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Bible Commentaries

Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospels
John 2

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-4

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:2. And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. 3. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to him, They have no wine. 4. Jesus said to her, Woman, what have I to do with you? My hour is not yet come.

CHRYS. Our Lord being known in Galilee, they invite Him to a marriage: And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee.

ALCUIN. Galilee is a province; Cana a village in it.

CHRYS. They invite our Lord to the marriage, not as a great person, but merely as one they knew, one of the many; for which reason the Evangelist says, And the mother of Jesus was there. As they invited the mother, so they invited the Son: and therefore,Jesus was called, and His disciples to the marriage: and He came, as caring more for our good, shall His own dignity. He who disdained not to take upon Him the form of a servant, disdained not to come to the marriage of servants.

AUG. Let the proud man blush to see the humility of God. Lo, among other things, the Son of the Virgin comes to a marriage; He who, when He was with the Father, instituted marriage.

BEDE. His condescension in coming to the marriage, and the miracle He wrought there, are, even considering them in the letter only, a strong confirmation of the a faith. Therein too are condemned the errors of Tatian, Marcion, and others who detract from the honor of marriage. For if the undefiled bed, and the marriage celebrated with due chastity, partook at all of sin, our Lord would never have come to one. Whereas now, conjugal chastity being good, the continence of widows better, the perfection of the virgin state best, to sanction all these degrees, but distinguish the merit of each, He deigned to be born of the pure womb of the Virgin; was blessed after birth by the prophetic voice of the widow Anna; and now invited in manhood to attend the celebration of a marriage, honors that also by the presence of His goodness.AUG. What marvel, if He went to that house to a marriage, Who came into this world to a marriage. For here He has His spouse whom He redeemed with His own blood, to whom He gave the pledge of the Spirit, and whom He united to Himself in the womb of the Virgin. For the Word is the Bridegroom, and human flesh the bride, and both together are one Son of God and Son of man. That womb of the Virgin Mary is His chamber, from which he went forth as a bridegroom.

BEDE. Nor is it without some mysterious allusion, that the marriage is related as taking place on the third day. The first age of the world, before the giving of the Law, was enlightened by the example of the Patriarchs; the second, under the Law, by the writings of the Prophets; the third, under grace, by the preaching of the Evangelists, as if by the light of the third day; for our Lord had now appeared in the flesh. The name of the place too where the marriage was held, Cana of Galilee, which means, desire of migrating, has a typical signification, viz. that those are most worthy of Christ, who burn with devotional desires, and have known the passage from vice to virtue, from earthly to eternal things.

The wine was made to fail, to give our Lord the opportunity of making better; that so the glory of God in man might be brought out of its hiding place: And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, They have no wine.

CHRYS. But how came it into the mother"s mind to expect so great a thing from her Son? for he had done no miracle as yet: as we read afterwards This beginning of miracles did Jesus. His real nature, however, was beginning now to be revealed by John, and His own conversations with His disciples; besides that His conception, and the circumstances of His birth, had from the first given rise to high expectations in her mind: as Luke tells us, His mother kept all these sayings in her heart. Why then did she never ask Him to work a miracle before? Because the time had now come that He should be made known. Before He had lived so much like an ordinary person, that she had not had the confidence to ask Him. But now that she heard that John had borne witness to Him, and that He had disciples, she asks Him confidently.

ALCUIN. She represents here the Synagogue, which challenges Christ to perform a miracle. It was customary with the Jews to ask for miracles. Jesus said to her, Woman, what have I to do with you?

AUG. Some who derogate from the Gospel, and say that Jesus was not born of the Virgin Mary, try to draw an argument for their error from this place; for, how, say they, could she be His mother to whom He said, What have I to do with you? Now who is it who gives this account, and on whose authority do we believe it? The Evangelist John. But he himself says, The mother of Jesus was there. Why should He say it, unless both were true. But did He therefore come to the marriage to teach men to despise their mother?

CHRYS. That He greatly venerated His mother, we know from St. Luke, who tells us that He was subject unto His parents. For where parents throw no obstacle in the way of God"s commands, it is our duty to be subject to them; but when they demand any thing at an unseasonable time, or cut us off from spiritual things, we should not be deceived into compliance.

AUG. To mark a distinction between His Godhead and manhood, that according to His manhood He was inferior and subject, but according to His Godhead supreme, He said, Woman, what have I to do with you?

CHRYS. And for another reason, viz. to prevent any suspicion attaching to His miracles: for these it was proper should be asked for by those who wanted them, not by His mother. He wished to show them that He would perform all in their proper time, not all at once, to prevent confusion; for He said, Mine hour is not yet come; i.e. I am not yet known to the persons present; nay, they know not that the wine has failed; let them find out that first; he who perceives not his want beforehand, will not perceive when his want is supplied.

