John 11:47
Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man does many miracles.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
[(3) LIFE, TRUTH, LIGHT, AND LOVE MORE FULLY MANIFESTED. CORRESPONDING INCREASE OF THE UNBELIEF OF THE JEWS (continued).

(b)The council of the Jews. The decree of death against the Giver of Life (John 11:47-53).

(c)The withdrawal to Ephraim. Many seek for Jesus (John 11:54-57).

(d)The supper at Bethany. Mary, Judas, the chief priests (love, selfishness, hatred) (John 12:1-11).

(e)The entry into Jerusalem. The King and His people (John 11:12-19).

(f)The wider kingdom (John 11:20-36).

Certain Greeks would see Jesus. The firstfruits of the West (John 11:20-22).

The seed and the harvest. Life in death (John 11:23-26).

(f)The wider kingdom (continued).

The world-wide attraction of the Cross. Light in darkness (John 11:27-36).

(g)The final issue of the unbelief of the Jews.

(α)The writer’s own judgment (John 11:37-43)—

On no-faith (John 11:37-41);

On half-faith (John 11:42-43).

(β)The Judgment of Jesus (John 11:44-50).

The rejection of light (John 11:46); love (“that I might save the world,” John 11:47); truth (John 11:49); life (John 11:50).]

(47) Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council.—Matters have reached too serious a stage for them to allow further delay. Opponents have become believers; enemies have become friends; and there are men of their own rank, and men with whom they had taken counsel against Him, who have now believed. The Pharisees go in their difficulty to the chief priests, who were for the most part Sadducees, and they together summon a meeting of the Sanhedrin.

What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.—The note of interrogation may be placed in the middle or at the end of the clause. The latter suits better the energy of their language. “What do we, seeing that this Man doeth many miracles?” They accept the testimony of the Jews who have come to them, and cannot longer throw doubt upon His miracles. The question is asked in the present tense; it is not a matter for future action. “What are we doing, seeing what this Man is doing?” They feel that they have been inactive but too long, while He has been daily gaining influence. The form of their question is a strange contradiction; they cannot but admit that He doeth many signs, and yet their pride will call Him by no name but the contemptuous “this Man!”

John 11:47-48. Then gathered the chief priests, &c. — “The account which these men gave of Lazarus’s resurrection, raised the indignation of the rulers to the highest pitch. They called a council forthwith, and after consultation blamed one another for having suffered Jesus to go so long unpunished. But this miracle being too evident to be denied, as all his miracles indeed were, they did not, even in their most private conferences, say or intimate to one another, that their displeasure and opposition proceeded from his passing false miracles upon the ignorant vulgar. They rather condemned him upon the truth and notoriety of his miracles; pretending that they were designed to establish a new sect in religion, which might endanger, not their church only, but their state.” They said, What do we? — What, indeed? Why, you resist the truth, confirmed by the most astonishing and convincing miracles ever wrought: you show that death itself yields to the power of Christ sooner than infidelity. For this man doeth many miracles — Thus, though they were his sworn enemies, they could not help giving him an ample testimony, even in full court. If we let him thus alone — If we suffer him to go on thus uncontrolled. But how can you prevent his going on? How can you control one who walks on the water, calms the winds and waves with a word, and with a word cleanses the lepers, heals the sick, and raises the dead? All men will believe on him — And ought they not? Will they not be justified if they do, nay, and inexcusable if they do not? And are not you inexcusable in not believing on him? Surely for this very reason, that he does so many miracles, all salutary and tending to the good of mankind, and with such evidence of a divine power as you yourselves think is likely to draw all men to believe in him, you should acknowledge him to be the true Messiah, and profess yourselves his disciples, subjects, and servants. But the Romans will come — If we suffer this man to proceed thus, and continually to increase the number of his followers, it will give such umbrage to the Romans, that, on pretence of an insurrection being raised in the country, they will send a powerful army and destroy both our place, our temple, and nation — Both our church and state. Will overturn both our religious and civil constitution. Were they really afraid of this? or was it a mere pretence, a fair colour only for their conduct? Certainly it was no more. For they could not but know, that he who raised the dead was able to conquer the Romans. They entered, however, at this time, immediately after this most astonishing of all Christ’s miracles, this most convincing of all the evidences he had given of his being the Messiah, into a resolution of putting him to death at all hazards. “But those politicians were taken in their own craftiness; for while they proposed, by killing Jesus, to avoid the destruction of their temple and city, the sin which they committed in killing him was so great, that God, in his just indignation, made the very people, whose resentment they proposed to avoid by this wicked measure, the instruments of his vengeance. He brought the Roman armies against them, who destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city; leaving, in that dreadful catastrophe, an awful warning to all statesmen, to beware of prosecuting unjust measures, on pretence of consulting the good of the nation, whose affairs they direct.” — Macknight.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.A council - A meeting of the Sanhedrin, or Great Council of the nation. See the notes at Matthew 2:4. They claimed the right of regulating all the affairs of religion. See the notes at John 1:19.

