"Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble, for they see by this world’s light. It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light.”

  • If we walk in the will of God we are in the light, walking in the daytime, If we are out of the will of God we do not have the light, and we walk in darkness, and we certainly stumble. A person in the will of God does not stumble, for whatever happens in the will of God is the will of God. – snoopy Mar 23 at 17:01

What did Jesus imply in John 11:9,10?

John 11:5-10 (NKJV)

5 "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”

> 8 "The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?”

The disciples feared that by going to Judea , Jesus risked the danger of being stoned to death, Jesus answered.

9 “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

What Jesus apparently means is that the "hours of daylight," is the time God has allotted for Jesus’ earthly ministry, have not yet been completed and until they do, nobody can harm him. He needs to use to the full the short time of "daylight" left for him, since afterward will come the “night” when his enemies will have killed him.

11 "These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.”


Found some commentaries that may be helpful.


The followings are quoted from the website: Open the link to read more.

“Christ, wherever he went, walked in the day; and so shall we, if we follow his steps. If a man walks in the way of his heart, and according to the course of this world, if he consults his own carnal reasonings more than the will and glory of God, he falls into temptations and snares. He stumbles, because there is no light in him; for light in us is to our moral actions, that which light about us to our natural actions.“

“ 1. Jesus meant to say that there was an allotted or appointed time for him to live and do his Father's will, represented here by the 12 hours of the day.

  1. Though his life was nearly spent, yet it was not entirely; a remnant of it was left.

  2. A traveler journeyed on until night. It was as proper for him to travel the twelfth hour as any other.

  3. So it was proper for Jesus to labor until the close. It was the proper time for him to work. The night of death was coming, and no work could then be done.

  4. God would defend him in this until the appointed time of his death. He had nothing to fear, therefore, in Judea from the Jews, until it was the will of God that he should die. He was safe in his hand, and he went fearlessly into the midst of his foes, trusting in him. This passage teaches us that we should be diligent to the end of life: fearless of enemies when we know that God requires us to labor, and confidently committing ourselves to Him who is able to shield us, and in whose hand, if we have a conscience void of offence, we are safe.”

  • +1. Good effort. Thx for contributing. – Constantthin Jan 30 '20 at 6:52

Earlier (John 9:4-5) Jesus had said:

As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.

I believe He is more or less saying the same thing, prompted by the objection of His disciples to His going back into Judea (v.3). They need not fear, He implies, because He - the light of the world - will be with them.

We might also recall the verses from the prologue of the Gospel (1:4-9):

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world (John 1:4-9, NKJV).1

The late Eastern Orthodox commentator, Dmitry Royster, explains the passage:

The light of this world is not only the physical light, but more than that the light that He - the Light - has brought into the world. The life that is in Him is the light of men (cf. 1:4), "the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (1:9). Men without that light are those that walk in the dark or night, and so they stumble. If anyone has the Light of Christ in him, he will not stumble in the spiritual darkness of this world. If he does not have that Light, high noon is a spiritual midnight for him.2

1. The NIV translates John 1:9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world, understanding the participle ἐρχόμενος (erxomenos - coming) to modify the noun φῶς (phōs - light) rather than ἄνθρωπος (anthropos - man), but the cases do not agree. Further, it doesn't seem that any Greek commentators in antiquity read the verse this way.
2. The Holy Gospel According to St. John: A Pastoral Commentary (St. Vladimir Seminary Press, 2011), p.301-302

  • +1. Another interesting way of looking at it. God’s word is sharper than any double edged sword (Heb 4:12). It frequently cuts in more than one way, in other words. – Constantthin Feb 1 '20 at 1:25

Following the incident with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus addressed the scribes and Pharisees:

12Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
-- John 8:12 (KJV)

What followed this statement is typical of any dialogue where one person desires to share some new insight with others who hold to the status quo. The natural inclination of such, who have invested much in the status quo, will be to find ways to shut out the light of a new idea, since the cost of letting go of what one already has is too much compared to any perceived benefit of accepting what is new (a bird in the hand..., so to speak).

In fact, the new idea becomes something of an irritant around which an antagonist will form a pearl of wisdom that can be used to defend the status quo and so maintain his hold on it, which is my understanding of what it means to "harden someone's heart" -- challenge what they hold most dear. For example, the heart of some might be hardened by the mere mention of the statistic: to maintain a community/culture, each of its women will need, on average, to bear 2 children, and even more if it is to grow.

John's observation:

37But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:
-- John 12:37 (KJV)

moves him to recall the words of Isaiah:

40He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
-- John 12:40 (KJV)

Just prior to this observation, John records that Jesus had again referred to himself as "the light":

35Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.
-- John 12:35-36 (KJV)


Jesus was clearly alluding to walking with him and being taught by him when he said, "Anyone who walks in the daytime will not stumble", and walking and learning from others when he said, "It is when a person walks at night that they stumble, for they have no light."

