Turning Water into Wine
1 Now on the third day there was a wedding at Canamap For location see Map1-C3; Map2-D2; Map3-C5. in Galilee.sn Cana in Galilee was not a very well-known place. It is mentioned only here, in 4:46, and 21:2, and nowhere else in the NT. Josephus (Life 16 ) says he once had his quarters there. The probable location is present day Khirbet Cana, 8 mi (14 km) north of Nazareth, or Khirbet Kenna, 4 mi (7 km) northeast of Nazareth. Jesus’ mothertn Grk “in Galilee, and Jesus’ mother.” was there,
2 and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.sn There is no clue to the identity of the bride and groom, but in all probability either relatives or friends of Jesus’ family were involved, since Jesus’ mother and both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the celebration. The attitude of Mary in approaching Jesus and asking him to do something when the wine ran out also suggests that familial obligations were involved.
3 When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine left.”tn The word “left” is not in the Greek text but is implied.sn They have no wine left. On the backgrounds of this miracle J. D. M. Derrett pointed out among other things the strong element of reciprocity about weddings in the Ancient Near East. It was possible in certain circumstances to take legal action against the man who failed to provide an appropriate wedding gift. The bridegroom and family here might have been involved in a financial liability for failing to provide adequately for their guests (“Water into Wine,” BZ 7 : 80-97). Was Mary asking for a miracle? There is no evidence that Jesus had worked any miracles prior to this (although this is an argument from silence). Some think Mary was only reporting the situation, or (as Calvin thought) asking Jesus to give some godly exhortations to the guests and thus relieve the bridegroom’s embarrassment. But the words, and the reply of Jesus in v. 4, seem to imply more. It is not inconceivable that Mary, who had probably been witness to the events of the preceding days, or at least was aware of them, knew that her son’s public career was beginning. She also knew the supernatural events surrounding his birth, and the prophetic words of the angel, and of Simeon and Anna in the temple at Jesus’ dedication. In short, she had good reason to believe Jesus to be the Messiah, and now his public ministry had begun. In this kind of context, her request does seem more significant.
4 Jesus replied,tn Grk “and Jesus said to her.” “Woman,sn The term Woman is Jesus’ normal, polite way of addressing women (Matt 15:28, Luke 13:12; John 4:21; 8:10; 19:26; 20:15). But it is unusual for a son to address his mother with this term. The custom in both Hebrew (or Aramaic) and Greek would be for a son to use a qualifying adjective or title. Is there significance in Jesus’ use here? It probably indicates that a new relationship existed between Jesus and his mother once he had embarked on his public ministry. He was no longer or primarily only her son, but the “Son of Man.” This is also suggested by the use of the same term in 19:26 in the scene at the cross, where the beloved disciple is “given” to Mary as her “new” son. why are you saying this to me?tn Grk “Woman, what to me and to you?” (an idiom). The phrase τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι (ti emoi kai soi, gunai) is Semitic in origin. The equivalent Hebrew expression in the Old Testament had two basic meanings: (1) When one person was unjustly bothering another, the injured party could say “What to me and to you?” meaning, “What have I done to you that you should do this to me?” (Judg 11:12, 2 Chr 35:21, 1 Kgs 17:18). (2) When someone was asked to get involved in a matter he felt was no business of his, he could say to the one asking him, “What to me and to you?” meaning, “That is your business, how am I involved?” (2 Kgs 3:13, Hos 14:8). Option (1) implies hostility, while option (2) implies merely disengagement. Mere disengagement is almost certainly to be understood here as better fitting the context (although some of the Greek Fathers took the remark as a rebuke to Mary, such a rebuke is unlikely). My timetn Grk “my hour” (referring to the time of Jesus’ crucifixion and return to the Father).sn The Greek word translated time (ὥρα, Jwra) occurs in John 2:4; 4:21, 23; 5:25, 28, 29; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 16:25; and 17:1. It is a reference to the special period in Jesus’ life when he was to leave this world and return to the Father (13:1); the hour when the Son of man is glorified (17:1). This is accomplished through his suffering, death, resurrection (and ascension – though this last is not emphasized by John). John 7:30 and 8:20 imply that Jesus’ arrest and death are included. John 12:23 and 17:1, referring to the glorification of the Son, imply that the resurrection and ascension are included as part of the “hour.” In John 2:4 Jesus’ remark to his mother indicates that the time for this self-manifestation has not yet arrived; his identity as Messiah is not yet to be publicly revealed. has not yet come.”
