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Friday, June 14th, 2024
the Week of Proper 5 / Ordinary 10
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Bible Commentaries
John 2

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

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Verses 1-11



John 2:1-11.

(Pericope for 2nd Sunday after Epiphany.)

1And the third day there was a marriage [a marriage feast was held] in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: 2And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, [and Jesus also was invited and his disciples] to the marriage. 3And when they wanted wine [And wine having failed, or, when wine failed]1 the mother of 4Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee?2 mine hour is not yet come. 5His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it. 6And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim [top]. 8And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and 9bear unto the governor [ruler] of the feast. And they bare it. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made [had become, or, been made] wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants which drew [who had drawn] the water knew), the governor [ruler] of the feast called the bridegroom, 10And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine, [setteth forth the good wine first]; and when men have well drunk,3 then4 that which is worse; but 11[omit but]5 thou hast kept the good wine until now. This6 beginning of miracles [signs, τῶν σημείων] did [wrought] Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory [his transfiguring power, τὴν δόξαν αὑτοῦ]; and his disciples believed [the more] on [in] him.


[Here we have the fulfilment of the promise made in the last verse of John 1:0., and a startling proof of the presence of supernatural powers in the person of the Son of Man. Christ significantly began His public ministry with a miracle of transformation: His whole mission was to convert sinners into saints, to turn grief into joy, to elevate earth to heaven. It was moreover a miracle of festive joy and gladness, and of more than royal munificence; showing—in striking contrast to the Mosaic law of condemnation and the ascetic austerity and water-baptism of John, and in the presence of his former pupils—that the gospel is life and peace, a religion of true happiness. Christ relieves not only the present need, but provides also an abundant supply for all the future, enough and to spare for every one that thirsteth. It is equally significant that this miracle was performed in the bosom of a, family: for the family is the first institution of God on earth, and the nursery of Church and State, where all moral reforms of society must begin. Christianity restored marriage and the family to their original purity, and elevated them to true dignity by abolishing polygamy, emancipating woman from slavish degradation, and by making the relation of husband and wife a type of the sacred union of Christ to His church.—The miracle of Cana, as it was the first in time, is also the greatest in character, next to the raising of Lazarus which was the last, and which exhibited Christ as the Conqueror of death and the Prince of life eternal. Both belong exclusively to the fourth Gospel, while the miraculous feeding of the multitude is reported by all.7 The change of water into wine was a proper transubstantiation or qualitative transmutation of an elementary substance. It is not a creative act in the strict sense of the term; for God made the world out of nothing, Christ always operated upon existing substances. But it involves the same creative power, and is strictly above nature and above reason (not against them), and therefore incomprehensible. Yet after all it is not more beyond our present comprehension than the change of the rain from heaven into the juice of the grape, the growth of plants by the transmutation of inorganic matter into organic, and all those miracles of nature, which by their daily occurrence appear to us natural and common.8—Like many sayings of Christ, the miracle of Cana is a stumbling-block to the superficial reader, and seems to conflict with the ideal character of the Gospel of John. It is indeed a rebuke to a morbid asceticism and desponding legalism, to which even many good people are given. But it abounds in high moral significance and symbolic beauty. It is altogether unnecessary to resort to the modern figment of an essential difference of the wine of the Bible and usual wine. The wine which Christ made was no doubt pure, good wine, in the proper sense of the term. But to think it even possible that Christ might have encouraged immoderate use of wine or any kind of excess, proves a false posture of mind and utter disqualification to understand the miracle. The piety and sobriety of this God-fearing family, with the Son of God as their guest, was the basis of the miracle; in an intemperate circle it would never have been wrought at all. Procul abeste profani! To the pure all things are pure. See Doctr. and Eth.—P. S.]

John 2:1. And the third day,[τῇτρίτῃἡμέρᾳ].—Most probably identical [?] with the ἐπαύριον, John 1:43 (44). See the Exeg. ad loc. The marriage-feast had probably been nearly three days in progress, when Jesus, on His arrival, was invited to it. [The third day is probably to be reckoned from the last date mentioned, i.e., Nathanael’s calling, John 1:43 (44), not from the day of John’s testimony, John 1:29, as Dr. Lange takes it, still less from the day of Christ’s arrival in Cana (Ewald); for this was not yet spoken of. Bengel: Tertio die post promissum datum, 1:52. Nunc ostenditur specimen. The journey from Judæa to Galilee required two or three days, the distance in a direct line being over twenty hours.—P. S.]

In Cana of Galilee.—In the Galilean Cana; in distinction from another. (So John 2:11; John 4:46; John 21:2). [Or, rather, as the other Cana lies likewise in Galilee, τῆς Γαλιλείας is merely a local notice of John for foreign readers, comp. John 1:28; 44, and Hengstenberg in loc.—P. S.] Not Kefr Kenna, but Kâna el-Jelîl, according to Robinson, III., p. 443. [Am. ed. of 1858, vol. 2. pp. 346–,49.—P. S.] Galilee was originally only a district (גָלִיל) of Upper Galilee, which was divided from Lower Galilee by a line running from Tiberias to Zabulon. Hence in the time of John there was, no doubt, a Galilee in the stricter, ancient sense, to be distinguished from a Galilee in the wider sense. This distinction is important in John 4:45. The other Cana, from which ours is distinguished, has been sought now, according to Josephus (Vita xvii. 1) erroneously in Peræa, now in a Cana in the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28), south-east of Type (Robinson III. 657), which, “though also to be counted in Galilee, lay so much in the vicinity of Phenicia, as to justify the designation of our Cana as K. τῆς Γαλιλαίας,” (Meyer). But that northernmost Cana also belonged to Galilee. We can allow this distinction only on the supposition that the region of Cana of Galilee was a Galilee in the narrow sense, in the most provincial terms. As Kef’r Kenna, which tradition has fixed as the Galilean Cana, lies some distance to the south, it might fall in the province of Lower Galilee, and might well form the antithesis. Ewald has made a Kanath, east of Jordan, the other Cana; which is scarcely to be mentioned. Cana lay on a round hill.

[The location of Cana is still under dispute. Dr. Robinson’s view has been adopted by Ritter, Meyer, Alford, Trench, Lange, Renan. Trench (On the Miracles, p. 83) numbers this among “the most felicitous and most convincing of Robinson’s slighter rectifications of the geography of Palestine.” Kâna el-Jelîl (i.e., Cana of Galilee) is a mere ruin about seven miles or nearly three hours N. ½ E. from Nazareth, and about three miles N. by E. of Sepphoris (Seffûrieh). Kefr (i.e., village) Kenna, is a small village about 4½ miles north-east of Nazareth, where the monks locate Cana, and where the remains of a Greek church and the house of St. Bartholomew are pointed out. Robinson’s arguments in favor of Kâna el-Jelîl are the identity of name, and a notice from Marinus Sanutus about A. D. 1321. But Hepworth Dixon (Holy Land, I865, I. 332) contends again for Kefr Kenna, as he and Thomson (The Land and the Book) contend for Tell Hûm, as the site of Capernaum, against Robinson’s conclusion in favor of Khan Minyeh. Hengstenberg and Godet likewise decide for Kef’r Kenna. Grove (in Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible) and Hackett (in a supplementary note to the Am. ed.) leave the question of the situation of Cana doubtful. Although Cana has nearly disappeared, it will always be remembered in connection with the festivity of marriage and the happiness of the family.—P. S.]

And the mother of Jesus was there.—The mother of Jesus, John writes; not Mary. [John never names. Mary, as he does not name himself nor his brother James, perhaps on account of his intimate connection with her in virtue of the dying injunction of the Saviour, John 19:26-27. So Alford.—P. S.] Luthardt (with Hofmann and Lampe) holds (p. 420; comp. p. 116) that Jesus entirely dissolved the relation of son to Mary on the cross, with the word: “Woman, behold thy son!”9 John seems far from this, to speak mildly, rare exegesis. Jesus returned with His disciples to Galilee, their common home. They accompanied Him to Nazareth. But the mother of Jesus had gone to the wedding at Cana, which lay further north in the mountains. Probably they met in Nazareth with the invitation which occasioned their following the mother.

[The occasion was evidently a family gathering. Besides the mother of Jesus, His brothers were also present, John 2:12. It was a farewell (un adieu royal, as Godet says) to His earthly relations. He was now leaving the privacy and obscurity of family life to enter upon His public ministry, and marked the transition by an exhibition of His divine power which was well calculated to convince His brothers, sisters, and friends of His Messiahship, and to convert them into His spiritual relations.—P. S.]

John 2:2. And Jesus also was invited, and his disciples, [i.e., those five mentioned in John 1:0., Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathanael, and John. The evangelist was therefore an eye-witness of the scene, and probably a relative of Jesus.—P. S.] ̓Εκλήθη [is the historical past: was bidden, invited, and] cannot be taken as pluperfect. Where would the inviter have looked for the Lord on the Jordan? And there, too, He had as yet no disciples to be invited with Him. The invitation was rather an after-thought, and from this in part the lack of wine might be explained. Meyer supposes that the invitation was given in Cana itself. But people do not go in search of a member of a family at a feast; at all events this would amount to their inviting themselves. The fact that Nathanael was of Cana might increase the relations of the Lord to the house of friends with which His mother Mary seems to have been closely connected. It may certainly be inferred from this passage and John 2:12, that Joseph was no longer living. (Against Meyer, who unwarrantably cites John 6:42).10 Of a removal of Mary from Nazareth to Cana, Ewald speaks alone.11—If we reckon for the return to Cana, including the stoppage at the calling of Philip and Nathanael, as a three days’ journey, Jesus, according to Origen’s computation of the third day (from the day of John 1:43), would have arrived with His disciples in the evening of the first day of the feast. As a wedding generally lasted seven days (among the poorer people, indeed, only three, or even one; comp. Genesis 29:27; Judges 14:14; Tob. 9:12), the supply of wine with but moderate care, would hardly have been exhausted so soon. We are forced to conclude, therefore, that the Lord came with His disciples on one of the later days of the feast; and this works backward to the supposition that the third day dates from the testimony of John, as the day when Jesus was publicly and theocratically accredited as the Messiah in Israel.12

[The presence of Christ with His mother and disciples, at a wedding-feast, and His performing His first miracle there, is a silent condemnation of monkish asceticism, and a recognition of the marriage relation as honorable and holy. Christianity is no flight from the world, but a transformation of the world, no annihilation of the order of nature, but the sanctification of it, no moroseness of spirit, but joy and gladness. It is the leaven which is to leaven the whole lump of society. But by turning water into wine and revealing His glory at the wedding-feast, Christ gave us an example how to conduct ourselves in society, that is to introduce a higher, nobler element, and to change the water of trifling, frivolous talk into the wine of instructive, profitable conversation. Trench observes: “We need not wonder to find the Lord of life at that festival; for He came to sanctify all life—its times of joy, as its times of sorrow; and all experience tells us, that it is times of gladness, such as this was now, which especially need such a sanctifying power, such a presence of the Lord. In times of sorrow, the sense of God’s presence comes more naturally out: in these it is in danger to be forgotten. He was there, and by His presence there struck the keynote to the whole future tenor of His ministry.”—P. S.]

John 2:3. And when wine failed, [Καὶ ὑστερήσαντος οἴνου], Gladly had the nuptial family, which undoubtedly belonged to the true waiting ones in Israel, improvised their invitation; but it seemed to fare ill for awhile, in having neglected the usual Jewish calculation. The less could their spirit turn to their mortification. Tholuck adduces the cheapness of wine in the East, to infer that the family was in limited circumstances. But even where wine is cheap, it is not always at hand in abundance, even for the wealthy. In any case the need here existing was not so much that of poverty as that of family honor, especially of festal feeling and joy. [It also reveals the temperance of the family.—P. S.]

They have no wine.—No more wine. According to Chrysostom and others, Mary speaks these words, because Jesus had already wrought miracles, and she expects one now. Contrary to John 2:11. According to Lücke, Jesus has already done extraordinary works in smaller circles, and so given rise to the expectation.13 According to Bengel and Paulus, Mary would suggest to Him to depart with His disciples;14 according to Meyer, to provide some remedy, “which in fact might have been done in the most natural way (by fetching more wine)”! Calvin thinks it a hush-word to the guests (perhaps a hint to go). Tholuck: “The object of Jesus’ journey could not have remained unknown to Mary; if, according to the popular faith, she was considering the miracle the test of the Messiah, she might now request even the first exercise of the divine power.” Nothing of all these intentions appears in the words. To tell the need is not necessarily to apply for help. So far as its form is concerned, the expression proves only, that the people let Mary know the lack, and that she told it to the Lord; rather giving up than asking help. Mary had probably a hundred times found in her family life, that the holy Child, during His growth, could tell what to do, when no one else could, though not exactly by miracle strictly so called.15 A confident expectation, however, must have been couched in her complaint; this is evident from the answer of the Lord. She certainly meant, in general: Tell us what to do; and, if any one please, more specifically, according to Bengel: Bring the feast to a close; though in some other way than by an embarrassed departure.

[I take the words of Mary to be an indirect prayer and a modest hint to relieve the difficulty, like the message of the sisters of Lazarus: “Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest, is sick,” John 11:3. Mary had good reason to expect that her divine Son, now after His solemn inauguration by the baptism in Jordan, and the gathering of His first disciples, would signalize His entrance upon public life by a miraculous demonstration of His Messianic dignity, and she was not shaken in her expectation by His apparent refusal, as is evident from her words in John 2:5 (see my note, p. 106). The announcement of the angel, the supernatural conception, and the whole conduct of Jesus must have long before convinced her of His Messiahship. Lampe properly regards these words as a monument of the faith, humility and modesty of Mary. Yet there was a defect, an untimely haste and improper interference, though from the best motives, with the Messianic prerogative of her divine Son. This is manifest from the reply of Jesus.—P. S.]

John 2:4. Jesus saith unto her, etc.—The terms of Luther’s version [identical with those of the English]: Woman, what have I to do with thee?16 are much too strong. The phrase forms a scale, from the strongest rebuke to the gentlest refusal, according to the tone.

The address: γύναι, Woman, has no tinge of contempt. Augustus says to Cleopatra [the Queen of Egypt] in Dio: θάρσει, ὦ γύναι.17 So the address to Mary Magdalene, John 20:15, γύναι, is plainly an expression of compassion. And so, too, is John 19:26 to be taken.