  • +1. Another way of looking at it. Ozzie held that it concerned the remaining duration of Jesus' ministry. You are claiming that it concerns the perceived quality and adherence of his teaching by the population. Interesting. – Constantthin Jan 27 '20 at 2:13

8The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” (John 11) [ESV]

Of verse 9, C.K. Barrett states:

The Jewish day (for details see S.B.1 ad loc.), like the Roman, was divided into twelve equal "hours" which occupied the whole period between sunrise and sunset, however long or short that period might be. during the hours of daylight movement was free and unhindered, but darkness brought an inevitable cessation of activity. Jesus' ministry is of limited duration, and he must therefore use such time as he has in doing God's will regardless of the consequences (cf. 9.4 for a very similar statement). Thus Jesus in this verse gives a clear and positive answer to the question of v. 8. The words used, however, especially "hour" and "light", suggest that more than a simple answer on these lines may be intended. Elsewhere in John the "hour" of Jesus is specifically the hour of his death and exaltation (e.g. 8.20; 2.4); and Jesus speaks of himself as the "light of the world" (8.12; 9.5; 12.46). The metaphor of this verse then suggests not merely an argument which any man might use, but one which relates uniquely to the work of Jesus in illuminating the world through his death.2

"Stumble" in verse 9 and 10 is προσκόπτω which both Paul and Peter use:

Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
(Romans 9:32-33)

So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (1 Peter 2:7-8)

They are referring to Isaiah:

But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 8:13-14)

So as Barrett says:

The stumbling-block over which men fall is appointed by God himself. So in John, the light by which men walk, in the absence of which they stumble, is Christ...3

1. Hermann Leberecht Strack and Paul Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neun Testament aus Talmud und Midrash, C.H. Beck, 1922-6
2. C.K. Barrett, The Gospel according to St John, An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text, SPCK, 1962, pp.325-6
3. Ibid., p. 326

  • +1. Very interesting. – Constantthin Feb 2 '20 at 12:19

I suggest to look at the preceding verses also:

Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” (ESV)

The disciples tried to persuade Jesus not to return to Bethany, so near Jerusalem. They could be killed. Jesus rebukes their lack of faith and their unwillingness to follow his guidance, but he does it in an indirect way. Jesus often uses words that can be understood literally as well as metaphorically.

The first question implies: There is still work to do.

Jesus is the light of this world, so if we follow his guidance, we shall not go wrong (stumble).

But if we walk in darkness, not following his light, then we are likely to go wrong.

It is an interesting challenge for Bible translators, so I wrote an article about it years ago:


This answer takes some careful thought to not misunderstand.

First, the verse is not intended to be taken literally. There is often light at night. The lights in the firmament were given to us. They had lamps to guide their way. The absolute way it is stated tells that it is not to be taken literally.

Commonly, darkness is thought to be evil, wickedness, sin, and ignorance. This, from the view of man, is a secondary metaphor, not the primary metaphor.

It is problematic if taken as the primary metaphor. There was no light before God said "Let there be light" implying that God was in darkness. God WAS NOT in evil, wickedness, sin and ignorance.

Before creation, there was only God. There was no way for him to express holiness since holiness implies a separation. There was nothing to be separate from. The Trinity was in perfect harmony. They were one.

As soon as God created, he expressed separation by declaring "Let there be light!" or "I am holy!"

It is interesting that a pun of Elohim 'alo khoom' means 'not dark'. In the riddle, all the attributes of holiness are hidden in his name.

The duality of scripture is not flesh vs. spirit, nor is it good vs. evil. It is Holiness vs. Love. Holiness is separate, Love is together. God taught us two lessons in the Old Testament: He is holy - through the law and judgement, and he is love - through his long suffering, patience, and promise of grace through the sacrifices.

He brought the two teachings together on the cross.

Darkness, from God's perspective is that while man is in sin, he is covering him with the darkness of his love. When you are in darkness, you presume upon his grace and continue in sin.

But Jesus said to sin no more, come out of the need for grace by being holy.

Now to the OP:

If you walk in holiness, you will not stumble. If you walk in darkness, presuming that there is no judgement, you will stumble.

We are the light of the world. We see the light of this world. We encourage one another to holiness.

If you walk in presumption of grace, there is no holiness in you.

  • +1. I particularly like your last sentence. It is short and concise. The saying sounds like a well thought out Biblical proverb. – Constantthin Jan 7 at 4:08
  • Constantthin. This answer also fits nicely in the mystery of the Lazarus account. Lazarus is another name for Eliezer, the priest. Jesus was constantly tempted by his impending death, He did not wish to die. He sees in Lazarus the 'sickly priest'. Jesus was not a priest in the flesh, but had to die first. He waited for the death. As with all the other miracles, it is a conversation between Father and Son. Teh Son sees a picture of the cross in the circumstances. He willingly nudges the story to a better picture of the cross, indicating his willingness to be obedient. – Bob Jones Jan 7 at 4:17
  • ... The father produces the miracle to encourage him toward the cross. He is encouraged about his own resurrection. His great agony over Lazarus came from his own torn will of life vs. obedience in faith. (he had put off his omniscience in order to qualify as our high priest.). He is steeling himself to walk in holiness as he approaches his own death. – Bob Jones Jan 7 at 4:19

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