RPM, Volume 17, Number 51, December 13 to December 19, 2015

Barnes' New Testament Notes

Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical
Part 33

By Albert Barnes

Grand Rapids, Mich.:
Baker Book House, 1949.


Verse 1. A certain man was sick. The resurrection of Lazarus has been recorded only by John. Various reasons have been conjectured why the other evangelists did not mention so signal a miracle. The most probable is, that at the time they wrote Lazarus was still living. The miracle was well known, and yet to have recorded it might have exposed Lazarus to opposition and persecution from the Jews. See Joh 12:10,11. Besides, John wrote for Christians who were out of Palestine. The other gospels were written chiefly for those who were in Judea. There was the more need, therefore, that he should enter minutely into the account of the miracle, while the others did not deem it necessary or proper to record an event so well known.

Bethany. A village on the eastern declivity of the Mount of Olives. See Barnes "Mt 21:1".

The town of Mary. The place where she lived. At that place also lived Simon the leper (Mt 26:6), and there our Lord spent considerable part of his time when he was in Judea. The transaction recorded in this chapter occurred nearly four months after those mentioned in the previous chapter. Those occurred in December, and these at the approach of the Passover in April.

{a} "Mary, and her sister Martha" Lu 10:38,39


Verse 2. It was that Mary, &c. See Barnes "Mt 26:6, See Barnes "Lu 7:36, also on Lu 7:37-50

{b} "which anointed the Lord" Mr 14:3; Joh 12:3


Verse 3. Whom thou lovest, Joh 11:5. The members of this family were among the few peculiar and intimate friends of our Lord. He was much with them, and showed them marks of special friendship Lu 10:38-42, and they bestowed upon him peculiar proof of affection in return. This shows that special attachments are lawful for Christians, and that those friendships are peculiarly lovely which are tempered and sweetened with the spirit of Christ. Friendships should always be cemented by religion, and one main end of those attachments should be to aid one another in the great business of preparing to die.

Sent unto him. They believed that he had power to heal him (Joh 11:21), though they did not then seem to suppose that he could raise him if he died. Perhaps there were two reasons why they sent for him; one, because they supposed he would be desirous of seeing his friend; the other, because they supposed he could restore him. In sickness we should implore the aid and presence of Jesus. He only can restore us and our friends; he only can perform for us the office of a friend when all other friends fail; and he only can cheer us with the hope of a blessed resurrection.

{c} "whom thou lovest" Heb 12:6; Re 3:19


Verse 4. This sickness is not unto death. The word death here is equivalent to remaining render death, Ro 6:23: "The wages of sin is death"—-permanent or unchanging death, opposed to eternal life. Jesus evidently did not intend to deny that he would die. The words which he immediately adds show that he would expire, and that he would raise him up to show forth the power and glory of God. Comp. Joh 11:11. Those words cannot be understood on any other supposition than that he expected to raise him up. The Saviour often used expressions similar to this to fix the attention on what he was about to say in explanation. The sense may be thus expressed: "His sickness is not fatal. It is not designed for his death, but to furnish an opportunity for a signal display of the glory of God, and to furnish a standing proof of the truth of religion. It is intended to exhibit the power of the Son of God, and to be a proof at once of the truth of his mission; of his friendship for this family; of his mild, tender, peculiar love as a man; of his power and glory as the Messiah; and of the great doctrine that the dead will rise."

For the glory of God. That God may be honoured See Joh 9:3.

That the Son of God, &c. The glory of God and of his Son is the same. That which promotes the one promotes also the other. Few things could do it more than the miracle which follows, evincing at once the lovely and tender character of Jesus as a man and a friend, and his power as the equal with God.

{d} "for the glory of God" Joh 9:3; 11:40


Verse 5. No Barnes text on this verse.


Verse 6. He abode two days. Probably Lazarus died soon after the messengers left him. Jesus knew that (Joh 11:11) and did not hasten to Judea, but remained two days longer where he was, that there might not be the possibility of doubt that he was dead, so that when he came there he had been dead four days, Joh 11:39. This shows, moreover, that he intended to raise him up. If he had not, it could hardly be reconciled with friendship thus to remain, without any reason, away from an afflicted family.

Where he was. At Bethabara (Joh 1:28; 10:40), about 30 miles from Bethany. This was about a day's journey, and it renders it probable that Lazarus died soon after the message was sent. One day would be occupied before the message came to him; two days he remained; one day would be occupied by him in going to Bethany; so that Lazarus had been dead four days (Joh 11:39) when he arrived.


Verse 7. No Barnes text on this verse.


Verse 8. Of late. About four months before, Joh 10:31

{e} "of late" Joh 10:31

{f} "goest thou thither again" Ac 20:24


Verses 9,10. Twelve hours. The Jews divided and the day from sunrise to sunset into twelve equal parts. A similar illustration our Saviour uses in Joh 9:4,5. See Barnes "Joh 9:4".

If any man walk. If any man travels. The illustration here is taken from a traveller. The conversation was respecting a journey into Judea, and our Lord, as was his custom, took the illustration from the case before him.

He stumbleth not. He is able, having light, to make his journey safely. He sees the obstacles or dangers and can avoid them.

The light of this world. The light by which the world is illuminated —that is, the light of the sun.

In the night. In darkness he is unable to see danger or obstacles, and to avoid them. His journey is unsafe and perilous, or, in other words, it is not a proper time to travel.

No light in him. He sees no light. It is dark; his eyes admit no light within him to direct his way. This description is figurative, and it is difficult to fix the meaning. Probably the intention was the following:

1st. Jesus meant to say that there was an allotted or appointed time for him to live and do his Father's will, represented here by the twelve hours of the day.

2nd. Though his life was nearly spent, yet it was not entirely; a remnant of it was left.

3rd. A traveller journeyed on till night. It was as proper for him to travel the twelfth hour as any other.

4th. So it was proper for Jesus to labour until the close. It was the proper time for him to work. The night of death was coming, and no work could then be done.

5th. God would defend him in this until the appointed time of his death. He had nothing to fear, therefore, in Judea from the Jews, until it was the will of God that he should die. He was safe in his hand, and he went fearlessly into the midst of his foes, trusting in him. This passage teaches us that we should be diligent to the end of life; fearless of enemies when we that God requires us to labour, confidently committing ourselves to Him who is able to shield us, and in whose hand, if we have a conscience void of offence, we are safe.

{g} "any man walk in the day" Joh 12:35

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 10

Verse 10. No Barnes text on this verse.

{h} "walk in the night" Ec 2:14

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 11

Verse 11. Lazarus sleepeth. Is dead. The word sleep is applied to death,

1st. Because of the resemblance between them, as sleep is the "kinsman of death." In this sense it is often used by pagan writers. But,

2nd. In the Scriptures it is used to intimate that death will not be final: that there will be an awaking out of this sleep, or a resurrection. It is a beautiful and tender expression, removing all that is dreadful in death, and filling the mind with the idea of calm repose after a life of toil, with a reference to a future resurrection in increased rigour and renovated powers. In this sense it is applied in the Scriptures usually to the saints, 1 Co 11:30; 15:51; 1 Th 4:14; 5:10; Mt 9:24.

{i} "sleepeth" De 31:16; Ac 7:60; 1 Co 15:18,51

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 12

Verse 12. If he sleep, he shall do well. Sleep was regarded by the Jews, in sickness, as a favourable symptom; hence it was said among them, "Sleep in sickness is a sign of recovery, because it shows that the violence of the disease has abated" (Lightfoot.) This seems to have been the meaning of the disciples. They intimated that if had this symptom, there was no need of his going into Judea to restore him.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 13

Verse 13. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 14

Verse 14. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 15

Verse 15. I am glad, &c. The meaning of this verse may be thus expressed:

If I had been there during his sickness, the entreaties of his sisters and friends would have prevailed with me to restore him to health. I could not have refused them without appearing to be unkind. Though a restoration to health would have been a miracle, and sufficient to convince you, yet the miracle of raising him after four days dead will be far more impressive, and on that account I rejoice that an opportunity is thus given so strikingly to confirm your faith.

To the intent. To furnish you evidence on which you might be established in the belief that I am the Messiah.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Thomas, which is called Didymus. These names express the same thing. One is Hebrew and the other Greek. The name means a twin


Die with him. It has been much doubted by critics whether the word him refers to Lazarus or to Jesus. They who refer it to Lazarus suppose this to be the meaning: "Let us go and die, for what have we to hope for if Jesus returns into Judea? Lately they attempted to stone him, and now they will put him to death, and we also, like Lazarus, shall be dead."