What do we? - What measures are we taking to arrest the progress of his sentiments?

For this man doeth many miracles - If they admitted that he performed miracles, it was clear what they ought to do. They should have received him as the Messiah. It may be asked, If they really believed that he worked miracles, why did they not believe on him? To this it may be replied that they did not doubt that impostors might work miracles. See Matthew 24:24. To this opinion they were led, probably, by the wonders which the magicians performed in Egypt Exodus 7; 8, and by the passage in Deuteronomy 13:1. As they regarded the tendency of the doctrines of Jesus to draw off the people from the worship of God, and from keeping his law John 9:16, they did not suppose themselves bound to follow him, even if he did work miracles.

47-54. What do we? for this man doeth many miracles—"While we trifle, 'this man,' by His 'many miracles,' will carry all before Him; the popular enthusiasm will bring on a revolution, which will precipitate the Romans upon us, and our all will go down in one common ruin." What a testimony to the reality of our Lord's miracles, and their resistless effect, from His bitterest enemies! The chief priests and Pharisees were a great part of that great council amongst the Jews, which went under the name of the sanhedrim; and this (probably) was the council they gathered; for, John 11:49, we read, that Caiaphas, the high priest, the standing president of that court, was amongst them. The miracles wrought by Christ were the things that disturbed them, and they reflect upon themselves for conniving so long at him: what they should have improved (viz. the miracles which he wrought) to have begot or increased faith in them, they mention and misimprove to their destruction. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council,.... They convened the sanhedrim, the great council of the nation together, of which they were some of the principal members:

and said, what do we? that is, why is nothing done? why are we so dilatory? why do we sit still, and do nothing? or what is to be done? this now lies before us, this is to be considered and deliberated on:

for this man doth many miracles; this is owned, and could not be denied by them; and should have been a reason why they should have acknowledged him to have been the Messiah, and embraced him; whereas they used it as a reason, why they should think of, and concert some measures, to hinder and put a stop to the belief of him as such.

Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a {g} council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

(g) The Jews called the council sanhedrin: and the word that John uses is Synedri.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 11:47-48. Now, since Jesus had, even according to the testimony of His earlier opponents, even raised a dead man, the matter becomes too serious for the Pharisees to permit them to look on any longer without taking a decisive step. The chief priests (with whom they have accordingly communicated) and they themselves summon a sitting of the council, i.e. a sitting of the Sanhedrin. On συνάγ. συνέδρ. comp. Diod. Sic. ii. 25. Not to be translated: they assembled the Sanhedrin. The article in that case, as throughout, where it is expressed with συνέδρ., must have been used.

τί ποιοῦμεν] What are we to do? The Indic, is used (see Stallbaum, ad Plat. Symp. p. 176 A); for that something must now definitively be done, was undoubted. Comp. Acts 4:15-16.

ὅτι] the simple for, as statement of the ground of the question.

οὗτος ὁ ἄνθρ.] contemptuously.

οὕτω] without interposing.

καὶ ἐλεύσονται, κ.τ.λ.] so they fear, in keeping with the political view of the Messiah. Comp. John 6:15. And they really fear it (against Strauss, Weisse, who here see an invention); they do not merely delude themselves with it (Luthardt); nor do they wish to give to their proper motive (envy, Matthew 27:18) only another colour (Calvin, Hengstenberg). Now, when they saw the last outbreak before their eyes, their calculation must necessarily be shaped according to the popular conception of the Messiah, and according to the effects which this notion would produce upon the mass (uproar, etc.).

ἀροῦσιν] they will take away (tollent, Vulgate), not equivalent to ἀπολέσουσιν (Euth. Zigabenus, Beza, Grotius, Lücke, De Wette, Tholuck, Hengstenberg, and several others), which is less appropriate to the egoistic sense, which is concerned about the withdrawal of their own power. Nonnus well remarks: ἀφαρπάξουσι.

ἡμῶν] correlative to Ῥωμαῖοι, placed first with the emphasis of egoism, though not as genit. of separation (away from us), since such a construction with αἴρω is only poetical (Kühner, II. p. 160); but: the place and nation belonging to us.

