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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
John 2

 

 

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Verse 1

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

The time of this section is clearly expressed in the opening verse; and here, again, let the reader note the chronological precision of this Gospel.

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee. It would take two days to travel from the Judean valley of the Jordan, where He parted with John-never to meet again, so far as we are informed-to Cana; and this marriage-day was the day following, or the third. It is not called Cana in Galilee to distinguish it, as Eusebius and Jerome thought, from Kaneh in the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28), for that also would be reckoned to Galilee, according to the New Testament division of the country-but merely to note its geographical locality, and to let the reader know that Jesus had now returned to His own region, which He left in order to be baptized of John in Jordan. No remains of the village of Cana now exist; but the most probable site of it was a spot about three hours northward of Nazareth. Nathanael belonged to this village (John 21:2).

And the mother of Jesus was there - whether as a relative or as an intimate acquaintance we have no means of knowing. Our Evangelist, it will be observed, never names the Virgin, but styles her "the mother of Jesus," from that reverence, probably, with which he had learnt to look up to her, especially since he "took her to his own home."


Verse 2

And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage - by special invitation, probably, at the instance of Jesus' mother.


Verse 3

And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

And when they wanted wine , [ hustereesantos (Greek #5302) oinou (Greek #3631)] - 'the wine having failed;' perhaps, as Bengel suggests, from more being present than had been arranged for,

The mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine - evidently expecting some display of His glory, and hinting that now was His time. Not that she had witnessed any displays of His miraculous power before this at home, as Calvin thinks. The Evangelist, indeed, by calling this the "beginning of His miracles" (John 2:11), seems to say the reverse; nor can we suppose He would make such needless displays before the time. But she had gathered probably enough from Him regarding the miraculous credentials which He was to furnish of His divine commission, to infer that He would on this occasion make a beginning; and with a natural impatience for the revelation to others of what she knew Him to be, and a certain womanly eagerness-mixed possibly with feelings of a less commendable kind-she brings the state of matters before Him.


Verse 4

Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

Jesus saith unto her, Woman , [ gunai (Greek #1135)] - no term of disrespect in the language of that day. (See John 19:26; John 20:13.)

What have I to do with thee? [ Ti (Greek #5100) emoi (Greek #1698) kai (Greek #2532) soi (Greek #4671)? = maah (Hebrew #4100) liy (Hebrew #3807) waalaak (Hebrew #3212)?]. If such passages as Joshua 22:24; Judges 11:12; 2 Samuel 16:10, be compared with Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 8:28, it will be seen that this, in the current language of the Old and New Testament, is the strongest expression of no-connection between the party speaking and the party spoken of. Here, it is an intimation on the part of Jesus to His mother that in thus officiously interfering with Him she was entering a region from which all creatures were excluded. A gentle, yet decided rebuke. (See Acts 4:19-20.)

Mine hour is not yet come - a hint that He would, nevertheless, do something, but at His own time; and so she understood it, as the next verse shows.


Verse 5

His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.


Verse 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.

And [or, 'Now' de (G1161)] there were set there six water-pots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. The "firkin" here mentioned [ metreetees (Greek #3355)], when it stands for the Jewish "bath," is a measure containing about seven and a half gallons; in Attic measure it held nine and a half gallons. Each of these huge water-jars, then, must have held some 20 gallons; designed for "the purifying" of the Jews (see Mark 7:4).


Verse 7

Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

Jesus saith unto them, Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.


Verse 8

And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it. It will be observed that our Lord here directs everything, but Himself touches nothing: thus excluding all appearance or suspicion of collusion. Compare Elijah's methods on Carmel, 1 Kings 18:33-35.


Verse 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,

When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine - the total quantity being about a hundred gallons!

And knew not whence it was (but the servants which drew the water knew,) the governor - or, 'the ruler;' it is the same word as before [ architriklinos (Greek #755)],

Of the feast called - or 'calleth' [ foonei (Greek #5455)] "the bridegroom,"


Verse 10

And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth (or 'place,' that is, on his table, [`the']) good wine; and when men have well drunk , [ methusthoosin (Greek #3182) = yishk


Verse 11

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory. Nothing in the least like this is said of the miracles of either prophets or apostles, nor could be said without manifest blasphemy of any mere creature. Being said here, then, by our Evangelist of the very first miracle of Christ, it is as if he had said, 'This was but the first of a series of such manifestations of the glory of Christ.'

And his disciples believed on him - that is, were confirmed in the faith which they had reposed in Him before they had any miraculous attestation of what He was.


