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John 2:3-4

Context
2:3 When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no wine left.” 1  2:4 Jesus replied, 2  “Woman, 3  why are you saying this to me? 4  My time 5  has not yet come.”

1 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.

2 tn Grk “and Jesus said to her.”

3 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.

4 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).

5 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.



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