[In English the term woman is frequently used in a solemn and honorable sense, as embracing the characteristic traits of the womanly ideal, when we speak of a good woman, a noble woman, a true woman, be a woman. Christ calls His mother woman when on the cross He commited her with tender affection to the charge of His bosom disciple. He does not call her mother, because this would not suit here in connection with τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί and because He had regard mainly to His Father, and subordinated all earthly relations to the heavenly and eternal. Comp. Matthew 12:49-50; Luke 8:19; 2 Corinthians 5:16. The period of His subjection to her as His earthly mother had ceased. Even in His twelfth year He answered to her remark: “Thy father (Joseph) and I,” by “My Father” (in heaven), Luke 2:48-49. Calvin: Sic ergo matrem Christus alloquitur, ut perpetuam et communem seculis omnibus doctrinam tradat, ne immodicus matris honor divinam suam gloriam obscuret. Olshausen: “The Son had now become the Lord also of His mother, who could secure her own happiness only by believing obedience to Him.”—P. S.]

The phrase τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί What to me and to thee (in which κοινόν or the like is to be supplied), has not among the Hebrews (מַה־לִּי וָלָךְ), as in the classics, a repulsive, reprehensive sense, as Grotius shows, ad Matthew 8:29. The expression is uttered in Judges 11:12; 2 Samuel 16:10, in friendliness. It readily consists with this, that Jesus would assert the elevation of His divine calling above natural relationship, as in Matthew 12:50 (Tholuck). Ebrard: That is my matter; leave that to me. Hengstenberg: “Was mir und dir, Weib?” Literally correct, but not good German.

[As the interpretation of this passage, which derives its true light from Matthew 12:46-50, has a bearing on the subject of Mariology and Mariolatry, I shall quote passages from ancient and modern commentators, who agree (against the Romish) in finding here a slight reproof of Mary for a certain improper interference or impatient haste. Irenæus (Adv. hær. l. 3; c. 16, §7): “The, Lord, repelling Mary’s unseasonable urgency (Dominus, repellens ejus intempestivam festinationem), said: “What have I to do with thee,” etc. Chrysostom (Hom. XXI. al. XX. in Joh. Tom. VIII. p. 122): “She wished to gain glory through her child (ἐβούλετο…. ἑαυτὴν λαμπροτέραν ποιῆσαι διὰ τοῦ παιδός)…therefore Christ answered her with severity (σφοδρότερον�, κ. τ. λ.).” He adds: “Mary had not yet the proper opinion of Christ οὐδέπω γὰρ ἣ ἐχρῆν περὶ αὐτοῦ δόξαν εῖ̓χεν ), but because she bare Him, she thought that, after the manner of other mothers, she might in all things command Him whom she ought to have worshipped and adored as her Lord. For this reason He gave this answer.” Such passages are irreconcilable with the belief in the sinless-ness of Mary. As the veneration of the Virgin increased from the time of the Nestorian controversy and the universal adoption of the θεοτόκος, such comments disappear. Even the Nestorianizing Theodoret, though quite full in his notes on the miracle of Cana, says not a word which might reflect in the least on Mary’s conduct. But the reformers and nearly all the Protestant interpreters take the same view of the passage as the fathers. Olshausen says that the words τί ἐμοί etc, necessarily imply reproof, although the rebuke is but gentle. Meyer: “Christ, in the consciousness of His higher wonder-working power and will, as one without a mother (ἀμήτωρ), repels the interference of womanly weakness, which here confronted Him, even in His mother.” Hengstenberg: “It lies in the nature of the case that the phrase always implies censure.” Godet agrees with Hengstenberg. Ewald: “He reproves her expectation with severe words.” Trench: “There is more or less of reproof and repulse in these words;” but he adds very properly that any harshness of the reply was mitigated by the manner in which the Lord suffered a near compliance with the request to shine through the apparent refusal. Alford: “The answer of our Lord is beyond question one of reproof, and disclaimer of participation in the grounds on which the request was made.” St. Bernard, Maldonatus and other Romanists try to escape the force of the usus loquendi by saying that Christ spoke those words not for Mary’s, but for our sakes, to teach us that He performed His miracles not from regard to human relationship, but from love and regard to God’s glory. Very true; but He taught Mary first, and taught us through her.—P. S.]

Mine hour is not yet come.—Euthym. Zigab.: The hour for working miracles. Ewald: Of my full sense of Messianic power. Lücke and others: For the revelation of my glory. Meyer: The juncture for help. [Trench: Till the wine is wholly exhausted. Flat.—P. S.]. According to Bruno Bauer, His hour must always mean the hour of His death.18—According to Tholuck, it is the ὤρα for the manifestation of His δόξα, as determined by the object of the miracle and the circle of witnesses. In this regard this scene seemed not so suitable as Jerusalem, yet the affectionate Son would also fain please His mother. Hence οὔπω refers to the precise moment. The right time of publicity, the right moment—two different ideas: His hour is His time for acting or suffering, as the Father appoints it to Him by the occasion and in His spirit, in distinction from the hour which is assigned Him by the opinion of men. Comp. John 7:6; John 8:20; John 13:1; Luke 22:53. The “not yet” opens the prospect of help to come at the right time.

John 2:5. Whatsoever he saith unto you.—Meyer thinks she means, He will require your service, perhaps in bringing wine. Meyer says: Whatsoever He saith unto you, without qualification; yet doubtless with the presentiment that He might say something very strange and striking, at which they were in danger of being startled.

[These words reveal the unbounded faith of Mary in her Son, whose gentle rebuke did not discourage her, and a confident expectation of some miraculous help at the proper time. She seems to have anticipated even the manner, viz., that it was to be brought about by the aid of the servants. She may have inferred from some previous hint of Christ not related here, or from the gentle manner with which He apparently refused her desire, with the qualifying οὔπω (not yet), His disposition to grant it. Precisely the same words: ὁ ἐὰν εἴπῃ ὑμῖν ποιήσατε (Genesis 41:55, LXX.), Pharaoh, at the time of the famine, addressed to all Egypt with regard to Joseph. Hengstenberg thinks that this coincidence is scarcely accidental in view of the similarity of the occasion, and the typical character of Joseph.—P. S.]

John 2:6. There were set [κείμεςαι, positæ] there six water-pots of stone [ὑδρίαι λίθιναι made of stone, stone-ware].—There; in the wedding-chamber, says Meyer. The washing of hands hardly took place in the wedding-chamber, rather in the court of the house. And the pots were too large for this, being doubtless not portable in the ordinary way: “large stone fonts” (Starke).—Six water-pots there were. Whether according to Jewish custom, can hardly be ascertained; at all events, the number, as symbolical, is the number of work, toil and need. See John 12:1 : six days before the passover Christ came to Bethany. Rev. John 4:0.: the opening of the first six seals. John 13:18 : the number of the beast, 666. Nork (Etymol. Symbol. Mythol. Real-Wörterbuch): “Six is threefold discord (Dyad), hence 666 is the number of Antichrist. On the evening of the sixth day of creation, according to the Rabbinical tradition, Satan was created at the same time with woman. The Cabbalistic book Sohar warns against the threefold six as the number of punishment. On its face this number bespeaks an accurate reporter.19

After the manner of the purifying [κατὰ τὸν καθαρισμὸν τῶν Ἰουδαίων]—The washing of hands and vessels before and after meals, Matthew 15:2; Mark 7:3. Probably the supply of water in them was already mostly consumed; at all events, they were emptied for their new use.

Containing two or three firkins apiece [χωροῦσαι�—not approximately, circiter, but in the distributive sense, singulæ, as in the E. V.—μετρητὰς δύο ἤ τρεῖς].—The Attic metretes was equal to the Hebrew בַּת (Joseph. Antiq. VIII. 2. 9), and twenty-one Würtemberg or thirty-three Berlin quarts [about nine gallons English; so that the word “firkin” in the E. V. is almost exact. Accordingly, if all the water was changed into wine (see below), the quantity of wine thus produced was 6 times 18 or 27 gallons, i., e., from 108 to 162 gallons.—P. S.] The Roman amphora was also called metretes, and was still smaller than the Attic; the Syrian Babylonian, on the contrary, was larger. “In view of this (total) quantity of from 252 to 273 quarts [over 100 gallons], the miracle is styled by De Wette [and Strauss] a ‘miracle for luxury’ [Luxuswunder), and found offensive. The circumstances already cited (abundant supply for a poor family; an expression of benevolence) remove this difficulty; in the miraculous feeding also the quantity exceeds the bare necessity.” Tholuck.20 The truth of the miracle, however, forbids us at the outset to trespass upon the ground of the miraculous. Hence also we raise no question whether the water was made wine after it was drawn out, or before, in the pots themselves (Meyer, Tholuck).

John 2:7. Fill the water-pots.—Not only is the water in the pots necessary, but also the obedience of faith. So also in the drawing. The pots being full, precludes all thoughts of the possibility of a natural process or a mixture. According to Meyer, this feature is intended to denote the abundance of the wine which Jesus produced; Gerlach [and Barnes] on the contrary: Only what was drawn became wine.

[The miracle took place between John 2:7-8, but its actual process lies wholly beyond the region of sense and imagination. The same may be said of the process of growth in nature; we see only the results. It is not stated whether the miracle took place in the water-pots or in the act of drawing, and whether the whole amount of water was turned into wine or only so much of it as was drawn by the servants. But the former view is much more probable, yea, almost certain. It seems to be implied in the exact statement of the number and size of the vessels, John 2:6, in the order to fill them with water, and in the strict compliance of the servants who “filled them up ἔως ἄνω, to the brim,” John 2:7. This view agrees also best with the object of the miracle as a manifestation of Christ’s Divine glory, in imitation of the boundless munificence which God Himself displays from year to year in the plentiful harvests, that in the midst of plenty we should be temperate and grateful.—P. S.]21

John 2:8. Draw out now, and bear.—Expressing full confidence that they would, in virtue of His word, draw wine and carry wine. Unto the ruler (master) of the feast [τῷἀρχιτρικλίνῳ, a word of late and rare occurrence, lit. the ruler of the triclinium or dining-room with three couches.—P. S.].—Not the superintendent of the guests, συμποσίαρχος [or συμποσιάρχης, βασιλεύς, modimperator, magister, or rex convivii, arbiter bibendi], whom the guests chose as their president (Xenoph. Anab. VI. John 1:30),22 but the superintendent of the servants, who as such also tested the meats and drinks, as a taster.23 Tholuck distinguishes the warden of the drinking from the warden of the table, and remarks that the presence of the latter does not necessarily yield the inference of wealth. He may have been of the friends of the family. At all events, a number of servants were present.—And they bare it.—Meyer: “But knew not that what they carried was wine.” But they must have believed it to be; else we should be left to suppose a tone of mind in the people, which would ill correspond with the elevation of the miracle. The drawing and bearing by the servants was an act of faith, like the sitting down of the multitudes in the wilderness to receive the miraculous feeding.

John 2:9. [When the ruler…tasted (ἐγεύσατο).—Here the Romish argument in favor of transubstantiation drawn from this miracle, breaks down. The water had been made wine in form as well as in substance; it looked like wine and tasted like the best of wine; but the pretended change of bread and wine in the Eucharist contradicts all the senses and is a complete delusion.—P. S.]

That had become wine.—Not: That it became (was made) wine. In the perfect [had been made, and consequently was now].

And knew not whence it was.—It at first seems to give a better sense, to make the parenthesis of the 9th verse, according to Meyer, begin not with these words, but with: οἱ δὲ διάκονοι, ending with ὔδωρ. Meyer observes that the construction continues with οὐκ ᾔδει, and this supplies the motive of the consequent φωνεῖ τὸν νυμφίον. But the ruler calls the bridegroom, not to ask whence he has the wine, but to remark to him that he has reversed the usual order of things with this supply of wine, which he seems to suppose the bridegroom has reserved. And John elsewhere begins a parenthesis with καί, as in 1 John 1:2. A decisive consideration might be this: If we put the πόθεν before the parenthesis, it indicates in the ruler the impression of the natural origin of the wine; in the parenthesis it emphatically expresses the thought of the Evangelist, that he knew not the miraculous origin of the wine. The ἐστίν, as in John 1:40, is the usual intermixing of direct description in dependent clauses (Winer, p. 239).

Called the bridegroom.—The wedding took place in the house of the bridegroom, and he gave the banquet. As to the custom here mentioned, there is little other evidence (see Lücke, p. 473). Wetstein: Pliny, H. N. XIV. 14. Cato, when he embarked for Spain, said of the rowers (remiges): Qui etiam convivis alia (referring to wine), quam sibimet ipsis ministrant [“who even give their guests other wine than they drink themselves, or bring it in as the banquet proceeds”]. Two other citations (from Martialis and Cassius) Lücke himself considers entirely unimportant. The passage, seems, however, to have some sense different from that commonly supposed, which gives a mild interpretation to μεθύσκεσθαι, madere, “have drunk enough” (Tholuck, after De Wette and others); on the contrary Meyer: When they are intoxicated. The softening of the word gives the idea of a dishonorable custom: first to give good wine, then, at the height of the feast to give poor. The custom meant is probably that universally dictated by moral instinct, of at last pouring water into the wine for those who are intoxicated, or giving no more, or even, where courtesy requires the offer to be continued, giving poor wine.24 This custom the master of the feast applies to the case in hand, without expressing any judgment respecting the condition of the guests.25 His “until now” refers only to a later period of the feast.—There is likewise a question, whether we must take the word, with Meyer, as a pleasantry, or, with Tholuck, as a half-jocular reproof. Lücke’s hypothesis of an expression of surprise seems more fitting. Pleasantly as the words may have been spoken in the expression: “Thou hast kept the good wine until now,” the ruler in any case conveys great astonishment. And strongly as this, on the one hand, attests the objective fact of the miracle, it as strongly, on the other hand, shows a special quality in this wine. The wine seemed to the ruler the good, in contrast with what had been used.