Verse 12

After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.

After this he went down to Capernaum - said to be "down" because it lay on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. See the note at Matthew 4:13.

He, and his mother, and his brethren. See the notes at Matthew 13:55-56. And his disciples - the five so recently gathered, and they continued there not many days - for the reason mentioned in the next verse, because the Passover was at hand.

Remarks:

(1) All sorts of attempts have been made to reduce this miracle to the level of something natural; some of them too ridiculous to be worth a moment's notice, except to show how desperate are the shifts to which those are driven who are not able to dispute the genuineness of the text, and yet are determined not to bow to the miraculous. Nor is that half-and-half theory of a mere acceleration in the ordinary processes of nature in the vintage-first suggested, in the honesty of his heart, by Augustine, and since defended by Olshausen-nor Neander's theory, that He merely intensified the powers of water so as to produce the same effects as wine, more worthy of acceptance as a satisfactory explanation of the miracle; which stands, and while the world lasts will stand, a glorious monument of the power of the Lord Jesus, and in a form which, as we shall presently see, is pregnant with the richest lessons.

(2) In this His first miracle Christ would show what He meant to be throughout His whole ministry-in entire contrast to the ascetic retirement which suited the legal position of John. "John came neither eating nor drinking" socially with others: "The Son of Man," says Christ Himself, "came eating and drinking" in that very sense.

(3) At a marriage Christ made His first public appearance in any company, and at a marriage He performed this His first miracle-the noblest sanction that could be given to that divinely appointed institution.

(4) As all the miracles of Christ were designed to hold forth the characteristic features of His mission-not only to redeem humanity from the effects of the Fall, but to raise it to a higher platform of existence even than at first-so in the present miracle we see this gloriously set forth. For as the miracle did not make bad good, but good better, so Christianity only redeems, sanctifies, and ennobles the beneficent but abused institution of marriage; and Christ's whole work only turns the water of earth into the wine of heaven. Thus "this beginning of miracles" exhibited the character and "manifested forth the glory" of His entire Mission.

(5) As Christ countenanced our seasons of festivity, so also that greater fullness which befits such; so far was He from encouraging that asceticism which has since been so often put for all religion.

(6) In what a light does this scene place the Romish views of the blessed Virgin! The doctrine of the 'immaculate conception of the Virgin'-in our day for the first time, even in the Church of Rome, erected into a dogma of the faith-is so outrageous a contradiction of Scriptural truth that none who can take it in are likely to be staggered by the teaching of this or any other portion of Scripture. But even those Romanists who in past times have stopped short of this, as the sober and excellent Maldonat, while admitting that there was hardly one of the fathers who did not acknowledge some fault, or error at least, in the Virgin on this occasion, endeavour to explain it away, and refuse to admit that there ever was anything faulty in her, and much less here. But the passage may well be left to speak for itself with all candid readers.

(7) Christ's presence is that which turns the water of this and all other social gatherings into wine.


Verse 13

And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,

And the Jews' Passover (as to which see the note at Mark 14:1), was at hand. Here begins our Evangelist's distinct mention of the successive Passovers which occurred during our Lord's public ministry, and which are our only sure materials for determining the duration of it. See more on this subject at John 5:1.

And Jesus went up to Jerusalem,


Verse 14

And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

And found in the temple , [ en (Greek #1722) too (Greek #3588) hieroo (Greek #2411)] - in the large sense of that word, for which see the note at Luke 2:27. Here it probably means the temple-court.

Those that sold oxen and sheep and doves - for the convenience of those who had to offer them in sacrifice. See Deuteronomy 14:24-26.

And the changers of money - of Roman into Jewish money, in which the temple dues, etc., had to be paid (see the note at Matthew 17:24).

Sitting:


Verse 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;

And when he had made a scourge , [ fragellion (Greek #5416) = flagellum] of small cords - likely some of the rushes spread for bedding, and when twisted used to tie up the cattle there collected. 'Not by this slender whip,' says Grotius admirably, 'but by divine majesty was the ejection accomplished, the whip being but a sign of the scourge of divine anger.'

He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen , [pantas ... ta (Greek #3588) te (Greek #5037) probata (Greek #4263) kai (Greek #2532) tous (Greek #3588) boas (Greek #1016)] - rather, 'drove out all, both the sheep and the oxen.' The men would naturally enough go with them. And poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables - expressing the mingled indignation and authority of the impulse.


Verse 16

And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.

