The Ministry of Messiah, 2:1-12:50

7. Jesus the Resurrection and the Life, 11:1-12:36

ii] The plot to kill Jesus


Jesus' public ministry has come to an end and his inevitable glorification is at hand. Although many of "the Jews" have responded positively to the raising of Lazarus, the religious authorities are determined to have Jesus executed. For the present, Jesus seeks sanctuary in the village of Ephraim, but the Passover draws near and so it is time for Jesus to confront unbelieving Israel.


Jesus dies, not just for the people of Israel, but for the lost and broken children of God.


i] Context: See 11:1-44.


ii] Background: Jesus has sought sanctuary in the village of Ephraim some 30km north of Jerusalem, identified today by the village of Et-Taiyibeh. Jesus remains in the village before moving to Bethany six days before the Passover. Preparations for the Passover in Jerusalem are underway, and pilgrims wishing to undertake the necessary six days of purification have already started to move into town. Purification rituals are necessary for those Jews who reside in Gentile areas and have inadvertently become ritually unclean. For example, it was common for Gentiles to burry their dead beside their property and this would render their Jewish neighbor ritually unclean. At the time of Passover the population of Jerusalem moves from one hundred thousand to upward of one million.

John records Jesus' attendance at three Passover festivals. It is estimated that this last Passover was in the year 33AD. The estimated date for the birth of Jesus is 4BC, making him around 37 years old at the time of his death.


iii] Structure: The plan to kill Jesus:

The twofold reaction to the raising of Lazarus, v45-46;

The extraordinary meeting of the Sanhedrin, v47-53;

"It's better to have one man die for the people."

Jesus seeks sanctuary in the village of Ephraim, v54;

Jerusalem prepares for the Passover, v55-57;

"Surely he won't come to the festival?"


iv] Interpretation:

With the raising of Lazarus, Jesus' public ministry has come to an end. In fact, although the miracle was a public act, one in which polloi, "many", of "the Jews" came to accept that Jesus is Israel's promised messiah, it was primarily a sign for his followers - Jesus himself is the resurrection, the source of life eternal. Believers don't have to wait till the last day to be raised to life. So, the focus of Jesus' ministry is now on his disciples and his own glorification.

In a classic "He's a nice bloke BUT ....", John notes that the raising of Lazarus has prompted "many" to accept Jesus' messianic credentials (although miracle-based faith is frail, to say the least), but there is another response with even greater significance; "some" prompt the Pharisees to call a meeting of the Sanhedrin to deal with the Jesus problem. The meeting resolved that action had to be taken against this messianic pretender otherwise he would inevitably stir up the populous in a revolt against the Roman authorities , a revolt which can only result in the destruction of the nation and the temple - but what action?

In a moment of Johannine irony, Caiaphas the High Priest becomes the man of the moment. He was a political appointment, his father-in-law Annas having been deposed by the Roman authorities in 15AD. Many Jews still saw Annas as the High Priest, but Caiaphas wore the robes. He shows his political cunning at the meeting by pointing out that it was far better to sacrifice the life of one individual for the welfare of the nation, rather than that the whole nation should face destruction. As far as John is concerned, the words of Caiaphas are prophetic, v51. Jews of the time actually believed that the High Priest had prophetic powers, and so in his own unique way Caiaphas reveals that Jesus will die for his people Israel. Yet, not just Palestinian Jews, but an ingathering of the Jews of the Diaspora, the scattered and lost children of God, v52. With these words we are again reminded of John's intended readers, namely, Hellenistic Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire. Of course, the incoming of the remnant includes the Gentiles, such that both Jew and Gentile gather at Mount Zion in the new Jerusalem, cf., Isa.2:2-3, 56:6-8, 60:6, Zech.14:16. So, we proceed to Christ's death and the creation of a universal people of God.

With the Sanhedrin meeting to decide Jesus' fate, Jesus and his disciples head for the hill country north of Jerusalem and seek sanctuary in the village of Ephraim, v54. In the meantime, pilgrims are streaming into Jerusalem in preparation for the Passover. Given recent events, the population is swirling with the latest news on the man from Galilee. The general feeling is that Jesus will not come to the festival and perform yet another miracle, and this because the religious authorities have made it clear that they intend to arrest him.