John 2:11. This wrought Jesus as a beginning of the signs [Ταύτην ἐποίησε�].—̓Αρχήwithout the article, hence: This sign wrought Jesus as His first in Cana of Galilee. [It was not only the first miracle wrought by Jesus in Cana—for no other is reported as having been wrought there—but the first of all His miracles. This is conclusive against all the reports of the apocryphal Gospels to the contrary.—P. S.]—Scholastic fancies respecting the bridegroom and the bride by Bonaventura, etc., see in Heubner, p. 235.

[The signs, τῶν σημείων. The N. T. employs three terms for the miracles or supernatural works of Christ, σημεῖον, δύναμις and τέρας, sometimes also ἔνδοξον, παράδοξον, θαυμάσιον. The word σημεῖον, the Hebrew oth (אוֹה), signum, has reference to the moral aim of the miracle as intended to exhibit the presence of the divine power, and to produce faith in it; it is “a kind of finger-post of God,” as has been said. The term τέρας, prodigium, wonder, which is often combined with σημεῖον (John 4:18), expresses the subjective effect, the emotion of astonishment and amazement which the miracle produces; and hence it is used also of strange and startling phenomena in heaven and on earth. All miracles are signs and wonders, but not all signs and wonders are miracles.26 The term δυνάμεις, virtutes, denotes the origin of miracles, as manifestations of divine power. The E. V. is by no means consistent in the translation of these words. Trench (Synonyms of the N. T., Second Part, p. 204, Am. ed.) says: “It is to be regretted that in our Version this word (δυνάμεις) is translated now ‘wonderful works’ (Matthew 7:22); now ‘mighty works’ (Matthew 11:20; Luke 10:13); and still more frequently ‘miracles’ (Acts 2:22; 1 Corinthians 12:10; Galatians 3:5); in this last case giving such tautologies as ‘miracles and wonders ’ (Acts 2:22; Hebrews 2:4); and always causing something to be lost of the true energy of the word—pointing as it does to new forces, which have entered and are working in this world of ours. With this is closely connected the term μεγαλεῖα=magnolia (Luke 1:49), in which in like manner the miracles are contemplated as outcomings of the greatness of God’s power.”—His glory. The δόξα of the incarnate Logos, John 1:14, by whom all things were made, and who transforms all things. The miracles of Christ are manifestations of His own glory, of His wonderful person, while the miracles performed by Moses and the prophets revealed not their glory, but the glory of Jehovah.—And his disciples believed on him, ἐπίστευσαν. This is a higher degree of faith than the one spoken of John 1:35-51, which was initial and introductory, while now they were strengthened in their belief by this startling evidence of His divine Messianic power and dignity. Faith is a continuous growth, and every increase of faith is a new beginning of faith.—P. S.]


1. John’s accounts of the miracles. We have already called attention to John’s putting strongly forward the miracles of knowledge together with those of act; that is, the insight of the perfect personality into the dark recesses of personal life and of nature, in keeping with the character of this Gospel. As in John 1:38; John 1:42-43; John 1:47 (comp. John 2:25); John 3:21; John 4:17; John 5:6; John 6:70; John 11:11; John 13:3; John 13:38; John 19:11; John 19:28; John 20:27; John 21:6; John 21:17-18; John 21:22. The miracles in the development of the life of Jesus Himself, John rather takes for granted, after his general testimony concerning the δόξα of Jesus; particularly the miraculous birth (which, however, follows from John 1:13); the transfiguration (to which, however, John 12:23 sqq.; 17 look back, and which the voice from heaven, John 12:28, in some measure repeats); and the ascension (which is announced in John 20:17). Even the miracle of the glorification of Jesus at the baptism is here only related incidentally by the Baptist, John 1:32; the walking of Jesus on the sea is but briefly touched, John 6:16; and the resurrection of the Lord the Evangelist presents mainly in its noblest bearings, as a victory over doubt, weak faith, and unbelief. On the other hand John intimates by the prominence he gives to the voice from heaven (John 12:28) in the temple, that Christ was always very near, and drawing nearer, His estate of glorification; and in the account of the flowing of water and blood from the side of Jesus’ body, he undoubtedly points to the mystery of the transformation in the body of Christ after His death (John 19:34; comp. Leben Jesu, II., 3, p. 1608).

Now as regards the miraculous works in the stricter sense, John entirely omits the expulsions of devils. According to Meyer he significantly relates seven miracles of Jesus, “mentioning one of each of the main kinds, viz., a transformation, John 2:1; a healing of a fever, John 4:47; a healing of a cripple, John 5:1; a feeding, John 6:4; a walking on the sea, John 6:16; a healing of the child, John 9:1; a raising of the dead, John 11:1.”

We distinguish, in the first place, these miracles in the stricter sense from miracles in a wider sense, among which we count the purification of the temple (John 2:0), the moral enchaining of the officers (John 7:45), and like things, especially the miracles of knowledge. Furthermore, we distinguish the miracles in Galilee and those in Judea, insomuch as the miracles of Jesus have opposite effects in the two different spheres. After the first miracle in Galilee, His disciples believed on Him, John 2:11; after the second He found faith in the imperial officer at Capernaum and in all his house, John 4:53; after the third (wrought indeed on the east side of the sea, yet no doubt mostly on Galilean people), the people proposed to make Him king, John 6:15; and the fourth could but enhance their reverence, John 6:25. After the first miracle in Judea, on the contrary, which Jesus performed at the feast of Purim, healing a cripple whom the Jewish supernatural fountain and the angel had not healed, process was at once begun by the Jews against Him for excommunication and death, John 5:16; comp. John 7:32. After the second, the healing of the blind man at the feast of tabernacles, in which He brought the temple-fountain and the pool of Siloam into service, to show that He was the God of the temple, the ban was pronounced on His followers, and therefore doubtless upon Him at least in so far as He acknowledged His Messianic dignity, John 9:22. Upon the third, the raising of Lazarus, the decree to put Him to death was passed by the Sanhedrin (John 11:47), the edict for His apprehension was issued to the people (John 2:57), even the death of Lazarus was consulted (John 12:10), and in the sequel, on the passover itself, Jesus was crucified. Thus Judaism celebrates its feasts, and opposes to the life-miracles of Christ plots of death, the sentence of death, and the death of the cross.

The miracles recorded by John we divide, according to their kinds into three miracles of healing: the healing of the man sick of a fever, of the cripple, of the blind man; three miracles of the mastery and glorification of nature: the miraculous supply of wine, the feeding, the miraculous draught of fishes, John 21:0 (Christ walking on the sea, related without the addition of Peter’s, belongs with the miracles of the unfolding of the life of Jesus Himself); finally three symbolical miracles of the judicial majesty of Christ: the purification of the temple (John 2:0), which in its first performance was much more wonderful than in its repetition at the close of the life of Jesus; the moral enchaining of the officers, who were sent to arrest the Lord (John 7:45; comp. John 8:59; John 10:39); and the striking down of the soldiers in Gethsemane with His word. The greatest of the miracles related by John is the raising of Lazarus from the dead, the premonition of the resurrection of Christ, the foretokening of the resurrection, the glorification, and the judgment of the whole world, the great development of miracle which begins with His resurrection.

2. The first miracle of Jesus. Not only in John, but in the Gospel history in general, the changing of the water into wine is the first miracle of Jesus. But as the first in John it has a peculiar significance. As the portal of the Gospel of the absolute transfiguration of the world by the glorious spiritual personality, and the redeeming operation of Christ, this miracle is the typical, symbolical token of the glorification of the world (see Leben Jesu, II., p. 479).

Explanations of this miracle:
(a) Natural [low rationalistic] explanations by Venturini, Paulus, Langsdorf, Gfrörer.27 Paulus: A wedding joke; Jesus had caused a quantity of wine to be brought into the house and to be put, mixed with water, into the pots at the table. Gfrörer28: A wedding surprise-gift on the part of Mary (similarly Ammon).

(b) Mythical. [A religious poem or legend unconsciously produced and honestly believed by the primitive Christian community as if it had actually occurred.—P. S.] Strauss: Mythical basis: the changing of bitter water into sweet, in Exodus 15:23 ff.; 2Ki 2:19.29 Weisse: A parable misunderstood.

(c) Symbolical [and fictitious, not historical]. Baur: A demonstration that the time had come when Jesus, the true Bridegroom, should lead off from the water of the provisional level of the Baptist to the wine of the higher Messianic glory.

(d) Historical. Various modifications.

(1) An absolute miracle of the [immediate] transformation of substance regardless of conditions; the older supernaturalism (Meyer even refuses to recognize any elevation of the spirit of the company).

(2) Historical in a still stricter sense, as a miracle admitting some conditions; change of substance under conditions; Augustine (ipse fecit vinum in nuptiis, qui omni anno hoc facit in vitibus),30 Chrysostom,31 Olshausen: acceleration of a natural process (which, however, must have included an acceleration of an artificial process, and in this the main factor, the vine, was wanting. Objections of Strauss, Meyer).32

(3) Change of accidents under conditions. Neander: instances of mineral springs which have the taste of broth, intoxicating wines, etc. (instances from the classics in Lampe and Neander33). Meyer puts Tholuck also on this ground; but Tholuck at present says: “These are still no help towards understanding the miracle, inasmuch as the inorganic or hard matter of the mineral springs would only come in the place of the vegetable. (Yet Neander mentions those facts only as analogies, showing how water can be modified.) In that which gives the offence here—the change of substance—natural science, however, till very lately has believed, with its generatio equivoca (i.e., the change of substance by changes of form—erroneously), and now chemistry would see everywhere only change of form (but through change of substance—again erroneously).”

(4) Transfiguration of the substance in actu. [Lange.] Tholuck states with strange incorrectness: “J. P. Lange (Leben Jesu, II. 1, p. 307) falls back upon the view that the elevated frame of mind in the master of the feast and in the guests caused the water to taste like wine.” Meyer represents the thought more carefully, though he can make nothing of it. “In the element of an elevated frame of mind, to which the guests, like the disciples on the mount of the transfiguration, were raised, the transfiguration took place.” But I had even said: “Thus Christ transported to heaven a company of devout and submissive men, and gave them to drink from the mysterious fountain of His divine life-power” (Leben Jesu, II., p. 479). The operation of Christ, furthermore, I described as threefold: (a) The creative substitution of the wine, sympathetically communicated to the guests in their contemplation of Christ; (b) influence upon the drinkers through faith; (c) influence upon the element of the drink itself (p. 308). I cannot consider it an advance in exegesis, that Meyer comes to such an emphasizing of the change of substance as seems virtually to make the conditions of Augustine and others unsuitable; and that Tholuck appeals in fine to two systems of natural science which he himself considers false. As the abstract supernaturalism takes the simple, immediate change of substance for the gist of the miracle, I pointed to the central point of all miracles, and this among them, suggesting that all are rooted in the heavenly birth of Christ, and are conditioned upon the beginnings of regeneration, as the continuous development of the eternal central miracle, therefore also upon frames of the human heart. That such frames of heart existed here, is shown by the faith of the disciples, the confidence of Mary, the submissiveness of the drawers, the enthusiasm of the master of the feast. For this very reason, moreover, we have emphasized the act, in opposition to an abstract computation of the quantity of wine: as, for example, the Protestant orthodoxy emphasizes the presence of the body and blood of Christ in the substance of the act, in distinction from the magical representations of the body of Christ in the material substance (without deciding concerning the material left unemployed in the act; as Gerlach, for instance, see the exegesis on John 2:7). Then in the third place the analogy of similar instances of transfiguring mastery of nature was taken into account. Through the communion of the spirit of Christ the feedings become wonderful; through the communion of the spirit of Christ alone Peter walks on the water; in the hearts of the believing lay the conditions of the miracles of Christ throughout.

In thus tracing the miracle to its Christological centre, the principle of the glorification of the world, we suppose, however, that Christ here brought also a latent, mysterious susceptibility of the water to an instantaneous development, in which, with regard to the quantity, it must certainly be considered that the very filling of the water-pots was done at His word and in the obedience of faith. Thus the δόξα of Christ in His first self-manifestation is to us the main thing.34

(e) The miracle HISTORICAL, and at the same time of TYPICAL, SYMBOLICAL import:35

(1) Older expositors, Lampe, Baumgarten-Crusius, Luthardt: Exhibition of the contrast between the Old Testament and the New.36

(2) Christ sets forth in the miracle at the same time the contrast of His new covenant with the severe ascetic spirit of the Baptist (Flatt, Olshausen).37

(3) Prefiguration of the communion of the Lord with His people on the height of the glorified world (Leben Jesu, pp. 307, 479).

(4) Hofmann, Luthardt (with a simultaneous reference to the ancient covenant): Prefiguration of the heavenly marriage-supper, Revelation 19:9 (translation of the ideal conception just given (3) into realistic terms).

(5) De Wette: The distribution of wine a counterpart of the distribution of bread, and both together analogies of the Holy Supper (of which again Meyer finds nothing in the record. Comp. Leben Jesu, p. 310. On Hilgenfeld’s explanation of it into a Gnostic element, comp. Meyer).

3. The symbolical import of the miracle. All the miracles of Jesus are to be considered as signs; that is, not merely facts, but also mirrors of the Christian idea, the Christian principle and its universal operation. But John has reason for marking this sign as the first which Jesus did, and as a manifestation of His glory. The description of it as a manifestation of His δόξα announces the wide symbolical significance of the miracle.

(a) The Old Testament pots of water, of purification, of statute, are changed into New Testament vessels of wine, vivification, free, festive life.

(b) The want, in which the feasts of the old, natural life end, is changed by the grace of Christ into the fountain of the higher joys of the kingdom of heaven.

(c) Mary, as the highest representative of the Old Testament faith, with the servants and the master of the feast, are changed into instruments of the manifestation of the New Testament glory of Christ.

(d) The earthly nuptials are changed into the basis of a higher festivity, the marriage of Christ with His own in their now established faith.

(e) The gift of the wine is made a token of the δόξα of Christ: which, as grace, converts all need into supply, and, as truth, gives every thing symbolical, even earthly wine, in heavenly reality (He Himself the real vine).

(f) The gift of wine a token of the Supper of Christ, as the constant type of the progressive glorification of life and its ultimate perfect glorification in the heavenly world.

