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John 11


The Death of Lazarus The Death of Lazarus The Raising of Lazarus The Death of Lazarus The Resurrection of Lazarus
11:1-16 11:1-16 11:1-6 11:1-4 11:1-4
      11:5-7 11:5-10
Jesus The Resurrection and the Life I Am the Resurrection and The Life   Jesus the Resurrection and the Life  
11:17-27 11:17-27 11:17-27 11:17-19 11:17-27
Jesus Weeps Jesus and Death, the Last Enemy   Jesus Weeps  
11:28-37 11:28-37 11:28-37 11:28-31 11:28-31
      11:32 11:32-42
Lazarus Brought to Life Lazarus Raised from the Dead   Lazarus Is Brought to Life  
11:38-44 11:38-44 11:38-44 11:38-39a  
The Plot to Kill Jesus The Plot to Kill Jesus   The Plot Against Jesus The Jewish Leaders Decide on the Death of Jesus
11:45-53 11:45-57 11:45-53 11:45-48 11:45-54
11:54   11:54   The Passover Draws Near
11:55-57   11:55-57 11:55-57 11:55-57



This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five modern translations. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.


The theological significance of chapter 11 is:

1. The display of Jesus' power and authority continues.

2. Lazarus' death is in the plan of God to provide an opportunity for Jesus to be glorified (cf. John 9:3).

3. Martha's dialog with Jesus provides an opportunity for her great confession and Jesus' further revelation of Himself (i.e., the resurrection and the life, John 11:25).

4. Jesus gives eternal life now (realized eschatology). This is symbolized in the raising of Lazarus. Jesus had control over death!

5. Even in the face of this powerful miracle, unbelief continues (i.e. the unpardonable sin, see Special Topic at John 5:21)!



  1Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3So the sisters sent word to Him, saying, "Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick." 4But when Jesus heard this, He said, "This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it." 5Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6So when He heard that he was sick, He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was. 7Then after this He said to the disciples, "Let us go to Judea again." 8The disciples said to Him, "Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone You, and are You going there again?" 9Jesus 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. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." 11This He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, so that I may awaken him out of sleep." 12The disciples then said to Him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." 13Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. 14So Jesus then said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, 15and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him. " 16Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, so that we may die with Him."

11:1 "a certain man was sick" This is imperfect tense. This implies that he had been sick for a long period of time. However, the imperfect tense can be interpreted as "began to be sick."

▣ "Lazarus" This is the Hebrew name "Eleazer," which means "God helps" or "God is helper." John assumed that the readers knew of Jesus' friendship with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus (cf. Luke 10:38-42, which is the only mention of them in the Synoptic Gospels).

▣ "Bethany" This is a different location from the Bethany mentioned in John 1:28 and 10:40, which was close to Jericho by the Jordan River. This Bethany is about two miles southeast of Jerusalem on the same ridge as the Mt. of Olives. This was Jesus' favorite lodging place while in Jerusalem.

▣ "Mary" This is the Hebrew name "Miriam."

▣ "Martha" This is the Aramaic term for "mistress." It is unusual that Martha, the oldest, is not mentioned first; may relate to Luke 10:38-42.

11:2 "It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair" Verse 2 is another editorial addition by John (i.e., TEV, NET). This account of Mary's devotion (cf. John 12:2-8) is paralleled in both Matthew (cf. John 26:6-13) and Mark (cf. John 14:3-9). The woman mentioned in a similar anointing in Luke 7:36ff is a different woman.

This verse describes an event that has not yet been recorded in the Gospel. It is recorded in chapter 12. Many assume this implies that John expected his readers to know about this family from other sources.


11:3 "the sisters sent word to Him" They sent a message to Jesus, who was in Perea, across the Jordan.

▣ "he whom You love, is sick" This shows Jesus' unique relationship with this family. This is the Greek term, phileō. However, in Koine Greek, the terms phileō and agapaō are interchangeable (cf. John 11:5; 3:35; 5:20).

11:4 "This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God" This implies that Jesus knew that Lazarus was sick. He would allow him to die so that the Father could show His power through Him by raising him from the dead. Sickness and suffering are sometimes in the will of God (cf. John 9:3; the book of Job; 2 Cor 12:7-10).

▣ "the glory of God" The works of Jesus reveal the "glory of God." See note at John 1:14.

