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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
John 2



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Verse 1

The third day (τηι ημεραι τηι τριτηιtēi hēmerāi tēi tritēi). “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 εγενετοgamos egeneto). “A wedding (or marriage festival) took place.” See Matthew 22:8.

In Cana of Galilee
(εν Κανα της Γαλιλαιαςen Kana tēs Galilaias). 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
(και ην η μητηρ του Ιησου εκειkai ēn hē mētēr tou Iēsou ekei). 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 (εκλητη και ο Ιησουςeklēthē kai ho Iēsous). First aorist passive indicative of καλεωkaleō “was also invited” as well as his mother and because of her presence, possibly at her suggestion.

And his disciples (και οι ματηταιkai hoi mathētai). Included in the invitation and probably all of them acquaintances of the family. See note 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 οινουhusterēsantos oinou). Genitive absolute with first aorist active participle of υστερεωhustereō old verb from υστεροςhusteros 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 εχουσινOinon ouk echousin). 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 (γυναιgunai). Vocative case of γυνηgunē and with no idea of censure as is plain from its use by Jesus in John 19:26. But the use of γυναιgunai instead of μητερmēter (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? (Τι εμοι και σοιTi emoi kai soi). There are a number of examples of this ethical dative in the lxx (Judges 11:12; 2Sam 16:10; 1Kings 17:18; 2Kings 3:13; 2Chron 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 ηκει η ωρα μουoupō hēkei hē hōra mou). 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 διακονοιςtois diakonois). See note on Matthew 20:26 for this word (our “deacon,” but not that sense here).

Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it (οτι αν λεγηι υμιν ποιησατεHoti an legēi humin poiēsate). Indefinite relative sentence (οτι ανhoti an and present active subjunctive, general statement) with aorist active imperative of ποιεωpoieō for instant execution. Mary took comfort in the “not yet” (ουπωoupō) 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 (υδριαιhudriai). Old word from υδωρhudōr (water) and used in papyri for pots or pans for holding money or bread as well as water. These stone (λιτιναιlithinai as in 2 Corinthians 3:3) jars full of water were kept handy (set there, κειμεναιkeimenai present middle participle of κειμαιkeimai) at a feast for ceremonial cleansing of the hands (2 Kings 3:11; Mark 7:3), “after the Jews‘ manner of purifying” (κατα τον καταρισμον των Ιουδαιωνkata ton katharismon tōn Ioudaiōn). See Mark 1:44; Luke 2:22 for the word καταρισμοςkatharismos (from καταριζωkatharizō) which fact also raised a controversy with disciples of John because of his baptizing (John 3:25).

Containing (χωρουσαιchōrousai). Present active participle feminine plural of χωρεωchōreō old verb from χωροςchōros place, space, having space or room for.

Two or three firkins apiece
(ανα μετρητας δυο η τρειςana metrētas duo ē treis). The word μετρητηςmetrētēs from μετρεωmetreō to measure, simply means “measurer,” an amphora for measuring liquids (in Demosthenes, Aristotle, Polybius), the Hebrew υδριαbath (2 Chronicles 4:5), here only in N.T., about 8-1/2 English gallons. Each αναhudria thus held about 20 gallons. This common distributive use of υδριαana occurs here only in this Gospel, but is in Revelation 4:8. In John 4:28 a much smaller hudria was used for carrying water.

Verse 7

Fill (γεμισατεgemisate). Effective first aorist active imperative of γεμιζωgemizō to fill full.

With water (υδατοςhudatos). Genitive case of material.

Up to the brim
(εως ανωheōs anō). “Up to the top.” See εως κατωheōs katō (Matthew 27:51) for “down to the bottom.” No room left in the waterpots now full of water.

Verse 8

Draw out now (Αντλησατε νυνAntlēsate nun). First aorist active imperative of αντλεωantleō from ο αντλοςho antlos 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 (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 (τωι αρχιτρικλινωιtōi architriklinōi). Dative case. The τρικλινοςtriklinos was a room (οικοςoikos) with three couches (κλινηklinē) for the feast. The αρχιτρικλινοςarchitriklinos was originally the superintendent of the dining-room who arranged the couches and tasted the food, not the toast-master (συμποσιαρχηςsumposiarchēs).

And they bare it
(οι δε ηνεγκανhoi de ēnegkan). Second aorist active indicative of περωpherō Apparently not knowing at first that they bore wine.