[4. The miracle of Cana and the Temperance question. Albert Barnes (in loc.), in his zeal for total abstinence, labors to show, contrary to all exegetical tradition, that the wine which Jesus made and the wine generally used in Palestine was the unfermented juice of the grape, and hence without any alcoholic admixture, or intoxicating quality. Jacobus, in his Notes on John, takes the same view.38 The arguments on this side are collected in a tract by the Rev. W. M. Thayer: Communion Wine and Bible Temperance, published by the American National Temperance Society, New York, 1869. But they are not convincing. The wine of the Bible was no doubt pure and unadulterated, and so far unlike that poisonous article which is frequently sold as wine in our days, especially in Northern countries; but it was genuine and real wine, and, like all wine in wine-growing countries, exhilarating, and, if used to excess, intoxicating. The grape, says an Italian proverb, has three fruits, pleasure, intoxication, and grief. Pure water is no doubt the safest and most wholesome beverage. Ἄριστον μὲν ὔδωρ, says Pindar, in his first ode. We honor zeal against the fearful scourge of intemperance; but even a good thing may be undone by being over-done. Total abstinence from wine, or from meat, or other things in themselves innocent and lawful, can be sufficiently defended as a moral duty under certain circumstances, on the ground of expediency and charity, from regard to our weak brethren or the good of the community at large. This is the position taken by Paul, 1 Corinthians 8:13; Romans 14:13-23. Considerations of health, climate, nationality and condition of society must also be allowed due weight in this question. But to lay down the principle that the use of intoxicating drinks as a beverage is a sin per se, is to condemn the greater part of Christendom, to contradict the Bible, and to impeach Christ Himself, who drank wine (He was slanderously called a ‘wine-bibber’), who made wine by a miracle, who instituted the holy communion under the symbols of bread and wine, and commands us to commemorate the shedding of His blood by drinking of the fruit of the vine until we shall drink it anew with Him in His Father’s kingdom. There can be no higher and safer rule than the command and example of our Saviour; while, on the other hand, every principle of morals or rule of conduct which reflects on Him, must be unsound and mischievous.—P. S.]


The first miracle of Christ the speaking expression of His life and work. 1) Of His person, in which the earthly human nature becomes a heavenly (the essential, genuine vine, John 15:1); 2) of the power of His love, which transforms the water of earthly need into the wine of heavenly joy (brings forth judgment unto victory, makes blessedness out of divine sorrow); 3) of His works, in which is everywhere reflected His main work of bringing to pass the new birth of mankind from the earthly kingdom into the heavenly; 4) of His last work, the glorification of the world.—The first miracle of Christ a prefiguring of His last.—A reflection of the first creation, in which the whole world, with all its estates, treasures and forms of life, came forth out of water (and the Spirit of God moved—brooded—upon the face of the waters).—The miracle at Cana, the unveiling of a threefold mystery: 1) The mystery of a glorifying power in Christ; 2) the germ of transformation in nature; 3) the conformation of human nature for heavenly life.—The first sign of Jesus a revelation of His glory.—The great transformations in the one transformation of water into wine: 1) The transformation of the formal company into a fellowship of love; 2) of the earthly marriage into a figure and token of the heavenly; 3) of need into abundance; 4) of dishonor into glory.—The first work of Christ a token of that which turned the ignominy of the cross into the glory of the resurrection (the feast would have ended in shame).—The least guests become the first.—Human feasts: 1) What they are by nature; 2) what they become by sin; 3) what they again become, and only become, by the grace of Christ.—Jesus and His disciples also bidden to the wedding; or: These guests 1) the best guests in general, 2) in particular, the best wedding-guests, 3) therefore also the best guests at the table of need.—Jesus and Mary; or, the position of the Lord towards His mother according to Scripture and history (in contrast with the position which the legend gives). Mary, in her domestic life, had probably not known Jesus as a worker of miracles (Luther’s Tischreden John 7:0 § 12, p. 398; see Heubner, p. 240), but no doubt she had known Him as the little wonder-man, who knew a way in all domestic straits.—The hours of human judgment, and the hours of the Lord.—The water-pots of the Jewish ceremonial purification changed into wine-pots of Christian verification (figure into reality, negative austerity into positive creative agency, want into satisfaction).—The good wine comes only with the word and blessing of Christ.—The wedding-blessing of Christ and the marriage-feast.—Christian marriage: 1) What it pre-supposes (friends of Jesus, susceptible, earnest); 2) What it brings (the blessing of Christ).—And manifested forth His glory, and His disciples believed on Him. (As at wedding-feasts often new betrothals arise, so here); Christ at this wedding becomes manifest as the Bridegroom, His disciples as the bride.—Christ the help of His friends in need.—The friendliness of God perfectly manifest in the friendliness of Christ.—Disgrace in matters of honor, one of the keenest troubles. Christ alone can relieve it.—The blessing of trouble.—The spiritual fruit of temporal want.—The glorification of the household by Christ, a beginning and foreshadowing of the glorification of the world: 1) The household a miniature of the world; 2) the Christian household the basis of the Christian world; 3) the household glorified by Christ, a prophecy of the glorified world.—The manifestation of His glory is the covering or neutralizing of our shame.—The human marriage-feast transformed into a type of the marriage-feast of Christ: 1) The festive beginning; 2) the interruption of failure; 3) the miraculous glory at the end; and this (a) in the life of Jesus, (b) in the history of the church, (c) at the end of time.

Starke:—Nova Bibl. Tab.: When we enter into the married state with Jesus, and invite Him to the wedding, blessing is to be expected; on the contrary, those marriages and weddings commonly do not prosper, at which Jesus is not present, but carnal motives, lust, and desire of honor or wealth prevail, 1 Corinthians 7:39.—Blessed the wedding, at which Jesus is a guest.—Bibl. Wirt.: The Lord Jesus made His appearance at a wedding, to honor the estate of marriage as His own (divine) ordinance, Revelation 19:9; Hosea 2:19.—How Jesus is invited. By what means He is driven away, and the devil invited.—Christians should come to each other’s assistance in want, and if they themselves can do nothing, they should fly to God to create help.—Canstein: If Christ receives not dictation from His mother in His humiliation, how much less in His glory.—Mary pointing away from herself to Christ.—Majus: Mary was a sinner, therefore she cannot be a mediator.—God has a very different hour from that which we men have.—The conversations at Christian weddings (and festivals).—If we would have God work miracles in us, we must first be obedient to His word.—On the drawing of the water (John 2:8). Bibl. Wirt.: Without labor heaven will yield nothing.—First: Hands on (labor), then: Hands up (to receive the blessing).—The hearts which before were vessels of trouble, God makes afterwards vessels of the greatest joy.—Cramer: God lets no one to come to shame, who waits for Him.—God gives His gifts not sparingly, but in profusion.—Jesus transforms everything for the better, not for the worse. We should imitate Him in this, as far as possible, Psalms 34:8.—Chrysostom: Christ made not wine simply, but the best wine.—God keeps the best drink for His children for the most part for the last, many a time even for heaven.—The first miracle of Moses was the changing of water into blood, for the punishment of the Egyptians; the first miracle of Jesus was the changing of water into wine, for the comfort of the poor (contrast between the law and the gospel).—The first sign, but not the last.

Lisco:—We must not allow ourselves to be discouraged, if the help delays.—Gerlach: In the previous words Jesus had promised the reopening of an uninterrupted communication between heaven and earth, God and man, in the person of the Son of Man. Here He now confirms this promise by His first miracle, which, however, like all miraculous occurrences in this Gospel, is related as if not for its own sake, but as an emblem of a perpetual miracle, whereby the Saviour is continually acting directly upon the human race (and the world).—Though there is no greater authority on earth than that of father and mother, yet it is nothing when the word and work of God approach (Luther).—The world gives first the best it has, thereby entices, and therewith intoxicates; Christ always keeps the best till the last.—Heubner: Influence of Christianity on the married life.-—Jesus participates in social enjoyments, in banquets; therefore the Christian may. Christ teaches us the true behaviour in such society.—Christianity would sanctify the social propensity.—The good and bad sides of our social life.—We should sanctify the bonds of consanguinity.—The [bad] proverb: Ehestand, Wehestand: Wedded state, woful state.—Pious, needy families are a special object of the providence of God, and should be a special object of Christian philanthropy.—Romanists would find here a proof of the intercession of Mary. We find here rather a refutation of it, Psalms 36:8.—Jesus the true giver of joys, awakener of life, reliever of cares (invert the order).—The glory of Jesus manifesting itself or His first appearance.—The conduct of Jesus a model for Christians in social life.—The wedding at Cana, the picture of a Christian marriage (1) The beginning, holy and happy; (2) the progress, bringing need and care, which Christ, however, helps to bear; (3) the end, the seeing of the glory of Jesus.—Pischon: How can we build up the kingdom of God in our domestic life?—Rambach: The great value of domestic joys.—Harms: When need is greatest, God is nearest.—Schleiermacher: How, under the direction of God, the nobler element, instead of the common and low, usually gains the upper hand in human society.—Reinhard: The special care on which needy, but spiritually-minded Christian families may rely.—Draeseke: How Christians make wine out of water (a source of enjoyment out of everyday life).—Rautenberg: Jesus, the best family friend.—Mine hour is not yet come. This word should quiet us 1) amidst the faults of the church; 2) amidst trouble in our houses; 3) amidst the conflict in our hearts.—Harless: Marks of the grace of Christ: 1) That Christ gives us the most precious for nothing; 2) makes a glorious thing out of a common; 3) gives the best last; 4) gives according to His own time, not according to our ideas.

[Matthew Henry:—The curse of the law turns water into blood (Exodus 4:9), common comforts into bitterness and terror; the blessing of the gospel turns water into wine. Christ’s errand was to heighten and improve creature comforts to all believers, and make them comforts indeed .—The transformation of the substance of water into a new form with all the qualities of wine, is a miracle; but the popish transubstantiation, the substance changed, the form and appearance remaining the same, is a monster.—Christ is often better than His words, but never worse,—Temperance, per force, is a thankless virtue; but if Providence gives us the delights of sense, and grace enables us to use them moderately, this is self-denial that is praiseworthy.—And His disciples believed in Him. Even the faith that is true, at first is but weak. The strongest men were once babes, so were the strongest Christians.—Christ Himself the greatest miracle.—P. S.]

[Trench (after Augustine, Serm. 123, ch. ii.): He who made wine out of water, might have made bread out of stones. But He will do nothing at the suggestion of Satan, though all at the suggestion of love.—Trench: The Lord a witness against the tendency of our indolent nature of giving up to the world or the devil any portion of life, which, in itself innocent, is capable of being drawn up into the higher world of holiness, as it is in danger of sinking down and coming under the law of the flesh and of the world.—Trench quotes in contrast Cyprian who says De hab. Virg. 3, 4): Nuptiarum festa improba et convivia lasciva vitentur, quorum periculosa contagio est; but Cyprian and Chrysostom warned against participation in marriage festivals which were essentially heathen; while Christ was in a God-fearing Jewish family, which was probably related to Him.—P. S.]

[Christians should never conform to the world, but always endeavor to transform it into the kingdom of Christ; but where the world is too strong for you, keep off, for the world might transform you.—Thou hast kept the good wine until now. Sin gives its best first: pleasure, riches, honors, etc.—its worst last: sorrow, poverty, disgrace, ruin Christ on the contrary gives His followers first the cross, the race, the battle, but last the crown, the rest, and the glory.—The marriage-feast of Cana, a prelude and pledge of the marriage-supper of the Lamb in the kingdom of glory, Matthew 26:29; Revelation 19:8.—P. S.]


John 2:3; John 2:3, [ὑστερήσαντος οἴνου. ὑστερέω prop. to be behind (either in time, or in rank), had, in the later Greek, also the meaning: to fail, to be wanting; comp. Mark 10:21, ἕν σοι ὑττερεῖ.—P. S.]

John 2:4; John 2:4. [Τίἐμοὶκαὶ σοί, γύναι; lit.: What to me and to thee, woman? i.e., What have I in common with thee? This elliptic phrase corresponds to the Hebrew מַה־לִּי וָלָךְ, and is a disclaimer of communion, Joshua 22:24; Jdg 11:12; 2 Samuel 16:10; 1 Kings 12:18; 2 Kings 3:13; Matthew 8:29; Matthew 17:19; Mark 1:24; Luke 8:28; also in classical Greek. It is not (like the somewhat similar English phrases: Mind your business, This is none of your business, and the German, Das geht dich nichts an) necessarily disrespectful, but may he used in a friendly sense, as is evident from Judges 11:12; 2 Samuel 16:10; Matthew 8:29 (comp. also the similar phrase of the wife of Pilate, Matthew 27:19 : Μηδέν σοι καὶ τῷ δικαίῳ ἐκείνῳ; yet it always implies more or less of reproof, however slight. So it is taken hero by the best commentators, as a gentle rebuke of untimely interference, though it was no doubt mitigated by the tone of speaking. The term γύναι is entirely respectful, and must always be where the true dignity of woman is felt and recognized; comp. John 19:20; John 20:15. See the Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

John 2:10; John 2:10. [ὅταν μεθυσθῶσιν, Vulg.: cum inebriati fuerint; Tyndal, Cranmer, Alford: when men be (are) drunken; Geneva, Rheims, A. V.: when men have well drunk; Am. Bible Union (Dr. Conant), Young, Owen: when they have drunk freely; Luther; trunken warden sind; Do Wette, Stier: trunken sind; Μεθύσκομαι (Mid.), like the Hebrew שׁכר, means to become drunk, to ad drunk (Luke 12:45; Ephesians 5:18; Revelation 17:2), but also to drink freely, and does not necessarily imply excess (sept. Genesis 43:34; Haggai 1:6; probably also Song of Solomon 5:1 : πίετε καί μεθύσθητε, ἀδελφοί). Comp. Beza, De Wette, Tholuck. At all events no unfavorable inference is to be drawn, as regards the present company, from this general proverbial remark of the ruler of the feast. Bengel briefly and pointedly: Simpliciter recensetur oratio architriclini, et consuetudo etiam Judlœorum: ebrietas non approbatur. Meyer contends for the usual meaning of the verb and translates: wenn sie berauscht geworden sind, but likewise guards against this inference. Alford: “While there is no reason to press the ordinary meaning of μεθυσθῶσιν, so neither is there any to shrink from it, as uttered by the ἀρχιτρίκλινος.” See Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

John 2:10; John 2:10. Τότε is wanting in א. B. L. Probably overlooked by reason of the τόν immediately following.