Text - 11:45

The plan to kill Jesus, v45-57. i] The reaction to the raising of Lazarus - belief and unbelief, v45-46. Again John uses the term "the Jews" in a slightly more neutral sense than usual. None-the-less, tineV, "some" of them follow their usual pattern of behavior and report the incident to the Pharisees, who respond by calling together the Sanhedrin. John tells us that polloi, "many", of the others responded positively although we can't put too much weight of their "seeing" and "believing". The verb qeaomai, "to see", and the verb pisteuw, "to believe", often mean the same, such that seeing is believing, much in the same as "knowing" Jesus is "believing" Jesus. None-the-less, John may be making the point that the belief of these Jews is dependent on their having seen a sign / miracle. A faith based on signs is not very substantial. The sign may have served to verify Jesus' messianic credentials, but it is unlikely that they have come to realize that Jesus in himself is the resurrection, the pathway to life eternal.

oun "therefore" - therefore. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion, as NIV.

ek + gen. "[many] of [the Jews]" - [many] from [the jews]. The preposition serves here instead of a partitive genitive.

oi elqonteV (ercomai) aor. part. "who had come" - the ones having come. The participle servers as a substantive, and along with "the ones having seen", stands in apposition to polloi, "many"; "many of the Jews, those who had come to Mary, and who witnessed what he did, believed in him."

proV + acc. "to visit [Mary]" - toward [mary]. Spacial, expressing movement toward. Most translations add "visit". The RSV has "with", denoting a friendly relationship between Mary and her friends, and therefore referring to the people who came with Mary from the house to the graveside. This does solve the problem of why Martha isn't included with Mary, assuming that the people came to visit both of them.

qeasamenoi (qeaomai) aor. part. "[and] had seen" - [and] having seen. With the coordinating kai this substantive participle stands with "the one's having come ....."; "many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary and who had seen what Jesus did", Barclay.

a}neut. pl. pro. "what" - the things which [he did]. The relative pronoun introduces a headless relative clause. "Observed what Jesus did", Phillips goes with the less supported singular variant which certainly makes more sense than the plural.

eiV + acc. "[believed] in [him]" - [believed] into [him]. There is probably no distinction between believing eiV, "into", or en, "in", but possibly eiV expresses the object of faith.


de "but" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative to an adverse observation, as NIV.

ex (ek) + gen. "[some] of [them]" - [some] from [them went away toward the pharisees]. The preposition serves in the place of a partitive genitive, as NIV. Some of the "Jews", meaning, "some of the people". Morris suggests some other Jews, not those who came to be with Martha and Mary, but it is more likely that "many" believe, but "some" do not, and it was they who went to the "Pharisees." Of course, the Sanhedrin includes many others who are not Pharisees, but the Pharisees make up a significant party within the Sanhedrin.

autoiV dat. pro. "[told] them" - [and said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

a} pro. "what" - the things which [jesus did]. The relative pronoun introduces a headless relative clause which stands as the direct object of the verb "to say." Went off to the Pharisees to report what had been done by Jesus", Cassirer.


ii] The extraordinary meeting of the Sanhedrin, v47-53. The Pharisees organize an extraordinary gathering of religious officials to deal with the Jesus problem. It is likely that the gathering is not an official meeting of the Sanhedrin, but more like an ad hock gathering of like minded officials to deal with a thorny problem - a messiah-like individual who performs messiah-like miracles, someone who may very easily stir up a rebellion against Rome. Faced with the issue they are left with a conundrum - he performs many signs. Still, Caiaphas the high priest has a solution - a sacrificial lamb / a scapegoat.

oun "then" - therefore. Transitional, as NIV, or inferential, establishing a logical connection, "So the chief priests and Pharisees gathered ....", ESV.

sunedrion (on) "[a meeting of] the Sanhedrin" - [the chief priests and pharisees gathered together = assembled] a sanhedrin. One would expect the use of an article, "the Sanhedrin", but Keener suggests an "ad hoc council" meeting. "Accordingly the religious authorities called a council meeting."

elegon (legw) imperf. "they asked" - [and] were saying [what do we = are we doing]. The imperfect is used to give semantic weight to the question, so Novakovic. The question may be deliberative, "What are we going to do oJti (for / because) this man is working many miracles?", so ESV, Brown. On the other hand the question may be rhetorical, "What are we doing = accomplishing by the paltry steps we have taken so far oJti (now that / given that / such that / about the fact that) this man is working miracles?", as NIV, so Carson, Morris, Barrett. The answer is "Nothing", Zerwick - what can anyone do in such circumstances? Although Caiaphas has an idea!

oJti "-" - because [this man is doing many signs]. As indicated above oJti here either introduces a causal clause explaining why they want to know what to do, ie., the reason for the question, "because .....", or it introduces an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing the dilemma behind the question, "that ....."