Verse 9

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

The water now become wine (το υδωρ οινον γεγενημενονto hudōr oinon gegenēmenon). Accusative case, though the genitive also occurs with γευομαιgeuomai Perfect passive participle of γινομαιginomai and οινονoinon predicative accusative. The tablemaster knew nothing of the miracle, “whence it was” (ποτεν εστινpothen estin indirect question retaining present indicative). The servants knew the source of the water, but not the power that made the wine.

Calleth the bridegroom
(πωνει τον νυμπιονphōnei ton numphion). As apparently responsible for the supply of the wine (thou hast kept τετηρηκαςtetērēkas). See Matthew 9:15 for νυμπιοςnumphios When men have drunk freely (οταν μετυστωσινhotan methusthōsin). Indefinite temporal clause with οτανhotan and first aorist passive subjunctive of μετυσκωmethuskō The verb does not mean that these guests are now drunk, but that this is a common custom to put “the worse” (τον ελασσωton elassō the less, the inferior) wine last. It is real wine that is meant by οινοςoinos 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 1Cor 8-10 and in Rom 14, 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 Ιησουςtautēn epoiēsen archēn tōn sēmeiōn ho Iēsous). Rather, “this Jesus did as a beginning of his signs,” for there is no article between ταυτηνtautēn and αρχηνarchēn “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 (τεραταterata) or powers (δυναμειςdunameis) for the works (εργαerga) of Jesus. ΣημειονSēmeion is an old word from σημαινωsēmainō 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 (επανερωσεν την δοχαν αυτουephanerōsen tēn doxan autou). First aorist (effective) active indicative of πανεροωphaneroō that glory of which John spoke in John 1:14.

Believed on him
(επιστευσαν εις αυτονepisteusan eis auton). First aorist active indicative of πιστευωpisteuō to believe, to put trust in, so common in John. These six disciples (learners) had already believed in Jesus as the Messiah (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 Καπαρναουμ αυτοςkatebē eis Kapharnaoum autos). Second aorist active indicative of καταβαινωkatabainō Cana was on higher ground. This brief stay (not many days, ου πολλας ημεραςou pollas hēmeras) 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 Ιουδαιωνto pascha tōn Ioudaiōn). 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 πωλουνταςtous pōlountas). Present active articular participle of πωλεωpōleō to sell. They were in the Court of the Gentiles within the temple precinct (εν τωι ιερωιen tōi hierōi), but not in the ναοςnaos or temple proper. The sacrifices required animals (oxen, βοαςboas sheep, προβαταprobata doves, περιστεραςperisteras) and “changers of money” (κερματισταςkermatistas from κερματιζωkermatizō 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 19:45.) 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 (πραγελλιον εκ σχοινιωνphragellion ek schoiniōn). The Latin flagellum. In papyri, here only in N.T. and note Latin l becomes r in Koiné. ρSchoiniōn is a diminutive of Σχοινιωνschoinos (a rush), old word for rope, in N.T. only here and Acts 27:32.

Cast out (σχοινοςexebalen). Second aorist active indicative of εχεβαλενekballō It is not said that Jesus smote the sheep and oxen (note εκβαλλωte kai both and), for a flourish of the scourge would answer.

He poured out
(τε καιexecheen). Second aorist active indicative of εχεχεενekcheō to pour out.

The changers‘ money
(εκχεωtōn kollubistōn ta kermata). “The small pieces of money (των κολλυβιστων τα κερματαkermata cut in pieces, change) of the bankers (κερματαkollubistēs from κολλυβιστηςkollubos clipped, late word see note on Matthew 21:12).” Perhaps he took up the boxes and emptied the money.

Overthrew their tables
(κολλυβοςtas trapezas anetrepsen). First aorist active indicative of τας τραπεζας ανετρεπσενanatrepō to turn up, though some MSS. have ανατρεπωanestrepsen from ανεστρεπσενanastrephō also to turn up.

Verse 16

Take these things hence (Αρατε ταυτα εντευτενArate tauta enteuthen). First aorist active imperative of αιρωairō 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 εμποριουmē poieite ton oikon tou patros mou oikon emporiou). “Stop making,” it means, μηmē and the present active imperative. They had made it a market-house (εμποριουemporiou here only in N.T., old word from εμποροςemporos 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 (εμνηστησανemnēsthēsan). First aorist passive indicative of μιμνησκωmimnēskō 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 (οτι γεγραμμενον εστινhoti gegrammenon estin). Periphrastic perfect passive indicative of γραπωgraphō retained in indirect discourse (assertion).

