Saint John – Chapter 2

The Bible – New Testament

Saint John

Chapter 2


1 On the third day there was a wedding 2 in Cana 3 in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.


Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.


When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, «They have no wine.»


4 (And) Jesus said to her, «Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.»


His mother said to the servers, «Do whatever he tells you.»


5 Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons.


Jesus told them, «Fill the jars with water.» So they filled them to the brim.


Then he told them, «Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.» 6 So they took it.


And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from (although the servers who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom


and said to him, «Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.»


Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs 7 in Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.


8 9 After this, he and his mother, (his) brothers, and his disciples went down to Capernaum and stayed there only a few days.


10 11 Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.


12 He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves, 13 as well as the money-changers seated there.


He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables,


and to those who sold doves he said, «Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.»


14 His disciples recalled the words of scripture, «Zeal for your house will consume me.»


At this the Jews answered and said to him, «What sign can you show us for doing this?»


Jesus answered and said to them, 15 «Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.»


The Jews said, «This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, 16 and you will raise it up in three days?»


But he was speaking about the temple of his body.


Therefore, when he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.


While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing.


But Jesus would not trust himself to them because he knew them all,


and did not need anyone to testify about human nature. He himself understood it well.

1 [⇒ 2:1-⇒ 6:71] Signs revealing Jesus as the Messiah to all Israel. «Sign» (semeion) is John’s symbolic term for Jesus’ wondrous deeds (see Introduction). The Old Testament background lies in the Exodus story (cf ⇒ Deut 11:3; ⇒ 29:2). John is interested primarily in what the semeia signify: God’s intervention in human history in a new way through Jesus.
2 [1-11] The first sign. This story of replacement of Jewish ceremonial washings (⇒ John 2:6) presents the initial revelation about Jesus at the outset of his ministry. He manifests his glory; the disciples believe. There is no synoptic parallel.
3 [1] Cana: unknown from the Old Testament. The mother of Jesus: she is never named in John.
4 [4] This verse may seek to show that Jesus did not work miracles to help his family and friends, as in the apocryphal gospels. Woman: a normal, polite form of address, but unattested in reference to one’s mother. Cf also ⇒ John 19:26. How does your concern affect me?: literally, «What is this to me and to you?» – a Hebrew expression of either hostility (⇒ Judges 11:12; ⇒ 2 Chron 35:21; ⇒ 1 Kings 17:18) or denial of common interest (⇒ Hosea 14:9; ⇒ 2 Kings 3:13). Cf ⇒ Mark 1:24; ⇒ 5:7 used by demons to Jesus. My hour has not yet come: the translation as a question («Has not my hour now come?»), while preferable grammatically and supported by Greek Fathers, seems unlikely from a comparison with ⇒ John 7:6, ⇒ 30. The «hour» is that of Jesus’ passion, death, resurrection, and ascension (⇒ John 13:1).
5 [6] Twenty to thirty gallons: literally, «two or three measures»; the Attic liquid measure contained 39.39 liters. The vast quantity recalls prophecies of abundance in the last days; cf ⇒ Amos 9:13-14; ⇒ Hosea 14:7; ⇒ Jeremiah 31:12.
6 [8] Headwaiter: used of the official who managed a banquet, but there is no evidence of such a functionary in Palestine. Perhaps here a friend of the family acted as master of ceremonies; cf ⇒ Sirach 32:1.
7 [11] The beginning of his signs: the first of seven (see Introduction).
8 [⇒ 2:12-⇒ 3:21] The next three episodes take place in Jerusalem. Only the first is paralleled in the synoptic gospels.
9 [12] This transitional verse may be a harmonization with the synoptic tradition in ⇒ Luke 4:31 and ⇒ Matthew 4:13. There are many textual variants. John depicts no extended ministry in Capernaum as do the synoptics.
10 [13-22] This episode indicates the post-resurrectional replacement of the temple by the person of Jesus.
11 [13] Passover: this is the first Passover mentioned in John; a second is mentioned in ⇒ John 6:4 a third in ⇒ John 13:1. Taken literally, they point to a ministry of at least two years.
12 [14-22] The other gospels place the cleansing of the temple in the last days of Jesus’ life (Matthew, on the day Jesus entered Jerusalem; Mark, on the next day). The order of events in the gospel narratives is often determined by theological motives rather than by chronological data.
13 [14] Oxen, sheep, and doves: intended for sacrifice. The doves were the offerings of the poor (⇒ Lev 5:7). Money-changers: for a temple tax paid by every male Jew more than nineteen years of age, with a half-shekel coin (⇒ Exodus 30:11-16), in Syrian currency. See the note on ⇒ Matthew 17:24.
14 [17] ⇒ Psalm 69:10, changed to future tense to apply to Jesus.
15 [19] This saying about the destruction of the temple occurs in various forms (⇒ Matthew 24:2; ⇒ 27:40; ⇒ Mark 13:2; ⇒ 15:29; ⇒ Luke 21:6; cf ⇒ Acts 6:14). ⇒ Matthew 26:61 has: «I can destroy the temple of God. . .»; see the note there. In ⇒ Mark 14:58, there is a metaphorical contrast with a new temple: «I will destroy this temple made with hands and within three days I will build another not made with hands.» Here it is symbolic of Jesus’ resurrection and the resulting community (see ⇒ John 2:21 and ⇒ Rev 21:2). In three days: an Old Testament expression for a short, indefinite period of time; cf ⇒ Hosea 6:2.
16 [20] Forty-six years: based on references in Josephus (Jewish Wars 1,21,1 #401; Antiquities 15,11,1 #380), possibly the spring of A.D. 28. Cf the note on ⇒ Luke 3:1.