▣ "that the Son of God may be glorified by it" The genitive phrase "of God" is not in the ancient Greek papyri manuscripts P45 or P66. The sickness would bring glory to both the Father and the Son. Jesus' glory in this setting is very different than one would expect. Throughout the Gospel John the term has referred to Jesus' crucifixion and His glorification. Lazarus' resuscitation will cause the Jewish leadership to call for Jesus' death.

11:5 Another editorial comment by John (cf. John 11:36).

11:6 "He stayed then two days longer in the place where He was" Jesus delayed until Lazarus was dead! Jesus did not play favorites. There was a divine purpose in this illness (cf. John 11:15; 9:3).

11:7 "after this He said to the disciples, 'Let us go to Judea again'" The discussion that follows shows that the disciples were well aware that the Jews wanted to stone Jesus (cf. John 11:8; 8:54; 10:31,39). The disciples show a strange mixture of both faith and fear (cf. John 11:16). Thomas is often thought of as a doubtful disciple, but here he was willing to die with Jesus (cf. John 11:16).

Michael Magill, NT TransLine (p. 345 #43) makes a good observation that the "let's go" of John 11:7 is modified to the "but I go" of John 11:11. The disciples were afraid and doubtful, but Jesus was confident. It is Thomas who joins with Jesus (let's go) in John 11:16!

11:9-10 This may be a way of linking the chapter back to chapter 8:12 and 9:4-5 (cf. John 12:35). Verse 9a expects a "yes" answer.

There is an obvious contrast between those who are following God's will (i.e., Jesus) and those who are not (John 11:10, the Jews). Jesus is not making a mistake in going where God leads Him, because He is the light of the world!

This contrast between light and dark was characteristic of Jewish Wisdom Literature and the writings of Qumran (i.e., "The Scroll of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness" or "War of the Sons of Light against the Sons of Darkness").

▣ "If. . .if" These are both third class conditional sentences which meant potential action.

11:11 "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep" The verb is Perfect passive indicative. The disciples often misunderstood Jesus because they took Him too literally (cf. John 11:13). Jesus' use of this metaphor for death reflects its OT usage (cf. Deut. 31:16; 2 Sam. 7:12; 1 Kgs. 1:21; 2:10; 11:21,43; 14:20, etc.). The English term "cemetery" comes from the same root as the Greek term "sleep."

11:12 "if" This is a first class conditional sentence which was assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes.

▣ "he will recover" This is literally the term "saved" in its OT usage as "physical deliverance" (cf. James 5:15). Again the disciples misunderstood Jesus because they took His metaphorical language (i.e., sleep) literally. This misunderstanding of Jesus' hearers is a characteristic of John's Gospel (i.e., John 11:23-24). He is from above - they are from below. Without the help of the Spirit (ie. Pentecost), they cannot understand!

11:13 This is another editorial comment by John.

11:14 "Jesus said to them plainly" See Special Topic: Parrhēsia at John 7:4.

11:15 "and I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe" Jesus asserts that the raising of Lazarus was not because of His friendship with Lazarus or because of the grieving of Mary and Martha, but to (1) enhance both the disciples' faith (v.14) and to (2) encourage the faith of the Jewish crowd (John 11:42). Faith is a process in John. Sometimes it develops (i.e., disciples, cf. John 2:11), sometimes not (i.e., the bystanders, cf. John 8:31-59).

11:16 This verse clearly shows Thomas' faith. He was willing to die with Jesus. The disciples needed to be shown Jesus' power over death, the great fear of mankind.

The name Thomas reflects the Aramaic word for "twin" (another editorial comment), as Didymus does in Greek. The Synoptics list him as an Apostle (cf. Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15); the Gospel of John speaks of him often (cf. John 11:16; 14:5; 20:24-29; 21:2). See Special Topic: Chart of the Apostles' Names at John 1:45.

 17So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off; 19and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. 20Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21Martha then said to Jesus, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You." 23Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." 25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?" 27She said to Him, "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world."

11:17 "he had already been in the tomb for four days" The rabbis said that the human spirit stayed close to the physical body for three days. Jesus tarried until after four days to assure that Lazarus was truly dead and beyond all rabbinical hope.

11:18 "about two miles" Verse 18 is another editorial comment by John. Literally this is "fifteen furlongs."

11:19 "many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary" This is an uncharacteristic neutral use of the term "the Jews," which usually in John refers to Jesus' enemies. However, in this context, it refers simply to the residents of Jerusalem who knew this family (cf. John 11:31,33,45). Jesus loved the people of Jerusalem and was trying to reach them through Lazarus' resuscitation.