This expression is supposed to be added by John to show the slowness with which Thomas believed, and his readiness to doubt without the fullest evidence. See Joh 20:25. Others suppose, probably more correctly, that it refers to Jesus: "He is about to throw himself into danger. The Jews lately sought his life, and will again. They will put him to death. But let us not forsake him. Let us attend him and die with him."

It may be remarked that this, not less than the other mode of interpretation, expresses the doubts of Thomas about the miracle which Jesus was about to work.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 17

Verse 17. In the grave. It was sometimes the custom to embalm the dead, but in this case it does not seem to have been done. He was probably buried soon after death.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 18

Verse 18. Nigh unto Jerusalem. This is added to show that it was easy for many of the Jews to come to the place. The news that Jesus was there, and the account of the miracle, would also be easily carried to the Sanhedrim.

Fifteen furlongs. Nearly two miles. It was directly east from Jerusalem. Dr. Thompson (The Land and the Book, vol. 2. p. 599) says of Bethany:

It took half an hour to walk over Olivet to Bethany this morning, and the distance from the city, therefore, must be about two miles. This agrees with what John says: 'Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off.' The village is small, and appears never to have been large, but it is pleasantly situated near the south-eastern base of the mount, and has many fine trees about and above it. We, of course, looked at the remains of those old edifices which may have been built in the age of Constantine, and repaired or changed to a convent in the time of the Crusades. By the dim light of a taper we also descended very cautiously, by twenty-five slippery steps, to the reputed sepulchre of Lazarus, or El Azariyeh, as both tomb and village are now called. But I have no description of it to give, and no questions about it to ask. It is a wretched cavern, every way unsatisfactory, and almost disgusting.

{1} "about fifteen furlongs" or "about two miles"

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 19

Verse 19. Many of the Jews. Probably their distant relatives or their friends.

To comfort. These visits of consolation were commonly extended to seven days (Grotius; Lightfoot).

{k} "comfort" 1 Ch 7:22; Job 2:11; 42:11; Ro 12:15; 1 Th 4:18

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 20

Verse 20. Then Martha, &c. To Martha was intrusted the management of the affairs of the family, Lu 10:40. It is probable that she first heard of his coming, and, without waiting to inform her sister, went immediately out to meet him. See Joh 11:28.

Sat still in the house. The word still is not in the original. It means that she remained sitting in the house. The common posture of grief among the Jews was that of sitting, Job 2:8; Eze 8:14. Often this grief was so excessive as to fix the person in astonishment, and render him immovable, or prevent his being affected by any external objects. It is possible that the evangelist meant to intimate this of Mary's grief. Comp. Ezr 9:3,4; Ne 1:4; Is 47:1.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 21

Verse 21. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Whatsoever thou wilt ask of God. Whatever is necessary to our consolation that thou will ask, thou canst obtain. It is possible that she meant gently to intimate that he could raise him up and restore him again to them.

{l} "whatsoever thou wilt ask" Joh 9:31

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 23

Verse 23. Thy brother shall rise again. Martha had spoken of the power of Jesus. He said nothing of himself in reply. It was not customary for him to speak of himself, unless it was demanded by necessity. It cannot be doubted that by rising again, here, Jesus referred to the act which he was about to perform; but as Martha understood it, referring to the future resurrection, it was full of consolation. The idea that departed friends shall rise to glory is one that fills the mind with joy, and one which we owe only to the religion of Christ.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 24

Verse 24. At the last day. The day of judgment. Of this Martha was fully convinced; but this was not all which she desired. She in this manner delicately hinted what she did not presume expressly to declare— her wish that Jesus might even now raise him up.

{m} "in the resurrection" Joh 5:29

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 25

Verse 25. I am the resurrection. I am the author or the cause of the resurrection. It so depends on my power and will, that it may be said that I am the resurrection itself. This is a most expressive way of saying that the whole doctrine of the resurrection came from him, and the whole power to effect it was his. In a similar manner he is said to be made of God unto us "wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctifcation, and redemption," 1 Co 1:30.

And the life. Joh 1:4. As the resurrection of all depends on him, he intimated that it was not indispensable that it should be deferred to the last day. He had power to do it now as well as then.

Though he were dead. Faith does not save from temporal death; but although the believer, as others, will die a temporal death, yet he will hereafter have life. Even if he dies, he shall hereafter live.

Shall he live. Shall be restored to life in the resurrection.

{n} "the resurrection" Joh 5:29

{o} "the life" Isa 38:16; Joh 14:6; 1 Jo 1:2

{p} "though he were dead" Job 19:26; Isa 26:19; Ro 4:17

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 26

Verse 26. Whosoever liveth. He had just spoken of the prospects of the pious dead. He now says that the same prospects are before the living who have like faith. Greek, "Every one living and believing on me."

Shall never die. As the dead, though dead, shall yet live, so the living shall have the same kind of life. They shall never come into eternal death. See Joh 6:50,51,54,58.

Greek, "shall by no means die forever."

Believest thou this? This question was doubtless asked because it implied that he was then able to raise up Lazarus, and because it was a proper time for her to test her own faith. The time of affliction is a favourable period to try ourselves to ascertain whether we have faith. If we still have confidence in God, if we look to him for comfort in such seasons, it is good evidence that we are his friends. He that loves God when he takes away his comforts, has the best evidence possible of true attachment to him.

{q} "whosoever" Joh 3:15; 4:14

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 27

Verse 27. Yea, Lord. this was a noble confession. It showed her full confidence in him as the Messiah, and her full belief that all that he said was true. See Mt 16:16.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 28

Verse 28. She went her way. Jesus probably directed her to go, though the evangelist has not recorded it, for she said to Mary, The Master calleth for thee.

Secretly. Privately. So that the others did not hear her. This was done, perhaps, to avoid confusion, or because it was probably that if they knew Jesus was coming they would have made opposition. Perhaps she doubted whether Jesus desired it to be known that he had come.

The Master is come. This appears to have been the appellation by which he was known to the family. It means literally, teacher, and was a title which he claimed for himself, "One is you Master, even Christ," Mt 22:8,10. The Syriac has it, "Our Master."

{r} "called Mary" Joh 21:7

{s} "The Master" Joh 13:13

{t} "calleth for thee" Mr 10:49

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 29

Verse 29. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 30

Verse 30. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 31

Verse 31. Saying, She goeth, unto the grave. Syriac, "They thought that she went to weep." They had not heard Martha call her. The first days of mourning among the Jews were observed with great solemnity and many ceremonies of grief.

{u} "The Jews" Joh 11:19

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 32

Verse 32. No Barnes text on this verse.

{v} "Lord, if thou" Joh 4:49; 11:21,37

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 33

Verse 33. He groaned in the spirit. The word rendered groaned, here, commonly denotes to be angry or indignant, or to reprove severely, denoting violent agitation of mind. Here it also evidently denotes violent agitation—not from anger, but from grief. He saw the sorrow of others, and he was also moved with sympathy and love. The word groan usually, with us, denotes an expression of internal sorrow by a peculiar sound. The word here, however, does not mean that utterance was given to the internal emotion, but that it was deep and agitating, though internal.

In the spirit. In the mind. See Ac 19:21: "Paul purposed in the spirit "—that is, in his mind, Mt 5:3.

Was troubled. Was affected with grief. Perhaps this expression denotes that his countenance was troubled, or gave indications of sorrow (Grotius).

{2} "was troubled" or, "he troubled himself"

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 34

Verse 34. Where have ye laid him? Jesus spoke as a man. In all this transaction he manifested the deep sympathies of a man; and though he who could raise the dead man up could also know where he was, yet he chose to lead them to the grave by inducing them to point the way, and hence he asked this question.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 35

Verse 35. Jesus wept. It has been remarked that this is the shortest verse in the Bible; but it is exceedingly important and tender. It shows the Lord Jesus as a friend, a tender friend, and evinces his character as a man. And from this we learn,

1st. That the most tender personal friendship is not inconsistent with the most pure religion. Piety binds stronger the ties of friendship, makes more tender the emotions of love, and seals and sanctifies the affections of friends.