John 2:10; John 2:10. [δέ after σὑ is omitted by Lachm., Tregelles, Alford and Tischend.—P. S.]

John 2:11; John 2:11. [The art. τήν before ἀρχήν in the text. rec. is wanting in א. A. B. L. and rejected by Lachm., Tischend., Treg., Alf. West, and Hort. Hence the proper translation is: This wrought Jesus as a beginning of (His) signs.—P. S ]

[7][Godet, I. pp. 362 and 365, gives some good reasons why John alone relates this miracle of Cana. It seems to have dropped out of the synoptical tradition, together with the first acquaintance of the disciples recorded in John 1:0. It is moreover the only miracle in which the mother of Jesus, who was intrusted to the care of John, prominently figures.—P. S.]

[8][The great poet, Friedrich Rückert, says with as much truth as beauty:

Ein Wunder wird der Mensch empfangen und gezeugt;

Ein Wunder lebt er, wird geboren und gesüugt;
Ein Wunder wüchst er fort und sieht und fühlt sein Wunder;
Ein Wunder, dass er denkt, und was er denkt, ein Wunder.
Ein Wunder steht er da in aller Wunder Mitte,
Und Wunder gehn ihm vor und nach auf Tritt und Schritte,
An Wunder wird er so allmälig unwillkürlich
Gewõhnet, dass sie ihm erseheinen ganz natürlich.
Und wunderbar erscheint ihm Ungewohntes. nur,
Der unverwundert sieht das Wander der Natur.”
—P. S.]

[9][Similarly Godet (I. 350): The address woman, John 19:26, signalizes the definite rupture of the earthly relation of mother and son, and here at Cana Mary felt for the first time the point of that sword which was to pierce her soul beneath the cross (Luke 2:35). This is going too far. Christ never broke that relation, but from His twelfth year (Luke 2:49), He subordinated it to His higher relation to His heavenly Father. Here John, the adopted son and guardian of Mary, writing, long after her death, calls her the mother of Jesus.—P. S.]

[10][Joseph is last mentioned, Luke 2:0., when Jesus was twelve years of ago, and accompanied His parents to Jerusalem. He seems to have died before the public ministry of Christ.—P. S.]

[11][Renan, Vie de Jésus, pp. 71, 72, adopts this conjecture.—P. S.]

[12][Doubtful; comp. my note on John 2:1, p. 103.—P. S.]

[13][So very nearly Stier and Alford.—P. S.]

[14][It seems incredible that such a profoundly spiritual and ingenious commentator as Bengel should have anticipated even once the insipid rationalistic exegesis of Paulus of Heidelberg. And yet so it is in this case. “Velim discedas, ut ceteri item discedant, antequam penuria patefiat.” This would be kind to the family, but hardly respectful to Jesus. Bengel, however, adopts this view to deprive the answer of Jesus of all apparent harshness, and explains ὥρα, John 2:4, to mean hora discedendi, so as to say: This is not the hour of withdrawing, but the hour of assisting. Ebrard, in his ed. of Olshausen, agrees with Bengel.—P. S.]

[15][Similarly Cocceius, as cited by Trench: Mary had always found Jesus a wise counsellor, and mentioned the want to Him merely that He might suggest some way of remedying it.—P. S.]

[16][Weib, was habe ich mit dir zu schaffen? Vulgate: Quid mihi et tibi est? French N. T.: Qu’y a-t-il entre moi et toi? Comp. my Text. Note,2 p. 102.—P. S.]

[17][Dion Cassius, Hist. LI. John 12:0 : θάρσει, ᾦ γύναι, καὶ θυμὸν ἔχε�, “Take courage, O woman, and keep a good heart,” or, “be of good cheer.”—P. S.]

[18][Similarly Alford: “My time, the time at which, from the Father’s appointment and My own concurring will, I am to begin miraculous working, is not yet arrived: forestall it not.” Probably Mary, like the Apostles before the Pentecostal illumination, was not yet quite free from carnal conceptions of the Messianic Kingdom, as a temporal reign, and expected that He would establish it at the beginning of His ministry. Christ declined the form of her petition, but answered the real intent in a better way than she conceived. In other passages of John the hour of Christ means the hour of His death and glorification, John 7:30; John 12:23; John 12:27; John 13:1.—P. S.]

[19][For other and more fanciful allegorical interpretations of the six water-pots and the firkins, see Augustine, Tract. IX., and other fathers. Chrysostom remarks that the scarcity of water in Palestine made it necessary to keep always an abundant supply in vessels.—P. S.]

[20][Against the profane view of Strauss, we must rather call the miracle a miracle of love and beneficence. Christ gave as a King, yea, with more than royal bounty. The benevolent design of the abundant supply is pressed by several commentators, down to Lange and Godet. Luther says: “Christ, having no gold or jewels to give to the poor couple, presented them good wine.” Maldonatus: “Christ desired not only to relieve a present necessity, but that a quantity of wine might remain for the married persons to assist them in their poverty and to leave a lasting (?) memorial of the miracle.” Calvin, Trench and Alford properly refer to the analogy of God’s method of dealing in providing the most abundant supply in every vineyard and all over nature, that every man may prove his temperance and moderation, as Calvin says, in media affluentia. Barnes, in the interest of teetotalism, supposes that the Saviour only made as much wine as was necessary for the immediate want, and that the miracle was confined to the water actually drawn from the pots. If, as Barnes assumes, the wine was not intoxicating, there can be no objection to the large quantity of it; but even if it was (as all but a few recent American commentators hold), there is no reason whatever to suspect that any improper use was made of it in a company honored by the presence of the Purest of the pure, and the Holiest of the holy. Comp. my remarks on John 2:7.—P. S.]

[21][Calvin on John 2:8 : “Mirum est, quod Christus, frugalitatis magister, vini et quidem præstantissimi magnam, copiam largitur. Respondeo, quum nobis quotidie Deus largum vini proventum suppeditat, nostro vitio fieri si ejus benignitas irritamentum, est luxuriæ: quin potius hæc temperantiæ nostræ vera est probatio, si in media affluentia, parci tamen et moderati sumus.” Godet: “Son premier sign miraculeux doit témoigner hautement de sa richesse et de sa munificence, et devenir pour les assistants le type de la plénitude de grûe et de force que le Fils unique apporte à la terre.”—P. S.]

[22][So Trench, Alford, “Wordsworth. This view more easily explains the freedom of remonstrance on the part of the ruler of the feast, than if he had been a mere servant, and is supported by a passage in the apocryphal book, the Wisdom of Sirach, John 35 (al. 32), John 2:1-2 : “If thou be made the master (ἡγούμενος) of the feast, lift not thyself up, but be among them as one of the rest; take diligent care of them and sit down; and when thou hast done all thy office, take thy place, that thou mayest be merry with them, and receive a crown (στέφανον) for thy well ordering of the feast.” This description suits far better the position of the Greek and Roman king of the feast from among the guests, than of the head-waiter from among the slaves. See the next note.—P. S.]

[23][So Chrysostom, the older commentators, also Kuinoel, Meyer and others. It was the custom among the Greeks to intrust a particular slave with the arrangement of the table, the tasting and distribution of the wines, the trimming of the lamps, and the control of the other servants. This slave, who seems to have combined the offices of a butler and head-waiter, is called triclinarches (by Petronius), which is equivalent in meaning to ἀρχιτρίκλινος, also ἐφηστηκώς, τραπεζοποιός, τραπεζοκόμος (by Athenæus), and corresponds to the Roman structor mensæ. Athenæus, in his Deipnosophists (Banquet of the Learned), lib. IV. c. 70 (in Schweighäuser’s ed. Tom. II p. 162), gives a full description of the τραπεζοποιοί, setters of the tables, and quotes in illustration several passages from poets, among the rest these lines from Philemon:

‘There is no need of long deliberation
About the kitchen, for the table-setter
Is bound to look to that; that is his office.’
Comp. also Walch: De architriclino, Jen. 1753 (which I have not seen), and Becker’s Charikles, II. p. 252 (second ed. by Hermann, Leipz. 1854). But I have seen no evidence that the same custom prevailed among the Jews, while the other custom with regard to the king of the feast, seems to be substantiated by the passage quoted in the preceding note.—P. S.]

[24][Alford differently: When a man has some kinds of wine choicer than others, he naturally produces the choicest to suit the most discriminating taste.—P. S.]

[25][Godet better: “This word has a proverbial sense, and does not apply to the present company.” Text. Note 3.—P. S.]

[26][Lampe: Eadem miracula dici possunt signa quatenus aliquid seu occultum seu futurum docent; et prodigia (τέρατα), quatenus aliquid extraordinarium, quod stuporem excitat, sistunt. Hinc sequitur signorum notionem, latius patere, quam prodigiorum. Omnia prodigia sunt signa, quia in illum usum a Deo dispemsata, ut arcanum indicent. Sed omnia signa non sunt prodigia, quia ad signandum res cœlestes aliquando etiam res communes adhibentur.

[27][Meyer justly calls this rationalistic explanation a frivolous transformation of history (eine frivole Geschichtswandlung).—P. S.]

[28][This writer subsequently became a Roman Catholic and died as professor of history in the University of Freiburg.—P. S.]

[29][Comp. against the mythical view the remarks of Godet, I. p. 364. Even Baur admits that the whole tenure of the narrative excludes the mythical interpretation. Renan touches this miracle but slightly.—P. S.]

[30][An abridged quotation (made first by Olshausen) from the beginning of Augustine’s 8th Tract. in Joh. The same idea Augustine repeats in the 9th Tract. § John 1:0 : “Ipse est Deus, qui per universam creaturam quotidiana miracula facit, quæ hominibus non facilitate, sed assiduitate iluerunt .…Sic aquam in vinum conversam quis non miretur, cum hoc annis omnibus Deus in vitibus faciat ?” And again, Serm. 123, c. John 3:0 : “Quæ aqua erat, vinum factum viderunt homines et obstupuerunt. Quid aliud fit de pluvia per radicem vitis?”—P. S.]

[31][Hom. in Joa. xxii. (al. xxi.), Tom. VIII. p. 127 sq. Chrysostom remarks that there is a difference between changing the quality of an existing substance and creating the substance itself, and that the latter is much more wonderful, but the divine power the same. Christ shows in this miracle that He who changed water into wine in a moment, was the same who annually in the vineyards changes the rain through the root into wine, αὐτός ἐατιν ὁ ἐν τοῖς�, καὶ τὸν ὑετὸν διὰ τῆς ῥίζης εἰς οἶνον τρέπων, ὅπερ ἐν τῷ φυτῷ διὰ πολλοῦ χρόνου γίνεται, τοῦτο�.—P. S.]

[32][Olshausen first used this expressive term of an accelerated process of nature (ein beschleunigter Naturprocess) and applied it also to the miraculous feeding of the multitude. Strauss, in his Leben Jesu, endeavored to ridicule his view by an analysis of this process of nature and the accelerated process of art (beschleunigter Kunstprocess), which must be added in both cases, viz., the gathering and crushing of the grapes, the action of the wine-press and the fermentation, in the making of wine, and the operations of the mower, miller and baker, in the making of bread. But Olshausen meant to assert only the similarity, not the identity, of the process, which in both cases passes our comprehension. Hase (in his Life of Jesus) and Trench (Miracles) adopt Augustine’s and Olshausen’s view, Trench with the judicious remark: “This analogy does not help us to understand what the Lord did now, but yet brings before us that in this He was working in the line of His more ordinary workings which we see daily around us, the unnoticed miracles of every-day nature.”—P. S.]

[33][Athenæus and Theopompus, also Vitruvius, speak of springs of water which had the intoxicating properties of wine.—P. S.]

[34][Dr. Lange, as appears from this defense of views previously expressed in his Life of Jesus, does not mean to deny the objective character of the miracle, but simply to bring it into organic connection with Christology and to insist upon a corresponding subjective condition and elevation of the witnesses, i. e., upon faith on their part, as the medium of apprehension. The miracle itself consisted in a real change of the quality of one substance into that of another. And this must be guarded against any attempt, however ingenious and plausible, to explain it away. A miracle is a miracle, and passes our comprehension. I think it most probable and consistent with the tenor of the narrative that the change was effected in the water-pots, not in the act of drawing, or of drinking; and that consequently all the water was turned into wine, although only so much of it was used on the present occasion as was right and proper. Comp. my remarks on p. 106 f.—P. S.]

[35][Dr. Lange might have mentioned here first the allegorical interpretations of Cyril, Augustine, Theodoret and other fathers, followed by Alcuin, Bernard and other mediæval divines. But they are very fanciful and almost worthless. Even the sober Theodoret makes the six water-pots to signify the five senses and the reason, Augustine six ages, etc.—P. S.]

[36][So also Eusebius, Augustine, Bernard, Cornelius a Lapide (“lex mosaica instar aquæ insipida et frigida—evangelium gratiæ, quæ instar vini est generosa, sapida, ardens et efficax”), Trench and many others. The first miracle of Moses is also often contrasted with the first miracle of Christ: Moses turned water into blood—characterizing the law as a ministration of death—Christ turned water into wine—the gospel being an administration of life and the bringer in of joy and gladness.—P. S.]

[37][Olshausen. The first disciples of Christ were all originally disciples of the Baptist. His manner of life—rigid, penitential austerity and solitary abode in the desert—naturally appeared to them the highest form of piety. What a contrast for them, when the Messiah, to whom the Baptist himself had pointed them, leads them first of all to a marriage. This contrast needed a reconciliation which was supplied by means of a miracle.—P. S.]

[38][Prof. M. W. Jacobus confidently asserts from his own observation: “The present wines of Jerusalem and Lebanon, as we tasted them, were commonly boiled and sweet, without intoxicating qualities. The boiling prevents the fermentation. Those were esteemed the best wines which were least strong.” But other travellers assert just the reverse.—P. S.]

Verses 12-25


Jesus, The Guest In Capernaum, And The Pilgrim To The Passover. The Purification Of The Temple, As A Prelude Of The Redeeming Purification Of The World And Reformation Of The Church. Christ The True Temple. The Sign Of Christ: The Destruction Of The Temple And The Raising It Again. The First Spread Of Faith In Israel, And Christ The Knower Of Hearts.

