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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
John 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-25


The Wedding at Cana. The Temple Cleansed

1-11. The marriage at Cana. This miracle is not recorded by the synoptists because it occurred before the beginning of the ministry proper. St. John records it, because, spiritually interpreted, it forms a suitable introduction to our Lord's ministerial work. It teaches, (1) the superiority of the Gospel to the Law. Christ changes the water of Judaism into the good wine of the Gospel. This is not a fanciful interpretation, but an entirely natural one, if it be granted (as is abundantly shown in the Intro.) that the ancients were right in regarding this Gospel as a 'spiritual' or allegorical one. (2) Being a physical or creative miracle, it manifests Christ as the Lord of matter as well as of spirit. (3) It sanctifies marriage, and gives Christ's approval to innocent mirth and gladness. (4)

It reveals God's goodness and overwhelming bounty. In recording it, St. John doubtless had in view the Gnostic false teachers, who regarded matter as evil, and practised a rigid asceticism, rejecting all bodily pleasures, and abstaining from flesh and wine, and even from marriage. Such teaching was very prevalent in Ephesus, where this Gospel was written (see 1 Timothy 4:1-6), and tradition tells us that St. John vehemently opposed it.

1. The third day] It was a three-days' journey from Judæa to Galilee. Cana] now Kana-el-Jelil, a village 9 m. NW. of Nazareth, called 'of Galilee' to distinguish it from Cana (Kanah) in Asher (Joshua 19:28).

3. They have no wine] The deficiency happened towards the close of the festivities, which usually lasted seven or fourteen days (Judges 14:15; Tob 9:19). It was perhaps caused by the presence of so many (five or six) of the disciples of Jesus, and hence our Lord had a natural motive for working the miracle.

4. Woman] A very gentle rebuke, but still a rebuke. Now that His ministry has actually begun, not even His mother may presume to suggest or control His course of action: cp. Matthew 12:46; Luke 11:27. 'Woman,' or, rather, 'Lady,' is in Greek a title of respect, used even in addressing queens.

Mine hour (i.e. for putting forth My miraculous power) is not yet come] Yet it came a few minutes later, when the Father, by an inward revelation, had manifested His will to Jesus. 'Hour,' in the sense of 'appointed time,' is common in this Gospel (John 7:30; John 8:20; John 12:23, John 12:27; John 13:1; John 17:1).

6. Purifying] Washing the hands before dinner (Luke 11:38) is meant: cp. Mark 7:3, and see the full notes on Matthew 15:1-20.

Firkins] Gk. metretes, about 9 gallons.

9. Ruler] an honoured guest, who presided at the entertainment.

10. Well drunk] RV 'drunk freely.' The expression is proverbial, and need not be literally interpreted of the present company.

11. Beginning of miracles] lit. 'signs.' Clearly Christ wrought no miracles in His childhood, as the Apocryphal Gospels assert. St. John calls our Lord's miracles 'signs,' because they indicate something beyond themselves. They are no mere marvels, but reveal God's character, Christ's divine nature, and the mysteries of the gospel dispensation. All the miracles in this Gospel are also parables: see Intro. Manifested] To 'manifest' is to display something which before was hidden; here, the glory of His Messiahship, faith in which, already begun among the disciples (John 1:41), was confirmed by this miracle.

12. Short visit to Capernaum. This unimportant event seems recorded for some personal reason. Perhaps it was the occasion of the first visit of Jesus to the evangelist's own house. Brethren] These are variously regarded as sons of Joseph by a former wife, sons of Joseph and Mary, and as cousins of Jesus: see special note on Matthew 12:46-50.

13-17. First Passover and First Cleansing of the Temple. For a full commentary, see on Matthew 21:12. By a striking sign our Lord at the very outset of His ministry brought His claims before the whole nation. The rulers at once took up an attitude of hostility, although a few, like Nicodemus, were favourably impressed. The people, upon the whole, approved our Lord's action. Many believed, but their faith, based on miracles, was superficial, and Jesus would not trust them. The disciples were confirmed in their faith by seeing Jesus fulfil OT. prophecies. By this act Jesus claimed to be, not merely a prophet, but the Messiah, as is shown by the expression 'My Father's house,' which asserts His right to the Messianic title 'the Son of God.' The Jews considered that the Temple court in which this sign took place (the Court of the Gentiles) was profane; but Jesus by cleansing it showed that it was holy, and vindicated for the Gentiles a rightful place in the true Temple of God.

17. The zeal] Cited from Psalms 69:9. This Ps. is elsewhere quoted as Messianic, John 15:25; John 19:28; Acts 1:20; Romans 11:9-10; Romans 15:3, and is ascribed to David. The Psalmist complains that his zeal for God's house and for true religion has brought upon him bitter persecution and unnumbered calamities. This was also the case with our Lord.

18-22. The Jews seek a sign. First prophecy of the Resurrection.

19. Destroy this temple (or, rather, 'sanctuary')] These words made a deep impression, and were quoted against Jesus, in a maliciously altered form, at His trial (Matthew 26:61). The evangelist understood them (John 2:21) to apply to the Resurrection, and this interpretation is confirmed by the fact that our Lord on other occasions also pointed to His Resurrection as a sign for His opponents (Matthew 12:39-40, where consult the notes). Many critics, however, think that our Lord's real meaning was, 'When this old dispensation of the Ceremonial Law is destroyed, I will quickly raise up in its place a new and spiritual religion.'

20. Three temples have stood on Mt. Moriah: (1) Solomon's Temple, (2) Zerubbabel's Temple, (3) Herod's Temple. This last, however, some regard not as a new Temple, but as Zerubbabel's Temple repaired and enlarged. Herod the Great began to build it 20 b.c., and at this time, apparently, building operations had ceased. They were soon resumed, however, and the Temple was finally completed by Herod Agrippa, 64 a.d. Reckoning from 20 b.c. the date of our Lord's cleansing of the Temple would be about 26 a.d., but strict accuracy is not attainable.

23-25. Many believe on Jesus, but with imperfect faith.

23. In the feast day] RV 'during the feast,' which lasted a week.

24. Did not commit (RV 'trust') himself unto them] because of their carnal conceptions of His person and work. They were impressed by His miracles, and thought that He would prove a militant and victorious Messiah.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on John 2:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/john-2.html. 1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, September 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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