John 2 Commentary

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Charts from Jensen's Survey of the NT - used by permission
Another Chart from Charles Swindoll

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John 2:1 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there;

KJV - And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

NLT - The next day Jesus' mother was a guest at a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee

  • the third: Joh 1:43 
  • a marriage (KJV): Ge 1:27,28 2:18-25 Ps 128:1-4 Pr 18:22 Pr 19:14 Pr 31:10-12 Eph 5:30-33 1Ti 4:1-3 Heb 13:4 
  • Cana (KJV): Joh 4:46 21:2 Jos 19:28, Kanah
  • Mother - Jn 19:25


  • John 2:1-11. First sign - At a marriage in Cana, Jesus turns water into wine,
  • John 2:12 Jesus goes to Capernaum,
  • John 2:13-17 Jesus goes to Jerusalem, where He drives the buyers and sellers out of the temple, .
  • John 2:18-22. Jesus predicts His own death and resurrection as the proof of His authority,
  • John 2:23-25 Many believe in Him because of His miracles, but Jesus does not commit himself to them, as “knowing what was in man"


Hindson has an interesting preface noting that "In this chapter there are two events detailed which illustrate the emptiness and deficiency of Judaism. The empty water jars at the wedding feast describe the condition of Judaism in meeting the spiritual needs of the Jewish people. This emptiness is further described in the cleansing of the Temple, and Judaism is described as corrupt." (King James Bible Commentary)

Thomas Constable makes a great observation that "John's account of the beginning of Jesus' public ministry highlights the fact that Jesus replaced what was old with something new (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17). New wine replaced old water. Later a clean temple replaced a dirty one, a new birth replaced an old birth, living (flowing) water replaced well water, and new worship replaced old worship.The larger underlying theme continues to be the revelation of Jesus' identity. (Notes on the Bible)

On the third day - "It is obvious John is emphasizing the first week of Christ’s ministry. Just as the last days were crucial, so also the initial hours of the Lord’s earthly work were important. The first day is referred to in John 1:35+; the second is mentioned in Jn 1:43+; and the third day is seen in Jn 2:1." (Toussaint)

Third day is obviously significant as the time when Jesus would rise from the dead (Mt. 16:21; Mt. 17:23; Mt. 20:19; Mt. 27:64; Lk. 9:22; Lk. 13:32; Lk. 18:33; Lk. 24:7; Lk. 24:46; Acts 10:40; 1 Co. 15:4). There could be an association for on the third day in Cana there was a celebration the disciples (5 of them) attended and on the third day in Jerusalem there was a celebration by the disciples (a celebration that resounds through the ages in the lives and from the lips of all His disciples that "He is Risen!")

Robertson "On the day the third" (locative case), from the start to Galilee when Philip was found (John 1:43), seven days since John 1:19.

There was a wedding - A Jewish wedding feast was a celebration that often lasted a week. 

In Cana of Galilee (see another map) Only about 9 miles from Nazareth (an estimate because we are not 100% sure of where Cana was located), the home of Jesus as a boy (Jn 21:2). It seems that He returned to Cana from His baptism in the Jordan and from the temptation in the wilderness and at the wedding He performed His first miracle. Cana was also home of Nathanael (Jn 21:2). Note that Cana of Galilee was later the site of Jesus' third sign ("the second sign" performed in Cana; Jn 4:54). The only other mention of Cana is in John 4:46 "Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum."

ESV Study Bible on location of Cana - Archaeological attention has focused on the excavation site of Khirbet Kana, 8.3 miles (13 km) north of Nazareth, as the most likely locale for the Roman town of Cana. Excavation of this site has revealed substantial quantities of Roman potsherds, thus confirming Roman-era occupation; it also features a prime location on the Roman road from Ptolemais to Magdala.

and the mother of Jesus was there - John never mentions Mary by her name, just as he tends to leave himself anonymous (Jn 19:26-27). Joseph is not mentioned so most think he had passed on by now.

John 2:2  and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding.

KJV - And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

NLT - Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration.

