Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 17 November 2015; Revised 30 November 2017
Scripture Text: The Scripture text of John used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Torah (Law), Yeshua (Jesus), and Messiah (Christ). I use the title "The Testimony of John" because that is how John describes his book (John 21:24). See the article Witnesses of the Good News for background information on this book.
Methodology: For an explanation of abbreviations, acronyms, terminology, spelling conventions, and other information on organization of the commentary see my Commentary Writing Philosophy.
Primary Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Unless otherwise indicated the following primary sources are used:
• Different Bible versions may be cited for Scripture quotations. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions. Messianic Jewish versions are CJB, DHE, GNC, HNV, MW, OJB, & TLV.
• The Septuagint (LXX) is the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century BC. The LXX with English translation may be found here.
• Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75-99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
• The meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. Definitions of Hebrew words are from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), given as "BDB." The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
• Dates are from Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings (1992). Online.
The Sickness and Death of Lazarus, 11:1-16
The Promise of Resurrection, 11:17-27
The Compassion of Yeshua, 11:28-37
The Resurrection of Lazarus, 11:38-46
Conspiracy to Kill Yeshua, 11:47-57
Winter-Spring A.D. 30
As the narrative begins in this chapter Yeshua is still in Perea where he had gone at the end of chapter 10.
The Sickness and Death of Lazarus, 11:1-16
1 Now a certain man was ailing, Lazarus from Bethany, of the village of Miriam and her sister, Martha.
Now: Grk. de, a multi-purpose conj. used to indicate contrast or transition in narrative as here. a certain man: Grk. tis, indefinite masc. pronoun; a certain one, someone, anyone. John may have used the pronoun here in a substantive manner to give distinction in contrast to others. The same pronoun was used by Luke in his description of Martha (Luke 10:38). was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). ailing: Grk. astheneō, pres. part., may mean (1) experience weakness in body, be sick; or (2) lack capacity for something, be weak, be deficient; or (3) lack necessities, be in need. Mounce adds "to be infirm." Gill suggests very likely a fever.
Lazarus: Grk. Lazaros, which transliterates Heb. Eleazar ("God has helped"), a personal friend of Yeshua. The rest of the verse provides the essential information about him. The Hebrew name Eleazar is a variant spelling of Heb. Eliezer, the name of eight different Israelites in the Tanakh, including a son of Moses (Ex 18:4). Lightfoot notes that it was not uncommon in the Hebrew vernacular of Jerusalem to shorten Eleazar to Lazar by dropping the first letter Aleph (3:360). He goes on to cite passages in the Jerusalem Talmud that mention the names of several Rabbinic scholars whose names were shortened to Lazar.
The name of Lazarus appears as a character in a parable (Luke 16:20-25), but Lazarus of Bethany was a real person. His name occurs 11 times in the Besekh, all in this chapter and the next. from: Grk. apo, prep. generally used to denote separation, but here indicates a place of origin; from. The preposition implies that the location is more than a domicile. Morris suggests that it is quite possible that the family had changed their place of residence since the narrative of Luke 10:38-42, which takes place outside of Judea, possibly Galilee or Perea. Bethany: Grk. Bēthania, which transliterates Heb. Beit-Anyah ("house of the poor," Stern 61). While there was a Bethany in Perea (John 1:28; KJV has 'Bethabara'), this Bethany was located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives about two miles southeast of Jerusalem (verse 18 below).
of the village: Grk. kōmē, village, smaller and less prestigious than a city (Grk. polis). of Miriam: Grk. Maria, fem. name, which is intended to stand for Heb. Miryam ("Miriam" in English). The meaning of the name is not known for certain, although Thayer's lexicon suggests the name means "rebelliousness or obstinacy," a theory favored in Christianity. The first Miriam in Scripture is the sister of Aaron (Ex 15:20) and with such a negative meaning its unlikely that the parents would have given this name to their daughter at birth. The best interpretation I've found is at BehindtheName.com which says that Miriam "was originally an Egyptian name, perhaps derived in part from mry "beloved" or mr "love."
and: Grk. kai, conj., that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions and beginning verses with a conjunction, as in verse 12 below, is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. In contrast to most Bible versions I translate all the instances of kai (and all the other conjunctions) as a reminder of John's Hebraic writing style.
her sister: Grk. adelphē, fem. of adelphos, lit. "of the same womb." The feminine form occurs 24 times in the apostolic writings and is generally literal, but figurative uses occur also. Martha: Grk. Martha, fem. name, a transliteration of Heb. Marta, "mistress" (BAG), i.e., a female head of household, suggesting that she was the oldest of the siblings. Danker and Thayer identify the name as Aramaic, an assumption probably resting on historical references. Plutarch, the Greek historian mentions a Syrian woman named Martha who had the gift of prophecy (Life of Marius 17:1-3, cited in BAG 492). Lightfoot (3:360) notes the name of Martha as very frequent in Talmudic writings, identified as a mother or wife of various Sages, e.g., "Isaac bar Martha," "Abba bar Martha" (Yeb. 120a), and "Joshua ben Gamla married Martha the daughter of Boethus" (Yeb. 6:4). (NOTE: The Jewish name is spelled "Martha" in the English translation of the Soncino Babylonian Talmud.)
This is the only woman named Martha in the entire Bible. Her name appears 13 times in the Besekh, three in Luke (10:38-41) and ten in John, 9 in this chapter and once in the next. True to her name, Martha is portrayed as a person in charge: she welcomed Yeshua as a guest in her home on a previous occasion (Luke 10:38) and she was concerned with meeting her hostess obligations (Luke 10:40; John 12:2). In this narrative Miriam's name appears before Martha, no doubt because of the special memory of her shared in the next verse.
2 And Miriam was the one who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus ailed.
And: Grk. de, conj. used here to continue a thought. Miriam: Grk. Mariam. The switch from Maria in verse 1 to Mariam in this verse has no explanation. Mariam is the actual transliteration of Heb. Miryam used consistently in the LXX for Miriam, sister of Moses. Thayer notes that Mariam is also an exact transliteration of Aramaic Mariam, which is used in the Targums and may explain its presence in the apostolic writings. The lexicons agree that Mariam is an indeclinable noun, perhaps because in the LXX it always appears in the nominative case even when used with a dative case definite article (Deut 24:9) and an accusative case definite article (1Chr 4:17).
The Greek texts of the apostolic narratives present a puzzling use of the name. the Grk. name Maria occurs 27 times and Grk. Mariam also appears 27 times. Maria is used of six of the seven women whereas Mariam is used of three of the seven women. In the book of John Maria occurs 5 times, but Mariam occurs 10 times, mostly in reference to Miriam of Bethany. The use of Grk. Maria in the apostolic writings is inexplicable since it does not appear in any ancient Jewish writings. The Latin Vulgate (405) translated both Mariam and Maria with Mariae.
There are seven women identified as "Miriam" in the Besekh. Besides Miriam of Bethany there is (1) Miriam of Nazareth, the mother of Yeshua (Matt 1:16), (2) Miriam of Magdala (Matt 27:56), (3) Miriam, the mother of Jacob and Joseph (Matt 27:56), (4) Miriam, the wife of Clopas (John 19:25), (5) Miriam, the mother of Mark (Acts 12:12), and (6) Miriam of Rome (Rom 16:6). (NOTE: most scholars think #3 and #4 refer to the same person.) The use of the English "Mary" in Christian Bibles for these women began with the Tyndale New Testament (1525) and Christians have called these Jewish women by this name ever since. The choice of English translators to use "Mary" by dropping the last letter of the Greek name instead of the Hebrew name "Miriam" can only be to minimize their Jewish identity.
was: Grk. eimi, impf. the one who anointed: Grk. aleiphō, aor. part., to apply a substance in a smearing or rubbing action; anoint. the Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, the great majority to translate Heb. words for God, principally the name YHVH. Kurios also occurs a number of times to identify men of higher rank to whom respect is owed (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and others addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry, over twice as many times as any other title. In this personal usage kurios would be the equivalent of the Heb. adōn ("lord, master"). For more information on the use of kurios see the note on John 1:23.
with ointment: Grk. muron, a fragrant ointment. The anointing stories identify the ointment as nard (Mark 14:3; John 12:3). and: Grk. kai, conj. wiped: Grk. ekmassō, aor. part., cause to become dry by wiping with focus on the motion involved. his feet: pl. of Grk. pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot. with her hair: pl. of Grk. thrix, a hair, the hair of the head, lit. "hairs." Martha's hair had to be quite long to be used as a towel. Paul comments that long hair is a woman's glory and given to her for a covering (1Cor 11:15). whose brother: Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant "brother." In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites. Lazarus ailed: Grk. astheneō, impf. See the previous verse.
John's statement is unusual for narrative writing in that he alludes to an event that occurred in his past but does not feature in his Messianic history until the next chapter. Each of the apostolic narratives has a story of Yeshua being anointed by a woman with a fragrant oil. Mark, Matthew (26:6-13) and John (12:1-8) report the same incident with only minor differences in details. The story in Luke 7:36-50 occurs early in Yeshua's ministry and is very different in setting and theme. For an analysis of these accounts see my article: The Anointing of Yeshua.
3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom you love ails."
So: Grk. oun, conj., an inferential conj., which may (1) indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then;' (2) indicate that one takes account of something in the narrative immediately preceding, 'then;' or (3) simply indicate a stage in the narrative, 'so, then.' The first application fits here. the sisters: pl. of Grk. adelphē. See verse 1 above. sent: Grk. apostellō, aor., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. In the LXX apostellō translated Heb. shalach ("to stretch out or to send"), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128). Miriam and Martha apparently sent a trusted servant with the message.
to him, saying: Grk. legō, pres. part., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form; say, tell, declare. The Greek verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. case. See the previous verse. behold: Grk. ide, aor. imp. of eidon, the inflected aorist form of horaō ("to see"), that functions as an attention-getter without regard to the number of people addressed. In written narrative ide focuses on exceptional moments. Here the verb heightens the dramatic effect of the announcement by considering the impact on those who would hear the message. he whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun.
you love: Grk. phileō, pres., to manifest some act of kindness or affection toward someone, to love or regard with affection, to kiss, to like or be fond of, or to cherish inordinately. The verb, which occurs only 25 times in the Besekh, conveys an emotional content. In the LXX phileō translates Heb. aheb some 30 times, but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than phileō (DNTT 2:547). There are four words in Greek for love. Besides phileō there is agapaō, sacrificial devotion to a person or object; eros, desire or longing between a man and woman; and storgē, family affection. Aheb is like the English word “love” which is used to mean all these things. In the Besekh the verb phileō sometimes has a negative application (e.g., Matt 6:5; 23:6; Rev 22:15), but on a personal level the verb is used of Yeshua's feelings toward John the apostle (John 20:2) and here toward Lazarus.
ails: Grk. astheneō, pres. See verse 1 above. The message implies a serious illness for which they needed Yeshua's healing power as soon as possible. A high fever could have caused their great alarm. In Cana Yeshua had healed a nobleman's son who suffered a life-threatening fever (John 4:47-53), and in Capernaum Yeshua had healed Peter's mother-in-law who likewise suffered from a high fever (Mark 1:30-31).
4 But having heard the report Yeshua said, "This sickness is not to Death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it."
But: Grk. de, conj. used here to indicate a contrast to the preceding statement. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; or (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about. All three meanings have application here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173). Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles).
Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y'hoshua ("Joshua"), which means “YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew. For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?
said: Grk. legō, aor. See the previous verse. This: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. sickness: Grk. astheneia may mean (1) weak in body, sick, sickly; or (2) lacking capacity for something, weak. The term may refer to a condition of debilitating illness, sickness, disease, or disability. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. ou, a negative particle that makes an emphatic denial of fact. to: Grk. pros, prep. The root meaning is 'near' or 'facing,' but with the accusative case of the noun following the meaning is 'to, toward' (DM 110).
Death: Grk. thanatos, death in the natural physical sense, but also fig. of existence outside a relationship with God (1Jn 3:14), including that existence into eternity (Rev 2:11). On the face of it Yeshua's comment seems problematic. To the rational mind Yeshua either demonstrates a deficiency in his knowledge or he tells a falsehood. However, Yeshua's choice of words is precise. Considering the preposition pros Yeshua likely employs a personification of Death, an allusion to the demonic agent of destruction in Revelation (6:8; 20:13-14). Paul also used Death in this sense in his teaching on the resurrection, "The last enemy to be destroyed is death. … 55 Where, O Death, is your victory? Where, O Death, is your sting?” (1Cor 15:26, 55 TLV). In other words, even though Lazarus will die in the flesh he will not face the last enemy.
but: Grk. alla, conj. used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. for: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something, here emphasizing a supportive aspect; for, in behalf of, in the interest of. the glory: Grk. doxa, originally meant opinion, conjecture, praise or repute in secular Greek in regard to what one thought about a person or thing. In the LXX doxa renders Heb. kabod (pronounced "kah-vohd"), "abundance, honor, glory" (SH-3519; BDB 458). Kabod does include the meanings of dignity of position, reputation of character and the reverence due to or ascribed to someone, and is frequently used for the honor brought or given to God (e.g., Ps 29:1; Isa 42:12). In the Besekh doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45).
of God: Grk. theos. In secular Greek writings a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form, were called theos. In ancient polytheistic culture theos was not one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe and certainly not spirit as described in Scripture (John 4:24). In the LXX theos primarily renders the general names of God: El, Eloah and Elohim, but also YHVH (DNTT 2:67-70). As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos. The only God in existence is the God who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth (Isa 44:6; 45:5-6, 14, 18, 21; 46:9). Morris suggests that the expression "glory of God" in this context means not the praise of God, but His activity. However, the expression also declares the sovereignty of God who rules and overrules.
that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed; in order that. the Son of God: Grk. huios tou theou. Grk. huios typically refers to a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. The title "Son of God" occurs 42 times in the Besekh in reference to Yeshua. Christianity has traditionally restricted the meaning of the title "Son of God" to deity, the second person of the triune Godhead. Unbelieving Jews typically object to the concept of God having a divine son and can rightly claim that before the advent of Christianity "Son of God' had a very human meaning. However, for Jews during this time "Son of God" was used as a title for a human descendant of King David, the Messiah, who would establish the promised Kingdom (Luke 1:32), and confirmed by the religious leaders at Yeshua's trial (Matt 26:63; Mark 14:61; Luke 22:67, 70).
"Son of God" was a title of the Davidic king inasmuch as the king functioned as God's regent on earth and was vested with God's authority (Leman 95). The angel announced to Miriam of Nazareth,
"Behold, you will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you shall call His name Yeshua. 32 He will be great and will be called Ben-Elyon. Adonai Elohim will give Him the throne of David, His father. 33 He shall reign over the house of Jacob for all eternity, and His kingdom will be without end." (Luke 1:31-33 TLV)
Zechariah similarly declared,
"Blessed be Adonai, God of Israel, for He has looked after His people and brought them redemption. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David." (Luke 1:68-69 TLV)
So, "Son of God" is the old title for the King of Israel of the House of David and Messiah of Israel, just as Yochanan the Immerser announced (John 1:34). Nathanael made the meaning of Son of God clear when he declared to Yeshua, "You are Ben-Elohim! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49 TLV). may be glorified: Grk. doxazō, aor. pass. subj. (from doxa), may mean either (1) to praise or honor or (2) in reference to the next life to clothe in splendor (BAG). The first meaning applies here. In the LXX doxazō renders Heb. navah (SH-5115), to beautify, adorn with praises (Ex 15:2), but principally kabad (SH-3513), to be weighty, to be honored or praised (Lev 10:3; Ps 15:4). through: Grk. dia, prep., with the genitive case of the pronoun "it" following stresses means and therefore is rendered 'through' (DM 101). it: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The antecedent of the pronoun is the sickness of Lazarus.
Yeshua made a similar observation concerning the condition of the man born blind (9:3). Just as God made the man blind in order to validate His Son as the Messiah of Israel, so Lazarus was appointed to be the vehicle for declaring Yeshua's Messianic identity. These stories illustrate that the sovereignty of God operates outside of man's ability to understand His nature and ways of working in His universe. The lesson for us is to receive suffering as if it came from the very hand of God, as opined by Madam Jeanne Guyon (1648-1717), who suffered much in her life from physical maladies as well as persecution from the Church for her evangelical faith. God's ultimate goal is to conform us to the image of His Son (Rom 8:28-29).
The glorification of Yeshua is a repetitive theme on the book of John. In the Synoptic narratives the glory of Yeshua pertains to his anticipated reign as King (Matt 19:28; Mark 10:37; Luke 19:38; 24:26) and his coming in the clouds with the angels (Matt 16:27; 24:30; Mark 8:38; 13:26; Luke 9:26). In the book of John the glory of Yeshua is a manifestation of grace and truth (John 1:14; 8:54-55), of divine credentials (John 2:11), of resurrection (John 11:4, 40; 12:16, 23), of revelation of the Messiah (John 12:41), and of oneness with the Father (John 17:5, 22). Morris believes the true glory of Yeshua is in the cross, because of the correlation between the event in Bethany and the arrest of Yeshua (verses 47-50 below).
The idea of the "glory of the cross" is expressed in many Christian hymns, but this concept cannot be found anywhere in the Besekh. Instead, glory came as a result of the death of Yeshua, as Paul expressed it,
"But we see One who was made for a little while lower than the angels—namely, Yeshua. He is now crowned with glory and honor, because of the death He suffered so that, by the grace of God, He might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting for God—for whom and through whom all things exist—in leading many sons to glory, to perfect through sufferings the initiator of their salvation." (Heb 2:9-10 TLV)
5 Now Yeshua loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.
Now: Grk. de, conj. to indicate a transition in the narrative. Yeshua loved: Grk. agapaō, impf., means to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, and may be translated as 'have concern for,' 'hold in esteem' or 'love.' In the Greek culture agapaō had no emotional content and simply meant to honor or to welcome and was connected to hospitality, such as honoring a guest in one's home or welcoming a king's visit to a village. When on rare occasions, it refers to someone favored by a god, it is clear that the verb indicates a generous move by one for the sake of the other (DNTT 2:539). The verb occurs 36 times in the book of John, more than twice the number in any other book of the Besekh, except 1 John where it occurs 31 times.
