, of raising Lazarus none of them seem to have thought, only of preventing his death.

This second ἐμβριμᾶσθαι of our Lord I would refer to the same reason as the first. ἐδάκρυσε μέν, ἀφεὶς τὴν φύσιν ἐνδείξασθαι τὰ ἑαυτῆς· … εἶτα πάλιν ἐμβριμᾶται τῷ πάθει. Euthym(160) Only he assigns a didactic purpose, to teach us moderation in our tears; I should rather believe the self-restraint to have been exercised as a preparation for what followed.

The caves were generally horizontal, natural or artificial,—with recesses in the sides, where the bodies were laid. There is no necessity here for supposing the entrance to have been otherwise than horizontal, as the word σπήλαιον would lead us to believe. Graves were of both kinds: we have the vertically sunk mentioned Luke 11:44. See on the whole subject, Winer, Realw. art. ‘Gräber:’ and cf. Isaiah 22:16 : 2 Chronicles 16:14; 2 Kings 23:16.

Probably, from this circumstance, as from ‘the Jews’ coming to condole,—and the costly ointment (ch. John 12:3),—the family was wealthy.


Verse 39

39.] The corpse had not been embalmed, but merely ‘wrapped in linen clothes with spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury,’—see ch. John 19:40, and John 11:44 below, ἡ ἀδελφὴ τοῦ τετελευτηκότος, as Meyer remarks, notes the natural horror of the sister’s heart at what was about to be done.

There is no reason to avoid the assumption of the plain fact (see below) stated in ἤδη ὄζει. I cannot see that any monstrous character (Olsh., Trench) is given to the miracle by it; any more than such a character can be predicated of restoring the withered hand. In fact, the very act of death is the beginning of decomposition. I have no hesitation, with almost all the ancient, and many of the best modern Commentators, in assuming ἤδη ὄζει as a fact, and indeed with Stier, believing it to be spoken not as a supposition, but as a (sensible) fact. The entrances to these vaults were not built up,—merely defended, by a stone being rolled to them, from the jackals and beasts of prey.


Verse 40

40.] I can hardly think she supposed merely that Jesus desired to look on the face of the dead;—she expected something was about to be done, but in her anxiety for decorum (Luke 10:40) she was willing to avoid the consequence of opening the cave. This feeling Jesus here rebukes, by referring her to the plain duty of simple faith, insisted on by Him before (John 11:25-26? or in some other teaching?) as the condition of beholding the glory of God (not merely in the event about to follow,—for that was seen by many who did not believe,—but in a deeper sense,—that of the unfolding of the ἀνάστασις κ. ζωή in the personal being).


Verse 41-42

41, 42.] In the filial relation of the Lord Jesus to the Father, all power is given to Him: the Son can do nothing of Himself:—and during His humiliation on earth, these acts of power were done by Him, not by that glory of His own which He had laid aside, but by the mighty working of the Father in Him, and in answer to His prayer: the difference between Him and us in this respect being, that His prayer was always heard,—even (Hebrews 5:7) that in Gethsemane. And this ἤκουσάς μου He states here for the benefit of the standers-by, that they might know the truth of His repeated assertions of His mission from the Father. At the same time He guards this, John 11:42, from future misconstruction, as though He had no more power than men who pray, by ἐγὼ δὲ ᾔδειν ὅτι πάντοτέ μου ἀκούεις, ‘because Thou and I are One.’

When He prayed, does not appear. Probably in Peræa, before the declaration in John 11:4.


Verse 43

43.] Some (Chrys., Lampe) suppose that the revivification had taken place before εὐχαριστῶ σοι,—and these words were merely a summoning forth. But this is highly improbable. The comparison of ch. John 5:25; John 5:28, which are analogically applicable, makes it clear that ἀκούσαντες ζήσονται is the physical as well as the spiritual order of things.

κραυγάζειν was not His wont: see Matthew 12:19. This cry signified that greater one, which all shall hear, ch. John 5:28.


