John 11:48
If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(48) If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him.—He who but a short time since had escaped from their stones and violence, and had retired to Bethany, was now within two miles of Jerusalem. One work had carried conviction to the minds of all who had seen it, though many of them were of their own party. Another such miracle in the city itself would carry conviction, they think, to the minds of all.

And the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.—The dread of the Roman power must have been constantly present to the Jews of that generation. They had seen Archelaus deposed, and a Roman procurator had come to carry into effect the enrolment decreed by Augustus (Luke 2:1). Pontius Pilate had suppressed outbreaks by violence in the Temple itself. There had been tumults in connection with the Corban money and with Barabbas. The Temple mountain was the site of the Roman fortress Antonia, and this dread power may at any moment destroy the national life, which only existed on sufferance.

The attempts to prove that “our place” can mean “the Temple” must now be given up; and if we attach a local meaning to the word we must understand it of Jerusalem. It may, however, be questioned whether the word has any local signification here. Like our words “standing,” and “place,” and “position,” it certainly may have a moral sense, and New Testament examples of this usage are frequent. (See Acts 1:25; Romans 15:23; 1Corinthians 14:16; Hebrews 12:17.) It is suggested that this sense is more in harmony with the feeling of the Pharisees. They possessed no local power; and the city could not be taken away from them more entirely than it already was. Their existence as rulers depended upon the Mosaic law and upon the services of the Temple. Round these centres they had gathered human tradition and ordinance, to which they clung because they only could interpret them, and they only could use the vast powers which were thus exercised over men. The Law had become practically an intricate system of tradition, and the Temple-service had become practically an intricate system of ritual. With this the Roman empire, following its usual policy, had not interfered, and the Jewish hierarchy had become the centre and the rulers of the national life. But in direct opposition to both of them had been the work and teaching of Christ. He had sought to establish for law and service the simplicity of their first spiritual principles. His spiritual teaching was a cutting to the very root of their whole being. If all the people believed on Him their raison d’être would be gone, and the Romans would no longer suffer an imperium in imperio, which they now allowed because it swayed the masses of the people. They would take both their position, and with it the rank which they still claimed as a nation.

The emphatic position of the word “our” should be noted, and also that “place and nation” are linked together as one complex thought attached to it.

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.All men - That is, all men among the Jews. The whole nation.

And the Romans shall come - They were then subject to the Romans - tributary and dependent. Whatever privileges they had they held at the will of the Roman emperor. They believed, or feigned to believe, that Jesus was intending to set up a temporal kingdom. As he claimed to be the Messiah, so they supposed, of course, that he designed to be a temporal prince, and they professed to believe that this claim was, in fact, hostility to the Roman emperor. They supposed that it would involve the nation in war if he was not arrested, and that the effect would be that they would be vanquished and destroyed. It was on this charge that they at last arraigned him before Pilate, Luke 23:2-3.

Will take away - This expression means to destroy, to ruin, to overthrow, Luke 8:12; Acts 6:13-14.

Our place - This probably refers to the temple, Acts 6:13-14. It was called "the place" by way of eminence, as being the chief or principal place on earth - being the seat of the special worship of God. This place was utterly destroyed by the Romans. See the notes at Matthew 24.

And nation - The nation or people of the Jews.

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! They are afraid, that if they should any longer suffer Christ to go on working miracles, he would have a great many followers, who upon the credit of his miracles would own him as the Messiah, and the effect and consequence of this would be, they should by the Romans (to whom they were already in subjection) be utterly deprived of that little liberty they indulged them. They say, the Romans would come (that is with an army) and destroy their temple, which they call their

place, their most famous place, where they met to worship God, and in which, as a token of God’s presence amongst them, they so much alerted; yea, and their

nation; that is, miserably destroy their nation, and bring it to utter ruin. Whether they really thought so or no, or only spake this as an argument to hasten the death of Christ, is not much material for us to know. There was this colour for it, the Jews were a people very prone upon all occasions to rebel, and rise up in the defence of their liberties, whenever they could get any head, to give them any countenance and conduct. They also lived in a general expectation of the Messiah, when the sceptre should be departed from Judah, (as it now was), and when Daniel’s seventy weeks, mentioned John 9:24, should be determined, which were now fulfilled; so as there was about this time a general expectation of the Messiah; of whom also it is apparent they had a false notion, and generally expected under the notion of the Messiah, not the Son of God taking human nature, and to die for their redemption, and then rise again from the dead, and ascend into heaven; but a temporal prince, who, conquering all their enemies, should deliver them from all captivities and servitudes, and restore them to their ancient liberties. This their expectation was known well enough to the Roman governors, (as appeareth by Herod’s question to the wise men in Matthew 2:4), and they were very jealous of the Jews on this account, which caused Herod’s bloody act in killing the children in and about Bethlehem. So as the rulers of the Jews (according to the notion they had of the Messiah) might reasonably think, that if Jesus were taken to be the Messiah, and he went on confirming the opinion of himself by these miracles, so as people generally ran after him, the Romans would reasonably suppose they had a design to rebel, and therefore would come upon them, destroy their temple, and utterly ruin their nation. But how will they avoid this? That which they agreed upon we shall meet with John 11:53, they took counsel to put him to death. How they were led on to that fatal counsel we shall hear. If we let him thus alone,.... Going about from place to place, teaching the people, and doing such miracles:

all men will believe on him; the whole nation will receive him as the Messiah, and proclaim him their king, and yield a cheerful obedience to all his commands:

the Romans will come; against us, with their powerful armies; interpreting the setting him up as Messiah, to be an instance of rebellion against Caesar, and his government:

and take away both our place and nation; that is, will destroy the temple, their holy place, the place of their religion and worship; and their city, the place of their habitation, and lay waste their country; and take away from them that little share of power and government they had, and strip them both of their civil and religious privileges: the Persic version renders it, "they will take away our place, and make a decree against our religion".

If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and {h} take away both our place and nation.

(h) That is, take away from us by force: for at that time, though the high priest's authority was greatly lessened and weakened, yet there was some type of government left among the Jews.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 11:48. ἐὰν ἀφῶμενἔθνος. “If we let Him thus alone,” i.e., if we do no more to put an end to His miracles than we are doing, “all will believe on Him; and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation”. ἡμῶν emphatic. The raising of Lazarus and the consequent accession of adherents to Jesus made it probable that the people as a whole would attach themselves to Him as Messiah; and the consequence of the Jews choosing a king of their own would certainly be that the Romans would come and exterminate them.—τὸν τόπον one would naturally render “our land” as co-ordinate with τὸ ἔθνος [“Land und Leute,” Luther], and probably this is the meaning; although in 2Ma 5:19 in a very similar connection ὁ τόπος means the Temple: οὐ διὰ τὸν τόπον τὸ ἔθνος, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὸ ἔθνος τὸν τόπον ὁ Κύριος ἐξελέξατο. Others, with less warrant, think the holy city is meant.48. the Romans will come] They do not inquire whether He is or is not the Messiah; they look solely to the consequences of admitting that He is. “The Sanhedrin, especially the Pharisaic section of it, was a national and patriotic body. It was the inheritor and guardian of the Rabbinical theories as to the Messiah. There can have been no class in the nation in which these were so inveterately ingrained, and therefore none that was so little accessible to the teaching of Jesus. It was from first to last unintelligible to them. It seemed to abandon all the national hopes and privileges, and to make it a sin to defend them. If it were successful, it seemed as if it must leave the field open to the Romans … It is rarely in ancient literature that we find a highly complicated situation so well understood and described.” S. pp. 188, 189. This last remark is eminently true of the whole narrative portion of the Fourth Gospel.

our place and nation] ‘Our’ is very emphatic; both our place and our nation. ‘Place’ is perhaps best understood of Jerusalem, the seat of the Sanhedrin, and the abode of the bulk of the hierarchy. Other interpretations are (1) the Temple, comp. 2Ma 5:19; (2) the whole land; so that the expression means ‘our land and people,’ which is illogical: the land may be taken from the people, or the people from the land, but how can both be taken away? (3) ‘position, raison d’être.’ In any case the sentiment is parallel to that of Demetrius, and his fellow-craftsmen (Acts 19:27). They profess to be very zealous for religion, but cannot conceal their interested motives.John 11:48. Οὓτω) thus, as heretofore, say they, we have left Him alone.—πάντες, all men) and indeed with good reason.—οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι, the Romans) Their supposition was, that the Romans would regard that [the adhesion of the people to Jesus] as sedition. And yet [with all their scheming] the Jews did not escape that which they dreaded: [nay, indeed they brought it upon themselves by this very course of action.—V. g.]—καὶ τὸν τόπον καὶ τὸ ἔθνος, both our place and nation) Equivalent to an adage, i.e. our all, τόπος, territory.Verse 48. - If we let him alone thus, as we have been doing hitherto - if we suffer him to do these things - all men will believe on him, and the Romans will come and take away from us, i.e. from the Sanhedrin, from the lawful rulers in all matters affecting religious order or privilege, our place - the city or temple - and the nation, which we rule through our subordinates and surrogates, but to accomplish which we shall prove our incompetence if we cannot keep down all insubordination and hold perilous enthusiasm in check. De Wette and Hengstenberg strongly urge that by τόπον was meant the temple, "the dwelling-place and seat of the whole people" (Psalm 84:4; Psalm 27:4; cf. Matthew 23:38). Ewald, Godet, Meyer, Watkins, consider τόπον to be the city, the seat of all the power of the nation, spiritual and civil. The nation was a province of the Roman empire, but the hierarchy was still invested with great powers. Place and nation (τὸν τόπον καὶ τὸ ἔθνος)

Place, the temple and city (Acts 6:13; Acts 21:28; Matthew 24:15). Nation, the civil organization. See on 1 Peter 2:9; see on Luke 2:32. In the Sanhedrim were many devoted adherents of Rome, and the rest were well aware of the weakness of the national power.

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