AUG. Or it was because our Lord as God had not a mother, though as man He had, and the miracle He was about to work was the act of His Divinity, not of human infirmity. When therefore His mother demanded a miracle, He, as though not acknowledging a human birth, when about to perform a divine work, said, Woman, what have I to do with you? As if He said, You did not beget that in Me, which works the miracle, My Divinity. (She is called woman, with reference to the female sex, not to any injury of her virginity.) But because you brought forth My infirmity, I will acknowledge you then, when that very infirmity shall hang on the cross. And therefore He adds, Mine hour is not yet come: as if to say, I will acknowledge you when the infirmity, of which you are the mother, shall hang from the cross. He commended His mother to the disciple, when about to die, and to rise again, before her death. But note; just as the Manicheans have found an occasion of error and pretext for their faithlessness in our Lord"s word, What have I to do with you? in the same way the astrologers support theirs from the words, Mine hour is not yet come. For, say they, if Christ had not been under the power of fate, He would never have said this. But let them believe what hat God says below, I have power to lay it (my life) down, and I have power to take it again: and then let them ask, why He says, Mine hour is not yet come: nor let them on such a ground subject the Creator of heaven to fate; seeing that, even were there a fatality in the stars, the Maker of the stars could not be under the dominion of the stars. And not only had Christ nothing to do with fate, as you call it; but neither have you, or any other man. Wherefore said He then, Mine hour is not yet come? Because He had the power to die when He pleased, but did not think it expedient yet to exert the power He was to call the disciples; to proclaim the Kingdom of heaven, to do marvelous works, to approve His divinity by miracles, His humility by partaking of the sufferings of our mortal state. And when He had done all, then the hour was come, not of destiny, but of will, not of obligation, but of power.


Verses 5-11

His mother said to the servants, Whatsoever he says to you, do it. 6. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. 7. Jesus said to them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. 8. And he said to them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bore it. 9. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,10. And said to him, Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but you have kept the good wine until now. 11. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

CHRYS. Although He had said, Mine hour is not yet come, He afterwards did what His mother told Him, in order to show plainly, that He was not under subjection to the hour. For if He was, how could He have done this miracle before the hour appointed for it? In the next place, He wished to show honor to His mother, and make it appear that He did not go counter to her eventually. He would not put her to shame in the presence of so many; especially as she had sent the servants to Him, that the petition might come from a number, and not from herself only; His mother said to the servants, Whatsoever He says to you, do it.

BEDE As if she said, Though He appear to refuse, He will do it nevertheless. She knew His pity and mercifulness. And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Hydriae are vessels to hold water: hydor being the Greek for water.

ALCUIN. Vessels to hold water were there, after the manner of the purifying of Jews. Among other traditions of the Pharisees, they observed frequent washings

CHRYS Palestine being a dry country, with few fountains or wells, they used to fill waterpots with water, to prevent the necessity of going to the river, if they were unclean, and to have materials for washing at hand. To prevent any unbeliever from suspecting that a very thin wine was made by the dregs having been left in the vessels, and water poured in upon them, He says expressly, According to the manner of the purifying of the Jews: which shows that those vessels were never used to hold wine.

AUG. A firkin is a certain measure; as urn, amphora, and the like. Metron is the Greek for measure: whence metreta. Two or three, is not to be taken to mean some holding two, others three, but the same vessels holding two or three. Jesus said to them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

CHRYS. But why did He not perform the miracle before they had filled the waterpots, which would have been much more wonderful; inasmuch as it is one thing to change the quality of some existing substance, another to make it that substance out of nothing? The latter miracle would be the more wonderful, but the former would be the more easy of belief.

And this principle often acts as a check, to moderate the greatness of our Lord"s miracles: He wishes to make them more credible, therefore He makes them less marvelous; a refutation this of the perverse doctrine of some, that He was a different Being from the Maker of the world. For we see He performs most of His miracles upon subject-matter already existing, whereas were He contrary to the Creator of the world, He would not use a material thus alien, to demonstrate His own power.

He did not draw out the water Himself which He made wine, but ordered the servants to do so. This was for the sake of having witnesses of the miracle; And He said to them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast.

ALCUIN. The Triclinium is a circle of three couches, cline signifying couch: the ancients used to recline upon couches. And the Architriclinus is the one at the head of the Triclinium, i.e. the chief of the guests. Some say that among the Jews, He was a priest, and attended the marriage in order to instruct in the duties of the married state.

CHRYS Or thus; It might be said that the guests were drunken, and could not, in the confusion of their senses, tell whether it were water or wine. But this objection could not be brought against the attendants, who must have been sober, being occupied wholly in performing the duties of their service gracefully and in order. Our Lord therefore bid the attendants bear to the governor of the feast; who again would of course be perfectly sober. He did not say, Give to the guests to drink.