5 His mother told the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”tn The pronoun “it” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context.
6 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washing,tn Grk “for the purification of the Jews.” each holding twenty or thirty gallons.tn Grk “holding two or three metretes” (about 75 to 115 liters). Each of the pots held 2 or 3 μετρηταί (metrhtai). A μετρητῆς (metrhths) was about 9 gallons (40 liters); thus each jar held 18-27 gallons (80-120 liters) and the total volume of liquid involved was 108-162 gallons (480-720 liters).sn Significantly, these jars held water for Jewish ceremonial washing (purification rituals). The water of Jewish ritual purification has become the wine of the new messianic age. The wine may also be, after the fashion of Johannine double meanings, a reference to the wine of the Lord’s Supper. A number have suggested this, but there does not seem to be anything in the immediate context which compels this; it seems more related to how frequently a given interpreter sees references to the sacraments in John’s Gospel as a whole.
7 Jesus told the servants,tn Grk “them” (it is clear from the context that the servants are addressed). “Fill the water jars with water.” So they filled them up to the very top.
8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the head steward,”tn Or “the master of ceremonies.” and they did.
9 Whentn Grk “And when.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, δέ (de) has not been translated here. the head steward tasted the water that had been turned to wine, not knowing where it came fromtn Grk “and he did not know where it came from.” (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), hetn Grk “the head steward”; here the repetition of the phrase is somewhat redundant in English and the pronoun (“he”) is substituted in the translation. called the bridegroom
10 and said to him, “Everyonetn Grk “every man” (in a generic sense). serves the good wine first, and then the cheapertn Or “poorer.” wine when the gueststn Grk “when they”; the referent (the guests) has been specified in the translation for clarity. are drunk. You have kept the good wine until now!”
11 Jesus did this as the first of his miraculous signs,tn This sentence in Greek involves an object-complement construction. The force can be either “Jesus did this as,” or possibly “Jesus made this to be.” The latter translation accents not only Jesus’ power but his sovereignty too. Cf. also 4:54 where the same construction occurs. in Canamap For location see Map1-C3; Map2-D2; Map3-C5. of Galilee. In this way he revealedtn Grk “in Cana of Galilee, and he revealed.” his glory, and his disciples believed in him.tn Or “his disciples trusted in him,” or “his disciples put their faith in him.”
Cleansing the Temple
12 After this he went down to Capernaumsn Verse 12 is merely a transitional note in the narrative (although Capernaum does not lie on the direct route to Jerusalem from Cana). Nothing is mentioned in John’s Gospel at this point about anything Jesus said or did there (although later his teaching is mentioned, see 6:59). From the synoptics it is clear that Capernaum was a center of Jesus’ Galilean ministry and might even be called “his own town” (Matt 9:1). The royal official whose son Jesus healed (John 4:46-54) was from Capernaum. He may have heard Jesus speak there, or picked up the story about the miracle at Cana from one of Jesus’ disciples.map For location see Map1-D2; Map2-C3; Map3-B2. with his mother and brotherssn With respect to Jesus’ brothers, the so-called Helvidian view is to be preferred (named after Helvidius, a 4th-century theologian). This view holds that the most natural way to understand the phrase is as a reference to children of Joseph and Mary after the birth of Jesus. Other views are that of Epiphanius (they were children of Joseph by a former marriage) or Jerome (they were cousins). The tradition of Mary’s perpetual virginity appeared in the 2nd century and is difficult to explain (as J. H. Bernard, St. John [ICC], 1:85, points out) if some of her other children were prominent members of the early church (e.g., James of Jerusalem). But this is outweighed by the natural sense of the words. and his disciples, and they stayed there a few days.