Messianic rebellions are nothing new in Judea, and it is just such a rebellion that brings about the destruction of the Jewish state and the temple in 70AD. The religious authorities are worried about the consequences of doing nothing, but given Jesus' popularity, what can they do?

ean + subj. "if [we let him]" - if [we allow, permit him]. Introducing a third class conditional clause where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true; "if, as may be the case, ........ then all men will believe in him."

ouJtwV adv. "go on like this" - thus, in this way [all men will believe into him]. This demonstrative adverb expresses manner; "if we allow him to continue to behave in this way", ie., performing miracles.

kai "and then" - and [the romans will come and take us]. Here with a consecutive edge; "and then, as a consequence, the Romans ...." The verb "to take" may mean "take away" (taken away into exile), possibly "take over", so Schnackenburg.

kai .....kai "both ..... and ...." - and [the place] and [the nation]. Forming a correlative construction, "both ..... and .....", as NIV.

ton topon (oV) "our temple" - the place. It is unclear what is being referred to. Barrett has opted for "the temple in Jerusalem", as NIV, although Beasley-Murray argues that "the concern of the rulers ...... was primarily for their own position, and not the temple and the people."


There is nothing new in doing whatever is necessary to protect an established institution and Caiaphas is just the man to do it. Caiaphas served as high priest from AD18-36 when, along with Pilate, he is removed from office.

de "Then" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative, as NIV.

ex (ek) + gen. "[one] of [them]" - [a certain one] from [them, caiaphas]. The preposition serves in the place of a partitive genitive, as NIV. Caiaphas stands in apposition to the nominative subject "a certain one."

w]n (eimi) pres. part. "who was [high priest]" - the one being [high priest that year]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "Caiaphas", as NIV; "who was high priest during that year." "That year" may indicate that John views the appointment of the high priest as a yearly appointment; it was certainly at whim of the Roman governor. The sense may be "that fateful year", Brown.

autoiV dat. pro. "[spoke up]" - [said] to them [you do not know nothing]. Dative of indirect object. The use of ouden, "nothing", forming a double negative, is emphatic. Note the emphatic use of uJmeiV, "you"; Harris suggests that it is contemptuous. "What fools you are", TEV.


Bultmann argues that the judgment of Caiaphas is driven by a purely political motivation. Schnackenburg argues that it is a matter of "lust for glory and power." Beasley-Murray notes that the issue of one suffering instead of all suffering was a matter of rabbinic debate. The view tended to be that all should stand with the individual, unless the individual is named or is "a worthless fellow", cf., 2Sam.20:1.

oJti "-" - [neither do you think = understand, consider] that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of perception expressing what they do not understand. "You even fail to grasp that it is better .....", Cassirer.

uJnin dat. pro. "for you" - [it is better = an advantage, to one's interest] for you. Dative of interest, advantage. Variant "for us" is followed by Phillips.

iJna "that" - that [one man should die]. Here serving in place of a + inf. construction to introduce two noun clauses which serve as the subject of the verb sumferei, "it is better"; "that ....... than that (kai mh, "and not")....... is better." "For us to have one person die rather than cause the whole nation to be destroyed, is far more expedient."

uJper + gen. "for [the people]" - on behalf of [the people and not all the nation should perish]. Here possibly expressing advantage, "for the sake of / benefit of", but more likely substitution, "in place of, instead of", used instead of anti. The reference to "the whole nation" implies the Jewish people as a political entity.