Verse 44

44.] κειρία εἶδος ζώνης ἐκ σχοινίων, παρεοικὸς ἵμαντι, ᾗ δεσμοῦαι τὰς κλίνας (see ref.), Suidas. κειρία ὁ τῶν νηπίων δεσμός, ἤγουν ἡ κοίνως φασκία (fascia), καὶ ᾗ δεσμοῦαι τοὺς νεκρούς, Moschopulus (in Kuinoel). It does not appear whether the bands were wound about each limb, as in the Egyptian mummies, so as merely to impede motion,—or were loosely wrapped round both feet and both hands, so as to hinder any free movement altogether. The latter seems most probable, and has been supposed by many, e.g. Basil, Homil. de gratiar. actione, c. 5, vol. iii. p. 29, ὁ νεκρὸς ἐζωοποιεῖτυ καὶ ὁ δεδεμένος περιεπάτει· θαῦμα ἐν θαύματι, κειρίαις δεδέσθαι τοὺς πόδας, καὶ μὴ κωλύεσθαι πρὸς κίνησιν. Ancient pictures represent Lazarus gliding forth from the tomb, not stepping: and that apparently is right. The σουδάριον appears to have tied up his chin.

ὑπάγειν, probably, to his home.


Verses 45-57

45–57.] THE DEATH OF JESUS THE LIFE OF THE WORLD. Consequences of the miracle. Meeting of the Sanhedrim and final determination, on the prophetic intimation of the High Priest, to put Jesus to death. He retires to Ephraim.


Verse 46

46.] Meyer, with his usual philological acumen, takes pains to set right the understanding of this. In the last verse, it is not πολλοὶτῶν ἐλθόντων, but πολλοὶοἱ ἐλθόντες: thus identifying the πολλοί with those that came: ‘many … to wit, those that came.’ All these ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτόν (see a similar case in ch. John 8:30 ff.). Then, τινὲς ἐξ αὐτῶν, viz. the ἐλθόντων, and πιστευόντων, went, &c. The δέ (see on John 11:37) certainly shews that this was done with a hostile intent: not in doubt as to the miracle, any more than in the case of the blind man, ch. 9, but with a view to stir up the rulers yet more against Him. This Evangelist is very simple, and at the same time very consistent, in his use of particles: almost throughout his Gospel the great subject, the manifestation of the Glory of Christ, is carried onward by οὖν, whereas δέ as generally prefaces the development of the antagonist manifestation of hatred and rejection of Him. If it seem strange that this hostile step should be taken by πιστεύοντες εἰς αὐτόν, we at least find a parallel in the passage above cited, ch. John 8:30 ff.


Verse 47

47.] Their words may be read two ways; with, or without, a question after ποιοῦμεν. (1) is the ordinary way. (2) as in A.V.R., ‘What do we, seeing that,—because,—this man doeth many miracles?’


Verse 48

48.] They evidently regarded the result of ‘all believing on Him,’ as likely to be, that He would be set up as king: which would soon bring about the ruin here mentioned. Augustine (in Joan. Tract, xlix. 26) understands it differently: that, all men being persuaded by Him to peaceful lives, they would have no one to join them in revolt against the Romans; but this seems forced: for no ἐλεύσονται would in that case be provoked.

τὸν τόπον, not, the temple (sc. ἅγιον, Acts 6:13. 2 Maccabees 5:19 hardly applies, being the place which the Lord chose to put His Name there, not ὁ τόπος ἡμῶν) but our place, as in reff.: i.e. our local habitation, and our national existence. Both these literally came to pass.

Whether this fear was earnestly expressed, or only as a covert for their enmity, does not appear. The ἡμῶν is emphatic, detecting the real cause of their anxiety. Respecting this man’s pretensions, they do not pretend to decide: all they know is that if he is to go on thus, THEIR status is gone.


Verses 49-52

49–52.] The counsel is given in subtilty, and was intended by Caiaphas in the sense of political expediency only. But it pleased God to make him, as High Priest, the special though involuntary organ of the Holy Spirit, and’ thus to utter by him a prophecy of the death of Christ and its effects. That this is the only sense to be given, appears from the consideration that the whole of John 11:51-52 cannot for a moment be supposed to have been in the mind of Caiaphas; and to divide it and suppose the latter part to be the addition of the Evangelist, is quite unjustifiable.

ἀρχ. τ. ἐνιαυτοῦ ἐκείνου—repeated again, ch. John 18:13.

