John 11:51 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

John 11:51, NIV: "He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation,"

John 11:51, ESV: "He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,"

John 11:51, KJV: "And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;"

John 11:51, NASB: "Now he did not say this on his own, but as he was high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation;"

John 11:51, NLT: "He did not say this on his own; as high priest at that time he was led to prophesy that Jesus would die for the entire nation."

John 11:51, CSB: "He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation,"

What does John 11:51 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Among the toughest truths to accept is that God's view of tragedy is not identical to ours (Isaiah 55:8–9). Scripture tells us that God works out all things to the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). It tells us every wrong will one day be made right (Revelation 21:3–5). The recent resurrection of Lazarus demonstrated that even situations which seem inexplicable (John 11:35–37) are part of God's plan for our own good (John 11:11–15). This doesn't make those moments any easier to bear (2 Corinthians 5:2–4), but it does give us perspective.

Caiaphas' statement in the prior verse was that it was better for one man to die than for an entire nation to be destroyed. That comment is prophetic in at least two ways, both of which are accidental. Like a donkey supernaturally empowered to speak (2 Peter 2:15–16; Numbers 22:28), a hardened non-believer is speaking prophetic truth.

First and foremost, Caiaphas predicts the basic concept of Jesus' sacrificial death. The reason Jesus became human was to serve as a living, perfect sacrifice for the sins of many other people (Romans 5:12–17; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Caiaphas means this in a worldly, political sense: that it's better to have a troublemaker executed rather than let that person disrupt the peace.

His words are also prophetic in that not long after Jesus' resurrection, Rome would respond to Jewish uprising with extreme violence. That attack will culminate in the obliteration of the temple in AD 70, causing Old Testament Judaism to effectively "perish" from the earth (Hebrews 8:13).

This verse again notes that Caiaphas was High Priest "that year." Contrary to the lifetime appointments found in Scripture, Roman rulers preferred not to give one person power for too long. So they installed their own leaders, including Caiaphas. It's possible that the Jewish people acknowledged this position, formally, while informally considering others to be their "real" High Priest, such as Annas (Acts 4:6; John 18:13).