John 12:17
The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bore record.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) When he called Lazarus . . . . bare record.—Several MSS. and some of the oldest versions read, “bare record that He called Lazarus out of the grave, and raised him from the dead.” The difference in the texts is only that of one letter (ὅτε and ὅτι). If we take the reading which was adopted by our translators, and which is best supported, we must distinguish between the multitude mentioned in this verse, and that mentioned in John 12:18. The meaning of this text is that the Jews of John 12:9; John 12:11, and those of John 11:45, with the people of Bethany, bear witness of the event, the recurrence of which they had themselves seen; and that this testimony was received by the multitude of pilgrims who went forth therefore to receive Jesus as the Messiah. (Comp. especially Luke 19:37.) This interpretation makes the Jews of Jerusalem themselves the witnesses whose testimony leads the multitude to receive our Lord as the Christ.

If we take the alternative, but less probable text, the multitude in both verses will be one and the same.

John 12:17-19. The people, therefore — “Because the forwardness which the multitude now showed to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah was altogether extraordinary, the evangelist assigns the cause thereof. The witnesses of the resurrection of Lazarus had published the miracle far and near. As they were many in number, and persons of reputation, their report gained general credit; and this drew out a great multitude of people to meet Jesus. In saying, he called Lazarus out of the grave, the evangelist admirably expresses, as well the greatness of the miracle, as the facility with which it was wrought. The easiness of the Scripture style, on the most grand occurrences, is more sublime than all the pomp of orators. For this cause the people also met him — Because they heard from those who had been eye-witnesses thereof, that he had performed that extraordinary miracle; therefore they went out to meet him, and the multitude coming with him; so that, in a little time, both joined together, partly to go before and partly to follow after. The Pharisees therefore said, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? — In the mean time, the Pharisees and the great men were exceedingly enraged because every measure they had taken to hinder the people from following Jesus had proved ineffectual.12:12-19 Christ's riding in triumph to Jerusalem is recorded by all the evangelists. Many excellent things, both in the word and providence of God, disciples do not understand at their first acquaintance with the things of God. The right understanding of spiritual nature of Christ's kingdom, prevents our misapplying the Scriptures which speak of it.Bare record - Testified that he had raised him, and, as was natural, spread the report through the city. This excited much attention, and the people came out in multitudes to meet one who had power to work such miracles.16. when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, &c.—The Spirit, descending on them from the glorified Saviour at Pentecost, opened their eyes suddenly to the true sense of the Old Testament, brought vividly to their recollection this and other Messianic predictions, and to their unspeakable astonishment showed them that they, and all the actors in these scenes, had been unconsciously fulfilling those predictions.Ver. 17-19. These three verses let us know the external cause of the people’s coming to see Christ, which was the fame of the miracle wrought by our Saviour on Lazarus; this increased the number of those who came to see his entrance into Jerusalem; but the unseen cause was, doubtless, the influence of God upon their hearts, directing them to it, for the further glorifying of his Son before his passion. But this enraged the Pharisees, to see that their decree that those who owned Christ should be turned out of the synagogue should have no better effect: but the multitude rather more owned him, and ran after him. Here again we find the term world signifying many, though those many made up but a very small part of the world. The people therefore that was with him,.... The Jews, that came from Jerusalem to Bethany, to comfort the two sisters of Lazarus upon his death, who believed in Christ; and others of the town of Bethany, who with them were along with Christ:

when he called Lazarus out of his grave; saying, Lazarus, come forth:

and raised him from the dead; to life:

bare record: to the Jews at Jerusalem, and to the people that came out of the several countries, of the truth of that fact; declaring, that they were eye and ear witnesses of the whole, and that it was a truth that might be depended on.

The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 12:17-18. Οὖν] Leading back again after the intermediate observation of John 12:16 to the story, and that in such a way that it is now stated how it was the raising of Lazarus which so greatly excited both the people who thronged with Jesus from Bethany to Jerusalem (the Ἰουδαῖοι who had become believers, John 12:9; John 12:11, and others, certainly including many inhabitants of Bethany itself), and the multitude which came to meet them from Jerusalem (John 12:12).

ἐμαρτ. κ.τ.λ. ὅτι]

[107] for they had, in truth, themselves seen the reanimated man; had also, perhaps, themselves witnessed in part the process of the miracle, or at least heard of it from eye-witnesses, and could accordingly testify to His resurrection.

ἐφώνησεννεκρῶν] The echo of their triumphant words.

διὰ τοῦτοὅτι] On this account (on account of this raising from the dead), namely, because; see on John 10:17.

