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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
John 11



Other Authors
Verse 1

Was sick (ην αστενωνēn asthenōn). Periphrastic imperfect active of αστενεωastheneō old verb (from αστενηςasthenēs αa privative, and στενοςsthenos strength).

Lazarus (ΛαζαροςLazaros). See note on Luke 16:20 for the name of another man in the parable, a shortened form of Eleazer, only other N.T. use, but in Josephus and rabbinical writings. No connexion between this Lazarus and the one in the parable.

Of Bethany
(apo Bēthanias). Use of apo as in John 1:44 Philip of Bethsaida and John 1:45 Joseph of Nazareth. This Bethany is about two miles (John 11:18) east of Jerusalem on the south-east slope of Olivet and is now called El Azariyeh, from the name Lazarus. Jesus is still apparently at the other Bethany beyond Jordan (John 10:40). It is doubtful if a distinction is meant here by απο ητανιαςapo and αποek between Bethany as the residence and some other village (αποek tēs kōmēs) as the birthplace of Lazarus and the sisters.

Of Mary and Martha
(εκMarias kai Marthas). Note εκ της κωμηςMarthas not Μαριας και ΜαρταςMarthēs for the genitive. Elsewhere (John 11:19; Luke 10:38) Martha comes first as the mistress and hostess. The two sisters are named for further identification of Lazarus. Martha was apparently the elder sister (John 11:5, John 11:19; Luke 10:38.). “The identification of Mary with Mary Magdalene is a mere conjecture supported by no direct evidence, and opposed to the general tenor of the Gospels” (Westcott).

Verse 2

And it was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair (ην δε Μαριαμ η αλειπσασα τον κυριον μυρωι και εκμαχασα τους ποδας αυτου ταις τριχιν αυτηςēn de Mariam hē aleipsasa ton kurion murōi kai ekmaxasa tous podas autou tais thrixin autēs). This description is added to make plainer who Mary is “whose brother Lazarus was sick” (ης ο αδελπος Λαζαρος ηστενειhēs ho adelphos Lazaros ēsthenei). There is an evident proleptic allusion to the incident described by John in John 12:1-8 just after chapter 11. As John looks back from the end of the century it was all behind him, though the anointing (η αλειπσασαhē aleipsasa first aorist active articular participle of αλειπωaleiphō old verb for which see Mark 6:13) took place after the events in chapter 11. The aorist participle is timeless and merely pictures the punctiliar act. The same remark applies to εκμαχασαekmaxasa old verb εκμασσωekmassō to wipe off or away (Isaiah 12:3; Isaiah 13:5; Luke 7:38, Luke 7:44). Note the Aramaic form ΜαριαμMariam as usual in John, but ΜαριαςMarias in John 11:1. When John wrote, it was as Jesus had foretold (Matthew 26:13), for the fame of Mary of Bethany rested on the incident of the anointing of Jesus. The effort to link Mary of Bethany with Mary Magdalene and then both names with the sinful woman of Luke 7:36-50 is gratuitous and to my mind grotesque and cruel to the memory of both Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene. Bernard may be taken as a specimen: “The conclusion is inevitable that John (or his editor) regarded Mary of Bethany as the same person who is described by Luke as αμαρτωλοςhamartōlos This critical and artistic heresy has already been discussed in Vol. 2 on Luke‘s Gospel. Suffice it here to say that Luke introduces Mary Magdalene as an entirely new character in John 8:2 and that the details in Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8 have only superficial resemblances and serious disagreements. John is not here alluding to Luke‘s record, but preparing for his own in chapter 12. What earthly difficulty is there in two different women under wholly different circumstances doing a similar act for utterly different purposes?

Verse 3

Sent saying (απεστειλαν λεγουσαιapesteilan legousai). First aorist active indicative of αποστελλωapostellō and present active participle. The message was delivered by the messenger.

Thou lovest (πιλειςphileis). ΠιλεωPhileō means to love as a friend (see πιλοςphilos in John 11:11) and so warmly, while αγαπαωagapaō (akin to αγαμαιagamai to admire, and αγατοςagathos good) means high regard. Here both terms occur of the love of Jesus for Lazarus (ηγαπαēgapa in John 11:5). Both occur of the Father‘s love for the Son (αγαπαιagapāi in John 3:35, πιλειphilei in John 5:20). Hence the distinction is not always observed.

Verse 4

Heard it (ακουσαςakousas). The messenger delivered the message of the sisters. The reply of Jesus is for him and for the apostles.

Is not unto death (ουκ εστιν προς τανατονouk estin pros thanaton). Death in the final issue, to remain dead. Lazarus did die, but he did not remain dead. See αμαρτια προς τανατονhamartia pros thanaton in 1 John 5:16, “sin unto death” (final death).

But for the glory of God
(αλλ υπερ της δοχης του τεουall' huper tēs doxēs tou theou). In behalf of God‘s glory, as the sequel shows. Cf. John 9:3 about the man born blind. The death of Lazarus will illustrate God‘s glory. In some humble sense those who suffer the loss of loved ones are entitled to some comfort from this point made by Jesus about Lazarus. In a supreme way it is true of the death of Christ which he himself calls glorification of himself and God (John 13:31). In John 7:39 John had already used δοχαζωdoxazō of the death of Christ.

That the Son of God may be glorified thereby
(ινα δοχαστηι ο υιος του τεου δι αυτηςhina doxasthēi ho huios tou theou di' autēs). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the first aorist passive subjunctive of δοχαζωdoxazō Here Jesus calls himself “the Son of God.” In John 8:54 Jesus had said: “It is my Father that glorifieth me.” The raising of Lazarus from the tomb will bring glory to the Son of God. See John 17:1 for this idea in Christ‘s prayer. The raising of Lazarus will also bring to an issue his own death and all this involves the glorification of the Father (John 7:39; John 12:16; John 13:31; John 14:13). The death of Lazarus brings Jesus face to face with his own death.