HILARY Water is poured into the waterpots; wine is drawn out into the chalices; the senses of the drawer out agree not with the knowledge of the pourer in. The pourer in thinks that water is drawn out; the drawer out thinks that wine was poured in. When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants who drew the water knew,) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom. It was not a mixture, but a creation: the simple nature of water vanished, and the flavor of wine was produced; not that a weak dilution was obtained, by means of some strong infusion, but that which was, was annihilated; and that which was not, came to be.

CHRYS. Our Lord wished the power of His miracles to be seen gradually; and therefore He did not reveal what He had done Himself, nor did the ruler of the feast call upon the servants to do so; (for no credit would have been given to such testimony concerning a mere man, as our Lord was supposed to be,) but He called the bridegroom, who was best able to see what was done. Christ moreover did not only make wine, but the best wine. And (the ruler of the feast) said to him, Every man at the beginning does set forth good wine, and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse; but you have kept the good wine until now. The effects of the miracles of Christ are more beautiful and better than the productions of nature. So then that the water was made wine, the servants could testify; that it was made good wine, the ruler of the feast and the bridegroom.

It is probable that the bridegroom made some answer; but the Evangelist omits it, only mentioning what it was necessary for us to know, viz. the water being made wine. He adds, This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee. It was very necessary to work miracles just then, when His devoted disciples were all collected, and present at the place, attending to what was going on.

ID. Should any say that there is not sufficient proof of this being the beginning of miracles, because it is added, in Cana of Galilee, as if some had been preferred elsewhere: we answer, as we did before, that John says below, That He might be made manifest to Israel, therefore have I come baptizing. Now if He had performed miracles in the earlier part of His life, the Jews would not have wanted another person to point Him out. If our Lord in a short time became so distinguished for the number of His miracles, that His Name was known to every one, would He not have been much more so, had He worked miracles from His earliest years? for the things themselves would have been the more extraordinary, being performed by a Child, and in so long a time must have become notorious. It was fit and proper however that He should not begin to work miracles at so early an age: for men would have thought the Incarnation a fantasy, and in the extremity of envy would have delivered Him to be crucified before the appointed time.

AUG. This miracle of our Lord"s, turning the water into wine, is no miracle to those who know that God worked it. For the Same that day made wine in the waterpots, Who every year makes wine in the vine: only the latter is no longer wonderful, because it happens uniformly. And therefore it is that God keeps some extraordinary acts in store for certain occasions, to rouse men out of their lethargy, and make them worship Him. Thus it follows, He manifested forth His glory.

ALCUIN. He was the King of glory, and changed the elements because He was their Lord.

CHRYS. He manifests His glory, as far as related to His own act; and if at the time many knew it not, yet was it afterwards to be heard and known of all. And His disciples believed in Him. It was probable that these would believe more readily, and give more attention to what went on.

AUG. If now for the first time they believed on Him, they were not His disciples when they came to the marriage. This however is a form of speech, such as saying that the Apostle Paul was born in Tarsus of Cilicia; not meaning by this that he was an Apostle then. In the same way when we hear of Christ"s disciples being invited to the marriage, we should understand not disciples already, but who were to be disciples.

AUG. But see the mysteries which lie hid in that miracle of our Lord. It was necessary that all things should be fulfilled in Christ which were written of Him: those Scriptures were the water. He made the water wine when He opened to them the meaning of these things, and expounded the Scriptures; for thus that came to have a taste which before had none, and that inebriated, which did not inebriate before.

BEDE At the time of our Lord"s appearing in the flesh, the sweet vinous taste of the law had been weakened by the carnal interpretations of the Pharisees.

AUG. Now if He ordered the water to be poured out, and then introduced the wine from the hidden recesses of creation, He would seem to have rejected the Old Testament. But converting, as He did, the water into wine, He showed us that the Old Testament was from Himself; for it was as by His order that the waterpots were filled. But those Scriptures have no meaning, if Christ be not understood there. Now we know from what time the law dates, viz. from the foundation of the world. From that time to this are six ages; the first reckoning from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abraham; the third, from Abraham to David; the fourth, from David to the carrying away into Babylon; the fifth, from that time to John the Baptist; the sixth, from John the Baptist to the end of the world. The six waterpots then denote these six ages of prophecy. The prophecies are fulfilled; the waterpots are full. But what is the meaning of their holding two or three firkins apiece? Had He said three only, our minds would have run immediately to the mystery of the Trinity. Nor perhaps can we reject it, even though it is said, two or three: for the Father and the Son being named, the Holy Ghost may be understood by consequence; inasmuch as it is the love between the Father and the Son, which is the Holy Ghost. Nor should we pass over another interpretation, which makes the two firkins alluded to the two races of men, the Jews and the Greeks; and the three to the three sons of Noah.