John 2:12-25

12After this he went down to Capernaum [Kapharnaum], he, and his mother, and his39 brethren [brothers],40 and his disciples; and they continued there [and there they abode, χαὶ ἐχεῖ ἔμειναν]41 not many days.

13And the Jews’ passover [the passover of the Jews, τὸ πάσχα τῶν ’I.] was at hand 14[or, near, ἐγγίς], and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, [.] And [he] found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money [money-changers] sitting [established]: 15And when he had made [having made, ποιήσας a scourge of small cords, he drove them [omit them] all out of the temple, and [both] the sheep, and the oxen;42 and poured out the changers’ money43 [the money of the exchangers], and overthrew the tables; 16And said unto them that [to those who] sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house a house of merchandise 17[a market]. And his disciples remembered that it was [is] written, The zeal of [for] thine house hath eaten me up [will eat me up].44 (Psalms 69:9.) 18Then answered the Jews [The Jews therefore answered] and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? 19Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up [again]. 20Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear [raise] it up in three days? 21But he spake of the temple of his body. 22When therefore lie was [had] risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them [omit unto them];45 and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said [spoken].

23Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover in the feast day [at the feast, ἐν τῇ ἑο̣ρτῇ, many believed in hi3 name [ἐπίστευσαν, trusted in his name], when they saw the miracles [his signs, αὐτοῦ τὰ σημεῖα] which he did [wrought]. 24But Jesus did not commit himself unto them [οὐχ ἐπίστευεν αὐτύν αὐτοῖς, did not trust himself to them], because he knew all men, 25And needed not [had no need] that any [one] should testify of [concerning] man; for he [himself, αὐτύς] knew what was in man.


[The Messianic purification of the temple was the first, and, according to the Synoptists (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45; Luke 19:40), also the last public act of Christ in Jerusalem.46 It very appropriately opens and closes His labors in the sanctuary of the theocracy. It was foretold by the prophet Malachi 3:1 ff., that immediately after the forerunner the Messiah Himself “shall suddenly come to His temple,” for the purpose of cleansing it: “He shall purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” The gross scandal in the Court of the Gentiles represented the general profanation and corruption of the theocracy (as Tetzel’s and Samson’s sale of indulgences revealed the secularization of the Latin Church in the 16th century). Christ commenced the reformation at the fountain-head, in Jerusalem and the temple where it was most needed. The expulsion was a judicial act of the Lord of the Sabbath and the temple. He acted here not simply as a prophet or Zealot, but as the Messiah, as the Son of God; and hence calls the temple the house of His, not our, Father (John 2:16). Some infidels have misrepresented it as an outburst of passion and an argument against the sinless perfection of Christ. But the result conclusively shows that it was an exhibition of superhuman power and majesty, which so overawed the profane traffickers, that, losing sight of their superiority in number and physical strength, they submitted at once, and without a murmur to the well deserved punishment.47 Their bad conscience, which always makes men cowardly, and the conceded right of prophets like Elijah, to rebuke scandulous profanations of religion, would not sufficiently account for this complete victory. A similar instance is recorded, John 18:6, where Judas and his band of men and officers shrunk back and fell to the ground before the defenceless Jesus.—P. S.]

John 2:12. After this he went down [κα̇τέβη] to Capernaum.—No doubt not directly from Cana, but from Nazareth. Not that, as Meyer says, the brethren here mentioned were not with Him at the wedding (this is not necessarily to be inferred from the silence respecting them), but that Nazareth was still the residence of Jesus and of the family of Mary, who no doubt returned home before they all went together to Capernaum, that they might thence join the nearest festival caravan for Jerusalem. He went down from the hill country towards the sea, on the coast of which Capernaum lay. On Capernaum, see the Matth. at John 4:13. [Am. ed. pp. 90, 91. The question of the site of Capernaum, or properly Kapharnaum (i.e., the Village of Nahum), is still unsettled between the rival claims of Tell Hûm (i.e., the hill of Nahum) and Khân (i.e., lodging-place) Minyeh (with a near fountain called Ain-et-Tin, i.e., the spring of the fig-tree), two heaps of ruins on the Western shore of the sea of Galilee about three miles apart. Robinson (Researches ΙΙ. 403 ff.) and Porter (Handbook of Syria, ΙΙ. 425) decide for Khân Minyeh, but Van de Velde, Ebrard, Thomson, and Dixon, for Tell Hûm, at the head of the Lake. For this view speaks the similarity of name. (Hûm is a mutilated נהום=ναούμ), and the far greater importance of the ruins. The English explorers, Captain Wilson and his associates, are reported to have discovered in 1866, among the ruins of Tell Hûm, a synagogue of elegant architecture dating from a time before the Christian era. See, besides Robinson, ΙΙ. 403–405, the article Capernaum, by Grove, with the additional note of Hackett, in Smith’s Dictionary, Ι. p. 382; the Land. Athenæum, Feb. 24, and Mar. 31, 1866; and an essay of Prof. Ebrard in the Studien and Kritiken, for 1867, No. IV. pp. 723–740.—P. S.]

He, and his mother, and his brothers, and his disciples,—The singular (κατέβη) is explained by the fact that Jesus was the leader of the train. That the family had already settled in Capernaum (which, according to Ewald, is here stated, according to De Wette presupposed), is contradicted by the distinct indications that this removal did not take place till after the return of Jesus from Judea, and His appearance in Nazareth (Matthew 4:13; Luke 4:31; John 4:43); though Meyer, maintains that there also the removal is neither intimated nor supposed. But no doubt the removal had already been virtually induced by the connection with the disciples from the sea. The brothers of Jesus are distinguished from the disciples. Even though now His brothers, James, Judas, and Simon, had been called to be disciples, which is not at all probable, a separate category had still to be made, because there were yet Joses and the sisters, Matthew 13:55-56. And that they had already attached themselves to the company of Jesus, shows that the usual exaggerated and extreme pressing of the statement in John 7:5 is false. See Hengstenberg: Das Evang. John , 1 p. 149 sqq.

[The gradual transition from Christ’s private to His public life is here indicated. At Cana and at Capernaum His earthly relations are still with Him, but in the next verse He appears alone with His disciples or spiritual relatives. As to the vexed question of the brothers of Jesus, I have given my views in full in my German work on James, the brother of Christ, Berlin, 1842, and in a note on Matthew 13:55, pp. 256–260. Comp. also the notes on Matthew 1:25, and John 7:3; John 7:5. Meyer, Godet (I. 368 ff.), and Alford take ἀδελφοί here in the proper sense, as brothers, i.e., sons of Joseph and Mary. Hengstenberg (in loc.) revives the R. Catholic cousin-theory which dates from Jerome in the 4th century, and owes its origin and spread mainly to an ascetic overestimate of the perpetual virginity of Mary, as expressed in the words of Augustine: Maria mater esse potuit, mulier esse non potuit. Dr. Lange’s hypothesis is an ingenious, but somewhat artificial modification of this view, and assumes that Mary, though in the full sense the wife of Joseph, could bear no children after giving birth to the Messiah, and that the brethren of the Lord were both His cousins (as the sons of Clopas, a brother of Joseph, not as the sons of a supposed sister of Mary), and His foster-brothers (having been adopted, after the death of their father, into the holy family). To my mind the only alternative lies between the Epiphanian or old Greek view, which makes them elder sons of Joseph from a former marriage, and the view held by Tertullian and Helvidius, that they were younger children of Mary and Joseph, and so half-brothers of Jesus. Ancient tradition favors the former, an unprejudiced exegesis the latter view. Prof. J. B. Lightfoot, of Cambridge (in a learned excursus on Galatians, Lond., 1866, pp. 247–281, where much use is made of my book on James), elaborately defends the Epiphanian theory, mainly on account of John 19:26-27, which he regards as conclusive against the Helvidian hypothesis; but if this passage is allowed to decide the controversy, it overthrows also the Epiphanian theory. It receives its true light from the peculiar intimacy of Christ with John, and the fact that His brothers were still unbelievers when He entrusted His earthly mother to the care of His bosom disciple, who was probably also His cousin according to the flesh.—P. S.]

Not many days.—Depending solely on the preparation for the approaching passover, which Jesus attended in company with His disciples, v. 23. But that during these few days Jesus wrought miracles in Capernaum, must be inferred from Luke 4:23.

John 2:13. And the passover of the Jews was at hand.—On the passover see the Matth., p. 459.

And Jesus went up.—Besides the attendance of Jesus at the feast when He was twelve years old, mentioned by Luke alone (John 2:0.), and the last attendance on the passover in the year 783, related by all the Evangelists, John gives the remaining occasions of this kind. Here the first attendance on the passover, in the year 781; then a visit to another feast, not named, most probably the feast of Purim of 782 [ch. 5]; then the feast of tabernacles [ch. 7], and the feast of the dedication [ch. John 10:22], in the same year. See the Introduction,§ 8.

John 2:14. And found in the temple.—In the fore-court of the temple. On the temple and the fore-court see the Matth. on John 21:12 [p. 375], and Winer, sub. v. Also Braune: Das Evangelium von Jesus Christus, p. 45, The first act of the Lord, in the confidential circle of susceptible disciples, was an act of positive glorification, coming into the place of the symbolical purification; His second act, in the bosom of the corrupted religious life of the people, was an act of negative purification, significant at the same time of His glorification. That this deed was looked upon by the better people as a miraculous sign also, and that besides this Jesus wrought other miracles in Jerusalem, may be inferred from John 3:2. But John relates the purging of the temple alone as the first characteristic work, the signal-miracle of the Lord on His public appearance. To him the first cleansing of the temple was more important than the second. But the fact that John mentions only this cleansing at the opening of the Lord’s official life, and the Synoptists mention only the similar act at its close, proves nothing against the truth of either or both the occurrences. See the Matth. on John 21:0.

[The market in the Court of the Gentiles (the ἔξωθεν ἱερόν) was introduced, we know not when, from avaricious motives, in violation of the spirit of the law and to the serious injury of public worship, though it was no doubt justified or excused, as a convenience to foreign Jews for the purchase of sacrificial beasts, incense, oil, and the sacred shekel or double drachma in which the temple-tax had to be paid (Exodus 30:13). Similar conveniences and nuisances, markets, lotteries and fairs, are not seldom found in connection with Christian churches. The most striking analogy is the traffic in indulgences, which made the forgiveness of sin an article of merchandise and became the occasion (not the cause) of the Reformation in Germany and Switzerland.—P. S.]

John 2:15. He drove all out.—Referring grammatically not to the animals, but to the men. But He drove the men out by raising the whip against their animals; precisely after the analogy of His method with the money-changers, whose tables He overthrew. To drive the men themselves, by themselves, from the temple, was not His design. Grotius: The whip, a symbol of the divine wrath.48 Meyer rejects all typical import. Yet even about the whip of an actual ox-driver there is somewhat typical; and the whip in the hand of Christ is at least a type of the punitive, reformatory office of discipline in the theocracy and the church.

And poured out the money of the exchangers, and overthrew, etc.—That is, He first dashed upon the tables hither and thither and then overturned them. The right of free motion in the temple-space, where tables of money-changers did not belong.

John 2:16. Unto them that sold doves.—Because the doves were in baskets, they must be carried away (Rosenmüller, Schweizer). His command now sufficed for this, after the dove-traders had seen His earnestness. Showing, that even the ox-traders also He had not driven out with the lash; and showing likewise that He intended no injury, else He would have let the doves go. De Wette: He dealt more gently with the dove-merchants, because the doves were bought by the poor. Stier: Because He saw in the dove the emblem of the Holy Ghost. Both groundless. The difference in the mode of expulsion arises simply from the nature of the articles: doves in baskets. That the dove-sellers came last, may have been determined by the modesty of their business, which generally makes also modest people. These people were doubtless not so much traders properly speaking, as they were poor farmers or farmers’ boys. As to the doves being emblems, so were also the sheep and oxen.

My Father’s house.—See Luk 2:49.49 The temple was still His Father’s house, because He was still waiting for the repentance of the people. The moment He takes His departure from the temple on account of their obduracy, He calls it: Your house, given over to desolation, Matthew 23:38. Our Father’s, even a prophet might perhaps have said; My Father’s, Jesus says in the consciousness of His divine dignity and authority, as it were betraying Himself, without their understanding immediately the full sense of His word. The Pharisees, however, have doubtless already reflected upon the word as very suspicious (see John 10:0).

A house of merchandize.—The term here is not so strong as at the second purification. It denotes the entire secularization of the system of worship. The term “den of thieves” [σπήλειον λῃστῶν], in Matthew 21:13, on the contrary, denotes the prophet-killing and spirit-killing fanaticism, into which this secularization at last ran out.

John 2:17. And his disciples remembered.—Olshausen: After the resurrection. Meyer, [Godet, Alford], on the contrary, rightly: At the occurrence itself. The passage is Psalms 69:9, (10): “For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them, that reproached thee are fallen upon me.”50 Whether the Psalm be by David (Tholuck; comp. v. 31; Psalms 51:0), or by Jeremiah (Hitzig, see John 5:14?), or by some other theocratic sufferer, it belongs at all events, like Psalms 22:0., to that class of typical passages, in which the passion of Christ miraculously reflects and foreshows itself. Hence also Peter, Acts 1:20, applies to Judas the words of v. 25 (“Let their habitation be desolate”), and Paul applies the Psalm several times to the conduct of the Jews towards Jesus, Romans 11:9; Romans 15:3. When Bengel, Olshausen, etc, and Luthardt refer the words: hath eaten me up, to the death of Jesus,51 and Meyer says, on the contrary, that the word is to be understood of the inward attrition of zeal (so that the disciples would mean, His zeal will yet consume Him from within), we may freely march over this difference of schools, and suppose (against Meyer) that the disciples, with anxious forebodings for the future of Christ, were smitten with the remembrance of that passage of the Psalm. For it is not necessary to suppose they had made out a clear idea of the sense of those words; any more than that Mary, with her words, meant: “Make wine!” or: “Go home!,” The school always reaches after fully expressed ideas or thoughts; actual life has also vague presentiments, anxious forebodings, dim, confused ideas; that is, life is subject to the fundamental law of gradual development. That the disciples did not connect a distinct expectation of the death of Jesus with their application of the verse of the Psalm to this action of their Lord, is proved by John 2:22; after Psalms 22:6-8, etc., they could not confine their thoughts to an exclusively internal self-attrition; probably they did not think of it at all in the Old Testament sense, though the metaphorical use of ἐσθίειν is clear, and consuming passions too (see Meyer, with a reference to Chrysostom, Lampe, Wolf) are not wholly excluded. But here for the first time met and struck them the conflict of the spirit of Christ with the spirit of the people, the terrible life staking earnestness in the appearance of Christ, which threatened to bring incalculable dangers after it. We may no doubt further suppose that this remembrance indicates great apprehensiveness in the disciples respecting the Lord. Though the future καταφάγεται may occur in the sense of the present,52 it does not follow that, according to Tholuck, it is to be read as present here. In this case the Evangelist might better have used the κατέφαγε of the Septuagint.