τὸν τόπον] is to be defined solely from the emphatic ἡμῶν; our place, i.e. the holy city (Chrysostom, Grotius, Ewald, Baeumlein, Godet), the residence of the Sanhedrin and of the entire hierarchy. Hence neither: the country (so most commentators, as Luther: “country and people”), nor: the temple (Maldonatus, Lücke, De Wette, Maier, B. Crusius, Hengstenberg). The latter is neither to be supported by Acts 6:13, nor by passages like 3 Esdr. 8:78; 2Ma 5:19; Matthew 23:38. The Sanhedrists apprehend that the Romans, who had, indeed, acquiesced in great part hitherto in the hierarchical constitution of the Jews, and the spiritually political sway of the Sanhedrin, would enter Jerusalem, and remove the city as well as the people (ἔθνος, Luke 23:2; Acts 10:22, et al.) from the rule of the Sanhedrin, because it knew so badly how to maintain order.John 11:47. The Pharisees at once acted on the information, συνήγαγονσυνέδριον. The chief priests, who were Sadducees, and the Pharisees, their natural foes, but who together composed the supreme authority, “called together a meeting of the Sanhedrim”. The keynote of the meeting was struck in the words τί ποιοῦμεν; “What are we doing?” i.e., why are we doing nothing? The indicative, not the deliberative subjunctive. The reason for shaking off this inertia is ὅτιποιεῖ. The miracles are not denied, but their probable consequence is indicated.47. a council] They summon a meeting of the Sanhedrin. Even the adversaries of Jesus are being converted, and something decisive must be done. The crisis unites religious opponents. The chief priests, who were mostly Sadducees, act in concert with the Pharisees; jealous ecclesiastics with religious fanatics (comp. John 7:32; John 7:45, John 18:3).

What do we?] Implying that something must be done.

this man] Contemptuous, as in John 9:16; John 9:24; comp. John 7:49.

doeth many miracles] It is no longer possible to deny the fact of the signs. Instead of asking themselves what these ‘signs’ must mean, their only thought is how to prevent others from drawing the obvious conclusion.John 11:47. Τί ποιοῦμεν; what do we?) What they ought to have done was, not to have thus held deliberations, but to have believed. But the truth is, death itself sooner yields to the power of Christ than unbelief.Verse 47. - The chief priests and Pharisees therefore gathered a council. If a formal meeting of the great council, if "the Sanhedrin," had been summoned, the article would have been used. (On the Sanhedrin, see Winer, art. "Sanhedrin," in his 'Bib. R. Wort.;' Lange, in loc.; Edersheim, vol. 2:553, etc. This name is Greek (though Hebraized in the Talmud), and signifies the supreme court of the people, resident in Jerusalem, consisting of seventy-one members, with a president, Nasi, and a vice-president, Ab-baith-den.) Extraordinary sessions of the Sanhedrin were called at the house of the high priest, but ordinary sessions in some rooms adjoining the temple. The points submitted to their cognizance were hierarchical and religious. They had at this time lost their actual power of inflicting capital punishment. They were a court of appeal from lower courts in the province, framed after the same model. Pharisees and Sadducees were alike to be found in their number. The family of Annas, his sons, and his son-in-law Caiaphas, were all Sadducees, and embraced the priestly part of the assembly. They were the most deadly enemies of Christ throughout. The Pharisees are scarcely again mentioned in the account of the Passion. The priestly Sadducean party became also bitter enemies of Christianity and of the Church during apostolic times. Here they take the initiative. And they said, What are we about? because this Man is (as we must admit) doing many signs, which will produce a perilous effect among the people. There were certain aspects and views both of the Pharisaic and Sadducean party with which our Lord's teaching coincided. When he denounced ritualism, literalism, and tradition, and laid emphasis on moral law, he had to some extent the ear of the Sadducees; when he cleansed the temple of the priestly bazaar, when he rebuked the secular conceptions of Messianic glory, the Pharisees inwardly rejoiced. Nevertheless, they had both too many g-rounds of criticism and dislike not to combine against him. The council of the nation found it a delicate and difficult task to frame charges in which the entire authorities of the nation and the popular clamor could coincide. The chief priests

Of the Sadducean party. This should be constantly kept in mind in reading both John's narrative and that of the Synoptists. The Sadducees, represented by the chief priests, are the leaders in the more decisive measures against Christ. Throughout this Gospel the form of expression is either the chief priests alone, or the chief priests and the Pharisees. The only mention of the Pharisees in the history of the passion is Matthew 27:62, where also the expression is the chief priests and Pharisees. The chief priests are the deadly enemies of Christ (Matthew 26:3,Matthew 26:14). Similarly, in the Acts, the opposition to the Christians is headed by the priests and Sadducees, who represent the same party. In the two instances where the Pharisees appear, they incline to favor the Christians (Acts 5:34; Acts 23:6).

A council (συνέδριον)

Correctly, and not the council, which would require the article. The meaning is, they called a sitting of the Sanhedrim; probably as distinguished from a formal meeting of that body.

What do we?

The present tense, indicating an emergency. This man is at work teaching and working miracles, and what are we doing?

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