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John 11:18

ESV Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off,
NIV Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem,
NASB Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about fifteen stadia away;
CSB Bethany was near Jerusalem (less than two miles away).
NLT Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem,
KJV Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

What does John 11:18 mean?

This verse reiterates why Jesus was not in Bethany at the time Lazarus fell ill. Religious leaders in Jerusalem have been attempting to kill Jesus, so He traveled outside their sphere of control (John 10:39–40). The hostility of these men was so great that the disciples were surprised at Jesus' intent to return (John 11:8). This statement also helps to explain why there were so many people there mourning with Mary and Martha (John 11:19).

Scripture doesn't give much detail about Mary, Martha, or Lazarus. It's possible that they were well-known on their own merits. It's also possible that the crowd gathered here had more to do with their relationship with Jesus than anything else. Scripture indicates Jesus spent a notable amount of time with them, and in their home (Matthew 21:17; Luke 10:38–39). Later statements prove the local people knew how close Jesus was to this family (John 11:36). Some of those who have come to "console" the family might, in fact, be here more out of curiosity than grief.

The presence of so many people is also part of Jesus' arrangement of this event. He has already claimed that Lazarus' illness doesn't lead to death, and that it's for the sake of God's glory (John 11:4). Jesus waited so that He would not arrive until Lazarus' death was beyond any possible doubt or dispute (John 11:17). As the next verse shows, He has also chosen a moment with a large audience.
What is the Gospel?
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