Bible Study on Gospel of John, Chapter 2

by Matt Slick

Bible Study on John 2:1–25


  1. "On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.
    1. "on the third day" is a Semitic expression for "the day after tomorrow." So, the wedding at Cana most probably occurred two days after the calling of Philip and Nathaniel in John 1:43.
    2. Cana is only mentioned in John 2:1, 11; 4:46; 21:2, nowhere else in the Bible.
    3. Perhaps John mentioned Cana of Galilee because the hostility against Jesus began in Judea.
    4. In the Gospel of John, Jesus' mother is never mentioned by name but she is mentioned (John 2:2; 6:42; 19:25).
  2. and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.
    1. weddings were not casual events in the ancient near East.
    2. The word "disciples" in the Gospel of John is used more broadly than it is in the book of Matthew where it refers only to the 12. Here, it means those were following Christ as disciples and can be more than just 12.  but here, it's probably just a few people.
  3. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”
    1. It could be that the guests ran out of wine or that the people in charge of the wedding ran out of wine. Either way, they were out.
    2. At a wedding, for the wine to run out could be a great embarrassment to the bride and groom and their families.
  4. And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.”
    1. The term "woman" was not rude when the cultural context.  Later during the crucifixion Jesus addressed his mother Mary and said "woman, behold, your son" (John 19:26), when referencing the disciple whom he loved, presumably John.
    2. Literally in the Greek, Jesus said "what to me and to you?"  the same expression is used by the demons in Mark 1:24; 5:7.
      1. Mark 1:24, "saying, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are - the Holy One of God!”"
      2. Mark 5:7, "and shouting with a loud voice, he said, “What business do we have with each other, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God, do not torment me!”"
    3. "My hour has not yet come.”  This is in reference to his coming death.
      1. John 7:30, "So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come."
      2. John 8:20, "These words He spoke in the treasury, as He taught in the temple; and no one seized Him, because His hour had not yet come."
      3. John 12:27, "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour."
      4. John 13:1, " Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end."
      5. John 17:1, "Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You,"
    4. The fact that Jesus performed miracles is one of the reasons the Jews wanted to kill him.  It was also due to his teachings
      1. Miracles: Mark 3:1–6, "He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. 2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” 4 And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him."
      2. Teachings:   Matthew 26:1–4, "When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.” 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; 4 and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him."
  5. His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
    1. These are the final words of Mary recorded in the Gospel of John.
    2. Most probably the servants belonged to the household where the wedding was being held.
    3. Roman Catholics often use this verse, and its context, to exalt Mary and support her influence over Jesus. After all, Mary gave instructions and the servants followed. Furthermore, Jesus also performed his first miracle at the behest of Mary.  Therefore, many Catholics are urged to pray to Mary in order to have influence with Jesus.
    4. The statement of Mary implies that Mary knew something about Jesus more than is revealed in the text. Perhaps she had studied the Scriptures, knew he was the Messiah, and knew he could perform miracles. If she acknowledged that his ministry began after his baptism by John the Baptist, then it is probable that she understood more than the average person, even the disciples, at that time.
    5. Because Mary was involved, it is possible that she may have been related to one of the families in the wedding.
  6. Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each.
    1. The six water pots may or may not relate to the six days of creation (Genesis 1:1-31). After all, this is Jesus' first miracle, and it is to create.
      1. Genesis 1:1–3, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light."
    2. According to Jewish law, stone water parts could be washed after use. But Clay water parts would have to be broken.
    3. Literally, the Greek says "measures", not gallons.  A measure was roughly equivalent to 9 or 10 gallons, or 80 to 120 liters.
  7. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim.
    1. Jesus told the servants to fill the water pots with water. Apparently they were already empty.
  8. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him.
    1. As soon as they had fill the water pots Jesus told them to take some out and it had been changed the wine.
    2. The head waiter is probably a servant in charge of the wine.
  9. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom,
    1. The text does not indicate if all six of the water parts had turned to wine or if just one of them had been changed.
  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.”
    1. Some Christians assert that the wine Jesus made was not alcoholic but was only grape juice. This is problematic since a wedding feast would require alcoholic wine and grape juice. Weddings required a lot of preparation and any water that would have to be stored could go stagnant. Therefore, wine would have been used since it would remain fresh for much longer periods. Plus, wine was used in celebrations, not grape juice.
    2. "have drunk freely" implies getting drunk since it is the Greek word methysko.  So, most probably by the time the wine ran out, people were inebriated to some degree.
    3. Keep the good wine until later.
      1. The general practice at such feasts was to give the good wine right away because that's when a person's palate was most sensitive. After the period of consumption, the pallet was not as able to discern tastes and so the lesser quality wine would be presented.
    4. Alcohol
      1. Psalm 104:15, "And wine which makes man’s heart glad, so that he may make his face glisten with oil, And food which sustains man’s heart."
      2. Proverbs 31:6–7, "Give strong drink to him who is perishing, and wine to him whose life is bitter. 7 Let him drink and forget his poverty and remember his trouble no more."
      3. Ephesians 5:18, "And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,"
  11. This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
    1. This is the first miracle of Jesus.
    2. John 1:14 speaks of beholding the glory of Christ. Therefore, this first manifestation of his glory is a demonstration of his creative ability.
    3. His miracle moved his disciples to believe in him.
  12. After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days
    1. Apparently after the wedding feast the went to Capernaum.
    2. Cana is in the hill country but Capernaum is below sea level on the shore of Galilee.
    3. His brothers would have been younger brothers, in spite of what the Roman Catholic Church says about the perpetual virginity of Mary. Therefore, in order for them to hold their position, they render the Greek (adelphoi) "brothers" as (anepsios) "cousins".  But the Greek is adelphoi, brothers, not anepsios, cousins.


