The Meaning of John 11:44 Explained

John 11:44

KJV: And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

YLT: and he who died came forth, being bound feet and hands with grave-clothes, and his visage with a napkin was bound about; Jesus saith to them, 'Loose him, and suffer to go.'

Darby: And the dead came forth, bound feet and hands with graveclothes, and his face was bound round with a handkerchief. Jesus says to them, Loose him and let him go.

ASV: He that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

What does John 11:44 Mean?

Context Summary

John 11:36-44 - Victory Over Death
1. The Lord had been praying about this matter before He came to the grave: "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me."Notice that past tense. Perhaps He had done so when He first received the news of Lazarus' sickness. He had prayed and had received the assurance that His prayer was answered. When He started back across the Jordan, it was with the full assurance that Lazarus would be raised to life.
2. He was conscious, also, of a life of unceasing prayer. There was unbroken and constant co-operation between Him and the Father. He always did the things that pleased God and God was always answering Him. This, also, might be our constant experience.
3. Christ made this prayer that those who stood around, as they saw the effect of prayer, should understand that prayer alone can work great miracles, which become the credentials of Christ, and of all who love and obey Him. His people similarity can do great miracles, as missionaries, Christian workers, and philanthropists. [source]

Chapter Summary: John 11

1  Jesus raises Lazarus, four days buried
45  Many Jews believe
47  The high priests and Pharisees gather a council against Jesus
49  Caiaphas prophesies
54  Jesus hides himself
55  At the Passover they enquire after him, and lay wait for him