In the LXX agapaō is the preferred word to translate Heb. ahev (SH-157, BDB 12), which is used of human love for other humans (parent-child, husband-wife, slave-master, friendships, neighbors, a paramour), and love of objects, such as food. Ahev is also used of human love for God and God's love for individual humans and His chosen people Israel. Agapaō does not mean strictly an unselfish love as commonly thought, since Yeshua commented that even sinners have agapaō for others who return it (Luke 6:32). The essential character of agapaō is the willingness to sacrifice for an object, which sets it apart from the affection of phileō, the family loyalty of storgē and the passion of eros. Morris sees no practical difference between agapaō in this verse and phileō in verse 3 above (539), but John chose his words carefully.
Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus: We should note that in verse 3 phileō love is directed at Lazarus. No verse describes Yeshua having this sort of love for a woman. Yeshua exercised total discretion in all his dealings with women. However, agapaō is the appropriate form of love for Yeshua to express toward women. Stating that Yeshua loved the three siblings in such a devoted way is probably intended to preempt criticism of Yeshua's delay in going to their aid. The natural thinking would be that sacrificial love would surely drive a person to respond immediately to a report of need. Yet, Yeshua being the model of love, loved His Father more (cf. Matt 10:37), and waited in order to bring glory to the Father.
6 So when he heard that he ails, he then indeed remained two days in the place where he was.
So: Grk. oun, conj. See verse 3 above. when: Grk. hōs, adv. with the primary function of connecting narrative components; used here in a temporal sense; when, after. he heard: Grk. akouō, aor. See verse 4 above. that he ails: Grk. astheneō, pres. See verse 1 above. he then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. here focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. Most versions do not translate this particle, but it gives added emphasis to the preceding adverb. (It's like John is saying, 'yes, believe it or not, this is what he really did.')
remained: Grk. menō, aor., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. In the LXX menō translates 15 different Hebrew words, the most common being amad ('stand, remain') and qum (stand, arise). The verb stresses constancy (DNTT 3:224). two: Grk. duo, the numeral two, here a figure of quantity. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The second usage applies here.
in the place: Grk. topos, a spatial area, here of a geographical terrain; place. where: Grk. ho, relative pronoun, lit. "which." he was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. The place is given in 10:40, the vicinity of Bethany (KJV "Bethabara") of Perea. See the note on 1:28. Morris does not believe Yeshua delayed in order to wait for Lazarus to die. Indeed he may have already died by the time the message reached Yeshua, given the information in verse 39 below.
7 Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go into Judea again."
Then: Grk. epeita, adv. with the idea of addition as a component; thereupon, then. after: Grk. meta, prep. used to mark association or accompaniment, or as here sequence or position; after, behind. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 4 above. he said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. The verb is present tense to heighten the drama.
to the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs (from manthanō, to learn), one who learns through instruction from a teacher. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the apostolic narratives and corresponds to the Heb. talmid (SH-8527, scholar or pupil). See the note on John 1:35. The apostolic narratives do not record when all of Yeshua's disciples began following him, and the first occurrence of their names is their inclusion in the list of twelve named as apostles (Matt 10:1-4; Mark 3:14-19; Luke 6:13-15). The creation of the apostolate did not occur until after the calling of Matthew (Mark 2:14) at which time Matthew invites Yeshua and his disciples to a meal. John does not mention "the twelve" until the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6:67).
Being a disciple of Yeshua required four particular qualities. First, to be a disciple required sacrifice. Traveling the country meant leaving behind family, security and living under austere conditions. This was not a life of luxury. Simon Peter alluded to his sacrifice when he spoke of leaving everything to follow Yeshua (Matt 19:27). The rich young ruler was not willing to pay this price to be a disciple (Matt 19:21-22). Second, to be a disciple required commitment. Devotion to the rabbi came before all other obligations (Luke 9:57-61; 14:26). Once the commitment was made turning back would have been equivalent to rebellion against God (Luke 9:62). The disciple left behind his ordinary life and embraced an extraordinary life with his rabbi.
Third, to be a disciple required humility. A disciple came to the rabbi with an inquiring mind, a desire to know. He did not have answers, but he sought answers about God and spiritual things. He knew the rabbi had the answers (John 6:68). This humility is illustrated by the rabbinic saying "Let your home be a meeting-house for the sages, and cover yourself in the dust of their feet, and drink in their words thirstily" (Avot 1:4; translation by Bivin 12). Miriam, sister of Martha, demonstrated this humility when she sat at the feet of Yeshua (Luke 10:39). Fourth, to be a disciple required obedience (Matt 28:19). The rabbi's will became the disciple's will. The rabbi directed, the disciple obeyed. The only authority greater in the disciple's life would be God.
Let us go: Grk. agō, pres. subj., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. The subjunctive mood has a hortatory intent. into: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, toward. Judea: Grk. Ioudaia, derived from Ioudaios, transliterates the Latin provincial name of Iudaea and corresponds to the Heb. name Y'hudah, which means "praised" or "object of praise" (Gen 29:35; BDB 397). "Judea" most likely refers to the historic territory of Judea (which lay between Samaria and Idumea), since the context is during the reign of the Herods, although the first readers of John might assume he meant the Roman province of Judaea, which comprised all three territories. again: Grk. palin, adv. that focuses on a repetitive occurrence; once more, again.
According to 10:40 Yeshua and his disciples had traveled into Perea where Yochanan had once conducted his immersion ministry. Yeshua's ministry in Perea at this time is told in Luke 14:1—17:10. The opening words of the verse "then after this" implies Yeshua waited two full days, leaving on the third day from when he received the message. And on the third day a miracle happened, just as it would for himself.
8 The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Judean authorities were now trying to stone you, and again you are going there."
The disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See the previous verse. The plural form may intend that more than one spoke or one spoke for the group. said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. The verb is present tense to heighten the drama. Rabbi: Grk. Rhabbi, voc. case, which transliterates the Hebrew rabbi ("rah-bee", lit. "my lord, my master"), derived from Heb. rab (SH-7227, "great, lord, master") (BAG). Rhabbi or the Hebrew Rabbi does not occur in the Tanakh, LXX, or DSS. Rhabbi is found 15 times in the Besekh, all in the apostolic narratives (eight of which are in John). On most occasions the title is used to address Yeshua by a present or future disciple. In the first century Rhabbi was a title of respect exclusively used for Torah scholars by everyone, even those of the same or higher rank (Stern 68).
The title did not become associated with the congregational leader of a local synagogue until Medieval times ("Rabbi," JVL). Notable rabbis had pupils or disciples who studied their expositions and were duty bound to obey their instructions. For more background information on Rhabbi see the note on John 1:38. Yeshua, of course, never sought such formal recognition, but like other rabbis of his time Yeshua gathered and taught disciples, expecting them to change and conform to his will. Unlike other rabbis Yeshua taught as one possessing independent authority (Matt 7:29; Mark 1:22). He did not need to speak in the name of one of the Sages or one of the two prominent authorities of the day, Hillel and Shammai. Yeshua never appealed to any other authority other than his Father or the Scriptures.
the Judean authorities: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios, Judean, Jew, Jewish or Jewess (BAG). The noun, translated in most versions as "Jews," is used in the book of John as a shorthand term to identify a particular group within the biological descendants of Jacob and adherents to the Judean religion. In this verse John uses the term as he does frequently in the Book for those in positions of power in Judea, namely members of the Sanhedrin. For more discussion on the background of Ioudaios and John's usage of it see my comment on John 1:19. were now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present; now or just now. The adverb indicates that the event was still fresh in their minds. seeking: Grk. zēteō, impf., to search for a way to satisfy an interest or desire; sought, looked for. The verb indicates more than mere interest, but an actual attempt.
to stone you: The verb is Grk. lithazō, aor. inf., to inflict harm or punishment by hitting with stones. The preferred means of execution in the Torah was stoning (Ex 21:28; Lev 20:27; 24:14, 16, 23; Num 15:35; Deut 13:10; 17:5; 21:21; 22:21, 24). The disciples allude to the attempted illegal stoning mentioned in 10:31. See the comment there. and: Grk. kai, conj. again: Grk. palin. See the previous verse. you are going: Grk. hupagō, pres., to proceed from a position, here with the focus on an objective destination; go, go away, leave. there: Grk. ekei, adv., in that place. Some versions present the last clause as a straight forward question seeking information, "are you going there again?" (ESV, MW, NASB, NET, NIRV, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TEV). Yet, there are no interrogative words in the Greek text, so the clause is really a statement of amazement (as in CJB, HCSB, KJV, MSG, NIV, NKJV, TLV). With a slight rise of the voice at the end, the disciples in effect question his reasoning. As we might say, "You have got to be kidding."
9 Yeshua answered, "Are there not twelve hours of the day? If anyone should walk in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.
Yeshua answered: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah, to answer or respond to something said in conversation; to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances or to testify or respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (BDB 772). Are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. not: Grk. ouchi, an emphatic negative interrogative particle; by no means, not at all, not. twelve: Grk. dōdeka, the numeral twelve, here of a quantity. hours: pl. of Grk. hōra, an incremental period of time in the day; hour. of the day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 6 above. Yeshua refers to the Jewish manner of designating time. There are twelve hours of day (sunrise to sunset, 6 am to 6pm) and twelve hours of night (sunset to sunrise, 6 pm to 6 am).
If: Grk. ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. should walk: Grk. peripateō, pres. subj., to engage in pedestrian activity; go about; walk about, walk around, walk. The subjunctive mood is used here of a hypothetical situation. In the LXX peripateō is found in only 33 passages, of which more than half come from Wisdom literature, and renders Heb. halak (SH-1980) to go, come or walk (DNTT 3:943). Both Greek and Hebrew verbs are used fig. of how one conducts oneself in life (Deut 30:16; 1Kgs 11:38; Ps 1:1; 15:2). in the day: Grk. hēmera. he does not stumble: Grk. proskoptō, pres., cause to strike against something with the result of experiencing harm. The verb is used here fig. of moral or spiritual failure.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, here indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. he sees: Grk. blepō, pres., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; (3) be looking in a certain direction; or (4) fig. to have inward or mental sight. Given the play on words of "day" and "light" all the meanings have application here. the light: Grk. phōs (Heb. or), that which serves as a revealing or disclosing medium; light. Light was the first thing God created (Gen 1:3) and that verse contains the first recorded words of God, "Let there be light." In God's creation sequence light was created on the first day, whereas the interstellar lights (stars, sun, etc.) were not created until the fourth day. Light is the most basic of all forms of energy and includes not only visible light but all forms of radiant energy moving in waves at a tremendous rate of speed.
of this world: Grk. kosmos has a variety of uses in the Besekh and other Jewish literature, including (1) the orderly universe; (2) the sum total of all beings above the animal level; (3) the earth as the place of habitation of mankind; (4) the world as mankind; (5) the world as the scene of earthly joys, possessions, and cares; and (6) everything of mankind that opposes God and is depraved of character (BAG). In the LXX kosmos is used to render a variety of words. Kosmos occurs some ten times for words meaning ornaments, jewelry or decorations and five times for Heb. tsaba, the "hosts of heaven and earth," i.e., the stars (Gen 2:1; Deut 4:19). The meaning of kosmos as "the world of mankind" is only found in Apocryphal writings (Wis., 2nd Macc., 4th Macc.).
A number of passages in the Besekh use "world" to refer to the nations outside the land of Israel (Matt 24:14; Luke 12:30; John 14:22). However, the term is used in some passages of the Jewish world (John 3:17; 6:14, 33; 12:19, 47; 14:19; 16:28; 17:6). Since Yeshua's mission was to bring redemption to Israel (Matt 15:24; Luke 1:68), then the "world" in this passage has the immediate meaning of the land of Israel in which Yeshua lived and ministered. In the physical sense the "light of the world" is the sun, which from 93,000,000 miles away can provide complete light over the surface of the earth and God imposes no utility bill on man for the service.
Yeshua offers a parabolic analogy that has a general application. Yeshua is the "light of the world" (John 8:12; 9:5; cf. Isa 49:6), or more specifically the light of Israel (cf. Isa 2:5; 9:1-2; 10:17; Matt 4:15-16). He shines the light of the truth of God into the hearts of men. "Walking in the day" may allude to Micah 6:8, "And what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (NASB). To walk in the day is to be willing for the light of God to illumine our hearts and character. As John says, "But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of His Son Yeshua purifies us from all sin" (1Jn 1:7 TLV).
10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."
But: Grk. de, conj. used here to indicate a contrast to the preceding statement. if: Grk. ean, conj. See the previous verse. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. walks: Grk. peripateō, pres. subj. See the previous verse. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within." the night: Grk. nux, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. he stumbles: Grk. proskoptō, pres. See the previous verse. because: Grk. hoti, conj. See the previous verse. the light: Grk. phōs. See the previous verse. is: Grk. eimi, pres., to be. not: Grk. ou, negative particle. in: Grk. en, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
11 He said these things, and after this, he said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going so that I might awaken him."
He said these things: The plural pronoun probably alludes to the two aspects of the parabolic analogy in verses 9 and 10. and: Grk. kai, conj. after: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 7 above. this: John's narrative stresses an immediate sequence. In other words Yeshua did not explain nor expound on his parable of day and night. he said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. The present tense emphasizes the drama of the moment. to them: his disciples. Our friend: Grk. philos, in a close relationship with another, as opposed to a casual acquaintanceship; friend. Lazarus: Grk. Lazaros. See verse 1 above. has fallen asleep: Grk. koimaō, perf. pass., to sleep in its ordinary meaning, but also figurative of death, which is the intended meaning here. but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 4 above. I am going: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid., to move from one area to another, to go or to make one's way.
so that: Grk. hina, conj. See verse 4 above. I might awaken: Grk. exupnizō, aor. subj., to awaken or arouse from sleep. This verb occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX exupnizō renders Heb. yaqats (SH-3364), to awake in a physical sense (1Kgs 3:15) and Heb. ur (SH-5782), to rouse from sleep, fig. of rising from the dead (Job 14:12). The Greek verb also appears in Test. Judah 25:4 as fig. of resurrection of those who have been put to death for the sake of the Lord. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, re: Lazarus. The disciples might have taken Yeshua literally. They might have thought that Lazarus probably had a fever, which can bring on fatigue and sleep, and Yeshua would raise him up from his sickbed as he did Peter's mother-in-law (Mark 1:30-31).
12 So the disciples said, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be healed."
So: Grk. oun, conj. the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 7 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. See verse 2 above. if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker used here to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. he has fallen asleep: Grk. koimaō, perf. pass. See the previous verse. he will be healed: Grk. sōzō, fut. pass. (from saos, 'free from harm'), to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition, often in the sense of bodily harm (Matt 14:30), as well from spiritual peril, frequently of the Messianic judgment (Joel 2:32; Matt 24:13; Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5, 10). In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important yasha, used in the Hiphil meaning to deliver and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5), and malat, used in the Piel meaning to escape, deliver, save (e.g., 1Kgs 1:12).
In the Besekh sōzō is used often of restoring someone to health (Matt 9:21-22; Mark 5:23, 28, 34; 6:56; 10:52; Luke 7:50; 8:36, 48, 50; 17:19; 18:42; Acts 4:9; 14:9; Jas 5:15). The statement of the disciples could reflect an assumption that the illness was not serious and he would recover in a natural way. They could also have been giving a hint for Yeshua to take action. Yeshua had healed from a distance before (the centurion's servant, Matt 8:5-13; and the nobleman's son, John 4:46-54), so all he had to do was say the word.
13 Now Yeshua had been speaking concerning his death, but they thought that he spoke of the rest of sleep.
Now: Grk. de, conj. Yeshua had been speaking: Grk. ereō, plperf., inform through utterance, here denoting speech in progress. The pluperfect tense denotes action in the past that is complete and the results of the action in existence at some point in past time as indicated by the context. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; about, concerning. his death: Grk. thanatos. See verse 4 above. but: Grk. de, conj. they thought: dokeō, aor., the basic idea of receptivity and hence attractiveness to the intellect appears throughout the verb's usage, which may mean to entertain an idea or form an opinion about something on the basis of what appears to support a specific conclusion; think, opine, regard.
that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 9 above. he spoke: Grk. legō, pres. of the rest: Grk. koimēsis, sleep, in the normal sense. Thayer defines as a repose or taking rest. of sleep: Grk. hupnos, sleep, occurring in its central sense and also of drowsiness. John illustrates that the disciples did not understand what Yeshua meant. The verse also illustrates a common failing in communication, comparable to the well-known quotation, "I know you think you understand what you thought I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant."
14 So then Yeshua said to them plainly, "Lazarus has died.
So: Grk. oun, conj. then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. See verse 6 above. Yeshua said: Grk. legō, aor. to them plainly: Grk. parrēsia, means plain and direct speech; used here adverbially, 'plainly, openly.' Lazarus has died: Grk. apothnēskō, aor., to die, generally used of physical death. Such knowledge would of necessity be supernatural, because the only message from the sisters was of sickness.
15 And I am glad for your sake that I was not there, so that you may believe. But, let us go to him.”
And: Grk. kai, conj. I am glad: Grk. chairō, pres., to be in a state marked by good feeling about an event or circumstance; be happy, glad, delighted, rejoice. for your: pl. of Grk. su, pronoun of the second person, used in a corporate sense. sake: Grk. dia, prep., lit. 'through,' but with the accusative case of the pronoun "you" the prep. stresses purpose and therefore is rendered 'for the sake of' (DM 101). that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 9 above. I was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be. See verse 1 above. not there: Grk. ekei, adv., in that place. so that: Grk. hina, prep. See verse 4 above. you may believe: Grk. pisteuō, aor. subj., in general Greek usage means to have confidence in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone; believe, trust, entrust.