11:20 "Mary stayed at the house" The usual position for Jewish mourning was sitting on the floor.


11:21,32 "Martha said. . .if You had been here, my brother would not have died" This is a second class conditional sentence which is called "contrary to fact." It would therefore be understood as , "If you had been here with us, which you were not, my brother would not have died, which he did." Martha and Mary's statements (cf. John 11:32) to Jesus are exactly alike. They must have discussed this subject often during these four days of mourning. These two women felt comfortable enough with Jesus to express to Him their veiled disappointment that He had not come earlier.

11:22 "Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You" It is uncertain exactly what Martha was asking Jesus to do, because in John 11:39 she was surprised at the resuscitation of Lazarus.

11:23-24 "Your brother will rise again" Martha had the same theological view of an afterlife as the Pharisees, who believed in a bodily resurrection on the last day. There is some limited OT Scriptural evidence for this view (cf. Dan. 12:2; Job 14:14; 19:25-27). Jesus turns this Jewish understanding into an affirmation of His power and authority (cf. John 11:25; 14:6).

11:24 "on the last day" Although it is true that John emphasizes the immediacy of salvation (realized eschatology), he still expects an end-time consummation. This is expressed in several ways.

1. a judgment/resurrection day (cf. John 5:28-29; 6:39-40,44,54; 11:24; 12:48)

2. "hour" (cf. John 4:23; 5:25,28; 16:32)

3. a second coming of Christ (cf. John 14:3; it is possible that 14:18-19,28 and 16:16,22 refer to Jesus' post-resurrection appearances and not to an eschatological coming)


11:25 "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life'" This is another of Jesus' seven "I Am" statements. In the face of Lazarus' death, Martha was encouraged to believe that he would live. This hope is rooted in the person and power of the Father and of Jesus (cf. John 5:21). See note at John 8:12.

Surprisingly an early papyrus manuscript (i.e., P45) and some Old Latin, Syrian versions, and the Diatessaron omit the words "and the life." The UBS3 gives their inclusion a "B" rating, but the UBS4 gives their inclusion an "A" rating (certain).

11:26 "everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die" There are several significant syntactical features of this text.

1. the universal pronoun "all"

2. the present participles, which show the need for ongoing belief (John 11:25, 26)

3. the strong double negative connected with death, "shall never, no never die," which obviously refers to spiritual death.

In John eternal life is a present reality for believers, not only some future event. Lazarus is meant to illustrate Jesus' words! For John, eternal life is a present reality.

11:27 "Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world" This is stated in perfect tense. This is a powerful confession of her personal faith in Jesus as the promised Messiah. It is theologically equivalent to Peter's confession at Caesarea (cf. Matthew 16).

She uses several different titles to express her faith.

1. the Christ (which was the Greek translation of Messiah, the Anointed One)

2. the Son of God (an OT title of the Messiah)

3. He who comes (another OT title of God's promised one to bring the new age of righteousness, cf. John 6:14)

John uses dialogue as a literary technique to convey truth. There are several confessions of faith in Jesus in John's Gospel (cf. John 1:29,34,41,49; 4:42; 6:14,69; 9:35-38; 11:27). See Special Topic: John's Use of Believe at John 2:23.

  28When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him.

11:28 "Teacher" The NASB Study Bible (p. 1540) has a great comment, "a significant description to be given by a woman. The rabbis would not teach women (cf. John 4:27), but Jesus taught them frequently."


  30Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was still in the place where Martha met Him. 31Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and consoling her, when they saw that Mary got up quickly and went out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died." 33When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled, 34and said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to Him, "Lord, come and see." 35Jesus wept. 36So the Jews were saying, "See how He loved him!" 37But some of them said, "Could not this man, who opened the eyes of the blind man, have kept this man also from dying?"

11:30 This is another eyewitness detail of the Apostolic author.


NASB"He was deeply moved in spirit and was troubled"
NKJV"He groaned in the spirit and was troubled"
NRSV"He was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved"
TEV"His heart was touched, and he was deeply moved"
NJB"Jesus was greatly distressed, and with a profound sigh"

This is literally "snorted in the spirit." This idiom was usually used of anger (cf. Dan. 11:30 [LXX]; Mark 1:43; 14:5). But in this context a translation showing deep emotion is to be preferred (cf. John 11:38). Although some commentators see this strong emotion, possibly anger, directed at death, Jesus had truly human emotions (cf. John 11:33,35,36,38) and shows them here for his friends.