Verse 5

Now Jesus loved (ηγαπα δεēgapa de). Imperfect active of αγαπαωagapaō picturing the continued love of Jesus for this noble family where he had his home so often (Luke 10:38-42; John 12:1-8). The sisters expected him to come at once and to heal Lazarus.

Verse 6

That he was sick (οτι αστενειhoti asthenei). Present active indicative retained in indirect discourse after a secondary tense (ηκουσενēkousen).

Two days (δυο ημεραςduo hēmeras). Accusative of extent of time.

In the place where he was
(εν ωι ην τοπωιen hōi ēn topōi). Incorporation of the antecedent τοπωιtopōi into the relative clause, “in which place he was.” It was long enough for Lazarus to die and seemed unlike Jesus to the sisters.

Verse 7

Then after this (επειτα μετα τουτοepeita meta touto). ΕπειταEpeita (only here in John) means thereafter (Luke 16:7) and it is made plainer by the addition of μετα τουτοmeta touto (cf. John 2:12; John 11:11), meaning after the two days had elapsed.

Let us go into Judea again (Αγωμεν εις την Ιουδαιαν παλινAgōmen eis tēn Ioudaian palin). Volitive (hortative) subjunctive of αγωagō (intransitive use as in John 11:11, John 11:16). They had but recently escaped the rage of the Jews in Jerusalem (John 10:39) to this haven in Bethany beyond Jordan (John 10:40).

Verse 8

Were but now seeking to stone thee (νυν εζητουν σε λιτασαιnun ezētoun se lithasai). Conative imperfect of ζητεωzēteō with reference to the event narrated in John 10:39 in these very words.

Goest thou thither again? (παλιν υπαγεις εκειpalin hupageis ekei). Present active intransitive use of the compound υπαγωhupagō to withdraw (John 6:21; John 8:21) from this safe retreat (Vincent). It seemed suicidal madness to go back now.

Verse 9

In the day (της ημεραςtēs hēmeras). Genitive of time, within the day, the twelve-hour day in contrast with night. The words of Jesus here illustrate what he had said in John 9:4. It is not blind fatalism that Jesus proclaims, but the opposite of cowardice. He has full confidence in the Father s purpose about his “hour” which has not yet come. Jesus has courage to face his enemies again to do the Father‘s will about Lazarus.

If a man walk in the day (εαν τις περιπατηι εν τηι ημεραιean tis peripatēi en tēi hēmerāi). Condition of the third class, a conceived case and it applies to Jesus who walks in the full glare of noonday. See John 8:12 for the contrast between walking in the light and in the dark.

He stumbleth not
(ου προσκοπτειou proskoptei). He does not cut (or bump) against this or that obstacle, for he can see. ΚοπτωKoptō is to cut and pros, against.

Verse 10

But if a man walk in the night (εαν δε τις περιπατηι εν τηι νυκτιean de tis peripatēi en tēi nukti). Third condition again. It is spiritual darkness that Jesus here pictures, but the result is the same. See the same figure in John 12:35 (1 John 2:11). The ancients had poor illumination at night as indeed we did before Edison gave us electric lights. Pedestrians actually used to have little lamps fastened on the feet to light the path.

In him (εν αυτωιen autōi). Spiritual darkness, the worst of all (cf. Matthew 6:23; John 8:12). Man has the capacity for light, but is not the source of light. “By the application of this principle Christianity is distinguished from Neo-Platonism” (Westcott).

Verse 11

Is fallen asleep (κεκοιμηταιkekoimētai). Perfect passive indicative of κοιμαωkoimaō old verb to put to sleep. Common as a metaphor for death like our cemetery.

I go (πορευομαιporeuomai). Futuristic use of the present tense as in John 14:2.

That I may awake him out of sleep
(ινα εχυπνισω αυτονhina exupnisō auton). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive of εχυπνιζωexupnizō a late compound (εχ υπνοςex class="normal greek">απυπνιζω — hupnos sleep) for the older κοιμαομαιaphupnizō here only in the N.T. See Job 14:12 where also it occurs along with koimaomai f0).

Verse 12

He will recover (σωτησεταιsōthēsetai). Future passive indicative of σωζωsōzō used in its original sense of being or getting well (safe and sound). Conclusion of the condition of the first class (ει κεκοιμηταιei kekoimētai).

Verse 13

Had spoken (ειρηκειeirēkei). Past perfect of ειπονeipon (ερωerō). The disciples had misunderstood Christ‘s metaphor for death.

That he spake (οτι λεγειhoti legei). Present active indicative retained in indirect discourse after the secondary tense (εδοχανedoxan).

Of taking rest in sleep
(περι της κοιμησεως του υπουperi tēs koimēseōs tou hupou). Only use of κοιμησιςkoimēsis (from κοιμαωkoimaō) in the N.T., but it also was used of death (Sirach 46:19). υπνουHupnou (in sleep) is objective genitive of υπνοςhupnos (sleep, Matthew 1:24).

Verse 14

Plainly (παρρησιαιparrēsiāi). Adverb (see note on John 7:4), without metaphor as in John 16:29.

Is dead (απετανενapethanen). First aorist active indicative, “died.”

Verse 15

For your sakes (δι υμαςdi' humas). That they may witness his raising from the grave.

That I was not there (οτι ουκ ημην εκειhoti ouk ēmēn ekei). Imperfect middle ημηνēmēn of the later Greek instead of the common active ηνēn in indirect discourse in place of the usual present retained as in John 11:13.

To the intent ye may believe
(ινα πιστευσητεhina pisteusēte). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the ingressive aorist active subjunctive, “that ye may come to believe” (more than you do). See the same use of the ingressive aorist in επιστευσανepisteusan (John 2:11) where the disciples gained in belief.

Nevertheless let us go to him
(αλλα αγωμεν προς αυτονalla agōmen pros auton). Volitive subjunctive, repeating the proposal of John 11:7. He is dead, but no matter, yea all the more let us go on to him.

