Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 2:10

and *said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now."
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Cana;   Food;   Jesus, the Christ;   Mary;   Miracles;   Water;   Wine;   Scofield Reference Index - Miracles;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Diet of the Jews, the;   Marriage;   Miracles of Christ, the;  
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Cana;   Feasts;   Miracle;   Smyrna;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Galilee;   Grapes;   John, gospel of;   Marriage;   Miracles;   Palestine;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Good, Goodness;   Joy;   Miracle;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Marriage;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Cana;   Marriage-Feasts;   Wine;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Banquet;   Fulfill;   John, the Gospel of;   Mary;   Sign;   Water;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Joy;   Marriage;   Mary;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Brotherhood (2);   Celibacy (2);   Common Life;   Dates (2);   Drunkenness (2);   Example;   Happiness;   John (the Apostle);   John, Gospel of (Ii. Contents);   Keeping;   Light and Darkness;   Pleasure;   Reality;   Sea of Galilee;   Sheep, Shepherd;   Toleration, Tolerance;   Wealth (2);   Wine ;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Marriage;   Melchisedec, Melchizedek ;   Miracles;   New Testament;   Wine;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Cana;   Veil;   Wine;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Cana;   Chief parables and miracles in the bible;   Wine;  
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Jesus of Nazareth;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Drunkenness;   Mary;   Regeneration;   Uncleanness;  
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for September 17;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

The good wine until now - That which our Lord now made being perfectly pure, and highly nutritive!

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Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on John 2:10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Every man - It is customary, or it is generally done.

When men have well drunk - This word does not of necessity mean that they were intoxicated, though it is usually employed in that sense. It may mean when they have drunk sufficient, or to satiety; or have drunk so much as to produce hilarity, and to destroy the keenness of their taste, so that they could not readily distinguish the good from that which was worse. But this cannot be adduced in favor of drunkenness, even if it means to be intoxicated; for,

1.It is not said of those who were present “at that feast,” but of what generally occurred. For anything that appears, at that feast all were perfectly temperate and sober.

2.It is not the saying of Jesus that is here recorded, but of the governor of the feast, who is declaring what usually occurred as a fact.

3.There is not any expression of opinion in regard to its “propriety,” or in approval of it, even by that governor.

4.It does not appear that our Saviour even heard the observation.

5.Still less is there any evidence that he approved such a state of things, or that he designed that it should take place here. Further, the word translated “well drunk” cannot be shown to mean intoxication; but it may mean when they had drunk as much as they judged proper or as they desired. then the other was presented. It is clear that neither our Saviour, nor the sacred writer, nor the speaker here expresses any approval of intemperance, nor is there the least evidence that anything of the kind occurred here. It is not proof that we approve of intemperance when we mention, as this man did, what occurs usually among men at feasts.

Is worse - Is of an inferior quality.

The good wine - This shows that this had all the qualities of real wine. We should not be deceived by the phrase “good wine.” We often use the phrase to denote that it is good in proportion to its strength and its power to intoxicate; but no such sense is to be attached to the word here. Pliny, Plutarch, and Horace describe wine as “good,” or mention that as “the best wine,” which was harmless or “innocent” - poculo vini “innocentis.”The most useful wine - “utilissimum vinum” - was that which had little strength; and the most wholesome wine - “saluberrimum vinum” - was that which had not been adulterated by “the addition of anything to the ‹must‘ or juice.” Pliny expressly says that a good wine was one that was destitute of spirit (lib. iv. c. 13). It should not be assumed, therefore, that the “good wine” was “stronger” than the other: it is rather to be presumed that it was milder.

The wine referred to here was doubtless such as was commonly drunk in Palestine. That was the pure juice of the grape. It was not brandied wine, nor drugged wine, nor wine compounded of various substances, such as we drink in this land. The common wine drunk in Palestine was that which was the simple juice of the grape. we use the word “wine” now to denote the kind of liquid which passes under that name in this country - always containing a considerable portion of alcohol not only the alcohol produced by fermentation, but alcohol “added” to keep it or make it stronger. But we have no right to take that sense of the word, and go with it to the interpretation of the Scriptures. We should endeavor to place ourselves in the exact circumstances of those times, ascertain precisely what idea the word would convey to those who used it then, and apply that sense to the word in the interpretation of the Bible; and there is not the slightest evidence that the word so used would have conveyed any idea but that of the pure juice of the grape, nor the slightest circumstance mentioned in this account that would not be fully met by such a supposition.

