|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:47-53 There can hardly be a more clear discovery of the madness that is in man's heart, and of its desperate enmity against God, than what is here recorded. Words of prophecy in the mouth, are not clear evidence of a principle of grace in the heart. The calamity we seek to escape by sin, we take the most effectual course to bring upon our own heads; as those do who think by opposing Christ's kingdom, to advance their own worldly interest. The fear of the wicked shall come upon them. The conversion of souls is the gathering of them to Christ as their ruler and refuge; and he died to effect this. By dying he purchased them to himself, and the gift of the Holy Ghost for them: his love in dying for believers should unite them closely together.
Verse 50. - Nor consider; or, nor do ye take account. Hengstenberg shows that where this verb (λογίζεσθε) elsewhere occurs, it is used intransitively, and with this Godet agrees; then they take ὅτι, as "because" or for it is expedient for you (the text ὑμῖν is preferred by Meyer, Godet, Westcott and Herr, and the Revised. The chief difference in thought is that it makes the language somewhat more dogmatic, Caiaphas hardly classing himself for the moment with such irresolute companions) that one man should die for ("on behalf of" amounting to "instead of") the people - i.e. for the theocratic organization, whose were the promises, to whom was given the dominion- and not that the entire nation (the political aggregation) perish. Some have supposed (like Lange) Divine purpose lurking in the ἵνα; but it was rather the maxim of worldly expediency of half-paganized superstition allied in this form to the sacrifice of Codrus, or of Iphigenia, viz. that the extinction of guiltless and innocent victims may be demanded by political necessity, and must be determined upon at once, by the chief court of equity and criminal judicature in the nation. If, thought he, the multitudes accept this Sabbath-breaker, this Worker of miracles, this religious Enthusiast, this moral Reformer, for their Messiah, the Romans will crush the movement, will stamp out the entire religious order; "we" shall be annihilated as a power, the "nation" will be abolished as such. It is more expedient that this one man should suffer than that the whole of our position should be sacrificed.
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Nor consider that it is expedient for us,.... Priests, Levites, Pharisees, the sanhedrim, and ecclesiastical rulers of the people; who, as Caiaphas apprehended, must suffer in their characters and revenues, must quit their honourable and gainful posts and places, if Jesus went on and succeeded at this rate: wherefore it was most expedient and advantageous for them, which was the main thing to be considered in such a council, so he thought it was,
that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not; he proceeded entirely upon this political principle, that a public good ought to be preferred to a private one; that it was no matter what the man was, whether innocent or not; common prudence, and the public safety of the nation, required him to fall a sacrifice, rather than the Romans should be exasperated and provoked to such a degree, as to threaten the utter ruin and destruction of the whole nation.
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