Verse 16

Didymus (ΔιδυμοςDidumos). The word means twin. Clearly Thomas had a twin brother or sister. Applied two other times to him (John 20:24; John 21:2). The Aramaic word for Thomas means Twin and Didymus is just the Greek equivalent of Thomas. He may even in Greek circles have been called Didymus.

His fellow disciples (τοις συνματηταιςtois sunmathētais). Dative case and article use like “his.” Only use of συνματητεςsunmathētes in the N.T., rare word (in Plato).

Us also
(και ημειςkai hēmeis). As well as Jesus, since he is bent on going.

That we may die with him
(ινα αποτανωμεν μετ αυτουhina apothanōmen met' autou). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the second aorist active subjunctive of αποτνησκωapothnēskō Die with Jesus, Thomas means. Lazarus is already dead and they will kill Jesus (John 11:8). Pessimistic courage surely.

Verse 17

Found (ευρενheuren). Second aorist active indicative of ευρισκωheuriskō

That he had been in the tomb four days already (αυτον τεσσαρας ηδη ημερας εχονταauton tessaras ēdē hēmeras echonta). Literally, “him (accusative object of ευρενheuren) having already four days in the tomb.” See John 5:5 for the same idiom (ετη εχωνetē echōn) for expression of time (having 38 years). In Jewish custom burial took place on the day of death (Acts 6:6, Acts 6:10).

Verse 18

About fifteen furlongs off (ως απο σταδιων δεκαπεντεhōs apo stadiōn dekapente). The idiom of αποapo with the ablative for distance is like the Latin a millibus passum duobus (Caesar, Bell. Gall. ii. 7), but it (προpro also, John 12:1) occurs already in the Doric and in the Koiné often (Moulton, Proleg., p. 101; Robertson, Grammar, p. 110). See it again in John 21:8; Revelation 14:20.

Verse 19

Had come (εληλυτεισανelēlutheisan). Past perfect of ερχομαιerchomai These Jews were probably not hostile to Jesus. There were seven days of solemn mourning (1 Samuel 31:13). The presence of so many indicates the prominence of the family.

To Martha and Mary (προς την Μαρταν και Μαριαμpros tēn Marthan kai Mariam). Correct text, not the Textus Receptus προς τας περι Μαρταν και Μαριαμpros tas peri Marthan kai Mariam (to the women about Martha and Mary).

To console them
(ινα παραμυτησωνταιhina paramuthēsōntai). Purpose clause with ιναhina and first aorist middle subjunctive of παραμυτεομαιparamutheomai old verb (παραpara beside, μυτοςmuthos word), to put in a word beside, to offer consolation. Again in John 11:31. See 1 Thessalonians 2:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:14. See Job 2:13 for these visits of consolation, often deplorable enough, though kindly meant.

Verse 20

That Jesus was coming (οτι Ιησους ερχεταιhoti Iēsous erchetai). Present middle indicative retained in indirect discourse after the secondary tense ηκουσενēkousen (first aorist active).

Went and met him (υπηντησεν αυτωιhupēntēsen autōi). First aorist (ingressive) active indicative of υπανταωhupantaō old compound verb, to go to meet (Matthew 8:28) with the associative instrumental case αυτωιautōi

But Mary still sat in the house
(Μαριαμ δε εν τωι οικωι εκατεζετοMariam de en tōi oikōi ekathezeto). Imperfect middle of κατεζομαιkathezomai old verb to sit down, graphic picture of Mary, “while Mary was sitting in the house.” Both Martha and Mary act true to form here as in Luke 10:38-42.

Verse 21

Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died (Κυριε ει ης ωδε ουκ αν απετανεν ο αδελπος μουKurie class="normal greek">ει — ei ēs hōde ouk an apethanen ho adelphos mou). Condition of the second class with ηςei and the imperfect ειμιēs (no aorist of ανeimi to be) in the condition and αποτνησκωan with the second aorist active indicative of ηςapothnēskō Mary (John 11:32) uses these identical words to Jesus. Clearly they had said so to each other with wistful longing if not with a bit of reproach for his delay. But they used ηλτεςēs not εγενουēlthes or egenou But busy, practical Martha comes to the point.

Verse 22

And even now I know (και νυν οιδαkai nun oida). Rather just, “Even now I know.” ΑλλαAlla (but) of the Textus Receptus is not genuine.

Whatsoever thou shalt ask of God (οσα αν αιτησηι τον τεονhosa an aitēsēi ton theon). Indefinite relative (οσαhosa as many things as) with ανan and the first aorist middle (indirect middle, thou thyself asking) subjunctive of αιτεωaiteō Martha uses αιτεωaiteō (usual word of prayer of men to God) rather than ερωταωerōtaō (usual word of Jesus praying to the Father), but in John 16:23 we have ερωταωerōtaō used of prayer to Jesus and αιτεωaiteō of prayer to God. But the distinction is not to be pressed. “As many things as thou dost ask of God.”

God will give
(δωσει σοι ο τεοςdōsei soi ho theos). Repetition of ο τεοςho theos for emphasis. Martha still has courageous faith in the power of God through Jesus, and Jesus in John 11:41 says practically what she has said here.

Verse 23

Thy brother will rise again (αναστησεται ο αδελπος σουanastēsetai ho adelphos sou). Future middle (intransitive) of ανιστημιanistēmi The words promise Martha what she has asked for, if Jesus means that.

Verse 24

In the resurrection at the last day (εν τηι αναστασει εν τηι εσχατηι ημεραιen tēi anastasei en tēi eschatēi hēmerāi). Did Jesus mean only that? She believed it, of course, and such comfort is often offered in case of death, but that idea did not console Martha and is not what she hinted at in John 11:22.

Verse 25

I am the resurrection and the life (Εγω ειμι η αναστασις και η ζωηEgō eimi hē anastasis kai hē zōē). This reply is startling enough. They are not mere doctrines about future events, but present realities in Jesus himself. “The Resurrection is one manifestation of the Life: it is involved in the Life” (Westcott). Note the article with both αναστασιςanastasis and ζωηzōē Jesus had taught the future resurrection often (John 6:39), but here he means more, even that Lazarus is now alive.