In former times the high priest would use the Urim and Thummim, a form of casting lots, to determine God's will, but over time this was replaced by a more formal prophetic function. John takes the view that the words of Caiaphas are a form of involuntary prophecy concerning the vicarious nature of Jesus' death, which although not implicit in the high priests' language, none-the-less declares that Jesus' death is endured uJper, "in the place of", the Jewish nation, as well as "the scattered children of God", so Bruce, etc.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative, here to an aside; "Actually, he did not say this of his own accord", TEV.

af (apo) + gen. "on his own" - [he did not say this] from [himself]. Here expressing source / origin, "from", leaning toward agency, "by"; with the sense "of his own accord / in his own person", Zerwick.

alla "but" - but. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "not ..... but ....."

w]n (eimi) pres. part. "as [high priest]" - being [high priest that year]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as causal, "because he was high priest that year."

oJti "that" - [he prophesied] that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what Caiaphas prophesied. Harris classifies oJti here as epexegetic, "introducing the content of the prophecy", and that is certainly how it functions, although technically an epexegetic clause, introduced by either iJna or oJti, would normally only limit a noun, pronoun or adjective.

apoqhnskein (apoqnhskw) pres. inf. "[Jesus would] die" - [jesus was about] to die. The infinitive is complementary, completing the sense of the verb "to be about."


Not only is Jesus' vicarious death on behalf of "the Jewish nation", it is also for ta dieskorpismena, "the ones having been scattered" - technically, the Diaspora refers to those Jews living beyond Palestine. Given that it is likely that John is writing to Hellenistic Jews scattered throughout the Roman Empire, at this point he is probably referring to the Diaspora (although Lindars thinks he may have in mind scattered Christians throughout the Empire). This doesn't mean that John is ignoring the inclusion of believing Gentiles. As already indicated, Gentiles are automatically included in the gathering of the faithful remnant, and this because the promised covenant blessings for Israel extend to the whole world. Gentiles share in these blessings when they attach themselves to a faithful Jew (Jesus is ultimately that one faithful Israelite), so enabling both Jew and Gentile alike to gather together in Zion; See Kostenberger. Against this view stands the majority of commentators who argue that John's language here is inclusive of Gentiles. Bruce argues that John's use of the term "children of God", rather than "children of Israel", is inclusive of all believers, cf., 1:12, so also Beasley-Murray ("the children of God drawn from all nations"), Schnackenburg ("the old image of the gathering of the scattered Israelites is taken up into the universal perspective of all those chosen by God"), Brown, Barrett, Morris, Carson, ..... This approach aligns with Jesus' language in the Good Shepherd discourse. In that discourse Jesus refers to the "other sheep" who do not belong to the Jewish fold, but who are united with believing Jews into "one flock", 10:16. Whichever approach we adopt, Caiaphas has prophesied the vicarious death of Jesus for God's broken people.

uJper + gen. "for [that nation]" - [and not] on behalf of [the nation only]. Expressing substitution, "instead of" ; See v50.

all (alla) "but" - but [and that he may gather into one the children of god the ones having been scattered]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "not ......, but ....." Here with an adjunctive kai, so "but also." The clause is somewhat elliptical: Caiaphas "prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the Jewish nation, and not only to die for the nation, but also to die that he may gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."

ta dieskorpismena (diaskorpizw) perf. mid./pas. part. "the scattered" - the ones having been scattered. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the children of God"; "the children of God who are scattered abroad", ESV.

tou qeou (oV) gen. "[children] of God" - The genitive is adjectival, relational.

iJna + subj. "to [bring them together]" - that [he may gather]. Here standing in for an adverbial infinitive introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "that he may gather" = "to gather" = "in order to gather them." "To gather into unison all the scattered children of God", Berkeley.

eiV + acc. "make them [one]" - into [one body]. The sense here is goal / end-view / purpose, "in order to gather them with a view to making them one body."