Greek Commentary for John 11:44

He that was dead came forth [εχηλτεν ο τετνηκως]
Literally, “Came out the dead man,” (effective aorist active indicative and perfect active articular participle of τνησκω — thnēskō). Just as he was and at once. Bound hand and foot Perfect passive participle of δεω — deō with the accusative loosely retained according to the common Greek idiom (Robertson, Grammar, p. 486), but literally “as to the feet and hands” (opposite order from the English). Probably the legs were bound separately. With grave-clothes Or “with bands.” Instrumental case of this late and rare word (in Plutarch, medical papyrus in the form κηρια — kēria and Proverbs 7:16). Only here in N.T. His face Old word, but προσωπον — prosōpon is usual in N.T. See Revelation 1:16 for another instance. Was bound about Past perfect passive of περιδεω — perideō old verb to bind around, only here in N.T. With a napkin Instrumental case of σουδαριον — soudarion (Latin word sudarium from sudor, sweat). In N.T. here, John 20:7; Luke 19:20; Acts 19:12. Our handkerchief. Loose him First aorist active imperative of λυω — luō From the various bands. Let him go Second aorist active imperative of απιημι — aphiēmi and present active infinitive. [source]
Grave-clothes [κειρίαις]
Literally, swathing-bands. Only here in the New Testament. In John 19:40; John 20:5, John 20:7, ὀθόνια , linen bands, is used. [source]
A napkin [σουδαρι.ῳ]
See on Luke 19:20. It is interesting to compare this Gospel picture of sisterly affection under the shadow of death, with the same sentiment as exhibited in Greek tragedy, especially in Sophocles, by whom it is developed with wonderful power, both in the “Antigone” and in the “Electra.”-DIVIDER-
In the former, Antigone, the consummate female figure of the Greek drama, falls a victim to her love for her dead brother. Both here, and in the “Electra,” sisterly love is complicated with another and sterner sentiment: in the “Antigone” with indignant defiance of the edict which refuses burial to her brother; in the “Electra” with the long-cherished craving for vengeance. Electra longs for her absent brother Orestes, as the minister of retribution rather than as the solace of loneliness and sorrow. His supposed death is to her, therefore, chiefly the defeat of the passionate, deadly purpose of her whole life. Antigone lives for her kindred, and is sustained under her own sad fate by the hope of rejoining them in the next world. She believes in the permanence of personal existence.“And yet I go and feed myself with hopesThat I shall meet them, by my father loved, Dear to my mother, well-beloved of thee,Thou darling brother” (897-900).And again,“Loved, I shall be with him whom I have lovedGuilty of holiest crime. More time is mine In which to share the favor of the dead,-DIVIDER-
Than that of those who live; for I shall restForever there” (73-76).No such hope illuminates the grief of Electra.“Ah, Orestes!Dear brother, in thy death thou slayest me; For thou art gone, bereaving my poor heart-DIVIDER-
Of all the little hope that yet remained-DIVIDER-
That thou wouldst come, a living ministerOf vengeance for thy father and for me” (807-812).And again,“If thou suggestest any hope from thoseSo clearly gone to Hades, then on me,Wasting with sorrow, thou wilt trample more” (832-834).When she is asked,“What! shall I ever bring the dead to life?”she replies,“I meant not that: I am not quite so mad.”In the household of Bethany, the grief of the two sisters, unlike that of the Greek maidens, is unmixed with any other sentiment, save perhaps a tinge of a feeling bordering on reproach that Jesus had not been there to avert their calamity. Comfort from the hope of reunion with the dead is not expressed by them, and is hardly implied in their assertion of the doctrine of a future resurrection, which to them, is a general matter having little or no bearing on their personal grief. In this particular, so far as expression indicates, the advantage is on the side of the Theban maiden. Though her hope is the outgrowth of her affection rather than of her religious training - a thought which is the child of a wish - she never loses her grasp upon the expectation of rejoining her beloved dead. But the gospel story is thrown into strongest contrast with the classical by the truth of resurrection which dominates it in the person and energy of the Lord of life. Jesus enters at once as the consolation of bereaved love, and the eternal solution of the problem of life and death. The idea which Electra sneered at as madness, is here a realized fact. Beautiful, wonderful as is the action which the drama evolves out of the conflict of sisterly love with death, the curtain falls on death as victor. Into the gospel story Jesus brings a benefaction, a lesson, and a triumph. His warm sympathy, His comforting words, His tears at His friend's tomb, are in significant contrast with the politic, timid, at times reproachful attitude of the chorus of Theban elders towards Antigone. The consummation of both dramas is unmitigated horror. Suicide solves the problem for Antigone, and Electra receives back her brother as from the dead, only to incite him to murder, and to gloat with him over the victims. It is a beautiful feature of the Gospel narrative that it seems, if we may so speak, to retire with an instinctive delicacy from the joy of that reunited household. It breaks off abruptly with the words, “Loose him, and let him go.” The imagination alone follows the sisters with their brother, perchance with Christ, behind the closed door, and hears the sacred interchanges of that wonderful communing. Tennyson, with a deep and truly Christian perception, has struck its key-note.“Her eyes are homes of silent prayer,Nor other thought her mind admits But, he was dead, and there he sits!-DIVIDER-
And He that brought him back is there.Then one deep love doth supersedeAll other, when her ardent gaze Roves from the living brother's face-DIVIDER-
And rests upon the Life indeed.”“In Memoriam.” [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for John 11:44