2nd. It is right, it is natural, it is indispensable for the Christian to sympathize with others in their afflictions. Ro 12:15: "Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."

3rd. Sorrow at the death of friends is not improper. It is right to weep. It is the expression of nature, and religion does not forbid or condemn it. All that religion does in the case is to temper and chasten our grief; to teach us to mourn with submission to God; to weep without murmuring, and to seek to banish tears, not by hardening the heart or forgetting the friend, but by bringing the soul, made tender by grief, to receive the sweet influences of religion, and to find calmness and peace in the God of all consolation.

4th. We have here an instance of the tenderness of the character of Jesus. The same Saviour wept over Jerusalem, and felt deeply for poor dying sinners. To the same tender and compassionate Saviour Christians may now come (Heb 4:15); and to him the penitent sinner may also come, knowing that he will not cast him away.

{w} "wept" Isa 63:9; Lu 19:41; Heb 2:16,17

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 36

Verse 36. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 37

Verse 37. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 38

Verse 38. It was a cave. This was a common mode of burial. See Barnes "Mt 8:28".

A stone lay upon it. Over the mouth of the cave. See Mt 27:60.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 39

Verse 39. Four days. This proves that there could be no deception, for it could not have been a case of suspended animation. All these circumstances are mentioned to show that there was no imposture. Impostors do not mention minute circumstances like these. They deal in generals only. Every part of this narrative bears the marks of truth.

{y} "Take ye away the stone" Mr 16:3

{z} "by this time he stinketh" Ps 49:7,9; Ac 2:27

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 40

Verse 40. Said I not unto thee. This was implied in what he had said about the resurrection of her brother, Joh 11:23-25. There would be a manifestation of the glory of God in raising him up which she would be permitted, with all others, to behold.

The glory of God. The power and goodness displayed in the resurrection. It is probable that Martha did not really expect that Jesus would raise him up, but supposed that he went there merely to see the corpse. Hence, when he directed them to take away the stone, she suggested that by that time the body was offensive.

{a} "Said I not unto thee" Joh 11:4,23

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 41

Verse 41. Lifted up his eyes. In an attitude of prayer. See Lu 18:13; Mt 14:19.

I thank thee that thou hast heard me. It is possible that John has recorded only the sum or substance of the prayer on this occasion. The thanks which Jesus renders here are evidently in view of the fact that power had been committed to him to raise up Lazarus. On account of the people, and the signal proof which would be furnished of the truth of his mission, he expressed his thanks to God. In all his doings he recognized his union to the Father, and his dependence on him as Mediator.

{b} "Father" Joh 12:28-30

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 42

Verse 42. And I knew. "As for me. So far as I am concerned. I had no anxiety, no doubt as to myself, that I should always be heard; but the particular ground of gratitude is the benefit that will result to those who are witnesses." Jesus never prayed in vain. He never attempted to work a miracle in vain; and in all his miracles the ground of his joy was, not that he was to be praised or honoured, but that others were to be benefited and God glorified.

{b} "Father" Joh 12:28-30

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 43

Verse 43. A loud voice. Greek, "A great voice." Syriac, "A high voice." This was distinctly asserting his power. He uttered a distinct, audible voice, that there might be no suspicion of charm or incantation. The ancient magicians and jugglers performed their wonders by whispering and muttering. See Barnes "Isa 8:19".

Jesus spake openly and audibly, and asserted thus his power. So, also, in the day of judgment he will call the dead with a great sound of a trumpet, Mt 24:31; 1 Th 4:16.

Lazarus, come forth. Here we may remark,

1st. That Jesus did this by his own power.

2nd. The power of raising the dead is the highest of which we can conceive. The ancient heathen declared it to be even beyond the power of God. It implies not merely giving life to the deceased body, but the power of entering the world of spirits, of recalling the departed soul, and of reuniting it with the body. He that could do this must be omniscient as well as omnipotent; and if Jesus did it by his own power, it proves that he was divine.

3rd. This is a striking illustration of the general resurrection. In the same manner Jesus will raise all the dead. This miracle shows that it is possible; shows the way in which it will be done—by the voice of the Son of God; and demonstrates the certainty that he will do it. Oh how important it is that we be prepared for that moment when his voice shall be heard in our silent tombs, and he shall call us forth again to life!

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 44

Verse 44. He that was dead. The same man, body and soul.

Bound hand and foot. It is not certain whether the whole body and limbs were bound together, or each limb separately. When they embalmed a person, the whole body and limbs were swathed or bound together by strips of linen, involved around it to keep together the aromatics with which the body was embalmed. This is the condition of Egyptian mummies. See Ac 5:6. But it is not certain that this was always the mode. Perhaps the body was simply involved in a winding-sheet. The custom still exists in western Asia. No coffins being used, the body itself is more carefully and elaborately wrapped and swathed than is common or desirable where coffins are used. In this method the body is stretched out and the arms laid straight by the sides, after which the whole body, from head to foot, is wrapped round tightly in many folds of linen or cotton cloth; or, to be more precise, a great length of cloth is taken and rolled around the body until the whole is enveloped, and every part is covered with several folds of the cloth. The ends are then sewed, to keep the whole firm and compact; or else a narrow bandage is wound over the whole, forming, ultimately, the exterior surface. The body, when thus enfolded and swathed, retains the profile of the human form; but, as in the Egyptian mummies, the legs are not folded separately, but together; and the arms also are not distinguished, but confined to the sides in the general envelope. Hence it would be clearly impossible for a person thus treated to move his arms or legs, if restored to existence.

The word rendered "grave-clothes" denotes also the bands or clothes in which new-born infants are involved. He went forth, but his walking was impeded by the bands or clothes in which he was involved.

And his face, &c. This was a common thing when they buried their dead. See Joh 20:7. It is not known whether the whole face was covered in this manner, or only the forehead. In the Egyptian mummies it is only the forehead that is thus bound.

Loose him. Remove the bandages, so that he may walk freely. The effect of this miracle is said to have been that many believed on him. It may be remarked in regard to it that there could not be a more striking proof of the divine mission and power of Jesus. There could be here no possibility of deception.

1st. The friends of Lazarus believed him to be dead. In this they could not be deceived. There could have been among them no design to deceive.

2nd. He was four days dead. It could not be a case, therefore, of suspended animation.

3rd. Jesus was at a distance at the time of his death. There was, therefore, no agreement to attempt to impose on others.

4th. No higher power can be conceived than that of raising the dead.

5th. It was not possible to impose on his sisters, and to convince them that he was restored to life, if it was not really so.

6th. There were many present who were convinced also. God had so ordered it in his providence that to this miracle there should be many witnesses. There was no concealment, no jugglery, no secrecy. It was done publicly, in open day, and was witnessed by many who followed them to the grave, Joh 11:31.

7th. Others, who saw it, and did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, went and told it to the Pharisees. But they did not deny that Jesus had raised up Lazarus. They could not deny it. The very ground of their alarm—the very reason why they went—was that he had actually done it.

Nor did the Pharisees dare to call the fact in question. If they could have done it, they would. But it was not possible; for,

8th. Lazarus was yet alive (Joh 12:10), and the fact of his resurrection could not be denied. Every circumstance in this account is plain, simple, consistent, bearing all the marks of truth. But if Jesus performed this miracle his religion is true. God would not give such power to an impostor; and unless it can be proved that this account is false, the Christian religion must be from God.

{c} "he that was dead" 1 Ki 17:22; 2 Ki 4:34,35; Lu 7:14,15; Ac 20:9-12.

{d} "his face" Joh 20:7

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 45

Verse 45. No Barnes text on this verse.

{e} "and had seen" Joh 2:23; 10:41,42; 12:11,18

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 46

Verse 46. Some of them, &c. We see here the different effect which the word and works of God will have on different individuals. Some are converted and others are hardened; yet the evidence of this miracle was as clear to the one as the other. But they would not be convinced.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 47

Verse 47. A council. A meeting of the Sanhedrim, or great council of the nation. See Barnes "Mt 2:4".They claimed the right of regulating all the affairs of religion. See Barnes "Joh 1:19".

What do we? What measures are we taking to arrest the progress of his sentiments?