No man should adduce This instance in favor of drinking wine unless he can prove that the wine made in the waterpots of Cana was just like the wine which he proposes to drink. The Saviour‘s example may be always pleaded just as it was; but it is a matter of obvious and simple justice that we should find out exactly what the example was before we plead it. There is, moreover, no evidence that any other part of the water was converted into wine than that which was “drawn out” of the water-casks for the use of the guests. On this supposition, certainly, all the circumstances of the case are met, and the miracle would be more striking. All that was needed was to furnish a “supply” when the wine that had been prepared was nearly exhausted. The object was not to furnish a large quantity for future use. The miracle, too, would in this way be more apparent and impressive. On this supposition, the casks would appear to be filled with water only; as it was drawn out, it was pure wine. Who could doubt, then, that there was the exertion of miraculous power? All, therefore, that has been said about the Redeemer‘s furnishing a large quantity of wine for the newly-married pair, and about his benevolence in doing it, is wholly gratuitous. There is no evidence of it whatever; and it is not necessary to suppose it in order to an explanation of the circumstances of the case.

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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 2:10". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

John 2:10

Thou hast kept the good wine until now.

We learn

I. THAT CHRIST HAS SYMPATHY WITH HOUSEKEEPERS. The wine gave out and Jesus came to the rescue. Don’t fret when there is a scant supply in your household, but trust in God and do the best you can and He will help you. Christ is the best adviser and most efficient aid.

II. CHRIST DOES THINGS IN ABUNDANCE. A small supply would have been enough, but Christ gave one hundred and thirty gallons of the very best wine. Everything God does He does plenteously.

1. In nature.

2. In grace.

III. CHRIST DOES NOT SHADOW THE JOYS OF OTHERS WITH HIS OWN GRIEFS. Christ knew what was coming for Himself, but He hid His own grief to kindle their joy. So don’t you infuse your own griefs into your children. They will have trouble enough by and by. Be glad that they cannot appreciate yours. Keep back the sorrows as long as you can. Let them enjoy life while they may.

IV. CHRIST IS NOT IMPATIENT WITH THE LUXURIES OF LIFE. The wine, that could have been dispensed with, ran short, and yet Christ replenished it. There is no more harm in honest luxury than honest poverty. There is no more religion in a new coat than in an old one. The world was once a paradise and will be one again.

V. CHRIST HAS NO IMPATIENCE WITH FESTAL JOY. the very miracle augmented it. The children of God have more right to laugh than others: no joy is denied them.

VI. CHRIST COMES TO US IN OUR EXTREMITY. When the wine had given out, and before there was any embarrassment thereupon, He came to the aid of these people.

1. So often in extreme poverty Christ has come to the relief of His people.

2. In the despair of conscious guilt.

3. In death.


1. In Christian experience.

2. In glory. (T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

Infinite resources



1. Men give their best first, but God adopts the principle of gradual development.

2. Men give sparingly, God gives abundantly.


1. In legislation the politician is praised, and few ascribe the blessing to the Great Fountain of government.

2. In social life men have praised parental discipline, or scholastic education for a high tone of morality, whereas few acknowledge the Source of Purity.

III. THAT GOD SOMETIMES PRESENTS THE RESULT WITHOUT REVEALING THE PROCESS, In some departments of the moral universe processes belong exclusively to God, and results to man. In the discipline of our nature God conducts the mysterious process; whereas in the dissemination of the gospel man is required to undertake the agency. These three great principles may teach us

1. To recognize the Divine hand in every advancement. What have we that we did not receive. We should be humble, therefore.

2. Never to distrust the resources of God. You have never drunk the best wine which God can provide. He has unsearchable riches.

3. To repress inquisitiveness, and cultivate gratitude. Take thankfully what God provides. (Joseph Parker, D. D.)

Five characteristics of Christ’s working

I. APPROPRIATENESS. Christ does the right thing, in the right place, at the right time. The people did not want bread, nor clothes, nor health. Had they been rich the miracle would have been unnecessary; at an earlier period it would have been premature. And in His providence over our life Christ does nothing out of place or superfluously.