  1. The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
    1. The account of Jesus cleansing the temple is recorded in all four Gospels:  Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46. In the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) the cleansing of the temple is placed in the last week of Jesus' ministry.  Here in the gospel of John it occurs at the beginning of his ministry.
      1. Some commentators think that it is possible Jesus cleanser temple two times, once at the beginning and once at the end of his ministry. This would make sense if we consider that by two witnesses is a truth established.  " “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED," (Matt. 18:16). 
      2. Another option is that there was only one cleansing of the temple and John, a different gospel in style and purpose than the Synoptics, place it at the beginning of his ministry for theological reasons. In verses 21-22, John records the incident where Jesus prophesies his own resurrection and John comments that Jesus was referring to the temple of his body.
    2. it was customary for the Jews to go to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. But it was not a festival in the sense sometimes used in modern times which speaks of celebration. The Passover festival, in ancient times, was a time of remembrance where God passed over the people of Israel when the angel of death was sent to the firstborn of Egypt.
    3. "went up" is the phrase used when describing going to Jerusalem which was in the hill country of Judea.
  2. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.
    1. The word "temple" in the Greek is 'heiron', ἱερόν, and refers to the court of the Gentiles which is outside the inner sanctuary. The word "temple" used by Jesus in verse 19 is "naos" ναός, and usually refers to the entire temple area.
    2. The money changers changed the Roman coins into Jewish coins for temple use, because no coins could be allowed on the inner Temple grounds that bore the images of Roman leaders.
  3. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables
    1. A scourge, φραγέλλιον, phragéllion, was a whip, though not the kind we might think of that snaps in the air. Instead, it was more like a long cord or rope used to drive cattle. The Jews did not allow weapons of any kind on the temple grounds, which would explain why Jesus had to improvise.  his production of a type of weapon combined with the forced removal of the moneychangers would have been hugely controversial in the mind of the Jews and could easily motivate them by that incident alone, to want to kill Jesus.
    2. Did Jesus take the coins and scatter them and then turn the tables over, or did turning the tables over because they scattering of the coins?
  4. and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a place of business.”
    1. The first mention of a dove is when Noah sent one out after the flood see if dryland had appeared:  Genesis 8:8, "Then he sent out a dove from him, to see if the water was abated from the face of the land."
      1. Turtledoves, a smaller than normal dove, were used in sacrifices in the Old Testament: Leviticus 12:6; 14:22; Numbers 6:10, etc.
    2. In Greek, "house" and "place" are the same word:  oikos, οἶκος
    3. Jesus said "My Father's house". Jesus claimed a special relationship with God.
      1. "My Father" is used by Jesus in throughout Matthew, Luke, and John. The phrases that occur in the gospel of Mark.  The phrase designates Christ's authority from God the Father and hence the Trinity.  Matthew 7:21; 10:32-33; 11:27; 13:50; 16:17;18:10, 19; Luke 10:22; 22:29; John 5:17; 6:32; 8:19; 14:2, etc.
  5. His disciples remembered that it was written, “ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.”
    1. This is a quote from Psalm 69:9, "For zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me."
    2. Jesus expressed his great devotion to the sanctity and holiness the house of God with which the Jews should have expressed great reverence. But they had turned it into a place of monetary gain.
