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Bible Commentaries
John 2

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

The third day (τη ημερα τη τριτη). "On the day the third" (locative case), from the start to Galilee when Philip was found (John 1:43), seven days since John 1:19.

There was a marriage (γαμος εγενετο). "A wedding (or marriage festival) took place." See on Matthew 22:8.

In Cana of Galilee (εν Κανα της Γαλιλαιας). This town, the home of Nathanael (John 21:2), is only mentioned again in John 4:46 as the home of the nobleman. There was a Cana in Coele-Syria. It is usually located at Kefr Kenna (3 1/2 miles from Nazareth), though Ain Kana and Khirbet Kana are also possible. Bernard thinks that it was probably on Wednesday afternoon the fourth day of the week (usual day for marriage of virgins), when the party of Jesus arrived.

And the mother of Jesus was there (κα ην η μητηρ του Ιησου εκε). When they arrived. John does not mention her name, probably because already well known in the Synoptics. Probably Joseph was already dead. Mary may have been kin to the family where the wedding took place, an intimate friend clearly.

Verse 2

Jesus also was bidden (εκληθη κα ο Ιησους). First aorist passive indicative of καλεω, "was also invited" as well as his mother and because of her presence, possibly at her suggestion.

And his disciples (κα ο μαθητα). Included in the invitation and probably all of them acquaintances of the family. See on John 1:35 for this word applied to John's followers. This group of six already won form the nucleus of the great host of "learners" through the ages who will follow Jesus as Teacher and Lord and Saviour. The term is sometimes restricted to the twelve apostles, but more often has a wider circle in view as in John 6:61; John 6:66; John 20:30.

Verse 3

When the wine failed (υστερησαντος οινου). Genitive absolute with first aorist active participle of υστερεω, old verb from υστερος, late or lacking. See same use in Mark 10:21. A longer Western paraphrase occurs in some manuscripts. It was an embarrassing circumstance, especially to Mary, if partly due to the arrival of the seven guests.

They have no wine (Οινον ουκ εχουσιν). The statement of the fact was in itself a hint and a request. But why made by the mother of Jesus and why to Jesus? She would not, of course, make it to the host. Mary feels some kind of responsibility and exercises some kind of authority for reasons not known to us. Mary had treasured in her heart the wonders connected with the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:19; Luke 2:51). The ministry of the Baptist had stirred her hopes afresh. Had she not told Jesus all that she knew before he went to the Jordan to be baptized of John? This group of disciples meant to her that Jesus had begun his Messianic work. So she dares propose the miracle to him.

Verse 4

Woman (γυνα). Vocative case of γυνη, and with no idea of censure as is plain from its use by Jesus in John 19:26. But the use of γυνα instead of μητερ (Mother) does show her she can no longer exercise maternal authority and not at all in his Messianic work. That is always a difficult lesson for mothers and fathers to learn, when to let go.

What have I to do with thee? (Τ εμο κα σοι;). There are a number of examples of this ethical dative in the LXX (Judges 11:12; 2 Samuel 16:10; 1 Kings 17:18; 2 Kings 3:13; 2 Chronicles 35:21) and in the N.T. (Mark 1:24; Mark 5:7; Matthew 8:29; Matthew 27:19; Luke 8:28). Some divergence of thought is usually indicated. Literally the phrase means, "What is it to me and to thee?" In this instance F.C. Burkitt (Journal of Theol. Studies, July, 1912) interprets it to mean, "What is it to us?" That is certainly possible and suits the next clause also.

Mine hour is not yet come (ουπω ηκε η ωρα μου). This phrase marks a crisis whenever it occurs, especially of his death (John 7:30; John 8:20; John 12:23; John 13:1; John 17:1). Here apparently it means the hour for public manifestation of the Messiahship, though a narrower sense would be for Christ's intervention about the failure of the wine. The Fourth Gospel is written on the plane of eternity (W. M. Ramsay) and that standpoint exists here in this first sign of the Messiah.

Verse 5

Unto the servants (τοις διακονοις). See on Matthew 20:26 for this word (our "deacon," but not that sense here).

Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it (Hοτ αν λεγη υμιν ποιησατε). Indefinite relative sentence (οτ αν and present active subjunctive, general statement) with aorist active imperative of ποιεω for instant execution. Mary took comfort in the "not yet" (ουπω) and recognized the right of Jesus as Messiah to independence of her, but evidently expected him to carry out her suggestion ultimately as he did. This mother knew her Son.

