John 11:9
Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
Jump to: AlfordBarnesBengelBensonBICalvinCambridgeChrysostomClarkeDarbyEllicottExpositor'sExp DctExp GrkGaebeleinGSBGillGrayGuzikHaydockHastingsHomileticsICCJFBKellyKingLangeMacLarenMHCMHCWMeyerParkerPNTPoolePulpitSermonSCOTeedTTBVWSWESTSK
(9) Are there not twelve hours in the day?—Or more exactly, Are not the hours of the day twelve? They had expressed their fears that danger and death would be the result of going into Judæa. His answer would say that the darkness of the night which they dreaded could not come yet. The natural night would come not until its appointed hour, until the twelve hours of the day had run their course. The day of His life is marked out by limits no less sure. The night indeed cometh, but it is as yet full day, and in that day He and they must do the work which is appointed of the Father. (Comp. John 11:6; and Notes on John 2:4; John 7:30; John 8:20; John 9:4; John 12:27; John 17:1.)

Incidentally these words bear on the question of St. John’s method of counting the hours of the day, and support the view which from other passages seems quite evident that he follows the ordinary Babylonian numeration. (Comp. Notes on John 1:40; John 4:6; John 4:52; John 19:14.)

Because he seeth the light of this worldi.e., the natural light of the sun. While the earth is illumined by it, men follow the course of their work without danger of stumbling. In the application to their own position, the truth holds good. The day of His work is illumined by the light of heaven, and for Him and them there is safety.

11:7-10 Christ never brings his people into any danger but he goes with them in it. We are apt to think ourselves zealous for the Lord, when really we are only zealous for our wealth, credit, ease, and safety; we have therefore need to try our principles. But our day shall be lengthened out, till our work is done, and our testimony finished. A man has comfort and satisfaction while in the way of his duty, as set forth by the word of God, and determined by the providence of God. Christ, wherever he went, walked in the day; and so shall we, if we follow his steps. If a man walks in the way of his heart, and according to the course of this world, if he consults his own carnal reasonings more than the will and glory of God, he falls into temptations and snares. He stumbles, because there is no light in him; for light in us is to our moral actions, that which light about us to our natural actions.Twelve hours - The Jews divided the day from sunrise to sunset into twelve equal parts. A similar illustration our Saviour uses in John 9:4-5. See the notes at that place.

If any man walk - If any man travels. The illustration here is taken from a traveler. The conversation was respecting a journey into Judea, and our Lord, as was his custom, took the illustration from the case before him.

He stumbleth not - He is able, having light, to make his journey safely. He sees the obstacles or dangers and can avoid them.

The light of this world - The light by which the world is illuminated that is, the light of the sun.

In the night - In darkness he is unable to see danger or obstacles, and to avoid them. His journey is unsafe and perilous, or, in other words, it is not a proper time to travel.

No light in him - He sees no light. It is dark; his eyes admit no light within him to direct his way. This description is figurative, and it is difficult to fix the meaning. Probably the intention was the following:

1. Jesus meant to say that there was an allotted or appointed time for him to live and do his Father's will, represented here by the 12 hours of the day.

2. Though his life was nearly spent, yet it was not entirely; a remnant of it was left.

3. A traveler journeyed on until night. It was as proper for him to travel the twelfth hour as any other.

4. So it was proper for Jesus to labor until the close. It was the proper time for him to work. The night of death was coming, and no work could then be done.

5. God would defend him in this until the appointed time of his death. He had nothing to fear, therefore, in Judea from the Jews, until it was the will of God that he should die. He was safe in his hand, and he went fearlessly into the midst of his foes, trusting in him. This passage teaches us that we should be diligent to the end of life: fearless of enemies when we know that God requires us to labor, and confidently committing ourselves to Him who is able to shield us, and in whose hand, if we have a conscience void of offence, we are safe.

9. Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day?—(See on [1829]Joh 9:4). Our Lord's day had now reached its eleventh hour, and having till now "walked in the day," He would not mistime the remaining and more critical part of His work, which would be as fatal, He says, as omitting it altogether; for "if a man (so He speaks, putting Himself under the same great law of duty as all other men—if a man) walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him." Look as in the day there are twelve hours, in which the sun shineth, and by giving its light directs men in their courses; so as they know how to guide their feet, and do not stumble, because they have the light of the sun, which God hath ordained, to direct men that walk up and down in the world.

Jesus answered, are there not twelve hours in the day?.... So the Jews reckoned, and so they commonly say (a), , "twelve hours are a day", or a day consists of twelve hours, which they divided into four parts, each part consisting of three hours this was a matter well known, and Christ puts the question as such, it being what might be easily answered, and at once assented to:

if any man walk in the day: within any of the twelve hours, even in the last of them,

he stumbleth not, at any stone or stumbling block in the way,

because he seeth the light of this world; the sun in the horizon not being as yet set, by the light of which he sees what is before him, and avoids it; See Gill on John 8:12. So our Lord intimates, that as yet it was day with him, his time of life was not expired; and so, as yet, it was a time of walking and working; nor did he fear any danger he was exposed to, or any snares that were laid for him, since he could not be hurt by any, nor his life taken from him before his time.

(a) T. Bab Sanhedrin, fol. 88. 2. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 2. Vid. Philo. de Somniis, p. 1143.

Jesus answered, Are there not {c} twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.

(c) All things happen in a proper way and are brought to pass in their due time.

