Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
MARTHA ( of Bethany, sister of Lazarus and Mary).—The name (סָרְחָא ‘mistress’ or ‘lady’), though unique in the Scriptures, is common in the Talmud.* [Note: See Lightfoot on John 11:1.] She appears in the Gospel-story on three occasions: (1) when she entertained Jesus on His way to Jerusalem at the season of the Feast of Tabernacles ( Luke 10:38-42); (2) when Lazarus died and was revived by Jesus ( John 11:1-46); and (3) when Jesus, on His way to the Passover from His retreat at Ephraim ( John 11:54), was honoured with a public entertainment at Bethany in the house of a leading man named Simon the Leper ( John 12:1-11 = Matthew 26:6-13 = Mark 14:3-9). Being a notable housewife, Martha was entrusted with the management of the banquet. See Anointing, I. 2.
The idea that the scene of this entertainment was Martha’s house has given rise to the unfortunate surmise that Martha was a widow, Simon the Leper being her deceased husband. On the supposition that Κυρία in 2 John 1:1; 2 John 1:5 is a proper name, the Greek equivalent of Martha , ‘lady’ (Volmar), it has been surmised that St. John’s 2nd Epistle is addressed to our Martha. This is ingenious but untenable, since (1) ‘the elect Kyria’ would be, not ἐκλεκτῇ Κυρίᾳ (v. 1), but Κυρίᾳ τῇ ἐκλεκτῇ (cf. 3 John 1:1); (2) the Epistle is probably addressed metaphorically to a church and not to an individual.
Martha and Mary exhibit a peculiarity frequently observable in families. They were, like the brothers Jacob and Esau, utterly diverse in disposition and temperament. While Mary was impassioned and imaginative, Martha was unemotional and practical.† [Note: Zig. on Luke 10:42δύο μερίδες πολιτείας ἐπαινεταί, ἡ μὲν πρακτικὴ ἡ δὲ θεωρητική.] When Jesus visited her house at the season of the Feast of Tabernacles, He found her busy preparing the festal cheer (see Mary, No. 3). His arrival redoubled her housewifely solicitude, and it angered her when she saw her sister seated at His feet and listening to His discourse, leaving to her unaided hands the offices of hospitality. And when Jesus came to Bethany in tardy response to the sisters’ appeal, ‘Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick,’ Mary was in the darkened home overwhelmed with grief, but Martha had repressed her emotion, and, when word was brought her that Jesus had been sighted making His toilsome approach by the Ascent of Blood, the steep and robber-haunted road up the eastern slope of Olivet, she went out and met Him ere He entered the village. She greeted Him calmly, not without upbraiding for His delay; and when He assured her that her brother would rise again, she took His words in her matter-of-fact way as a reference to the current doctrine of the resurrection of the righteous at the last day, seeing in them merely a commonplace of pious consolation. Very different was her sister’s behaviour. When Martha returned home and told her that the Master had arrived and was calling for her, she sprang up and ran to Him, and, in a passion of love and sorrow, flung herself at His feet.
It were, however, unjust to disparage Martha. She was of a practical turn, but she was very far from stupid. She was mistress of the house, and she was as a mother to her unworldly sister. There was evidently a close sympathy between them. During the dark days which succeeded their brother’s death, they had been each other’s comforters and had unbosomed their grief one to the other. Their constant plaint had been, ‘Had the Lord been here, our brother had not died’; and this was the cry of each in turn when they met Jesus ( John 11:21; John 11:32). Martha was calm and self-possessed, but a great tenderness was concealed beneath her unemotional exterior. She wept less than Mary, but she mourned as deeply. Nor was she lacking in love and reverence for Jesus. Her impatience of Mary’s inactivity amid the bustle of preparing the meal was due less to resentment at being left alone to serve, than to anxiety that nothing should be wanting for the comfort of the dear Master. And she believed in His power to help even when Lazarus had been dead four days ( John 11:22). She lacked some qualities which Mary possessed, but she had others of her own, and Jesus appreciated the excellence of her character. He loved Martha no less than her sister and Lazarus ( John 11:5).