Though he die (καν αποτανηιkan apothanēi). “Even if he die,” condition (concession) of third class with και εανkai ean (κανkan) and the second aorist active subjunctive of αποτνησκωapothnēskō (physical death, he means).

Yet shall he live
(ζησεταιzēsetai). Future middle of ζαωzaō (spiritual life, of course).

Verse 26

Shall never die (ου μη αποτανηι εις τον αιωναou mē apothanēi eis ton aiōna). Strong double negative ου μηou mē with second aorist active subjunctive of αποτνησκωapothnēskō again (but spiritual death, this time), “shall not die for ever” (eternal death).

Believest thou this? (πιστευεις τουτοpisteueis touto) Sudden test of Martha‘s insight and faith with all the subtle turns of thought involved.

Verse 27

Yea, Lord (Ναι κυριεNai class="normal greek">πεπιστευκα — kurie). Martha probably did not understand all that Jesus said and meant, but she did believe in the future resurrection, in eternal life for believers in Christ, in the power of Christ to raise even the dead here and now. She had heroic faith and makes now her own confession of faith in words that outrank those of Peter in Matthew 16:16 because she makes hers with her brother dead now four days and with the hope that Jesus will raise him up now.

I have believed (πιστευωpepisteuka). Perfect active indicative of οτι συ ει ο Χριστος ο υιος του τεουpisteuō It is my settled and firm faith. Peter uses this same tense in John 6:69.

That thou art the Son of God
(ο εις τον κοσμον ερχομενοςhoti su ei ho Christos ho huios tou theou). The Messiah or the Christ (John 1:41) was to be also “the Son of God” as the Baptist said he had found Jesus to be (John 1:34), as Peter confessed on Hermon for the apostles (Matthew 16:16), as Jesus claimed to be (John 11:41) and confessed on oath before Caiaphas that he was (Matthew 26:63.), and as John stated that it was his purpose to prove in his Gospel (John 20:31). But no one said it under more trying circumstances than Martha.

Even he that cometh into the world
(ho eis ton kosmon erchomenos). No “even” in the Greek. This was a popular way of putting the people‘s expectation (John 6:14; Matthew 11:3). Jesus himself spoke of his coming into the world (John 9:39; John 16:28; John 8:37).

Verse 28

Called Mary (επωνησεν Μαριαμephōnēsen Mariam). First aorist active indicative of πωνεωphōneō Out of the house and away from the crowd.

Secretly (λατραιlathrāi). Old adverb from λατροςlathros (λαντανωlanthanō). To tell her the glad news.

The Master
(ο διδασκαλοςho didaskalos). “The Teacher.” So they loved to call him as he was (John 13:13).

Is here
(παρεστινparestin). “Is present.”

Calleth thee
(πωνει σεphōnei se). This rouses Mary.

Verse 29

And she (και εκεινηkai ekeinē). Emphatic use of the demonstrative εκεινοςekeinos as often in John, “And that one.”

Arose quickly (ηγερτηēgerthē). First aorist (ingressive) passive of εγειρωegeirō and intransitive. Naturally so on the sudden impulse of joy.

And went unto him
(και ηρχετο προς αυτονkai ērcheto pros auton). Imperfect middle, possibly inchoative, started towards him, certainly picturing her as she was going.

Verse 30

Now Jesus was not yet come into the town (ουπω δε εληλυτει ο Ιησους εις την κωμηνoupō de elēluthei ho Iēsous eis tēn kōmēn). Explanatory parenthesis with past perfect as in John 11:19. Martha had her interview while he was still coming (John 11:20) and left him (went off, απηλτενapēlthen John 11:28) to hurry to Mary with the news. Why Jesus tarried still where he had met Martha we do not know. Westcott says, “as though He would meet the sisters away from the crowd of mourners.”

Verse 31

Followed her (ηκολουτησαν αυτηιēkolouthēsan autēi). First aorist active indicative of ακολουτεωakoloutheō with associative instrumental case (αυτηιautēi). This crowd of consolers (παραμυτουμενοιparamuthoumenoi) meant kindly enough, but did the one wrong thing for Mary wished to see Jesus alone. People with kind notions often so act. The secrecy of Martha (John 11:28) was of no avail.

Supposing that she was going unto the tomb (δοχαντες οτι υπαγει εις το μνημειονdoxantes hoti hupagei eis to mnēmeion). First aorist active participle of δοκεωdokeō justifying their conduct by a wrong inference. Note retention of present tense υπαγειhupagei in indirect discourse after the secondary tense ηκολουτησανēkolouthēsan

To weep there
(ινα κλαυσηι εκειhina klausēi ekei). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive of κλαιωklaiō old verb to weep. Sometimes to wail or howl in oriental style of grief, but surely not that here. At any rate this supposed purpose of Mary was a real reason for this crowd not to go with her.

Verse 32

Fell down at his feet (επεσεν αυτου προς τους ποδαςepesen autou pros tous podas). Second aorist active of πιπτωpiptō to fall. Note unusual position of αυτουautou This impulsive act like Mary. She said precisely what Martha had said to Jesus (John 11:21). But she said no more, only wept (John 11:33).

Verse 33

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping (Ιησους ουν ως ειδεν αυτην κλαιουσανIēsous oun hōs eiden autēn klaiousan). Proleptic position of “Jesus,” “Jesus therefore when he saw.” She was weeping at the feet of Jesus, not at the tomb.

And the Jews also weeping (και τους Ιουδαιους κλαιονταςkai tous Ioudaious klaiontas). Mary‘s weeping was genuine, that of the Jews was partly perfunctory and professional and probably actual “wailing” as the verb κλαιωklaiō can mean. ΚλαιωKlaiō is joined with αλαλαζωalalazō in Mark 5:38, with ολολυζωololuzō in James 5:1, with τορυβεωthorubeō in Mark 5:39, with πεντεωpentheō in Mark 16:10. It was an incongruous combination.