In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman, which essentially means to confirm or support, but is also used to mean 'to be true, reliable or faithful' and be applied to men (e.g., Moses, Num 12:7), but especially to God who keeps his covenant and gives grace to those who love him (Deut 7:9) (BDB 52). The Heb. verb is also used to mean stand firm or trust as Abraham trusted in God's promise (Gen 15:6). The verb speaks of a behavioral action, not merely a mental process. The action begins with the conviction of God's existence, generosity and faithfulness to His promises (Heb 11:6). If one is truly convinced, then one trusts; if one believes and trusts, then one is faithful and produces works of faithfulness (cf. Matt 7:21; Acts 21:20; Jas 2:18-19; 1Jn 3:23-24).
Yeshua wanted his disciples to have confidence in him and not question his actions. They would eventually understand the necessity of the delay in returning to Bethany of Judea and ultimately trust him as the author of eternal life. But: Grk. alla, adversative conj. let us go: Grk. agō, pres. subj. See verse 7 above. to him: Since Lazarus is dead we would expect Yeshua to say "let us go to them" or "let us go to the sisters" or simply "let us go to Bethany." He clearly intends that they will see Lazarus, even though burial of a dead body was not delayed in Jewish culture.
16 Thomas, the one called Didymus, then said to his fellow disciples, "Let us go also, so that we may die with him."
Thomas: Grk. Thōmas, a transliteration of Heb. Toma (from Heb. toam, SH-8420, "twin"). This is the only person in the Bible named Thomas. the one called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. part.,' to say,' but used here of calling someone by a name. Didymus: Grk. Didumos, double, twin; a name or appellation of Thomas. Some scholars think it was his actual surname because in the apocryphal work Acts of Thomas (3rd cent.) his name is given as "Judas [Heb. Judah] Thomas." All that is known of Thomas in the Besekh besides his inclusion in lists of apostles (Matt 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13) is found in the book of John where his name appears seven times. Plummer suggests that Thomas was probably a twin, possibly of Matthew with whom he is coupled in two of the three lists of the Synoptic narratives.
Against this view is that Thomas is coupled with Philip in Acts 1:13. In addition, since "Thomas" is a transliteration of a Hebrew name then "Didymus" may only be a translation of Thomas, much as "Peter" translates "Kêfa" (John 1:42). The fact that Thomas took the lead in responding verbally to Yeshua's announcement is noteworthy, since he is not one of the inner circle. His recorded words here and elsewhere indicate an inquisitive and loyal personality (John 14:5; 20:25). Thomas apparently had a scientific mind and is best known for his doubting Yeshua's resurrection without physical evidence (John 20:25), and his great reversal of belief afterwards (John 20:28).
then: Grk. oun, conj. said: Grk. legō, aor. to his fellow disciples: Grk. summathētēs, adherent with others of a teacher who commands a following; fellow pupil, fellow disciple. This term appears only here in the Besekh. Let us go: Grk. agō, pres. subj. See verse 7 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. so that: Grk. hina, prep. we may die: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. subj. See verse 14 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 7 above. him: The news hit Thomas particularly hard for some reason, and so he expresses the desire to enter into the grief of the family. Stern believes this anecdote about Thomas reflects a pessimism that foreshadows his later doubting. Some scholars have even assumed Thomas to be a person given to despondency and melancholy.
The poor opinion many people have of Thomas cannot be objectively proven from the information John provides about him. Thomas was essentially a realist and relationships were important to him. He may well have been the one who reminded Yeshua of the attempt on his life in verse 8 above and was surprised that Yeshua would willingly walk into such a hazardous situation again. Thomas is no brooding, hand-wringing defeatist. Even though he sees a danger in returning to Judea, the death of a friend compels him to go. According to church tradition Thomas was the apostle who took the good news of Yeshua to India.
17 So having come Yeshua found him, having been in the tomb four days already.
So: Grk. oun, conj. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. Yeshua found: Grk. heuriskō, aor., to come upon by seeking, to find. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Lazarus. having been: Grk. echō, pres. part., to have, used here in terms of a physical state. in: Grk. en, prep. the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion, a place for depositing remains of a deceased person held in memory, burial place, grave or tomb. BAG adds that the word can also mean memorial or monument. It stresses the remembrance of the dead, which is why we still use grave markers. Decent burial was regarded to be of great importance in ancient Israel.
In Bible times corpses were typically placed in natural caves (Gen 23:19; 49:30-31), other above-ground tombs cut into soft rock (Jdg 8:32; Matt 27:60; Acts 2:29), or in the ground (Gen 35:8, 19; 2Kgs 23:6; Jer 26:23; Matt 27:5-10). The tomb of Lazarus was a natural cave (verse 38 below). The burial places would be outside but near the town where the person lived. The rock tombs sometimes contained chambers or a single room with shelves on three sides of the chamber, the entrance being closed by a large flat stone rolled or pushed into position. As generations of the same family used the tomb, skeletons and grave goods might be heaped up along the sides or put into a side chamber to make room for new burials.
The practice of family burial, though not universal if only because not all could afford it, was common enough to give rise to the Hebrew expressions "to sleep [or lie down] with one's fathers" (Deut 31:16; 2Sam 7:12; 1Kgs 1:21; 2:10) and "to be gathered to his people" (Gen 25:8, 17; 35:29; 49:33; Num 20:24; Deut 32:50) as synonyms for "to die" (JVL). While burial was practiced from ancient times (Gen 23:4), the only generalized command in Scripture to bury someone has to do with an execution (Deut 21:23). The burial was to take place the same day. The Jewish Sages deduced that the Torah commandment pertained to all deaths and that burial should take place as soon as possible after death (Sanhedrin 46a-b).
A number of biblical anecdotes mention the prompt action to bury after death (Luke 7:11-12; Acts 5:6-10; 8:2). However, there could be special reasons, including the wishes of the parents, for a delay in burial (Matt 9:23; Acts 9:37-39). In Hebrew culture burial of the dead was as urgent a duty as visitation of the sick. After all, God visited the sick (Gen 18:1) and buried the dead (Deut 34:6), leaving an example for His people to follow (Sotah 14a). four: Grk. tessares, the numeral four, here of a quantity. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See verse 6 above. already: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already. The time mentioned implies that Lazarus must have died the same day the message was dispatched to Yeshua.
18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about fifteen stadia away.
Now: Grk. de, conj. Bethany: Grk. Bēthania. See verse 1 above. was: Grk. eimi, impf., to be. near: Grk. engus, prep., near or close to, whether in a spatial or temporal sense. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma, a rough transliteration of the Heb. Yerushalayim, which means "possession" or "foundation of peace" (BDB 436). What a precious name is Jerusalem! The city is situated some 2500 feet above sea level and eighteen miles west of the northern end of the Dead Sea, is renowned as the capital of all Israel, afterwards of the Kingdom of Judah and the seat of central worship in the temple. At the time of the Exodus the city was inhabited by the Jebusites (Josh 15:8), but then captured by the tribe of Judah (Jdg 1:8). The city was also known as the City of David (2Sam 5:7).
By the end of David's reign the city had expanded to cover seven mountains: Mount Zion, Mount Ophel, Mount Moriah, Mount Bezetha, Mount Acra, Mount Gareb, and Mount Goath (Neil 289). Jeremias estimated the resident population of the city in the time of Yeshua at about twenty-five to thirty thousand (252). For the faithful Jew the city of Jerusalem represented all that was dear in the covenant relationship with God. David spoke of Jerusalem "as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord" (Ps 122:3-4 ESV). Another psalmist expressed his affection thus, “If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill, may my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy” (Ps 137:5-6).
about: Grk. hōs, conj. that connects narrative components and functions as a simile; like, as, similar to. fifteen: Grk. dekapente, the numeral 15, here of a quantity. stadia: pl. of Grk. stadion, a measurement of distance equal to 607 English feet or 192 meters (BAG). Fifteen stadion would equal about two miles. away: Grk. apo, prep., from, away from.
19 And many of the Judeans had come to Martha and Miriam, to console them concerning their brother.
And: Grk. de, conj. many: pl. of Grk. polus, extensive in scope, here as an adj. indicating a high number. of the Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 8 above. The term here refers to residents of Judea. had come: Grk. erchomai, plperf. See verse 17 above. to Martha: Grk. Martha. See verse 1 above. and Miriam: Grk. Mariam. See verse 2 above. From this point on in the narrative John uses the Greek transliteration of the Heb. Miryam (Miriam). to console: Grk. paramutheomai, aor. mid. subj., to hearten in the face of difficulty; cheer up, encourage, console, comfort. them: pl. of Grk. autos. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 13 above. their brother: Grk. adelphos, lit. “the brother of them.” See verse 2 above. The presence of the definite article with adelphos may indicate that Lazarus was their only brother.
In Talmudic literature family members in grief over the loss of a loved one are identified as "mourners" and those who come to the mourner's house after the burial are identified as "comforters." Customs of mourners and comforters are described in Chapter 3, Moed Katan and Semachot, a euphemistic name for the minor tractate Avel Rabbati ("the Great Mourning"). It is widely called Semachot ("joyous occasions") due to the reluctance to refer to a tractate by a name with such negative connotation. Some of the customs are based on the descriptions of in the book of Job. Typical of Jewish culture friends in Bethany and the surrounding region came to share the grief of the sisters. The high number of people present testifies to their prominence in the community.
20 Then when Martha heard that Yeshua was coming, she met him, but Miriam was sitting in the house.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv. Martha heard: Grk. akouō, aor. See verse 4 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. Yeshua was coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 17 above. she met: Grk. hupantaō, aor., to draw up close for encounter, meet. him: Grk. autos. but: Grk. de, conj. Miriam: Grk. Mariam. See verse 2 above. was sitting: Grk. kathezomai, impf. mid., to seat oneself. The CJB translates the verb kathezomai as "sitting shiva," which refers to the Jewish custom of sitting in mourning for seven days following the burial of a deceased parent, spouse, sibling or child. Stern correctly points out that the Greek verb is an unusual word if all that is meant is that Miriam stayed in the house when Martha went out.
in: Grk. en, prep. the house: Grk. oikos, a structure for habitation; house, home. The term implies a fixed residence. No description of the house is given, but certain assumptions may be made. The fact that many neighbors and friends could gather inside the house, as mentioned in the previous verse and verse 31 below, suggests a dwelling of substance. The family was not poor. The typical Israelite house was simply furnished with chairs, stools, a table for eating, a storage chest and mats on a bed frame (NIBD 495; cf. 2Kgs 4:10). The divan or raised seat was located around the borders of the main room. They were used for seats during the daytime, and beds were put on them at night (Job 7:13; Ps 6:6).
Both sisters mourned the loss of their brother. Mourning is normal and expected (Deut 34:8; Rom 12:15). The formal mourning period observed by Jews after burial fell into three periods: (1) three days of weeping and (2) up to the seventh day (Shiva) for lamenting with abstention from work and attention to the person; then (3) down to the thirtieth day (Heb. shloshim) in slightly mitigated formal mourning with various restrictions on activities (Moed Katan 19b; 27b). This practice devolved from ancient Hebrews who observed 30 days of mourning (Gen 37:34; 38:12; Num 20:29; Deut 34:8; Dan 10:2), and that is still Jewish practice. During the week of Shiva, friends visit the bereaved and share in the grief by offering comfort and prayers (Gen 50:10; 1Sam 31:13).
The Jewish Sages instituted the practice of ten men gathering to remember the deceased and offering ten blessings to God during the seven days, because this practice was followed at a bridegroom's wedding celebration. These blessings give glory to God for His greatness and goodness. Comforters also carry in food so that mourners won't be obligated to provide hospitality (cf. Jer 16:6-8). In this time the comforters also inject into conversation with the mourners their memories of all the good times they had with the deceased loved one. In addition some Rabbinic authorities instituted the drinking of ten cups of wine at meals held in a mourner's home (Keth. 8b).
21 Then Martha said to Yeshua, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not anyhow have died.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. Martha said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. to: Grk. pros, prep., to, toward. With the root meaning of 'facing,' the choice of preposition indicates a very personal confrontation. In the English vernacular we might say, "she got in his face." Yeshua: the one whose name means deliverance. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. See verse 2 above. She probably used the title in the sense of Heb. adōn, master, especially considering their previous meeting in Luke 10:38-42. if: Grk. ean, conj., conditional particle. you had been: Grk. eimi, impf., to be. here: Grk. hōde, adv. of place, here or in this place. my brother: Grk. adelphos, lit. “the brother of me.” See verse 2 and 19 above.
would: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that implies a possibility based on a preexisting condition or stipulation; 'would, ever, might.' Thayer defines the term as a particle indicating that something can or could occur on certain conditions, or by the combination of certain fortuitous causes. HELPS says that the particle "adds an important theoretical (hypothetical) sense to a statement which narrows down the sense of that statement." The aorist tense of the following verb indicates the particle is placing the hypothetical scenario in the past (BAG). Most versions do not translate the particle, but its use here reinforces Martha's assertion.
not: Grk. ou, conj, particle of strong negation. have died: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. See verse 14 above. Martha must have known that her message had reached Yeshua, yet she does not launch into a tirade and demand an explanation. She simply presents a factual statement.
22 But even now I know that whatever, possibly you might ask of God, God will give you."
But: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 4 above. even: Grk. kai, conj. See verse 1 above. now: Grk. nun. See verse 8 above. I know: Grk. oida, perf., to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The perfect tense refers to action completed in the past with continuing results in the present. The verb is used for experiential knowledge, whether (1) to know about someone; (2) to be intimately acquainted with someone; (3) to understand how to do something; and (4) to remember (BAG). In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045; e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39; Josh 2:4; 2Sam 19:6), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395).
that: Grk. hoti, conj. whatever: Grk. hosos, relative pronoun denoting maximum inclusion; as much as, whatever. possibly: Grk. an. See the previous verse. The use of an correlates with the subjunctive mood of the verb following. you might ask: Grk. aiteō, aor. subj., to ask in expectation of a response; ask, ask for, request. of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 4 above. God: Grk. theos. will give: Grk. didōmi, fut., to give, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). you: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person.
This curious statement reveals that Martha had confidence in Yeshua, but she didn't know what to ask for. Perhaps in her imagination there was the seed of an idea that Yeshua might do something miraculous, but she didn't dare give voice to it. Her approach is similar to Paul's statement, "we do not know how to pray as we should" (Rom 8:26 NASB). So, she put the onus on Yeshua to take the best action.
23 Yeshua said to her, "Your brother will rise."
Yeshua said: Grk. legō, pres. The present tense emphasizes the drama of the moment. to her: Grk. autos; Martha. Your brother: Grk. adelphos. See verse 2 above. will rise: Grk. anistēmi, fut. mid. to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to the physical motion of transition from a sitting or recumbent position or simply standing. The verb also has a variety of fig. uses (Matt 22:24; Mark 3:26; Luke 4:38; Acts 3:22; 5:36-37; 7:18, 37; Rom 15:12). In the Besekh the verb anistēmi is used 31 times (out of 108) in an idiomatic sense of restoring to life after death, mostly of Yeshua's own resurrection (Mark 8:31; 9:9-10, 31; 10:34; 16:9; Luke 18:33; 24:7, 46; John 20:9; Acts 2:24, 32; 10:41; 13:33-34; 17:3, 31; 1Th 4:14), and nine times of the resurrection associated with the end time (Mark 12:23, 25; John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:23-24; 1Th 4:16).
In the LXX anistēmi normally renders Heb. qum, to arise, stand up, stand, (BDB 877), which occurs with similar meanings as in the Besekh. However, anistēmi does occur in a few LXX passages that refer to the dead coming back to life: in Job 14:12 for Heb. ur, "to awake," where Job questions the possibility of life after death; then in Job 19:26 without Heb. equivalent that translates "in my flesh" and where Job affirms his expectation of seeing God; in Isaiah 11:10 for Heb. amad, "to take one's stand, to stand," in reference to the root of Jesse; and in Daniel 12:13 of the last days' resurrection.
Several people in Bible history were brought back to life from the dead, such as the Shunammite's son (2Kgs 4:34-36) and the man thrown into Elisha's grave (2Kgs 13:20-21). Paul states that in former times many unnamed people were brought back from the dead (Heb 11:35). Yeshua himself raised the widow's son (Luke 7:14-15). Matthew records that at the crucifixion of Yeshua a number of dead persons came out of tombs alive (Matt 27:52-53). The last mention of a resurrection is of Tabitha raised by Peter (Grk. Dorcas, Acts 9:40).
Most versions have "rise again" in this verse which is a non sequitur. The word "again" would mean a second time. The only ones who can rise again are the few who died and were raised, like Lazarus only later to die, again. A few versions have a more literal translation. The OJB has "will stand up." The NCV has "will rise and live again." The CEV has "will live again." The GW has "will come back to life." The NAB has "will rise." English translations of the Aramaic New Testament (Peshitta) have either "ariseth" (Etheridge), "will rise up" (Lamsa), or "will rise" (Alexander, Murdock, Younan).
Martha said: Grk. legō, pres. to him: Yeshua. I know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 22 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. he will rise: Grk. anistēmi, fut. mid. See the previous verse. in: Grk. en, prep. the resurrection: Grk. anastasis may mean either (1) rise, which may be bringing to a higher position in a physical sense or a higher status in a relational sense; or (2) resurrection from the condition of being dead (BAG). Anastasis is the principal Greek word in the Besekh for resurrection, with references divided between the resurrection of Yeshua and the resurrection at the end of the age. In the LXX anastasis occurs only three times: (1) in Psalm 66:1, the psalm title, "a psalm of rising up," without Heb. equivalent; (2) in Lamentations 3:63, for Heb. qimah, rising up (derived from qum), where it contrasts with sitting; and (3) in Zephaniah 3:8 for Heb. qum, to arise, stand up, stand, BDB 877), which could be a Messianic prophecy of Yeshua's resurrection.
