John 11:19 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 11:19, NIV: "and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother."

John 11:19, ESV: "and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother."

John 11:19, KJV: "And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother."

John 11:19, NASB: "and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary, to console them about their brother."

John 11:19, NLT: "and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss."

John 11:19, CSB: "Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother."

What does John 11:19 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Jesus has arrived, very deliberately, four days after His beloved friend Lazarus has died (John 11:1–4; 11:17). This was a purposeful choice by Jesus, and one made for a specific reason (John 11:15). Not only is there no question that Lazarus is really, truly dead, there is a sizable crowd here to see what happens next. The gospel of John describes these miracles as "signs," which are intended to prove Jesus' divinity (John 20:30–31). The situation created here fits that objective perfectly: everything has aligned to make this an unmistakable show of godly power (John 11:42).

John's choice of terms in this verse raises questions. Jesus was not in Bethany when Lazarus fell ill. He was across the Jordan river avoiding the hostile religious leaders of Jerusalem (John 10:39–40). Bethany is right next door to Jerusalem (John 11:18). In the gospel of John, the term "the Jews" is most often used as a reference to those religious leaders. As such, this verse might imply that many who came to comfort Mary and Martha are Jesus' enemies. Participating in mourning may have been part of their religious obligations. It also might have been a chance for them to remind everyone that Jesus had claimed Lazarus' illness would not lead to death (John 11:5).

However, John also uses the term "the Jews" in reference to those who follow the leaders of Jerusalem. In this case, John probably means those kinds of people. While it's possible that officials of the Pharisees or Sadducees might have arrived—for whatever reason—it's more likely that the people assembled here are just common folk grieving with neighbors.