John 2:9
When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
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(9) Water that was made wine.—Better, water that had become wine. At what moment did the transformation take place? What water became wine? The text itself does not speak of “water now become wine” until the ruler of the feast tasted it, and immediately afterwards speaks of it as “water,” when the servants drew it, for the plain reference of the parenthesis in brackets is to the drawing of the water from the pitchers (John 2:8), not to a previous drawing of water to place in the pitchers, which has not been even hinted at. Unless, then, there is a strong reason which does not appear in these words, this simple meaning is the true one;—that the change took place during or after the drawing from the pitchers, and that that portion only was changed which was carried to the ruler and actually needed to supply the guests. The reason based upon the mention of the number and contents of the pitchers (John 2:6) is certainly not a strong one. It is quite natural to find these stated in the picturesque style of this Gospel, and there is no care to give more than a rough estimate of the size from a remembrance either of these pitchers or of pitchers generally used for this purpose. There is more force in the general impression derived from John 2:7. It may be fairly asked why was more water placed in readiness than was needed? But the pitchers would be in any case re-filled for ablutions after the feast. They were at hand, meeting the eye. All possibility of collusion is thus excluded. They had been used not long before; they would very soon be used again. The filling of all leaves to the servants the choice of one or more from which to draw. There is an unfailing potential supply; it becomes an actual supply only when needed and appropriated by human want. This, as every supernatural work, is made to depend upon faith. There is no demand for this faith in filling water-pots with water; it is otherwise when they draw it, and bear it in the usual tankard to the ruler, in answer to the demand for wine. Here, as everywhere in divine action, there is an economy in the use of power. There is no miracle of “luxury” or “waste” or “excess.” These cavils of the higher criticism are—like the additions of expositors, as that the feast lasted for a week or more, or their perversions, as that the wine was in no sense intoxicating—superstructures without a foundation.

2:1-11 It is very desirable when there is a marriage, to have Christ own and bless it. Those that would have Christ with them at their marriage, must invite him by prayer, and he will come. While in this world we sometimes find ourselves in straits, even when we think ourselves in fulness. There was want at a marriage feast. Those who are come to care for the things of the world, must look for trouble, and count upon disappointment. In our addresses to Christ, we must humbly spread our case before him, and then refer ourselves to him to do as he pleases. In Christ's reply to his mother there was no disrespect. He used the same word when speaking to her with affection from the cross; yet it is a standing testimony against the idolatry of after-ages, in giving undue honours to his mother. His hour is come when we know not what to do. Delays of mercy are not denials of prayer. Those that expect Christ's favours, must observe his orders with ready obedience. The way of duty is the way to mercy; and Christ's methods must not be objected against. The beginning of Moses' miracles was turning water into blood, Ex 7:20; the beginning of Christ's miracles was turning water into wine; which may remind us of the difference between the law of Moses and the gospel of Christ. He showed that he improves creature-comforts to all true believers, and make them comforts indeed. And Christ's works are all for use. Has he turned thy water into wine, given thee knowledge and grace? it is to profit withal; therefore draw out now, and use it. It was the best wine. Christ's works commend themselves even to those who know not their Author. What was produced by miracles, always was the best in its kind. Though Christ hereby allows a right use of wine, he does not in the least do away his own caution, which is, that our hearts be not at any time overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, Lu 21:34. Though we need not scruple to feast with our friends on proper occasions, yet every social interview should be so conducted, that we might invite the Redeemer to join with us, if he were now on earth; and all levity, luxury, and excess offend him.And knew not whence it was - This is said, probably, to indicate that his judgment was not biased by any favor, or any lack of favor, toward Jesus. Had he known what was done, he would have been less likely to have judged impartially. As it is, we have his testimony that this was real wine, and of so fine a body and flavor as to surpass that which had been provided for the occasion. Everything in this miracle shows that there was no collusion or understanding between Jesus and any of the persons at the feast. 9, 10. well drunk—"drunk abundantly" (as So 5:1), speaking of the general practice. Our Saviour’s action, by which he turned the water into wine, being not obvious to the senses of any; but only the secret motion of his will, willing the thing to be; is not recorded, only the effect and the consequents of it are. The papists would from hence argue, that the bread in the sacrament may be called bread, though it be transubstantiated, as the water here is called water, though it were turned into wine; but it must be observed, that it is not here called water, without the addition of

that was made wine: we have no such addition in the gospel, where the sacramental bread is called bread; it is not said, the bread which now is turned into the flesh of Christ; nor doth the Scripture any where (as here) attest any such transubstantiation. The governor of the feast had a cup of wine presented to him, but knew not whence it came; only the servants, who by Christ’s command first filled the vessels, and drew out this cupful, they knew.

