|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Bitterness, the sister of Lazarus and Mary, and probably the eldest of the family, who all resided at Bethany (Luke 10:38, 40, 41; John 11:1-39). From the residence being called "her house," some have supposed that she was a widow, and that her brother and sister lodged with her. She seems to have been of an anxious, bustling spirit, anxious to be helpful in providing the best things for the Master's use, in contrast to the quiet earnestness of Mary, who was more concerned to avail herself of the opportunity of sitting at his feet and learning of him. Afterwards at a supper given to Christ and his disciples in her house "Martha served." Nothing further is known of her.
"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).
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
mar'-tha (Martha, "mistress," being a transliteration of the feminine form of 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 11:3, 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 (11:20). But she was not behind her sister in her love for her brother (11:19), in her faith in Jesus (11:21) and in her belief in the final resurrection (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" (11:27). Yet she remained inwardly unconvinced, and remonstrated when Jesus ordered the stone before the grave to be removed (11:39). Jesus then recalled His previous words to her remembrance (11:40), and vindicated them by restoring her brother to life (11:41-44). After the raising of Lazarus, Jesus then made His departure, but after a short stay in Ephraim (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 (Luke 9:51-18:31) 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, 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, 11), and went and informed the disciples.
C. M. Kerr
Martha (12 Occurrences)
Luke 10:38 It happened as they went on their way, he entered into a certain village, and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Luke 10:40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she came up to him, and said, "Lord, don't you care that my sister left me to serve alone? Ask her therefore to help me." (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
Luke 10:41 Jesus answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 11:1 Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus from Bethany, of the village of Mary and her sister, Martha. The Acts of the Apostles (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 11:5 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 11:19 Many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to console them concerning their brother. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 11:20 Then when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary stayed in the house. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 11:21 Therefore Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you would have been here, my brother wouldn't have died. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 11:24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 11:30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but was in the place where Martha met him. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 11:39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to him, "Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days." (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)
John 12:2 So they made him a supper there. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with him. (WEB KJV WEY ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV NIV)