(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)It was that Mary which anointed the Lord.—Comp. Notes on Matthew 26:6 et seq., and Mark 14:3 et seq. John himself relates the anointing in John 12:3 et seq. Here he simply mentions it as distinguishing Mary from others of the same name. and assumes it as a well-known incident which had been, as Christ declared it should be, “told for a memorial of her wheresoever the gospel had been preached” (Matthew 26:13). Still, the other Evangelists had not told the name, and St. John, when the name first occurs in his narrative, connects it with the person whose deed of love was known to all.
There is no sufficient reason for identifying Mary of Bethany with the “woman which was a sinner” (see Notes on Luke 7:37 et seq.), or for identifying either with Mary Magdalene.
This verse should not be placed in parenthesis, as in our version. It is immediately connected with the verse which precedes, as well as with that which follows.Matthew 26:6 note; Luke 7:36-50 notes. Luke 7:37,38, that came behind our Saviour while he was at dinner, in the house of Simon the Pharisee, brought an alabaster box of ointment, stood at his feet behind him weeping, washing his feet with her tears, and wiping them with her hair; but it appears by the story, she had been before a notorious sinner. We read of another woman, Matthew 26:6,7 Mr 14:3, that poured a box of ointment on our Saviour’s head as he was at dinner in the house of Simon the leper: but we, in those two evangelists, read nothing of her washing his feet with her tears, or wiping them with her hair; but in the next chapter of this Gospel, John 12:3, we have a story which (whether it be the same with the other or no, I cannot tell) is that doubtless to which this verse refers: the names and circumstances much agree. There were other Mary’s, (for Mary was a very ordinary name among them), but this was that Mary which is mentioned John 12:3, that anointed the Lord with ointment, &c. It was her brother was sick. Luke 7:37, as some have thought, whose name is not mentioned, and which history is not related by John at all: but Mary in John 12:3, who is both mentioned by name, and along with Lazarus her brother, and with whom all the circumstances of the affair suit; and though the fact was not yet done, yet John writing many years after it was done, and when it was well known, proleptically, and in a parenthesis, takes notice of it here: (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 11:2. In order further to identify Lazarus it is added: “Now it was (that) Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill”. This act of Mary’s has not yet been narrated by John (see John 12:3), but it was this which distinguished her at the time John was writing; cf. Matthew 26:13.2. It was that Mary which anointed] This of course does not necessarily imply that the anointing had already taken place, as those who identify Mary with the ‘sinner’ of Luke 7:37 would insist: it merely implies that when S. John wrote, this fact was well known about her, as Christ had promised should be the case (Matthew 26:13). S. John tells two facts omitted in the earlier Gospels; (1) that the village of Martha and Mary was Bethany, (2) that the anointing at Bethany was Mary’s act. The identification of Mary of Bethany with the prostitute of Luke 7 is altogether at variance with what S. Luke and S. John tell us of her character. Nor is there any sufficient reason for identifying either of them with Mary Magdalene. Mary of Bethany, Mary of Magdala, and the ‘sinner’ of Luke 7 are three distinct persons.John 11:2. Ἦν δὲ Μαρία, moreover it was the Mary) John proves Mary’s pious affection towards Jesus at the present time (as he elsewhere in a similar way proves the absence of pious affection on the part of the traitor) by a subsequent act, ch. John 12:3 [Mary’s anointing Jesus’ feet with costly ointment of spikenard, and wiping His feet with her hair]. [By one remarkable act, either good or bad, any one may be rendered notable to all eternity.—V. g.] It was not merely by the raising up of her brother to life, that she was first stirred up to such a work.—τὸν Κύριον, the Lord) An appropriate appellation here.—ἧς, whose) for of her. The language here is very plain.Verse 2. - Now it was that Mary who anointed the Lord with perfume, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. The word μύρον is used of any aromatic balsam which is distilled from trees and herbs by itself. In classical Greek μύρον was used of costly ointments used by women. Ἐλαίον was the common oil used by men for purposes of health, which might be perfumed. Our Lord clearly draws a distinction between the ἐλαίον and μύρον in Luke 7:46. Ἀλείφω has been said to be used for the more superfluous anointings and χρίω for the sanitary anointing with oil. No trace of such distinction is found in the New Testament (cf. Mark 6:13 with James 5:14). One great distinction in biblical Greek is that χρίειν is used of religious anointings, from its association with Ξριστός, but ἀλείφειν in the LXX. is only twice used in this sense, while χρίειν is used times without number (Archbishop Trench, 'New Test. Syn.,' § 38.). The use of the term Κύριον, "Lord," shows that the story was widely known, and that when the Gospel was written it had passed into a commonplace of Christian experience and illustration. The anointing has not yet been referred to by John, but he is looking back upon the events and anticipates his own subsequent record.
Three words for anointing are found in the New Testament: ἀλείφω, χρίω, and its compounds, and μυρίζω. The last is used but once, Mark 14:8, of anointing the Lord's body for burying. Between the two others the distinction is strictly maintained. Χρίω, which occurs five times, is used in every case but one of the anointing of the Son by the Father With the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:18; Acts 4:27; Acts 10:38; Hebrews 1:9). In the remaining instance (2 Corinthians 1:21) of enduing Christians with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Thus the word is confined to sacred anointing. Ἁλείφω is used of all actual anointings. See Matthew 6:17; Mark 6:13; Luke 7:38; James 5:14. The same distinction is generally maintained in the Septuagint, though with a few exceptions, as Numbers 3:3.
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