ALCUIN. The servants are the doctors of the New Testament, who interpret the holy Scripture to others spiritually; the ruler of the feast is some lawyer, as Nicodemus, Gamaliel, or Saul. When to the former then is committed the word of the Gospel, hid under the letter of the law, it is the water made wine, being set before the ruler of the feast. And the three rows of guests at table in the house of the marriage are properly mentioned; the Church consisting of three orders of believers, the married, the continent, and the doctors. Christ has kept the good wine until now, i.e. He has deferred the Gospel till this, the sixth age.


Verse 12-13

After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days. 13. And the Jews" passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

CHRYS. Our Lord being about shortly to go up to Jerusalem, proceeded to Capernaum, that He might not take His mother and brethren every where about with Him: After this he went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples, and they continued there not many days.

AUG. The Lord our God is He, high, that He might create us; low, that He might create us anew; walking among men, suffering what was human, hiding what was divine. So He has a mother, has brethren, has disciple: whence He has a mother, thence has He brethren. Scripture frequently gives the name of brethren, not to those only who are born of the same womb, or the same father, but to those of the same generation, cousins by the father"s or mother"s side. Those who are unacquainted with this were of speaking, ask, Whence has our Lord brothers? Did Mary bring forth again? That could not be: with her commenced the dignity of the virgin state. Abraham was uncle of Lot, and Jacob was nephew to Laban the Syrian. Yet Abraham and Lot are called brethren; and likewise Jacob and Laban.

ALCUIN. Our Lord"s brethren are the relations of Mary and Joseph, not the sons of Mary and Joseph. For not only the blessed Virgin, but Joseph also, the witness of her chastity, abstained from all conjugal intercourse.

AUG. And His disciples; it is uncertain whether Peter and Andrew and the sons of Zebedee, were of their number or not at this time. For Matthew first relates that out Lord came and dwelt at Capernaum, and afterwards that He called those disciples from their boats, as they were fishing. Is Matthew perhaps supplying what he had omitted? For without any mention that it was at a subsequent time, he says, Jesus walking by sea of Galilee saw two brethren. Or is it better to suppose that these were other disciples? For the writings of the Evangelists and Apostles, call not the twelve only, but all who believing in God were prepared for the kingdom of heaven by our Lord"s teaching, disciples. How is it too that our Lord"s journey to Galilee is placed here before John the Baptist"s imprisonment, when Matthew says, Now when Jesus had heard that John was as cast into prison, he departed into Galilee: and Mark the same? Luke too, though he says nothing of John"s imprisonment, yet places Christ"s visit to Galilee after His temptation and baptism, as the two former do. We should understand then that the three Evangelists are not opposed to John, but pass over our Lord"s first coming into Galilee after his baptism; at which time it was that He converted the water into wine.

EUSEB. When copies of the three Gospels had come to the Evangelist John, he is reported, while he confirmed their fidelity and correctness, to have at the same time noticed some omissions, especially at the opening of our Lord"s ministry. Certain it is that the first three Gospels seem only to contain the events of the year in which John the Baptist was imprisoned, and put to death. And therefore John, it is said, was asked to write down those acts of our Savior"s before the apprehension of the Baptist, which the former Evangelists had passed over. Any one then, by attending, will find that the Gospels do not disagree, but that John is relating the events of a different date, from that which the others refer to.

CHRYS. He did not perform any miracle at Capernaum, the inhabitants of which city were in a very corrupt state, and not well disposed to Him; He went there however, and stayed some time out of respect to His mother.

BEDE He did not stay many days there, on account of the Passover, which was approaching: And the Jews" passover was at hand.

ORIGEN But what need of saying, of the Jews, when no other nation had the rite of the Passover? Perhaps" because there are two sorts of Passover, one human, which is celebrated in a way very different from the design of Scripture; another the true and Divine, which is kept in spirit and in truth. To distinguish it then from the Divine, it is said, of the Jews.

ALCUIN. And He went up to Jerusalem. The Gospels mention two journeys of our Lord to Jerusalem, one in the first year of His preaching, before John was sent to prison, which is the journey now spoken of; the other in the year of His Passion. Our Lord has set us here an example of careful obedience to the Divine commands. For if the Son of God fulfilled the injunctions of His own law, by keeping the festivals, like the rest, with what holy zeal should we servants prepare for and celebrate them?