Someone might ask, "how did Martha know?" She likely did not witness Yeshua's teaching on resurrection recorded in John 5 and 6. She could have developed the belief from the teaching of the Pharisees who supervised the synagogues. Rabbinic authorities, rooted in Pharisaic theology, believed that the Scriptures pointed to resurrection (Sanhedrin 90a-b, 91b). Pharisees felt so strongly about the subject that they declared anyone who says the resurrection of the dead is not intimated in the Torah has no part in the world to come (Sanhedrin 11:1). In contrast the Sadducees denied the possibility of resurrection (Josephus, Wars II, 8:14). (See my commentary on Yeshua's rebuttal of the Sadducees, Mark 12:18-27.) The Tanakh clearly depicts God as having sovereign control over life and death and one who manifests resurrecting power.
In the Torah the first hint of resurrection occurs in the story of Abraham taking his son Isaac to Moriah in order to present him as a burn offering (Gen 22:1-18). Abraham clearly expected to bring Isaac back alive (22:5), which Paul attributes to his belief in resurrection (Heb 11:19). In another instance Yeshua points out to the Sadducees that God said to Moses, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Ex 3:6 NASB), implying the continued existence of the patriarchs. The bequest of the Land was promised "so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth" (Deut 11:21 NASB). The Torah closes with the song of Moses in which the God of Israel declared that He gives life and puts to death (Deut 32:39).
In the Neviim (Prophets) Hannah echoed the song of Moses but added that not only does God kill but He also raises up from Sheol (1Sam 2:6). Jonah's experience in the great fish (Jon 1:17) reflected confidence of being freed from Sheol (Jon 2:2, 6). Yeshua likened Jonah's deliverance as analogous to resurrection (Matt 12:40). Centuries later God prophesied through Isaiah, "Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits" (Isa 26:19 NASB). Then God gave Ezekiel the vision of the dry bones to which God declared, "Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life" (Ezek 37:5 NASB).
The Ketuvim (Writings) contain the most references. Job, who lived in the time of Abraham, declared, "Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God" (Job 19:26). The Psalmists expressed hope of life beyond the grave (Ps 16:10; 49:15; 73:24). God promised Daniel, "But you, go your way until the end comes. Then you will rest and rise for your reward, at the end of days" (Dan 12:13 CJB).
on: Grk. en, prep. the last: Grk. eschatos, adj., coming at the end or after all others; last. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 6 above. The term in this verse refers to an appointed time. In His discourse on the bread of life Yeshua says four times that He will raise up (resurrect) those who believe in Him on the "last day" (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54). The assertion of resurrection on the last day rests firmly on the prophecy of Michael to Daniel (12:13). The last day is the "end of days." Yeshua will also assert in the next chapter that judgment will occur on the last day (John 12:48), which pretribulationists don't normally associate with the resurrection. The simultaneous action of judgment and resurrection is also asserted in John 5:28-29.
Two important facts about these verses should be considered. First, what does the word "last" in context mean? It means that nothing comes after it or it wouldn't be called "last." The last day is always the last in a series of days, such as referring to the last day of a prescribed festival (Neh 8:18; John 7:37). Second, the word day is singular. Both Yeshua and Martha do not merely say that the resurrection will occur in the last days, but on a specific day, the last day. In the resurrection passages the series of days that the last day concludes is the present age. In Hebrew thought historical time was divided into ages, perhaps coinciding with the great covenants that God made with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David (Ecc 1:10; Rom 16:25; 1Cor 2:7; 10:11; Eph 3:9; Col 1:26; Titus 1:2; Heb 9:26).
Yeshua and the apostles speak of two specific ages – the present age (Matt 28:20; Mark 10:30; Titus 2:12) and the age to come (Matt 12:32; Mark 10:30; Heb 6:5). When Yeshua spoke of the last day, he meant the last day of the present age. The resurrection occurs on the last day of this present age because the next day will be the first day of the age to come. The last day wouldn't be last if there were three and a half or seven years of the tribulation following it. So, the last day of the present age will be a momentous day.
25 Yeshua said to her, "I AM the resurrection and the life. The one believing in me, even if he should die, will live,
Yeshua said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. to her: Martha. I: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person. AM: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. The pronoun-verb expression occurs 47 times in the Besekh, 34 times on the lips of Yeshua, often as a conversational way of identifying himself to others (e.g., Matt 14:27; Mark 6:50; John 6:20; Acts 9:5). However, in John's book Yeshua couples egō eimi with a descriptive metaphor, known as the "Seven I AM Sayings" (John 6:35; 8:12; 10:7, 11; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). John's book of Revelation adds an eighth I AM saying, "I am the Alpha and Omega" (Rev 1:8; 21:6; 22:12 NASB). Such statements indicate that Yeshua had a firm grasp of his own identity. Stern suggests that the metaphoric expressions imply a claim even greater than being the Messiah (168). They are too similar to the God of Israel's self-revelation in the Tanakh to be accidental.
In the LXX egō eimi is predominately spoken by the God of Israel in reference to Himself, first in the name "I am who I am" (Ex 3:14). More commonly God says egō eimi kurios, for Heb. ani YHVH, "I am YHVH" 48 times (e.g., Ex 7:5; Lev 11:44; 26:1; Deut 5:6; Isa 45:8; Jer 24:7; Ezek 28:22). In the Hebrew text of the Tanakh God uses first person self-descriptive phrases of Himself: "I am God Almighty [Shaddai]" (Gen 17:1; 35:11); "I am your shield" (Gen 22:1); "I am your healer" (Ex 15:26); "I am the first and the last" (Isa 41:4; 44:6; 48:12); "I am YHVH your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior" (Isa 43:3); and "I am YHVH your Holy One, creator of Israel, your King" (Isa 43:15).The present tense of "I am" asserts that Yeshua's identity does not change. He is the "same yesterday and today and forever" (Heb 13:8).
the resurrection: Grk. anastasis. See the previous verse. and: Grk. kai, conj. the life: Grk. zōē, the state of being alive in the physical sense in contrast to being dead; life. The Besekh not only uses zōē in its normal meaning of physical existence in the present age, but over forty times for life that continues into the next age and eternity, half of which are in the writings of John. In the LXX zōē renders Heb. chay (SH-2416, alive, living) with both literal and figurative uses. In Scripture only animals and humans are described as "living" in the literal sense. God (the Father) has life in Himself (John 5:26) and is the source of life (Gen 1:20-25).
John begins his book with the point that Yeshua as the Word had life in himself; he was not created (John 1:4). Moreover, he has the capacity to give physical life (Gen 2:7), which was manifested in the ministry of Yeshua through restoration of life to the dead (Matt 9:18-25; Luke 7:11-15), but more importantly the provision of spiritual life (John 4:14; 5:21; 6:27, 33; 10:28) to those dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13). In the creation context it is no accident that Adam named his wife Chavvah (Khav-vah; unfortunately "Eve" in Christian Bibles), which means "life," because the first woman was the mother of all the living. It was the promised Seed of Chavvah (Gen 3:15) who would be the Life of the world (Lightfoot 3:239).
The one believing: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part. See verse 15 above. The present tense emphasizes one who starts and keeps on trusting. in: Grk. eis, prep., used here to indicate entrance into a relationship. me: Yeshua. even if: Grk. kan, adv., a contingency particle setting the stage for consideration of additional possibility; and if, also if, even if. he should die: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. subj. See verse 14 above. The subjunctive mood of the verb is used normally to convey what is conceivable or potential, but the hypothetical nature of the Yeshua's statement does not contradict the inevitability of death (Heb 9:27). Rather the reality of resurrection means that Death is no longer a serious threat.
will live: Grk. zaō, fut. mid., be in the state of being alive. In the LXX zaō renders the Heb. adjective chay (SH-2416), alive, living, used for animal and human life (Gen 1:20; 3:20); the verb chayay (SH-2425), live, revive, save life (Gen 3:22; Ex 33:20); and the verb chayah (SH-2421), live, which appears often in texts describing how long someone lived (Gen 5:21) and in other passages as a reward of God for righteousness (Prov 4:4). Zaō in this context probably has a dual sense. First, the ones hearing Yeshua and accepting his message will gain spiritual life. Second, there is future life after death by resurrection. The resurrection life is first spiritual and means to know God (John 17:3; 1Jn 5:20) and to enjoy the life of God in the present age (Rom 6:4; Eph 2:6; Col 2:12; 3:1). The resurrection life is secondly physical in the quality of immortal life with an imperishable body beginning with the age to come (Mark 10:30; Jude 1:21).
We should note that there are some important differences between previous resurrections (and the one to come in this chapter) and the resurrection Yeshua promised. First, in the past all were raised within a very short time after dying; none of them had decayed into dust. Second, previously raised people were still liable to physical weakness, suffering, pain or disease. Third, all of those people eventually died again. The resurrection to come will provide the saints with immortal and incorruptible bodies like that of the Lord (Rom 8:29; 1Cor 15:42-54; Php 3:20; 1Jn 3:2). For more on this topic see my article The Mystery of the Resurrection.
26 and everyone living and believing in me never should die into the age. You believe this."
and: Grk. kai, conj. everyone: Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope; all, every. living: Grk. zaō, fut. mid. See the previous verse. and believing: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part. in: Grk. eis, prep. me: Yeshua. The two verbs "living" (enjoying spiritual life) and "believing" (trusting wholeheartedly) are coincidental and continuing behaviors associated with being a disciple of Yeshua. never: Grk. ou mē, lit. "not not." The combination of the two negative particles is the strongest manner of denying something. should die: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. subj. See verse 14 above. The subjunctive mood of "die" expresses what should happen, not what will happen. As Peter says, God does not want any to perish (2Pet 3:9), but the reality is that many will perish. We only need to consider the history of Israel. They were given a covenant with precious guarantees, but rebellion resulted in being cut off from the favor of God.
into: Grk. eis, prep. the age: Grk. aiōn, an extended period of time, which may be (1) a general reference to a long period of time in the past ('ages ago') or in the future of a period with no apparent end; eternity; or (2) a segment of extended time determined by qualifiers as present or future; age. In the LXX aiōn occurs over 450 times and renders Heb. olam, first in Genesis 3:22. Olam means "a long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time," the first being in Genesis 9:12 (DNTT 3:827). In the Tanakh olam is used for ancient time (Gen 49:26), and indefinite futurity (Deut 15:17), but more often to the everlasting nature of God (Gen 21:33), His laws (Ps 119:89), His promises (Isa 40:8) and His covenant (Gen 9:16; 17:7; Ex 31:16; 2Sam 23:5). Lastly, olam encompasses existence after death and into eternity (Ps 90:2; Isa 45:17; Dan 12:2-3).
The prepositional phrase "into the age" means the age to come (Heb. olam habah), the Messianic Age. The great majority of Bible versions do not translate aiōn and resort to a less literal translation of the clause as "they will never [perish, die, be lost]." Only a few versions translate aiōn as "age" (Marshall, LITV, YLT). The absolute guarantee of never dying can only result from entrance into the Messianic age, not from being born again in the present age. Anything can happen before the last day when the resurrection occurs. He that "endures to the end" will be saved (Matt 10:22; 24:13).
You believe: Grk. pisteuō, pres. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun; this, this thing. All Bible versions translate this statement as a question even though houtos is a demonstrative pronoun, not an interrogative pronoun. If Yeshua intended the statement as a question he was not trying to gain information he did not have. Rather the force of the statement would be "you believe this, don't you?"
27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord. I have believed that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the One coming into the world."
She said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to him: Yeshua. Yes: Grk. nai, particle of affirmation, agreement or strong assertion; yes, indeed, certainly. Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 2 above. I have believed: Grk. pisteuō, perf. See verse 15 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. you are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. the Messiah: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334).
Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. The title Mashiach means 'anointed one' or 'poured on.' Mashiach was used in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chr 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest, Lev 4:5; (3) the King, 1Sam 12:3; 2Sam 22:51; Isa 45:1; and (4) the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and Dan 9:25-26. This last usage defined the term among Jews in the first century A.D. The title of "Anointed One" alludes to a ceremony of pouring olive oil on the head to invest one with the authority of an office (Ex 29:7; Lev 8:12; Ps 133:2). There was no comparable concept in Greek culture. For an expanded discussion on the Jewish title and Jewish expectations of the Messiah see my commentary on Mark 1:1.
the Son of God: See verse 4 above. Martha's confession is comparable to that of Nathanael, "you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (John 1:49) and Peter, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God" (Matt 16:16). Indeed, John wrote this testimony of Yeshua's life and ministry in order to demonstrate that he is "the Messiah, the Son of God" (John 20:31). Mark began his narrative with "The beginning of the good news of Messiah Yeshua, the Son of God" (Mark 1:1). This confession would become the plumbline for determining a true disciple, "If anyone confesses that Yeshua is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God" (1Jn 4:15 mine). It's important to remember that "Son of God" does not mean "second person of the triune Godhead," but the King of Israel who will reign on David's throne in the age to come.
the One: Grk ho, demonstrative pronoun and definite article. Some versions treat ho as a definite article for the verb and translate it as "who" (e.g., ESV, HCSB, MSG, NEB, TEV). Many more versions render it literally as "The one" (e.g., CJB, CEV, GW, MRINT, MW, NAB, NIV, NJB, NLT, NRSV, RSV, TLV). A few versions appropriately capitalize "the One" (EXB, NCV, NIRV). Among Jews "The One" was a circumlocution for God (cf. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 12:45; 15:21; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6). coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. part. See verse 17 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. the world: Grk. kosmos. See verse 9 above. Since she had already come to believe that Yeshua was the Messiah, it was not difficult to accept his statement in verse 26 as the truth.
The Compassion of Yeshua, 11:28-37
28 And having said these things, she went away and called Miriam, her sister, privately, saying, "The Teacher is here and calls you."
And: Grk. kai, conj. having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 3 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun; this, this person or thing. she went away: Grk. aperchomai, aor., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination, to go away, depart or leave. Miriam left Yeshua and returned to her house. and called: Grk. phōneō, aor., may mean (1) to utter a sound designed to attracted attention, cry out or proclaim with emphasis; (2) call to oneself; summon, call for, or invite; or (3) to identify in personal address. The second meaning has application here. Miriam: Grk. Mariam. See verse 2 above. her sister: Grk. adelphē. See verse 1 above. privately: Grk. lathra, without public knowledge; secretly. Mounce adds 'privately.' Danker interprets as 'probably in a whisper.' saying: Grk. legō, aor. part.
The Teacher: Grk. didaskalos, teacher or instructor who regularly engaged in the imparting of knowledge or skills, a vocation of special status among the Israelites. In the LXX didaskalos only occurs in 2 Maccabees 1:10 to denote Aristobulus, the head of the Egyptian Jewish community, who, having dedicated an exposition of the Pentateuch to King Ptolemy Philometor, is called a teacher clearly for this reason. However, the participle form of the verb didaskō, "one teaching," is used to render the participle form of three Hebrew verbs: (1) maskil, part. of sakal, give insight, teach (SH-7919; Job 22:2); (2) hamlammed, part. of lamad, instruct, teach (SH-3925; Ps 119:99); and (3) moreh, part. of yarah, to throw or shoot and thus "one who throws out," "points out," or "instructs," (SH-3384; Prov 5:13; Isa 9:15).
Scholars speculate that the reason didaskalos does not occur in the Greek text of the Tanakh is that in Greek education teaching was concerned with imparting knowledge or technical skills, but Hebrew education is more concerned with ethical instruction and obedience. In the Qumran texts moreh, "teacher," occurs more frequently, often with a qualifying phrase like "the righteous one," such as in the Damascus Document (CD 1:11; 20:32) and in the Commentary on Habakkuk (1QpHab 1:13; 2:2; 5:10; 7:4; 8:3; 9:9; 11:5), probably in reference to the founder of the sect (DNTT 3:767). See TDSS for the English translation. Moreh is derived from the verb yarah, to throw or shoot and thus "one who throws out," "points out," or "instructs," (Prov 5:13; Isa 9:15).
Elsewhere didaskalos is used interchangeably with rhabbi (Matt 23:8; John 1:38; 3:2). Since the conversation would have been in Hebrew, then the actual form of the word spoken should be considered. When people other than Yeshua's disciples addressed him or referred to him as didaskalos (as given in the Greek text, e.g., Matt 8:19; 9:11; Mark 4:38; 9:17; 10:35; Luke 8:49; John 8:4), they most likely said moreh or possibly rabbi. In fact, a few versions translate didaskalos here with "Rabbi" (CJB, HNV, OJB). Noteworthy is that Yochanan the Immerser was also addressed as didaskalos (Luke 3:12) and rhabbi (John 3:26).
is here: Grk. pareimi, pres., to be present, to be here. The verb may have the sense of the perfect tense "have come." In Greek literature the verb is used to mean to be by or near one, to be present so as to help, stand by (LSJ). In the LXX pareimi translates Heb. qarob, (e.g., Deut 32:35; ABP), which means "near, at hand" (SH-7138; BDB 898) and indicates the proximity of someone, some event or some thing (TWOT 2:812). and calls: Grk. phōneō, pres. you: There is no mention of this message in the recorded dialog of Yeshua and Miriam, but there is no reason not to take it as factual. Yeshua came to provide help and would naturally want to see Miriam.
29 So when she heard this, she arose quickly and went to him.
So: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hōs, temporal adv. she heard: Grk. akouō, aor. See verse 4 above. she arose: Grk. egeirō, aor. pass., to rise from a recumbent or lower position. She may have been sitting on the floor covered with a mat. The chair is of extreme antiquity, but for thousands of years it was an article of state and dignity rather than an article of ordinary use in private homes. The movie The Passion of the Christ includes a humorous but unhistorical scene to allude to the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci of Yeshua and His disciples eating the last supper while sitting in chairs at a table instead of reclining at a low table as Jews normally did for the Passover. As a young man Yeshua builds a table for a customer at which one would sit in a chair. His mother examines the table and quips, "it will never catch on."
quickly: Grk. tachus, exhibiting swiftness, quick reaction to a situation. The reaction of Miriam indicates that Martha probably came into the room where Miriam was located with the comforters and whispered in her ear. The quick movement of Miriam no doubt startled her friends and neighbors who had come to share her grief. and: Grk. kai, conj. went: Grk. erchomai, impf. mid. See verse 17 above. to him: Yeshua was the one that Miriam wanted to see more than anyone.