It is no slight attestation of the historicity of the Lukan and Johannine narratives of the family of Bethany that they faithfully accord in their delineations of the two sisters. On the pages of St. John each sustains the character which she exhibits in the little scene so exquisitely depicted by St. Luke. Here are no imaginary pictures, but portraitures of real personages.
St. John says that the village where Martha and her sister dwelt was Bethany; but St. Luke does not name it, and he has been charged with placing the incident of the meal in Martha’s house in Galilee. This idea, however, arises from a misconception of his literary method. Like the other Synoptists, St. Luke was not an original author but an editor of the Evangelic Tradition, and his aim was not chronological accuracy but the exhibition of Jesus. He sifted the ample material at his disposal, and arranged his selections topically rather than historically. Thus at Luke 9:49-50, recounting what befell in Galilee, he records the Lord’s rebuke of His disciples’ mistaken zeal; then, finding another incident which teaches a like lesson ( Luke 9:51-56), he inserts it in this connexion, though it belongs to the last journey to Jerusalem (cf. Luke 9:51). Having begun this section of the Tradition, he continues it, giving various other incidents of the journey, down to the close of ch. 12. Then he returns to what befell in Galilee, resuming the narrative of the journey to Jerusalem at Luke 17:11.
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
MARTHA is first mentioned ( Luke 10:38-42 ) as living in ‘a certain village’ with her sister Mary , and as receiving our Lord as He passed on His way. We know from John 11:1; John 12:1 that they afterwards lived with Lazarus, their brother, in Bethany; the village, then, may be either Bethany or where they lived before moving there. The characters of the two sisters are strongly marked and rendered vivid by their contrast; we shall therefore deal with the characteristics of both in this article.
Martha is over-anxious, and distracted with household duties; while Mary, as a disciple, sits ‘at the feet’ (cf. Acts 22:8 ) of Jesus. Martha complained to our Lord of Mary’s inactivity, and showed some temper, perhaps jealousy, by speaking of the matter to Him rather than to her. Jesus commenced His reply with ‘Martha, Martha,’ repeating the name as He did on another occasion of loving correction (‘Simon, Simon,’ Luke 22:31 ), and blamed her for her outward agitation (‘troubled’) and inward anxiety. (‘careful,’ RV [Note: Revised Version.] ‘anxious’), telling her that she lacked ‘the one thing needful.’ (For various reading see RVm [Note: Revised Version margin.] .) He then praised Mary for having ‘chosen that good part’ which from its nature was everlasting, and so would ‘not be taken from her.’ He blamed Martha, not for her attentive service of love, but for allowing that service to irritate, agitate, and absorb her. Martha’s character here is loving, active, self-reliant, practical, hasty; Mary’s also loving, but thoughtful, humble, receptive, dependent, devoted. We find the same distinguishing marks in John 11:1-57 , where the two sisters again appear in the narrative of the raising of Lazarus. When Jesus, after delaying for four days ( John 11:17 ) to come in response to their joint request ( John 11:3 ), arrived, Martha was the first to hear of His arrival, and at once went to meet Him. Mary, on the other hand, removed by her grief from the activities of life engaged in by her sister, was unaware of His coming. The moment, however, that she was sent for by Him ( John 11:28 ) she hurried to His presence, and fell down at His feet. The contrast of character seen in Luke 10:1-42 is here markedly present.
‘Martha holds a conversation, argues with Him, remonstrates with Him, and in the very crisis of their grief shows her practical common sense in deprecating the removal of the stone. It is Mary who goes forth silently to meet Him, silently and tearfully, so that the bystanders suppose her to be going to weep at her brother’s tomb; who, when she sees Jesus, falls down at His feet; who, uttering the same words of faith in His power as Martha ( Luke 10:21; Luke 10:32 ), does not qualify them with the same reservation; who infects all the bystanders with the intensity of her sorrow, and crushes the human spirit of our Lord Himself with sympathetic grief (Lightfoot, Biblical Essays , p. 37).
