John 11

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John 11
Papyrus 6 (John 11,45).JPG
John 11:45 in Papyrus 6, written about AD 350
BookGospel of John
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Order in the Christian part4

John 11 is the eleventh chapter of the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It records the raising of Lazarus from the dead, a miracle of Jesus Christ and subsequent development of the plot against Jesus.[1] The author of the book containing this chapter is anonymous, but early Christian tradition uniformly affirmed that John composed this Gospel.[2]


John 11:1–8
John 11:45
John 11:46–52
Fragments of Papyrus 6 (c. AD 350)

The original text was written in Koine Greek. This chapter is divided into 57 verses.

Textual witnesses

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are:


Events recorded in this chapter refer to the following locations:


Introduction of Lazarus (verse 1)

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (11:1)[4]

Chapter 10 ended with Jesus leaving Jerusalem as the Jews threatened to stone him, and travelling to the east of the river Jordan. The evangelist's introduction of Lazarus of Bethany at this point (John 11:1) leads to the discussion of whether Jesus should return to Judea (Jerusalem) in the face of the growing plot against Him. Mary and her sister Martha appear to have been better known than their brother Lazarus, as he is introduced by reference to them. Theologian Joseph Benson therefore suggests that "It is probable [that] Lazarus was younger than his sisters".[5] The sisters send messengers to Jesus, so his location cannot have been entirely secret, "firmly expect[ing] that he, who had cured so many strangers, would willingly come and give health to one whom he so tenderly loved".[6] The words of their message made reference only to Lazarus' sickness, leaving unexpressed, but "to be inferred, the consequent, therefore come to our help".[7] Johann Bengel notes that John often expects the reader to make such inferences, such as in John 2:3: "When they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto Him, 'They have no wine' [leaving the consequent unexpressed, but implied, Do Thou relieve them]".[7] Commentators generally[8] understand that the sisters expected Jesus would come to Bethany despite the personal danger to Himself, with which His disciples were more concerned (John 11:8), although Exclusive Brethren theologian John Nelson Darby notes that "He might have said the word, as in the case of the centurion, and of the sick child at the beginning of this Gospel (John 4:46–53)".[9]

Connecting the feet-anointing, Mary, and Lazarus (verse 2)

New Testament scholars have sought to explain how the story of Lazarus was probably composed.
(This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) (11:2)[10]

Verse John 11:2, which many translations put between parentheses,[11] is at the centre of much scholarly controversy.[12] New Testament scholars try to establish how John's narrative of the raising of Lazarus and the subsequent feet-anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany (John 11:112:11,17) was composed by seeking to explain its apparent relationships with the older textual traditions of the Synoptic Gospels (Mark, Matthew, and Luke). The author of John seems to have combined elements from several – apparently originally unrelated – stories into a single narrative. These include the unnamed woman's head-anointing of Jesus in Bethany (Mark 14, Matthew 26), the sinful woman's feet-anointing (and hair-wiping) of Jesus in Galilee (Luke 7; these first two may have a common origin, the Lukan account likely being derived from Mark), Jesus' visit to Martha and Mary in the unnamed Galilean village (Luke 10), Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16), and possibly others involving Jesus' miraculous raising of the dead (the raising of Jairus' daughter and the raising of the son of the widow of Nain). Meanwhile, other elements were removed or replaced; for example, Simon the Leper/Simon the Pharisee was replaced by Lazarus as the host of the feast in Jesus' honour, and Bethany in Judea was chosen as the setting, while most elements of John's narrative correspond to traditions that the Synoptics set in Galilee. Scholars pay particular attention to verse John 11:2 (and verse John 11:1), which may represent an effort by the author or a later redactor to stress a connection between these stories that is, however, not found in the older canonical gospels.[13][14][15][16] They further note that the actual anointing will not be narrated until verse John 12:3, and that neither Mary, nor Martha, nor the village of these sisters, nor any anointing is mentioned in the Gospel of John before this point, suggesting that the author (or redactor) assumes the readers already have knowledge of these characters, this location and this event, and wants to tell them that these were connected (which he apparently knew the readers did not commonly know/believe yet) long before giving the readers more details.[12][13] Elser and Piper (2006) posited that verse John 11:2 is evidence that the author of the Gospel of John deliberately mixed up several traditions in an 'audacious attempt (...) to rework the collective memory of the Christ-movement.' The author did not strive to give a historically accurate account of what had happened, but instead, for theological purposes, combined various existing narratives in order to construct Lazarus, Mary and Martha of Bethany as a prototypical Christian family, whose example is to be followed by Christians.[13]

Twelve hours in the day (verses 8–10)

In reply to the disciples' concerns about Jesus returning to Judea, where very recently (Greek: νῦν, nun), 'just now' (English Standard Version) or 'lately' (New King James Version) the Jews had wanted to stone Him, He answered:

"Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." (11:9–10)[17]