30 Now Yeshua had not yet come into the village, but was in the place where Martha met him.
Now: Grk. de, conj. Yeshua had not yet: Grk. oupō, adv., a negative particle indicating than an activity, circumstance, or condition is in abeyance or suspension; not yet. come: Grk. erchomai, plpf. See verse 17 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. the village: Grk. kōmē, village, smaller and less prestigious than a city (Grk. polis). but: Grk. alla, conj. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. in: Grk. en, prep. the place: Grk. topos. See verse 6 above. where: Grk. hopou, adv., in what place. Martha met: Grk. hupantaō, aor., go to meet, meet. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun, Yeshua. John's mention of this detail enhances the drama of the story. It emphasizes the important principle of going to where Yeshua is to receive help (cf. Heb 4:16; 7:25-26; 8:1).
31 Then the Judeans being with her in the house and consoling her, saw that Miriam quickly arose and went out, followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.
Then: Grk. oun, conj. the Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 8 above. Here the term is used of residents of Judea, which contrasts with the fact that Yeshua and many of his disciples were Galileans. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 1 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 7 above. her: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep. the house: Grk. oikos. See verse 20 above. The statement of being “in the house” gives some idea of the size of the house to accommodate a number of friends and neighbors. and: Grk. kai, conj. consoling: Grk. paramutheomai, pres. mid. part., to exercise a gentle influence by words, to soothe, comfort, console (Mounce). her: the use of the singular pronoun may suggest that Miriam's feelings were more deeply impacted than Martha and thus received greater attention of their friends.
saw: Grk. horaō, aor. part., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience extraordinary mental or inward perception. that: Grk. hoti, conj. Miriam: Grk. Mariam. See verse 2 above. quickly: Grk. tacheōs, adv., soon, quickly, hastily. arose: Grk. anistēmi, aor. See verse 23 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. went out: Grk. exerchomai, aor., to move away from a place or position, to go or come out. followed: Grk. akolutheō, aor. (from keleuthos, road or path), to be in motion in sequence behind someone, to follow. her: Grk. autos. There was a Jewish tradition relevant to this description of following Miriam: "No man should walk on a road behind a woman, even if she is his own wife" (Erubin 18b). Lightfoot suggests that all that followed Miriam may have been women, or if the group included men they followed her at a very great distance, or else there may have been an exception permitted at the time for such a solemn occasion as this (3:366). Verse 46 indicates the presence of male witnesses.
supposing: Grk. dokeō, aor. part., the basic idea of receptivity and hence attractiveness to the intellect appears throughout the verb's usage, which may mean to entertain an idea or form an opinion about something on the basis of what appears to support a specific conclusion; think, opine, regard. that: Grk. hoti, conj. she was going: Grk. hupagō, pres. See verse 8 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion. See verse 17 above. to weep: Grk. klaiō, aor. subj., express grief or sorrow aloud, to cry, sob or weep. This verb does not express a silent dropping of tears, but a vocal cry, a loud demonstrative form of mourning, a wailing. In the LXX klaiō is used mostly to translate Heb. bakah, weep, cry aloud (DNTT 2:416). The verb bakah expresses profound grief (1Sam 1:7; Lam 1:16), and also deep sorrow in mourning for the dead (Gen 50:1).
The Hebraic usage expresses dependence on God, by addressing one's cries or complaints to him in prayer (e.g., Jdg 15:18; 16:28). This is the word that expresses the verbalization of grief by the mothers of Bethlehem who lost their sons to Herod's malice (Matt 2:18), the grief of the widow of Nain whose son had died (Luke 7:13), and the mourning of the disciples over the crucifixion of Yeshua (Mark 16:10). there: Grk. ekei, adv. See verse 9 above. The antecedent of "there" is the tomb. The assumption of the friends implies that Miriam had wept little, at least in their presence, but their following reflects a certain insensitivity to Miriam's supposed desire to be alone.
32 Therefore when Miriam came to where Yeshua was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died anyhow."
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv. Miriam: Grk. Mariam. See verse 2 above. came: Grk. erchomai, aor. See verse 17 above. to where: Grk. hopou, adv. Yeshua was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. and saw: Grk. horaō, aor. part. See the previous verse. him: Grk. autos. she fell: Grk. piptō, aor., to drop from a relatively high position to a lower position, which could have been to her knees or even prostrate. at: Grk. pros, prep. his feet: pl. of Grk. pous. See the note on verse 2 above. saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. to him: Grk. autos. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. case. See verse 2 above. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 12 above. you had been: Grk. eimi, impf. here: Grk. hōde, adv. See verse 21 above. my brother: Grk. adelphos, lit. “the only brother of me.” See verse 2 and 19 above. would not: Grk. ou, adv.
have died: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. See verse 14 above. anyhow: Grk. an, disjunctive particle. See verse 21 above. Miriam's repetition of Martha's emotional plea implies the sisters had discussed the matter before Yeshua's arrival. They thought for sure that he would have come in time to heal Lazarus, or he could have spoken the word where he was for Lazarus to be healed. After all, Yeshua had healed from a distance before. See verse 12 above.
33 So when Yeshua saw her weeping, and the Judeans who came with her weeping, he groaned in his spirit, and troubled himself,
So: Grk. oun, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv. Yeshua saw: Grk. horaō, aor. See verse 31 above. her weeping: Grk. klaiō, pres. part. See verse 31 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. the Judeans: pl. of Gr. Ioudaios. See verse 8 and 19 above. who came with: Grk. sunerchomai, aor. part., to come together as a collection of persons. her: Grk. autos. weeping: Grk. klaiō, pres. part. he groaned: Grk. embrimaomai, aor. mid., may mean (1) to snort as an expression of anger or (2) to be moved with the deepest emotions. Rienecker suggests the first meaning applies here. Morris says it signifies a loud inarticulate noise. Yeshua's anger was not directed at the people, but at the illness and death as a manifestation of Satan's kingdom of evil. Mounce defines the verb as to be greatly agitated.
A number of versions translate the verb as “deeply moved” (AMP, CJB, ESV, HCSB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, OJB, RSV, TEV). TLV has “deeply troubled.” The verb occurs only five times in the Besekh, all in the apostolic narratives (Matt 9:30; Mark 1:43; 14:5; John 11:38). in: Grk. en, prep. his spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach), wind, breath or spirit as the animating force for bodily movement (Luke 8:55). The spirit of man is that which man has in common with God who is Spirit (Gen 1:2; John 4:24). Pneuma is used frequently for transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Holy Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). The use of pneuma here affirms that Yeshua was fully human and felt strong emotions as other humans.
and: Grk. kai, conj. troubled: Grk. tarassō, aor., to shake, to trouble, to be disturbed, to shudder (Rienecker). The verb speaks of an agitation with strong emotion. Lightfoot comments that Yeshua now voluntarily and deliberately accepts and makes his own the emotion and the experience from which it is his purpose to deliver men. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun, of himself. Few versions translate the pronoun. The description of Yeshua's emotions might allude to personal feelings of hurt at the words of the sisters.
34 and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see."
and: Grk. kai, conj. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. Where: Grk. pou, interrogative adv., here of place; where (?), at which place (?). have you laid: Grk. tithēmi, perf., to arrange for association with a site; place, put, set out, serve, lay down. The plural verb points to the joint responsibility of the sisters to bury Lazarus. Yeshua determined to diffuse the emotional atmosphere with a practical question in order to accomplish the mission for which he came to Bethany.
him: Grk. autos. They said: Grk. legō, pres. "They" is not identified but probably means the sisters. to him: Grk. autos. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. case. See verse 2 above. come: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. imp. See verse 17 above. The imperative mood functions as an entreaty here rather than a command. and: Grk. kai, conj. see: Grk. ide, aor. mid. of eidon, to see, but functions as an attention-getter without regard to number of persons addressed, behold! The actual location of the tomb, situated outside of the village was probably not far from the point where Yeshua had met Miriam.
35 Yeshua wept.
Yeshua wept: Grk. dakruō, aor., to shed tears, to weep. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. In the LXX dakruō occurs twice, in Ezekiel 27:35 to render Heb. ra'am (SH-7481), to thunder, to trouble; and in Micah 2:6 for Heb. nataph (SH-5197), to drop or drip, used of clouds dropping water (Ps 68:8). HELPS clarifies the verb as to weep silently with tears. The verb contrasts with the word used for the loud weeping of Miriam and her Judeans friends (verse 31 above). Morris says that the aorist tense signifies that he burst into tears (558), which is reflected in the translation of the MRINT. The same interpretation is conveyed in the CEB with "began to cry" and NRSV with "began to weep." The simple narrative makes this verse the shortest verse in the Bible, but serves powerfully to emphasize the humanity of Yeshua.
37 But, some of them said, "Could not this man, having opened the eyes of the blind, have done something that also this man should not have died?"
But: Grk. de, conj. some: pl. of Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. of: Grk. ek, prep. used with the genitive case of the pronoun to introduce an aspect of separation or origin, lit. "out of, from within." them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. Could: Grk. dunamai, impf. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving, to have power. In this case the thrust of the verb is to be able as empowered by God. not: Grk. ou, adv., negative particle. this man: Grk. houtos, masc. demonstrative pronoun, lit. "this one." having opened: Grk. anoigō, aor. part., to open, normally used of doors and objects, but used here in a figurative sense of restoring sight. the eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos, the physical organ of sight; eyes. of the blind: adj., inability to see; blind.
have done something: Grk. poieō, aor. inf., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. Poieō also renders the special word bara (SH-1254), 'shape, fashion, create,' used of God's creative deeds (first in Gen 1:1). that: Grk. hina, conj. also: Grk. kai, conj. this man: Grk. houtos. The pronoun is repeated but used this time of Lazarus. should not: Grk. mē, adv., negative particle. have died: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. subj. See verse 14 above. Others in the crowd taking a negative attitude wondered why Yeshua had not miraculously prevented the death of Lazarus. Tenney in taking the reference to the "blind" as the healing of the blind man in chapter 9 observes that it must have created a sensation in Jerusalem since it was remembered several months after it had occurred.
However, healing the blind was an important ministry of Yeshua (Luke 4:18-19), so the comment mentioned here could have been as a more general reference. The number of physically blind persons that Yeshua healed is unknown. When Yochanan the Immerser sent representatives to ask Yeshua to confirm whether he was the Messiah, one of the list of proofs was "recovery of sight to the blind" (Matt 11:5). Matthew includes healing the blind in a general list of healings (Matt 15:30). Besides the blind man healed in John 9 the synoptic narratives identify four men whom Yeshua cured of blindness prior to this time (Matt 9:27-31; Mark 8:22-26; Luke 11:14).
The Resurrection of Lazarus, 11:38-46
38 Therefore Yeshua, again groaning in himself, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone lay against it.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua: The One whose name means salvation or deliverance. again: Grk. palin, adv. See verse 7 above. groaning: Grk. embrimaomai, pres. mid. part. See verse 33 above. in: Grk. en, prep. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. came: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. See verse 17 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. the tomb: Grk. mnēmeion. See verse 17 above. Now: Grk. de, conj. it was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse x above. a cave: Grk. spēlaion, a cave or cavern as a natural formation. The term occurs six times in the Besekh and used as a place of hiding for thieves (Matt 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46) and place of refuge (Heb 11:38; Rev 6:15). Here the cave is used for purposes of burial and thus called a tomb. Rienecker suggests that the cave probably had a horizontal shaft that made it suitable as a grave.
and: Grk. kai, conj. a stone: Grk. lithos was a generic word for stone of various types, whether construction materials, millstones, grave stones, precious stones, tablets or small rocks. lay: Grk. epikeimai, impf. pass., to lie in superimposed position, lie upon, be placed upon. against: Grk. epi, prep., expressing the idea of 'hovering,' used primarily as a marker of position or location; 'on, upon, over.' it: Grk. autos. The point of the description is to indicate that the stone covered the entrance to the burial chamber, which would not have been very large.
39 Yeshua said, "Remove the stone." Martha, the sister of the one having died, said to him, "Lord, already he stinks, for it is the fourth day."
Yeshua said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. The present tense is used for dramatic purposes. Remove: Grk. airō, aor. imp., may mean (1) to cause to move upward; raise up, lift; or (2) move by lifting or taking from one position to another; take away, remove, carry off. The second meaning applies here. the stone: Grk lithos. See the previous verse. The verb implies that the stone did not roll in a track as the stone did for Yeshua's tomb. The stone would have been very heavy in order to keep beasts of prey out of the tomb (Rienecker). The command was uttered into the air, as it were, but his words would have been directed to men nearby.
Martha, the sister: See verse 1 above. of the one having died: Grk. teleutaō, perf. part., come to an end, here fig. of death. said: Grk. legō, pres. to him: Grk. autos, pers. pronoun. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. case. See verse 2 above. already: Grk. ēdē, adv. See verse 17 above. he stinks: Grk. ozō, pres., to smell, to give off an odor, pleasant or unpleasant. Ordinarily the corpse was prepared with a mixture of spices to ward off the smell of decomposition for those who visited the tomb later and while the spices might have some preservative effect, they would not necessarily eliminate the odor entirely. for: Grk. gar (generally accepted as a contraction of ge and ara = certainly it follows that), conj., a flexible term used here as a connector in an explanatory sense; for. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above.
the fourth day: Grk. tetartaios, adj., involved with something relating to the numerical value of four. Normally the adj. tessares ('four') is used with Grk. hēmera ('day') to signify the next after three days, as in verse 17 above. So, Martha's words could be lit. translated as, "he is a four-dayer," i.e., he's been doing his fourth day dead (Danker). The location of Yeshua in Perea was not likely more than a day's travel away. The four days may then represent one day for the message of Lazarus' sickness to reach Yeshua (verse 3 above), Yeshua's delay of two days (verse 6 above) and a day of travel for Yeshua to reach Bethany in Judea (Morris 539). Lazarus likely died while the messenger was en route to Yeshua.
The mention of "fourth day" may hint at the common Jewish belief that the soul hovered over the body for three days from the point of death, intending to re-enter it, but as soon as it sees its appearance change, it departs (Leviticus Rabbah 18:1; cited by Morris 546). A legal consideration was that establishing the identity of a corpse had to be accomplished within three days of death (Yeb. 16:3). Stern comments that before medicine could distinguish clearly between being comatose and being dead, people were occasionally buried alive. Jewish burial practices attempted to eliminate this grisly possibility. He quotes a post-Talmudic tractate compiled in the eighth century that addresses this matter,
"We go out to the cemetery and examine the dead [to see if they are still alive and have been buried by mistake] for a period of three days and do not fear being suspected of engaging in the ways of the Amorites [i.e., superstitious practices]. Once a man who had been buried was examined and found to be alive; he lived for twenty-five years more and then died. Another such person lived and had five children before he died." (S'machot 8:1)
Martha's remark confirms that she had given up all hope that her brother is still alive—the three-day period has passed: It has been four days since he died.
NOTE: The title of the tractate Stern quotes from is the plural of Heb. simchah (“joy”). Semachot is a euphemistic name for the minor tractate Avel Rabbati ("the Great Mourning"). It is widely called Semachot ("joyous occasions") due to the reluctance of Jews to refer to a tractate by a name with such negative connotation (Chabad.org).
40 Yeshua replied to her, "Did I not say to you that if you should believe, you will see the glory of God?"
Yeshua replied: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to her: Grk. autē, fem. pron. Did I not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation, used here to introduce a question anticipating an affirmative answer. say: Grk. legō, aor. to you: Grk. su, pron. of the second person. that: Grk. hoti, conj. if: Grk. ean, conj. you should believe: Grk. pisteuō, aor. subj. See verse 15 above. The verb has the sense of "trust." you will see: Grk. horaō, fut. mid. See verse 31 above. the glory: Grk. doxa. See verse 4 above. of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 4 above. Yeshua responds to Martha's statement of the obvious with a reminder of earlier words. His statement presents a conundrum in that while these words were spoken to his disciples in verse 4 they are not recorded in the narrative as addressed to either of the sisters.
Yeshua may have alluded to his announcement in verses 25-26 or even some earlier occasion not recorded in the apostolic narratives. Morris observes that Yeshua's words are a challenge to faith and a reminder of his unfailing aim, the glory of God (7:18; 8:50). The idiomatic expression "glory of God" represents the enhancement of God's reputation and confidence in His Messiah. Unlike typical miracles of healing that Yeshua performed this spectacular miracle did not require the faith of anyone, but only true believers would comprehend its significance.
41 So they took away the stone. Now Yeshua lifted his eyes upward, and said, "Father, I thank you that you heard me.
So: Grk. oun, conj. they took away: Grk. airō, aor. See verse 39 above. The identity of the helpers is undefined, but presumptively friends of the sisters. the stone: Grk. lithos. See verse 38 above. Now: Grk. de, conj. Yeshua lifted: Grk. airō, aor. John engages in a play on words with the verb airō. his eyes: pl. of Grk. ophthalmos. See verse 37 above. upward: Grk. anō, adv., above, up or upwards as a direction. Yeshua looks toward heaven, which in Scripture is always above the earth. Stern comments that by looking upward Yeshua prayed with his eyes open, as Jewish people do today. Christians usually pray with eyes closed; the reason most often given is in order to screen out visual distractions and concentrate on God. Which to do is a matter of individual choice; the Bible does not require either.
and: Grk. kai, conj. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. Father: patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes His activity as creator, ruler and sustainer (BAG). In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which occurs about 1180 times, generally in the human sense, but also of God as father (DNTT 1:616f). In the Hebrew vernacular Yeshua and the apostles would have used the word abba, as occurs in (Mark 14:36; Rom 8:15; Gal 4:6). In the Tanakh God's identity as a parent is first mentioned in reference to His covenantal relationship with Israel (Deut 1:31; 8:5; 32:6; Ps 103:13; Isa 43:6; 63:16; 64:8; Jer 3:19; 31:9; Hos 1:10: Mal 1:6). Israel is specifically identified as God's son (Ex 4:22; Hos 11:1). The God of Israel is also father of the king as the embodiment of Israel (2Sam 7:14; Ps 89:27).
