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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies
John 2



Other Authors
Verse 1

The third day

Reckoning from the last day mentioned (John 1:43).

A marriage ( γάμος )

Or marriage festival, including a series of entertainments, and therefore often found in the plural. See on Matthew 22:2.

Cana of Galilee

To distinguish it from Cana in Coelo-Syria.

Mother of Jesus

Her name is never mentioned by John.

Was there

When Jesus arrived. Probably as an intimate friend of the family, assisting in the preparations.

Verse 2

Was called

Rev., bidden. After His return from the Baptist.

His disciples

In honor of Jesus.

Verse 3

They wanted wine ( ὑστερήσαντος οἴνου )

Literally, when the wine failed. So Rev., Wyc., and wine failing. Some early authorities read: “they had no wine, for the wine of the marriage was consumed.” Marriage festivals sometimes lasted a whole week (Genesis 29:27; Judges 14:15; Tobit 9:1-2; 10:1).

They have no wine

Implying a request for help, not necessarily the expectation of a miracle.

Verse 4


Implying no severity nor disrespect. Compare John 20:13, John 20:15. It was a highly respectful and affectionate mode of address.

What have I to do with thee ( τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοὶ )

Literally, what is there to me and to thee. See on Mark 5:7, and compare Matthew 8:29; Matthew 27:19; Mark 1:24; Luke 8:28. It occurs often in the Old Testament, 2 Samuel 16:10; 1 Kings 17:18, etc. Though in a gentle and affectionate manner, Jesus rejects her interference, intending to supply the demand in His own way. Compare John 6:6. Wyc., What to me and to thee, thou woman?

Mine hour is not yet come

Compare John 8:20; John 12:23; John 13:1. In every case the coming of the hour indicates some crisis in the personal life of the Lord, more commonly His passion. Here the hour of His Messianic manifestation (John 2:11).

Verse 5

Unto the servants ( διακόνοις )

See on Matthew 20:26; see on Mark 9:35.

Verse 6

Water-pots ( ὑδρίαι )

Used by John only, and only in the Gospel, John 2:7; John 4:28. Water -pots is literally correct, as the word is from ὕδωρ , water.

Of stone

Because less liable to impurity, and therefore prescribed by the Jewish authorities for washing before and after meals.

After the manner of the purifying, etc.

That is, for the purifications customary among the Jews.

Containing ( χωροῦσαι )

From χῶρος , a place or space. Hence, to make room or give place, and so, to have space or room for holding something.

Firkins ( μετρητὰς )

Only here in the New Testament. From μετρέω , to measure; and therefore, properly, a measurer. A liquid measure containing nearly nine gallons.

Verse 7

Fill ( γεμίσατε )

Compare Mark 4:37, and see on Luke 14:23.

Verse 8

Draw out ( ἀντλήσατε )

From ἄντλος , the hold of a ship where the bilge-water settles, and hence, the bilge-water itself. The verb, therefore, originally, means to bale out bilge-water; thence, generally, to draw, as from a well (John 4:15). Canon Westcott thinks that the water which was changed into wine was not taken from the vessels of purification, but that the servants were bidden, after they had filled the vessels with water, to continue drawing from the well or spring.

Ruler of the feast ( ἀρχιτρικλίνῳ )

From ἄρχω , to be chief, and τρίκλινον , Latin, triclinium, a banqueting-hall with three couches (see on Mark 6:39). Some explain the word as meaning the superintendent of the banqueting-chamber, a servant whose duty it was to arrange the table-furniture and the courses, and to taste the food beforehand. Others as meaning one of the guests selected to preside at the banquet according to the Greek and Roman usage. This latter view seems to be supported by a passage in Ecclesiasticus (35:1,2): “If thou be made the master of a feast, lift not thyself up, but be among them as one of the rest; take diligent care for them, and so sit down. And when thou hast done all thy office, take thy place, that thou mayst be merry with them, and receive a crown for thy well ordering of the feast.” According to the Greek and Roman custom, the ruler of the feast was chosen by throwing the dice. Thus Horace, in his ode to his friend Sestius, says, moralizing on the brevity of life: “Soon the home of Pluto will be thine, nor wilt thou cast lots with the dice for the presidency over the wine.” He prescribed the proportions of wine and water, and could also impose fines for failures to guess riddles, etc. As the success of the feast depended largely upon him, his selection was a matter of some delicacy. Plato says, “Must we not appoint a sober man and a wise to be our master of the revels? For if the ruler of drinkers be himself young and drunken, and not over-wise, only by some special good fortune will he be saved from doing some great evil” (“Laws,” 640). The word occurs only here and John 2:9. Wyc. simply transcribes: architriclyn f0.