  • both: Mt 12:19 Lu 7:34-38 1Co 7:39 10:31 Col 3:17 Rev 3:20 
  • his: Mt 10:40-42 25:40,45 
  • the wedding: Heb 13:4 

And both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding - At this time the disciples probably were the five mentioned in John's account - Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathanael, and the unnamed disciple (Jn 1:35+) who was surely John himself. (Jn 1:35-51+)

"Wise is that couple who invite Jesus to their wedding!"
- Warren Wiersbe

The fact that this is the Lord's first "official" ministry function, clearly shows that Jesus valued marriage and family life. And this has been passed on as a component of the marriage ceremony in the Book of Common Prayer...

DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this company, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church: which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence and first miracle that he wrought in Cana of Galilee, and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God. Into this holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. If any man can show just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace. (The Book of Common Prayer - 1928)

Hindson on His disciples - Since the disciples had joined Christ so recently, there is the problem in resolving how they were all invited to the wedding feast. There are two possible answers: Jesus could have stopped in Nazareth on His way to Cana and accepted the invitation for His disciples; or second, Nathanael could have made the arrangements since he was from Cana. (King James Bible Commentary)

Disciples (3101)(mathetes from manthano = conveys connotation of intentional learning by inquiry and observation) describes a person who learns from another by instruction, whether formal or informal. Discipleship includes the idea of one who intentionally learns by inquiry and observation (cf inductive Bible study) and thus mathetes is more than a mere pupil. A mathetes describes an adherent of a teacher. As discussed below mathetes itself has no spiritual connotation, and it is used of superficial followers of Jesus as well as of genuine believers.

Related Resource: 

Ralph Earle - As followers of Jesus we are to be, first of all, learners. We are to learn from Him by listening to Him, learn the truth that will set us free (John 8:32) and keep us from error. But we are also to learn from Him by looking at Him‑ learn how to live a life of beauty and blessing. (Word Meanings in the New Testament)

Barclay writes that "All his life a Christian should be learning more and more about Jesus. The shut mind is the end of discipleship!" (Matthew 5 Commentary)

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - During the lifetime of Jesus there were many who considered themselves his disciples. That is, they followed him and listened to his words, as pupils might listen to a teacher. Although these people may have thought Jesus to be the Messiah, many of them had a wrong understanding of the sort of person the Messiah would be. They expected him to be a political leader who would free the Jews from Roman domination and bring in the golden age (John 6:14-15; John 6:60-64). When they found that Jesus was not this kind of leader, they withdrew from him (John 6:66-68). Yet there were many, probably hundreds, who were true believers, true disciples (Luke 6:17; Luke 6:20). From these, Jesus chose twelve whom he appointed apostles (Luke 6:13). These twelve were Jesus' disciples in a special sense, and became known as the twelve disciples or simply the disciples (Matthew 16:13; Matthew 20:17; Matthew 24:3; Matthew 26:17). After the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, all the followers of Jesus became known as disciples (Acts 1:15; Acts 6:1; Acts 9:1), and later as Christians (Acts 11:26; 1 Peter 4:16; see CHRISTIAN). (Disciple)

G Campbell Morgan in his helpful little book Discipleship writes that…

Disciples is the term consistently used in the four Gospels to mark the relationship existing between Christ and His followers (Ed: In fact "followers of Christ" is a synonym for disciples of Christ.). Jesus used it Himself in speaking of them, and they in speaking of each other. Neither did it pass out of use in the new days of Pentecostal power. It runs right through the Acts of the Apostles (EdDisciples is the most common term for the believers in Acts!). It is interesting also to remember that it was in this way that the angels thought and spoke of these men -- the use of the word (disciple) in the days of the Incarnation is linked to the use of the word in the apostolic age by the angelic message to the women, "Go, tell His Disciples and Peter" (Mark 16:7).

It is somewhat remarkable that the word is not to be found in the Epistles. This is to be accounted for by the fact that the Epistles were addressed to Christians in their corporate capacity as churches, and so spoke of them as members of such, and as the "saints" or separated ones of God. The term disciple marks an individual relationship (which is a state of being related by kindred, association by blood or marriage - believers are both His both by blood of the New Covenant and by virtue of being His Bride!), and though it has largely fallen out of use, it is of the utmost value still in marking that relationship existing between Christ and each individual soul, and suggesting our consequent position in all the varied circumstances of everyday living…