While Jews recognized the God of Israel as the "father" of mankind in the sense of creator (Acts 17:28; Josephus, Ant. IV, 8:24), the capitalized "Father" in the Besekh continues the meaning found in the Tanakh. Unfortunately the Apostles' Creed and the Nicene Creed removed the association with Israel and presented the Father as only the "Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth." Yeshua acknowledged this covenantal relationship when he taught his Jewish disciples to pray "our Father" (Matt 6:9). Yeshua also spoke to his Jewish disciples of "your Father" (Matt 5:45, 48; 6:14, 26, 32; Mark 7:11; Luke 6:36). Thus, for the Body of Messiah the God of Israel becomes "our Father" (Rom 1:7; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2).
I thank: Grk. eucharisteō, pres., to thank or to give thanks. For the verb here God is explicitly the recipient of the thanksgiving. The verb occurs not at all in the LXX of the Tanakh, but is found six times in the Jewish Apocrypha (DNTT 3:818). The verb eucharisteō occurs 38 times in the Besekh in a variety of contexts in relation to something that has been received (cf. Ps 100:4; Php 4:6; 1Tim 2:1; Rev 7:12). you: Grk. su, pron., used of the Father. that: Grk. hoti, conj. you heard: Grk. akouō, aor. See verse 4 above. me: Grk. egō, pron. of the first person. Yeshua seems to refer to a prayer offered prior to this point in time, and in relation to Lazarus it would have been offered in Perea in conjunction with his decision to remain there two days. Morris suggests the aorist tense could intend a thanksgiving for the present prayer (560).
42 Now I knew that always you hear me, but for the sake of the crowd standing around I said this, in order that they may believe that you sent me."
Now: Grk. de, conj. I: Grk. egō. knew: Grk. oida, plperf. See verse 22 above. The pluperfect tense indicates action in the past that is complete and the results of the action in existence at some point in past time as indicated by the context. The emphasis could be "I have always known from eternity." that: Grk. hoti, conj. always: Grk. pantote, adv., always, at all times. you hear: Grk. akouō, pres. See verse 4 above. me: Grk. egō. but: Grk. alla, conj. for the sake of: Grk. dia, prep. the crowd: Grk. ochlos refers to an assembled company of people. In other contexts ochlos designates those that came to hear Yeshua from a particular locality. In many passages the term is equivalent to the Heb. am ha-aretz ("people of the land") whom the ruling classes and religious elite despised as ignorant masses accursed for not knowing and keeping Torah (John 7:49) (DNTT 2:800f).
standing around: Grk. periistēmi, perf. part., to stand around, as in a circle. I said this: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. This comment of Yeshua indicates that his thanksgiving of the previous verse was offered aloud rather than silently. in order that: Grk. hina, conj., here expresses purpose. they may believe: Grk. pisteuō, aor. subj. See verse 15 above. The aorist tense points to the beginning of faith (Morris). Yeshua means the kind of heart transformation of trust that would result in discipleship and submission to his Messianic reign. that: Grk. hoti, conj. you: Grk. su, pers. pron. sent: Grk. apostellō, aor. See verse 3 above. me: Grk. egō. The basis for the desired trust is the conviction that Yeshua truly had been sent by God. He was the "Sent One."
43 And having said these things, he shouted in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!"
And: Grk. kai, conj. having said: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 3 above. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, this. he shouted: Grk. kraugazō, aor. (from kraugē, shout, outcry) to utter a loud sound, cry (out), shout. The verb does not occur in the LXX at all, but the synonymous verb krazō (cry aloud) does, especially of Heb. qara (SH-7121) of men crying out to God, notably in the Psalms (DNTT 1:409). When men cry to ADONAI they have assurance that He will hear and deliver (Ex 22:23; Jdg 3:9; Ps 4:3; 21:4; 34:17; 55:16; 69:33). Conversely ADONAI will not hear the rebellious (1Sam 8:18) or the ungodly (Ps 66:18; Mic 3:4).
in a loud: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive; great. BAG notes a wide variety of applications such as (1) a unit of measure to specify size, capacity, quantity, intensity, age, or degree of wealth, or (2) a general reference to rank, dignity, sublimity or importance. Here the word functions as a superlative to denote intensity and volume. In the LXX megas, which occurs about 820 times, is used to translate several Heb. words, but by far the most numerous is gadôl (SH-1419), 'great' (first in Gen 1:14), which is used for volume of voice in many passages (e.g., Gen 39:14; Ex 11:6; 2Sam 15:23; 19:4; 1Kgs 8:55; 18:27; Prov 27:14; Isa 36:13; Ezek 8:18).
voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise defined in the context; (2) the faculty of producing speech, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language, 1Cor 14:10; 2Pet 2:16). The word often is used in the Besekh of articulated sound from a human mouth, which may be weeping (Matt 2:18), prophetic proclamation (Matt 3:3), quarreling (Matt 12:19), greeting (Luke 1:44), earnest pleading (Luke 17:13) or rejoicing (Luke 17:15; Rev 19:5-6). In the LXX phōnē generally renders Heb. qôl (sound, voice, BDB 876), the first usage of which is God's voice (Gen 3:8), and second the human voice (Gen 3:17), and these usages occur frequently in the Tanakh with various kinds of expression (DNTT 3:113).
Isaiah had prophesied of the Messiah, "He will not cry out or raise His voice, nor make His voice heard in the street" (Isa 42:2 NASB), but four times Yeshua employed a megas phōnē, the first time in this setting. The second and third times were on the cross (Matt 27:46; Luke 23:46) and the fourth time was to John on the island of Patmos (Rev 1:10). Lazarus: See verse 1 above. come: Grk. deuro, adv. ("now"), but used here as a verbal command. Danker says the basic idea is position in the presence of the speaker with focus on immediacy. out: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary (e.g., Matt 12:46).
The narrative presents an intriguing conundrum. In order to hear a voice Lazarus would have to be alive. So, did he come to life before Yeshua's command or coincidental with the command? Also, how loud would Yeshua have to shout for Lazarus to hear him inside the tomb? Morris says Yeshua's command is wonderfully succinct, "Here! Outside!" There may perhaps be a touch of humor here. In the English vernacular Yeshua meant "Get your body out here." After all, Lazarus might be reanimated, but he still had to exercise his will to get up and exit the tomb. No one brought him out.
44 The one having been dead came out, the feet and the hands being bound with strips of cloth, and his face having been wrapped with a cloth. Yeshua said to them, "Untie him, and allow him to go."
The one: Grk. ho, definite article. having been dead: Grk. thnēskō, perf. part., to die physically. The perfect tense is a reminder of the four days in the tomb. came out: Grk. exerchomai, aor. See verse 31 above. the feet: pl. of Grk. pous, foot. The term can also intend the leg. and: Grk. kai, conj. the hands: pl. of Grk. cheir, the body part with fingers, the hand. The mention of both feet and hands is an Hebraic way of referring to the entire body. being bound: Grk. deō, perf. pass. part., to bind or tie, normally in the sense of physical restraint. The choice of the verb adds to the drama of Lazarus struggling to get out of the tomb. with strips of cloth: pl. of Grk. keiria, cloth band. The term is used here of narrow strips wound around the body (Morris 562), and referred to euphemistically in the KJV as "grave-clothes." The term appears only here in the Besekh.
and: Grk. kai, conj. his face: Grk. opsis, the front part of the head from the forehead to the chin; face. having been wrapped: Grk. perideō, plperf. pass., to bind or wrap around. The verb draws attention to the fact that Lazarus could not see because his face was covered. with a cloth: Grk. soudarion, a personal article of cloth. BAG defines the term as a face-cloth for wiping perspiration, corresponding somewhat to our handkerchief. Bible versions translate the word variously with "a cloth," "burial cloth," "facecloth," "handkerchief," "headcloth," "headscarf," and "kerchief." Some versions offer the misleading translation of "napkin" (AMP, ASV, DRA, JUB, KJ21, KJV). Morris (as does BAG and Danker) identifies the term as a Latin loanword sundarium [from Latin sudo, to sweat], which LSJ defines as "a towel or napkin."
BAG also says that soudarion is a loanword in Mishnah and Talmud. In that context it would be a loanword from Aramaic, not Latin. Certainly John the writer was aware of Latin (John 19:20), but the assumption that he chose a word the Romans used for a cloth associated with wiping sweat seems highly doubtful. John very likely had a priestly lineage (Moseley 24) and so a term familiar to that setting seems more likely. Jastrow (962) gives the Talmudic word as sudarion, the pl. form of sudar, a scarf wound around the head, which appears in the Targums for the turban worn by the high priest.
The word also occurs in Jewish literature of a scarf used as an instrument of strangulation (Targum Jonathan Leviticus 20:10; Sanhedrin 7:2), a scarf used as a flag in festival assemblies to signal the people to say 'amen' (Sukkah 51b), a headdress worn by a scholar (Pesachim 111b), and a "kerchief" spread over the head to offer a blessing, such as done by R. Assi (Berachot 51a). Jastrow points out that the Latin sudarium is a phonetic coincidence with the Hebrew word. Of interest is that Delitzsch in his Hebrew translation of this verse uses sudar for the cloth covering the face of Lazarus.
The description of the bindings reflects the practice that after death the body was washed, its eyes were closed and its mouth and other orifices were bound shut (Matthews 239). Morris comments that it is difficult to see how Lazarus could walk under such circumstances and it is possible that there was a "miracle within a miracle" of Lazarus being drawn from the tomb tightly bandaged. On the other hand it is equally possible that the legs were bound separately. That latter "possibility" would be supported by the instruction Yeshua yelled to Lazarus in the previous verse. Lazarus did not levitate out of the tomb. He climbed out and then walked in halting fashion toward the sound of the astonished crowd.
Yeshua said: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos. John does not identify who received the instruction of Yeshua. Untie: Grk. luō, aor. imp., has a range of meaning including (1) loose or untie bonds; and (2) set free, loose, untie a person or animal. him: Grk. autos. and: Grk. kai, conj. allow: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. imp., to let go, but used here in a permissive sense of to let go or allow. him: Grk. autos. to go: Grk. hupagō, pres. inf. See verse 8 above. The clause "allow him to go" has the effect of "let him resume his life and go about as he wishes." Yeshua's instruction reflects his practice of giving practical direction after other healings (e.g., Matt 8:4; 9:6; Mark 5:19, 43).
Stern notes that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days and had already begun to decay (v. 39). No other recorded resurrection in Scripture occurred after such a length of time. Doctors today may bring back people who have been "clinically dead" for many minutes, perhaps even hours. Yet at no time in history has there been an instance of anyone medically dead for four days (and smelling of decomposition) being physically raised from the dead. John's report is unambiguous, leaving no doubt that a creation type of miracle had been performed. The raising of Lazarus is one of the greatest miracles in all the Bible.
45 Therefore many of the Judeans having come to Miriam and having seen what Yeshua did believed in him.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. many: Grk. polus, adj. See verse 19 above. of: Grk. ek, prep. The preposition, lit. "out of" emphasizes that "many" represented a large percentage of the people on hand on this day, but not all. the Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 8 above. having come: Grk. erchomai, aor. part. See verse 17 above. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "facing," which emphasizes the personal nature of the visit. Miriam: Grk. Mariam. See verse 2 above. The phrase" having come to Miriam, seems to offer a contrast to the comment in verse 19 above that the Judeans had to come to offer consolation to both Martha and Miriam. However, the term "Judeans" in this verse may have a more narrow meaning of particular friends of Miriam. When Martha left the house these comforters had stayed with Miriam, perhaps believing she had the greater need of their support.
and: Grk. kai, conj. having seen: Grk. theaomai, aor. mid. part., to look upon with special interest; see, look at, behold, take notice of. The verb emphasizes a special perception or realization. what: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Yeshua did: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 37 above. believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. See verse 15 above. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." The verb stresses the beginning of a trust relationship. him: Grk. autos, i.e., Yeshua. Miriam was noted for her devotion to Yeshua (Luke 10:39) and these Judeans were of like mind with her and may have had the same interest in spiritual things.
46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them what Yeshua did.
But: Grk. de, conj., used here to emphasize contrast. some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. The term would indicate a number less than the "many" mentioned in the previous verse. of: Grk. ek, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos. went away: Grk. aperchomai, aor. See verse 28 above. The verb emphasizes that someone led the dissenters. to: Grk. pros, prep. the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios, a transliteration of the Heb. P'rushim, meaning "separatists." The title was born of the fact that they separated themselves from the common people for religious devotion. The Pharisees traced their roots to the Hasidim ("pious ones") organized in the time of Ezra, but are known as an organized group from the 2nd c. BC (Jeremias 247).
The first mention of the group is in the books of Maccabees where they are described as "a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly for the law" (1Macc 2:42; cf. 1Macc 7:13; 2Macc 14:6). Josephus estimated that there were at least six thousand Pharisees in the Land (Ant. XVII, 2:4). There were several Pharisaic communities in Jerusalem (Jeremias 252). The book of John uses the term (occurring 20 times and only in the plural) to substitute for the term "elders" found in the Synoptic Narratives, a faction of the Sanhedrin (cf. John 1:24; 3:1; 12:42). Membership in the Sanhedrin consisted of chief priests, elders and scribes (Matt 16:21; 26:57; 27:41). Yeshua described the scribes and Pharisees as having "seated themselves in the chair of Moses" (Matt 23:2), probably an allusion to the fact that members of the Sanhedrin sat on chairs. For more information on the Pharisees see my comment on John 3:1.
and: Grk. kai, conj. told: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos. what: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun. Some versions have "the things" (ASV, DRA, LEB, MW, NASB, NKJV, WEB). The plural form of the pronoun is meant to indicate that the report contained more than the bare facts of the miracle. The report likely contained all the details that John presented in his narrative of what happened after Yeshua arrived in Bethany. Yeshua did: Grk. poieō, aor. See verse 37 above. In one respect it was important that the Judean authorities be informed of what had happened in Bethany, but John's factual phrasing gives the impression that those providing the report were acting like hostile informants, rather than witnesses excited about the latest miracle of Yeshua.
The restoration of Lazarus was unquestionable, but the division of the crowd demonstrates that those who believed were ready to believe. The believing ones were of the same character as the "worthy ones" Yeshua told his disciples to seek when he sent them on their first mission experience (Matt 10:11-13). The light of God has gone out into the world and provided enlightenment to every person (John 1:19), and yet it is a mystery why many believe and many others refuse to believe.
Conspiracy to Kill Yeshua, 11:47-57
47 Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, "What are we doing? For this man does many signs.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. the chief priests: pl. of archiereus, a high or chief priest. The "chief priest" would be Caiaphas, the high priest, but the plural noun would include retired high priests and active holders of the priestly offices of higher rank in the Temple, altogether some fifteen to twenty persons. From Acts 4:1; 5:17 and Josephus (Ant. XX, 9:1) we know that the chief priests were generally Sadducees and ex-officio members of the Sanhedrin (Jeremias 179, 197, 230). The active chief priests held a variety of administrative posts (see Jeremias 160-166 for a detailed discussion).
Under the anointed high priest was a deputy high priest who had permanent oversight over all Temple activities and of all officiating priests (see Acts 4:1; 5:24). In addition, he was the chief of police in the Temple area and as such had power to arrest. He was next in rank to the high priest and could step in to fulfill his duties if necessary. Next there was the director of the weekly division of ordinary priests, and then the director of the daily shift. Then there were also seven temple overseers and three or more temple treasurers. As a group the chief priests wielded considerable power in the city.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios. See the previous verse. John couples the Pharisees five times with the chief priests to emphasize their association on the Sanhedrin (John 7:32, 45; 11:47, 57; 18:3). gathered: Grk. sunagō, aor., to bring together in a collective manner; gather. a council: Grk. sunedrion, a governing board or council, an Israelite governance structure. In Greek culture sunedrion originally meant the place where a governing council met, then the body of councilors or their actual meeting. The term is used of a council of war, a Greek court of 600, a board of trade, the Roman Senate, the Carthaginian Senate, the Senate at Constantinople, and frequently of a congress of Allies or Confederates (LSJ).
In the LXX sunedrion renders Heb. math (SH-4962), male, man, men (Ps 26:4 as a deliberative body), qahal (SH-6951), assembly, congregation (Prov 26:26); and sôd (SH-5475), council, counsel (Jer 15:17). The Greek term also occurs in Proverbs 11:13; 15:22; 20:19; 22:10; 24:7; 27:22 and 31:23 without Heb. equivalent for those sitting in the gate for counsel or judgment. The usage of sunedrion in the LXX does not denote the Great Sanhedrin of seventy-one members that governed in Jerusalem, but rather small sanhedrins or groups of elders who acted as counselors and judges. These sanhedrins existed until the abolishment of the rabbinic patriarchate in about 425 A.D. (Shoenberg).