ORIGEN In a mystical sense, it was meet that after the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the banquet and wine, our Lord should take His mother, brethren, and disciples to the land of consolation (as Capernaum signifies ) to console, by the fruits that were to spring up and by abundance of fields, those who received His discipline, and the mind which had conceived Him by the Holy Ghost; and who were there to be holpen. For some there are bearing fruit, to whom our Lord Himself comes down with the ministers of His word and disciples, helping such, His mother being present. Those however who are called to Capernaum, do not seem capable of His presence long: that is, a land which admits lower consolation, is not able to take in the enlightenment from many doctrines; being capable to receive few only.

ALCUIN. Or Capernaum, we may interpret "a most beautiful village," and so it signifies the world, to which the Word of the Father came down.

BEDE But He continued there only a few days, because he lived with men in this world only a short time.

ORIGEN Jerusalem, as our Savior Himself said, is the city of the great King, into which none of those who remain on earth ascend, or enter. Only the soul which has a certain natural loftiness, and clear insight into things invisible, is the inhabitant of that city. Jesus alone goes up thither. But His disciples seem to have been present afterwards. The zeal of Your house has eaten me up. But it is as though in every one of the disciples who went up, it was Jesus who went up.


Verses 14-17

And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:15. And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers" money, and overthrew the tables;16. And said to them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father"s house a house of merchandise. 17. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of your house has eaten me up.

BEDE Our Lord on coming to Jerusalem, immediately entered the temple to pray; giving us an example that, wheresoever we go, our first visit should be to the house of God to pray. And He found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting.

AUG. Such sacrifices were prescribed to the people, in condescension to their carnal minds; to prevent them from turning aside to idols. They sacrificed sheep, and oxen, and doves.

BEDE Those however, who came from a distance, being unable to bring with them the animals required for sacrifice, brought the money instead. For their convenience the Scribes and Pharisees ordered animals to be sold in the temple, in order that, when the people had bought and offered them afterwards, they might sell them again, and thus make great profits. And changers of money sitting; changers of money sat at the table to supply change to buyers and sellers. But our Lord disapproving of any worldly business in His house, especially one of so questionable a kind, drove out all engaged in it.

AUG. He who was to be scourged by them, was first of all the scourger; and when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple.

THEOPEHYL. Nor did He cast out only those who bought and sold, but their goods also: The sheep, and the oxen and poured out the changers" money, and overthrew the tables, i.e. of the money changers, which were coffers of pence.

ORIGEN Should it appear something out of the order of things, that the Son of God should make a scourge of small cords, to drive them out of the temple? We have one answer in which some take refuge, viz. the divine power of Jesus, Who, when He pleased, could extinguish the wrath of His enemies however innumerable, and quiet the tumult of their minds: The Lord brings the counsel of the heathen to nought. This act indeed exhibits no less power, than His more positive miracles; nay rather, more than the miracle by which water was converted into wine: in that there the subject-matter was inanimate, here, the minds of so many thousands of men are overcome.

AUG. It is evident that this was done on two several occasions; the first mentioned by John, the last by the other three.ORIGEN John says here that He drove out the sellers from the temple; Matthew, the sellers and buyers. The number of buyers was much greater than of the sellers: and therefore to drive them out was beyond the power of the carpenter"s Son, as He was supposed to be, had He not by His divine power put all things under Him, as it is said.

BEDE The Evangelist sets before us both natures of Christ: the human in that His mother accompanied Him to Capernaum; the divine, in that He said, Make not My Father"s house an house of merchandise

CHRYS. Lo, He speaks of God as His Father, and they are not angry, for they think He means it in a common sense. But afterwards when He spoke more openly, and showed that He meant equality, they were enraged. In Matthew"s account too, on driving them out, He says, You have made it (My Father"s house) a den of thieves. This was just: before His Passion, and therefore He uses severer language. But the former being at the beginning of His miracles, His answer is milder and more indulgent.

AUG. So that temple was still a figure only, and our Lord cast out of it all who came to it as a market. And what did they sell? Things that were necessary for the sacrifice of that time. What if He had found men drunken? If the house of God ought not to be a house of merchandise, ought it to be a house of drunkenness?

CHRYS. But why did Christ use such violence? He was about to heal on the Sabbath day, and to do many things which appeared to them transgressions of the Law. That He might not appear therefore to be acting contrary to God, He did this at His own peril; and thus gave them to understand, that He who exposed Himself to such peril to defend the decency of the house, did not despise the Lord of that house. For the same reason, to show His agreement with God, He said not, the Holy house, but, My Father"s house. It follows, And His disciples remembered what was written; The zeal of your house has eaten me up.

BEDE His disciples seeing this most fervent zeal in Him, remembered that it was from zeal for His Father"s house that our Savior drove the ungodly from the temple.

ALCUIN. Zeal, taken in a good sense, is a certain fervor of the Spirit, by which the mind, all human fears forgotten, is stirred up to the defense of the truth.