Luke 19:20 Laid up [αποκειμενην]
Present passive participle agreeing with ην — hēn (which), used often as perfect passive of τιτημι — tithēmi as here, laid away or off It is not the periphrastic construction, but two separate verbs, each with its own force.In a napkin (εν σουδαριωι — en soudariōi). A Latin word sudarium from sudor (sweat) transliterated into Greek, a sweatcloth handkerchief or napkin. Found in papyrus marriage contracts as part of the dowry (second and third centuries a.d., Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 223). Used also for swathing the head of the dead (John 11:44; John 20:7). [source]
Luke 19:20 In a napkin [εν σουδαριωι]
A Latin word sudarium from sudor (sweat) transliterated into Greek, a sweatcloth handkerchief or napkin. Found in papyrus marriage contracts as part of the dowry (second and third centuries a.d., Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 223). Used also for swathing the head of the dead (John 11:44; John 20:7). [source]
John 7:24 Appearance [ὄψιν]
Primarily, seeing or sight. In John 11:44; Revelation 1:16, face, and hence external appearance. The word occurs only in the three passages cited. [source]
John 18:8 Let these go their way [απετε τουτους υπαγειν]
Second aorist active imperative of απιημι — aphiēmi The verb υπαγειν — hupagein means to withdraw (John 11:44). Jesus shows solicitude for the eleven as he had warned them and prayed for them (Luke 22:31.). He is trying to help them. [source]
John 20:7 The napkin [το σουδαριον]
Already in John 11:44 which see. This napkin for the head was in a separate place. Rolled up Perfect passive participle, predicate accusative like κειμενον — keimenon from εντυλισσω — entulissō late verb, to wrap in, to roll up, already in Matthew 27:59; Luke 23:53. It was arranged in an orderly fashion. There was no haste. By itself Old adverb, “apart,” “separately.” [source]
John 7:24 According to appearance [κατ οπσιν]
And so, superficially. See John 11:44. Also not “righteous” (δικαιαν — dikaian) judgment. [source]
Acts 19:12 Handkerchiefs [σουδαρια]
Latin word for συδορ — sudor (sweat). Used in Luke 19:20; John 11:44; John 20:7. In two papyri marriage-contracts this word occurs among the toilet articles in the dowry (Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 223). [source]
Revelation 1:16 Countenance [ὄψις]
Used by John only, and only three times: here, John 7:24; John 11:44. Not general appearance. [source]
Revelation 1:16 In his right hand [εν τηι δεχιαι χειρι]
For safe keeping as in John 10:28.Seven stars (αστερας επτα — asteras hepta). Symbols of the seven churches (Revelation 1:20), seven planets rather than Pleiades or any other constellation like the bear.Proceeded Present middle participle of εκπορευομαι — ekporeuomai old compound (Matthew 3:5) used loosely again like εχων — echōn sharp two-edged sword “A sword two-mouthed sharp.” ομπαια — Romphaia (as distinct from μαχαιρα — machaira) is a long sword, properly a Thracian javelin, in N.T. only Luke 2:35; Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12; Hebrews 4:12. See στομα — stoma used with μαχαιρης — machairēs in Luke 21:24 (by the mouth of the sword).Countenance (οπσις — opsis). Old word (from οπτω — optō), in N.T. only here, John 7:24; John 11:44.As the sun shineth Brachylogy, “as the sun when it shines.” For παινει — phainei see John 1:5. [source]
Revelation 1:16 Proceeded [εκπορευομενη]
Present middle participle of εκπορευομαι — ekporeuomai old compound (Matthew 3:5) used loosely again like εχων — echōn sharp two-edged sword “A sword two-mouthed sharp.” ομπαια — Romphaia (as distinct from μαχαιρα — machaira) is a long sword, properly a Thracian javelin, in N.T. only Luke 2:35; Revelation 1:16; Revelation 2:12; Hebrews 4:12. See στομα — stoma used with μαχαιρης — machairēs in Luke 21:24 (by the mouth of the sword).Countenance (οπσις — opsis). Old word (from οπτω — optō), in N.T. only here, John 7:24; John 11:44.As the sun shineth Brachylogy, “as the sun when it shines.” For παινει — phainei see John 1:5. [source]
Revelation 1:16 Countenance [οπσις]
Old word (from οπτω — optō), in N.T. only here, John 7:24; John 11:44. [source]
Revelation 11:9 Do look upon [βλεπουσιν]
Present (vivid dramatic) active indicative of βλεπω — blepō days and a half Accusative of extent of time. ημισυ — Hēmisu is neuter singular though ημερας — hēmeras (days) is feminine as in Mark 6:23; Revelation 12:14. The days of the gloating over the dead bodies are as many as the years of the prophesying by the witnesses (Revelation 11:3), but there is no necessary correspondence (day for a year). This delight of the spectators “is represented as at once fiendish and childish” (Swete).Suffer not (ουκ απιουσιν — ouk aphiousin). Present active indicative of απιω — aphiō late form for απιημι — aphiēmi as in Mark 1:34 (cf. απεις — apheis in Revelation 2:20). This use of απιημι — aphiēmi with the infinitive is here alone in the Apocalypse, though common elsewhere (John 11:44, John 11:48; John 12:7; John 18:8).Their dead bodies “Their corpses,” plural here, though singular just before and in Revelation 11:8.To be laid in a tomb (τετηναι εις μνημα — tethēnai eis mnēma). First aorist passive of τιτημι — tithēmi to place. Μνημα — Mnēma (old word from μιμνησκω — mimnēskō to remind) is a memorial, a monument, a sepulchre, a tomb (Mark 5:3). “In a country where burial regularly took place on the day of death the time of exposure and indignity would be regarded long” (Beckwith). See Tobit 1:18ff. [source]
Revelation 11:9 Suffer not [ουκ απιουσιν]
Present active indicative of απιω — aphiō late form for απιημι — aphiēmi as in Mark 1:34 (cf. απεις — apheis in Revelation 2:20). This use of απιημι — aphiēmi with the infinitive is here alone in the Apocalypse, though common elsewhere (John 11:44, John 11:48; John 12:7; John 18:8). [source]