Verse 10

Have well drunk ( μεθυσθῶσι )

Wyc., be filled. Tynd., be drunk. The A.V. and Tynd. are better than the Rev. when men have drunk freely. The ruler of the feast means that when the palates of the guests have become less sensitive through indulgence, an inferior quality of wine is offered. In every instance of its use in the New Testament the word means intoxication. The attempt of the advocates of the unfermented-wine theory to deny or weaken this sense by citing the well-watered garden (Isaiah 58:11; Jeremiah 31:12) scarcely requires comment. One might answer by quoting Plato, who uses βαπτίζεσθαι , to be baptized, for being drunk (“Symposium,” 176). In the Septuagint the verb repeatedly occurs for watering (Psalm 65:9, Psalm 65:10), but always with the sense of drenching or soaking; of being drunken or surfeited with water. In Jeremiah 48:26(Sept. 31:26), it is found in the literal sense, to be drunken. The metaphorical use of the word has passed into common slang, as when a drunken man is said to be wetted or soaked (so Plato, above). The figurative use of the word in the Septuagint has a parallel in the use of ποτίζω , to give to drink, to express the watering of ground. So Genesis 2:6, a mist watered the face of the earth, or gave it drink. Compare Genesis 13:10; Deuteronomy 11:10. A curious use of the word occurs in Homer, where he is describing the stretching of a bull's hide, which, in order to make it more elastic, is soaked ( μεθύουσαν ) with fat (“Iliad,” xvii. 390).

Worse ( ἐλάσσω )

Literally, smaller. Implying both worse and weaker. Small appears in the same sense in English, as small-beer.

Hast kept ( τετήρηκας )

See on 1 Peter 1:4.

Verse 11

This beginning

Or, more strictly, this as a beginning.

Of miracles ( σημείων )

Rev., correctly, signs. See on Matthew 11:20; see on Matthew 24:24. This act was not merely a prodigy ( τέρας ), nor a wonderful thing ( θαυμάσιον ), nor a power ( δύναμις ), but distinctively a sign, a mark of the doer's power and grace, and divine character. Hence it falls in perfectly with the words manifested His glory.

Believed on Him ( ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτὸν )

See on John 1:12. Literally, believed into. Canon Westcott most aptly says that it conveys the idea of “the absolute transference of trust from one's self to another.”

Verse 12

He went down ( κατέβη )

Capernaum being on the lake shore, and Nazareth and Cana on the higher ground.

Verse 13

The Jews' passover

On John's use of the term Jews, see on John 1:19. So it is used here with an under-reference to the national religion as consisting in mere ceremonies. The same hint underlies the words in John 2:6, “after the Jews' manner of purifying.” Only John mentions this earliest passover of Christ's ministry. The Synoptists relate no incident of his ministry in Judaea, and but for the narrative of John, it could not be positively asserted that Jesus went up to Jerusalem during His public life until the time of His arrest and crucifixion.

Verse 14

The temple ( ἱερῷ )

The temple inclosure: not the sanctuary ( ναόξ ). See on Matthew 9:5; see on Mark 11:16.

Those that sold ( τοὺς πωλοῦντας )

The article defines them as a well-known class.

Changers of money ( κερματιστὰς )

Only here in the New Testament. The kindred noun κέρμα , money, which occurs only in John 2:15, is from κείρω , to cut into bits, and means therefore small coin; “small change,” of which the money-changers would require a large supply. Hence changers of money means, strictly, dealers in small change. Matthew and Mark use λυβιστής (see John 2:15), of which the meaning is substantially the same so far as regards the dealing in small coin; but with the difference that κόλλυβος , the noun from which it is derived, and meaning a small coin, is also used to denote the rate of exchange. This latter word therefore gives a hint of the premium on exchange, which John's word here does not convey. The money-changers opened their stalls in the country towns a month before the feast. By the time of the first arrivals of passover-pilgrims at Jerusalem, the country stalls were closed, and the money-changers sat in the temple (see on Matthew 17:24; see on Matthew 21:12; see on Mark 11:15). John's picture of this incident is more graphic and detailed than those of the Synoptists, who merely state summarily the driving out of the traders and the overthrow of the tables. Compare Matthew 21:12, Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45, Luke 19:46.