Verse 6

Waterpots (υδρια). Old word from υδωρ (water) and used in papyri for pots or pans for holding money or bread as well as water. These stone (λιθινα as in 2 Corinthians 3:3) jars full of water were kept handy ( set there , κειμενα, present middle participle of κειμα) at a feast for ceremonial cleansing of the hands (2 Kings 3:11; Mark 7:3), "after the Jews' manner of purifying" (κατα τον καθαρισμον των Ιουδαιων). See Mark 1:44; Luke 2:22 for the word καθαρισμος (from καθαριζω) which fact also raised a controversy with disciples of John because of his baptizing (John 3:25).

Containing (χωρουσα). Present active participle feminine plural of χωρεω, old verb from χωρος, place, space, having space or room for.

Two or three firkins apiece (ανα μετρητας δυο η τρεις). The word μετρητης, from μετρεω, to measure, simply means "measurer," an amphora for measuring liquids (in Demosthenes, Aristotle, Polybius), the Hebrew bath (2 Chronicles 4:5), here only in N.T., about 8 1/2 English gallons. Each υδρια thus held about 20 gallons. This common distributive use of ανα occurs here only in this Gospel, but is in Revelation 4:8. In John 4:28 a much smaller υδρια was used for carrying water.

Verse 7

Fill (γεμισατε). Effective first aorist active imperative of γεμιζω, to fill full.

With water (υδατος). Genitive case of material.

Up to the brim (εως ανω). "Up to the top." See εως κατω (Matthew 27:51) for "down to the bottom." No room left in the waterpots now full of water.

Verse 8

Draw out now (Αντλησατε νυν). First aorist active imperative of αντλεω, from ο αντλος, bilge water, or the hold where the bilge water settles (so in Homer). The verb occurs in John 4:7; John 4:15, for drawing water from the well, and Westcott so interprets it here, but needlessly so, since the servants seem bidden to draw from the large water-jars now full of water. Apparently the water was still water when it came out of the jars (verse John 2:9), but was changed to wine before reaching the guests. The water in the jars remained water.

Unto the ruler of the feast (τω αρχιτρικλινω). Dative case. The τρικλινος was a room (οικος) with three couches (κλινη) for the feast. The αρχιτρικλινος was originally the superintendent of the dining-room who arranged the couches and tasted the food, not the toast-master (συμποσιαρχης).

And they bare it (ο δε ηνεγκαν). Second aorist active indicative of φερω. Apparently not knowing at first that they bore wine.

Verse 9

Tasted (εγευσατο). First aorist middle indicative of γευομα. As it was his function to do.

The water now become wine (το υδωρ οινον γεγενημενον). Accusative case, though the genitive also occurs with γευομα. Perfect passive participle of γινομα and οινον, predicative accusative. The tablemaster knew nothing of the miracle, "whence it was" (ποθεν εστιν, indirect question retaining present indicative). The servants knew the source of the water, but not the power that made the wine.

Calleth the bridegroom (φωνε τον νυμφιον). As apparently responsible for the supply of the wine ( thou hast kept τετηρηκας). See Matthew 9:15 for νυμφιος. When men have drunk freely (οταν μεθυσθωσιν). Indefinite temporal clause with οταν and first aorist passive subjunctive of μεθυσκω. The verb does not mean that these guests are now drunk, but that this is a common custom to put "the worse" (τον ελασσω, the less, the inferior) wine last. It is real wine that is meant by οινος here. Unlike the Baptist Jesus mingled in the social life of the time, was even abused for it (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34). But this fact does not mean that today Jesus would approve the modern liquor trade with its damnable influences. The law of love expounded by Paul in John 2:1 and in John 2:14; John 2:15 teaches modern Christians to be willing gladly to give up what they see causes so many to stumble into sin.

Verse 11

This beginning of his signs did Jesus (ταυτην εποιησεν αρχην των σημειων ο Ιησους). Rather, "this Jesus did as a beginning of his signs," for there is no article between ταυτην and αρχην. "We have now passed from the 'witness' of the Baptist to the 'witness' of the works of Jesus" (Bernard). This is John's favourite word "signs" rather than wonders (τερατα) or powers (δυναμεις) for the works (εργα) of Jesus. Σημειον is an old word from σημαινω, to give a sign (John 12:33). He selects eight in his Gospel by which to prove the deity of Christ (John 20:30) of which this is the first.

Manifested his glory (εφανερωσεν την δοξαν αυτου). First aorist (effective) active indicative of φανεροω, that glory of which John spoke in John 1:14.

Believed on him (επιστευσαν εις αυτον). First aorist active indicative of πιστευω, to believe, to put trust in, so common in John. These six disciples (learners) had already believed in Jesus as the Messiah (John 1:35-51). Now their faith was greatly strengthened. So it will be all through this Gospel. Jesus will increasingly reveal himself while the disciples will grow in knowledge and trust and the Jews will become increasingly hostile till the culmination.

