John 11:48 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 11:48, NIV: "If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our temple and our nation.'"

John 11:48, ESV: "If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”"

John 11:48, KJV: "If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation."

John 11:48, NASB: "If we let Him go on like this, all the people will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take over both our place and our nation.'"

John 11:48, NLT: "If we allow him to go on like this, soon everyone will believe in him. Then the Roman army will come and destroy both our Temple and our nation.'"

John 11:48, CSB: "If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.""

What does John 11:48 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Two thousand years of changing history can cloud our view of biblical stories. The term "Pharisee" has a very negative connotation today, but this was not the case in ancient Judea. Pharisees were disciplined, respected, and legitimately moral men. Obviously, their traditionalism led most of them towards pride and arrogance. And yet, some members of the Jewish council were sincerely interested in the truth, such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (John 3:1–2; 7:50–51; Luke 23:50–51). It's easy to view these ancient groups as two-dimensional cartoons, rather than as fully-human people with complex motivations.

Scripture makes it clear the Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees had a generally-wrong response to Jesus. They are stubborn, hard-headed, and deliberately ignoring evidence and good reasoning (John 5:39–41; Mark 3:22–30). And yet, they are also reasonably consistent: they see Jesus as dangerous, not just spiritually but also politically. The actions of the Council in these next few verses are heinous, but they are entirely coherent, given their point of view.

In broad terms, the Roman Empire let conquered territories govern themselves. However, that freedom came with the price of overall submission. Taxes, travel access, and cooperation were required, and no person could challenge the authority of the Emperor. Prior to Jesus' public ministry, there had been several instances where Jewish rebellion was met with a devastating Roman counter. The Scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees are correct in their assumption that any Jewish man leading an open revolt against Roman power will bring ruin to the Jewish people.

At the same time, these men will push the idea of Jesus as a political rebel for their own ends. They are just as concerned about the loss of their "place" in the power structure as they are the annihilation of their people. They know painting Christ as a rebel is the only chance they have of getting Jesus out of the way. And they persist in that claim despite His clear statements to the contrary (John 6:15, 25–27). Even if politics is not what Jesus' ministry is all about (John 18:36), that misunderstanding is the lever the religious leaders will use to attack Him. His triumphal entry will only make that spin easier to promote (John 12:12–19).