And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise. How close is the resemblance of these remarkable words to those in Luke 2:49, "Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business!" or 'at my Father's' (see on that passage). Both express the same consciousness of intrinsic relation to the Temple, as the seat of His Father's most august worship, and so the symbol of all that is due to Him on earth. Only, when but a Youth with no authority, He was simply "a Son IN His own house;" now He was "a Son OVER His own house" (Hebrews 3:6), the proper Representative, and in flesh "the Heir," of His Father's rights. There was nothing wrong in the merchandise; but to bring it, for their own and others' convenience, into that most sacred place, was a high-handed profanation which the eye of Jesus could not endure.


Verse 17

And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

And his disciples remembered that it was written (Psalms 69:9), The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up - a glorious feature in the predicted character of the suffering Messiah, and rising high even in some not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoes. (See, for example, Exodus 32:19, etc.)


Verse 18

Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Though the act itself, and the words that accompanied it, when taken together, were sign enough, they are not convinced. Yet were they awed; insomuch that though at His very next appearance at Jerusalem they "sought to kill him" for speaking of "His Father" just as He did now (John 5:18), they, at this Jerusalem they "sought to kill him" for speaking of "His Father" just as He did now (John 5:18), they, at this early stage, only ask a sign.


Verse 19

Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple - not now the mere temple-court [ hieron (Greek #2411)], but the temple proper [ naos (Greek #3485)],

And in three days I will raise it up. See the notes at Mark 14:58-59.


Verse 20

Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building. From the 18th year of Herod, from which we are to date this building work of his, until this time, was just a period of 46 years (Josephus, Ant.

xv. 11. 1). The word [ oikodomeethee (Greek #3618)] is rightly rendered 'was in building,' by a special application of the tense-the same tense being similarly used by the Septuagint in Ezra 5:16, where the sense is manifestly the same as here.

And wilt thou rear it up in three days?


Verse 21

But he spake of the temple of his body.

But he spake of the temple of his body - in which was enshrined the glory of the eternal Word. (See the note at John 1:14.) By its resurrection the true Temple of God upon earth was reared up, of which the stone temple was but a shadow; so that the allusion, though to Himself, may be said to take in that temple of which He is the Foundation, and all believers are the "lively stones" (1 Peter 2:4-5).


Verse 22

When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the Scripture - that is, with an intelligent apprehension of what its testimony on this subject meant, which until then was hid from them.

And the word which Jesus had said. They believed it before, as they did the Scripture; but their faith in both was another thing after they came to understand it by seeing it verified.

Remarks:

(1) On the question, whether this purification of the temple is one and the same action with that recorded in the first three Gospels (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-19; Luke 19:45-48), see introductory remarks to Luke 19:45-48. But the points of difference between the two scenes may here be stated: First, The one took place at the very outset of our Lord's public ministry, and at His first visit to Jerusalem; the other at the very close of it, and at His last visit to Jerusalem. Second, At the former cleansing He used a whip of small cords in clearing the temple-court; at the latter cleansing we read of nothing of this sort. If, then, they were one and the same action, how is it that three Evangelists have recorded it without any mention of this part of it; while the mention of so special a procedure even by one Evangelist can only be explained by its having actually occurred? Third, At the first cleansing all that the Lord said was, "Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise." At the last cleansing His rebuke was withering - "It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of robbers" [ leestoon (Greek #3027)].

And it may be added, that on this second occasion He "would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple," which would hardly have been said, perhaps, of the first cleansing. Fourth, On the first occasion "the Jews," or members of the Sanhedrim (see the note at John 1:19), asked of our Lord a "sign" of His right to do such things; and it was then that He spake that saying about destroying the temple and rearing it up in three days which was adduced, though impotently, as evidence against Him on His trial before the Council; whereas nothing of this is recorded in any of the three accounts of the second cleansing. Indeed, the time for asking of Him signs of His authority was then over. Lastly, At the second cleansing "the chief priests and the scribes, and the chief of the people" - exasperated at His high-handed exposure of their temple-traffic, "sought how they might destroy Him," but could not find what they might do, "for all the people were astonished at His teaching" - all betokening that the crisis of our Lord's public life had arrived; whereas the first cleansing passed away with the simple demand for a sign, and our Lord's reply. However dissatisfied they may have been, the matter appears to have rested there, in the meantime-just as we might presume it would at so early a period in our Lord's ministry, when even many who were sincere enough might be unable to make up their minds, and the prejudices of others had not acquired depth and strength enough for any open opposition.