For this man doeth many miracles. If they admitted that he performed miracles, it was clear what they ought to do. They should have received him as the Messiah. It may be asked, If they really believed that he worked miracles, why did they not believe on him? To this it may be replied that they did not doubt that impostors might work miracles. See Mt 24:24. To this opinion they were led, probably, by the wonders which the magicians performed in Egypt (Exodus chapters 7 & 8), and by the passage in De 13:1. As they regarded the tendency of the doctrines of Jesus to draw off the people from the worship of God, and from keeping his law (Joh 9:16), they did not suppose themselves bound to follow him, even if he did work miracles.

{f} "gathered" Ps 2:2

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 48

Verse 48. All men. That is, all men among the Jews. The whole nation.

And the Romans shall come. They were then subject to the Romans—tributary and dependent. Whatever privileges they had they held at the will of the Roman emperor. They believed, or feigned to believe, that Jesus was intending to set up a temporal kingdom. As he claimed to be the Messiah, so they supposed, of course, that he designed to be a temporal prince, and they professed to believe that this claim was, in fact, hostility to the Roman emperor. They supposed that it would involve the nation in war if he was not arrested, and that the effect would be that they would be vanquished and destroyed. It was on this charge that they at last arraigned him before Pilate, Lu 23:2,3.

Will take away. This expression means to destroy, to ruin, to overthrow, Lu 8:12; Ac 6:13,14.

Our place. This probably refers to the temple, Ac 6:13,14. It was called "the place" by way of eminence, as being the chief or principal place on earth—being the seat of the peculiar worship of God. This place was utterly destroyed by the Romans. See Barnes Mt 24:1, and following.

And nation. The nation or people of the Jews.

{h} "all men" Joh 12:19

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 49

Verse 49. Caiaphas. See Barnes "Lu 3:2".

Being high-priest that same year. It is probable that the office of high-priest was at first for life, if there was no conduct that rendered the person unworthy the office. In that case the incumbent was removed. Thus Abiathar was removed by Solomon, 1 Ki 2:27. Subsequently the kings, and especially the conquerors of Judea, claimed and exercised the right of removing the high-priest at pleasure, so that, in the time of the Romans, the office was held but a short time. (See the Chronological Table at the end of this volume.) Caiaphas held the office about ten years.

Ye know nothing at all. That is, you know nothing respecting the subject under consideration. You are fools to hesitate about so plain a case. It is probable that there was a party, even in the Sanhedrim, that was secretly in favour of Jesus as the Messiah. Of that party Nicodemus was certainly one. See Joh 3:1; 7:50,51; 11:45; 12:42.

"Among the chief rulers, also, many believed on him," &c.

{i} "named Caiphas" Lu 3:3; Joh 18:14; Ac 1:6

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 50

Verse 50. It is expedient for us. It is better for us. Literally, "It is profitable for us."

That one man should die. Jesus they regarded as promoting sedition, and as exposing the nation, if he was successful, to the vengeance of the Romans, Joh 11:48. If he was put to death they supposed the people would be safe. This is all, doubtless, that he meant by his dying for the people. He did not himself intend to speak of his dying as an atonement or a sacrifice; but his words might also express that, and, though he was unconscious of it, he was expressing a real truth. In the sense in which he intended it there was no truth in the observation, nor occasion for it, but in the sense which the words might convey there was real and most important truth. It was expedient, it was infinitely desirable, that Jesus should die for that people, and for all others, to save them from perishing.

{k} "it is expedient" Lu 24:46

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 51

Verse 51. Not of himself. Though he uttered what proved to be a true prophecy, yet it was accomplished in a way which he did not intend. He had a wicked design. He was plotting murder and crime. Yet, wicked as he was, and little as he intended it, God so ordered it that he delivered a most precious truth respecting the atonement. Remark,

1st. God may fulfil the words of the wicked in a manner which they do not wish or intend.

2nd. He may make even their malice and wicked plots the very means of accomplishing his purposes. What they regard as the fulfillment of their plans God may make the fulfillment of his, yet so as directly to overthrow their designs, and prostrate them in ruin.

3rd. Sinners should tremble and be afraid when they lay plans against God, or seek to do unjustly to others.

Being high-priest that year. It is not to be supposed that Caiaphas was a true prophet, or was conscious of the meaning which John has affixed to his words; but his words express the truth about the atonement of Jesus, and John records it as a remarkable circumstance that the high-priest of the nation should unwittingly deliver a sentiment which turned out to be the truth about the death of Jesus. Great importance was attached to the opinion of the high-priest by the Jews, because it was by him that the judgment by Urim and Thummim was formerly declared in cases of importance and difficulty, Nu 27:21. It is not certain or probable that the high-priest ever was endowed with the gift of prophecy; but he sustained a high office, the authority of his name was great, and it was thence remarkable that he uttered a declaration which the result showed to be true, though not in the sense that he intended.

He prophesied. He uttered words which proved to be prophetic; or he expressed at that time a sentiment which turned out to be true. It does not mean that he was inspired, or that he deserved to be ranked among the true prophets; but his words were such that they accurately expressed a future event. The word prophecy is to be taken here not in the strict sense, but in a sense which is not uncommon in the sacred writers. Ac 21:9: "And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." See Barnes "Re 12:6"

See Barnes "1 Co 14:1, comp. See Barnes "Mt 26:68" See Barnes "Lu 22:64,

That Jesus should die. Die in the place of men, or as an atonement for sinners. This is evidently the meaning which John attaches to the words.

For that nation. For the Jews. As a sacrifice for their sins. In no other sense whatever could it be said that he died for them. His death, so far from saving them in the sense in which the high-priest understood it, was the very occasion of their destruction. They invoked the vengeance of God when they said, "His blood be on us and on our children" (Mt 27:25), and all these calamities came upon them because they would not come to him and be saved—that is, because they rejected him and put him to death, Mt 23:37-39

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 52

Verse 52. Should gather together in one. All his chosen among the Jews and Gentiles. See Joh 10:16.

The children of God. This is spoken not of those who were then Christians, but of all whom God should bring to him; all who would be, in the mercy of God, called, chosen, sanctified among all nations, Joh 10:16.

{l} "not for that nation only" Isa 49:6; Ro 3:29; 1 Jo 2:2

{m} "scattered abroad" Joh 10:16; Eph 2:14-17

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 53

Verse 53. They took counsel. The judgment of the high-priest silenced opposition, and they began to devise measures to put him to death without exciting tumult among the people. Comp. Mt 26:5.

{n} "they took counsel" Ps 109:4,5

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 54

Verse 54. No more openly. No more publicly, in the cities and towns. Jesus never exposed his life unnecessarily to hazard. Although the time of his death was determined in the counsel of God, yet this did not prevent his using proper means to preserve his life.

The wilderness. See Barnes "Mt 3:1".

A city called Ephraim. This was probably a small town in the tribe of Ephraim, about five miles west of Jericho.

{p} "Ephraim" 2 Sa 13:23; 2 Ch 13:19

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 55

Verse 55. Jews' passover. See Barnes "Mt 26:2, also Mt 26:3-17.

Its being called the Jews' Passover shows that John wrote this gospel among people who were not Jews, and to whom it was necessary, therefore to explain their customs.

To purify themselves. This purifying consisted in preparing themselves for the proper observation of the Passover, according to the commands of the law. If any were defiled in any manner by contact with the dead or by any other ceremonial uncleanness, they were required to take the prescribed measures for purification, Le 22:1-6. For want of this, great inconvenience was sometimes experienced. See 2 Ch 30:17,18. Different periods were necessary in order to be cleansed from ceremonial pollution. For example, one who had been polluted by the touch of a dead body, of a sepulchre, or by the bones of the dead, was sprinkled on the third and seventh days, by a clean person, with hyssop dipped in water mixed in the ashes of the red heifer. After washing his body and clothes he was then clean. These persons who went up before the Passover were doubtless those who had in some manner been ceremonially polluted.

{q} "the Jews' Passover" Joh 2:13; 5:1; 6:4

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 56

Verse 56. Will not come to the feast? They doubted whether he would come. On the one hand, it was required by law that all males should come. On the other, his coming was attended with great danger. This was the cause of their doubting. It was in this situation that our Saviour, like many of his followers, was called to act. Danger was on the one hand, and duty on the other. He chose, as all should, to do his duty, and leave the event with God. He preferred to do it, though he knew that death was to be the consequence; and we should not shrink, when we have reason to apprehend danger, persecution, or death, from an honest attempt to observe all the commandments of God.

{r} "Then sought they for Jesus" Joh 5:16,18; Joh 11:8

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 11 - Verse 57

Verse 57. No Barnes text on this verse.