Verse 15

A scourge ( φραγέλλιον )

Only here in the New Testament. Only John records this detail.

Of small cords ( ἐκ σχοινίων )

The Rev. omits small, but the word is a diminutive of σχοῖνος , a rush, and thence a rope of twisted rushes. The A.V. is therefore strictly literal. Herodotus says that when Croesus besieged Ephesus, the Ephesians made an offering of their city to Diana, by stretching a small rope ( σχοινίον ) from the town wall to the temple of the goddess, a distance of seven furlongs (i., 26). The schoene was an Egyptian measure of length, marked by a rush-rope. See Herodotus, ii. 6. Some find in this the etymology of skein.

Drove out ( ἐξέβαλεν )

Literally, as Rev., cast out. See on Matthew 10:34; see on Matthew 12:35; see on Mark 1:12; see on James 2:25.


Referring to the animals. The A.V. makes the reference to the traders; but Rev., correctly, “cast all out - both the sheep and the oxen.”


See on John 2:14.


Wyc., turned upside down the boards. See on Luke 19:23.

Verse 16

My Father's house

See on Father's business, Luke 2:49, and compare Matthew 23:38, where Jesus speaks of the temple as your house. The people had made God's house their own.

Merchandise ( ἐμπορίου )

Only here in the New Testament. The Synoptists say a den of robbers.

Verse 17

It was written ( γεγραμμένον ἐστὶν )

Literally, it stands written. This form of the phrase, the participle with the substantive verb, is peculiar to John in place of the more common γέγραπται . For a similar construction see John 3:21.

The zeal of thine house

Jealousy for the honor of God's house. Zeal, ζῆλος , from ζέω , to boil. See on James 3:14.

Hath eaten me up ( κατέφαγέ με )

So the Sept., Psalm href="/desk/?q=ps+69:9&sr=1">Psalm 69:9). But the best texts read καταφάγεται , shall eat up. So Rev., Wyc., “The fervor of love of thine house hath eaten me.”

Verse 18


Often used in reply to an objection or criticism, or to something present in another's mind, as John 19:7, or John 3:3, where Jesus answers with reference to the error in Nicodemus' mind, rather than in direct reply to his address.

Destroy this temple ( λύσατε τὸν ναὸν τοῦτον )

Destroy, Literally, loosen. Wyc., undo. See on Mark 13:2; see on Luke 9:12; see on Acts 5:38. Notice that the word for temple is ναὸν , sanctuary (see on John 2:14). This temple points to the literal temple, which is truly a temple only as it is the abode of God, hence sanctuary, but with a typical reference to Jesus' own person as the holy dwelling-place of God who “was in Christ.” Compare 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 3:17. Christ's death was therefore the pulling down of the temple, and His resurrection its rebuilding. The imperative in destroy is of the nature of a challenge. Compare fill ye up, Matthew 23:32.

Verse 20

Forty and six years was this temple in building ( τεσσαράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν ῷκοδομήθη ὁ ναὸς οὗτος )

Literally, In forty and six years was this temple built. It was spoken of as completed, although not finished until thirty-six years later.


The position of the Greek pronoun makes it emphatic.

Verse 21

He ( ἐκεῖνος )

See on John 1:18. Emphatic, and marking the contrast between the deeper meaning of Jesus and the literalism of the Jews and of His disciples (see next verse). For other illustrations of John's pointing out the meaning of words of Jesus which were not at first understood, see John 7:39; John 12:33; John 21:19.

Verse 22

Was risen ( ἠγέρθη )

Rev., more correctly, was raised. The same verb as in John 2:19, John 2:20.

Had said ( ἔλεγεν )

Rev., more correctly, He spake. The best texts omit unto them.