AUG. He then is eaten up with zeal for God"s house, who desires to correct all that he sees wrong there; and, if he cannot correct, endures and mourns. In your house you busy yourself to prevent matters going wrong; in the house of God, where salvation is offered, ought you to be indifferent? Have you a friend? admonish him gently; a wife? coerce her severely; a maid-servant? even compel her with stripes. Do what you are able, according to your station.

ALCUIN. To take the passage mystically, God enters His Church spiritually every day, and marks each one"s behavior there. Let us be careful then, when we are in God"s Church, that we indulge not in stories, or jokes, or hatreds, or lusts, lest on a sudden He come and scourge us, and drive us out of His Church.

ORIGEN It is possible even for the dweller in Jerusalem to incur guilt, and even the most richly endowed may stray. And unless these repent speedily, they lose the capacity wherewith they were endued. He finds them in the temple, i.e. in sacred places, or in the office of enunciating the Church"s truths, some who make His Father"s house an house of merchandise; i.e. who expose to sale the oxen whom they ought to reserve for the plough, lest by turning back they should become unfit for the kingdom of God: also who prefer the unrighteous mammon to the sheep, from which they have the material of ornament; also who for miserable gain abandon the watchful care of them who are called metaphorically doves, without all gall or bitterness. Our Savior finding these in the holy house, makes a scourge of small cords, and drives them out, together with the sheep and oxen exposed for sale, scatters the heaps of money, as unbeseeming in the house of God, and overthrows the tables set up in the minds of the covetous, forbidding them to sell doves in the house of God any longer. I think too that He meant the above, as a mystical intimation that whatsoever was to be performed with regard to that sacred oblation by the priests, was not to be performed after the manner of material oblations, and that the law was not to be observed as the carnal Jews wished. For our Lord, by driving away the sheep and oxen, and ordering away the doves, which were the most common offerings among the Jews, and by overthrowing the tables of material coins, which in a figure only, not in truth, bore the Divine stamp, (i.e. what according to the letter of the law seemed good,) and when with His own hand He scourged the people, He as much as declared that the dispensation was to be broken up and destroyed, and the kingdom translated to the believing from among the Gentiles.

AUG. Or, those who sell in the Church, are those who seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. They who will not be bought, think they may sell earthly things. Thus Simon wished to buy the Spirit, that he might sell Him: for he was one of those who sell doves. (The Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove.) The dove however is not sold, but is given of free grace; for it is called grace.

BEDE They then are the sellers of doves, who, after receiving the free grace of the Holy Spirit, do not dispense it freely , as they are commanded, but at a price: who confer the laying on of hands, by which the Holy Spirit is received, if not for money, at least for the sake of getting favor with the people, who bestow Holy Orders not according to merit, but favor.

AUG. By the oxen may be understood the Apostles and Prophets, who have dispensed to us the holy Scriptures. Those who by these very Scriptures deceive the people, from whom they seek honor, sell the oxen; and they sell the sheep too, i.e. the people themselves; and to whom do they sell them, but to the devil? For that which is cut off from the one Church, who takes away, except the roaring lion, who goes about every where, and seeks whom he may devour?

BEDE Or, the sheep are works of purity and piety, and they sell the sheep, who do works of piety to gain the praise of men. They exchange money in the temple, who, in the Church, openly devote themselves to secular business. And besides those who seek for money, or praise, or honor from Holy Orders, those too make the Lord"s house a house of merchandise, who do not employ the rank, or spiritual grace, which they have received in the Church at the Lord"s hands, with singleness of mind, but with an eye to human recompense.

AUG. Our Lord intended a meaning to be seen in His making a scourge of small cords, and then scourging those who were carrying on the merchandise in the temple. Every one by his sins twists for himself a cord, in that he goes on adding sin to sin. So then when men suffer for their iniquities, let them be sure that it is the Lord making a scourge of small cords, and admonishing them to change their lives: which if they fail to do, they will hear at the last, Bind him hand and foot.

BEDE With a scourge then made of small cords, He cast them out of the temple; for from the part and lot of the saints are cast out all, who, thrown externally among the Saints, do good works hypocritically, or bad openly. The sheep and the oxen too He cast out, to show that the life and the doctrine of such were alike reprobate. And He overthrew the change heaps of the money-changers and their tables, as a sign that, at the final condemnation of the wicked, He will take away the form even of those things which they loved. The sale of doves He ordered to be removed out of the temple, because the grace of the Spirit, being freely received, should be freely given.

ORIGEN By the temple we may understand too the soul wherein the Word of God dwells; in which, before the teaching of Christ, earthly and bestial affections had prevailed. The ox being the tiller of the soil, is the symbol of earthly affections: the sheep, being the most irrational of all animals, of dull ones; the dove is the type of light and volatile thoughts; and money, of earthly good things; which money Christ cast out by the Word of His doctrine, that His Father"s house might be no longer a market.