John 11:9-10. The sense of the allegorical answer is this: “The time appointed to me by God for working is not yet elapsed; as long as it lasts, no one can do anything to me; but when it shall have come to an end, I shall fall into the hands of my enemies, like him who walketh in the night, and who stumbleth, because he is without light.” In this way Jesus sets aside the anxiety of His disciples, on the one hand, by directing their attention to the fact that, as His time is not yet expired, He is safe from the apprehended dangers; and, on the other, by reminding them (John 11:10) that He must make use of the time apportioned to Him, before it come to an end.[72] So substantially Apollinaris (διδάσκει ὁ κύριος, ὅτι πρὸ τοῦ καιροῦ τοῦ πάθους οὐκ ἂν ὑπὸ Ἰουδαίων πάθοι· καὶ διδάσκει τοῦτο διὰ παραβολῆς, ἡμέρας μὲν καιρὸν ὀνομάζων τὸν πρὸ τοῦ πάθους, τὸν δὲ τοῦ πάθους νύκτα), Ruperti (only partially), Jansen, Maldonatus, Corn.a Lapide, Wolf, Heumann, and several others; also Maier and B. Crusius; comp. Ewald and Hengstenberg. On individual points, note further: (1) ΔΏΔΕΚΑ is placed emphatically at the beginning, signifying that the day referred to is still running on, and that anxiety is still premature (not: only twelve hours; Bengel correctly remarks: “jam multa erat hora, sed tamen adhuc erat dies”). The supposition that Jesus spoke the words early in the morning, at sunrise (Godet, Gumlich), is as arbitrary as it is unnecessary. (2) τὸ φῶς τ. κόσμ. is the light of the sun, so designated in harmony with the elevated tone which marks the entire saying; the words ὅτιβλέπει belong merely to the details of the picture, and are not intended to be specially interpreted (for example, of the guidance of the divine will, as Godet thinks, following older commentators). (3) Applying the figure to Jesus, night (John 11:10) commenced with the ἐλήλυθεν ἡ ὥρα, John 17:1 (comp. John 12:27); the ἩΜΈΡΑ with its twelve hours was then over for Him, and, according to the divine decree, the ΠΡΟΣΚΟΠΉ in His path which, with the close of the twelfth hour, had become dark, must now follow,[73] in that He fell into the hands of His enemies; till then, however, οὔπω ἐληλύθει ἡ ὥρα αὐτοῦ, John 7:30, John 8:20. (4) The expression ὍΤΙ ΤῸ Φῶς ΟὐΚ ἜΣΤΙΝ ἘΝ ΑὐΤῷ, which is also a detail not intended for interpretation, is not equivalent to: he has not, etc. (Ewald; it is also inadmissible to take this view of Psalm 90:10), but is an outflow of the notion that, in the case of a man walking in the night, it is dark in him, i.e. his representation of his surroundings is dark and without light, so that he cannot discover his whereabouts in his consciousness of that which is round about him. Grotius: “in oculis ejus;” but the expression ἐν αὐτῷ suggests the inner intuition and representation. (5) Substantially the same, and decisive for the view which the disciples would take, are the thought and figure in John 9:3 f.; hence also here neither is ἩΜΈΡΑ to be taken as an image of tempus opportunum (Morus, Rosenmüller, Paulus, Kuinoel), nor νύξ of tempus importunum; nor is it any more allowable to say, with Gumlich and Brückner (comp. Melanchthon, Beza, and Calvin), that φῶς τοῦ κ. τ. is God, who shows the Son the way, so that this latter thus walks in the day, and His person and work remain unendangered (οὐ προσκόπτει[74]); similarly Baeumlein; Lücke, on the other hand, rightly refers Τῆς ἩΜΈΡΑς to the “day’s work” of Christ, which has its definite limit (its twelve hours); but then he explains ἐν τῇ ἡμέρᾳ of fulfilling the duties of His calling (comp. Melanchthon), which is always the way of safety, and takes νύξ as an image of unfaithfulness to one’s calling, which leads to destruction. In this way, however, two totally different meanings are assigned to the figurative term ἡμέρα, the second of which is the more decidedly to be rejected, as the mention of twelve hours is evidence that the temporal explanation alone is correct. For this reason, further, we must reject not only the view taken by De Wette, who regards the day as the image of “upright, innocent, clear action,” the twelve hours, as the ways and means of action, and the night as the lack of prudence and singlemindedness; but also that of Luthardt: “He who keeps within the limits of his calling will not strike against anything, will not make false steps, for the light of the world, i.e. the will of God, gives him light; he, however, who passes beyond the limits of his calling will go wrong in his doings, seeing that he is guided, not by God’s will, but by his own pleasure.” Tholuck also diverges from the consistent carrying out of the temporal view; for, though understanding the twelve hours of the day of the fixed time of the vocation, he afterwards introduces the calling itself: “Whoso abides not by his calling will come to damage.” Comp. Schweizer, p. 106; also Lange, who combines several very different views. According to Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Euth. Zigabenus, the walking in the day denotes either a blameless walk, in which a man has no need to be afraid; or fellowship with Christ (so also Erasmus: “quamdiu vobis luceo, nihil est periculi; veniet nox, quando a me semoti conturbabimini.”[75] Vatablus, Clarius, Lampe, Neander). Both are incorrect, for the simple reason that the disciples had expressed concern, not for themselves, but for Christ, by their question in John 11:8 (Chrysostom and his followers arbitrarily remark that they had been more in anxiety, ὑπὲρ ἑαυτῶν); and because the former of these views would furnish no explanation of the mention of the hours, which is just the key to the figure. This objection holds good also against Hilgenfeld, Lehrbegr. p. 263, who brings out as the meaning of Jesus: He has the light absolutely in Himself, and for Him, therefore, no dark point can exist in His earthly course. On this view, moreover, John 11:10 remains without explanation. Olshausen, adopting the second view of Chrysostom, is prepared to accept an unhermeneutical double meaning of ἡμέρα;—in the one case, mindful of His near brotherly relationship to men, Jesus regarded Himself as accomplishing His ordained day’s work; but, in the other case, He had in view His higher dignity as the spiritual enlightener, in the rays of whose brightness the disciples would have nothing to fear.[76] Comp. Bengel, who thinks that τὸ φῶς τ. κόσμ. τούτου signifies the “providentia Patris respectu Jesu, et providentia Christi respectu fidelium.