The concept of an assembly of men exercising ruling authority over the people of Israel began with the appointment of seventy elders in the time of Moses to assist him in "bearing the burden" of the people (Num 11:16-17). The earliest record of a Jewish ruling body is by Josephus who wrote of a political Sanhedrin convened by the Romans in 57 B.C. From this decision the Roman governor Gabinius divided the Land into 5 sunedria (Ant. XIV, 5:4). Some time later Josephus applied the term to the high council in Jerusalem when it gained authority over the whole country. Herod, when a youth, had to appear before the sunedrion at Jerusalem to answer for his doings in Galilee (Ant. XIV, 9:3-5). From the Roman usage the Jews transliterated it to the Hebrew sanhedrin (DNTT 1:363). The tractate Sanhedrin ("Court of Justice") sets forth regulations for administration of justice.
Sunedrion is used in the apostolic narratives of (1) a local Jewish court or judicial assembly (Matt 5:22; 10:17; Mark 13:9; Acts 5:21, 27, 34, 41; 6:12, 15; 22:30; 23:1, 6, 15, 20, 28; 24:20); and (2) the meeting room of a judicial assembly (Luke 22:66; Acts 4:15). The term appears 22 times in the apostolic narratives, but only here in John. Danker interprets the use of sunedrion here as referring to a "meeting" of the (Great) Sanhedrin. Most versions translate sunedrion here with "Sanhedrin," or "the Council," capitalizing the term, implying the full membership of the Supreme Court. However, this interpretive translation cannot be correct.
The Jewish court system at this time consisted of three types of courts: (1) Court of Three, which handled civil matters and a few criminal matters; (2) Court of Twenty-Three ("Small Sanhedrin"), which handled civil, criminal and religious matters; and (3) Court of Seventy-One ("Great Sanhedrin"), which met at the Temple and handled all the matters of the lower courts plus some special issues. The functions of the courts are given in Sanh. 1:1. For an overview of the Jewish judicial system see my web article Jewish Jurisprudence. We should note that terms "Court of Seventy-One" "Great Sanhedrin," and "Beth din" ("house of judgment") used throughout the Tractate Sanhedrin for the Supreme Court are never used in the apostolic narratives.
This meeting was not the Great Sanhedrin, which included the assembly of the elders (Luke 22:66; Acts 5:21). Conspiracies require keeping out people who would object. Josephus uses the term for an ad hoc group assembled for a special purpose or task (Ant., XX, 9:1, 6). A few versions reflect this interpretation with "gathered a council" (ASV, DRA, HNV, JUB, KJV, MW, NASB, NKJV, WEB). This meeting of the Pharisee leaders is not recorded in the Synoptic Narratives. So John most likely means the chief priests and Pharisee elders of the Temple quickly called together a group of key Temple staff for a secret meeting.
and: Grk. kai, conj. said: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 3 above. What: Grk. tí, interrogative pronoun. are we doing: Grk. poieō, pres. See verse 37 above. Some versions translate the question literally (GW, HNV, LEB, MW, NASB, NET, NOG, OJB, TLV, WEB). The NEB and NJB have "what action are we taking?" The present tense can be used to convey an anticipated future event or an action purposed, so the question may be translated as "what are we going to do?" (CEB, CJB, HCSB, ISV, NAB, NLT, TLB, WE), or "what are we to do?" (AMP, ESV, NRSV, REV, RSV). On the other hand the NIV and TNIV treat the question as a self-evaluation, "What are we accomplishing?"
For: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 9 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being, man, or mankind. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27; 2:5; 1Sam 15:29); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24; Job 1:1) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). While the noun affirms Yeshua's humanity, they do not call him "prophet," "teacher," or "rabbi." The lack of respect reveals their animosity.
does: Grk. poieō, pres. many: pl. of Grk. polus. See verse 19 above. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion usually refers to an extraordinary phenomenon, a portent or a miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle" (DNTT 2:626). Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Num 17:25; Deut 4:34; 7:19; 11:3; 26:8; Josh 4:6). John's testimony uses sēmeion of seven specific creation-type miracles Yeshua performed that proclaimed his Messianic office and divine power.
Stern calls the meeting illegal, but that overstates the matter. The Sanhedrin met daily and the high priest could call the Sanhedrin together whenever he wished and a majority could decide any matter. This meeting is not a trial, which will come later. However, what they planned to do was illegal. Since so much attention is paid in the narratives to the legal proceedings against Yeshua it is important to understand the background of the Jewish court system. Please see my web article Jewish Jurisprudence.
48 If we leave him thus, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and eliminate both our place and nation."
If: Grk. ean, conj. we leave: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. subj. See verse 44 above. him: Grk. autos, pers. pron. thus: Grk. houtōs, adv., used to introduce the manner or way in which something has been done or to be done; thus, in this manner, way or fashion, so. everyone: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. will believe: Grk. pisteuō, fut. in: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." him: Grk. autos. Yeshua's adversaries were not likely thinking of "believe" in the religious sense of salvation faith. Rather, everyone would regard Yeshua as the anticipated Davidic deliverer and King, which would mean a loss of authority and prestige for the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin interpreted and applied the Torah in legal cases, but just as importantly enforced Pharisaic customs. If Yeshua became ruler legalistic traditions would be eliminated.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the Romans: pl. of Grk. Rhōmaios, a noun used specifically of imperial Roman authorities, as well as having the right of citizenship in imperial Rome. will come: Grk. erchomai, fut. mid. See verse 17 above. The Romans already had troops stationed in Judea, but the prediction is that the Romans would come in great force. and: Grk. kai, conj. eliminate: Grk. airō, fut., lit. "take away." See verse 39 above. Within the larger narrative the verb may intend a word play in that taking away the stone from the tomb is going to result in a much greater removal, even destruction. both: Grk. kai, conj. used here to join two hypothetical events. our: pl. of Grk. egō, first-pers. pron. Use of the pronoun may intend exclusion of Yeshua and those who believe in him.
place: Grk. topos, a spatial area. See verse 6 above. Stern suggests the term is used of the temple (as in Acts 6:13-14; 7:49). The term may be taken more generally of Jerusalem as the "place" of worship (John 4:20; Acts 7:46). Since topos can also mean a position with responsibility, then "our place" could refer to the power of the Sanhedrin. After all, their existence can be attributed to the Romans. What need would there be of a Sanhedrin in a Messianic Kingdom? and: Grk. kai, conj. nation: Grk. ethnos, humans belonging to a people group. In the LXX ethnos appears about 1000 times and generally renders Heb. goy (SH-1471; pl. goyim), "nation, people" (DNTT 2:790). The term is first used in Genesis 10 to describe the list of seventy nations, then of descendants of Abraham (Gen 12:2) and then even more specifically of Israel (Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1).
In the Besekh ethnos in the singular may refer generally to any people distinguished by language and culture (Matt 24:7; Acts 10:35; Rev 5:9), including Israel (Luke 23:2; Acts 24:2, 10; 28:19; 1Cor 10:18; Php 3:5), or to Jews of a specific locality and religious viewpoint, such as Samaria (Acts 8:9) or Judea (Acts 10:22; 24:17; 26:4). From the viewpoint of the Judean authorities, their religious scruples would exclude other Jewish groups (Samaritans, Essenes, Galileans, Hellenists) from their definition of "nation." In John 18:35 Pilate regards "Judean" (Grk. Ioudaios) as synonymous with "nation" (Grk. ethnos). In Acts 10:22 Luke also links ethnos with Ioudaios. Judea was the locus of power for the Sanhedrin, so their definition of "nation" would likely be confined to its borders.
The concern of the Judean authorities about Roman reaction has the ring of legitimacy. Roman governors tended to respond brutally to any perceived rebellion against their authority. No doubt many of the Sanhedrin members would remember the violent resistance to Roman taxation in A.D. 6 led by Judas the Galilean, a Messianic figure, and the crushing Roman response. Even though Rome was an oppressor the Judean authorities had established a working relationship. An early rabbinic dictum held, "The law of the government [or country] is Law" (Baba Bathra 54b; Gittin 10b; Nedarim 28a). Of course, this compliance only applied to civil cases. The Jews never allowed the government to interpret and apply religious laws for them.
49 But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing,
But: Grk. de, conj. a certain: Grk. tis, indef. pron., any one, some one, a certain one. one: Grk. heis, the numeral one. of them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron., allusion to the Sanhedrin. Caiaphas: Grk. Kaiaphas, which transliterates Heb. Qayafa. The name of Caiaphas appears nine times in the Besekh (Matt 26:3, 57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49; 18:13–14, 24, 28; Acts 4:6) and in Josephus (Ant. XVIII, 2:2; 4:3). Joseph Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas (or Ananus) son of Seth, a member of a wealthy and powerful priestly family in Jerusalem (John 18:13). Historical sources indicate that Joseph descended from a polygamous family through Levirate marriage (Jeremias 94). In 1990 a rockhewn burial chamber was uncovered to the south of Jerusalem and within it was a stone box containing bones (ossuary) bearing the Aramaic inscription "Yehosef bar [son of] Qafa [Caiapha]." It is assumed that this tomb belonged to the family of the High Priest Caiaphas ("Caiaphas," Jewish Virtual Library).
being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 1 above. high priest: Grk. archiereus, a high or chief priest. See verse 47 above. The term occurs 122 times in the Besekh, all in the apostolic narratives and in Hebrews, 54 of which refer to the high priest. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus renders Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron.
The Hebrew title Hakohen Hagadol, 'the high [or great] priest,' occurs 11 times in the Tanakh (Lev 21:10; Num 35:25, 28; Josh 20:6; 2Kgs 12:10; 22:4, 8; 23:4; 2Chr 34:9; Neh 3:1, 20), but in all of these passages the title is translated in the LXX by Grk. ho hierus ho megas, 'the great priest.' The office of high priest was established by God in His instructions to Moses at Mt. Sinai. The first high priest was Aaron, brother of Moses, and all priests after him were to descend from his four sons (Ex 27:21; 28:1; 30:30; 40:14-15). For a description of the consecration, clothing, duties and special regulations concerning the high priest see the article at ISBE. See also the Encyclopedia Judaica article "High Priest."
The priest's job description involved sacrificing at the altar and worship in the sacred place (Ex 28:1), blessing the people (Num 6:22-26 ), determining the will of God (Ex 28:30), and instructing the people in God's instructions for holy and righteous conduct (Deut 31:9-12). In the Torah the chief qualification for serving as a priest was not age but the lack of any bodily defect (Lev 21:16-24). A priest could be disqualified from service for any act that would defile him or make him unclean. By rabbinic law age 13 qualified a man for the priesthood, but brother priests did not allow him to actually begin service until age 20 (Hullah 24a). The youngest priest anointed as high priest was Aristobulus whom at age 17 Herod appointed (35 BC) (Jeremias 158).
The priests were originally organized into 24 divisions or courses. The names of the courses appear in 1 Chronicles 23:6; 24:7–18. According to Josephus only four of the original courses returned from captivity and those four were divided into the prescribed 24 courses. In the first century there were in excess of 20,000 priests (Against Apion, 2:8). Each of the twenty-four divisions served in the temple for one week, Sabbath to Sabbath, twice a year, as well as at the three major pilgrim festivals when all males were to appear in Jerusalem in accordance with the Torah commandment (Deut 16:16) (Jeremias 199).
The high priest was the chief executive officer over all the priests, and only he could enter the holy of holies on Yom Kippur to offer an atoning sacrifice for the nation. During the times before the monarchy and after the exile the high priest was the principal leader in Israel. After the establishment of the Sanhedrin the high priest served as its President.
that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pron., that, that one there. year: Grk. eniautos, a cycle of time, a year. The Torah does not prescribe a term of office for the high priest, but the lack of any required retirement age meant his service could last as long as he wished and remained physically qualified. For this reason Morris notes that some scholars have concluded that John's reference to "that year" meant he must not have known that the office was permanent and thought it was an annual appointment. However, given his own priestly connections he was very much knowledgeable concerning this subject and the political climate of the times.
Josephus provides an enumeration of the high priests from 200 B.C. to A.D. 70 (Ant. XX, 10:1). He also says that twenty-eight high priests held the office from the days of Herod until the day when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, a period of 107 years, making the average term of office four years. However, the count of high priests does not mean that the succession was unbroken. Beginning with King Herod and Roman rule the office of high priest ceased to be hereditary and life-long (Jeremias 159). Herod's aim was to make the high priest dependent on political authority. The tenure of the high priest during Roman times is mentioned in Yoma 8b, "money was being paid for the purpose of obtaining the position of high priest and the [high priests] were changed every twelve months." Apparently, the payments had been going on since the time of the Hasmonean kings (fn 12, Yoma 8b).
The Talmud also treats this number as an average, not a prescribed term of office (fn 14, Yoma 8b). One Talmud MS reads: 'They were changed by Heaven,' i.e., they did not survive the twelve months. Other MSS read: 'They were removed by the king when a higher price was offered him for the priesthood.' After deposal from office a high priest retained a position of respect as a principal member of the theocracy. Thus Annas is still called a "high priest" even though he had been deposed from office in A.D. 15 (John 18:22; Acts 4:6) and three other high priests had served before Caiaphas was appointed in A.D. 18 (Jeremias 377f). Caiaphas was appointed by the procurator Valerius Gratus, served in office throughout the administration of Gratus' successor, Pontius Pilate (26–37), and was deposed the same year as Pilate by Vitellius, governor of Syria.
said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos. You: pl. of Grk. su, second-person pron. know: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 22 above. nothing: Grk. ouden, a powerful negating marker. It rules out by definition and leaves no exceptions. The Greek text includes the negative particle ouk before the verb (lit. "not know nothing"), which makes the negation even more forceful. The tone of Caiaphas' voice is open to speculation, but his words amount to a strong insult.
50 nor do you consider that it is advantageous to us that one man should die for the people, and not the whole nation perish."
nor: Grk. oude, conj., negative particle that links a negative statement as complementary to a preceding negative; nor. do you consider: Grk. logizomai, pres. mid., to count or calculate in a numerical sense, but also to infer, conclude, presume, to think upon, or ponder (Mounce). In the LXX logizomai chiefly translates Heb. chashav (to think, account, BDB 362), which is used in the sense of to think in a certain way, to estimate value or to calculate or compute something (DNTT 3:823). that: Grk. hoti, conj. it is advantageous: Grk. sumpherō, pres., bring together to result in a benefit; be useful or profitable, be of advantage. Mounce and Thayer add "expedient," which is found in many versions. to us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. that: Grk. hina, conj. one: Grk. heis, the numeral one.
man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 47 above. should die: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. subj. See verse 14 above. for: Grk. huper, prep. See verse 4 above. the people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically and in Scripture often viewed in contrast with the ruling class. The term corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'aretz, "people of the land," i.e., the people of Israel. In the mind of Caiaphas the death of Yeshua would accomplish a substitutionary purpose to prevent more death. Not in his wildest dreams could he conceive that the substitution would bring atonement. and: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. mē, negative particle. See verse 24 above. the whole: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a person or thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. nation: Grk. ethnos. See verse 48 above.
perish: Grk. apollumi, aor. mid. subj., may mean (1) cause severe damage; destroy, kill; or (2) experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX apollumi represents 38 different Hebrew words. Most frequently it translates abad (SH-7), to be lost, perish or to destroy (DNTT 1:463). The verb depicts a situation that threatens the very existence of an individual or group. In the Tanakh the word group is often used in the context of requirements for cutting off people from Israel for committing capital crimes, with stoning being the usual penalty. Edersheim says that the principle of "one for the many" is adapted from a Jewish adage (Bereshit Rabbah 91; 94; Midrash on Ecclesiastes 9:18).
Ironically, the verb apollumi is used in the Synoptic Narratives of the Pharisees' intent against Yeshua (Matt 12:14; Mark 3:6) and then later in the plot by the chief priests and elders to have Yeshua executed (Matt 27:30; Mark 11:18; Luke 13:33; 19:47). So John points out to his readers that what Caiaphas was worried the Romans would do to them is what he plotted to do to Yeshua.
51 Now he said this not from himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Yeshua was about to die for the nation,
Now: Grk. de, conj. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. this: Grk. toûto, neut. demonstrative pron. not: Grk. ou, particle of strong negation. See verse 4 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. but: Grk. alla, conj. See verse 4 above. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 1 above. high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 49 above. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pron. year: Grk. eniautos. See verse 49 above. The expression "that year" refers to the year of Yeshua's crucifixion The point of saying "that year' as opposed to omitting any time reference is to emphasize a foreordained divine appointment.
he prophesied: Grk. prophēteuō, aor., may mean (1) to proclaim a divine revelation; (2) prophetically reveal what is hidden; or (3) foretell the future, prophesy (BAG). In the LXX prophēteuō generally translates Heb. nava, which means to show, present or express oneself, to speak as a prophet (DNTT 3:77). The Hebrew verb primarily means to speak prophetically, that is "forth-telling," with occasional predictions (foretelling). Forth-telling predominates in the Tanakh and messages might consist of warning against sinning, announcing divine judgments, encouraging repentance and giving hope of restoration. True prophesying is inspired by the Holy Spirit (2Pet 1:21). that: Grk. hoti, conj. Yeshua was about to: Grk. mellō, impf., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to.
die: Grk. apothnēskō, pres. inf. See verse 14 above. for: Grk. huper, prep. See verse 4 above. the nation: Grk. ethnos. See verse 48 above. Here the term means the people of Israel and not necessarily intended to mean Israel as a political state, which did not exist at that time. The pronouncement of Caiaphas is credited as prophesying because it included both a predictive element as well as a forth-telling element of the purpose for the death. It may seem strange that Caiaphas, a corrupt and hateful high priest, is credited with prophesying. In reality, his purpose was actually aligned with God's purpose in one respect. It was the Father's plan for Yeshua to die for Israel. We must also consider that God spoke through Balaam, the pagan prophet from Mesopotamia (Num 22:5). He was hired to curse Israel, but instead could only prophesy blessing (Num 23:11) and gave a significant Messianic prophecy, "A star shall come forth from Jacob" (Num 24:17). Eventually, the Israelites executed Balaam (Josh 13:22).