Verses 18-22

Then answered the Jews and said to him, What sign show you to us, seeing that you do these things?19. Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. 20. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will you rear it up in three days?21. But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this to them: and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

THEOPHYL. The Jews seeing Jesus thus acting with power, and having heard Him say, Make not My Father"s house a house of merchandise, ask of Him a sign; Then answered the Jews and said to Him, What sign show You to us, seeing that You do these things?

CHRYS. But were signs necessary for His putting a stop to evil practices? Was not the having such zeal for the house of God, the greatest sign of His virtue? They did not however remember the prophecy, but asked for a sign; at once irritated at the loss of their base gains, and wishing to prevent Him from going further. For this dilemma, they thought, would oblige Him either to work miracles, or give up His present course.

But He refuses to give them the sign, as He did on a like occasion, when He answers, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet; only the answer is more open there than here. He however who even anticipated men"s wishes, and gave signs when He was not asked, would not have rejected here a positive request, had He not seen a crafty design in it. As it was, Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

BEDE For inasmuch as they sought a sign from our Lord of His right to eject the customary merchandise from the temple, He replied, that that temple signified the temple of His Body, in which was no spot of sin; as if He said, As by My power I purify your inanimate temple from your merchandise and wickedness; so the temple of My Body, of which that is the figure, destroyed by your hands, on the third day I will raise again.

THEOPHYL. He does not however provoke them to commit murder, by saying, Destroy; but only shows that their intentions were not hidden from Him. Let the Arians observe how our Lord, as the destroyer of death, says, I will raise it up; that is to say, by My own power.

AUG. The Father also raised Him up again; to Whom He says, Raise You me up, and I shall reward them. But what did the Father do without the Word? As then the Father raised Him up, so did the Son also: even as He said below, I and My Father are one.

CHRYS. But why does He give them the sign of His resurrection? Because this was the greatest proof that He was not a mere man; showing, as it did, that He could triumph over death, and in a moment overthrow its long tyranny.

ORIGEN. Both those, i.e. both the Body of Jesus and the temple, seem to me to be a type of the Church, which with lively stones is built up into a spiritual house, into an holy priesthood; according to St. Paul, You are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And though the structure of stones seem to be broken up, and all the bones of Christ scattered by adversities and tribulations, yet shall the temple be restored, and raised up again in three days, and established in the new heaven and the new earth. For as that sensible body of Christ was crucified and buried, and afterward rose again; so the whole body of Christ"s saints was crucified with Christ, (each glorying in that cross, by which He Himself too was crucified to the world,) and, after being buried with Christ, has also risen with Him, walking in newness of life. Yet have we not risen yet in the power of the blessed resurrection, which is still going on, and is yet to be completed. Whence it is not said, On the third day I will build it up, but, in three days; for the erection is being in process throughout the whole of the three days.

THEOPHYL. The Jews, supposing that He spoke of the material temple, scoffed: Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will You rear it up in three days?

ALCUIN. Note, that they allude here not to the first temple under Solomon, which was finished in seven years, but to the one rebuilt under Zorobabel. This was forty-six years building, in consequence of the hindrance raised by the enemies of the work.

ORIGEN. Or some will reckon perhaps the forty and six years from the time that David consulted Nathan the Prophet on the building of the temple. David from that time was busy in collecting materials. But perhaps the number forty may with reference to the four corners of the temple allude to the four elements of the world, and the number six, to the creation of man on the sixth day.

AUG. Or it may be that this number fits in with the perfection of the Lord"s Body. For six times forty-six are two hundred and seventy-six days, which make up nine months and six days, the time that our Lord"s Body was forming in the womb; as we know by authoritative traditions handed down from our fathers, and preserved by the Church. He was, according to general belief, conceived on the eighth of the Kalends of April, the one which He suffered, and born on the eighth of the Kalends of January. The intervening time contains two hundred and seventy-six days, i.e. six multiplied by forty.

AUG. The process of human conception is said to be this. The first six days produce a substance like milk, which in the following nine is converted into blood; in twelve more is consolidated, in eighteen more is formed into a perfect set of limbs, the growth and enlargement of which fills up the rest of the time till the birth. For six, and nine, and twelve, and eighteen, added together are forty-five, and with the addition of one (which stands for the summing up, all these numbers being collected into one) forty-six. This multiplied by the number six, which stands at the head of this calculation, makes two hundred and seventy-six, i.e. nine months a and six days. It is no unmeaning information then that the temple was forty and six years building; for the temple prefigured His Body, and as many years as the temple was in building, so many days was the Lord"s Body in forming.