13 Now the Jewish feast of Passovertn Grk “the Passover of the Jews.” This is first of at least three (and possibly four) Passovers mentioned in John’s Gospel. If it is assumed that the Passovers appear in the Gospel in their chronological order (and following a date of a.d. 33 for the crucifixion), this would be the Passover of the spring of a.d. 30, the first of Jesus’ public ministry. There is a clear reference to another Passover in 6:4, and another still in 11:55, 12:1, 13:1, 18:28, 39, and 19:14. The latter would be the Passover of a.d. 33. There is a possibility that 5:1 also refers to a Passover, in which case it would be the second of Jesus’ public ministry (a.d. 31), while 6:4 would refer to the third (a.d. 32) and the remaining references would refer to the final Passover at the time of the crucifixion. It is entirely possible, however, that the Passovers occurring in the Fourth Gospel are not intended to be understood as listed in chronological sequence. If the material of the Fourth Gospel originally existed in the form of homilies or sermons by the Apostle John on the life and ministry of Jesus, the present arrangement would not have to be in strict chronological order (it does not explicitly claim to be). In this case the Passover mentioned in 2:13, for example, might actually be later in Jesus’ public ministry than it might at first glance appear. This leads, however, to a discussion of an even greater problem in the passage, the relationship of the temple cleansing in John’s Gospel to the similar account in the synoptic gospels. was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem.map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4.
14sn John 2:14-22. Does John’s account of the temple cleansing describe the same event as the synoptic gospels describe, or a separate event? The other accounts of the cleansing of the temple are Matt 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; and Luke 19:45-46. None are as long as the Johannine account. The fullest of the synoptic accounts is Mark’s. John’s account differs from Mark’s in the mention of sheep and oxen, the mention of the whip of cords, the Greek word κερματιστῆς (kermatisths) for money changer (the synoptics use κολλυβιστῆς [kollubisths], which John mentions in 2:15), the scattering of the coins (2:15), and the command by Jesus, “Take these things away from here!” The word for overturned in John is ἀναστρεφω (anastrefw), while Matthew and Mark use καταστρεφω (katastrefw; Luke does not mention the moneychangers at all). The synoptics all mention that Jesus quoted Isa 56:7 followed by Jer 7:11. John mentions no citation of scripture at all, but says that later the disciples remembered Ps 69:9. John does not mention, as does Mark, Jesus’ prohibition on carrying things through the temple (i.e., using it for a shortcut). But the most important difference is one of time: In John the cleansing appears as the first great public act of Jesus’ ministry, while in the synoptics it is virtually the last. The most common solution of the problem, which has been endlessly discussed among NT scholars, is to say there was only one cleansing, and that it took place, as the synoptics record it, at the end of Jesus’ ministry. In the synoptics it appears to be the event that finalized the opposition of the high priest, and precipitated the arrest of Jesus. According to this view, John’s placing of the event at the opening of Jesus’ ministry is due to his general approach; it was fitting ‘theologically’ for Jesus to open his ministry this way, so this is the way John records it. Some have overstated the case for one cleansing and John’s placing of it at the opening of Jesus’ public ministry, however. For example W. Barclay stated: “John, as someone has said, is more interested in the truth than in the facts. He was not interested to tell men when Jesus cleansed the Temple; he was supremely interested in telling men that Jesus did cleanse the Temple” (John [DSBS], 94). But this is not the impression one gets by a reading of John’s Gospel: The evangelist seems to go out of his way to give details and facts, including notes of time and place. To argue as Barclay does that John is interested in truth apart from the facts is to set up a false dichotomy. Why should one have to assume, in any case, that there could have been only one cleansing of the temple? This account in John is found in a large section of nonsynoptic material. Apart from the work of John the Baptist – and even this is markedly different from the references in the synoptics – nothing else in the first five chapters of John’s Gospel is found in any of the synoptics. It is certainly not impossible that John took one isolated episode from the conclusion of Jesus’ earthly ministry and inserted