The sisters appear again, and finally, in John 12:1-50 , at the Supper given to our Lord at Bethany (see art. Mary, No. 2); and again their contrast of disposition is seen. Martha, as presumably the elder sister, ‘served,’ while Mary poured the precious ointment on the Saviour’s head and feet. A comparison between this passage and Luke 10:38-42 shows, indeed, the same Martha, but now there is no record of her over-anxiety or distraction, or of any complaint of her sister’s absorption in devotion to the Saviour; for doubtless she had herself now chosen that good part which would not be taken from her.
Charles T. P. Grierson.
Fausset's Bible Dictionary 
Feminine of Μaree , "Lord." (See Lazarus .) Theophylact made her daughter of Simon the leper, others his wife or widow. The undesigned consistency of her character in Luke 10:38, etc., and John 11; 12, confirms the genuineness of both writings. Bethany was the home of Martha (probably the oldest), Mary, and Lazarus. Martha received Jesus into "her house" there. She was the one that kept the house, managed household affairs, and served ( Luke 10:40). She "was distracted ( Periespato , 'cumbered') with much serving," whereas God's will is "that we attend upon the Lord without distraction" ( Aperispastos ; 1 Corinthians 7:35). She loved Jesus, and it was to serve Him that she was so bustling.
She was secretly vexed with herself as much as with Mary, that the latter enjoyed the privilege of hearing Jesus' word seated at His feet, while she could not persuade herself to do the same for fear that a varied enough repast should not be served up to Him. Martha came abruptly ( Epistasa ) and said, "Lord, dost Thou not care ( Melei ) that my sister hath left me (probably going into another apartment where Jesus was speaking) to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me." Jesus answered, cf6 "Martha, Martha (The Repetition Implies Reproof) , thou art careful (Mentally Solicitous, Anxious With A Divided Mind, Forbidden In Matthew 6:22-31 ; 1 Corinthians 7:32 ; Merimnas , From Merizoo "To 'Divide' ") and troubled (Bustling Outwardly: Turbazee ) about many things (Many Dishes, In The Present Case, Bengel'S Gnomon) ".
But one thing is needful (one dish in the primary sense, secondarily the one 'good portion'; Matthew 6:22; Philippians 3:13; John 6:53; John 6:27), and Mary hath chosen that good portion," etc. Much serving has its right place and time ( 1 Thessalonians 4:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Timothy 5:14), but ought to give place to hearing when Jesus speaks, for faith whereby the good and abiding portion is gained cometh by hearing ( Romans 10:17). (On her conduct at the raising of her brother (See Lazarus .) "Martha served" at the supper where the raised Lazarus was and where Mary anointed Jesus' feet. Her work is the same, but her spirit in it blessedly changed; no longer "distracted" with much serving, nor mentally anxious and outwardly bustling, but calm, trustful, and sympathizing by silent acquiescence in her sister's act of love ( John 12:2).
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary 
Martha, Mary and their brother Lazarus lived in the village of Bethany, just outside Jerusalem ( John 11:1; John 11:18). Jesus knew the family well ( John 11:5), for he had probably been there often to get away from the crowds and enjoy some rest and fellowship. That was probably why he rebuked Martha on one occasion. She busied herself with much preparation for a special meal, whereas Jesus was looking only for some quiet and relaxing conversation with his friends. Mary, realizing this, talked with Jesus, and in so doing she benefited from the words he spoke ( Luke 10:38-42).
Some time after this, Lazarus fell ill. The sisters sent for Jesus, but by the time Jesus arrived, Lazarus was dead ( John 11:1-6; John 11:17). Martha and Mary were convinced that if Jesus had been there, he could have done something to stop Lazarus from dying ( John 11:19-21; John 11:28-32).
Martha still believed that Jesus had the power to do anything ( John 11:22) and, in response to Jesus’ question, she reaffirmed her faith in him as the Messiah, the Son of God ( John 11:25-27). Jesus’ resurrection of Lazarus demonstrated not only the power that Jesus had over death, but also the unity that Jesus had with his Father in all his works ( John 11:41-44).