[72] Not, as Godet interprets: that He dare not lengthen the working time appointed to Him by the divine will, that He may not venture to add to it as it were a thirteenth hour. Such a thought was totally foreign to the minds of the disciples in giving their warning. All that they desired was, that He should not shorten His life by exposing Himself to the threatening danger of death.

[73] The idea set forth is therefore not “the wish to be active beyond the ordained goal and limit of life,” which would, indeed, be absurd (Tholuck’s objection); but to be set free of activity on the attainment of the ordained goal of life. When the twelfth hour has passed, night falls on the wanderer, and he stumbles.

[74] Ver. 10. τὸ φῶς οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν αὐτῷ is then explained by Brückner, after Matthew 6:22 f., to mean that the eye, which has received the light, becomes itself a lamp, and so the whole man is illumined. But how could Jesus expect the disciples to understand so far-fetched an illusion? If such had been His meaning, He must have used, in agreement with Matthew 6:23, some such words as: ὅτι τὸ φῶς τὸ ἐν αὐτῷ σχότος ἐστιν.

[75] So in the Paraphr. But in the Annotat. he takes substantially our view: “Dies habet suas horas, nec is nostro arbitrio fit brevior aut longior; et ego tempus habeo praescriptum, quo debeam redimendi orbis negotium peragere, id Judaeorum malitia non potest anticipari: proinde nihil est, quod mihi timeatis.”

[76] Ebrard adopts Olshausen’s view in the following more definite shape: “The day has its determinate measured duration. If a man use the day as day, i.e. the time for working given him by God as a time of working, he needs to be in no fear that his working will bring him mischief, for the light of the mundane sun illumines him. But he who walks as though it were night, i.e. without working the will of God, would procure for himself eternal mischief, because he had not in him the light (in the absolute sense, John 1:5).” In this way the essential elements are read into the passage; and what a strange difference in the conceptions found in the same expressions! How could the disciples have possibly understood their Master!

John 11:9. Οὐχὶἡμέρας, i.e., each man’s day, or term of work, is a defined quantity. [τὰ δυώδεκα μέρεα τῆς ἡμέρης παρὰ Βαβυλωνίων ἔμαθον Ἐλληνες, Herod., ii. 109; and see Rawlinson’s Appendix to his Translation.]—ἐάν τιςβλέπει. So long as this day lasts, a man may go confidently forward to the duties that call him; οὐ προσκόπτει “he does not stumble,” he can walk erect and straight on amid dangers, cf. Matthew 4:6, “because he sees the light of the world”; as the sun makes all causes of stumbling manifest and saves the walker from them, so the knowledge of God’s will, which is man’s moral light, guides him; and to follow it is his only safety.

9. Are there not twelve hours in the day] As so often, Christ gives no direct answer to the question asked, but a general principle, involving the answer to the question. Comp. John 2:6; John 2:19, John 3:5; John 3:10, John 4:13; John 4:21, John 6:32; John 6:52, John 8:7; John 8:25; John 8:54, John 10:25. The meaning seems to be, ‘Are there not twelve working-hours in which a man may labour without fear of stumbling? I have not yet reached the end of My working-day, and so can safely continue the work I came to do. The night cometh, when I can no longer work; but it has not yet come.’ Comp. John 9:4. Thus it is practically equivalent to ‘Mine hour is not yet come;’ it is still safe for Him to work: but the figure here adopted is of wider application, and contains a moral for the disciples and all Christians as well as an application to Christ. The expression throws no light on S. John’s method of reckoning time. See on John 19:14.

the light of this world] The sun.