II. MYSTERY. Christ simply willed and the water was made wine: no one knows how.

1. So in physical life.

2. Human life.

3. Spiritual life.

III. SELF-ABNEGATION. The bridegroom received the credit for Christ’s act.

1. So in life the employer gets the credit for the skill and strength of the employee.

2. So in morals human cleverness and power get the credit for successes which should be given to the goodness of God.

3. So in the Church the means of grace are allowed to usurp the place of the Giver of grace.

IV. PROGRESS. The best last. This is the law by which Christ governs men.

1. By His providence.

2. Through His Spirit.

V. UNOSTENTATIOUS GENEROSITY. The need of which the guests were ignorant was anticipated by Christ. (J. W. Burn.)

Satan’s banquet and Christ’s

I. THE HOUSE OF SATAN, in which are four tables.

1. The table of the profligate--a gay table. The governor comes in. He has a bland smile and a robe of many colours. He brings

2. There is another table, all clean and comely. The wine on it seems to have no intoxication in it. How contented are the guests! It is the table of self-righteousness. Satan, like an angel of light, brings forth a golden goblet containing the wine of

3. The third table is crowded with most honourable guests--kings, princes, mayors, aldermen, and great merchants.

4. The fourth table is set up in a very secluded corner for secret sinners. Satan steps in noiselessly


1. Come and sit at the table of Christ’s outward providences.

2. The table of inward experience.

3. The table of communion.

The feast of the Lord


1. There are some of God’s best beloved who have never known what it is to get out of the depths of poverty, affliction, profitless toil, to whom it will indeed be true, when death gives them their discharge, that Christ has kept the good wine till the last--riches, happiness, rest.

2. This will be equally true of God’s favoured ones. The most highly favoured, who had been caught up to the third heaven, declared that he only saw through a glass darkly, and that there was a higher heaven yet. There are many aspects of the heavenly state, and in each of these the principle of the text holds good.

1. Here on earth the believer enters into rest by faith, and enjoys the peace which passeth all understanding. But drink of that as we may, the good wine has yet to come. The present peace is dashed by cares and doubts and disquietudes.

2. Heaven is a place of holy company. Here we have some of that wine, but our companions are compassed with infirmity. There the just are made perfect.

3. In heaven there is perfect knowledge. On earth we know much that makes us happy, but heaven is a place of complete and endless manifestations and joys.


1. To make a broad distinction between His dealings and Satan’s.

2. Because it is His good pleasure.

3. That He may give us an appetite for the good wine.

4. That He may be glorified by the trial of your faith.


1. Hasten towards the place where the good wine is kept.

2. If the best things are to come, let us not be discontented.

3. Why should we envy the worldling? (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ’s method and the world’s


1. The gay world, to the young, presents the appearance of a feast where everything is provided that can please the eye and gratify the taste. But experience strips off the disguise. Enjoyment brings satiety, and long ere the cup is drained the soul turns from it in dislike. There is not a more miserable creature than the man to whom the world has given all its blessings and has nothing more to promise. The novelty of this world’s pleasures is their greatest charm.

2. Take the case of the drunkard. He is dissatisfied with the low life of drudgery he leads, and pants after a higher life and a freer atmosphere. So he drinks to drown his sorrows and to promote his joy. But the hour of elation passes, and leaves a grievous sense of bodily discomfort and a profound sense of self-contempt. More so with the confirmed drunkard. It is long since he drank all the good wine which his lust could give him; and now he is drinking the bitter dregs of the wretched wine which “biteth like a serpent,” etc. There was a time when the tottering frame was instinct with health and vigour, and the palsied hand had a grip of iron, and the bloated face was full of comeliness and intelligence.

3. Nor is it otherwise with the avaricious man. How precious was the first piece of money that came long ago as a reward of industry. But as he drank deep of the golden cup of wealth the first fresh glow of happiness disappeared. Care and anxiety grew with fortune, and wants with the means of gratifying them.

4. So with the ambitious man. The first draught of ambition’s cup is indeed the sweetest; all that follows is often bitterness and loneliness. The fruit is fair to the eye; but in the mouth it crumbles into ashes. It lures but to disappoint; it tempts but to betray.


1. This is illustrated in His own life. He drank the poorest wine first and then the best. He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the cursed death of the cross; wherefore God hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name.

2. So with the disciples; they drink of His cup and are baptized with His baptism. The law of His kingdom is first the cross, and then the crown; first suffering, and therefore glory. His blessings are not like random sunbursts through the clouds, or the irregular overflowing of an intermittent spring, but form parts of a gradually unfolding series. They are bestowed in proportion as our necessities arise and our faculties expand. (H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

The best last

The world presents us with fair language, promising hopes, convenient fortunes, pompous honours, and these are the outside of the bowl; but when it is swallowed, these dissolve in an instant. Every sin smiles in the first address, and carries light in the face, and honey in the lips, but when we “have well drunk,” then comes “that which is worse,” a whip with six strings, fears and terrors of conscience, and shame and displeasure, and a caitiff disposition, and diffidence in the day of death. But when, after the manner of purifying of the Christians, we fill our waterpots with water, watering our couch with our tears, then Christ turns our water into wine--first penitents and then communicants--first waters of sorrow and then the wine of the chalice; for Jesus keeps the best wine to the last, not only because of the direct reservation of the highest joys till the nearer approaches of glory, but also because our relishes are higher after a long fruition than at the first essays, such being the nature of grace, that it increases in relish as it does in fruition, every part of grace being new duty and new reward. (Jeremy Taylor.)