11:35 "Jesus wept" This is the shortest verse in the Bible. Death was not God's will for this planet. It is the result of human rebellion. Jesus feels the pain of the loss of a loved one. He feels for the life experiences of all His followers!

The weeping of Jesus was a quiet, personal kind, not the public wailing mentioned in John 11:33.

11:37 This question expects a "yes" answer. This was Martha's opinion in John 11:21 and Mary's in John 11:32.

  38So Jesus, again being deeply moved within, came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39Jesus said, "Remove the stone." Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, "Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days." 40Jesus said to her, "Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God? 41So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me." 43When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth. 44The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."

11:38 "a cave" During this period in Palestine graves were either

1. natural caves (Baba Bathra 6:8)

2. caves dug into cliffs and sealed with circular stones rolled into trenches

3. pits dug into the ground and covered by large stones

From archaeological studies in the Jerusalem area option #1 fits best.

11:39 "Remove the stone" A large stone slipped into a groove was the method used to seal tombs from robbers and animals.

▣ "he has been dead four days" This is a Greek idiom, literally "a four day man."

11:40 "if" This is a third class conditional sentence which means the action is possible. This verse is a question that expects a "yes" answer.

▣ "the glory of God" God's glory was revealed in Jesus' actions (cf. John 11:4). See fuller note at John 1:14.

11:41 "Then Jesus raised His eyes" The normal posture of Jewish prayer was the hands and eyes (open) lifted to heaven. This is an idiom for prayer (cf. John 17:1).

▣ "that You heard Me" Jesus "hears" the Father (cf. John 8:26,40; 15:15) and the Father "hears" Him. Those who "hear" Jesus have eternal life. This is the continuing word play on "see" and "hear" as parallel to "receive" (John 1:12) and "believe" (John 3:16). Lazarus "heard" the voice of Jesus and came back to life.

11:42 This states the purpose of Jesus' prayer and miracle. Jesus often performed miracles to encourage the faith of the disciples, and in this case initiate faith in the Jews from Jerusalem.

Theologically Jesus again magnifies the Father's authority and priority in His works (cf. John 5:19,30; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10). This miracle reveals Jesus' intimate relationship with the Father. See Special Topic: Send (Apostellō) at John 5:24.

11:43 "He cried out with a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come forth'" It has been said that if Jesus had not specifically mentioned Lazarus, the whole graveyard would have come forth!

11:44 Bodies were prepared for burial by washing with water, then wrapping with strips of linen cloth interspersed with spices that helped with the odor. Corpses had to be buried within twenty-four hours because the Jews did not embalm their dead.


  45Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done, believed in Him. 46But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.

11:45 "Therefore many of the Jews. . .believed in Him" This is the stated theme of the Gospel (cf. John 20:30-31). This phrase becomes a pattern (cf. John 2:23; 7:31; 8:30; 10:42; 11:45; 12:11,42). However, it must be restated that faith in John's Gospel has several levels and is not always saving faith (cf. John 2:23-25; 8:30ff). See Special Topic at John 2:23.

11:46 "some of them went to the Pharisees, and told them the things which Jesus had done" It is amazing the degree of spiritual blindness in the face of such marvelous teaching and powerful miracles. However, Jesus divides all groups into those who come to trust Him and those who reject the truth about Him. Even a powerful miracle like this does not bring belief (cf. Luke 16:30-31).

 47Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, "What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." 49But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, 50nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish." 51Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.

11:47 "the chief priests and the Pharisees, convened a council" This refers to the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of the Jews in Jerusalem. It had 70 local members. The high priests were of the political, religious persuasion known as the Sadducees, who accepted only the writings of Moses and denied the resurrection. The Pharisees were the more popular, legalistic religious group that affirmed (1) the entire OT; (2) the ministry of angels; (3) and the afterlife. It is amazing that these two antagonistic groups would combine for any purpose. See SPECIAL TOPIC: PHARISEES at John 1:24. See Special Topic: The Sanhedrin at John 3:1.

▣ "For this man is performing many signs" The reference to Jesus as "this man" is a derogatory way of not mentioning His name. It is also amazing that in the presence of such great miracles, like the raising of Lazarus, that their preconceived bias had blinded their eyes so completely (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4).

11:48 "If" This is a third class conditional sentence which means potential action.