John 11:9. Ὥραι, hours) The course of Jesus was now far advanced; it was now a late hour in His day: but it was however still day.—τῆς ἡμέρας) of the day, or else in the day. The whole course of life, in all its parts, is compared to the day. The standing [state] is presupposed: one standing or state in one, another in another, regarded as the Subject; to walk is the Predicate.—τίς, any one) Again used indefinitely. Comp. ch. John 9:4, “I must work, etc.: the night cometh, when no man can work.” This applies to the disciples, who were afraid, even for themselves.—οὐ προσκόπτει, he does not stumble) in the midst of snares of the world lying in his way.—τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, the light of this world) beaming out from the sun. The providence of the Father, in respect to Jesus, is intimated; and the providence of Christ in respect to believers.—βλέπει, He seeth) Understand, and there is light in him: and in the following verse understand, and he seeth not the light of this world. But in both instances the clause, which is expressed, is especially suited to its own passage respectively: for during the day, the light of the world, which each one sees, as it were absorbs the sense of the light which he has in himself. By night the light of the world, being not seen, increases the sense of his defect in the case of him who hath no light in himself.

Verse 9. - Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If a man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. The answer of Jesus is a further deliverance concerning the human law and season (καιρός) of work - a parable drawn from earthly and human analogies, which will unquestionably have a direct bearing on the conditions of Divine service at all time, and is therefore applicable to the disciples with himself. It receives also special significance from some aspects of Christ's own ministry, and from the step he had just now declared that he intended to take. Of course, the parable is based upon the conditions of human work; one of these conditions is light, another of them is time. Light is necessary for all the wise efforts of men - the light of day, the light of this world or the sun; we must see whither we are going, in order to avoid the occasions of stumbling. We must submit to this comprehensive condition, or we fail (cf. here John 9:4, "I must work the works of him that sent me while it is day; the night cometh, when no man can work"). There are two kinds of night of which he speaks. One is the night which arrests all labor, the night of death; and the other is the night of ignorance and unbelief, when the light that is in a man becomes darkness, when, if a man does attempt to work or walk, he will stumble. Meyer and some others, from the reference to another condition, viz. that of time, persist in limiting the notion of the day to that of the period of service, about which the Lord says also some very solemn things; and Meyer objects to Luthardt and others, who give to the sun, to the light of this world, any moral or spiritual meaning. We need not limit the application. Light may mean knowledge of duty supplied by God's providence and the revelation of his will, and so far as "day" is made by light, it is important to notice it here. But time is an equally important condition, and whereas in John 9:4, 5 the Lord laid emphasis upon the limited amount of opportunity during which the light lasts and the work can be done; so here there is an appointed period during which stumbling is unnecessary: "twelve hours in the day." This (I take to be Christ's meaning) is one of these hours, and before the night comes "I must work." Godet suggests that the disciples, by this question, recommended him not to shorten his career by courting danger, and so to create for himself "a thirteenth hour" to the day, in which he would secure no blessing; that the Lord condemned the proposal, knowing that he was immortal till his hour had come; and that if we shrink from a call of duty, and thus save ourselves, adding an unhallowed increment to our day of useless work, we incur the like condemnation, we shall stumble. Let it be observed that the reason for working in the night is not because we have twelve hours for duty and no more, but because, though we have a time of service and an opportunity, we have let both slip past us, and then the work is difficult and perilous if we do attempt it. Some have said that Judas, Peter, Thomas, etc., walked in the night, and that they stumbled and fell. John 11:9Walk (περιπατῇ)

Walk about, in the pursuit of his ordinary business. Wyc., wander.

John 11:9 Interlinear
John 11:9 Parallel Texts

John 11:9 NIV
John 11:9 NLT
John 11:9 ESV
John 11:9 NASB
John 11:9 KJV

John 11:9 Bible Apps
John 11:9 Parallel
John 11:9 Biblia Paralela
John 11:9 Chinese Bible
John 11:9 French Bible
John 11:9 German Bible

Bible Hub

John 11:8
Top of Page
Top of Page