A few days later, when Jesus and his disciples were having a meal with Lazarus and his two sisters, Mary anointed his feet with costly ointment. Jesus saw this as a symbolic anointing in preparation for his burial, which would soon take place ( John 12:1-8). When, during the last few days before the crucifixion, Jesus and his disciples went out to Bethany at night to sleep, this house was probably the place where they slept ( Mark 11:11-12; Mark 11:19; Matthew 21:17). (If the anointing by Mary referred to above was the same as that recorded in Matthew 26:6-13, the person called Simon the leper was possibly Martha’s father or husband.)
Smith's Bible Dictionary 
Mar'tha. (A Lady). The sister of Lazarus and Mary. See Lazarus . The facts recorded in Luke 10 and John 11 indicate a character devout after the customary Jewish type of devotion, sharing in Messianic hopes and accepting Jesus as the Christ . When she first comes before us, Luke 10:38, her spirit is "cumbered with much serving," is "careful and troubled about many things."
Her love, though imperfect in its form, is yet recognized as true, and she has the distinction of being one whom Jesus loved. John 11:5. Her position is obviously that of the elder sister, the head and manager of the household. In the supper at Bethany, John 12:2, the old character shows itself still, but it has been freed from evil. She is no longer "cumbered," no longer impatient. Activity has been calmed by trust.
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
A disciple whom Jesus loved: she was apparently the head of the household at Bethany, which Jesus at times visited. Martha was probably the widow of Simon a leper (comp. Matthew 26:6-13 with John 12:1-8 ), and superintended domestic arrangements. She received the Lord into 'her house.' Luke 10:38 . Having the Lord for a visitor she was burdened with much service, and begged Him to instruct her sister Mary to help her. A contrast is here drawn between the two sisters: the one occupied with what she could do for the Lord; the other with what He was: self being plainly uppermost in Martha, while the Lord Himself was paramount with Mary. 'That good part' should not be taken from her. But in John 12 , when the Lord was again at Bethany, and they made a supper for Him, Martha's service is in no way qualified, the raising up by the Lord of her brother Lazarus, and His dealings with herself, having doubtless taught her the needed lesson. Service in communion with Himself is acceptable to Him.
Holman Bible Dictionary 
her Luke 10:38 Luke 10:40 John 12:2 John 11:20 John 11:3 Luke 10:38-42 John 11:21-27 John 11:39 Matthew 26:6-13 Mark 14:3-9 Matthew 26:6-13 Mark 14:3-9 Mark 2:1 Luke 7:37-39 7:44-50 Luke 3:1 John 21:1-8
People's Dictionary of the Bible 
Martha ( Mär'Thah ), Bitterness. One of the family at Bethany whom Jesus loved. Martha has been supposed the elder sister, as the house is called hers, and she undertook the special charge of entertaining the Lord. Luke 10:38-42. Some have imagined that she was the wife or widow of Simon the leper; which would account for the place where Mary anointed Christ being termed his house. Matthew 26:6-7; Mark 14:3; John 12:1-3. Martha made a noble confession when she met the Saviour on his way to raise her brother Lazarus; though even her expectation reached not to the mighty work he was about to do. John 11:1-46. Nothing certain is known of her later history.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
Luke 10:38,40,41 John 11:1-39
"Mary and Martha are representatives of two orders of human character. One was absorbed, preoccupied, abstracted; the other was concentrated and single-hearted. Her own world was the all of Martha; Christ was the first thought with Mary. To Martha life was 'a succession of particular businesses;' to Mary life 'was rather the flow of one spirit.' Martha was Petrine, Mary was Johannine. The one was a well-meaning, bustling busybody; the other was a reverent disciple, a wistful listener." Paul had such a picture as that of Martha in his mind when he spoke of serving the Lord "without distraction" ( 1 Corinthians 7:35 ).
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary 
The sister of Lazarus and Mary. Her name is derived from Marar, bitter. We have her history, Luke 10:38-42 and John 12:1-50. This woman is rendered memorable in the church by reason of her pursuits, being so much engaged in earthly concerns while having conviction on her mind of the importance of heavenly objects. So that her name is become somewhat proverbial; and we call them the Marthas of the present day, who are careful and troubled about many things, and not so much in earnest for the one thing needful.