Believed the Scripture ( ἐπίστευσαν τῇ γραφῇ )

Notice that ἐπίοτευσαν , believed, is used here with the simple dative, and not with the preposition εἰς , into (see on John 1:12). The meaning is, therefore, they believed that the Scripture was true. On γραφή , a passage or section of Scripture, see on Mark 12:10.

In John, as elsewhere, the word almost always refers to a particular passage cited in the context. The only two exceptions are John 17:12; John 20:9. For the Old Testament, as a whole, John always uses the plural αἱ γραφαί . The passage referred to here is probably Psalm 16:10. Compare Acts 2:27, Acts 2:31; Acts 13:35.

The word

The saying just uttered concerning the destruction of the temple.

Verse 23

At the passover

Note the omission of of the Jews (John 2:13).

In the feast-day ( ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ )

Rev., during the feast. The feast of unleavened bread, during the seven days succeeding the actual passover (see on Mark 14:1).

Believed on ( ἐπίστευσαν εἰς )

The stronger expression of faith (John 1:12).

His name

See on John 1:12. With the phrase believe on His name, compare believe on Him (John 8:30), which is the stronger expression, indicating a casting of one's self upon Him; while to believe on the name is rather to believe in Him as being that which he claims to be, in this case the Messiah. It is believing recognition rather than appropriation. “Their faith in His name (as that of the Messiah) did not yet amount to any decision of their inner life for Jesus, but was only an opinion produced by the sight of His miracles, that He was the Messiah” (Meyer).

When they saw ( θεωροῦντες )

Rev., literally and rightly, beholding (see on John 1:14, John 1:29).

He did ( ἐποίει )

Better, was doing; the imperfect denoting the wonderful works as in progress.

Verse 24

But Jesus ( αὐτὸς δὲ ὁ Ἱησοῦς )

The αὐτὸς , which does not appear in translation, has the force of on His part, marking the contrast with those just mentioned.

Did not commit ( οὐκ ἐπίστευτεν )

Rev., trust. There is a kind of word-play between this and ἐπίστευσαν , believed, in the preceding verse. Wyc. reproduces it: “Jesus himself believed not himself to them.” He did not trust His person to them. Tynd., put not himself in their hands. “He had no faith in their faith” (Godet).

Because He knew ( διὰ τὸ αὐτὸν γινώσκειν )

Literally, on account of the fact of His knowing. John describes the Lord's knowledge by two words which it is important to distinguish. Γινώσκειν , as here, implies acquired knowledge; knowledge which is the result of discernment and which may be enlarged. This knowledge may be drawn from external facts (John 5:6; John 6:15) or from spiritual sympathy (John 10:14, John 10:27; John 17:25). Εἰδέναι (John 1:26) implies absolute knowledge: the knowledge of intuition and of satisfied conviction. Hence it is used of Christ's knowledge of divine things (John 3:11; John 5:32; John 7:29), Of the facts of His own being (John 6:6; John 8:14; John 13:1), and of external facts (John 6:61, John 6:64; John 13:11). In John 21:17the two words appear together. Peter says to Jesus, appealing to His absolute knowledge, “Thou knowest ( οἶδας ) all things:” appealing to his discernment, “Thou knowest or perceivest ( γινώσκεις ) that I love Thee.”

Verse 25

He needed not ( οὐ χρείαν εἰχεν )

Literally, he had not need.

Testify ( μαρτυρήσῃ )

Rev., better, bear witness. The same word is in John 1:7, John 1:8, John 1:15, John 1:32(see on John 1:7).

Of man ( περὶ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου )

Better, as Rev., concerning man.

He knew ( αὐτὸς ἐγίνωσκεν )

The pronoun is expressed, and with a view to emphasis, as Rev., “He himself knew.” The imperfect expresses continuance: He was all along cognizant as the successive cases presented themselves; thus falling in with the next words, “what was in the man,” i.e., in each particular man with whom He had to do. No such characteristic as this was attributed to the gods of Paganism. “While, then, the gift of anything like general foreknowledge appears to be withheld from all the deities of invention, that of 'the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart,' is nowhere found; nor was it believed of any member of the Olympian community, as it was said of One greater than they, 'He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man,'” (Gladstone, “Homer and the Homeric Age,” ii., 366).


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 2:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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Saturday, October 31st, 2020
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30
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