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John 11:51

    John 11:51 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

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

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    And this spoke he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    Now this he said not of himself: but, being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation;

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    He did not say this of himself, but being the high priest that year he said, as a prophet, that Jesus would be put to death for the nation;

    Webster's Revision

    Now this he said not of himself: but, being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation;

    World English Bible

    Now he didn't say this of himself, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation,

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    Now this he said not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation;

    Clarke's Commentary on John 11:51

    This spake he not of himself - Wicked and worthless as he was, God so guided his tongue that, contrary to his intention, he pronounced a prophecy of the death of Jesus Christ.

    I have already remarked that the doctrine of a vicarious atonement had gained, long before this time, universal credit in the world. Words similar to these of Caiaphas are, by the prince of all the Roman poets, put in the mouth of Neptune, when promising Venus that the fleet of Aeneas should be preserved, and his whole crew should be saved, one only excepted, whose death he speaks of in these remarkable words: -

    "Unum pro multis dabitar caput."

    "One life shall fall, that many may be saved."

    Which victim the poet informs us was Palinurus, the pilot of Aeneas's own ship, who was precipitated into the deep by a Divine influence. See Virg. Aen. v. l. 815, etc.

    There was no necessity for the poet to have introduced this account. It was no historic fact, nor indeed does it tend to decorate the poem. It even pains the reader's mind; for, after suffering so much in the sufferings of the pious hero and his crew, he is at once relieved by the interposition of a god, who promises to allay the storm, disperse the clouds, preserve the fleet, and the lives of the men; but, - one must perish! The reader is again distressed, and the book ominously closes with the death of the generous Palinurus, who strove to the last to be faithful to his trust, and to preserve the life of his master and his friend. Why then did the poet introduce this? Merely, as it appears to me, to have the opportunity of showing in a few words his religious creed, on one of the most important doctrines in the world; and which the sacrificial system of Jews and Gentiles proves that all the nations of the earth credited.

    As Caiaphas was high priest, his opinion was of most weight with the council; therefore God put these words in his mouth rather than into the mouth of any other of its members. It was a maxim among the Jews that no prophet ever knew the purport of his own prophecy, Moses and Isaiah excepted. They were in general organs by which God chose to speak.

    Barnes' Notes on John 11:51

    Not of himself - Though he uttered what proved to be a true prophecy, yet it was accomplished in a way which he did not intend He had a wicked design. He was plotting murder and crime. Yet, wicked as he was, and little as he intended it, God so ordered it that he delivered a most precious truth respecting the atonement. Remark:

    1. God may fulfill the words of the wicked in a manner which they do not wish or intend.

    2. He may make even their malice and wicked plots the very means of accomplishing his purposes. What they regard as the fulfillment of their plans God may make the fulfillment of his, yet so as directly to overthrow their designs, and prostrate them in ruin.

    3. Sinners should tremble and be afraid when they lay plans against God, or seek to do unjustly to others.

    Being high priest that year - It is not to be supposed that Caiaphas was a true prophet, or was conscious of the meaning which John has affixed to his words; but his words express the truth about the atonement of Jesus, and John records it as a remarkable circumstance that the high priest of the nation should unwittingly deliver a sentiment which turned out to be the truth about the death of Jesus. Great importance was attached to the opinion of the high priest by the Jews, because it was by him that the judgment by Urim and Thummim was formerly declared in cases of importance and difficulty, Numbers 27:21. It is not certain or probable that the high priest ever was endowed with the gift of prophecy; but he sustained a high office, the authority of his name was great, and it was thence remarkable that he uttered a declaration which the result showed to be true, though not in the sense that he intended.

    He prophesied - He uttered words which proved to be prophetic; or he expressed at that time a sentiment which turned out to be true. It does not mean that he was inspired, or that he deserved to be ranked among the true prophets; but his words were such that they accurately expressed a future event. The word "prophecy" is to be taken here not in the strict sense, but in a sense which is not uncommon in the sacred writers. Acts 21:9; "and the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." See the Romans 12:6 note; 1 Corinthians 14:1 note; compare Matthew 26:68; Luke 22:64.

    That Jesus should die - Die in the place of men, or as an atonement for sinners. This is evidently the meaning which John attaches to the words.

    For that nation - For the Jews. As a sacrifice for their sins. In no other sense whatever could it be said that he died for them. His death, so far from saving them in the sense in which the high priest understood it, was the very occasion of their destruction. They invoked the vengeance of God when they said, "His blood be on us and on our children" Matthew 27:25, and all these calamities came upon them because they would not come to him and be saved - that is, because they rejected him and put him to death, Matthew 23:37-39.