  6. The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?”
    1. The Jews wanted to know what gave Jesus the authority to do what he did. So they asked him for a physical manifestation some sort of sign that demonstrated his authority.
    2. Remember, Jesus is in the temple area, the singular most important spiritual place in all of Israel. His actions are, therefore, very serious.
    3. Only God would have the right to cleanse the temple.
  7. Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
    1. The word Temple is from the Greek ναός, naós.  it means a dwelling place, temple, and in this case the entire temple area.
    2. Notice the juxtaposition of destroy and raise up.  The Greek word for "destroy" is λύω, lúō.  It means to loose, set free, sever, break, demolish, destroy.  It has different senses in different verses.
      1. Ephesians 2:14, "For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall."
    3.  "I will raise" is ἐγείρω, egeírō, and it is present, active, indicative signifying that Jesus will be the one performing the action of raising the temple.
  8. The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”
    1. The Jews naturally misunderstood what Jesus was referring to since they were in the temple area.
    2. Technically speaking, the temple was not completed until A.D. 63.  Some critics have used this to undermine the inspiration scripture by citing it as an error.  But, this is not an error for two reasons.
      1. John is quoting what the Pharisees said. And, quoting an error does not mean the Bible is in error.
      2. More likely the answer is that the Jews obviously knew that the temple was not yet completed and would therefore have been referring to the summary of the whole process of the temple being built up to that time. 
        1. " the Septuagint of Ezra 5:16 the same aorist form of the verb is used of the building of the Temple, and there also the Temple was not yet completed."1
  9. But He was speaking of the temple of His body.
    1. This is the commentary of John the apostle. He understood that Jesus was talking about his death and resurrection, because he wrote the gospel after Christ had ascended into heaven - as is demonstrated in the next verse.
    2. Jesus body was truly the temple of God.
      1. Colossians 2:9, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form."
  10. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
    1. Notice the changing of the voice from active to passive. From "I will raise" in v. 19, to the passive "when he was raised" here. This is consistent with the doctrine of the Trinity.
      1. The father raised Jesus (1 Thess. 1:10) and the Holy Spirit is associated with resurrection as well in Romans 8:11, "But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you."
  11. Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing.
    1. Many people were trusting in Jesus.
    2. This is more than mere mental acknowledgment. It means a trust in him.
    3. "in his name" occurs six times in the New Testament, including John 2:23
      1. Matthew 12:21, "AND IN HIS NAME THE GENTILES WILL HOPE.”"
      2. Luke 24:47, "and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem."
      3. John 1:12, "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name,"
      4. John 20:31, "but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name."
      5. Acts 3:16, "And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all."
  12. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men,
    1. A. "men" is not in the Greek. "all" is "pantas" and is the masculine; hence, 'men'. This is not uncommon in the Greek language.
  13. and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man."
    1. The fact that Jesus knew what was in people, implies his deity since he understands the very nature of man as well as what is in them. This is an affirmation that he is God in flesh.




  • 1. Newman, Barclay Moon, and Eugene Albert Nida. A Handbook on the Gospel of John. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies, 1993.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.