He groaned in the spirit
(ενεβριμησατο τωι πνευματιenebrimēsato tōi pneumati). First aorist middle indicative of εμβριμαομαιembrimaomai old verb (from ενen and βριμηbrimē strength) to snort with anger like a horse. It occurs in the lxx (Dan 11:30) for violent displeasure. The notion of indignation is present in the other examples of the word in the N.T. (Mark 1:43; Mark 14:5; Matthew 9:30). So it seems best to see that sense here and in John 11:38. The presence of these Jews, the grief of Mary, Christ‘s own concern, the problem of the raising of Lazarus - all greatly agitated the spirit of Jesus (locative case τωι πνευματιtōi pneumati). He struggled for self-control.

Was troubled
(εταραχεν εαυτονetaraxen heauton). First aorist active indicative of ταρασσωtarassō old verb to disturb, to agitate, with the reflexive pronoun, “he agitated himself” (not passive voice, not middle). “His sympathy with the weeping sister and the wailing crowd caused this deep emotion” (Dods). Some indignation at the loud wailing would only add to the agitation of Jesus.

Verse 34

Where have ye laid him? (Που τετεικατε αυτονPou tetheikate auton). Perfect active indicative of τιτημιtithēmi A simple question for information. The only other like it in John is in John 6:6 where it is expressly stated that Jesus knew what he was going to do. So it was here, only he politely asked for direction to the tomb of Lazarus. The people invite him to come and see, the very language used by Philip to Nathanael (John 1:46). It was a natural and polite reply as they would show Jesus the way, but they had no idea of his purpose.

Verse 35

Jesus wept (εδακρυσεν ο Ιησουςedakrusen ho Iēsous). Ingressive first aorist active indicative of δακρυωdakruō old verb from δακρυdakru or δακρυονdakruon a tear (Acts 20:19), only here in N.T. It never means to wail, as κλαιωklaiō sometimes does. “Jesus burst into tears.” ΚλαιωKlaiō is used of Jesus in Luke 19:41. See Hebrews 5:7 “with strong crying and tears” (μετα κραυγης και δακρυωνmeta kraugēs kai dakruōn). Apparently this was as Jesus started towards (see John 11:38) the tomb. In a sense it was a reaction from the severe strain in John 11:33, but chiefly it was the sheer human sympathy of his heart with Martha and Mary touched with the feeling of our common weakness (Hebrews 4:15). Often all that we can do is to shed tears in grief too deep for words. Jesus understood and understands. This is the shortest verse in the Bible, but no verse carries more meaning in it.

Verse 36

Loved (επιλειephilei). As in John 11:3 which see. Imperfect active. Even the Jews saw that Jesus loved Lazarus.

Verse 37

Could not this man (ουκ εδυνατο ουτοςouk edunato houtos). Imperfect middle of δυναμαιdunamai They do not say δυναταιdunatai (can, present middle indicative). But clearly the opening of the blind man‘s eyes (chapter 9) had made a lasting impression on some of these Jews, for it was done three months ago.

Have caused that this man also should not die (ποιησαι ινα και ουτος μη αποτανηιpoiēsai hina kai houtos mē apothanēi). First aorist active infinitive of ποιεωpoieō with ιναhina like the Latin facere ut (sub-final use, Robertson, Grammar, p. 985), with the second aorist active subjunctive αποτανηιapothanēi and negative μηmē These Jews share the view expressed by Martha (John 11:21) and Mary (John 11:32) that Jesus could have prevented the death of Lazarus.

Verse 38

Again groaning in himself (παλιν εμβριμωμενος εν εαυτωιpalin embrimōmenos en heautōi). Direct reference to the use of this same word (present middle participle here) in John 11:33, only with εν εαυτωιen heautōi (in himself) rather than τωι πνευματιtōi pneumati (in his spirit), practically the same idea. The speculation concerning his power stirred the depths of his nature again.

Cometh to the tomb (ερχεται εις το μνημειονerchetai eis to mnēmeion). Vivid historical present.

A cave
(σπηλαιονspēlaion). Old word (from σπεοςspeos cavern). Cf. Matthew 21:13.

Lay against it
(επεκειτο επ αυτωιepekeito ep' autōi). Imperfect middle of επικειμαιepikeimai old verb to lie upon as in John 21:9 and figuratively (1 Corinthians 9:16). Note repetition of επιepi with locative case. The use of a cave for burial was common (Genesis 23:19). Either the body was let down through a horizontal opening (hardly so here) or put in a tomb cut in the face of the rock (if so, επιepi can mean “against”). The stones were used to keep away wild animals from the bodies.

Verse 39

Take ye away the stone (αρατε τον λιτονarate ton lithon). First aorist active imperative of αιρωairō They could do this much without the exercise of Christ‘s divine power. It was a startling command to them.

By this time he stinketh (ηδη οζειēdē ozei). Present active indicative of old verb, here only in N.T. (cf. Exodus 8:14). It means to give out an odour, either good or bad.

For he hath been dead four days
(τεταρταιος γαρ εστινtetartaios gar estin). The Greek simply says, “For he is a fourth-day man.” It is an old ordinal numeral from τεταρτοςtetartos (fourth). Herodotus (ii. 89) has τεταρταιος γενεσταιtetartaios genesthai of one four days dead as here. The word is only here in the N.T. The same idiom occurs in Acts 28:13 with δευτεραιοιdeuteraioi (second-day men). Lightfoot (Hor. Hebr.) quotes a Jewish tradition (Beresh. Rabba) to the effect that the soul hovers around the tomb for three days hoping to return to the body, but on the fourth day leaves it. But there is no suggestion here that Martha held that notion. Her protest is a natural one in spite of her strong faith in John 11:22-27.

Verse 40

Said I not unto thee? (Ουκ ειπον σοιOuk eipon soi). Jesus pointedly reminds Martha of his promise to raise Lazarus (John 11:25.).