Many of the prophets described in the Tanakh would be considered "lay" persons. But, priests of Israel are described as making prophetic announcements. Notable prophesying priests include Moses, Ezekiel (Ezek 1:2), Jeremiah (Jer 1:1), Zechariah (Zech 1:7), Yochanan the Immerser and of course his father Zechariah (Luke 1:5, 67). Caiaphas, however, does not begin to measure up to the spiritual character of these great men of the Bible. The reason given for Caiaphas engaging in prophecy was not because of his character, but his office. The high priest was the mediator between God and the people. He spoke for God. He wore the Urim and Thummim by which he could determine the will of God (cf. Ex 28:30; 1Sam 28:6; Ezra 2:63).
On the human level the rationalization of "ends justifying the means" was so much political flummery to make an act of wickedness sound like righteousness, but he unknowingly swerved into an important truth. The death of Yeshua would fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah, "All of us, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way and Adonai has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isa 53:6 CJB). While Jewish scholarship minimizes the role of Caiaphas in Yeshua's arrest, trial and condemnation, the apostolic accounts confirm that Caiaphas was the chief instigator of the plot against Yeshua.
52 and not for the nation only, but that also he might gather into one those scattered of the children of God.
and: Grk. kai, conj. not: Grk. ou, neg. particle. for: Grk. huper, prep. the nation: Grk. ethnos. See verse 48 above. only: Grk. monon, adv. marking a narrow limitation; merely, just, only. but: Grk. alla, conj. that: Grk. hina, prep. The remainder of the verse is not part of the statement of Caiaphas, but John's explanation of the import of Yeshua "dying for the nation." also: Grk. kai, conj. he might gather: Grk. sunagō, aor. subj. See verse 47 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. one: Grk. heis, the numeral one, here with the sense of unity. The mention of "one" may be an allusion to the "one flock" in John 10:16. those scattered: Grk. diaskorpizō, perf. pass. part., to scatter or disperse. The perfect tense points to a time in the past when the scattering occurred with continuing results to the present time. The verb occurs 9 times in the Besekh, sometimes in the text of parables, but twice in Yeshua's prophecy that his disciples would abandon him (Matt 26:31; Mark 14:27), and once in a historical reference dating back to the time of Judas the Galilean (Acts 5:37).
In the LXX diaskorpizō occurs about 50 times and is used in reference to God scattering the enemies of Israel (Num 10:35; Ps 68:1, 30; 89:10; 92:9), but more frequently of the prophesied dispersion of Israel into the nations (Deut 30:1-3; Neh 1:8; Ps 59:11; 106:27; Jer 9:16; 13:14; 24:9; Ezek 5:10; 11:16; 12:15; 20:23; 22:15; 28:25; Dan 12:7; Zech 1:19, 21). of the children: pl. of Grk. teknon, child of undetermined age, but used here in a fig. sense. of God: Grk. theos. See verse 4 above. The expression "children of God" only occurs in the words of the apostles John (here; John 1:12; 1Jn 3:1-2, 10; 5:2) and Paul (Acts 17:29; Rom 8:16, 21; 9:8; Php 2:15). However, the term "children" is used fig. of Israelites (Matt 2:18; 7:11; 15:26; 23:37; Mark 7:27; Acts 2:39; 13:33; 21:21), consistent with its usage in the Tanakh.
Stern comments, as other commentators, that the previous verse depicts Yeshua paying the death-penalty for sin on behalf of the people of Israel (Isa 53:6), and in this verse on behalf of non-Jews, making it parallel to John 10:16 on the assumption that the "other sheep" means "Gentiles." (See my note there.) However, that is not what John says. The clause "those scattered of the children of God" refers to Jews living in the Diaspora. The Great Commission would send the apostles to Jewish communities throughout the Diaspora with the Good News. In addition, the mention of "gathering the scattered' points toward the day when the descendants of Jacob would return to the promised land and be united under the reign of the Messiah (Deut 30:4-5; Isa 11:11-12; 43:6; 49:8-12, 22; 51:11; 66:18-21; Jer 16:14-16; 23:3-8; 30:3; 31:1-14; 32:36-37; Ezek 28:25f; 31:7-8; 36:24−37:28; 38:8, 12; Amos 9:14-15; Zech 8:7f; cf. Matt 8:11; Luke 21:24).
53 So from that day they resolved that they might kill him.
So: Grk. oun, conj. from: Grk. apo, prep. that: Grk. ekeinos, demonstrative pron. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 6 above. they resolved: Grk. bouleuō, aor. mid., to take counsel, either with the focus on (1) the cognitive process, deliberate, consider; or (2) the decision following a deliberation, resolve, decide. The second application fits here. that: Grk. hina, prep. they might kill: Grk. apokteinō, aor. subj., put an end by force to existence of someone; kill. Relevant to the verb choice is that both Greek and Hebrew have two words for taking a human life. The word for intentional murder or assassination in Hebrew is ratzach (BDB 953) and in Greek phoneuō. For accidental killing, manslaughter, killing in war or court-ordered execution the Hebrew word is harag (BDB 246) and the Greek word is apokteinō.
him: Grk. autos, pers. pron., used of Yeshua. Besides this verse the verb "kill" is used 17 times in reference to the execution of Yeshua (Matt 16:21; 17:23; 26:4; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:34; 14:1; Luke 9:22; 18:33; John 5:18; 7:1, 19, 20, 25; 8:37, 40; 12:10). According to John's narrative the efforts to kill Yeshua on prior occasions was a spontaneous emotional reaction, whereas now the desire has become a full-blown conspiracy.
54 Therefore Yeshua no longer was walking publicly among the Judeans, but departed from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with the disciples.
Therefore: Grk. oun, conj. Yeshua no longer: Grk. ouketi, adv. of cessation of an activity or condition; no longer, no more. was walking: Grk. peripateō, impf. See verse 9 above. publicly: Grk. parrēsia, means plain and direct speech; but used here of openness to the public. among: Grk. en, prep. the Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 8 above. The noun may intend the Judean authorities. but: Grk. alla, conj. departed: Grk. aperchomai, aor. See verse 28 above. from there: Grk ekeithen, adv., lit. "from that place." into: Grk. eis, prep. the country: Grk. chōra may refer to (1) a stretch of territory as contrasted with owned property or open country contrasted with city, region, area; or (2) an area under a proprietor, landed property or fields. near: Grk. engus, prep. the wilderness: Grk. erēmos, unpopulated region, desert or lonely place.
to: Grk. eis, prep. a city: Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly. called: Grk. legō, pres. pass. part. See verse 16 above. Ephraim: Grk. Ephraim, a transliteration of Heb. Ephrayim. In the Tanakh Ephraim is the name of Joseph's son and the tribe that descended from him. The town of Ephraim lay in the hill country about 14 miles northeast of Jerusalem within the former territory of Benjamin (Reinhartz 182; NIBD 347). Most Bible scholars believe that Ephraim was originally known as Ophrah (Josh 18:23; 1Sam 13:17) and the name later changed to Ephraim (2Sam 13:23). Ezra notes that Ephraim was located near Bethel (2Chr 13:19) and Josephus also places Ephraim in close proximity to Bethel (Wars IV, 9:9).
and there: Grk. kakei, a combination of kai, 'and,' with ekei, 'in that place, there;' serving as a simple connective. remained: Grk. menō, aor. See verse 6 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. the disciples: pl. of Grk. mathētēs. See verse 7 above. The expression of "the disciples" may denote just the Twelve. In any event, Yeshua avoided crowds. John passes over the Synoptic narrative of Yeshua's activities after his arrival in Ephraim. In any event Yeshua went from Ephraim "along the border between Samaria and Galilee" and encountered ten lepers on the way (Luke 17:11-19). During this time Yeshua spoke of the coming of the Kingdom of God (Luke 17:20-21), as well as the his eschatological coming (Luke 17:22-37).
He then told the parables of the Persistent Widow and of the Pharisee and Tax-Collector (Luke 18:1-17). He also met the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-28) and spoke again of his impending death (Luke 18:31-34). He then told the parable of the workers in the vineyard and responded to the request of the mother of the sons of Zebedee (Matt 20:1-28). From there he went through Perea and Jericho en route to Jerusalem and met and healed blind Bartimaeus (Matt 20:29-34; Luke 18:35-43). While on the road he also encountered Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) and told the parable of the ten talents (Luke 19:11-28).
55 Now the Passover of the Judeans was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover, in order that they might purify themselves.
Now: Grk. de, conj. the Passover: Grk. pascha, the Passover. In the LXX pascha renders Heb. pesakh (derived from a verb pasach meaning to pass or spring over, BDB 820). The term is used in Scripture, both the Tanakh and Besekh, to mean (1) the Israelite festival, Nisan 14-21, celebrating deliverance from Egypt; (2) the young sheep slaughtered on Nisan 14 to begin the celebration; (3) the special communion-meal at sunset of Nisan 14 (Lev 23:5), which is the beginning of Nisan 15; and (4) the festival sacrifices (Heb. chagigah) of lambs and bulls on Nisan 15-21 (cf. Num 28:16-25; Deut 16:1-3; 2Chron 30:24; 35:8-9). The month of Nisan corresponds to March-April on the Julian calendar. The detailed instructions for observing Passover may be found in the Talmud Tractate Pesachim and the instructions for festival sacrifices are found in Tractate Hagigah.
The Passover has been celebrated by Jews since God commanded the observance and gave instructions to Moses (Ex 12:1—13:16). The first Passover was the means of deliverance from a plague of death on the firstborn. Thereafter, Passover would celebrate God's great work of redemption (Ex 23:14-15; Lev 23:4-8; Num 28:16-25; Deut 16:1-8). The Passover deliverance made salvation distinctly national in scope and truly set Israel apart as a special people. Slaves and resident aliens (Gentiles) were allowed to share the meal as long as they were circumcised (Ex 12:48). This simple provision demonstrated that God's plan of salvation for Gentiles has always been based on inclusion in Israel (cf. Eph 2:11-13).
By the apostolic era the term "Passover" had come to mean the eight days of Nisan 14-21 (Josephus, Ant. II, 15:1; BAG 639). In fact, Luke emphasizes this very point, "Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover" (Luke 22:1). This unity can be seen as early as the celebration of Passover in the time of King Josiah when offerings for the eight-day festival included both lambs, goats and bulls (2Chr 35:1-9). of the Judeans: pl. of Grk. Ioudaios. See verse 8 above. The genitive case of the noun most likely is a subjective genitive indicating that the festival was conducted according to the dictates of the Judeans, namely the Sanhedrin. However, as an objective genitive the noun would indicate that the participants were primarily Judean Jews, whether from the local area, Samaria, Galilee or the Diaspora. Other Jews might come but they had to be circumcised and obey local regulations to participate in the festival.
was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 1 above. near: Grk. engus, prep. See verse 18 above. John uses the word in the sense of the calendar, likely meaning the 30-day period immediately preceding the festival. Travel to Jerusalem for Passover would not begin until after the completion of Purim (14 Adar, the month before Nisan). and: Grk. kai, conj. many: pl. of Grk. polus. See verse 19 above. went up: Grk. anabainō, aor., to proceed in a direction that is up, go up. This verb reflects the Hebraic manner of describing topography and movement in a hilly country. from: Grk. ek, prep. the country: Grk. chōra. See the previous verse. to: Grk. eis, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Hierosoluma. See verse 18 above. before: Grk. pro, prep. the Passover: Grk. pascha. in order that: Grk. hina, conj.
they might purify: Grk. hagnizō, aor. subj., to cleanse in such a way that one is purified, here of festival preparation. themselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pron. The washing mentioned here was because of having touched a dead body (Num 9:6, 10; 2Chr 30:17-18). According to Jewish custom of the time ritual immersion had to take place in a pool (Heb. mikveh) with water from a fresh water source and deep enough to submerge oneself by squatting. There were many pools (mikvaot) that surrounded the Temple area for ritual purification. Excavations of the southern wall of the Temple area, begun in 1968, have uncovered dozens of mikva'ot. (See pictures at BibleWalks.com.)
During the period of 15 Adar to 14 Nisan Jews would engage in many preparations, including paying the temple tax and repairing roads, streets, bridges, graves and various structures in public areas (Shekalim 1:1). In particular graves were whitewashed (Matt 23:27) to make them conspicuous so that pilgrims would not accidentally contract defilement. Within two weeks of the festival Jews would participate in lectures on the laws of Passover to ensure they carried out everything properly (Pesachim 6a). So, all the requirements meant Jerusalem would be crowded with pilgrims well before the festival itself.
56 Then they were seeking Yeshua and were speaking with one another, standing in the temple, "What does it seem to you, that by no means he may come to the feast?"
Then: Grk. oun, conj. they were seeking: Grk. zēteō, impf. See verse 8 above. Yeshua and: Grk. kai, conj. were speaking: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 3 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. one another: Grk. allēlōn, reciprocal pron., each other, one another. standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part., be in an upright position, to stand, used of bodily posture. in: Grk. en, prep. the temple: Grk. hieron, sanctuary, temple. When used of the temple in Jerusalem hieron applies to the entire temple complex with all its courts in contrast to naos, which refers to the sanctuary proper where priests offered sacrifices. For a full description of the temple see my comment on Mark 11:11. The place where the members of the Sanhedrin were standing was likely the terrace area called "Chel" that ran along the north and south sides of the temple, 10 cubits broad, with 12 steps leading up to it (Midd. 1:5, 2:3). See the illustrations here and here. The Sanhedrin often met here to discuss Torah issues (Sanh. 88b).
What: Grk. tis, interr. pron. does it seem: Grk. dokeō, pres., lit. "to think." See verse 13 above. to you: pl. of Grk. su, second-person pron. that: Grk. hoti, conj. by no means: Grk. ou mē, double negative, lit. "not, not." he may come: Grk. erchomai, aor. subj. See verse 17 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. the feast: Grk. heortē, a religious festival and in the Besekh always of a joyous gathering of the Jewish people for celebrations of the calendar prescribed in the Torah, generally with a focus on sacrifices and communal eating. (See my web article God's Appointed Times.) The word occurs 25 times in the Besekh and all but eight occur in the book of John. In the LXX heortē renders Heb. chag, feast, festival-gathering, pilgrim feast or festival sacrifice of Israel (BDB 290).
The question as stated is irrelevant in one respect. Yeshua would either come or not, but he certainly would not inform the leaders of his movements. Conversely, they should know that he would come because he was an observant Jew and he had attended all the previous pilgrim festivals. Failure to observe Passover would be a transgression, but the Torah did provide for observance a month later if one was on a journey (Num 9:6-14; 2Chron 30:13). The point of the question seems to cast doubt on Yeshua returning for Passover because they knew that he knew of their desire to kill him.
57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given commands that if anyone knew where he was, he should disclose it, so that they might arrest him.
Now: Grk. de, conj. the chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus. See verse 47 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. the Pharisees: pl. of Grk. Pharisaios. See verse 46 above. had given: Grk. didōmi, plperf. See verse 22 above. commands: pl. of Grk. entolē, a directive for action, command, order or instruction. In the LXX entolē is concentrated in the Torah and generally renders Heb. mitsvah (SH-4687), 'commandment' (e.g., Ex 20:6; Ps 119:6). that: Grk. hina, conj. if: Grk. ean, conj. anyone: Grk. tis, indef. pron. knew: Grk. ginōskō, aor. subj., to know, but has a variety of meanings, but here in the sense of being in receipt of information; know, learn, find out. In the LXX ginōskō renders Heb. yada, which has a similar wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning from a teacher (DNTT 2:395).
where: Grk. pou, adv. he was: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 1 above. he should disclose it: Grk. mēnuō, aor. subj., to provide information not generally known, inform, disclose. so that: Grk. hopōs, conj. expressing an objective, purpose, or end in view; in order that, so that, that. they might arrest: Grk. piazō, aor. subj., to take under control' seize, arrest. him: Grk. autos. Some scholars interpret John's report to mean that a warrant for Yeshua's arrest had been issued and that Yeshua had been officially condemned as apostate. The apostolic narratives do not support such a supposition, since an official seizure warrant issued by the Sanhedrin could not have been suppressed from public knowledge. Moreover, after the healing of Lazarus and the conspiratorial meeting of Caiaphas and the chief priests, Yeshua continued on with ministry for some days and included much teaching and healings (John 11:54; Luke 17-19). John's report here simply describes the unofficial plot of the chief priests and some Pharisees to seize Yeshua when the opportunity presented itself.
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37-100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews. Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
Delitzsch: Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890), Hebrew New Testament. Leipzig, 1877. Online. (Translation of the Greek text into biblical Hebrew.)
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. New Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, Inc., 1993. Also online.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online. [Baptist Bible scholar]
HELPS: The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. eds. Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
ISBE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Edited by James Orr. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1939. Online, 2011.
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
JVL: Death and Bereavement in Judaism. Jewish Virtual Library, American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 2008. Online.
Leman: Derek Leman, A New Look at the Old Testament. Mt. Olive Press, 2006.
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Revised and augmented by Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Matthews: Victor H. Matthews, Manners and Customs in the Bible. Rev. ed. Hendrickson Publishers, 1991.
Morris: Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1971. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
Neil: James Neil, Palestine Explored. James Nisbet & Co., 1882.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Plummer: Alfred Plummer (1841-1926), The Gospel According to St. John. Cambridge University Press, 1882. Online.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 1. Zondervan Pub. House, 1976.
Reinhartz: Adele Reinhartz, Annotations on "John," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Santala: Risto Santala, The Messiah in the New Testament in the Light of Rabbinical Writings. Trans. William Kinnaird. Keren Ahvah Meshihit, 1992. Online.
Schoenberg: Shira Schoenberg, Ancient Jewish History: The Sanhedrin. Jewish Virtual Library, nd. Online.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Strong: James Strong (1822-1894), Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (1890). Online.
TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.
Tenney: Merrill C. Tenney, John, Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 9. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp, 1989-1999.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
TLV: Messianic Jewish Family Bible: Tree of Life Version, Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society (2014). Online.
TWOT: Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 Vols. ed. R. Laird Harris. Moody Bible Institute, 1980.
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