Well drunk

Taste educated

At first the palate distinguishes with the utmost nicety the quality of the wine; but afterwards, as more of it is drunk, the keen edge of the taste is blunted, and it cannot distinguish between the different kinds, so that an inferior wine at this stage might be substituted for a superior one without the guests being any the wiser. The extraordinary pitch of perfection to which the sense of taste may be educated is shown by the experience of those who are employed, in docks and warehouses, to discriminate between samples of different kinds of wine and tea; but these men use the utmost caution in the exercise of their peculiar gift. They are careful only to employ a very small quantity of the article experimented upon; and they confine their trials within very narrow limits. Excess or familiarity destroys the sensitiveness of the nerves, and tends to deaden the impressions produced upon them. So alive are some musicians to this physiological fact, that they will not touch an instrument that is out of tune, lest their sense of harmony should be impaired. (H. Macmillan, LL. D.)

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "John 2:10". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And saith unto him, Every man setteth on first the good wine; and when men have drunk freely, then that which is worse; thou hast kept the good wine until now.

First the good wine ... then ... worse ... In these words, the ruler of the feast unconsciously recorded the sordid economy of this world which first entices with that which is beautiful and desirable, and then punishes and frustrates with that which is worse. Of course, the ancient toastmaster was merely stating a commonly known fact, but the perception of John led him to see in that chance remark a universal law with profound applications far beyond the restricted situation that prompted its utterance. As Morrison said:

Why, think you, did this saying so impress John that it lingered ineffaceably in his memory? Was it merely because of the pleasure it evoked to hear his Master's handiwork so praised? I think there was a deeper reason. John was by nature an idealist, loving to find the abstract in the concrete; and, in the particular instance of that moment, he was quick to see the universal law.[7]


1. In the history of Adam's race, first there was Paradise and the garden of Eden; then came the temptation and fall, the curse, the expulsion, and the flaming sword that pointed in every direction.

2. In the progression of physical life on earth, first there are the joys of childhood, the excitement and pleasure of youth; and afterwards there are the labor and strife, weakness, senility, and death. This physical progression to that which is worse is among the saddest and most pitiful qualities of mortal life. Wordsworth captured the full pathos of it thus:

The rainbow comes and goes, And lovely is the rose. Shades of the prison house begin to close Upon the growing boy. The sunshine is a glorious birth; But yet I know, where'er I go, That there hath passed away A glory from the earth. Where is it now, the glow and the dream? At length the man perceives it die away And fade into the light of common day.[8]

3. In the enticement to sin, the death's head is always hidden behind the smiling mask of beauty and delight. The smile of the adulteress ends in blood upon the threshold, and the sparkling cup conceals the poisonous asp at the bottom of it (Proverbs 23:21,32).

4. In life's arrangements without consideration of God, the progression is ever downward and toward that which is worse. Marriages where God is not a partner move unerringly in the direction of futility and sorrow. Prodigals move invariably in their thoughtless and licentious freedom, not to honor, but to the swine pen. Many an arrangement of business, employment, or pleasure is begun with high hopes and expectations; but, if God is not in the arrangement, it moves inexorably to lower and lower levels to become finally a state of crime and shame. Afterward, that which is worse.

5. In the longer progression of unconsecrated life, as it regards time and eternity, the same wretched deterioration occurs. However glorious or desirable the state of the wicked in this present life may appear to be, it is only for a little while, followed by the terrors of a hopeless grave and the punishments of hell. Some people refuse to believe in any such thing as hell; but intelligent reasoning, as well as divine revelation, supports the conviction that awful retribution is stored up for the wicked after death. Again from Morrison:

I believe in law; I believe in immortality; I believe in the momentum of a life. And if the momentum of a life be downward, and be unchecked by the strong arm of God, how can we hope that it will be arrested by the frail and yielding barrier of the grave? ... If sin conceals the worse that is behind tomorrow, may it not also conceal the worse that lies behind the grave?[9]

6. In the progression of the material universe, all material things being inferior to the great spiritual realities, there is the same downward course. The sun itself will finally become a burned-out star and our earth but a dead speck of dust in space. As Dr. Moody Lee Coffman stated in a lecture on The Origin of the Inanimate:

The universe must be reckoned as becoming more disordered with time. All other known physical laws may be extrapolated backward in time as well as forward, but the second law of thermodynamics insists that entropy monotonically increases. Time cannot be reversed in direction to change this fact. No violation has ever been observed. All the experience of mankind leads us to believe the universe must work its way to a uniform heat sink with no potential for doing useful work. It is the second law of thermodynamics.[10]

This profound observation is but the scientific way of saying, "afterward, that which is worse." The apostles of Jesus warned people to live lives founded upon spiritual principles and unhesitatingly predicted the end of the physical world, as, for example in Peter's foretelling the destruction of the earth and its works (2 Peter 3:10f).

7. In the corruption and defilement of man's moral nature, through the ravages of sin, it is always "afterward, that which is worse." Sin always begins with so-called minor departures from the word of God; but the descent of the soul towards reprobacy and debauchery is constant and accelerated in its declension from God. The miserable history of Sodom and Gomorrah has been endlessly repeated by all of the nations that have turned away from God. "Evil men and impostors shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13). "Worse and worse" is the law of all sin and turning away from God.

From the above considerations, it is clear enough that the ancient master of ceremonies at Cana uttered a truth far more comprehensive than the primary application of it. No wonder the apostle remembered and recorded it!

And when men have drunk freely ... People have gone to great lengths to defend the Lord against any implied approval of excessive drinking; but no such defense is necessary. It is not implied that any of the guests at that wedding had exceeded the bounds of propriety. He merely stated what was publicly recognized as a fact, and there can be no question of the truth of what he said.

Thou hast kept the good wine until now ... This is the converse of the proposition stated above. The contrast between the way God does things and the performance of people apart from God is dramatically stated. With sinful men, it is ever "afterward, that which is worse"; but with God in Christ it is ever "the best wine last!" This truth also has a wide application.


1. In God's great act of creation, the best wine came last. First, the earth was without form and void, and darkness moved upon the face of the deep. Afterward came light, vegetation, lower forms of animal life, and finally man created in the image of God!

2. In the dispensations of God's grace, the same progressive betterment is observed. The patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations of God's mercy appeared in ascending order of benefit and glow.

3. In Scriptural revelation, the same progression to that which is better appears. As the writer of Hebrews expressed it:

God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things (Hebrews 1:2).

4. In the earthly life of our Lord, the wonder of Bethlehem and the angelic announcement of a Saviour born culminated in the far more wonderful event of Jesus' death and resurrection for the salvation of mankind. The best wine came last.

5. The progression of the Christian life follows the same pattern. The enthusiasm and joy of the novice convert to Christ resolve into a far more wonderful experience of the mature Christian.

The difference in Christ and the devil is just this, that the devil's tomorrow is worse than his today; but the morrow of Christ, for every man who trusts him, is always brighter and better than his yesterday. Every act of obedience on our part gives us a new vision of his love.[11]

One of the hymns of the pioneers was "Brighter the Way Groweth Each Day"; and all who have ever followed the Lord have found it so.

6. In time and eternity, we may be certain that God has kept the best until last. Joyful and fulfilling as the Christian life assuredly is, the full glory of it will not be realized until "that day" when the Lord shall provide the crown of life to all them that have loved his appearing. No description of heaven is possible. Language itself, as a means of communicating thought, breaks down under the weight of superlative metaphor employed by the inspired writers who received from God visions of the Eternal City. The throne of God is there, the river of life, the tree of life, the gates of pearl, the streets of gold, the protective wall, and the Saviour's own face as the light - who can fully understand such things as these? But of one thing we may be certain: when the trials, sorrows, tribulations, heartaches, and sufferings of our earthly pilgrimage have ended, and when we awaken to behold the Saviour's face in the eternal world, we shall cry adoringly, "Lord, thou hast reserved the best until now."

Note: A somewhat fuller treatment of the spiritual import that may be found in John's great signs is entered here, with reference to the first of them, than will be undertaken with regard to the others, as an example of the kind of interpretation possible in all of them. That such implications are indeed to be found in these mighty signs is perfectly evident; but the critical device of making the spiritual import of these wonders the basis of denying that they actually occurred is satanic. A lie has no spiritual import of the kind evident in John's signs; and therefore the very quality of their spiritual application is a proof that the events themselves happened, that they are historical facts.

[7] G. H. Morrison, The Wings of the Morning (London: Hodder and Stoughton), p. 1.