"The Jews seek the death of Jesus because he gave life to Lazarus", Fenton.

oun "So" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, as NIV.

ap (apo) + gen. "from [that day on]" - from [that day they took counsel, planned, resolved]. Temporal use of the preposition.

iJna + subj. "to [take his life]" - that [they might kill him]. Serving either to introduce a purpose clause, "in order that they might kill him", or to introduce an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing what they planned, namely, that he should die. "From that day on it was their policy that he should die", Rieu. Their actions may be better expressed by "schemed", Weymouth.


ii] Jesus seeks sanctuary in the village of Ephraim, v54. The village is close to Bethel and some 30km from Jerusalem.

oun "Therefore" - therefore [jesus was no longer walking about]. Inferential, drawing a logical conclusion, as NIV.

parrhsia/ (a) dat. "publicly" - in boldness. The dative is adverbial, "boldly", probably with the sense "openly".

en + dat. "among" - in [the jews]. Local, expressing space, probably with the sense "among".

alla "instead" - but [he went away from there into the place, region near the wilderness]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "no longer ........ but instead ........"

legomenhn (legw) pres. mid./pas. part. "called [ephraim]" - [into a village] being called [ephraim]. The participle is adjectival, attributive, limiting "village"; "into a village which is called Ephraim."

meta + gen. "with [his disciples]" - [and also he remained] with [the disciples]. Expressing association / accompaniment. "And he stayed there with his disciples", CEV.


iii] Jerusalem prepares for the Passover, v55-57. John now starts to set the scene for the third and final Passover festival recorded during Jesus' public ministry. Pilgrims are beginning to move into Jerusalem to fulfill the necessary purification rites before the commencement of the festival; see Background above. As the crowd grows, people discuss whether, given the recent events, Jesus will attend the festival. Given the determination of the religious authorities to arrest Jesus, the general feeling is that Jesus will not attend the festival.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative; "Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand", ESV.

twn Ioudaiwn gen. adj. "[the] Jewish [Passover]" - [the passover] of the jews [was near]. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being adjectival, attributive, limiting "the Passover", as NIV. "The time for the Passover festival was near", TEV.

ek + gen. "from [the country]" - [and many went up into jerusalem] from [the place, country]. Expressing source / origin.

eiV + acc. "to [Jerusalem]" - Expressing direct of the action and arrival at.

iJna + subj. "for [their ceremonial cleansing]" - [toward the passover] that [they might purify, cleanse themselves]. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose, "in order that they might purify themselves." "They wanted to purify themselves before the feast according to the prescribed regulations", TH.

pro "before [the Passover]" - before [the passover]. Temporal use of the preposition, time before; "before the commencement of the festival."


oun "-" - therefore [they were seeking jesus]. Transitional, or inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so / consequently they were looking for Jesus." The imperfective sense of "were seeking" may imply "kept on seeking", Morris.

eJsthkoteV (iJsthmi) perf. part. "as they stood" - [and were speaking with one another] having stood. The participle is adverbial, best treated as temporal, as NIV. "While they were standing around in the temple courts they said to one another."

en + dat. "in [the temple courts]" - in [the temple]. Local, expressing space.

uJmin dat. pro. "[what do] you [think]?" - [what think, seem to] you? Dative of direct object after the verb "to think, suppose." "What is your opinion?", Cassirer.

oJti "-" - that [no no he may not come to the festival]. Obviously introducing an object clause / dependent statement, although it is not clear how it functions. It may introduce a second question as NIV. With the subjunctive of emphatic negation, ou mh + subj., it would probably produce a question expecting a negative answer; "there is no way he's coming to the festival is there? "He will not come will he?", Barrett. On the other hand, if introducing a dependent statement of perception it would express what the person asking the question is thinking / supposing, namely, "that he (Jesus) will not come to the feast at all", ESV (given the evident hostility of the religious authorities). Kostenberger suggests that the statement reflects the prevailing opinion.


de "but" - but/and [the chief priests and the pharisees had given orders]. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative, here to a backgrounding comment. The use of the pluperfect "had given orders" also suggests backgrounding; Moffatt treats the verses as a parenthesis. As Harris notes, the purpose of the comment is to provide the reason why the pilgrims at the feast believed it was unlikely that Jesus would attend.

iJna + subj. "that" - that. Introducing an object clause / dependent statement of indirect speech expressing the content of the orders.

ean + subj. "if" - if, as my be the case, [anyone knew where he is then he should reveal his location]. Introducing a 3rd. class conditional clause where the proposed condition has the possibility of coming true.

oJywV + subj. "so that" - that [they might arrest him]. This construction introduces a final clause expressing purpose. This is the only time John uses this construction in his gospel. He usually has iJna + subj., used in the place of an adverbial infinitive.


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