When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not to death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)When Jesus heard that, he said.—These words are not simply an answer sent to the sisters, but the uttered thought which arose in our Lord’s mind as He heard that Lazarus was ill, and were spoken in the presence of the disciples who were with Him, and doubtless in that of the messengers also.
But for the glory of God—i.e., “the furtherance and accomplishment of the glory of God.”
That the Son of God might be glorified thereby.—This furtherance of the glory of God with the purpose of glorifying the Son carries us back, as all the expositors note, to the oneness of the work of the Father and Son which has been made prominent in our Lord’s words. (Comp. John 10:38, and references in Note there.) But the words seem to carry us forwards as well as backwards. In the next chapter (John 11:23) our Lord says. “The hour is come that the Son of Man should be glorified,” and the reference is to His death. Is that thought absent from the words here? The sickness of Lazarus would not indeed issue in death, though it would end in what men call death, and would be the immediate cause leading to the death of the Son of Man. The one would be as a sleep from which he would awake, the other should be the glorifying the Son of God, which would issue in the life of the world.
“Thereby” is probably to be interpreted “by means of the illness,” not “by means of the glory.”
This verse should be compared with John 9:3. Here, as there, part of the meaning is that the glory of God would be effected in the person of him upon whom the miracle would be wrought. It was a spiritual crisis in the case of the man born blind. It cannot have been otherwise in the case of Lazarus.Romans 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. Compare John 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, special 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 honored. See John 9:3.
That the Son of God ... - 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.
but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby—that is, by this glory of God. (See Greek.) Remarkable language this, which from creature lips would have been intolerable. It means that the glory of God manifested in the resurrection of dead Lazarus would be shown to be the glory, personally and immediately, of THE Son.
he said; either to his disciples, or to the messenger or messengers that brought the account to him, and that on purpose to yield some relief to the afflicted family when it should be reported to them:
this sickness is not unto death; it was to issue in death, but not in death which was to continue, or under which Lazarus was to continue till the general resurrection; for though he should die, yet he should be so quickly restored again to life, that it scarcely deserved the name of death. The Jews distinguish between sickness and sickness; there are some that are sick, the greater part of whom are, "for life"; and there are others that are "sick", the greater part of whom are, "for death" (z), or are sick unto death, whose sickness issues in death; but this of Lazarus's was not to be unto death, at least not finally:
but for the glory of God; of his power and goodness in raising him again:
that the Son of God might be glorified thereby; that is, that his glory, as the Son of God, might be made manifest in the resurrection of him from the dead; see John 2:11.When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)John 11:4. Ἀκούσας δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν. “And Jesus when He heard said,” i.e., to His disciples. It was not the reply sent to the sisters. “This illness is not to death,” πρὸς θάνατον, death is not the end towards which it is making. But that Jesus knew that death had already taken place (John 11:6 and John 11:17) or was imminent is evident from the following clause, but He knew what He would do (John 6:6) and that death was not to be the final result of this illness. The illness and death were ὑπὲρ τῆς δόξης τοῦ Θεοῦ, for the sake of glorifying God (cf. John 9:3), “gloriae divinae illustrandae causa,” Winer, p. 479. This is further explained in the clause “that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it,” i.e., by means of this illness; cf. John 13:31. “In two ways; because the miracle (1) would lead many to believe that He was the Messiah; (2) would bring about His death. Δοξάζεσθαι is a frequent expression of this Gospel for Christ’s death regarded as the mode of His return to glory (John 7:39, John 12:16, John 13:31), and this glorification of the Son involves the glory of the Father (John 5:23, John 10:30-38).” Plummer, Bengel.4. is not unto death] i.e. is not to have death as its final result. Christ foresaw both the death and the resurrection, and (as so often) uttered words which His disciples did not understand at the time, but recognised in their proper meaning after what He indicated had taken place. Comp. John 2:22, John 12:16, John 21:23.
might be glorified] In two ways; because the miracle (1) would lead many to believe that He was the Messiah; (2) would bring about His death. ‘Being glorified’ is a frequent expression in this Gospel for Christ’s Death regarded as the mode of His return to glory (John 7:39, John 12:16; John 12:23, John 13:31-32); and this glorification of the Son involves the glory of the Father (John 5:23, John 10:30; John 10:38). Comp. John 9:3; in the Divine counsels the purpose of the man’s blindness and of Lazarus’ sickness is the glory of God.
We ought perhaps to connect the special meaning of ‘glorified’ with the first clause: ‘This sickness is to have for its final issue, not the temporal death of an individual, but the eternal life of all mankind.’
It is worth noting that both the first and the last of the seven miracles of the ministry recorded by S. John are declared to be manifestations of glory (John 2:11, John 11:4; John 11:40) and confirmations of faith (John 2:11, John 11:15).
thereby] Both in the English and in the Greek this is ambiguous: it may refer either to the sickness or the glory. The former is correct.John 11:4. Εἶπεν, He said) It is worthy of being observed, by what method Jesus prepared His disciples, and the sisters of Lazarus and the people, for beholding with profit the greatest of miracles.—αὐτή, this) i.e. This sickness is consonant with love.—πρὸς θάνατον, unto death) whereby [not unto death, in the sense that thereby] the sisters should lose their brother. So the Septuag. εἰς θάνατον, 2 Kings 20:1 [i.e. Βασιλ. Δ. John 20:1, Hezekiah was sick εἰς θάνατον].—ὑπέρ, for) The glory of God and the glory of the Son of God is one and the same glory.—ἵνα δοξασθῇ, that He may be glorified) The result was truly so. The raising again of Lazarus is so powerful an argument for the truth of Christianity, that Spinoza said, that, if he could believe it, he would cast away his whole system. And yet the following considerations demonstrate the reality of the death and of the resurrection of Lazarus: 1) The deliberate delay of Jesus, who was then at a distance away; 2) His informing His disciples of the death, and foretelling as to the resurrection; 3) The variety and multitude of the witnesses who were present; 4) The faith that followed in consequence, on the part of very many Jews, who were by no means credulous, and the perversity of the rest; John 11:46, etc., “They went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done;” [John 11:53] “They took counsel together to put Him to death.”—διʼ αὐτῆς, by it) by this sickness Jesus was glorified, inasmuch as many forthwith acknowledged Him as the Son of God; John 11:45, “Many which had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him;” and the rest of the Jews determined to kill Him, John 11:46, etc.; and it was thereby He was about to enter into glory.Verse 4. - When Jesus heard (it), he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified thereby. What message Jesus gave to these who brought him these tidings we know not; the evangelist records what he said to the bystanders. Our Lord did not mean to say that the sickness would not terminate in what men ordinarily call "death," nor that it was not a deadly disease, but that it was not πρὸς θάνατον. "He shall not fall a prey to death" (Meyer), The sickness is so timed that it shall conduce to the (δόξα Θεοῦ) glory of God, i.e. to the majestic appreciation of the sublime perfections of God, and that by or in it the Son of God may be glorified. Υπὲρ elsewhere in the Gospel means "sacrifice on behalf of;" so here the very suffering of Lazarus and of the sisters, and the tears of Jesus over the grave, are part of the sacrificial ministry by which the glory of God or of the Sun of God may be advanced.
Not to have death as its final issue.
For the glory (ὑπὲρ)
Here, as elsewhere in John, in behalf of. Canon Westcott remarks: "The sickness is regarded in a triple relation; unto, in respect of the actual result; in behalf of, in respect of the suffering born; in order that, in respect of the divine purpose."
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