ὑπήντησεν] not pluperfect in sense, but: they went to meet (as already stated above, John 12:12-13).

ὁ ὄχλος] The article points to John 12:12.

ἤκουσαν] namely, previously, in Jerusalem.

τοῦτο] with emphasis; hence also the separation in the order of the words.

[107] With the reading ὅτε (see critical notes), ἐμαρτ would have to be taken absolutely the people bore witness, who, viz. were with Him at the raising of Lazarus. Comp. Luther, Erasmus, and many others. Thus the ὄχλος would be the same as in John 11:42, which, however, is not appropriate to ver. 12 and ver. 18, and would only tend to confuse.

NOTE.

While we necessarily recognise the main difference between the Synoptics and John, namely, that according to the former, the journey of Christ to Jerusalem is made from Jericho, where He had remained for the night at the house of Zacchaeus, and the stay in Bethany is excluded (see on Matthew 21:1, note), the Messianic entry is yet one and the same event in all four evangelists. Against the assumption of an entry on two occasions (Paulus, Schleiermacher, üb. d. Schriften des Luk. p. 243 ff., and L. J. p. 407 ff.), according to which He is said first to have made an entry from Jericho, and, one or two days later, again from Bethany, the very nature of the transaction is decisive, to which a repetition, and one moreover so early, was not appropriate, without degenerating into an organized procession. Only in the view of its occurring once, and of its being brought about accidentally, as it were, by the circumstances, does it retain a moral agreement with the mind of Jesus. With this view, too, all four accounts conform, and they all show not merely by their silence respecting a second procession, but also by the manner in which they represent the one, that they are entirely ignorant of any repetition. Such a repetition, especially one so uniform in character, would be as improbable in itself, as it must be opposed to the course of development of the history of Jesus, which here especially, when the last bloody crisis is prepared for by the entry of the Messianic King, must preserve its divine decorum, and finds its just measure in the simple fulfilment of the prophetic prediction.John 12:17. In John 12:17-18 this demonstration is carefully traced to the raising of Lazarus: “the crowd which was with Him when He summoned Lazarus from the tomb, and raised him from the dead, testified [that He had done so], and on this account the crowd went out to meet Him, because they had heard this testimony”. The demonstration is thus rendered intelligible. In the Synoptists it is not accounted for. He is represented as entering the city with the pilgrims, and no reason is assigned for the sudden outburst of feeling. See Mark 11:1, etc.17. when he called Lazarus] See on John 12:10. There is another reading, well supported, which gives ‘that He called Lazarus,’ and the whole will then run;—The multitude, therefore, which was with Him, kept bearing witness (John 1:7) that He called Lazarus out of the sepulchre and raised him from the dead. But ‘when’ is to be preferred; so that there are two multitudes, one coming with Jesus from Bethany and one (John 12:13; John 12:18) meeting Him from Jerusalem. See on John 12:41.John 12:17. Ἐμαρτύρει, bare record) as to the miracle, at which they were present.—ἐφώνησεν ἐκ τοῦ μνημείου, called out of the tomb) The greatness of the miracle, and the ease with which it was performed, are most skilfully expressed. The style of Scripture is easy, when treating of the greatest things, therein surpassing in sublimity every sample of the sublime in oratory. The raising up of Lazarus is the crowning triumph of Christ’s miracles: the order of which latter may be compared with the order observed in the restoration of the human race. Let the expression, [God] said, Genesis 1., be compared with the verb, called, here.—καί) and so.Verses 17-19. - These verses connect the enthusiasm of the multitudes with the great miracle of John 11, indicating a point concerning which the synoptic narrative is silent, and further they consociate the miracle and its effect upon the multitude with aggravation of the malignant feeling of the constituted authorities which leads to the capture and crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. Verse 17. - The multitude therefore which was with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb, and raised him from the dead, were bearing witness. The seventeenth verse goes back to the (ὄχλος) multitude who are mentioned in John 11:42; i.e. to the friends of Mary and Martha and to other inhabitants of Bethany, as well as visitors from Jerusalem (John 11:31). All these are involved in the explicit declaration, ὁ ὤν μετ αὐτοῦ. Which was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and (not only so, but) raised him from among the dead. Those who had actually beheld the miracle, and were as eye and ear witnesses of the event, who had hovered about Bethany since his return to it, - these were bearing witness. They spread themselves abroad in the crowd of Galilaean pilgrims and others, and were uttering their testimony on all sides. The word is used absolutely, as in John 19:35, and the imperfect tense should not be turned here into a mere preterit.
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