That if thou believedst (οτι εαν πιστευσηιςhoti ean pisteusēis). Indirect discourse with εανean and the first aorist active subjunctive (condition of third class) retained after the secondary tense ειπονeipon He had not said this very phrase, εαν πιστευσηιςean pisteusēis to Martha, but he did say to her: Πιστευεις τουτοPisteueis touto (Believest thou this?). He meant to test Martha as to her faith already hinted at (John 11:22) on this very point. Jesus had also spoken of increase of faith on the part of the disciples (John 11:15).

Thou shouldest see the glory of God
(οπσηι την δοχαν του τεουopsēi tēn doxan tou theou). Future middle indicative of the old defective verb οραωhoraō retained in the conclusion of this condition in indirect discourse. Jesus means the glory of God as shown in the resurrection of Lazarus as he had already said to the disciples (John 11:4) and as he meant Martha to understand (John 11:25) and may in fact have said to her (the report of the conversation is clearly abridged). Hence Bernard‘s difficulty in seeing how Martha could understand the words of Jesus about the resurrection of Lazarus here and now seems fanciful and far-fetched.

Verse 41

So they took away the stone (ηραν ουν τον λιτονēran oun ton lithon). First aorist active indicative of αιρωairō but without the explanatory gloss of the Textus Receptus “from the place where the dead was laid” (not genuine).

I thank thee that thou heardest me (ευχαριστω σοι οτι ηκουσας μουeucharistō soi hoti ēkousas mou). See John 6:11 for ευχαριστεωeucharisteō Clearly Jesus had prayed to the Father concerning the raising of Lazarus. He has the answer before he acts. “No pomp of incantation, no wrestling in prayer even; but simple words of thanksgiving, as if already Lazarus was restored” (Dods). Jesus well knew the issues involved on this occasion. If he failed, his own claims to be the Son of God (the Messiah), would be hopelessly discredited with all. If he succeeded, the rulers would be so embittered as to compass his own death.

Verse 42

And I knew (εγω δε ηιδεινegō de ēidein). Past perfect of οιδαoida used as imperfect. This confident knowledge is no new experience with Jesus. It has “always” (παντοτεpantote) been so.

Which standeth around (τον περιεστωταton periestōta). Second perfect active (intransitive) articular participle of περιιστημιperiistēmi It was a picturesque and perilous scene.

That they may believe
(ινα πιστευσωσινhina pisteusōsin). Purpose clause with ιναhina and first ingressive aorist active subjunctive of πιστευωpisteuō “that they may come to believe.”

That thou didst send me
(οτι συ με απεστειλαςhoti su me apesteilas). First aorist active indicative of αποστελλωapostellō and note position of συ μεsu me side by side. This claim Jesus had long ago made (John 5:36) and had repeatedly urged (John 10:25, John 10:38). Here was a supreme opportunity and Jesus opens his heart about it.

Verse 43

He cried with a loud voice (πωνηι μεγαληι εκραυγασενphōnēi megalēi ekraugasen). First aorist active indicative of κραυγαζωkraugazō old and rare word from κραυγηkraugē (Matthew 25:6). See Matthew 12:19. Occurs again in John 18:40; John 19:6, John 19:12. Only once in the lxx (Ezra 3:13) and with πωνηι μεγαληιphōnēi megalēi (either locative or instrumental case makes sense) as here. For this “elevated (great) voice” see also Matthew 24:31; Mark 15:34, Mark 15:37; Revelation 1:10; Revelation 21:3. The loud voice was not for the benefit of Lazarus, but for the sake of the crowd standing around that they might see that Lazarus came forth simultaneously with the command of Jesus.

Lazarus, come forth (Λαζαρε δευρο εχωLazare class="normal greek">δευρο — deuro exō). “Hither out.” No verb, only the two adverbs, deuro here alone in John. Lazarus heard and obeyed the summons.

Verse 44

He that was dead came forth (εχηλτεν ο τετνηκωςexēlthen ho tethnēkōs). Literally, “Came out the dead man,” (effective aorist active indicative and perfect active articular participle of τνησκωthnēskō). Just as he was and at once.

Bound hand and foot (δεδεμενος τους ποδας και τας χειραςdedemenos tous podas kai tas cheiras). Perfect passive participle of δεωdeō with the accusative loosely retained according to the common Greek idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 486), but literally “as to the feet and hands” (opposite order from the English). Probably the legs were bound separately.

With grave-clothes
(κειριαιςkeiriais). Or “with bands.” Instrumental case of this late and rare word (in Plutarch, medical papyrus in the form κηριαkēria and Proverbs 7:16). Only here in N.T.

His face
(η οπσις αυτουhē opsis autou). Old word, but προσωπονprosōpon is usual in N.T. See Revelation 1:16 for another instance.

Was bound about
(περιεδεδετοperiededeto). Past perfect passive of περιδεωperideō old verb to bind around, only here in N.T.

With a napkin
(σουδαριωιsoudariōi). Instrumental case of σουδαριονsoudarion (Latin word sudarium from sudor, sweat). In N.T. here, John 20:7; Luke 19:20; Acts 19:12. Our handkerchief.

Loose him
(λυσατε αυτονlusate auton). First aorist active imperative of λυωluō From the various bands.

Let him go
(απετε αυτον υπαγεινaphete auton hupagein). Second aorist active imperative of απιημιaphiēmi and present active infinitive.

Verse 45

Beheld that which he did (τεασαμενοι ο εποιησενtheasamenoi ho epoiēsen). First aorist middle participle of τεαομαιtheaomai and first aorist active indicative of ποιεωpoieō in the relative (οho) clause. They were eye-witnesses of all the details and did not depend on hearsay.

Believed on him (επιστευσαν εις αυτονepisteusan eis auton). Such a result had happened before (John 7:31), and all the more in the presence of this tremendous miracle which held many to Jesus (John 12:11, John 12:17).