it into his own narrative in a place which seemed appropriate according to his purposes. But in view of the differences between John and the synoptics, in both wording and content, as well as setting and time, it is at least possible that the event in question actually occurred twice (unless one begins with the presupposition that the Fourth Gospel is nonhistorical anyway). In support of two separate cleansings of the temple, it has been suggested that Jesus’ actions on this occasion were not permanent in their result, and after (probably) 3 years the status quo in the temple courts had returned to normal. And at this time early in Jesus’ ministry, he was virtually unknown. Such an action as he took on this occasion would have created a stir, and evoked the response John records in 2:18-22, but that is probably about all, especially if Jesus’ actions met with approval among part of the populace. But later in Jesus’ ministry, when he was well-known, and vigorously opposed by the high-priestly party in Jerusalem, his actions might have brought forth another, harsher response. It thus appears possible to argue for two separate cleansings of the temple as well as a single one relocated by John to suit his own purposes. Which then is more probable? On the whole, more has been made of the differences between John’s account and the synoptic accounts than perhaps should have been. After all, the synoptic accounts also differ considerably from one another, yet few scholars would be willing to posit four cleansings of the temple as an explanation for this. While it is certainly possible that the author did not intend by his positioning of the temple cleansing to correct the synoptics’ timing of the event, but to highlight its significance for the course of Jesus’ ministry, it still appears somewhat more probable that John has placed the event he records in the approximate period of Jesus’ public ministry in which it did occur, that is, within the first year or so of Jesus’ public ministry. The statement of the Jewish authorities recorded by the author (this temple has been under construction for forty-six years) would tend to support an earlier rather than a later date for the temple cleansing described by John, since 46 years from the beginning of construction on Herod’s temple in ca. 19 b.c. (the date varies somewhat in different sources) would be around a.d. 27. This is not conclusive proof, however. He found in the temple courtstn Grk “in the temple.”sn The merchants (those who were selling) would have been located in the Court of the Gentiles. those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables.tn Grk “the money changers sitting”; the words “at tables” are not in the Greek text, but are implied.
15 So he made a whip of cordstc Several witnesses, two of which are quite ancient (Ì66,75 L N Ë1 33 565 892 1241 al lat), have ὡς (Jws, “like”) before φραγέλλιον (fragellion, “whip”). A decision based on external evidence would be difficult to make because the shorter reading also has excellent witnesses, as well as the majority, on its side (א A B Θ Ψ Ë13 Ï co). Internal evidence, though, leans toward the shorter reading. Scribes tended to add to the text, and the addition of ὡς here clearly softens the assertion of the evangelist: Instead of making a whip of cords, Jesus made “[something] like a whip of cords.” and drove them all out of the temple courts,tn Grk “the temple.” with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changerssn Because of the imperial Roman portraits they carried, Roman denarii and Attic drachmas were not permitted to be used in paying the half-shekel temple-tax (the Jews considered the portraits idolatrous). The money changers exchanged these coins for legal Tyrian coinage at a small profit. and overturned their tables.
16 To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not maketn Or (perhaps) “Stop making.” my Father’s house a marketplace!”tn Or “a house of merchants” (an allusion to Zech 14:21).sn A marketplace. Zech 14:20-21, in context, is clearly a picture of the messianic kingdom. The Hebrew word translated “Canaanite” may also be translated “merchant” or “trader.” Read in this light, Zech 14:21 states that there will be no merchant in the house of the Lord in that day (the day of the Lord, at the establishment of the messianic kingdom). And what would Jesus’ words (and actions) in cleansing the temple have suggested to the observers? That Jesus was fulfilling messianic expectations would have been obvious – especially to the disciples, who had just seen the miracle at Cana with all its messianic implications.
17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zealtn Or “Fervent devotion to your house.” for your house will devour me.”sn A quotation from Ps 69:9.