(2) Had this remarkable clearing of the temple-court not actually occurred, what inventor of a life that never was lived would have thought of such a thing? Or, if the idea itself should not have been so entirely beyond the range of probable conception, who would ever have thought of introducing the idea of the whip of small cords? Of all things, this at least, one should think, must have been real, else it could never have been written. But if this was real, the whole scene must have been so-the sanctity claimed for the temple-service and the desecration which kindled the jealousy of this Holy One of God, the Son for the honour of His Father's house; the demand for a sign, tacitly owning the actual exercise of resistless authority, with the remarkable reply, too special to have been penned except as having been uttered; and the darkness of the speech even to the disciples themselves until the resurrection of their Lord cleared it all up. No wonder that the bare reading of such a Narrative carries its own evidence in the minds of all the unprejudiced.

(3) In Christ's jealousy for the sanctity and honour of His Father's house-both when He came first to it, in His official character, and when He came to it for the last time-what a glorious commentary have we on those words of the last of the prophets: "The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fuller's soap: And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and 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" (Malachi 3:1-3). Thus was He revealed as "a Son over His own House," the Lord of the temple, the Refiner and Purifier of the Church, of all its assemblies, and of each of its worshippers.

Compare this: " Yahweh (Hebrew #3068) is in His holy temple; His eyes behold, His eyelids try, the children of men" (Psalms 11:4) - with this: "Unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith THE SON OF GOD, who hath His eyes as a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass; I know thy works ... and all the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works" (Revelation 2:18-19; Revelation 2:23). This whip of small cords was like the fan in His hand with which He purged His floor;" not "throughly" indeed, but sufficiently to foreshadow His last act toward that faithless people-sweeping them out of God's house. The sign which He gives of His authority to do this is a very remarkable one-the announcement, at this the very outset of His ministry, of that coming death by their hands and resurrection by His own, which were to pave the way for their judicial ejection. This, however, was uttered-as was fitting at so early a period-in language only to be fully understood, even by His disciples, after His resurrection.

(4) When Christ says He will Himself rear up the temple of His body, in three days after they had destroyed it, He makes a claim and uses language which would be manifest presumption in any creature-claiming absolute power over His own life. But on this important subject, see more at John 10:1; John 10:8.

The three last verses of the second chapter, and the first 21 verses of the third, form manifestly one subject, in two divisions; the former one brief, because unsatisfactory, the latter of too deep importance in itself and too pregnant with instruction for all, not to be given in full detail.


Verse 23

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.

Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast [day] , [ en (Greek #1722) tee (Greek #3588) heortee (Greek #1859)] - rather, 'during the feast,' which lasted seven days. What is now to be related is not the result of one day, but of the whole period of this festival. The cleansing of the Temple, recorded in the preceding verses, occurred probably before the feast began.

Many believed in his name - see the note at John 1:12. These converts, persuaded that His claims were well founded, reposed trust in Him in that sense, and to that extent "when they saw the miracles which he did."

When they saw the miracles which he did. What these were is not here recorded; nor can we get any light from the other Evangelists, as they speak of no pubic visit to Jerusalem but the last. It is singular that none of these miracles are recorded, since in the very opening of the next chapter Nicodemus refers to the immense force of conviction which they carried (John 3:2), and they are again referred to in John 4:45.


Verse 24

But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,

But Jesus , [ Autos (Greek #846) de (Greek #1161) ho (Greek #3588) Ieesous (Greek #2424)] - 'But Jesus Himself,' or 'Jesus, for His part,'

Did not commit (or 'trust') himself unto them , [ ouk (Greek #3756) episteuen (Greek #4100) auton (Greek #846) autois (Greek #846)]. Though they confided in Him, He did not confide in them, or let Himself down to them familiarly, as He did to His genuine disciples.

Because he knew all men. He saw through them, as He did through all men, and, perceiving the superficial character of the trust they reposed in Him, He reposed none in them.


Verse 25

And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

And needed not [`And because He needed not' Kai (G2532) hoti (G3754) ou (G3756) chreian (G5532) eichen (G2192)] that any should testify of man: for He knew , [ autos (Greek #846) gar (Greek #1063)]. The language is emphatic, as in the previous verse: 'For Himself knew'

What was in man - in other words, that all-penetrating perception of what was in man resided in Himself; the strongest possible expression of absolute knowledge of man, as in John 1:18 of God.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 2:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/john-2.html. 1871-8.

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Tuesday, September 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
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