Verse 46

Went away to the Pharisees (απηλτον προς τους Παρισαιουςapēlthon pros tous Pharisaious). Second aorist active indicative of απερχομαιaperchomai This “some” (τινεςtines) did who were deeply impressed and yet who did not have the courage to break away from the rabbis without consulting them. It was a crisis for the Sanhedrin.

Verse 47

Gathered a council (συνηγαγον συνεδριονsunēgagon sunedrion). Second aorist active indicative of συναγωsunagō and συνεδριονsunedrion the regular word for the Sanhedrin (Matthew 5:22, etc.), only here in John. Here a sitting or session of the Sanhedrin. Both chief priests (Sadducees) and Pharisees (mentioned no more in John after John 7:47 save John 12:19, John 12:42) combine in the call (cf. John 7:32). From now on the chief priests (Sadducees) take the lead in the attacks on Jesus, though loyally supported by their opponents (the Pharisees).

And said (και ελεγονkai elegon). Imperfect active of λεγωlegō perhaps inchoative, “began to say.”

What do we?
(Τι ποιουμενTi poioumen). Present active (linear) indicative of ποιεωpoieō Literally, “What are we doing?”

(ποιειpoiei). Better, “is doing” (present, linear action). He is active and we are idle. There is no mention of the raising of Lazarus as a fact, but it is evidently included in the “many signs.”

Verse 48

If we let him thus alone (εαν απωμεν αυτον ουτωςean aphōmen auton houtōs). Condition of third class with εανean and second aorist active subjunctive of απιημιapiēmi “Suppose we leave him thus alone.” Suppose also that he keeps on raising the dead right here next door to Jerusalem!

All will believe on him (παντες πιστευσουσιν εις αυτονpantes pisteusousin eis auton). Future active of πιστευωpisteuō The inevitable conclusion, “all” (παντεςpantes), not just “some” (τινεςtines). as now.

And the Romans will come
(και ελευσονται οι ωμαιοιkai eleusontai hoi Rōmaioi). Another inevitable result with the future middle of ερχομαιerchomai Only if the people take Jesus as their political Messiah (John 6:15) as they had once started to do. This is a curious muddle for the rulers knew that Jesus did not claim to be a political Messiah and would not be a rival to Caesar. And yet they use this fear (their own belief about the Messiah) to stir themselves to frenzy as they will use it with Pilate later.

And take away both our place and our nation
(και αρουσιν ημων και τον τοπον και το ετνοςkai arousin hēmōn kai ton topon kai to ethnos). Future active of αιρωairō another certain result of their inaction. Note the order here when “place” (job) is put before nation (patriotism), for all the world like modern politicians who make the fate of the country turn on their getting the jobs which they are seeking. In the course of time the Romans will come, not because of the leniency of the Sanhedrin toward Jesus, but because of the uprising against Rome led by the Zealots and they will destroy both temple and city and the Sanhedrin will lose their jobs and the nation will be scattered. Future historians will say that this fate came as punishment on the Jews for their conduct toward Jesus.

Verse 49

Caiaphas (ΚαιαπαςKaiaphas). Son-in-law of Annas and successor and high priest for 18 years (a.d. 18 to 36).

That year (του ενιαυτου εκεινουtou eniautou ekeinou). Genitive of time; his high-priesthood included that year (a.d. 29 or 30). So he took the lead at this meeting.

Ye know nothing at all
(υμεις ουκ οιδατε ουδενhumeis ouk oidate ouden). In this he is correct, for no solution of their problem had been offered.

Verse 50

That it is expedient for you (οτι συμπερει υμινhoti sumpherei humin). Indirect discourse with present active indicative of συμπερωsumpherō used with the ιναhina clause as subject. It means to bear together, to be profitable, with the dative case as here (υμινhumin for you). It is to your interest and that is what they cared most for.

That one man die (ινα εις αντρωπος αποτανηιhina heis anthrōpos apothanēi). Sub-final use of ιναhina with second aorist active subjunctive of αποτνησκωapothnēskō as subject clause with συμπερειsumpherei See John 16:7; John 18:7 for the same construction.

For the people
(υπερ του λαουhuper tou laou). υπερHuper simply means over, but can be in behalf of as often, and in proper context the resultant idea is “instead of” as the succeeding clause shows and as is clearly so in Galatians 3:13 of the death of Christ and naturally so in 2 Corinthians 5:14.; Romans 5:6. In the papyri υπερhuper is the usual preposition used of one who writes a letter for one unable to write.

And that the whole nation perish not
(και μη ολον το ετνος αποληταιkai mē holon to ethnos apolētai). Continuation of the ιναhina construction with μηmē and the second aorist subjunctive of απολλυμιapollumi What Caiaphas has in mind is the giving of Jesus to death to keep the nation from perishing at the hands of the Romans. Politicians are often willing to make a sacrifice of the other fellow.

Verse 51

Not of himself (απ εαυτου ουκaph' heautou ouk). Not wholly of himself, John means. There was more in what Caiaphas said than he understood. His language is repeated in John 18:14.

Prophesied (επροπητευσενeprophēteusen). Aorist active indicative of προπητευωprophēteuō But certainly unconscious prophecy on his part and purely accidental. Caiaphas meant only what was mean and selfish.

That Jesus should die
(οτι εμελλεν Ιησους αποτνησκεινhoti emellen Iēsous apothnēskein). Imperfect active of μελλωmellō in indirect discourse instead of the usual present retained after a secondary tense (επροπητευσενeprophēteusen) as sometimes occurs (see John 2:25).

Verse 52

But that he might also gather together into one (αλλ ινα συναγαγηι εις ενall' hina sunagagēi eis hen). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the second aorist active subjunctive of συναγωsunagō Caiaphas was thinking only of the Jewish people (λαου ετνοςlaou class="normal greek">τα διεσκορπισμενα — ethnos John 11:50). The explanation and interpretation of John here follow the lead of the words of Jesus about the other sheep and the one flock in John 10:16.