Verse 12

He went down to Capernaum (κατεβη εις Καφαρναουμ αυτος). Second aorist active indicative of καταβαινω. Cana was on higher ground. This brief stay ( not many days , ου πολλας ημερας) in this important city (Tell Hum) on the north shore of Galilee was with Christ's mother, brothers (apparently friendly at first) and the six disciples, all in the fresh glow of the glory manifested at Cana. Surely Mary's heart was full.

Verse 13

The passover of the Jews (το πασχα των Ιουδαιων). The Synoptics do not give "of the Jews," but John is writing after the destruction of the temple and for Gentile readers. John mentions the passovers in Christ's ministry outside of the one when Christ was crucified, this one and one in John 6:4. There may be another (John 5:1), but we do not know. But for John we should not know that Christ's ministry was much over a year in length.

Verse 14

Those that sold (τους πωλουντας). Present active articular participle of πωλεω, to sell. They were in the Court of the Gentiles within the temple precinct (εν τω ιερω), but not in the ναος or temple proper. The sacrifices required animals (oxen, βοας, sheep, προβατα, doves, περιστερας) and "changers of money" (κερματιστας, from κερματιζω, to cut into small pieces, to change money, only here in N.T., late and rare). Probably their very presence in his Father's house angered Jesus. The Synoptics (Mark 11:15-17; Matthew 21:12; Luke 10:45) record a similar incident the day after the Triumphal Entry. If there was only one, it would seem more natural at the close. But why could it not occur at the beginning also? Here it is an obvious protest by Christ at the beginning of his ministry as in the Synoptics it is an indignant outcry against the desecration. The cessation was only temporary in both instances.

Verse 15

A scourge of cords (φραγελλιον εκ σχοινιων). The Latin flagellum. In papyri, here only in N.T. and note Latin l becomes ρ in Koine. Σχοινιων is a diminutive of σχοινος (a rush), old word for rope, in N.T. only here and Acts 27:32.

Cast out (εξεβαλεν). Second aorist active indicative of εκβαλλω. It is not said that Jesus smote the sheep and oxen (note τε κα, both and), for a flourish of the scourge would answer.

He poured out (εξεχεεν). Second aorist active indicative of εκχεω, to pour out.

The changers' money (των κολλυβιστων τα κερματα). "The small pieces of money (κερματα, cut in pieces, change) of the bankers (κολλυβιστης from κολλυβος, clipped, late word see on Matthew 21:12)." Perhaps he took up the boxes and emptied the money.

Overthrew their tables (τας τραπεζας ανετρεψεν). First aorist active indicative of ανατρεπω, to turn up, though some MSS. have ανεστρεψεν from αναστρεφω, also to turn up.

Verse 16

Take these things hence (Αρατε ταυτα εντευθεν). First aorist active imperative of αιρω. Probably the doves were in baskets or cages and so had to be taken out by the traders.

Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise (μη ποιειτε τον οικον του πατρος μου οικον εμποριου). "Stop making," it means, μη and the present active imperative. They had made it a market-house (εμποριου, here only in N.T., old word from εμπορος, merchant, one who goes on a journey for traffic, a drummer). Note the clear-cut Messianic claim here (My Father as in Luke 2:49). Jerome says: "A certain fiery and starry light shone from his eyes and the majesty of Godhead gleamed in His face."

Verse 17

Remembered (εμνησθησαν). First aorist passive indicative of μιμνησκω, to remind, "were reminded." Westcott notes the double effect of this act as is true of Christ's words and deeds all through John's Gospel. The disciples are helped, the traders are angered.

That it is written (οτ γεγραμμενον εστιν). Periphrastic perfect passive indicative of γραφω retained in indirect discourse (assertion).

The zeal of thine house (ο ζηλος του οικου σου). Objective genitive. "The zeal for thy house."

Shall eat me up (καταφαγετα με). Future middle indicative of κατεσθιω, defective verb, to eat down ("up" we say), perfective use of κατα-. This future φαγομα is from the second aorist εφαγον. It is a quotation from Psalms 69:9, frequently quoted in the N.T.

Verse 18

What sign shewest thou unto us? (Τ σημειον δεικνυεις ημιν;). They may have heard of the "sign" at Cana or not, but they have rallied a bit on the outside of the temple area and demand proof for his Messianic assumption of authority over the temple worship. These traders had paid the Sadducees and Pharisees in the Sanhedrin for the concession as traffickers which they enjoyed. They were within their technical rights in this question.