18 So then the Jewish leaderstn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” In NT usage the term ᾿Ιουδαῖοι (Ioudaioi) may refer to the entire Jewish people, the residents of Jerusalem and surrounding territory, the authorities in Jerusalem, or merely those who were hostile to Jesus. Here the author refers to the authorities or leaders in Jerusalem. (For further information see R. G. Bratcher, “‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John,” BT 26 : 401-9.) responded,tn Grk “answered and said to him.” “What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?”sn The request “What sign can you show us” by Jesus’ adversaries was a request for a defense of his actions – a mark of divine authentication. Whether this was a request for a miracle is not entirely clear. Jesus never obliged such a request. Yet, ironically, the only sign the Jewish leadership will get is that predicted by Jesus in 2:19 – his crucifixion and resurrection. Cf. the “sign of Jonah” in the synoptics (Matt 12:39, 40; Luke 11:29-32).
19 Jesus replied,tn Grk “answered and said to them.” “Destroytn The imperative here is really more than a simple conditional imperative (= “if you destroy”); its semantic force here is more like the ironical imperative found in the prophets (Amos 4:4, Isa 8:9) = “Go ahead and do this and see what happens.” this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.”
20 Then the Jewish leaderstn See the note on this phrase in v. 18. said to him, “This temple has been under constructiontn A close parallel to the aorist οἰκοδομήθη (oikodomhqh) can be found in Ezra 5:16 (LXX), where it is clear from the following verb that the construction had not yet been completed. Thus the phrase has been translated “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years.” Some, however, see the term ναός (naos) here as referring only to the sanctuary and the aorist verb as consummative, so that the meaning would be “this temple was built forty-six years ago” (so ExSyn 560-61). Ultimately in context the logic of the authorities’ reply appears to fit more naturally if it compares length of time for original construction with length of time to reconstruct it. for forty-six years,sn According to Josephus (Ant. 15.11.1 [15.380]), work on this temple was begun in the 18th year of Herod the Great’s reign, which would have been ca. 19 b.c. (The reference in the Ant. is probably more accurate than the date given in J. W. 1.21.1 [1.401]). Forty-six years later would be around the Passover of a.d. 27/28. and are you going to raise it up in three days?”
21 But Jesustn Grk “that one”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity. This Greek term is frequently used as a way of referring to Jesus in the Johannine letters (cf. 1 John 2:6; 3:3, 5, 7, 16; 4:17). was speaking about the temple of his body.tn The genitive “of his body” (τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ, tou swmato" autou) is a genitive of apposition, clarifying which temple Jesus was referring to. Thus, Jesus not only was referring to his physical resurrection, but also to his participation in the resurrection process. The New Testament thus records the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as all performing the miracle of Christ's resurrection.sn Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. For the author, the temple is not just the building, it is Jesus’ resurrected body. Compare the nonlocalized worship mentioned in John 4:21-23, and also Rev 21:22 (there is to be no temple in the New Jerusalem; the Lord and the Lamb are its temple). John points to the fact that, as the place where men go in order to meet God, the temple has been supplanted and replaced by Jesus himself, in whose resurrected person people may now encounter God (see John 1:18, 14:6).
22 So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripturesn They believed the scripture is probably an anaphoric reference to Ps 69:9 (69:10 LXX), quoted in John 2:17 above. Presumably the disciples did not remember Ps 69:9 on the spot, but it was a later insight. and the sayingtn Or “statement”; Grk “word.” that Jesus had spoken.
Jesus at the Passover Feast
23 Now while Jesustn Grk “he”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity. was in Jerusalemmap For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. at the feast of the Passover, many people believed in his name because they saw the miraculous signs he was doing.sn Because they saw the miraculous signs he was doing. The issue here is not whether their faith was genuine or not, but what its object was. These individuals, after seeing the miracles, believed Jesus to be the Messiah. They most likely saw in him a political-eschatological figure of some sort. That does not, however, mean that their concept of “Messiah” was the same as Jesus’ own, or the author’s.
24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people.tn Grk “all.” The word “people” has been supplied for clarity, since the Greek word πάντας (pantas) is masculine plural (thus indicating people rather than things).
25 He did not need anyone to testify about man,tn The masculine form has been retained here in the translation to maintain the connection with “a man of the Pharisees” in 3:1, with the understanding that the reference is to people of both genders. for he knew what was in man.tn See previous note on “man” in this verse.
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