Verse 1. Then Jesus came to Bethany. This was near to Jerusalem, and it was from this place that he made his triumphant entry into the city. See Barnes "Mt 21:1" and following.

{a} "Lazarus" Joh 11:1,43


Verses 2-8. See this passage explained See Barnes "Mt 26:3, also Mt 26:4-16.

Verse 2. A supper. At the house of Simon the leper, Mt 26:6.

Lazarus was, &c. The names of Martha and Lazarus are mentioned because it was not in their own house, but in that of Simon. Lazarus is particularly mentioned, since it was so remarkable that one who had been once dead should be enjoying again the endearments of friendship. This shows, also, that his resurrection was no illusion—that he was really restored to the blessings of life and friendship. Calmet thinks that this was about two months after his resurrection, and it is the last that we hear of him. How long he lived is unknown, nor is it recorded that he made any communication about the world of spirits. It is remarkable that none who have been restored to life from the dead have made any communications respecting that world. See Lu 16:31, and See Barnes "2 Co 12:4".

{b} "Martha served" Lu 10:38-42


Verse 3. No Barnes text on this verse.


Verse 4. Which should betray him. Greek, "who was to betray him" that is, who would do it.


Verse 5. Three hundred pence. About forty dollars, or £8, 10s.

And given to the poor. The avails or value of it given to the poor.


Verse 6. Had the bag. The word translated bag is compounded of two words, meaning "tongue," and "to keep or preserve." It was used to denote the bag in which musicians used to keep the tongues or reeds of their pipes when travelling. Hence it came to mean any bag or purse in which travellers put their money or their most precious articles. The disciples appear to have had such a bag or purse in common, in which they put whatever money they had, and which was designed especially for the poor, Lu 8:3; Mt 27:55; Ac 2:44.

The keeping of this, it seems, was intrusted to Judas; and it is remarkable that the only one among them who appears to have been naturally avaricious should have received this appointment. It shows us that every man is tried according to his native propensity. This is the object of trial—to bring out man's native character; and every man will find opportunity to do evil according to his native disposition, if he is inclined to it.

And bare, &c. The word translated bare means literally to carry as a burden. Then it means to carry away, as in Joh 20:15: "If thou hast borne him hence." Hence it means to carry away as a thief does, and this is evidently its meaning here. It has this sense often in classic writers. Judas was a thief, and stole what was put into the bag. The money he desired to be intrusted to him, that he might secretly enrich himself. It is clear, however, that the disciples did not at this time know that this was his character, or they would have remonstrated against him. They learned it afterward. We may learn here,

1st. That it is not a new thing for members of the church to be covetous. Judas was so before them.

2nd. That such members will be those who complain of the great waste in spreading the gospel.

3rd. That this deadly, mean, and grovelling passion will work all evil in a church. It brought down the curse of God on the children of Israel in the case of Achan (Jos 7:1), and it betrayed our Lord to death. It has often since brought blighting on the church; and many a time it has betrayed the cause of Christ, and drowned men in destruction and perdition, 1 Ti 6:9.

{d} "he was a thief" 2 Ki 5:20-27; Ps 50:18

{e} "had the bag" Joh 13:29


Verse 7. No Barnes text on this verse.


Verse 8. No Barnes text on this verse.

{f} "For the poor" De 15:11; Mt 26:11; Mr 14:7

{g} "me you have not" So 5:6; Joh 8:21; 12:35; 13:33; 16:5-7


Verse 9. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 10

Verse 10. That they might put Lazarus also to death. When men are determined not to believe the gospel, there is no end to the crimes to which they are driven. Lazarus was alive, and the evidence of his resurrection was so clear that they could not resist it. They could neither deny it, nor prevent its effect on the people. As it was determined to kill Jesus, so they consulted about the propriety of removing Lazarus first, that the number of his followers might be lessened, and that the death of Jesus might make less commotion. Unbelief stops at no crime. Lazarus was innocent; they could bring no charge against him; but they deliberately plotted murder rather than believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

{h} "put Lazarus to death" Mt 21:8; Mr 11:8; Lu 19:36

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 11

Verse 11. No Barnes text on this verse.

{i} "that by reason" Joh 11:45; 12:18

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 12

Verses 12-19. See this passage explained in See Barnes "Mt 21:1, also Mt 21:2-16, also See Barnes "Mr 11:1, Mr 11:2-11, See Barnes "Lu 19:29, also Lu 19:30-44.

{k} "the next day" Mt 21:8; Mr 11:8; Lu 19:36

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 13

Verse 13. No Barnes text on this verse.

{l} "Hosanah" Ps 118:25,26

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 14

Verse 14. No Barnes text on this verse.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 15

Verse 15. No Barnes text on this verse.

{m} "Fear not" Zec 9:9

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 16

Verse 16.

Was glorified. Was raised from the dead, and had ascended to heaven.

{n} "These things" Lu 18:34

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 17

Verse 17. Bare record. Testified that he had raised him, and, as was natural, spread the report through the city. This excited much attention, and the people came out in multitudes to me one who had power to work such miracles.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 18

Verse 18. No Barnes text on this verse.

{q} "For this cause" Joh 12:11

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 19

Verse 19. Prevail nothing. All your efforts are ineffectual to stop the progress of his opinions, and to prevent the people from believing on him.

The world. As we should say, "Everybody—all the city has gone out." The fact that he met with such success induced them to hasten their design of putting him to death, Joh 11:53.

{r} "Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing" Joh 11:47,48

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 20

Verse 20. Certain Greeks. In the original, "some Hellenists"— the name commonly given to the Greeks. The same name was commonly used by the Jews to denote all the pagan nations, because most of those whom they knew spoke the Greek language, Joh 7:34; Ro 1:16; 2:9,10; 3:9

"Jews and Greeks." The Syriac translates this place, "Some of the Gentiles." There are three opinions in regard to these persons:

1st. That they were Jews who spoke the Greek language, and dwelt in some of the Greek cities. It is known that Jews were scattered in Asia Minor, Greece, Macedonia, Egypt, &c., in all which places they had synagogues. See Barnes "Joh 7:35".

2nd. That they were proselytes from the Greeks.

3rd. That they were still Gentiles and idolaters, who came to bring offerings to Jehovah to be deposited in the temple. Lightfoot has shown that the surrounding pagans were accustomed not only to send presents, sacrifices, and offerings to the temple, but that they also frequently attended the great feasts of the Jews. Hence the outer court of the temple was called the court of the Gentiles. Which of these opinions is the correct one cannot be determined.

{s} "certain Greeks" Ac 17:4; Ro 1:16

{t} "them that came up" 1 Ki 8:41,42

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 21

Verse 21. Bethsaida of Galilee. See Barnes "Joh 1:44".

Would see Jesus. It is probable that the word see, here, implies also a desire to converse with him, or to hear his doctrine about the nature of his kingdom. They had seen or heard of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and, either by curiosity or a desire to be instructed, they came and interceded with his disciples that they might be permitted to see him. In this there was nothing wrong. Christ made the curiosity of Zaccheus the means of his conversion, Lu 19:1-9. If we wish to find the Saviour, we must seek for him and take the proper means.

{u} "to Philip" Joh 1:44

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 22

Verse 22. Telleth Andrew. Why he did not at once tell Jesus is not known. Possibly he was doubtful whether Jesus would wish to converse with Gentiles, and chose to consult with Andrew about it.

Tell Jesus. Whether the Greeks were with them cannot be determined. From the following discourse it would seem probable that they were, or at least that Jesus admitted them to his presence and delivered the discourse to them.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 23

Verse 21. The hour is come. The time is come. The word hour commonly means a definite part or a division of a day; but it also is used to denote a brief period, and a fixed, definite, determined time. It is used in this sense here. The appointed, fixed time is come—that is, is so near at hand that it may be said to be come.

The Son of man. This is the favourite title which Jesus gives to himself, denoting his union with man, and the interest he felt in his welfare. The title is used here rather than "The Son of God," because as a man he had been humble, poor, and despised; but the time had come when, as a man, he was to receive the appropriate honours of the Messiah.

Be glorified. Be honoured in an appropriate way—that is, by the testimony which God would give to him at his death, by his resurrection, and by his ascension to glory. See Joh 7:39.

