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John 11:37-50

11:37 But some of them said, “This is the man who caused the blind man to see! 1  Couldn’t he have done something to keep Lazarus 2  from dying?”

Lazarus Raised from the Dead

11:38 Jesus, intensely moved 3  again, came to the tomb. (Now it was a cave, and a stone was placed across it.) 4  11:39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” 5  Martha, the sister of the deceased, 6  replied, “Lord, by this time the body will have a bad smell, 7  because he has been buried 8  four days.” 9  11:40 Jesus responded, 10  “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you would see the glory of God?” 11:41 So they took away 11  the stone. Jesus looked upward 12  and said, “Father, I thank you that you have listened to me. 13  11:42 I knew that you always listen to me, 14  but I said this 15  for the sake of the crowd standing around here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 11:43 When 16  he had said this, he shouted in a loud voice, 17  “Lazarus, come out!” 11:44 The one who had died came out, his feet and hands tied up with strips of cloth, 18  and a cloth wrapped around his face. 19  Jesus said to them, “Unwrap him 20  and let him go.”

The Response of the Jewish Leaders

11:45 Then many of the people, 21  who had come with Mary and had seen the things Jesus 22  did, believed in him. 11:46 But some of them went to the Pharisees 23  and reported to them 24  what Jesus had done. 11:47 So the chief priests and the Pharisees 25  called the council 26  together and said, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many miraculous signs. 11:48 If we allow him to go on in this way, 27  everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away our sanctuary 28  and our nation.”

11:49 Then one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said, 29  “You know nothing at all! 11:50 You do not realize 30  that it is more to your advantage to have one man 31  die for the people than for the whole nation to perish.” 32 

1 tn Grk “who opened the eyes of the blind man” (“opening the eyes” is an idiom referring to restoration of sight).

2 tn Grk “this one”; the second half of 11:37 reads Grk “Could not this one who opened the eyes of the blind have done something to keep this one from dying?” In the Greek text the repetition of “this one” in 11:37b referring to two different persons (first Jesus, second Lazarus) could confuse a modern reader. Thus the first reference, to Jesus, has been translated as “he” to refer back to the beginning of v. 37, where the reference to “the man who caused the blind man to see” is clearly a reference to Jesus. The second reference, to Lazarus, has been specified (“Lazarus”) in the translation for clarity.

3 tn Or (perhaps) “Jesus was deeply indignant.”

4 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

5 tn Or “Remove the stone.”

6 tn Grk “the sister of the one who had died.”

7 tn Grk “already he stinks.”

8 tn Or “been there” (in the tomb – see John 11:17).

9 sn He has been buried four days. Although all the details of the miracle itself are not given, those details which are mentioned are important. The statement made by Martha is extremely significant for understanding what actually took place. There is no doubt that Lazarus had really died, because the decomposition of his body had already begun to take place, since he had been dead for four days.

10 tn Grk “Jesus said to her.”

11 tn Or “they removed.”

12 tn Grk “lifted up his eyes above.”

13 tn Or “that you have heard me.”

14 tn Grk “that you always hear me.”

15 tn The word “this” is not in the Greek text. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context.

16 tn Grk “And when.”

17 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).

18 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.

19 tn Grk “and his face tied around with cloth.”

20 tn Grk “Loose him.”

21 tn Or “the Judeans”; Grk “the Jews.” Here the phrase refers to the friends, acquaintances, and relatives of Lazarus or his sisters who had come to mourn, since the Jewish religious authorities are specifically mentioned as a separate group in John 11:46-47. See also the notes on the phrase “the Jewish leaders” in v. 8 and “the Jewish people of the region” in v. 19, as well as the notes on the word “people” in vv. 31, 33 and the phrase “people who had come to mourn” in v. 36.

22 tn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

23 sn See the note on Pharisees in 1:24.

24 tn Grk “told them.”

25 tn The phrase “chief priests and Pharisees” is a comprehensive name for the groups represented in the ruling council (the Sanhedrin) as in John 7:45; 18:3; Acts 5:22, 26.

26 tn Or “Sanhedrin” (the Sanhedrin was the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews). The συνέδριον (sunedrion) which they gathered was probably an informal meeting rather than the official Sanhedrin. This is the only occurrence of the word συνέδριον in the Gospel of John, and the only anarthrous singular use in the NT. There are other plural anarthrous uses which have the general meaning “councils.” The fact that Caiaphas in 11:49 is referred to as “one of them” supports the unofficial nature of the meeting; in the official Sanhedrin he, being high priest that year, would have presided over the assembly. Thus it appears that an informal council was called to discuss what to do about Jesus and his activities.

27 tn Grk “If we let him do thus.”

28 tn Or “holy place”; Grk “our place” (a reference to the temple in Jerusalem).

29 tn Grk “said to them.” The indirect object αὐτοῖς (autois) has not been translated for stylistic reasons.

30 tn Or “you are not considering.”

31 tn Although it is possible to argue that ἄνθρωπος (anqrwpo") should be translated “person” here since it is not necessarily masculinity that is in view in Caiaphas’ statement, “man” was retained in the translation because in 11:47 “this man” (οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρωπος, outo" Jo anqrwpo") has as its referent a specific individual, Jesus, and it was felt this connection should be maintained.

32 sn In his own mind Caiaphas was no doubt giving voice to a common-sense statement of political expediency. Yet he was unconsciously echoing a saying of Jesus himself (cf. Mark 10:45). Caiaphas was right; the death of Jesus would save the nation from destruction. Yet Caiaphas could not suspect that Jesus would die, not in place of the political nation Israel, but on behalf of the true people of God; and he would save them, not from physical destruction, but from eternal destruction (cf. 3:16-17). The understanding of Caiaphas’ words in a sense that Caiaphas could not possibly have imagined at the time he uttered them serves as a clear example of the way in which the author understood that words and actions could be invested retrospectively with a meaning not consciously intended or understood by those present at the time.

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