[8] William Wordsworth, Ode on the Intimations of Immortality.

[9] G. H. Morrison, op. cit., p. 6.

[10] Moody Lee Coffman, The Origin of the Inanimate (Atlanta, Georgia: Religion, Science, Communication Research and Development Corporation, 1972), p. 75.

[11] G. H. Morrison, op. cit., p. 11.

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 2:10". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And saith unto him,.... The following words; expressing the common custom used at feasts:

every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; that is, it is usual with men, when they make entertainments, first to give the guests the best, the most generous, and strongest bodied wine; as being most suitable for them, and they being then better able to bear it, and it being most for the credit of the maker of the feast:

and when men have well drank; not to excess, but freely, so as that they are exhilarated; and their spirits cheerful, but their brains not intoxicated: so the word, as answering to the Hebrew word is שכר, used by the Septuagint in Genesis 43:34,

then that which is worse; not bad wine, but τον ελασσω, "that which is lesser"; a weaker bodied wine, that is lowered, and of less strength, and not so intoxicating, and which is fittest for the guests. So MartialF26A Caupone tibi faex Laletana petatur Si plus quam decics, Sextiliane, bibis. L. 1. Ep. 25. advises Sextilianus, after he had drank the tenth cup, not to drink the best wine, but to ask his host for wine of Laletania, which was a weaker and lower sort of wine.

But thou hast kept the good wine until now; which shows he knew nothing of the miracle wrought. And as the bridegroom here did, in the apprehension of the ruler of the feast, at this his marriage, so does the Lord, the husband of the church, in the marriage feast of the Gospel; and so he will do at the marriage supper of the lamb. The Gospel, which may be compared to wine for its purity, pleasant taste, and generous effects in reviving drooping spirits, refreshing weary persons, and comforting distressed minds, as also for its antiquity, was published before the coming of Christ, in the times of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets, but in a lower and weaker way; at sundry times, here a little, and there a little, by piecemeals, as it were; and in divers manners, by promises, prophecies, types, shadows, and sacrifices; and was attended with much darkness and bondage: but under the Gospel dispensation, which is compared to a marriage feast, it is more fully dispensed, more clearly published, and more freely ministered. The whole of it is delivered, and with open face beheld; and saints are made free by it; it is set in the strongest and clearest light; the best wine is reserved till now; God has provided some better thing for us, Hebrews 11:40. And so with respect to the future state of the saints, their best things are kept for them till last. They have many good things now; as the Gospel, Gospel ordinances, the blessings, and promises of grace, the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, presence of God, and communion with Christ, at least at times; all which are better than wine: but then there is an alloy to these; they are lowered by other things, as the corruptions of the heart, the temptations of Satan, the hidings of God's face, and a variety of afflictions; but they shall have their good and best things hereafter, and drink new wine in Christ's Father's kingdom, without any thing to lower and weaken it: they will have full joys, and never fading pleasures, and shall be without sin and sorrow; no more deserted, nor afflicted, and shall be out of the reach of Satan's temptations, and with Christ for evermore. Happy are they that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Copyright Statement
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 2:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

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

(e) Literally, "are drunken". Now this saying, to be drunken, does not always refer to being drunk in the evil sense in the Hebrew language, but sometimes signifies an abundant and plentiful use of wine, which is nonetheless a measured amount, as in (Genesis 43:34).
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on John 2:10". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

the good wine … until now — thus testifying, while ignorant of the source of supply, not only that it was real wine, but better than any at the feast.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 2:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

People's New Testament

Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine. The language of the ruler is sportive, but still he states a custom. The best wine was offered when the appetite of the guests was sharpest and most critical.

Have well drunk. Not intoxicated, but have drunk considerable. Satan gives his good wine first; so the drunkard finds it; so did the prodigal son. Afterwards he gives the bitter; red eyes, pain, hunger, wretchedness.

Thou hast kept the good wine until now. What meaneth Christ making wine? In Palestine there were three kinds of wine: 1. Fermented wines, which, however, were very unlike our fiery liquors, and contained only a small per cent of alcohol. These were mixed with two or three parts of water. The fermented, at first mild, and then diluted with water, was only intoxicating when used in enormous quantities. 2. The unfermented juice of the grape. 3. An intoxicating drink called "new wine" in Acts 2:13. Whedon says: "We see no reason for supposing that the wine of the present occasion was that upon which Scripture places its strongest interdict (Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:31; Isaiah 22:13), rather than that eulogized as a blessing (Psalm 104:15; Isaiah 55:1). Even adopting the view that it was fermented wine, it was totally unlike the fiery and undiluted drinks sold as wines in saloons, used in many families, offered at hotels and wine parties, and even poured out at communion tables. In the use of the usual wine of Palestine there is not the slightest apology for drinking as a beverage the alcoholic drinks which are the curse of our times. With regard to them the only safe rule is "to touch not, taste not, handle not."