{v} "The hour is come" Joh 13:32; 17:1

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 24

Verse 24. Verily, verily. An expression denoting the great importance of what he was about to say. We cannot but admire the wisdom by which he introduces the subject of his death. They had seen his triumph. They supposed that he was about to establish his kingdom. He told them that the time had come in which he was to be glorified, but not in the manner in which they expected. It was to be by his death. But as they would not at once see how this could be, as it would appear to dash their hopes, he takes occasion to illustrate it by a beautiful comparison. All the beauty and richness of the harvest results from the fact that the grain had died. If it had not died it would never have germinated or produced the glory of the yellow harvest. So with him. By this he still keeps before them the truth that he was to be glorified, but he delicately and beautifully introduces the idea still that he must die.

A corn. A grain.

Of wheat. Any kind of grain —wheat, barley, &c. The word includes all grain of this kind.

Into the ground. Be buried in the earth, so as to be accessible by the proper moisture.

And die The whole body or substance of the grain, except the germ, dies in the earth or is decomposed, and this decomposed substance constitutes the first nourishment of the tender germ—a nutriment wonderfully adapted to it, and fitted to nourish it until it becomes vigorous enough to derive its support entirely from the ground. In this God has shown his wisdom and goodness. No one thing could be more evidently fitted for another than this provision made in the grain itself for the future wants of the tender germ.

Abideth alone. Produces no fruit. It remains without producing the rich and beautiful harvest. So Jesus intimates that it was only by his death that he would be glorified in the salvation of men, and in the honours and rewards of heaven, Heb 2:9: "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour." Php 2:8,9: "He humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; wherefore God also hath highly exalted him," Heb 12:2: "Who, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." See also Eph 1:20-23.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 25

Verse 25. He that loveth his life, &c. This was a favorite principle, a sort of axiom with the Lord Jesus, which he applied to himself as well as to his followers. See Barnes "Mt 10:39".

See Barnes "Lu 9:24".

{x} "loveth his life" Mt 10:39; 16:25; Mr 8:35; Lu 9:24; 17:33

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 26

Verse 26. Serve me. Will be my disciple, or will be a Christian. Perhaps this was said to inform the Greeks (Joh 12:20) of the nature of his religion.

Let him follow me. Let him imitate me; do what I do, bear what I bear, and love what I love. He is discoursing here particularly of his own sufferings and death, and this passage has reference, therefore, to calamity and persecution.

You see me triumph—you see me enter Jerusalem, and you supposed that my kingdom was to be set up without opposition or calamity; but it is not. I am to die; and if you will serve me, you must follow me even in these scenes of calamity; be willing to endure trial and to bear shame, looking for future reward.

Where I am. See Joh 14:3; 17:24. That is, he shall be in heaven, where the Son of God then was in his divine nature, and where he would be as the glorified Messiah. See Barnes "Joh 3:13".

The natural and obvious meaning of the expression "I am" implies that he was then in heaven. The design of this verse is to comfort them in the midst of persecution and trial. They were to follow him to any calamity; but, as he was to be glorified as the result of his sufferings, so they also were to look for their reward in the kingdom of heaven, Re 3:21: "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne."

{y} "If any man serve" Lu 6:46; Joh 14:15; 1 Jo 5:3

{z} "Where I am" Joh 14:3; 17:24; 1 Th 4:17

{a} "if any man serve" 1 Sa 2:30; Pr 27:18

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 27

Verse 27. Now is my soul troubled. The mention of his death brought before him its approaching horrors, its pains, its darkness, its unparalleled woes. Jesus was full of acute sensibility, and his human nature shrunk from the scenes through which he was to pass. See Lu 23:41-44.

What shall I say? This is an expression denoting intense anxiety and perplexity. As if it were a subject of debate whether he could bear those sufferings; or whether the work of man's redemption should be abandoned, and he should call upon God to save him. Blessed be his name that he was willing to endure these sorrows, and did not forsake man when he was so near being redeemed! On the decision of that moment—the fixed and unwavering purpose of the Son of God — depended man's salvation. If Jesus had forsaken his purpose then, all would have been lost.

Father, save me. This ought undoubtedly to have been read as a question—"Shall I say, Father, save me?" Shall I apply to God to rescue me? or shall I go forward to bear these trials ? As it is in our translation, it represents him as actually offering the prayer, and then checking himself. The Greek will bear either interpretation. The whole verse is full of deep feeling and anxiety. Comp. Mt 26:38 Lu 12:50.

This hour. These calamities. The word hour, here, doubtless has reference to his approaching sufferings—the appointed hour for him to suffer. Shall I ask my Father to save me from this hour —that is, from these approaching sufferings? That it might have been done, see Mt 26:53.

But for this cause

. That is, to suffer and die. As this was the design of his coming—as he did it deliberately—as the salvation of the world depended on it, he felt that it would not be proper to pray to be delivered from it. He came to suffer, and he submitted to it. See Lu 23:42.

{c} "but for this reason" Joh 18:37

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 28

Verse 28. Glorify thy name. The meaning of this expression in this connection is this: "I am willing to bear any trials; I will not shrink from any sufferings. Let thy name be honoured. Let thy character, wisdom, goodness, and plans of mercy be manifested and promoted, whatever sufferings it may cost me." Thus Jesus showed us that God's glory is to be the great end of our conduct, and that we are to seek that, whatever sufferings it may cost us.

I have both glorified it. The word it is not here in the original, but it is not improperly supplied by the translators. There can be no doubt that when God says here that he had glorified his name, he refers to what had been done by Christ, and that this was to be understood as an attestation that he attended him and approved his work. See Joh 12:30. He had honoured his name, or had glorified him, by the pure instructions which he had given to man through him; by the power displayed in his miracles; by proclaiming his mercy through him; by appointing him to be the Messiah, &c.

Will glorify it again. By the death, the resurrection, and ascension of his Son, and by extending the blessings of the gospel among all nations. It was thus that he sustained his Son in view of approaching trials; and we may learn,

1st. That God will minister grace to us in the prospect of suffering.

2nd. That the fact that God will be honoured by our afflictions should make us willing to bear them.

3rd. That whatever was done by Christ tended to honour the name of God. This was what he had in view. He lived and suffered, not for himself, but to glorify God in the salvation of men.

{d} "a voice" Mt 3:17

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 29

Verse 29. The people. A part of the people.

It thundered. The unexpected sound of the voice would confound and amaze them; and though there is no reason to doubt that the words were spoken distinctly (Mt 3:17), yet some of the people, either from amazement or envy, would suppose that this was a mere natural phenomenon.

An angel spake. It was the opinion of many of the Jews that God did not speak to men except by the ministry of angels, Heb 2:2: "The word spoken by angels;" Ga 3:19: "It was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator."

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 30

Verse 30. Came not because of me. Not to strengthen or confirm me; not that I had any doubts about my course, or any apprehension that God would not approve me and glorify his name.

For your sakes. To give you a striking and indubitable proof that I am the Messiah; that you may remember it when I am departed, and be yourselves comforted, supported, and saved.

{e} "but for your sakes" Joh 11:42

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 31

Verse 31. Now is the judgment of this world. Greek, "crisis." This expression, doubtless, has reference to his approaching death, and whatever he means by judgment here relates to something that was to be accomplished by that death. It cannot mean that then was to be the time in which the world was to be finally judged, for he says that he did not come then to judge the world (Joh 12:47; 8:15), and he has clearly declared that there shall be a future day when he will judge all mankind. The meaning of it may be thus expressed:

Now is approaching the decisive scene, the eventful period—the crisis—when it shall be determined who shall rule this world. There has been a long conflict between the powers of light and darkness— between God and the devil. Satan has so effectually ruled that he may be said to be the prince of this world; but my approaching death will destroy his kingdom, will break down his power, and will be the means of setting up the kingdom of God over man.

The death of Christ was to be the most grand and effectual of all means that could be used to establish the authority of the law and the government of God, Ro 8:3,4. This it did by showing the regard which God had for his law; by showing his hatred of sin, and presenting the strongest motives to induce man to leave the service of Satan; by securing the influences of the Holy Spirit, and by his putting forth his own direct power in the cause of virtue and of God. The death of Jesus was the determining cause, the grand crisis, the concentration of all that God had ever done, or ever will do, to break down the kingdom of Satan, and set up his power over man. Thus was fulfilled the prediction (Ge 3:15), "I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

Now shall the prince of this world. Satan, or the devil, Joh 14:30; 16:11. He is also called the god of this world, 2 Co 4:4; Eph 6:12: "The rulers of the darkness of this world "—that is, the rulers of this dark world—a well-known Hebraism. He is also called "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience," Eph 2:2. All these names are given him from the influence or power which he has over the men of this world, because the great mass of men have been under his control and subject to his will.