He was High Priest during the whole Procuratorship of Pontius Pilate, eleven years: Jos. Antt. xviii: 2. 2, and 4.3.

In τοῦ ἐν. ἐκ. there is no intimation conveyed that the High Priesthood was changed every year, which it was not: but we must understand the words as directing, attention to ‘that (remarkable) year,’ without any reference to time past or to come. THAT YEAR of great events had Caiaphas as its High Priest. See on John 11:57.

οὐκ οἴδ οὐδ.] Probably various methods of action had been suggested.

Observe λαός here, the usual term for the chosen people (reff.), and then ἔθνος, when it is regarded as a nation among the nations: cf. also John 11:52. Meyer otherwise: hut Scripture usage is as above.

ἀφʼ ἑαυτ. οὐκ εἶπ.] not merely of himself, but under the influence of the Spirit, who caused him to utter words, of the full meaning of which he had no conception.

ἀρχ. ὢν ἐπροφ.] There certainly was a belief, arising probably originally from the use of the Urim and Thummim, that the High Priest, and Indeed every priest, had some knowledge of dreams and utterance of prophecy. We find it in Jos. B. J. iii. 8. 3, and Philo de Creat. Principum, 8, vol. ii. p. 367. The latter says ὁ πρὸς ἀλήθειαν ἱερεὺς εὐθύς ἐστι προφήτης. That this belief existed, may account for the expression here; which however does not confirm it in all cases, but asserts the fact that the Spirit in this case made use of him, as High Priest, for this purpose. This confirms the above view of τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ ἐκείνου, here again repeated. See on John 11:49.

ὅτι ἤμελ.…, the purport (unknown to himself) of his prophecy. And τοῦ ἔθν. is guarded from misunderstanding by what follows.

τὰ τέκ. τ. θεοῦ are the τασσόμενοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον, the τέκνα θ of ch. John 1:12, among all nations: see ch. John 10:16.


Verse 53

53.] The decision, to put Him to death, is understood: and from that day they plotted that they might slay Him (not, how they might slay Him).


Verse 54

54.] Observe the ἰουδαῖοι here as the official body. He was still among Jews at Ephraim. This city is mentioned 2 Chron. 8:19 in connexion with Bethel, as also by Jos. B. J. iv. 9. 9.

ἐγγ. τ. ἐρ., near the desert of Judah. Its situation is at present unknown (see Winer, Realw. edn. 3, sub voce). Robinson (Harmony, p. 204) supposes it to be the same with Ophrah (Josh, John 18:23; 1 Samuel 13:17; not Judges 6:11; Judges 6:24; Judges 8:27) and Ephron of the O.T. (2 Chronicles 13:19, עֶפְריִן, Keri; עֶפְּרוֹן, Cetibh), and the modern et-Taiyibeh, twenty R. miles from Jerusalem. See also Van de Velde, Memoir to accompany the Map of the Holy Land, under Ophrah, p. 338: and Stanley’s Sinai and Palestine, p. 214.


Verse 55

55.] ἐκ τ. χώρ., not ‘from that country,’—the connexion with εἰς τὴν χώραν above having been severed by the note of time, ἦν δὲ ἐγγὺς κ. τ. λ.:—but, from the country generally.

ἵνα ἁγν. ἑαυτ.] To purify themselves from any Levitical uncleanness, that they might be able to keep the Passover: see Numbers 9:10; and reff. 2 Chron. and Acts.


Verse 56

56.] τί δοκ. ὑμ., and ὅτι οὐ μὴ ἔλθῃ …; are two separate questions, as in E. V. The making them one, is hardly grammatical, seeing that οὐ μὴ ἔλθῃ must have a future sense, whereas in that case it would be past: ‘What think ye, that He is not (i.e. of His not having) come to the feast?’


Verse 57

57.] The import of this verse depends on the insertion or omission of the καί before οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς. Without it, it is merely an explanation of the people’s question: For the chief priests &c.: with it, it would mean, ‘And besides, the chief priests’ &c.; i.e. ‘not only did the people question, but’ &c. The former is in my view most probable; for the command, having been given, would satisfactorily account for the questioning, and not be stated merely as co-ordinate with it.

 


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Bibliography Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 11:4". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/john-11.html. 1863-1878.

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Tuesday, October 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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