11:14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died,
11:17 When 3 Jesus arrived, 4 he found that Lazarus 5 had been in the tomb four days already. 6
1 tn The phrase “a message” is not in the Greek text but is implied. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from context.
2 tn Grk “to him, saying”; the referent (Jesus) is specified in the translation for clarity.
3 tn Grk “Then when.”
4 tn Grk “came.”
5 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Lazarus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
6 tn Grk “he had already had four days in the tomb” (an idiom).
sn There is no description of the journey itself. The author simply states that when Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had been in the tomb four days already. He had died some time before this but probably not very long (cf. Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:6,10 who were buried immediately after they died, as was the common practice of the time). There is some later evidence (early 3rd century) of a rabbinic belief that the soul hovered near the body of the deceased for three days, hoping to be able to return to the body. But on the fourth day it saw the beginning of decomposition and finally departed (Leviticus Rabbah 18.1). If this belief is as old as the 1st century, it might suggest the significance of the four days: After this time, resurrection would be a first-order miracle, an unequivocal demonstration of the power of God. It is not certain if the tradition is this early, but it is suggestive. Certainly the author does not appear to attach any symbolic significance to the four days in the narrative.
7 tn Grk “And when.”
8 sn The purpose of the loud voice was probably to ensure that all in the crowd could hear (compare the purpose of the prayer of thanksgiving in vv. 41-42).
9 sn Many have wondered how Lazarus got out of the tomb if his hands and feet were still tied up with strips of cloth. The author does not tell, and with a miracle of this magnitude, this is not an important fact to know. If Lazarus’ decomposing body was brought back to life by the power of God, then it could certainly have been moved out of the tomb by that same power. Others have suggested that the legs were bound separately, which would remove the difficulty, but the account gives no indication of this. What may be of more significance for the author is the comparison which this picture naturally evokes with the resurrection of Jesus, where the graveclothes stayed in the tomb neatly folded (20:6-7). Jesus, unlike Lazarus, would never need graveclothes again.
10 tn Grk “and his face tied around with cloth.”
11 tn Grk “Loose him.”