AUG. Or thus, if you take the four Greek words, anatole, the east; dysis, the west; arctos, the north; and mesembria, the south; the first letters of these words make Adam. And our Lord says that He will gather together His saints from the four winds, when He comes to judgment. Now these letters of the word Adam, make up, according to Greek figuring, the number of the years during which the temple was building. For in Adam we have alpha, one; delta, four; alpha again, one; and forty; making up together forty-six. The temple then signifies the body derived from Adam; which body our Lord did not take in its sinful state, but renewed it, in that after the Jews had destroyed it, He raised it again the third day. The Jews however, being carnal, understood carnally; He spoke spiritually. He tells us, by the Evangelist, what temple He means; But He spoke of the temple of His Body.

THEOPHYL. From this Apollinarius draws an heretical inference: and attempts to show that Christ"s flesh was inanimate, because the temple was inanimate. In this way you will prove the flesh of Christ to be wood and stone, because the temple is composed of these materials. Now if you refuse to allow what is said, Now is My soul troubled; and, I have power to lay it (My life) down, to be said of the rational soul, still how will you interpret, Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend My spirit? you cannot understand this of an irrational soul: or again, the passage, You shall not leave My soul in hell.

ORIGEN. Our Lord"s Body is called the temple, because as the temple contained the glory of God dwelling therein, so the Body of Christ, which represents the Church, contains the Only-Begotten, Who is the image and glory of God.

CHRYS. Two things there were in the mean time very far removed from the comprehension of the disciples: one, the resurrection of our Lord"s Body: the other, and the greater mystery, that it was God who dwelt in that Body: as our Lord declares by saying, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

And thus it follows, When therefore He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them: and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

ALCUIN. For before the resurrection they did not understand the Scriptures, because they had not yet received the Holy Ghost, Who was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. But on the day of the resurrection our Lord appeared and opened their meaning to His disciples; that they might understand what was said of Him in the Law and the Prophets. And then they believed the prediction of the Prophets that Christ would rise the third day, and the word which Jesus had spoken to them: Destroy this temple, &c.

ORIGEN. But (in the mystical interpretation) we shall attain to the full measure of faith, at the great resurrection of the whole body of Jesus, i.e. His Church; inasmuch as the faith which is from sight, is very different from that which sees as through a glass darkly.


Verses 23-25

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, on the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. 24. But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men. 25. And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

BEDE. The Evangelist has related above what our Lord did on his way to Jerusalem; now He relates how others were affected towards Him at Jerusalem; Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in His Name, when they saw the miracles which He did.

ORIGEN. But how was it that many believed in Him from seeing His miracles? for he seems to have performed not supernatural works at Jerusalem, except we suppose Scripture to have passed them over. May not however the act of His making a scourge of small cords, and driving all out of the temple, be reckoned a miracle?CHRYS Those had been wiser disciples, however, who were brought to Christ not by His miracles, but by His doctrine. For it is the duller sort who are attracted by miracles; the more rational are convinced by prophecy, or doctrine. And therefore it follows, But Jesus did not commit Himself to them.

AUG. What means this, Many believed in His Name but Jesus did not commit Himself to them? Was it that they did not believe in Him, but only pretended that they did? In that case the Evangelist would not have said, Many believed in His Name. Wonderful this, and strange, that men should trust Christ, and Christ trusts not Himself to men; especially considering that He was the Son of God, and suffered voluntarily, or else need not have suffered at all. Yet such are all catechumens. If we say to a catechumen, Believe you in Christ? he answers, I do believe, and crosses himself. If we ask him, Do you eat the flesh of the Son of man? he knows not what we say for Jesus has not committed Himself to him.

ORIGEN. Or, it was those who believed in His Name, not in Him, to whom Jesus would not commit Himself. They believe in Him, who follow the narrow way which leads to life; they believe in His Name, who only believe the miracles.

CHRYS. Or it means that He did not place confidence in them, as perfect disciples, and did not, as if they were brethren of confirmed faith, commit to them all His doctrines, for He did not attend to their outward words, but entered into their hearts, and well knew how short-lived was their zeal. Because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. To know what is in man"s heart, is in the power of God alone, who fashioned the heart. He does not want witnesses, to inform Him of that mind, which was of His own fashioning.

AUG. The Maker knew better what was in His own work, than the work knew what was in itself. Peter knew not what was in himself when he said, I will go with You to death; but our Lord"s answer showed that He knew what was in man; Before the cock crow, you shall thrice deny Me.

BEDE. An admonition to us not to be confident of ourselves, but ever anxious and mistrustful; knowing that what escapes our own knowledge, cannot escape the eternal Judge.

 


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Bibliography Information
Aquinas, Thomas. "Commentary on John 2:4". "Golden Chain Commentary on the Gospel". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gcc/john-2.html.

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Sunday, June 16th, 2019
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