What does John 11:16 mean?
ESV: So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
NIV: Then Thomas (also known as Didymus) said to the rest of the disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.'
NASB: Therefore Thomas, who was called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, 'Let’s also go, so that we may die with Him!'
CSB: Then Thomas (called "Twin") said to his fellow disciples, "Let's go too so that we may die with him."
NLT: Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, 'Let’s go, too — and die with Jesus.'
KJV: Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.
Verse Commentary:
Jesus is heading back into Judea, a territory controlled by those who want to kill Him (John 11:8). His reason is to "wake up" His friend Lazarus, who has now been dead for several days (John 11:1–7, 17). Jesus points out that this delay is not an accident. One purpose is for the benefit of the disciples. The miracle about to happen is the seventh and most spectacular of those recorded in this gospel. The function of those miracles is to act as "signs" that point toward an important truth: that Jesus is God incarnate and following His mission from God.

The disciples have already shown that even if they lack wisdom, they sincerely believe in Jesus and are willing to follow more loyally than others (John 6:66–69). Loyalty does not require optimism, however. Thomas—the same disciple often criticized for doubting Jesus' eventual resurrection (John 20:24–29)—seems convinced that this is a suicide mission. All the same, he is willing to go, apparently resigned to his fate. Or, at least, he feels the need to express some "gallows humor" about what is happening.
Verse Context:
John 11:1–16 sets up the most spectacular of Jesus' earthly miracles: the resurrection of Lazarus. Jesus is given word that Lazarus is sick but delays several days before leaving to see the family. As it turns out, by the time this message gets to Jesus, Lazarus has already died. The disciples assume Jesus won't go back to Judea, since local religious leaders want to kill Him. When Jesus plans to head into dangerous territory, His followers are frightened and pessimistic. The following passage will show Jesus arriving four days after Lazarus had passed away.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus has left the vicinity of Jerusalem to avoid hostile religious leaders. While gone, He receives word that a good friend, Lazarus, is sick. In fact, Lazarus has died by the time this message reaches Jesus. He purposefully waits a few days before returning to Bethany, arriving four days after Lazarus' burial. In front of Lazarus' mourning sisters—who Jesus weeps with—and an assembled crowd, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead in a stirring and spectacular miracle. This is the seventh of John's seven ''signs'' of Jesus' divine power. In response, religious leaders coordinate in their effort to have Jesus murdered.
Chapter Context:
After giving sight to a man born blind (John 9), Jesus sparred with religious leaders on at least two occasions (John 10). After another failed arrest attempt, Jesus left the area and went out where Jerusalem's politics had little influence. In this chapter, He returns to resurrect a recently-departed friend, Lazarus. That results in a renewed commitment from Jerusalem's religious leaders to have Jesus murdered. As the crucifixion draws near, Jesus will stage His triumphal entry in chapter 12, and then begin His final teachings to the disciples.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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