Feminine of Maree, "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; Philemon 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).
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'martha' Fausset's Bible Dictionary".