John 11:50
Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
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(50) Nor consider that it is expedient for us . . .—This remarkable counsel has linked itself in St. John’s thoughts with the name of Caiaphas. He quotes it again in John 18:14.

Should die for the people, and that the whole nation . . .—Different words are used here in the Greek, as in the English. The former word represents the theocratic people, those who were united together as the servants of God; the latter word is that which is used in John 11:48, and represents the political nation as one of the nations of the earth.

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.It is expedient for us - It is better for us. Literally, "It is profitable for us."

That one man should die - Jesus they regarded as promoting sedition, and as exposing the nation, if he was successful, to the vengeance of the Romans, John 11:48. If he was put to death they supposed the people would be safe. This is all, doubtless, that he meant by his dying for the people. He did not himself intend to speak of his dying as an atonement or a sacrifice; but his words might also express that, and, though he was unconscious of it, he was expressing a real truth. In the sense in which he intended it there was no truth in the observation, nor occasion for it, but in the sense which the words might convey there was real and most important truth. It was expedient, it was infinitely desirable, that Jesus should die for that people, and for all others, to save them from perishing.

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! Never was any thing spoken more diabolically: he regards not what was their duty, nor what was lawful for them to do; whether they might upon any pretence shed innocent blood, much more the blood of one whose life was spent in nothing but a going up and down in doing good; only, like a wretched politician, who was concerned for nothing but the people’s safety, he saith not, it is lawful, but,

it is expedient for us that one man, be he never so good, never so innocent and just,

should die for the people, that is, to save the whole nation from destruction. 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.

Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
50. expedient for us] For us members of the Sanhedrin. But the better reading gives, for you half-hearted Pharisees.

that one man] Literally, in order that one man; S. John’s favourite particle pointing to the Divine purpose: comp. John 4:34; John 4:36, John 6:29; John 6:50, John 9:2-3; John 9:39, John 12:23, and especially John 16:7.

the people] The Jews as a theocratic community (laos).

the whole nation] The Jews as one of the nations of the earth (ethnos). Comp. Luke 7:5; Acts 10:22. The same word in the plural, ‘the nations,’ means the Gentiles.John 11:50. Συμφέρει, it is expedient) Caiaphas is thinking of mere political expediency; but the Spirit of prophecy so directs him, as that he uses words suited to express what was spiritually expedient. Caiaphas and Pilate condemned Jesus; yet both gave a testimony foreign to their own personal feeling: Caiaphas, in this passage, gives testimony as to the sacerdotal character of the death of Christ; Pilate, in the inscription on the cross, gave testimony as to His kingly character.—εἷς, one) 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “One died for all,—He died for all, that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves.”—καὶ μὴ ὅλον τὸ ἔθνος ἀπόληται, and not that the whole nation perish) He refers to their words in the close of John 11:48, “The Romans shall take away both our place and nation.”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. People - nation (τοῦ λαοῦ - τὸ ἔθνος)

The former the theocratic nation, the people of God: the latter, the body politic. See on 1 Peter 2:9.

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