What do the individual words in John 11:44 mean?

Came forth the [one] having been dead being bound the feet and the hands with linen strips the face of him in a headcloth bound about Says to them - Jesus Unbind him allow to go
ἐξῆλθεν τεθνηκὼς δεδεμένος τοὺς πόδας καὶ τὰς χεῖρας κειρίαις ὄψις αὐτοῦ σουδαρίῳ περιεδέδετο Λέγει αὐτοῖς Ἰησοῦς Λύσατε αὐτὸν ἄφετε ὑπάγειν

ἐξῆλθεν  Came  forth 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἐξέρχομαι 
Sense: to go or come forth of.
  the  [one] 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
τεθνηκὼς  having  been  dead 
Parse: Verb, Perfect Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: θνῄσκω  
Sense: to die, to be dead.
δεδεμένος  being  bound 
Parse: Verb, Perfect Participle Middle or Passive, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: δέω  
Sense: to bind tie, fasten.
πόδας  feet 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Plural
Root: πούς  
Sense: a foot, both of men or beast.
χεῖρας  hands 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Feminine Plural
Root: χείρ  
Sense: by the help or agency of any one, by means of any one.
κειρίαις  with  linen  strips 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: κειρία  
Sense: a band, either for bed-girth, or for tying up a corpse after it has been swathed in linen.
ὄψις  face 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Singular
Root: ὄψις  
Sense: seeing, sight.
αὐτοῦ  of  him 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive Masculine 3rd Person Singular
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
σουδαρίῳ  in  a  headcloth 
Parse: Noun, Dative Neuter Singular
Root: σουδάριον  
Sense: a handkerchief.
περιεδέδετο  bound  about 
Parse: Verb, Pluperfect Indicative Middle or Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: περιδέω  
Sense: to bind around, tie over.
Λέγει  Says 
Parse: Verb, Present Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: λέγω 
Sense: to say, to speak.
αὐτοῖς  to  them 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
  - 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
Ἰησοῦς  Jesus 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: Ἰησοῦς  
Sense: Joshua was the famous captain of the Israelites, Moses’ successor.
Λύσατε  Unbind 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: λύω  
Sense: to loose any person (or thing) tied or fastened.
ἄφετε  allow 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: ἀφίημι 
Sense: to send away.
ὑπάγειν  to  go 
Parse: Verb, Present Infinitive Active
Root: ὑπάγω  
Sense: to lead under, bring under.