Be cast out. His kingdom shall be destroyed; his empire shall come to an end. It does not mean that his reign over all men would entirely cease then, but that then would be the crisis, the grand conflict in which he would be vanquished, and from that time his kingdom begin to decline, until it would finally cease, and then be free altogether from his dominion. See Lu 10:18; Col 1:18-20; Ac 26:18; 1 Co 15:25,26; Re 20:14.

{f} "the prince of this world" Lu 10:18; Joh 16:11; Ac 26:18; Eph 2:2

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 32

Verse 32. Be lifted up. See Joh 3:14; 8:28.

Will draw. Joh 6:44. The same word is used in both places.

All men. I will incline all kinds of men; or will make the way open by the cross, so that all men may come. I will provide a way which shall present a strong motive or inducement—the strongest that can be presented—to all men to come to me.

{g} "lifted up" Joh 8:28

{h} "will draw all men" Ro 5:18

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 33

Verse 33. No Barnes text on this verse.

{i} "signifying what death" Ro 5:18

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 34

Verse 34. We have heard out of the law. Out of the Old Testament; or rather we have been so taught by those who have interpreted the law to us.

That Christ. That the Messiah.

Abideth for ever. Will remain for ever, or will live for ever. The doctrine of many of them certainly was that the Messiah would not die; that he would reign as a prince for ever over the people. This opinion was founded on such passages of Scripture as these: Ps 110:4, "Thou art a priest for ever;" Da 2:44; 8:13,14.

In the interpretation of these passages they had overlooked such places as Isa 53:1-12; nor did they understand how the fact that he would reign for ever could be reconciled with the idea of his death. To us, who understand that his reign does not refer to a temporal, an earthly kingdom, it is easy.

How sayest thou, &c. We have understood by the title "the Son of man" the same as the Messiah, and that he is to reign for ever. How can he be put to death?

Who is this Son of man? "The Son of man we understand to be the Messiah spoken of by Daniel, who is to reign for ever. To him, therefore, you cannot refer when you say that he must be lifted up, or must die. Who is it—what other Son of man is referred to but the Messiah? Either ignorantly or wilfully, they supposed he referred to some one else than the Messiah.

{k} "We have heard" Ps 89:36,37; 110:4; Isa 9:7

{l} "out of the law" Ro 5:18; Ps 72:17-19

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 35

Verse 35. Yet a little while is the light with you. Jesus did not reply directly to may their question. He saw that they were offended by the mention of his death, and he endeavoured to arrive at the same thing indirectly. He tells them, therefore, that the light would be with them a little while, and that they ought to improve the opportunity while they had it to listen to his instructions, to inquire with candour, and thus to forsake their false notions respecting the Messiah.

The light. Joh 1:4. It is probable that they understood this as denoting the Messiah. See Joh 8:12 "I am the light of the world;" Joh 9:4

Walk, &c. Joh 11:9. Whatever you have to do, do it while you enjoy this light. Make good use of your privileges before they are removed. That is, while the Messiah is with you, avail yourselves of his instructions and learn the way to life.

Lest darkness. Lest God should take away all your mercies, remove all light and instruction from you, and leave you to ignorance, blindness, and woe. This was true that darkness and calamity were to come upon the Jewish people when the Messiah was removed; and it is also true that God leaves a sinner to darkness and misery when he has long rejected the gospel.

For he, &c. See Joh 11:10.

{m} "the light" Joh 8:32

{n} "with you" Jer 13:16

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 36

Verse 36. While ye have light. This implied two things:

1st. That he was the light, or was the Messiah.

2nd. That he was soon to be taken away by death. In this manner he answered their question—not directly, but in a way to convey the truth to their minds, and at the same time to administer to them a useful admonition. Jesus never aroused the prejudices of men unnecessarily, yet he never shrank from declaring to them the truth in some way, however unpalatable it might be.

Believe in the light. That is, in the Messiah, who is the light of the world.

That ye may be the children, &c. That ye may the friends and followers of the Messiah. See Barnes "Mt 1:1".

Comp. Joh 8:12 Eph 5:8: "Now are ye light in the Lord; walk as children of light."

Did hide himself from them. Joh 8:59. He went out to Bethany, where he commonly passed the night, Lu 21:37.

{p} "be the children of light" Eph 5:8

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 37

Verse 37. So many miracles. This does not refer to any miracles wrought on this occasion, but to all his miracles wrought in view of the nation, in healing the sick, opening the eyes of the blind, raising the dead, &c. John here gives the summary or the result of all his works. Though Jesus had given the most undeniable proof of his being the Messiah, yet the nation did not believe on him.

Before them. Before the Jewish nation. Not in the presence of the people whom he was then addressing, but before the Jewish people.

They believed not. The Jewish nation did not believe as a nation, but rejected him.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 38

Verse 38. The saying The word of Isaiah, or that which Isaiah predicted. This occurs in Isa 53:1.

Might be fulfilled. That the same effect should occur which occurred in the time of Isaiah. This does not mean that the Pharisees rejected Christ in order that the prophecy of Isaiah should be fulfilled, but that by their rejection of him the same thing had occurred which took place in the time of Isaiah. His message was despised by the nation, and he himself put to death. And it was also true—by the same causes, by the same nation—that the same gospel message was rejected by the Jews in the time of Christ. The same language of the prophet would express both events, and no doubt it was intended by the Holy Spirit to mark both events. In this Way it was completely fulfilled. See Barnes on "Is 53:1".

Our report. Literally, by report is meant "what is heard." Our speech, our message. That is, few or none have received the message. The form of the question is an emphatic way of saying that it was rejected.

The arm of the Lord. The arm is a symbol of power, as it is the instrument by which we execute our purposes. It is put for the power of God, Isa 51:9; 52:10. Thus he is said to have brought out the children of Israel from Egypt with a high arm—that is, with great power. It hence means God's power in defending his people, in overcoming his enemies, and in saving the soul. In this place it clearly denotes the power displayed by the miracles of Christ.

Revealed. Made known, seen, understood. Though the power of God was displayed, yet the people did not see and understand it.

{q} "Lord, who hath believed our report" Isa 53:3

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 39

Verse 39. They could not believe. See Mr 6:5. "He could there do no mighty works," &c. The words can and could are often used in the Bible to denote the existence of such obstacles as to make a result certain, or as affirming that while one thing exists another thing cannot follow. Thus, Joh 5:44: "How can ye believe which receive honour one of another." That is, while this propensity to seek for honour exists, it will effectually prevent your believing. Thus (Ge 37:4) it is said of the brethren of Joseph that they "could not speak peaceably unto him." That is, while their hatred continued so strong, the other result would follow. See also Mt 12:34; Ro 8:7; Joh 6:60; Am 3:3.

In this case it means that there was some obstacle or difficulty that made it certain that while it existed they would not believe. What that was is stated in the next verse; and while that blindness of mind and that hardness of heart existed, it was impossible that they should believe, for the two things were incompatible. But this determines nothing about their power of removing that blindness, or of yielding their heart to the gospel. It simply affirms that while one exists the other cannot follow. Chrysostom and Augustine understand this of a moral inability, and not of any natural want of power. "They could not, because they would not" (Chrysostom in loco). So on Jer 13:23, "Can the Ethiopian change his skin," &c., he says, "he does not say it is impossible for a wicked man to do well, but, BECAUSE they will not, therefore they cannot." Augustine says on this place: "If I be asked why they could not believe, I answer without hesitation, because they would not: because God foresaw their evil will, and he announced it beforehand by the prophet."

Said again, Isa 6:9,10.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 40

Verse 40. He hath blinded their eyes. The expression in Isaiah is, "Go, make the heart of this people fat, and shut their eyes." That is, go and proclaim truth to them—truth that will result in blinding their eyes. Go and proclaim the law and the will of God, and the effect will be, owing to the hardness of their heart, that their eyes will be blinded and their hearts hardened. As God knew that this would be the result—as it was to be the effect of the message, his commanding Isaiah to go and proclaim it was the same in effect, or in the result, as if he had commanded him to blind their eyes and harden their hearts. It is this effect or result to which the evangelist refers in this place. He states that God did it—that is, he did it in the manner mentioned in Isaiah, for we are limited to that in our interpretation of the passage. In that case it is clear that the mode specified is not a direct agency on the part of God in blinding the mind—which we cannot reconcile with any just notions of the divine character—but in suffering the truth to produce a regular effect on sinful minds, without putting forth any positive supernatural influence to prevent it. The effect of truth on such minds is to irritate, to enrage, and to harden, unless counteracted by the grace of God. See Ro 7:8,9,11; 2 Co 2:15-16.

And as God knew this, and, knowing it, still sent the message, and suffered it to produce the regular effect, the evangelist says "he hath blinded their minds," thus retaining the substance of the passage in Isaiah without quoting the precise language; but in proclaiming the truth there was nothing wrong on the part of God or of Isaiah, nor is there any indication that God was unwilling that they should believe and be saved.

That they should not see, &c. This does not mean that it was the design of God that they should not be converted, but that it was the effect of their rejecting the message.

See Barnes "Mt 13:14, See Barnes "Mt 13:15".

{r} "hath blinded" Isa 6:9,10

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 41

Verse 41. When he saw his glory, Isa 6:1-10. Isaiah saw the LORD (in Hebrew, JEHOVAH) sitting on a throne and surrounded with the seraphim. This is perhaps the only instance in the Bible in which Jehovah is said to have been seen by man, and for this the Jews affirm that Isaiah was put to death. God had said (Ex 33:20), "No man shall see me and live;" and as Isaiah affirmed that he had seen Jehovah, the Jews, for that and other reasons, put him to death by sawing him asunder. See Barnes "Is 1:1".

In the prophecy Isaiah is said expressly to have seen JEHOVAH (Isa 6:1); and in Isa 6:5, "Mine eyes have seen the King JEHOVAH of hosts." By his glory is meant the manifestation of him—the shechinah, or visible cloud that was a representation of God, and that rested over the mercy-seat. This was regarded as equivalent to seeing God, and John here expressly applies this to the Lord Jesus Christ; for he is not affirming that the people did not believe in God, but is assigning the reason why they believed not on Jesus Christ as the Messiah. The whole discourse has respect to the Lord Jesus, and the natural construction of the passage requires us to refer it to him. John affirms that it was the glory of the Messiah that Isaiah saw, and yet Isaiah affirms that it was JEHOVAH; and from this the inference is irresistible that John regarded Jesus as the Jehovah whom Isaiah saw. The name Jehovah is never, in the Scriptures, applied to a man, or an angel, or to any creature. It is the peculiar, incommunicable name of God. So great was the reverence of the Jews for that name that they would not even pronounce it. This passage is therefore conclusive proof that Christ is equal with the Father.

Spake of him. Of the Messiah. The connection requires this interpretation.

{s} "Said Esias when he saw his glory" Isa 6:3

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 42

Verse 42. The chief rulers. Members of the Sanhedrim — Nicodemus, Joseph, and others like them.

Because of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a majority of the council.

Put out of the synagogue. Excommunicated. See Barnes "Joh 9:22,23".

{t} "because of the Pharisees" Joh 9:22

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 43

Verse 43. The praise of men. The approbation of men. It does not appear that they had a living, active faith, but that they were convinced in their understanding that he was the Messiah. They had that kind of faith which is so common among men—a speculative acknowledgment that religion is true, but an acknowledgment which leads to no self-denial, which shrinks from the active duties of piety, and fears man more than God. True faith is active. It overcomes the fear of man; it prompts to self-denying duties, Heb 11:1. Nevertheless, it was no unimportant proof that Jesus was the Messiah, that any part of the great council of the Jews were even speculatively convinced of it: and it shows that the evidence could not have been slight when it overcame their prejudices and pride, and constrained them to admit that the lowly and poor man of Nazareth was the long- expected Messiah of their nation.

Did not confess him. Did not openly avow their belief that he was the Messiah. Two of them, however, did afterward evince their attachment to him. These were Joseph and Nicodemus, Joh 19:38,39. That Joseph was one of them appears from Mr 15:43; Lu 23:50,51.

{u} "For they loved the praise" Joh 5:44; Ro 2:29

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 44

Verse 44. Jesus cried and said. John does not say where or when this was; it is probable, however, that it was a continuation of the discourse recorded in Joh 12:30-36. Jesus saw their unbelief, and proceeded to state the consequence of believing on him, and of rejecting him and his message.

Believeth not on me. That is, not on me alone, or his faith does not terminate on me. Comp. Mt 10:20; Mr 9:37. It involves, also, belief in him that sent me. Jesus uniformly represents the union between himself and God as so intimate that there could not be faith in him unless there was also faith in God. He did the same works (Joh 5:17-20,36; 10:25,37), and taught the very doctrine which God had commissioned him to do, Joh 8:38; 5:30,20-23.

{v} "He that believeth" Joh 1:5; 3:19

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 45

Verse 45. Seeth me. This verse is a strong confirmation of his equality with god. In no other way can it be true that he who saw Jesus saw him that sent him, unless he were the same in essence. Of no man could it be affirmed that he who saw him saw God. To say this of Paul or Isaiah would have been blasphemy. And yet Jesus uses this language familiarly and constantly. It shows that he had a consciousness that he was divine and that it was the natural and proper way of speaking when speaking of himself.

Comp. Joh 5:17

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 46

Verse 46. A light unto the world. Joh 13:12; 1:9; 3:19.

Walk in darkness. In gross and dangerous errors. Darkness is put for error as well as for sin Joh 3:19; 1 Jo 1:5. It is also used to denote the state when the comforts of religion are withdrawn from the soul Isa 8:22; Joe 2:2; Is 59:9; Joh 8:12.

{w} "I am come a light" Joh 1:5; 3:19

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 47

Verse 47. I judge him not, &c. Joh 8:15. It was not his present purpose to condemn men. He would come to condemn the guilty at a future time. At present he came to save them. hence he did not now even pronounce decisively on the condition of those who rejected him, but still gave them an opportunity to be saved.

{x} "for I came not to judge the world" Joh 3:17

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 48

Verse 48. He that rejecteth me. Lu 10:16. The word reject means to despise, or to refuse to receive him.

Hath one. That is, he needs not my voice to condemn him. He will carry his own condemnation with him, even should I be silent. His own conscience will condemn him. The words which I have spoken will be remembered and will condemn him, if there were nothing farther. From this we learn,

1st. That a guilty conscience needs no accuser.

2nd. That the words of Christ, and the messages of mercy which the sinner has rejected, will be remembered by him.

3rd. That this will be the source of his condemnation. This will make him miserable, and there will be no possibility of his being happy.

4th. That the conscience of the sinner will concur with the sentence of Christ in the great day, and that he will go to eternity self-condemned. It is this which will make the pains of hell so intolerable to the sinner.

5th. The word that Christ has spoken, the doctrines of his gospel, and the messages of mercy, will be that by which the sinner will be judged in the last day. Every man will be judged by that message, and the sinner will be punished according to the frequency and clearness with which the rejected message has been presented to his mind, Mt 12:41.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 49

Verse 49. Of myself. Joh 7:16-18

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN - Chapter 12 - Verse 50

Verse 50. Is life everlasting. Is the cause or source of everlasting life. He that obeys the commandment of God shall obtain everlasting life; and this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his only-begotten Son, 1 Jo 3:22. We see here the reason of the earnestness and fidelity of the Lord Jesus. It was because he saw that eternal life depended on the faithful preaching of the message of God. He therefore proclaimed it in the face of all opposition, contempt, and persecution. And we see also,

1st. That every minister of religion should have a deep and abiding conviction that he delivers a message that is to be connected with the eternal welfare of his hearers. And,

2nd. Under the influence of this belief, he should fearlessly deliver his message in the face of bonds, poverty, contempt, persecution, and death.

It may not be improper to remark here that this is the close of the public preaching of Christ. The rest of his ministry was employed in the private instruction of his apostles, and in preparing them for his approaching death. It is such a close as all his ministers should desire to make—a solemn, deliberate, firm exhibition of the truth of God, under a belief that on it was depending the eternal salvation of his hearers, and uttering without fear the solemn message of the Most High to a lost world.

{z} "his commandments" 1 Jo 3:22

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