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Original work done by Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
Johnson, Barton W. "Commentary on John 2:10". "People's New Testament". 1891.

Vincent's Word Studies

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.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on John 2:10". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

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 — St. John barely relates the words he spoke, which does not imply his approving them.

When they have well drunk — does not mean any more than toward the close of the entertainment.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on John 2:10". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

The Fourfold Gospel

and saith unto him, Every man setteth on first1 the good wine2; and when [men] have drunk freely, [then] that which is worse3: thou hast kept the good wine until now4.

  1. Every man setteth on first. When the taste is sharpest, and most critical.

  2. The good wine. The adjective "good" refers rather to flavor than to strength.

  3. And when [men] have drunk freely, [then] that which is worse. The ruler was no disciple of Jesus, and he speaks in the merry spirit of the world. He gives his own experience as to the habits of feasts, and his words give no indication that those present indulged to excess.

  4. Thou hast kept the good wine until now. It is part of Christ's system to reserve the best until the last. Sin's first cup is always the sweetest, but with God that which follows is ever superior to that which has preceded it. As to the bearing of this miracle upon the question of temperance, the New Testament elsewhere clearly condemns the immoderate use of wine, and as these condemnations proceed from Christ we may rightly conceive of him, as in this instance, doing nothing contrary thereto. The liquors of this land in the strength of their intoxicating properties differ so widely from the light wines of Palestine that even the most moderate use of them seems immoderate in comparison. In creating wine Jesus did no more than as Creator and Renewer of the earth he had always done. From the beginning God has always so created or replenished the earth as to allow the possibility of excess.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website. These files were made available by Mr. Ernie Stefanik. First published online in 1996 at The Restoration Movement Pages.
Bibliographical Information
J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton. "Commentary on John 2:10". "The Fourfold Gospel". Standard Publishing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. 1914.

Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

Have well drunk; have drunk sufficiently.

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Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on John 2:10". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

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.

Ver. 10. Every man at the beginning] Ingenium hominum adumbrat, natura fallax et sophisticum. Sic Satan nos ad se allicere solet, Pantheris in morem: Christus contra. His work is worst at first; the best is behind; the sweetest of honey lies in the bottom.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on John 2:10". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

10.] The saying of the ἀρχ. is a general one, not applicable to the company then present. We may be sure that the Lord would not have sanctioned, nor ministered to, actual drunkenness. Only those who can conceive this, will find any difficulty here; and they will find difficulties every where.

The account of the practice referred to is, that the palates of men become after a while dull, and cannot distinguish between good wine and bad. Pliny (Nat. Hist. xiv. 13) speaks of persons “qui etiam convivis (vina) alia quam sibimetipsis ministrant, aut procedente mensa subjiciunt.” But the practice here described is not precisely that of which Pliny speaks, nor is there any meanness to be charged on it: it is only that, when a man has some kinds of wine choicer than others, he naturally produces the choicest, to suit the most discriminating taste. With regard to the word μεθυσθῶσιν, while there is no reason here to press its ordinary meaning, so neither is there any to shrink from it, as uttered by the ἀρχιτρίκλινος. The safest rendering is that of Tyndall and Cranmer, “when men be dronke;” “cum inebriati fuerint,” Vulg.

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Alford, Henry. "Commentary on John 2:10". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

John 2:10. λέγει, saith) So that those who were present might hear: see the preceding verse.— τὸν καλόν, the good) Therefore the bridegroom had set down wine, in the judgment of the governor of the feast, good enough; but Jesus gave better.— ὃταν μεθυσθῶσι) Simply the speech of the governor of the feast is repeated, as also the custom of the Jews: drunkenness is not approved of.— τετήρηκας, thou hast kept) He speaks as one ignorant of what had taken place, John 2:9.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on John 2:10". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