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary 
Sister of Lazarus and Mary, at Bethany. Though different from Mary in temperament, she was no less truly a devoted friend of Christ and beloved by him, John 11:5 . His gentle reproof, Luke 10.38-42 , does not imply that she was a stranger to renewing grace. Her affectionate care for the hospitable entertainment of Christ must not be forgotten, nor her promptness in hasting to meet him nor her faith in his power, John 11:20-28 12:1,2 . See Mary 4.
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
was sister of Lazarus and Mary, and mistress of the house where our Saviour was entertained, in the village of Bethany. Martha is always named before Mary, probably because she was the elder sister.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia 
mar´tha ( Μάρθα , Mártha , "mistress," being a transliteration of the feminine form of מר , mar , "Lord"): Martha belonged to Bethany, and was the sister of Lazarus and Mary ( John 11:1 f). From the fact that the house into which Jesus was received belonged to Martha, and that she generally took the lead in action, it is inferred that she was the eider sister. Martha was one of those who gave hospitality to Jesus during His public ministry. Thus, in the course of those wanderings which began when "he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerus" ( Luke 9:51 ), he "entered into a certain village" - its name is not stated - and "a certain woman named Martha received him into her house" ( Luke 10:38 ). Martha, whose sense of responsibility as hostess weighed heavily upon her, was "cumbered about much serving," and her indignation was aroused at the lack of assistance given to her by her sister. Her words, "Lord, dost thou not care?" implied a certain reproach to Jesus also, in that she felt He showed a want of sympathy with her efforts and was the cause of Mary's remissness. But Jesus, in tones of gentle reproof, reminded her that for Him not the preparation of an elaborate meal but the hearing of His Word in the spirit of Mary was the "one thing needful" ( Luke 10:39-42 ).
Martha is first mentioned by John - the only other Gospel writer who refers to Martha - in his account of the raising of Lazarus from the dead at Bethany ( John 11:1-44 ). The narrative indicates, however, that Jesus was already on terms of the closest friendship with her and her household (compare John 11:3 , John 11:5 ). In the incident which John here records, Martha again displayed her more practical nature by going out to meet Jesus, while Mary sat in the house ( John 11:20 ). But she was not behind her sister in her love for her brother ( John 11:19 ), in her faith in Jesus ( John 11:21 f) and in her belief in the final resurrection ( John 11:24 ). The power of Him, whom she termed the "Teacher," to restore Lazarus to life even upon earth was beyond her understanding. To the words of Jesus concerning this she gave, however, a verbal assent, and went and informed Mary, "The Teacher is here, and calleth thee" ( John 11:27 f). Yet she remained inwardly unconvinced, and remonstrated when Jesus ordered the stone before the grave to be removed ( John 11:39 ). Jesus then recalled His previous words to her remembrance ( John 11:40 ), and vindicated them by restoring her brother to life ( John 11:41-44 ). After the raising of Lazarus, Jesus then made His departure, but after a short stay in Ephraim ( John 11:54 ) He returned to Bethany ( John 12:1 ). While He supped there, Martha once more served, and Lazarus was also present ( John 12:2 ). It was on this occasion that Mary anointed the feet of Jesus ( John 12:3-8 ). According to Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9 , the anointing took place in the house of Simon the leper, and it has hence been concluded by some that Martha was the wife or widow of Simon. The anointing described in Luke 7:36-50 happened in the house of Simon a Pharisee. But in none of the synoptist accounts is Martha mentioned. For the relationship of these anointings with each other, see Mary , IV. As, according to John, the abode of the sisters was in Bethany, a further difficulty of a topographical nature is raised by those who hold that Luke implies, from the Galilean setting of Luke 10:38-41 , that the sisters lived in Galilee. But the information supplied by Luke, upon which this inference is based, is of the vaguest (compare Luke 10:38 ), and the great division of Luke's Gospel (Lk 9:51 through 18:31) has within it no organic cohesion of parts. In it is mentioned that on two separate occasions Jesus passed through Samaria ( Luke 9:52; Luke 17:11 ). It is therefore more logical to suppose that the events described in Luke 10:38-41 , falling within the intervening period, took place in Bethany during an excursion of Jesus to Judea, and formed one of the several visits upon which the friendship recorded in John 11:3 , John 11:5 was built. According to a fragment of a Coptic gospel belonging to the 2nd century (compare Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen , 38, 39), Martha was present with the other two Marys at the empty grave of Jesus (compare Matthew 28:1 , Matthew 28:11 ), and went and informed the disciples.