▣ "all men will believe in Him" Jealousy as well as theological disagreement was the source of their distrust and fear of Jesus. The "all" may have referred even to the Samaritans and Gentiles (cf. John 10:16). There was also a political aspect to their fear (i.e., Roman control).

▣ "the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation" This is one of those ironic prophecies of John's Gospel, for this was fulfilled literally in a.d. 70 under the Roman general (later Emperor) Titus.

The political reality of Roman domination was an integral part of Jewish end-time (eschatological) hope. They believed that God would send a religious/military figure, like the Judges of the OT, to physically deliver them from Rome. Several Messianic pretenders started rebellions in Palestine to accomplish this very expectation.

Jesus claimed that His kingdom was not a temporal/political reign (cf. John 18:36), but a spiritual reign that would be consummated globally in the future (i.e., revelation). He claimed to fulfill the OT prophecies, but not in a literal, Jewish, nationalistic sense. For this He was rejected by most Jews of His day.

11:49 "Caiaphas, who was the high priest that year" The high priesthood was meant to be a lifelong position passed on to one's children (cf. Exodus 28), but after the Romans became the conquerors, it was sold to the highest bidder because of the lucrative trade available on the Mount of Olives and in the temple area. Caiaphas was high priest from a.d. 18-36 (son-in-law of Annas, High Priest from a.d. 6-15).

11:50-52 This is another example of John's irony. Caiaphas preaches the gospel!

11:50 "one man should die for the people" The OT background for this is the Jewish view of "corporality." One person (good or bad) could affect the whole (i.e., Adam/Eve; Achan). This concept came to be an underpinning of the sacrificial system, especially the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16), where one innocent animal bore the sin of the nation. This becomes the Messianic concept behind Isaiah 53. In the NT the Adam/Christ typology of Rom. 5:12-21 reflects this concept.


NET"that Jesus was going to die"
REB"that Jesus would die"
NRSV"that Jesus was about to die"
NJB"that Jesus was to die"

The NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 326, has a good comment about the theological use of the verb mellō ("must," "to have to," "to be certain") when used of God's will for Christ's redemptive work.

1. Mark 10:32

2. Matthew17:22

3. Luke 9:31,44; 24:21; Acts 26:23

4. John 7:39; 11:51; 12:33; 14:22; 18:32

It is also used of the necessity of Judas' betrayal

1. Luke 22:23

2. John 6:71; 12:4

Luke, in Acts, uses it for prophetic fulfillment (i.e., Acts 11:28; 24:15; 26:22). All of the redemptive events were in the hands of God (cf. Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28; 13:29)!

11:52 "He might also gather together into one the children of God" This seems to be an editorial comment by John which could be parallel with 10:16. It could refer to

1. Jews living outside Palestine

2. half-Jews like the Samaritans

3. Gentiles

Option #3 seems best. Whichever it is, Jesus' death will bring a unity to "believing" humanity (cf. John 1:29; 3:16; 4:42; 10:16).

11:53 "So from that day on they planned together to kill Him" This is a recurrent theme in John (cf. John 5:18; 7:19; 8:59; 10:39; 11:8).

  54Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.

11:54 "Jesus therefore no longer continued to walk publically among the Jews" John 12 is Jesus' last attempt to deal with the religious leaders.

The term translated in John "publicly" (cf. John 7:26; 11:54; 18:20) usually means "boldly." See Special Topic at John 7:4.

▣ "a city called Ephraim" This town may have been located close to Bethel in Samaria (cf. 2 Chr. 13:19).

 55Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves. 56So they were seeking for Jesus, and were saying to one another as they stood in the temple, "What do you think; that He will not come to the feast at all?" 57Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he was to report it, so that they might seize Him.

11:55-57 These verses link chapters 11 and 12 together.

11:55 "to purify themselves" This refers to ritual rites of cleansing in preparation for the Passover. There is still debate over how long Jesus taught, preached, and ministered in Palestine. The Synoptics are structured in such a way that one or two years is possible. However, John has several Passovers (an annual feast). There are certainly three mentioned (cf. John 2:13; 6:4; and 11:55) with at least a fourth implied in "a feast" in John 5:1.

11:57 This is another editorial comment from John.


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Why did Jesus allow Lazarus to die?

2. Who was the miracle directed toward?

3. What is the difference between a resurrection and resuscitation?

4. Why were the Jewish leaders so appalled by the raising of Lazarus?