The governor calls the bridegroom, (at whose cost the provision for the feast was to be provided), and minds him, that he seemed to have done contrary to the common practice of such as made feasts; for they used to bring forth their best wine first, when men’s palates were quickest, and least adulterated; and worse after that they had drank well; so the word meyusywsi signifies, as appears by the Septuagint’s translation of the Hebrew word so signifying, Genesis 43:34 Haggai 1:6; not only men’s distempering themselves with wine, which it also sometimes signifieth; and this speaketh our translation of it, 1 Corinthians 11:21, are drunken, something hard, the word not necessarily nor always so signifying; and they must be very uncharitable to the primitive church of Corinth, who can think that it would permit persons actually drunken to come to the Lord’s table. But the custom, it seems, was, if they had any wine worse than another, to bring it out to their guests after that the edge of their palates was a little blunted with the taste of better. Now this bridegroom, as the governor of the feast (who knew nothing of the miracle) thought, had kept his briskest and most generous wine to the last; thereby giving a great approbation of the miracle, not only owning it to be true wine, but much better than they had before at the feast.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on John 2:10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Every man; this is a statement of what was usual on such occasions. Thus the governor of the feast testified to the purity and excellence of the wine miraculously furnished by the Saviour.

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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on John 2:10". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

10.Men have well drunk—After their tastes have become somewhat obtuse; but perhaps in order that the appetite may not be further tempted. There are two methods of exculpating the present company from all imputation of intemperance derived from the ruler’s words. One is to show that the Greek word , rendered “well drunk,” does not imply drunkenness; the other is to say that the ruler describes the customs of others, not the conduct of the present assembly. Professor Stuart, adopting the former method, argues that the word is derived from , methu, sweet wine, or must, and hence signifies satiation and not intoxication. Kuinoel, adopting the same method, quotes the use of the word in the Greek Septuagint in Psalms 33:5; Psalms 65:11. He quotes two passages from the Greek of Philo the Jew, as follows: “It is a noble thing to take care of our fences, collect our revenues, be hospitable, and to drink to satiety.” But a very fitting passage is the next: “There is a twofold ; one is to use wine, and the other is to be a fool with wine.” It must be admitted, however, that all its uses in the New Testament, besides the present, imply drunkenness. Matthew 24:49; Acts 2:15; 1 Corinthians 11:21; 1 Thessalonians 5:7; Revelation 17:2; Revelation 17:6. Bengel takes the word in the severer sense, but, adopting the second method, argues that nothing is said about the present company, but only about the general custom. Kuinoel, however, replies that his following words, thou hast kept the good wine until now, implies that the present company was following the usual fashion. Yet, we reply, the custom might be the same whichever wine was used. People using fermented wines might use the best first to inebriation; people using the must might drink the best first to satiety; both for the same reason.

The good wine—A full testimony that the miracle was not spurious.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on John 2:10". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary



When they have drank well: cum inebriati fuerint, Greek: otan methusthosi. See Legh. Crit. Sac. on the word Greek: methuo.


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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on John 2:10". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Every man, &c. This is man"s way: i.e. to give the good thing first, and the worse thing after. God"s way is always the opposite. See note on Exodus 15:2.

man. Greek. anthropos. App-123.

well drunk = drunk freely.

worse = inferior.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on John 2:10". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

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

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on John 2:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

10. Everyone else serves the best wine first. Notice that even though they have already drunk up all the wine in the house, he immediately tastes the superiority of the wine Jesus made. [Scholars have argued long and loud over the wine Jesus made here. It may have been a kind of “grape-cider.” The Bible strongly condemns drunkenness (Proverbs 20:1; Proverbs 23:29-35; Ephesians 5:18). Yet the same Bible speaks of wine as one of God’s blessings on the human family (Psalms 104:15; Isaiah 55:1; 1 Timothy 5:23). It is obvious there were different kinds of wine in the first century.]




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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on John 2:10". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(10) When men have well drunk.—The same Greek word is used in the LXX. in Genesis 43:34, and rendered in the Authorised version “were merry;” but its general use in the Old Testament, as in classical writers, and its invariable use in the New Testament (Matthew 24:49; Acts 2:15; 1 Corinthians 11:21; Ephesians 5:18; 1 Thessalonians 5:7; Revelation 17:6, are the only passages) is to express the state of drunkenness. Our translators have shrunk from that rendering here, though it was before them in the “When men be dronke,” of Tyndall and Cranmer. The physical meaning of the word is to saturate with moisture, as we say, to be drenched, which is the same word as drunk. There is clearly no reference to the present feast. It is a coarse jest of the ruler’s, the sort of remark that forms part of the stock in trade of a hired manager of banquets.

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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on John 2:10". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

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 when
Genesis 43:34; Song of Solomon 5:1
Psalms 104:15; Proverbs 9:1-6,16-18; Luke 16:25; Revelation 7:16,17
Reciprocal: Mark 10:34 - and the

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on John 2:10". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".