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Mar´tha, sister of Lazarus and Mary, who resided in the same house with them at Bethany [LAZARUS]. From the house at Bethany being called 'her house,' in , and from the leading part which Martha is always seen to take in domestic matters, it has seemed to some that she was a widow, to whom the house at Bethany belonged, and with whom her brother and sister lodged; but this is uncertain, and the common opinion, that the sisters managed the household of their brother, is more probable. Luke probably calls it her house because he had no occasion to mention, and does not mention, Lazarus; and when we speak of a house which is occupied by different persons, we avoid circumlocution by calling it the house of the individual who happens to be the subject of our discourse. Jesus was intimate with this family, and their house was often his home when at Jerusalem, being accustomed to retire thither in the evening, after having spent the day in the city. The point which the Evangelists bring out most distinctly with respect to Martha, lies in the contrariety of disposition between her and her sister Mary. The first notice of Christ's visiting this family occurs in . He was received with great attention by the sisters; and Martha soon hastened to provide suitable entertainment for the Lord and His followers, while Mary remained in His presence, sitting at His feet, and drinking in the sacred words that fell from His lips. The active, bustling solicitude of Martha, anxious that the best things in the house should be made subservient to the Master's use and solace, and the quiet earnestness of Mary, more desirous to profit by the golden opportunity of hearing His instructions, than to minister to His personal wants, strongly mark the points of contrast in the characters of the two sisters.
The part taken by the sisters in the transactions connected with the death and resurrection of Lazarus, is entirely and beautifully in accordance with their previous history. Martha is still more engrossed with outward things, while Mary surrenders herself more to her feelings, and to inward meditation. When they heard that Jesus was approaching, Martha hastened beyond the village to meet him, 'but Mary sat still in the house' . When she saw Jesus actually appear, whose presence had been so anxiously desired, she exhibits a strong degree of faith, and hesitates not to express a confident hope that he, to whom all things were possible, would even yet afford relief. But, as is usual with persons of her lively character, when Christ answered, with what seemed to her the vague intimation, 'Thy brother shall rise again,' she was instantly cast down from her height of confidence, the reply being less direct than she expected: she referred this saying to the general resurrection at the last day, and thereon relapsed into despondency and grief. This feeling Jesus reproved, by directing her attention, before all other things, to that inward, eternal, and divine life, which consists in union with him, and which is raised far above the power even of the grave. This he did in the magnificent words, 'I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?' Sorrow and shame permitted the troubled Martha, in whose heart the feeling of an unconditional and entire surrender to his will was re-awakened, to make only the general confession that he was actually the promised Messiah; in which confession she, however, comprised an acknowledgment of his power and greatness. It is clear, however, that she found nothing in this discourse with Christ, to encourage her first expectation of relief; and with the usual rapid change in persons of lively susceptibilities, she had now as completely abandoned all hope of rescue for her brother, as she had before been sanguine of his restoration to life. Thus, when Jesus directed the stone to be rolled away from the sepulcher, she gathered from this no ground of hope; but rather objected to its being done, because the body, which had been four days in the tomb, must already have become disagreeable. The reproof of Christ, 'Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?' suggests that more discourse had passed between them than the evangelist has recorded, seeing that no such assurance is contained in the previous narrative .
