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John 2:1-11

Context
Turning Water into Wine

2:1 Now on the third day there was a wedding at Cana 1  in Galilee. 2  Jesus’ mother 3  was there, 2:2 and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. 4  2:3 When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine left.” 5  2:4 Jesus replied, 6  “Woman, 7  why are you saying this to me? 8  My time 9  has not yet come.” 2:5 His mother told the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.” 10 

2:6 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washing, 11  each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 12  2:7 Jesus told the servants, 13  “Fill the water jars with water.” So they filled them up to the very top. 2:8 Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the head steward,” 14  and they did. 2:9 When 15  the head steward tasted the water that had been turned to wine, not knowing where it came from 16  (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), he 17  called the bridegroom 2:10 and said to him, “Everyone 18  serves the good wine first, and then the cheaper 19  wine when the guests 20  are drunk. You have kept the good wine until now!” 2:11 Jesus did this as the first of his miraculous signs, 21  in Cana 22  of Galilee. In this way he revealed 23  his glory, and his disciples believed in him. 24 

1 map For location see Map1 C3; Map2 D2; Map3 C5.

2 sn Cana in Galilee was not a very well-known place. It is mentioned only here, in 4:46, and 21:2, and nowhere else in the NT. Josephus (Life 16 [86]) says he once had his quarters there. The probable location is present day Khirbet Cana, 8 mi (14 km) north of Nazareth, or Khirbet Kenna, 4 mi (7 km) northeast of Nazareth.

3 tn Grk “in Galilee, and Jesus’ mother.”

4 sn There is no clue to the identity of the bride and groom, but in all probability either relatives or friends of Jesus’ family were involved, since Jesus’ mother and both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the celebration. The attitude of Mary in approaching Jesus and asking him to do something when the wine ran out also suggests that familial obligations were involved.

5 tn The word “left” is not in the Greek text but is implied.

sn They have no wine left. On the backgrounds of this miracle J. D. M. Derrett pointed out among other things the strong element of reciprocity about weddings in the Ancient Near East. It was possible in certain circumstances to take legal action against the man who failed to provide an appropriate wedding gift. The bridegroom and family here might have been involved in a financial liability for failing to provide adequately for their guests (“Water into Wine,” BZ 7 [1963]: 80-97). Was Mary asking for a miracle? There is no evidence that Jesus had worked any miracles prior to this (although this is an argument from silence). Some think Mary was only reporting the situation, or (as Calvin thought) asking Jesus to give some godly exhortations to the guests and thus relieve the bridegroom’s embarrassment. But the words, and the reply of Jesus in v. 4, seem to imply more. It is not inconceivable that Mary, who had probably been witness to the events of the preceding days, or at least was aware of them, knew that her son’s public career was beginning. She also knew the supernatural events surrounding his birth, and the prophetic words of the angel, and of Simeon and Anna in the temple at Jesus’ dedication. In short, she had good reason to believe Jesus to be the Messiah, and now his public ministry had begun. In this kind of context, her request does seem more significant.

6 tn Grk “and Jesus said to her.”

7 sn The term Woman is Jesus’ normal, polite way of addressing women (Matt 15:28, Luke 13:12; John 4:21; 8:10; 19:26; 20:15). But it is unusual for a son to address his mother with this term. The custom in both Hebrew (or Aramaic) and Greek would be for a son to use a qualifying adjective or title. Is there significance in Jesus’ use here? It probably indicates that a new relationship existed between Jesus and his mother once he had embarked on his public ministry. He was no longer or primarily only her son, but the “Son of Man.” This is also suggested by the use of the same term in 19:26 in the scene at the cross, where the beloved disciple is “given” to Mary as her “new” son.

8 tn Grk “Woman, what to me and to you?” (an idiom). The phrase τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι (ti emoi kai soi, gunai) is Semitic in origin. The equivalent Hebrew expression in the Old Testament had two basic meanings: (1) When one person was unjustly bothering another, the injured party could say “What to me and to you?” meaning, “What have I done to you that you should do this to me?” (Judg 11:12, 2 Chr 35:21, 1 Kgs 17:18). (2) When someone was asked to get involved in a matter he felt was no business of his, he could say to the one asking him, “What to me and to you?” meaning, “That is your business, how am I involved?” (2 Kgs 3:13, Hos 14:8). Option (1) implies hostility, while option (2) implies merely disengagement. Mere disengagement is almost certainly to be understood here as better fitting the context (although some of the Greek Fathers took the remark as a rebuke to Mary, such a rebuke is unlikely).

9 tn Grk “my hour” (referring to the time of Jesus’ crucifixion and return to the Father).

sn The Greek word translated time (ὥρα, Jwra) occurs in John 2:4; 4:21, 23; 5:25, 28, 29; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 16:25; and 17:1. It is a reference to the special period in Jesus’ life when he was to leave this world and return to the Father (13:1); the hour when the Son of man is glorified (17:1). This is accomplished through his suffering, death, resurrection (and ascension – though this last is not emphasized by John). John 7:30 and 8:20 imply that Jesus’ arrest and death are included. John 12:23 and 17:1, referring to the glorification of the Son, imply that the resurrection and ascension are included as part of the “hour.” In John 2:4 Jesus’ remark to his mother indicates that the time for this self-manifestation has not yet arrived; his identity as Messiah is not yet to be publicly revealed.

10 tn The pronoun “it” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context.

11 tn Grk “for the purification of the Jews.”

12 tn Grk “holding two or three metretes” (about 75 to 115 liters). Each of the pots held 2 or 3 μετρηταί (metrhtai). A μετρητῆς (metrhths) was about 9 gallons (40 liters); thus each jar held 18-27 gallons (80-120 liters) and the total volume of liquid involved was 108-162 gallons (480-720 liters).

sn Significantly, these jars held water for Jewish ceremonial washing (purification rituals). The water of Jewish ritual purification has become the wine of the new messianic age. The wine may also be, after the fashion of Johannine double meanings, a reference to the wine of the Lord’s Supper. A number have suggested this, but there does not seem to be anything in the immediate context which compels this; it seems more related to how frequently a given interpreter sees references to the sacraments in John’s Gospel as a whole.

13 tn Grk “them” (it is clear from the context that the servants are addressed).

14 tn Or “the master of ceremonies.”

15 tn Grk “And when.” Because of the difference between Greek style, which often begins sentences or clauses with “and,” and English style, which generally does not, δέ (de) has not been translated here.

16 tn Grk “and he did not know where it came from.”

17 tn Grk “the head steward”; here the repetition of the phrase is somewhat redundant in English and the pronoun (“he”) is substituted in the translation.

18 tn Grk “every man” (in a generic sense).

19 tn Or “poorer.”

20 tn Grk “when they”; the referent (the guests) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

21 tn This sentence in Greek involves an object-complement construction. The force can be either “Jesus did this as,” or possibly “Jesus made this to be.” The latter translation accents not only Jesus’ power but his sovereignty too. Cf. also 4:54 where the same construction occurs.

22 map For location see Map1 C3; Map2 D2; Map3 C5.

23 tn Grk “in Cana of Galilee, and he revealed.”

24 tn Or “his disciples trusted in him,” or “his disciples put their faith in him.”



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