When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water,.... The Persic version reads, "tasted of the wine", and adds, what is not in the text, "it was of a very grateful savour": but the sense is, he tasted of that which was before water, but now

was made wine; not in such sense as the Papists pretend that the bread and wine, in the Lord's supper, are transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ, by the consecration of the priest; after which they appear to have the same properties of bread and wine as before; but this water, that was turned into wine, ceased to be what it was before, and became what it was not: it had no more the properties, the colour, and taste of water, but of wine; of which the whole company were judges:

and knew not whence it was; from whence it came, where it was had, nor any thing of the miracle that was wrought, and therefore was a proper person to have it put into his hands first; since it cannot be thought he should say what he does in the following verse, from any compact with Christ, or in favour of him.

But the servants which drew the water knew; they knew from whence they had it, out of the water pots; and they knew that they filled them with water; and that that liquor, which the ruler of the feast had in his hands, and commended as most excellent wine, was drawn out of them; and that there was no juggle, nor deceit in the case: and, upon tasting of it,

the governor of the feast called the bridegroom to him; out of the place where he sat, and which might not be far from him.

When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,
John 2:9-10. The parenthesis, usually made to begin with κ. οὐκ ᾔδει, must be limited to οἱ δὲ διάκονοι

ὕδωρ, because not only does the construction run on with καὶ οὐκ ᾔδει, but a reason is also assigned for the φωνεῖ τὸν νυμφίον, κ.τ.λ., which follows; for had the man known whence the new wine had come, he would not in surprise have called the bridegroom, etc.

τὸ ὕδωρ οἶν. γεγεν.] not the wine which had been water (Luther), but the water which had become wine (and now was wine). Observe the force of the perfect. If the τό had been repeated, this water, as that which had been made wine, would have been distinguished from other water (aquam, eam dico quae, etc.). See Kühner, ad Xen. Anab. iv. 6. 1. The τό not being repeated, the ὕδωρ οἶν. γεγεν. expresses one complete conception.

πόθεν ἐστίν] whence it comes, i.e. that it had been drawn out of the water-pitchers. This is evident from the following οἱ ἠνκληκότες τὸ ὕδωρ. The table-master, therefore, cannot have been present at the drawing out of the water, John 2:8. Concerning the present ἐστίν, see John 1:40.

The insertion of the words οἱ δὲ διάκονοι, κ.τ.λ., serves to give prominence to the reality of the miracle.

ᾔδεισαν] i.e. πόθεν ἐστίν, but they did not know that it was wine which they brought.

φωνεῖ] He called him to him (comp. John 1:49), and said to him. Whether the bridegroom was just outside at the time (as Nonnus represents), or was reclining at the table, or is to be supposed as employed in the chamber, does not appear.

ὁ ἀρχιτρίκλ.] a superfluous repetition, but suggested by the parenthesis, as is often the case in Greek.

πᾶς ἄνθρωπος, κ.τ.λ.] spoken under the impression that the bridegroom had kept the good wine in reserve, and had not allowed it to be put forth (τίθησι), but now was regaling them with it. We may suppose the words to have been spoken jocularly, in joyous surprise after tasting the wine. The general custom, however, to which the table-master refers, is not elsewhere with any certainty confirmed (the proof in Wetstein is doubtful); nor, indeed, considering the playful way in which it was spoken, does it need any voucher.

ὅταν μεθυσθῶσι] when they have become intoxicated, so that they can no longer appreciate the goodness of the wine. The word does not mean anything else; not when they have well drunk (Tholuck, De Wette, and several, e.g. Beza, Cornelius a Lapide, and others), because intoxication is the essential though relative conception (see also Genesis 43:34; Haggai 1:6; Revelation 17:2). The man says only in joke, as if it were a general experience, what he certainly may often have observed, and no inference can therefore be drawn from his words that the guests at Cana were already intoxicated; especially as ὥς ἄρτι simply means till now, after they had been drinking so long at the table, in antithesis with the πρῶτον.

John 2:9. The architriklinos, then, when he had tasted the water which had now become wine, and did not know whence it had been procured, and was therefore impartially judging it merely as wine among wines, φωνεῖ τὸν νυμφίον, “calls the bridegroom,” or simply “addresses the bridegroom,” and says to him πᾶς ἄνθρωπος … The usage referred to was natural: and is illustrated by the ἑωλοκρασία, the mixture of all the heeltaps with which the harder heads dosed the drunken at the end of a debauch.—ὅταν μεθυσθῶσι, “when men have drunk freely,” R.V[33] The Vulgate more accurately has “cum inebriati fuerint”. And if the word does not definitely mean “when men are intoxicated,” it at least must indicate a condition in which they are unfit to discriminate between good wine and bad. The company then present was not in that condition, because they were able to appreciate the good wine; but the words of the architriklinos unquestionably imply that a good deal had already been drunk. The ἕως ἄρτι involves this. The significance of the remark consists in the certificate thus given to the quality of the wine. Bengel felicitously says: “Ignorantia architriclini comprobat bonitatem vini: scientia ministrorum veritatem miraculi”. Judging it by his natural taste and comparing it with the wine supplied by the host, the architriklinos pronounces this fresh supply better. What Christ introduces into the world will stand comparison with what is already in it. Christian grace must manifest itself not in sanctimonious and unpractical displays, but must stand comparison with the rough natural virtues, the courage, generosity, and force which are called for in the practical affairs of life.