John 2:18. Then answered the Jews.—Ἀπεκρίθησαν οὐν. Here the Jews already begin to appear in opposition to Jesus; accordingly the Pharisaic and Judaistic Jews are intended, particularly the rulers. They regarded the act of Christ as a reproach to their religious government; therefore their interruption was an answer. And from their spirit it was to be expected; hence οὖν.—What sign she wrest thou unto us?—They did not see that the majestic and successful act itself was a great moral, theocratic sign, which accredited him; they intended therefore a sign after some magical, chiliastic sort. It should be noticed that they did not venture to dispute the theocratic propriety of the act itself. The right of zealotry against theocratic abuses was legalized in the example of Numbers 25:7; yet the prophets were accustomed to support great acts of zealotry by special miraculous signs, 1 Kings 18:23. The idea of such signs, however, particularly of the sign with which the Messiah should attest Himself, had gradually passed into the magical and monstrous. At all events, the challenge of a sign from heaven, Matthew 12:38; Matthew 16:1, is here already put forth.

John 2:19. Destroy this temple.—[One of those paradoxical and mysterious sayings which, though not understood at the time, stuck in the memory as seed thoughts for future sprouting.53 Comp. Christ’s word on the sign of Jonah, Matthew 12:39-40, in which He likewise mysteriously and typologically predicts His resurrection.—P. S.]—This is the sign which He would give them. The imperative is permissive. (Glassius: est Imperat. pro Futuro permissive).54 The Jews took the words of Jesus in an entirely literal sense, as John 2:20 proves, yet hardly without design. From this conception gradually arose the malignant perversion, slander, and accusation: This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days, Matthew 26:61; Mark 14:58; comp. Acts 6:13. This conception John corrects in John 2:21 : He spake of the temple of his body [for His humanity]. The fathers universally acknowledge this interpretation. It has been supposed, He pointed to His body as He spoke.55 Of this there is no indication.

Since Herder, Henke, and Paulus, down to Lücke [De Wette], Bleek, Ewald (see Meyer, in loc.), it has been suggested, on the contrary, that John misunderstood the Lord; that Christ spoke of the temple as the symbol of the Jewish system of religion.56 Destroy this edifice of religion, and in three days, i.e., in a short time, proverbially (with reference to Hosea 6:2) represented by three days, I will set it up again renewed.

Kuinoel, Tholuck, Meyer, and many others57 have maintained the correctness of John’s interpretation. And with all reason ; for an error of the Apostle and the whole company of disciples in respect to so important a word of the Lord is utterly inadmissible (see the several, not absolutely irrefragable arguments in Meyer).58

A third view adheres to John’s interpretation, but holds likewise an element of truth in the second view, and puts them in connection. The temple on Zion was the symbolical dwelling of God; the body of Christ was the real dwelling of God [and hence more than the temple, comp. Matthew 12:6].59 The word of Christ, therefore, underneath its immediate reference to the external temple, has a deeper meaning: Destroy this temple and worship, as ye have already begun to do by your desecration,—destroy it entirely, by putting the Messiah to death, and in three days I will build it new, i.e., not only rise from the dead, but also by the resurrection establish a new theocracy (Theodore of Mopsuestia, Olshausen, Lange, Leben Jesu, I., p. 200; simultaneously Ebrard, Kritik, p. 325; later, in similar manner, Luthardt).60

This combination is supported (1) by the actual connection. The crucifixion of Christ was the desecration, the spiritual dissolution of the temple, which must be followed by its outward destruction (see Matthew 23:38; Matthew 27:51), because the body of Christ was the real temple of God. (2) Christ, on this account, has repeatedly represented His death and resurrection as the one great sign which was to be given to the Jews instead of the required sign from heaven (John 3:14; Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4), and this sign too always connected with an antecedent Old Testament type. (3) A word concerning His death, without connection with an intelligible figure, would have assuredly been as yet wholly unintelligible to the Jews. (4) John gave the inmost and ultimate significance of the expression of Christ for the sole reason, that it was the main matter, and that the figurative sense was self-evident. (5) In Matthew 26:61 Christ puts in the true explanation, 2:64, immediately upon the false interpretation, besides perversion, of His utterance.

In three days, a round number, 1 Samuel 30:12; see the Matth. on John 12:40, p. 226.

I will raise it up (again).—“It is only apparently contrary to John’s explanation, that Christ, according to the New Testament doctrine, did not raise Himself, but was raised by the Father.” Meyer. And besides, the resurrection of Jesus was in one view as much His own act [John 10:18; Revelation 5:5], as, in another view, the act of His Father, especially in its results, 1 Corinthians 15:57; Ephesians 4:8. That Jesus was already familiar with the thought of His death, appears from the conversation which soon followed, John 3:14. The explanation of Athanasius, quoted by Tholuck, is an ingenious modified form of our third: With the putting to death of the body of Christ the Jewish system of types and shadows also is dissolved, and the real church thereby (by means of the resurrection) established.

John 2:20. Then said the Jews.—With an οῦ̓ν; it was to be expected that they would finish their malicious misunderstanding consistently.—Forty and six years.—They mean the renovation and enlargement of the temple of Zerubbabel, which begun in the eighteenth year of Herod’s reign, 20 B. C. (Joseph. Antiq. XV. 11, 1), and was finished under Herod Agrippa II. in A. D. 64 (Joseph. Antiq. XX. 9, 7). According to Wieseler, it. appears, therefore, that in this computation of forty-six years since the work was begun, the passover of the year 781 is the occasion on which it is made (Chronol. Synops. p. 106).

John 2:21. The temple of his body.—Genitiv. Apposit.

John 2:22. His disciples remembered that he had said this.—This remembrance does not exclude former remindings; but the right remembrance came now with the right understanding of it. [Remarks like this impress upon the reports of the discourses of Christ the stamp of historical fidelity. A later falsifier would have made the reference to the resurrection much plainer.—P. S.]—And they believed the Scripture.—[Faith in Christ is the key to the understanding of the Scriptures of the O. T.; comp. John 7:38; John 7:42; John 10:35; John 13:18. The singular τῇ γραφῇ indicates the unity and harmony of the canonical books from Genesis to Malachi, which, considering the great number of authors, the long period of time, and the variety of circumstances in and under which they were composed, is a strong evidence of their divine origin.—P. S.] Comp. Luke 24:26 : “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things,” etc. As they now found the death of Christ foretold in the Old. Testament, so they found also His glorification, which included His resurrection, Psalms 16:10; comp. Acts 2:27; Acts 13:35; 1 Peter 3:19; Psalms 68:18; comp. Ephesians 4:8; Isaiah 53:7; comp. Acts 8:35.

[Alford: “At first sight it appears difficult to fix on any passage in which the resurrection is directly announced: but with the deeper understanding of the Scriptures which the Holy Spirit gave to the Apostles and still gives to the Christian church, such prophecies as that in Psalms 16:0. are recognized as belonging to Him in whom alone they are properly fulfilled: see also Hosea 6:2.” This is not satisfactory. The O. T. indeed does not expressly prophesy the resurrection, as a separate fact, but very often the exaltation and glorification of the Messiah after His humiliation and suffering, and this implies the resurrection, as the intervening link or the beginning of the exaltation itself. Hence we may count here in a wider sense, with Hengstenberg (I. 171), the prophecy of Shilo as a ruler, Genesis 49:10; Psalms 110:0, where the Messiah is represented as sitting at the right of God and ruling over all His enemies; Daniel 7:13-14, where He appears at the head of a universal Kingdom; Isaiah 53:0, where, after His atoning death, He is raised to great glory; Zechariah 9:9-10, where Zion’s King appears first lowly and riding upon an ass, yea, as dying (comp. John 12:10; John 13:7), but afterwards speaking peace to the heathen and having dominion from sea to sea and from the river to the ends of the earth; comp. also Isaiah 9:0; Isaiah 11:0; Micah 5:0; Psalms 16:0. It is quite in keeping with the character of prophecy to behold the various stages of the exaltation as one continuous panorama. It is under this view that the Scripture of the O. T. is said to have foretold the resurrection; Luke 24:26 (“to enter into His glory”); John 20:9; 1 Corinthians 15:4; 1 Peter 1:11 (“the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow”).—P. S.]

John 2:23. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover.—The Evangelist thus distinguishes the stay of Jesus in Jerusalem during the passover from His first appearance there.—On the feast.—Meyer justly says, this addition is not intended to explain the term pass over for Greek readers; that must have been done by John 2:13. The expression signifies participation in the celebration of the feast. We suppose the feast days themselves are set off against the day of His entrance. On the day of the symbolical castigation He wrought other miracles, probably miracles of healing; and the first surprise of the Jews was followed by a demonstration of faith on the part of many attendants of the feast. The signs.—Evidently implying a multiplicity of signs, and such as determined those people to believe. He must therefore have done many miracles in Jerusalem.

John 2:24. Did not commit himself unto them.—The second πιστεύειν ἑαυτόν is evidently connected with the first πιστεύειν. He believed not in their believing, to such a degree as to commit or deliver up Himself to them. Various interpretations: (1) He withheld His doctrine (Chrysostom, Kuinoel); (2) He did not yield Himself to personal intercourse with them (Meyer). Without doubt simply: He did not yet entrust Himself to them as the Messiah, did not offer Himself as the Messiah, though they seemed inclined to recognize Him as such. It is the Lord’s determination, not to appear publicly under the title of Messiah; and He follows it henceforth till the triumphal entry into Jerusalem; in full accordance with Matthew 4:1-11.

Because he.—He Himself, in distinction from indirect knowledge through others. How He knew them all, is in part shown by what has preceded. He knew in general that the secular spirit predominated in them; but He also saw through each one, as He met him, with a divine physiognomic discernment. In both cases is intended not only the general prophetic illumination, but the penetrating spiritual eye of the God-Man.

John 2:25. And needed not.—Explanatory of αὐτός in the previous clause.—Of man.—Of man as to his sinful nature in general, and of man in particular, as He encountered each individual.—For he knew.—The positive expression for: He needed not.What was in man.—Not only the special, miraculous, physiognomic knowledge (Meyer cites John 1:48; John 4:18; John 6:61; John 6:64; John 11:4; John 11:14; John 13:11; John 21:17), but also the general knowledge of the constitution of human nature (John 3:0), of the order of the universe (John 19:11), and of the situation of the Jewish people in particular. Result: In the familiar circle of His disciples Jesus manifested His glory; in public He preserved His mysterious anonymousness as to the Messianic office.

[Christ knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees the end from the beginning, we the beginning from the end. He, says Calvin, knows the roots of the tree, we know the tree only by its fruits.—P. S.]


1. The different meanings of the two purifications of the temple. According to Meyer, no essential difference should be perceived between the two acts. Vet the difference between the expressions “house of merchandize” in John, and “den of thieves” in the Synoptists, “the house of My Father” (ὁ οῖ̓κος τοῦ πατρός μου) in John, and “My house” (ὁ οῖ̓κός μου) in the Synoptists, as well as the greater rigor in the second case as described by Mark (cot suffering any man to carry any vessel through the temple), is plain enough. According to Hofmann, Lichtenstein, and Luthardt, Christ in the Synoptists appears as a prophet to protect the place of prayer, in John as the Son to execute His domestic right. But this would lead to an entire reversal of the order of things in the self manifestation of the Lord. The case is just the reverse. Christ performed the first cleansing of the temple, as an anonymous prophet in the right of zealotism and the right of a prophet (see the Matth. on John 21:12, p. 376); the second, as the Lord of the temple, publicly introduced by the people to the holy city and temple as the Messiah.

2. The body of Christ, the most real temple of God. The crucifixion, the destruction of the temple in the strictest sense (Romans 2:22); the resurrection, the building of the eternal temple. Meaning of the sign: He who builds the eternal, essential temple, has power also to purge the symbolical. The truth, that Christ is perpetually building greater, more glorious the temple of God, which the sin of man demolishes. The centre of this truth is the death and resurrection of Christ; its first tokens, the fall of Adam and the first promise (the protevangelium), the flood and the rain-bow, etc.; its unfolding, the destruction of the theocracy and temple in Jerusalem, the rise of the church, the ruin of the mediæval church by the hierarchy, and its rebuilding in the Reformation, the inducing of the judgment of the world by anti-christianity, and the erection of a new heavens and a new earth. The wedding at Cana before the purification of the temple, the token of the transfiguration of the world before the judgment of the world.

3. The first and second purifications of the temple: when once the temple is made a house of merchandize (John 2:0), it has also become in effect a den of robbers or of murderers, Matthew 21:0. First the selling of indulgences, then persecution and reformation.

4. Christ entrusts Himself to no one in Jerusalem; i.e., He does not as yet come on the stage in His office as Messiah. Comp. the Com. on Matth. on John 4:0.

5. The supernatural knowledge of Christ, the source of His miracles of knowledge, and in fact everywhere divine human; i.e., on the one hand not merely divine, nor on the other merely human, but both at once; divinely immediate, humanly exercised through means and organs.