That are scattered abroad (διασκορπιζωta dieskorpismena). Perfect passive articular participle of εις ενdiaskorpizō late verb (Polybius, lxx) to scatter apart, to winnow grain from chaff, only here in John. The meaning here is not the Diaspora (Jews scattered over the world), but the potential children of God in all lands and all ages that the death of Christ will gather “into one” (eis hen). A glorious idea, but far beyond Caiaphas.

Verse 53

So from that day (απ εκεινης ουν της ημεραςap' ekeinēs oun tēs hēmeras). The raising of Lazarus brought matters to a head so to speak. It was now apparently not more than a month before the end.

They took counsel (εβουλευσαντοebouleusanto). First aorist middle indicative of βουλευωbouleuō old verb to take counsel, in the middle voice for themselves, among themselves. The Sanhedrin took the advice of Caiaphas seriously and plotted the death of Jesus.

That they might put him to death
(ινα αποκτεινωσιν αυτονhina apokteinōsin auton). Purpose clause with ιναhina and first aorist active subjunctive of αποκτεινωapokteinō It is an old purpose (John 5:18; John 7:19; John 8:44, John 8:59; John 10:39; John 11:8) now revived with fresh energy due to the raising of Lazarus.

Verse 54

Therefore walked no more openly (ουν ουκετι παρρησιαι περιεπατειoun ouketi parrēsiāi periepatei). Imperfect active of περιπατεωperipateō to walk around. Jesus saw clearly that to do so would bring on the end now instead of his “hour” which was to be at the passover a month ahead.

Into the country near to the wilderness (εις την χωραν εγγυς της ερημουeis tēn chōran eggus tēs erēmou). It was now in Jerusalem as it had become once in Galilee (John 7:1) because of the plots of the hostile Jews. The hill country northeast of Jerusalem was thinly populated.

Into a city called Ephraim
(εις Επραιμ λεγομενην πολινeis Ephraim legomenēn polin). ΠολιςPolis here means no more than town or village (κωμηkōmē). The place is not certainly known, not mentioned elsewhere in the N.T. Josephus mentions (War, IV. ix. 9) a small fort near Bethel in the hill country and in 2 Chronicles 13:19 Ephron is named in connexion with Bethel. Up here Jesus would at least be free for the moment from the machinations of the Sanhedrin while he faced the coming catastrophe at the passover. He is not far from the mount of temptation where the devil showed and offered him the kingdoms of the world for the bending of the knee before him. Is it mere fancy to imagine that the devil came to see Jesus again here at this juncture with a reminder of his previous offer and of the present plight of the Son of God with the religious leaders conspiring his death? At any rate Jesus has the fellowship of his disciples this time (μετα των ματητωνmeta tōn mathētōn). But what were they thinking?

Verse 55

Was near (ην εγγυςēn eggus). See John 2:13 for the same phrase. This last passover was the time of destiny for Jesus.

Before the passover to purify themselves (προ του πασχα ινα αγνισωσιν εαυτουςpro tou pascha hina hagnisōsin heautous). Purpose clause with ιναhina and the first aorist active subjunctive of αγνιζωhagnizō old verb from αγνοςhagnos (pure), ceremonial purification here, of course. All this took time. These came “from the country” (εκ της χωραςek tēs chōras), from all over Palestine, from all parts of the world, in fact. John shifts the scene to Jerusalem just before the passover with no record of the way that Jesus came to Jerusalem from Ephraim. The Synoptic Gospels tell this last journey up through Samaria into Galilee to join the great caravan that crossed over into Perea and came down on the eastern side of the Jordan opposite Jericho and then marched up the mountain road to Bethany and Bethphage just beside Jerusalem. This story is found in Luke 17:11-19:28; Mark 10:1-52; Matt 19:1-20:34. John simply assumes the Synoptic narrative and gives the picture of things in and around Jerusalem just before the passover (John 11:56, John 11:57).

Verse 56

They sought therefore for Jesus (εζητουν ουν τον Ιησουνezētoun oun ton Iēsoun). Imperfect active of ζητεωzēteō and common ουνoun of which John is so fond. They were seeking Jesus six months before at the feast of tabernacles (John 7:11), but now they really mean to kill him.

As they stood in the temple (εν τωι ιερωι εστηκοτεςen tōi hierōi hestēkotes). Perfect active participle (intransitive) of ιστημιhistēmi a graphic picture of the various groups of leaders in Jerusalem and from other lands, “the knots of people in the Temple precincts” (Bernard). They had done this at the tabernacles (John 7:11-13), but now there is new excitement due to the recent raising of Lazarus and to the public order for the arrest of Jesus.

That he will not come to the feast?
(οτι ου μη ελτηι εις την εορτηνhoti ou mē elthēi eis tēn heortēn). The form of the question (indirect discourse after δοκειτεdokeite) assumes strongly that Jesus will not (ου μηou mē double negative with second aorist active ελτηιelthēi from ερχομαιerchomai) dare to come this time for the reason given in John 11:57.

Verse 57

The chief priests and the Pharisees (οι αρχιερεις και οι Παρισαιοιhoi archiereis kai hoi Pharisaioi). The Sanhedrin.

Had given commandment (δεδωκεισαν εντολαςdedōkeisan entolas). Past perfect active of διδωμιdidōmi

That he should shew it
(ινα μηνυσηιhina mēnusēi). Sub-final ιναhina with first aorist active subjunctive of μηνυωmēnuō old verb to disclose, to report formally (Acts 23:30).

If any man knew
(εαν τις γνωιean tis gnōi). Third-class condition with εανean and second aorist active subjunctive of γινωσκωginōskō

Where he was
(που εστινpou estin). Indirect question with interrogative adverb and present indicative εστινestin retained like γνωιgnōi and μηνυσηιmēnusēi after the secondary tense δεδωκεισανdedōkeisan

That they might take him
(οπως πιασωσιν αυτονhopōs piasōsin auton). Purpose clause with οπωςhopōs instead of ιναhina and first aorist active subjunctive of πιαζωpiazō so often used before (John 7:44, etc.).


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 11:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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