[33] Revised Version.

9. ruler of the feast] Perhaps manager of the feast would be better. It is doubtful whether the head-waiter, who managed the feast and tasted the meat and drink, is meant, or the rex convivii, arbiter bibendi, the guest elected by the other guests to preside. The bad taste of his remark inclines one to the former alternative: Sir 32:1-2 is in favour of the second. In any case the translation should be uniform in these two verses, not sometimes ‘governor,’ sometimes ‘ruler.’ It is the same Greek word in all three cases, a word occurring nowhere else in N.T. The words also for ‘water-pot’ or ‘pitcher’ and for ‘draw out’ are peculiar to this Gospel; but they occur again John 4:7; John 4:15; John 4:28.

the water that was made wine] Or, the water now become wine. The Greek seems to imply that all the water had become wine; there is nothing to mark a distinction between what was now wine and what still remained water. It is idle to ask at what precise moment the water became wine: nor is much gained by representing the miracle as a series of natural processes (rain passing through the vine into the grapes, being pressed out and fermented, &c.) compressed into an instant. Such compression is neither more nor less intelligible than simple transition from water to wine. Moreover there was no vine.

which drew] Better, who had drawn.

called] Rather, calleth.

John 2:9. Ὁ ἀρχιτρίκλινος, the governor of the feast) who was directing the whole management of the feast: one skilled in deciding a question of taste.—τὸ ὕδωρ) The Article marks the subject.—οὐκ ᾔδει· ᾔδεισαν, did not know: they knew) The ignorance of the governor of the feast proves the goodness of the wine: the knowledge of the servants[proves] the truth of the miracle.—φωνεῖ) calls: it is not added, to himself.

Verse 9. - When the governor of the feast tasted the water which had become wine. Luther translated, "Den Wein der Wasser gewesen war" - "The wine which had been water." No other explanation is possible than one that asserts an astounding contravention of the ordinary evolutions and sequences of nature. If wine has taken the place of water, there has been added to the water that which was not there before. The vine, with all its wondrous processes - the vineyard, the wine press, and other appliances - have all been dispensed with, and the same power which said, "Let there be light," called these additional elements together, originated them by his will. The new properties presented themselves to the percipient senses. In this respect the transformation is profoundly different from the supposed change which occurs in the Holy Eucharist. There the accidents and elements all remain; the substantia underlying them is supposed to be replaced by another substantia; but neither the one nor the other substance has ever been present to the senses. Here a new substance, with previously undiscovered attributes, presents itself. The uncompromising opponents of the supernatural will accept almost any interpretation but that which lies on the surface. The rationalistic, mythical, poetic mystic explanations all alike are encumbered with special difficulties. The evangelist who held Christ to be the Logos incarnate saw nothing inconceivable in the event. It was one of many phenomena which accompanied his life as the "Son of man," which helped to create the underlying presupposition on which the Gospel was written. Like the testimony of the last of the prophets and the earliest of the disciples, it is part of the evidence that the Logos dwelt among us. When the governor tasted wine drawn from these water pots, and knew not whence it was. He had known all the resources of the feast, but this puzzled him by its novelty. "Whence has it come? Where has it been stored? Whose is it?" An interesting parenthesis is here introduced, to contrast the ignorance of the ruler of the feast with the overwhelming mystery of knowledge given to the servants (the disciples of Jesus himself), [But the servants (διάκονοι) who drew the water knew]; knew, i.e., whence it was and, it seems to me, what it was. Meyer and others say they did not know that they had brought wine. It is impossible to assert as much as this. They knew the plain fact that it was not a wine vat or wine cask, but a water jar, from which they had drawn in order to fill the chalices in their hands. They became, therefore, guarantors of the mysterious sign. How much more than "whence" it was had dawned on their mind we cannot say. The governor of the feast calleth the bridegroom. We may judge from this that this responsible person was not in the room where the six water jars were placed, and that he either approached the bridegroom in his seat of honour, or called to him from his own, and expressed, by a convivial boast and equivocal compliment, his sense of the excellence of the wine which had thus, at the end of the feast, been lavished on the guests, who had been hitherto kept strangely ignorant of the resources of the host. It is unnecessary to put into the words any meaning deeper than the epigrammatic humour in which he revealed his sense of the reality of the objective fact which had been brought to his knowledge. John 2:9
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