See Comm. on Matthew, on John 21:12-22, p., 377; Mark, on John 11:12-26; Luke, on John 19:41-42.—The visit of Jesus the youth to the temple, and the visit of the man matured for the execution of His Messianic office.—The first, second, and last solemn appearance of Jesus in the temple (the last, Matthew 21-23).—As the crucifixion of Christ completed the desecration of the temple, so the resurrection of Christ completed the restoration of the temple.—Out of His word of holiest zeal for the temple, they made a word of blasphemy and deadly sin against the temple.—The purification of the temple, the perpetual charter of reformation.—What sign shewest thou, etc.? The spiritual blindness which demands a sensible sign for the holiest sign of the Spirit.—How Judaism, by overdoing itself, falls back into heathenism, in asking a sign for the sense, when the sign of the Spirit gloriously stands forth.—So also the Judaism of legality in Christendom.—The scourge in the hand of Jesus, or the anger of personal gentleness itself. (1) The overpowering sign of the highest zeal (against sin); (2) the humbling sign of the highest majesty (against frivolity); (3) the ocular sign of the highest assurance (against doubt).—The Old Testament spirit in which the disciples viewed the matter, indicated by their word: The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up; the New Testament watchword of Jesus: My meat is to do the will, etc., John 4:34.—To the temple of a Herod the hierarchs had even a right; in the temple of Christ they found themselves utterly out of place.—The token which Christ gives the Jews for the truth of His divine mission.—This token, the token also of reformation: Commit the utmost abominations in the temple, the more gloriously will the ruined temple be restored!—The conduct of the Jews on Christ’s purifying of the temple, in its permanent import.—The destroyers of the temple would be its restorers, and the restorers must pass for destroyers.—From this first day of the public appearance of Christ, enmity calumniously laid up the word, which was to bring it to naught.—The Lord’s great word concerning His end, at the beginning of His career.—The subsequent remembrance of Christ’s words by His enemies, and the subsequent remembrance of them by His friends.—When He was at Jerusalem, many believed on Him; or, (1) festival believers, believers of festival seasons when things go grandly in the church; (2) yet festival times, also true birthdays of faith.—But Jesus did not commit Himself to them; or, secret disciples, and a secret Saviour (anonymous believers, and an anonymous Christ).—Christ, the knower of hearts.—The first sign of Christ in the pious house, and His first sign in the impious church.—The transformation of water into wine, and of the driver’s whip into a beneficent sceptre (in contrast with those who have turned the sceptre into a whip).—Christ and the hierarchs with reference to the temple of God: (1) He purifies and sanctifies it, they would make its desecrated condition its holiness; (2) He gives a moral and religious sign of the Spirit, they demand a magical, sensuous sign to accredit it; (3) He gives them for a sign the prophecy that they will kill Him, and they make of it a mortal charge against Him; (4) He announces to them a new supernatural temple, and they harden themselves in their old system to their judgment.—The first public Easter festival of Jesus, a foretokening of His future and eternal Easter.—Christ’s observance of the prescribed feasts the dawn of the free festivity of the gospel.—Christ at the feast: (1) As an Israelite, in the spirit of the patriarchs; (2) as a Jew, according to the law of Moses; (3) as a prophet, after the manner of the prophets (my Father’s house not a house of merchandize, the court of the Gentiles not a cattle-market); (4) as the Christ, introducing and indicating the course of His life and work.—Holy zeal and unholy zeal in contrast in the purification of the temple.—The open, noble indignation of Jesus, and the impure malicious reserve of His opponents.:—Jesus, here as in Cana, a man, and a sinless man.—The keeping holy the temple; (1) The house of God; (2) the body; (3) the church. The rising of the divine above the corruption and ruin of the human; the eternal divine token thereof, the luminous centre of all divine signs: the resurrection of Christ from the death of the cross.

Starke: Majus: Though the word and works of God are not bound to place, yet it is right, after the example of Christ, to observe proprieties of place and time.—Osiander: Christ, the Lord of the law, submitted Himself to it, that He might redeem men from it.—Cramer: Christ, not a secular king, but Lord of the temple; therefore He comes into the temple, and there begins His public function, Haggai 2:3; Haggai 2:18.—Hedinger: What has the abomination of usury to do in the temple of God? What the indulgence-monger in the sanctuary?—Ah, our churches to this day are sufficiently profaned by sinful garrulity, proud display of dress, etc. (even by unsanctified discourses).—Nova Bibl. Tub.: The abuses which have crept into the church must be scourged and banished. How much more must traditional abuses call forth our zeal! Hosea 12:8; Zechariah 14:21.—It is incumbent on all Christians, particularly on ministers, to be zealous for the house of God; yet should every one take good heed lest it be not according to knowledge.—Osiander: He who diligently pursues his calling, may fear no danger. The protection of God will be with him.—Majus: The works of God need no miraculous attestation. They shine so brightly upon the eye, that God and His divine glory may be sufficiently recognized in them.—Hedinger: Unbelief demands miracles and signs.—Zeisius: Where we have to do with false, malicious men, we are not called upon to make the truth so clear and bright, to their greater condemnation (dark words for dark men).—A mind occupied only with the earthly, cannot perceive the mysteries of God.—Instruction often serves more for others in the future, than for those to whom it is given at the time.—Ibid: Fulfilment yields the best interpretation.—Quesnel: Truth brings forth its fruits in their season.—Ibid.: Christian prudence requires that we do not lightly judge and condemn any, yet that we do not easily trust ourselves to any who present a good appearance.

Gerlach: “As Christ’s kingdom is not a sword, how is it that He deals so hardly and harshly here with the priests of the temple, and concerns Himself with what properly belongs to the secular power? Because the Lord at that time stood between the Old Testament and the New, between what Moses had established in Israel, and what Christ was to establish after His death through His Holy Spirit and the preaching of the gospel; and He shows thereby that He is a Lord who holds both dispensations in His hand” (Luther).—Lisco: A picture of the reformation of a temple-desecration which had arisen from an abuse of Deuteronomy 14:24-26.—Heubner: How much is contained in completely trusting one!—We must judge not, yet not hastily open and surrender ourselves to any. The more perfect and noble a man is, the more true and open (and yet the more is he, again, a higher mystery).—Schleiermacher: What a zeal for His Father’s house did the Lord Himself sanctify, in doing that!—But there afterwards came a time, when even the Christian church was a house of merchandize.—Then He again gathered a whip; Luther, Zwingli, Calvin and all the reformers.—It was not the whip that effected what the Redeemer did, but the spiritual power, of which that was only a sign and seal.—Our failure to act in many cases as the Redeemer acted here, is the cause of many evils in the Christian church and in all human affairs. That one is always putting upon another the performance of works well pleasing to God, and no one maintains a fresh and free consciousness of the power which God the Lord has given him, and does all he can do to promote truth and goodness and prevent wickedness,—this is the reason why so many disorders are daily renewed in the smaller and larger relations of men.—Besser: The Saviour (because they stifle the voice of conscience) draws back from them, and veils in a holy riddle the sign which they demand, and flame which was intended to be given them as the sign of all signs, the proper sign of Christ.—From every defeat a victory unfolds to the church; from every shame a glory.—When therefore He was risen, etc. Chemnitz presents the disciples, in their relation to the discourse of Jesus to them, as an example for all Bible-readers: They should not at once despise and reject everything in the Holy Scriptures which they cannot at first glance understand; nor must they despair of understanding, if they cannot at once penetrate the deep mysteries of the word. For the Spirit of knowledge leads us into the truth by degrees.—Christ’s power of trying spirits (Isaiah 11:3. comp. with 1 Samuel 16:7 ; 1 Timothy 5:22).


John 2:12; John 2:12. [αὐτοῦ after οἱ�, is omitted by B. L., Treg., Westcott and Hort, but supported by א. A. al and retained by Tischend and Alf. (the latter in brackets). Westcott and Hort bracket καὶ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ. The false view about the ἀδελφοί of Christ may have had some influence on these variations.—P. S.]

John 2:12; John 2:12. [As ”brethren” is now almost exclusively used in the spiritual sense, it is better to substitute “brothers,” where, as here, kinsmen, i. e., either cousins, or more probably half-brothers of Jesus, are intended. In the Scriptures the term denotes either (1) actual brotherhood, or (2) kinsmanship (cousins), or (3) common nationality, or (4) friendship and sympathy. Where there are no obvious objections, the first sense, being the most natural, must always be preferred, especially when the term, as here, occurs in connection with mother. See the Exeg. Notes.—P. S.]

John 2:12; John 2:12. [The singular ἔμεινεν (instead of the plural ἔμειναν) in A. F. G. was occasioned by the preceding κατέβη and the succeeding ἀνέβη.—P. S.]

John 2:15; John 2:15. [The words to τά τέ πρόβατα καὶ τοὺς βόας, “the sheep as well as the oxen,” are merely epexegetical of πάντας (masc. on account of βόας), and imply that the φραγέλλιον was used on the beasts only, although it scared the men away likewise. The them and and of the E. V. convey a false impression.—P. S.]

John 2:15; John 2:15.—B. L. X., etc. [Alford, Tregelles] read:τά κέρματα [moneys, small change, instead of the singular, τὸ κέρμα (text rec. Tischend). Greek writers generally use the plural. The singular is here collective.—P. S.]

John 2:17; John 2:17.—The reading of the Recepta [κατέφαγε] is conformed to the Septuagint. The most important codd., particularly א. A. B. R. besides Origen, etc., read καταφάγεται [the future, contracted from καταφαγήσεται, will consume me, in the Sent, and the Apocrypha.—P. S.]

John 2:22; John 2:22.—The addition αὐτοῖς is very feebly accredited. [Omitted by all the modern critical ed.]

[46][The double purgation of the temple is rightly defended by all the older commentators, and by Schleiermacher, Olshausen, Tholuck, Ebrard, Meyer, Lange, Hengstenberg, Godet, Alford. Among those who admit only one, Strauss, Baur and Schenkel defend the report of the Synoptists, while Lüke, De Wette, Ewald decide in favor of John].

[47][Hieronymus: Igneum quiddam et sidereum radiabat ex occulis ejus et divinitatis majestas lucebat in facie. Comp. the remarks of Godet, I. p. 379, who attributes the effect chiefly to the imposing majesty of Christ’s appearance, and the irresistible force of His consciousness of supernatural power.—P. S.]

[48][So also Godet: a sign of authority and judgment. If Christ had intended physical punishment, the instrument would have been disproportionate to the end.—P. S.]

[49][Alford: The coincidence with Luke 2:49 is remarkable. By this expression thus publicly used, our Lord openly announces His Mossiahship.—P. S.]

[50][Sept.: “Ὅτι ὁ ζῆλος τοῦ οἴκου σου κατέφαγέν με (Vulg.: comedit me), καὶ οὶ ὸνειδισμοὶ τῶν ὀνειδιζόντων σεἐπέπεσον ἐπ’ἐμέ.—P. S.]

[51][“The καταφάγειν spoken of in that passion Psalm, was the marring and wasting of the Saviour’s frame by His zeal for God and God’s Church, which resulted in the buffeting, the scourging, the Cross.” Alford].

[52][So also Tholuck, Hengstenberg, Godet, but Meyer contends that καταφάγεται (=καταφαγήσεται) is only used in the sense of the future.—P. S.]

[53][Renan (Vie de Jésus, p. 354) can see in this profound enigma of our Lord only “an imprudent word spoken in bad humor” (“Un jour sa mauvaise humeur contre le temple lui arracha un mot imprudent)”! Godet, I. 387, well remarks: “La methode de Jesus est de jeter une enigme et de ne révéler la vérité qu’en la voilunt sous un divin paradoxe, qui ne peut êlre compris qu’en changeant de cæur. C‘est là un secret de la profonde pédagogies”—P. S.]

[54][Meyer, with his usual and at times pedantic philological strictness, takes the imperative λύσατε as strictly provocative, and explains it from a painful excitement of feeling in view of the opposition already manifesting itself. But the apparent harshness is softened by the prophetic character of the word and the double reference to the temple and the person. John 13:27, where Christ calls upon Judas to do quickly what he intended to do, furnishes a parallel. If the fruit is once matured, it must fall.—P. S.]

[55][So Bengel (nutu gestuve) and Meyer. But in the fifth ed., p. 144, note, M. gives up this reference. Such pointing would have been the solution of the riddle, contrary to its intention; but neither the Jews nor the disciples understood Him at the time. The Jews on this and the second purgation referred τὸν ναὸν τοῦτον to the temple, John 2:20; Matthew 26:61; Matthew 27:40. Meyer now assumes that Christ pointed to the temple (this temple before you), but meant His body as the antitype of the temple and the true dwelling of God, and thus put the image in the place of the thing typified, “so dass diese scharfen lebendigen, ohne Auslegung hingeworfenen Bildzüge wie in einem Bilderräthsel eine symbolisch prophretische Vorhersagung seiner Auferstehung enthalten, wie Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4.”—P. S.]

[56](See Heubner, p. 242. Henke was not the first to take this view, but Zinzendorf has it in his Homil. über die Wundenlitanei, p. 160.)

[57][Olshausen, Stier, Brückner (versus De Wette), Alford, Godet.—P. S.]

[58][Meyer, pp. 145–147, raises seven objections against this view. It is plainly irreconcilable with apostolic inspiration. In my Lectures on the Gospel of John, written at Berlin, 1842, I find the remark: “It involves an immense presumption on the part of theologians of the nineteenth century, however respectable, if they imagine that they understand Christ better than His favorite disciple and bosom-friend to whom He revealed the future struggles and triumphs of His Kingdom.” Alford also justly protests against such liberty of interpretation. For we have here not a chronological statement, but a doctrinal exposition of a most important declaration of Christ.—P. S.]

[59][This idea John expresses in ἐσκήνωσεν, John 1:14 (see notes on pp. 71, 73), and Paul when he says that the whole fulness of the Godhead dwelled in Christ bodily. Colossians 2:9.—P. S.]

[60][Comp. also Hengstenberg, I:165. He thinks that no justice can be done to this holy enigma which Christ proposed to the Jews, unless we recognize the essential identity of the temple, the appearance of Christ in the flesh and the church of the N. T. He explains: “If ye once destroy the temple of my body, and with it this external temple, the symbol and pledge of the kingdom of God among you, I shall rebuild in three days the temple of My body and with it at the same time the substance of the eternal temple, the kingdom of God.” The crucifixion of Christ involved as a necessary consequence the destruction of the temple and the O. T. worship; the re surrection of Christ the creation of the Christian church, and worship, of which the temple was the type and shadow. Godet explains: “Destroy this your temple, by killing Me, the Messiah.”—P. S.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on John 2". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/john-2.html. 1857-84.
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