Verse 19

Destroy this temple (λυσατε τον ναον τουτον). First aorist active imperative of λυω, to loosen or destroy. It is the permissive imperative, not a command to do it. Note also ναος, not ιερον, the sanctuary, symbol of God's ναος, in our hearts (1 Corinthians 3:16). There is much confusion about this language since Jesus added: "And in three days I will raise it up" (κα εν τρισιν ημεραις εγερω αυτον). Those who heard Jesus, including the disciples till after the resurrection (verse John 2:22), understood the reference to be to Herod's temple. Certainly that is the obvious way to take it. But Jesus often spoke in parables and even in enigmas. He may have spoken of the literal temple as a parable for his own body which of course they would not understand, least of all the resurrection in three days.

Verse 20

Forty and six years was this temple in building (Τεσσερακοντα κα εξ ετεσιν οικοδομηθη ο ναος ουτος). "Within forty and six years (associative instrumental case) was built (first aorist passive indicative, constative or summary use of the aorist, of οικοδομεω, without augment) this temple." As a matter of fact, it was not yet finished, so distrustful had the Jews been of Herod.

And wilt thou? (κα συ;). An evident sneer in the use of συ (thou, an unknown upstart from Galilee, of the peasant class, not one of the Sanhedrin, not one of the ecclesiastics or even architects).

Verse 21

But he spake of the temple of his body (εκεινος δε ελεγεν περ του ναου του σωματος αυτου). Emphatic he (εκεινος) and imperfect tense (he had been speaking). This is John's view as he looks back at it, not what he understood when Jesus spoke the words.

Verse 22

When therefore he was raised from the dead (Hοτε ουν ηγερθη εκ νεκρων). First aorist passive indicative of εγειρω, to raise up. And not at first then, but only slowly after the disciples themselves were convinced. Then "they believed the Scripture" (επιστευσαν τη γραφη). They "believed" again. Dative case γραφη. Probably Psalms 16:10 is meant (Acts 2:31; Acts 13:35).

And the word which Jesus had said (κα τω λογω ον ειπεν). Dative case λογω also, but ον (relative) is not attracted to the dative. Clearly then John interprets Jesus to have a parabolic reference to his death and resurrection by his language in John 2:19. There are those who bluntly say that John was mistaken. I prefer to say that these scholars are mistaken. Even Bernard considers it "hardly possible" that John interprets Jesus rightly in John 1:21. "Had he meant that, He would have spoken with less ambiguity." But how do we know that Jesus wished to be understood clearly at this time? Certainly no one understood Christ when he spoke the words. The language of Jesus is recalled and perverted at his trial as "I will destroy" (Mark 14:58), "I can destroy" (Matthew 26:61), neither of which he said.

Verse 23

In Jerusalem (εν τοις Ιεροσολυμοις). The form Ιεροσολυμα as in John 2:13 always in this Gospel and in Mark, and usually in Matthew, though Ιερουσαλημ only in Revelation, and both forms by Luke and Paul.

During the feast (εν τη εορτη). The feast of unleavened bread followed for seven days right after the passover (one day strictly), though το πασχα is used either for the passover meal or for the whole eight days.

Believed on his name (επιστευσαν εις το ονομα αυτου). See on John 1:12 for this phrase. Only one has to watch for the real import of πιστευω.

Beholding his signs (θεωρουντες αυτου τα σημεια). Present active participle (causal use) of θεωρεω.

Which he did (α εποιε). "Which he was doing" (imperfect tense). He did his first sign in Cana, but now he was doing many in Jerusalem. Already Jesus had become the cynosure of all eyes in Jerusalem at this first visit in his ministry.

Verse 24

But Jesus did not trust himself to them (αυτος δε Ιησους ουκ επιστευεν αυτον αυτοις). "But Jesus himself kept on refusing (negative imperfect) to trust himself to them." The double use of πιστευω here is shown by Acts 8:13 where Simon Magus "believed" (επιστευσεν) and was baptized, but was unsaved. He merely believed that he wanted what Philip had.

For that he knew all men (δια το αυτον γινωσκειν παντας). Causal use of δια and the accusative case of the articular infinitive το γινωσκειν (because of the knowing) with the object of the infinitive (παντας, all men) and the accusative of general reference (αυτον, as to himself).

Verse 25

And because he needed not (κα οτ χρειαν ειχεν). Imperfect active, "and because he did not have need."

That any one should bear witness concerning man (ινα τις μαρτυρηση περ του ανθρωπου). Non-final use of ινα with first aorist active subjunctive of μαρτυρεω and the generic article (περ του ανθρωπου) concerning mankind as in the next clause also.

For he himself knew (αυτος γαρ εγινωσκεν). Imperfect active, "for he himself kept on knowing" as he did from the start.

What was in man (τ ην εν τω ανθρωπω). Indirect question with εστιν of the direct changed to the imperfect ην, a rare idiom in the Koine. This supernatural knowledge of man is a mark of deity. Some men of genius can read men better than others, but not in the sense meant here.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/john-2.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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