The zeal of thine house
(ο ζηλος του οικου σουho zēlos tou oikou sou). Objective genitive. “The zeal for thy house.”

Shall eat me up
(καταπαγεται μεkataphagetai me). Future middle indicative of κατεστιωkatesthiō defective verb, to eat down (“up” we say), perfective use of καταkata -. This future παγομαιphagomai is from the second aorist επαγονephagon It is a quotation from Psalm 69:9, frequently quoted in the N.T.

Verse 18

What sign shewest thou unto us? (Τι σημειον δεικνυεις ημινTi sēmeion deiknueis hēmin). 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 τουτονlusate ton naon touton). First aorist active imperative of λυωluō to loosen or destroy. It is the permissive imperative, not a command to do it. Note also ναοςnaos not ιερονhieron the sanctuary, symbol of God‘s ναοςnaos 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” (και εν τρισιν ημεραις εγερω αυτονkai en trisin hēmerais egerō auton). Those who heard Jesus, including the disciples till after the resurrection (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 και εχ ετεσιν οικοδομητη ο ναος ουτοςTesserakonta kai hex etesin oikodomēthē ho naos houtos). “Within forty and six years (associative instrumental case) was built (first aorist passive indicative, constative or summary use of the aorist, of οικοδομεωoikodomeō 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? (και συkai su). An evident sneer in the use of συsu (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 περι του ναου του σωματος αυτουekeinos de elegen peri tou naou tou sōmatos autou). Emphatic he (εκεινοςekeinos) 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 (οτε ουν ηγερτη εκ νεκρωνHote oun ēgerthē ek nekrōn). First aorist passive indicative of εγειρωegeirō to raise up. And not at first then, but only slowly after the disciples themselves were convinced. Then “they believed the Scripture” (επιστευσαν τηι γραπηιepisteusan tēi graphēi). They “believed” again. Dative case γραπηιgraphēi Probably Psalm 16:10 is meant (Acts 2:31; Acts 13:35).

And the word which Jesus had said (και τωι λογωι ον ειπενkai tōi logōi hon eipen). Dative case λογωιlogōi also, but ονhon (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 Ιεροσολυμοιςen tois Ierosolumois). The form ΙεροσολυμαIerosoluma as in John 2:13 always in this Gospel and in Mark, and usually in Matthew, though ΙερουσαλημIerousalēm only in Revelation, and both forms by Luke and Paul.

During the feast (εν τηι εορτηιen tēi heortēi). The feast of unleavened bread followed for seven days right after the passover (one day strictly), though το πασχαto pascha is used either for the passover meal or for the whole eight days.

Believed on his name
(επιστευσαν εις το ονομα αυτουepisteusan eis to onoma autou). See note on John 1:12 for this phrase. Only one has to watch for the real import of πιστευωpisteuō

Beholding his signs
(τεωρουντες αυτου τα σημειαtheōrountes autou ta sēmeia). Present active participle (causal use) of τεωρεωtheōreō

Which he did
(α εποιειha epoiei). “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 αυτοιςautos de Iēsous ouk episteuen hauton autois). “But Jesus himself kept on refusing (negative imperfect) to trust himself to them.” The double use of πιστευωpisteuō here is shown by Acts 8:13 where Simon Magus “believed” (επιστευσενepisteusen) 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 πανταςdia to auton ginōskein pantas). Causal use of διαdia and the accusative case of the articular infinitive το γινωσκεινto ginōskein (because of the knowing) with the object of the infinitive (πανταςpantas all men) and the accusative of general reference (αυτονauton as to himself).

Verse 25

And because he needed not (και οτι χρειαν ειχενkai hoti chreian eichen). Imperfect active, “and because he did not have need.”

That any one should bear witness concerning man (ινα τις μαρτυρησηι περι του αντρωπουhina tis marturēsēi peri tou anthrōpou). Non-final use of ιναhina with first aorist active subjunctive of μαρτυρεωmartureō and the generic article (περι του αντρωπουperi tou anthrōpou) concerning mankind as in the next clause also.

For he himself knew
(αυτος γαρ εγινωσκενautos gar eginōsken). Imperfect active, “for he himself kept on knowing” as he did from the start.

What was in man
(τι ην εν τωι αντρωπωιti ēn en tōi anthrōpōi). Indirect question with εστινestin of the direct changed to the imperfect ηνēn a rare idiom in the Koiné. 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.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on John 2:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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