The νῦν shows that they had not been long in Perea, on the east of the Jordan.[18] "The Jews divided the day from sunrise to sunset into twelve equal parts".[19] Heinrich Meyer suggests that "the sense of the allegorical answer is this: 'The time appointed to me by God for working is not yet elapsed; as long as it lasts, no one can do anything to me; but when it shall have come to an end, I shall fall into the hands of my enemies, like him who walketh in the night, and who stumbleth, because he is without light'. In this way Jesus sets aside the anxiety of His disciples, on the one hand, by directing their attention to the fact that, as His time is not yet expired, He is safe from the apprehended dangers; and, on the other, by reminding them (John 11:10) that He must make use of the time apportioned to Him, before it come to an end".[20]

Location of Bethany (verse 18)

Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off[21]

The evangelist tells his readers where Bethany is in relation to Jerusalem: 15 furlongs or (Greek: 15 stadia) is about 2 miles (3.2 km). Some translations say "not quite two miles".[22] This Bethany is clearly distinguished from the Bethany beyond the Jordan where John the Baptist baptised, mentioned in John 1:28.[23]

Dialogue between Jesus and Martha (verses 20–27)

25Jesus said to her (Martha), "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live".
26"And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"[24]

In verse 27, "Martha expresses a complete faith in Jesus":[23]

"Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who was expected to come into the world."

This is the faith which the evangelist himself wants to promote",[23] and which is his sole purpose in composing his gospel: These miracles have been written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and so that you will have life by believing in him (John 20:31).

Jesus wept (verse 33–37)

Jesus wept.[25]

Raising of Lazarus (verse 38–44)

Plot to kill Jesus (verses 45–57)

Verses 45-57 enlarge upon the threat to kill Jesus which has been developing over several chapters: John 5:16-18 and 7:1 relate the Jews' intention to have him killed when an opportunity might arise; verses 8:59 and 10:31 indicate more impulsive action: "they took up stones ... to stone Him". According to verse 11:47, "the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council" (Greek: συνέδριον, synedrion or Sanhedrin). René Kieffer notes that "the main concern of the council is to avoid the destruction of the holy place (which at the time the evangelist wrote had already happened)".[23] Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, urges the council to sacrifice one man to save the whole nation, which says more than Caiaphas intended but not less than what the Gospel writer intended (dramatic irony).[26]

Jesus' withdrawal to Ephraim (verse 54)

Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples.[27]

The New King James Version and World English Bible call Ephraim a "city", whereas the New International Version and the New Living Translation call it a "village". Eusebius places Ephraim 8 miles (13 km) north-east of Jerusalem, whereas Jerome places it 20 miles (32 km) to the north-east; both make it the same as Ephron.[28]

See also


  1. ^ Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook: an Abbreviated Bible Commentary. 23rd edition. Zondervan Publishing House. 1962.
  2. ^ Holman Illustrated Bible Handbook. Holman Bible Publishers, Nashville, Tennessee. 2012.
  3. ^ Aland, Kurt; Aland, Barbara (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Erroll F. Rhodes (trans.). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-8028-4098-1.
  4. ^ John 11:1 NKJV
  5. ^ Benson Commentary on John 11, accessed 27 May 2016, cf. Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament on John 11, accessed 28 May 2016
  6. ^ Benson Commentary on John 11, accessed 27 May 2016
  7. ^ a b Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament on John 11, accessed 28 May 2016
  8. ^ e.g. Meyer, NT Commentary on John 11, accessed 28 May 2016
  9. ^ Darby's Bible Synopsis on John 11, accessed 28 May 2016
  10. ^ John 11:2 NIV
  11. ^ "John 11:2 translations comparison". Retrieved 13 January 2021.
  12. ^ a b "John 11:2 Commentaries". 2011. Retrieved 10 January 2021.
  13. ^ a b c Esler, Philip Francis; Piper, Ronald Allen (2006). Lazarus, Mary and Martha: Social-scientific Approaches to the Gospel of John. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. pp. 49–60. ISBN 9780800638306.
  14. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2006). Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 199. ISBN 9780199924127. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  15. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (1999). Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 189. ISBN 9780199839438.
  16. ^ Flader, John (2010). Question Time: 150 Questions and Answers on the Catholic Faith. Taylor Trade Publications. pp. 79–81. ISBN 978-1-58979594-5.
  17. ^ John 11:9−10 NKJV
  18. ^ Nicoll, W. R., Expositor's Greek Testament on John 11, accessed 29 May 2016
  19. ^ Barnes' Notes on the Bible on John 11, accessed 29 May 2016
  20. ^ Meyer, H., NT Commentary on John 11, accessed 28 May 2016
  21. ^ John 11:18 KJV
  22. ^ John 11:18: God's Word Translation and versions based on it
  23. ^ a b c d Kieffer, R., John in Barton, J. and Muddiman, J. (2001), The Oxford Bible Commentary, p. 981
  24. ^ John 11:25-26 NKJV
  25. ^ John 11:35 New King James Version.
  26. ^ Raymond E. Brown, John (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1966), 1:442
  27. ^ John 5:16-18: NKJV
  28. ^ Plummer, A. (1902), Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges on John 11, accessed 22 November 2020

External links

Preceded by
John 10
Chapters of the Bible
Gospel of John
Succeeded by
John 12
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