Nothing more is recorded of Martha, save that some time after, at a supper given to Christ and his disciples at Bethany, she, as usual, busied herself in the external service. Lazarus, so marvelously restored from the grave, sat with her guests at table. 'Martha served,' and Mary occupied her favorite station at the feet of Jesus, which she bathed with her tears, and anointed with costly ointment [[[Lazarus; Mary]]]
There are few characters in the New Testament, and certainly no female character, so strongly brought out in its natural points as that of Martha; and it is interesting to observe that Luke and John, although relating different transactions in which she was concerned, perfectly agree in the traits of character which they assign to her.
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
( Μαρθά , of unknown signification, but a Syriac prop. name [ מִרְתָּא ] according to Plutarch, Vit. Mar. 17), a Jewess, the sister of Lazarus and Mary, who resided in the same house with them at Bethany ( Luke 10:38; Luke 10:40-41; John 11:1-39; John 12:2). (See Lazarus). From the house at Bethany being called "her house," in Luke 10:38, and from the leading part which Martha is always seen to take in domestic matters, it has seemed to some that she was a widow, to whom the house at Bethany belonged, and with whom her brother and sister lodged; but this is uncertain, and the common opinion that the sisters managed the household of their brother is more probable. Jesus was intimate with this family, and their house was often his home when at Jerusalem, being accustomed to retire thither in the evening, after having spent the day in the city. The point which the evangelists bring out most distinctly with respect to Martha lies in the contrariety of disposition between her and her sister Mary. The first notice of Christ's visiting this family occurs in Luke 10:38-42. He was received with great attention by the sisters, and Martha soon hastened to provide suitable entertainment for the Lord and his followers, while Mary remained in his presence, sitting at his feet, and drinking in the sacred words that fell from his lips. The active, bustling solicitude of Martha, anxious that the best things in the house should be made subservient to the Master's use and solace, and the quiet earnestness of Mary, more desirous to profit by the golden opportunity of hearing his instructions than to minister to his personal wants, strongly mark the points of contrast in the characters of the two sisters. (See bishop Hall's observations on this subject in his Contemplaitions, 3:4, Nos. 17, 23, 24.) She needs the reproof, "One thing is needful;" but her love, though imperfect in its form, is yet recognized as true, and she too, no less than Lazarus and Mary, has the distinction of being one whom Jesus loved ( John 11:3). The part taken by the sisters in the transactions connected with the death and resurrection of Lazarus ( John 11:20-40) is entirely and beautifully in accordance with their previous history (see Tholuck, Comment. ad loc.). The facts recorded of her indicate a character devout after the customary Jewish type of devotion, sharing in Messianic hopes and accepting Jesus as the Christ; sharing also in the popular belief in a resurrection, but not rising, as her sister did, to the belief that Christ was making the eternal life to belong, not to the future only, but to the present. Nothing more is recorded of Martha save that some time after, at a supper given to Christ and his disciples at Bethany, she, as usual, busied herself in the external service. Lazarus, so marvelously restored from the grave, sat with her guests at table. "Martha served," and Mary occupied her favorite station at the feet of Jesus, which she bathed with her tears, and anointed with costly ointment ( John 12:1-2). (See Mary).
Notwithstanding the seeming drawbacks upon Martha's character, so vividly painted in the Gospels, there can be no doubt of her genuine piety and love for the Savior. A.D. 29. See Niemeyer, Charakt. 1:66; and Schulthess, Neueste Theol. Nachricht, 1828, 2:413. According to tradition, she went with her brother and other disciples to Marseilles, gathered round her a society of devout women, and, true to her former character, led them to a life of active ministration. The wilder Provengal legends make her victorious over a dragon that laid waste the country. The town of Tarascon boasted of possessing her remains, and claimed her as its patron saint (Acta Sanctorum, and Brev. Roen. in Jul. 29; Fabricii Lux Evangel. p. 388).
- Martha from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- Martha from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- Martha from Fausset's Bible Dictionary
- Martha from Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- Martha from Smith's Bible Dictionary
- Martha from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- Martha from Holman Bible Dictionary
- Martha from People's Dictionary of the Bible
- Martha from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Martha from Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
- Martha from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- Martha from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- Martha from International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
- Martha from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
- Martha from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature