John 2


The miracle at Cana in Galilee, where our Lord changed water

into wine, 1-11.

He goes to Capernaum, 12.

He purges the temple at the feast of the passover, 13-17.

The Jews require a miracle, as a proof that he had authority to

do these things, 18.

In answer he refers to his own death and resurrection, 19-22.

Many believe on him while at the feast of the passover, to whom

Jesus would not trust himself, 23-25.


Verse 1. Cana of Galilee] This was a small city in the tribe of

Asher, Jos 19:28, and by saying this was Cana of

Galilee, the evangelist distinguishes it from another Cana,

which was in the tribe of Ephraim, in the Samaritan country. See

Jos 16:8; 17:9.

Some suppose that the third day, mentioned here, refers to the

third day of the marriage feast: such feasts lasting among the

Jews seven days. See Jud 14:12, 17, 18, and Bishop Pearce.

The mother of Jesus was there] Some of the ancients have thought

that this was the marriage of John the evangelist, who is supposed

to have been a near relative of our Lord. See the sketch of his

life prefixed to these notes.

Verse 2. And both Jesus was called, and his disciples] There are

several remarkable circumstances here. 1. This was probably the

first Christian wedding that was ever in the world.

2. The great Author of the Christian religion, with his

disciples, (probably then only four or five in number, see

Joh 1:37, &c.,) were invited to it.

3. The first miracle Jesus Christ wrought was at it, and in

honour of it.

4. The mother of Christ, the most pure of all virgins, the most

holy of all wives, and the first Christian mother, was also at


5. The marriage was according to God, or these holy persons

would not have attended it.

6. The bride and bridegroom must have been a holy pair,

otherwise they would have had nothing to do with such holy


Marriage is ever honourable in itself; but it is not at all

times used honourably. Where Jesus is not invited to bless the

union, no good can be expected; and where the disciples of sin and

Satan are preferred to the disciples of Christ, on such occasions,

it is a melancholy intimation that so bad a beginning will have a

bad ending. I am afraid we may search long, before we find a

marriage conducted on such principles as this appears to have

been, even among those who make more than a common profession of

the religion of Christ.

Verse 3. They have no wine.] Though the blessed virgin is

supposed to have never seen her son work a miracle before this

time, yet she seems to have expected him to do something

extraordinary on this occasion; as, from her acquaintance with

him, she must have formed some adequate idea of his power and


Verse 4. Woman, what have I to do with thee?] τιεμοικαισοι

γυναι: O, woman, what is this to thee and me? This is an abrupt

denial, as if he had said: "WE are not employed to provide the

necessaries for this feast: this matter belongs to others, who

should have made a proper and sufficient provision for the persons

they had invited." The words seem to convey a reproof to the

virgin, for meddling with that which did not particularly concern

her. The holiest persons are always liable to errors of judgment:

and should ever conduct themselves with modesty and humility,

especially in those things in which the providence of God is

particularly concerned. But here indeed there appears to be no

blame. It is very likely the bride or bridegroom's family were

relatives of the blessed virgin; and she would naturally suppose

that our Lord would feel interested for the honour and comfort of

the family, and, knowing that he possessed extraordinary power,

made this application to him to come forward to their assistance.

Our Lord's answer to his mother, if properly translated, is far

from being disrespectful. He addresses the virgin as he did the

Syrophoenician woman, Mt 15:28; as he did the Samaritan woman,

Joh 4:21, as he addressed his disconsolate mother when he hung

upon the cross, Joh 19:26; as he did his most affectionate friend

Mary Magdalene, Joh 20:15, and as the angels had addressed her

before, Joh 20:13; and as St. Paul does the believing Christian

woman, 1Co 7:16; in all which places the same term, γυναι

which occurs in this verse, is used; and where certainly no kind

of disrespect is intended, but, on the contrary, complaisance,

affability, tenderness, and concern and in this sense it is used

in the best Greek writers.

Mine hour is not yet come.] Or, my time, for in this sense the

word ωρα is often taken. My time for working a miracle is not yet

fully come. What I do, I do when necessary, and not before. Nature

is unsteady-full of haste; and ever blundering, in consequence. It

is the folly and sin of men that they are ever finding fault with

the Divine providence. According to them, God never does any thing

in due time-he is too early or too late: whereas it is utterly

impossible for the Divine wisdom to forestall itself; or for the

Divine goodness to delay what is necessary.

Verse 5. His mother saith, &c.] The virgin seems to have

understood our Lord as hinted above. It was not yet time to grant

them a supply, because the want had not as yet been generally

felt. But, silently receiving the respectful caution, she saw

that the miracle should be wrought when it best suited the

purposes of the Divine wisdom.

Verse 6. After the manner of the purifying of the Jews] Or, for

the purpose of the purifying of the Jews. The preposition κατα,

which I have translated, for the purpose, often denotes in the

best Greek writers the final cause of a thing. See several

examples produced by Raphelius, from Arrian and Herodotus. These

six vessels were set in a convenient place, for the purpose of the

Jews washing their hands before they sat down to meat, and

probably for other purposes of purification. See this custom

referred to in Mt 15:2. As to the number

six, we need seek for no mystery in it; the number of pots was

proportioned to the number of the guests.

Containing two or three firkins apiece.] Measures or metretes,

μετρητας. Bishop Cumberland supposes that the Syrian metretes is

here meant, which he computes to have held seven pints and one

eighth of a pint; and, if this computation be right, the whole six

water pots might have contained about fourteen gallons and a

quart. Others make each metretes to contain ten gallons and two

pints: see Arbuthnot. But the contents of the measures of the

ancients are so very uncertain that it is best, in this and

numberless other cases, to attempt to determine nothing.

Verse 8. Governor of the feast.] The original word,

αρχιτρικλινος, signifies one who is chief or head over three

couches, or tables. In the Asiatic countries, they take their

meals sitting, or rather reclining, on small low couches. And when

many people are present, so that they cannot all eat together,

three of these low tables or couches are put together in form of a

crescent, and some one of the guests is appointed to take charge

of the persons who sit at these tables. Hence the appellation of

architriclinus, the chief over three couches or tables,

which in process of time became applied to the governor or steward

of a feast, let the guests be many or few; and such person, having

conducted the business well, had a festive crown put on his head

by the guests, at the conclusion of the feast. See Ecclesiasticus,

32:1-3. It is very common for the Hindoos to appoint a person who

is expert in conducting the ceremonies of a feast to manage as

governor. This person is seldom the master of the house.

And they bare it.] A question has been asked, "Did our Lord turn

all the water into wine which the six measures contained?" To

which I answer: There is no proof that he did; and I take it for

granted that he did not. It may be asked, "How could a part be

turned into wine, and not the whole?" To which I answer: The

water, in all likelihood, was changed into wine as it was drawn

out, and not otherwise. "But did not our Lord by this miracle

minister to vice, by producing an excess of inebriating liquor?"

No; for the following reasons: 1. The company was a select and

holy company, where no excess could be permitted. And, 2. Our Lord

does not appear to have furnished any extra quantity, but only

what was necessary. "But it is intimated in the text that the

guests were nearly intoxicated before this miraculous addition to

their wine took place; for the evangelist says, οτανμεθυσθωσι,

when they have become intoxicated." I answer: 1. It is not

intimated, even in the most indirect manner, that these guests

were at all intoxicated. 2. The words are not spoken of the

persons at that wedding at all: the governor of the feast only

states that such was the common custom at feasts of this nature;

without intimating that any such custom prevailed there. 3. The

original word bears a widely different meaning from that which the

objection forces upon it. The verbs μεθυσκω and μεθυω, from μεθυ,

wine, which, from μεταθυειν, to drink after sacrificing, signify

not only to inebriate, but to take wine, to drink wine, to

drink enough: and in this sense the verb is evidently used in the

Septuagint, Ge 43:34; So 5:1; 1 Macc. 16:16; Hag 1:6; Ecclus.

1:16. And the Prophet Isaiah, Isa 58:11, speaking of the abundant

blessings of the godly, compares them to a watered garden, which

the Septuagint translate, ωςκηποςμεθυων, by which is certainly

understood, not a garden drowned with water, but one sufficiently

saturated with it, not having one drop too much, nor too little.

Verse 10. The good wine until now.] That which our Lord now made

being perfectly pure, and highly nutritive!

Verse 11. This beginning of miracles] It was probably the first

he ever wrought:-at any rate, it was the first he wrought after

his baptism, and the first he wrought publicly.

His glory] His supreme Divinity: Joh 1:14.

His disciples believed on him.] Were more abundantly confirmed

in their faith, that he was either the promised Messiah, or a most

extraordinary prophet, in the fullest intercourse with the ever

blessed God.

Verse 13. And the Jews' passover was at hand] This was the

reason why he stayed but a few days at Capernaum, Joh 2:12, as he

wished to be present at the celebration of this feast at


This was the first passover after Christ's baptism. The second

is mentioned, Lu 6:1. The

third, Joh 6:4. And the

fourth, which was that at which he was crucified, Joh 11:55.

From which it appears, 1. That our blessed Lord continued his

public ministry about three years and a half, according to the

prophecy of Daniel, Da 9:27. And, 2. That, having been baptized

about the beginning of his thirtieth year, he was crucified

precisely in the middle of his thirty-third. See Martin.

Verse 14. Found in the temple those that sold oxen, &c.] This is

a similar fact to that mentioned Mt 21:12; Mr 11:15;

Lu 19:45. See it explained on Mt 21:12. If it be the

same fact, then John anticipates three years of time in relating

it here; as that cleansing of the temple mentioned by the other

evangelists took place in the last week of our Lord's life. Mr.

Mann, Dr. Priestley, and Bp. Pearce, contend that our Lord

cleansed the temple only once; and that was at the last passover.

Calvin, Mr. Mede, L'Enfant and Beausobre, Dr. Lardner, Bp. Hurd,

and Bp. Newcome, contend that he purged the temple twice; and that

this, mentioned by John, was the first cleansing, which none of

the other evangelists have mentioned. Let the reader, says Bp.

Newcome, observe the order of events.

"Jesus works his first miracle at Cana of Galilee, Joh 2:11;

then he passes a few days at Capernaum, which bring him on his way

to Jerusalem, Joh 2:12. The passover being near, he goes up to

Jerusalem, Joh 2:13, and casts the traders out of the temple,

Joh 2:15, 16, At the passover he works many miracles,

Joh 2:23. While he is in Jerusalem, which city he does not

leave till, Joh 3:22, Nicodemus comes to him by night,

Joh 3:1, 2. Joh 3:2 contains a reference to Joh 2:23.

After these things, Jesus departs from Jerusalem, and dwells and

baptizes in Judea, Joh 3:22. And all these incidents take place

before John was cast into prison, Joh 3:24. But the

second cleansing of the temple happens most clearly during the

last week of our Lord's life, after the death of the Baptist, and

at a time when it would be absurd to say that afterwards Jesus

dwelt and baptized in Judea."

The vindication of God's house from profanation was the first

and the last care of our Lord; and it is probable he began and

finished his public ministry by this significant act.

It certainly appears that John directly asserts an early

cleansing of the temple, by the series of his history; as the

other three evangelists assert a later cleansing of it. And though

the act mentioned here seems to be nearly the same with that

mentioned by the other evangelists, yet there are some

differences. St. John alone mentions the scourge of rushes, and

the casting out of the sheep and oxen. Besides, there is a

considerable difference in our Lord's manner of doing it: in the

cleansing mentioned by the three evangelists, he assumes a vast

deal of authority, and speaks more pointedly concerning himself,

than he appears to do in this cleansing mentioned by St. John: the

reason which has been given is, In the first cleansing he was just

entering upon his public ministry, and therefore avoided (as much

as was consistent with the accomplishment of his work) the giving

any offence to the Jewish rulers; but, in the last cleansing, he

was just concluding his ministry, being about to offer up his life

for the salvation of the world, in consequence of which he speaks

fully and without reserve. For answers to all the objections made

against two cleansings of the temple, see the notes at the end of

Bp. Newcome's Greek Harmony of the Gospels, pp. 7-9.

Verse 17. The zeal of thine house] See Ps 59:10. Zeal to

promote thy glory, and to keep thy worship pure.

Verse 18. What sign showest thou] See on Mt 12:38; 16:1. When

Moses came to deliver Israel, he gave signs, or miracles, that he

acted under a Divine commission. What miracle dost thou work to

show us that thou art vested with similar authority?

Verse 19. Destroy this temple] τονναοντουτον, This very

temple; perhaps pointing to his body at the same time.

Verse 20. Forty and six years was this temple in building] The

temple of which the Jews spake was begun to be rebuilt by Herod

the Great, in the 18th year of his reign: Jos. Ant. b. xv. c. 11,

s. 1; and xx. c. 9, s. 5, 7. But though he finished the main work

in nine years and a half, yet some additional buildings or repairs

were constantly carried on for many years afterwards. Herod began

the work sixteen years before the birth of our Lord: the

transactions which are here related took place in the thirtieth

year of our Lord, which make the term exactly forty-six years.

Rosenmuller. Josephus, Ant. b. xx. c. 8, s. 5, 7, has told us

that the whole of the buildings belonging to the temple were not

finished till Nero's reign, when Albinus, the governor of Judea,

was succeeded by Gessius Florus, which was eighty years after the

eighteenth year of Herod's reign. See Bp. Pearce.

Verse 21. Of the temple of his body.] Rather, the temple, his

body: his body had no particular temple: but it was the temple of

his Divinity-the place in which, as in the ancient temple, his

Godhead dwelt; See how the Jews perverted these words, Mt 26:60,

and the notes there.

Verse 22. Remembered that he had said this unto them] αυτοις, to

them, is wanting in AEHLMS, Matt. BV, upwards of one hundred

others; both the Syriac; Persic, Arabic, Coptic, AEthiopic,

Armenian, Slavonic, Vulgate, and Itala. Griesbach has left it out

of the text.

They believed the scripture] The scripture which the evangelist

immediately refers to may have been Ps 16:10. Compare this with

Ac 2:31, 32, and with Ac 13:35-37. See also Ps 2:7, and

compare it with Heb 1:5, and Heb 5:5, and with Ac 13:33. They

understood these scriptures in a sense in which they never before

understood them.

It is the property of many prophecies never to be understood

except by their accomplishment; but these are so marked that, when

their fulfilment takes place, they cannot be misunderstood, or

applied to any other event.

Verse 23. Many believed in his name] They believed him to be the

promised Messiah, but did not believe in him to the salvation of

their souls: for we find, from the following verse, that their

hearts were not at all changed, because our blessed Lord could not

trust himself to them.

Verse 24. He knew all men] Instead of παντας all men, EGH, and

about thirty others, read παντα, every man, or all things;

and this I am inclined to believe is the true reading. Jesus knew

all things; and why? Because he made all things, Joh 1:3, and

because he was the all-wise God, Joh 1:1; and he knew all men,

because he alone searches the heart, and tries the reins. He knows

who are sincere, and who are hypocritical: he knows those in whom

he can confide, and those to whom he can neither trust himself nor

his gifts. Reader, he also knows thee: thy cares, fears,

perplexities, temptations, afflictions, desires, and hopes; thy

helps and hinderances; the progress thou hast made in the Divine

life, or thy declension from it. If he know thee to be

hypocritical or iniquitous, he looks upon thee with abhorrence: if

he know thee to be of a meek and broken spirit, he looks on thee

with pity, complacency, and delight. Take courage-thou canst say,

Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I do love thee,

and mourn because I love and serve thee so little: then expect him

to come in unto thee, and make his abode with thee: while thy eye

and heart are simple, he will love thee, and thy whole soul shall

be full of light. To him be glory and dominion for ever!

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