The word mathetes signifies a taught or trained one, and gives us the ideal of relationship. Jesus is the Teacher. He has all knowledge of the ultimate purposes of God for man, of the will of God concerning man, of the laws of God that mark for man the path of his progress and final crowning. Disciples are those who gather around this Teacher and are trained by Him. Seekers after truth, not merely in the abstract, but as a life force, come to Him and join the circle of those to whom He reveals these great secrets of all true life. Sitting at His feet, they learn from the unfolding of His lessons the will and ways of God for them; and obeying (Ed: Now enabled by His indwelling Spirit) each successive word, they realize within themselves, the renewing force and uplifting power thereof. The true and perpetual condition of discipleship, and its ultimate issue, were clearly declared by the Lord Himself to those Jews which believed on Him. "If ye abide in My word, then are ye truly My disciples ; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free " (John 8:31). (Discipleship - a worthy read)

Jesus, I my cross have taken,
All to leave and follow Thee;
Destitute, despised, forsaken, 
Thou, from hence, my all shalt be:
I will follow Thee, my Saviour
Thou didst shed Thy blood for me,
And though all the world forsake Thee,
By Thy grace I’ll follow Thee.
-H. F. Lyte

John 2:3  When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, "They have no wine."

KJV - And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

NLT - The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus' mother spoke to him about the problem. "They have no more wine," she told him.

  • When the wine ran out: Ps 104:15 Ec 10:19 Isa 24:11 Mt 26:28 
  • the mother. Mt 12:48
  • They have no wine: Joh 11:3 Php 4:6 


Running out of wine at an oriental wedding is what we would call today a major gaffe, a socially awkward or tactless act!

Merrill Tenney says that "To fail to provide adequately for the guests would involve social disgrace. In the closely knit communities of Jesus' day, such an error would never be forgotten and would haunt the newly married couple all their lives."

When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him - Oriental wedding feasts often lasted seven days, so it would be easy to see how the wine might run out!Wine in the OT was a sign of joy and the blessing of Jehovah, so running out would have been a social catastrophe!  This time of feasting was followed by the groom's taking his bride to his home or his father's house, and consummating the marriage (See note)

Mary knew Oriental hospitality would consider a shortage of wine a disgraceful calamity so she spoke to her Son. Why did she speak to Jesus regarding the deficit? Because she knew Who He really was! (see Lk 1:26-38+) As alluded to earlier, the running out of wine is an ironic reminder that first-century Judaism was spiritually empty. Empty religious works that would never satisfy in time or eternity. 

THOUGHT - How about you dear reader? Are you like the wine pots? Empty. Are you spiritually barren and need to do what Mary did and go to Jesus and ask Him to fill your emptiness with His sufficiency which He will do if you come to Him by grace through faith and repent and believe on Him and His fully atoning sacrificial death in your place, as your substitute! Then you can experience life and experience it abundantly (Jn 10:10b).

Constable adds an interesting historical note that regarding running out of wine - The loss would not only have been social disgrace, however, but also financial since grooms had a legal responsibility in that culture to provide a suitable feast for their guests."Our bridegroom stood to lose financially-say, up to about half the value of the presents Jesus and his party ought to have brought."

Mary the mother of Jesus appears only twice in the fourth Gospel -- here and at the cross (Jn 19:25ff.). Jesus' response to Mary's request was not disrespectful or a refusal. Christ uses this same term to address other women (Jn 4:21; 20:13; Matt. 15:28; Luke 13:12). His question seeks to lead one to see the connection between the revelation of His glory and the sign-miracle He was about to do. 

Nelson's NKJV Study Bible. - Hospitality in the east was a sacred duty. A wedding feast often lasted for a week. To run out of wine at such an important event would have been humiliating for the bride and groom. The family of Jesus was not wealthy, and it is likely their relatives and acquaintances were not either. This may have been a “low-budget” wedding feast.

Wine was important for celebrating and being merry as one should be at a wedding

Ps 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. 

Ecclesiastes 10:19  Men prepare a meal for enjoyment, and wine makes life merry, and money is the answer to everything.

"They have no wine." In view of the long trip from Bethabara to Cana, it is probable that Jesus and the disciples arrived late to the wedding only to find that the guests had exhausted the wine supply and had "well drunk" (literally had "become drunken"--John 2:10).

The Hebrew Wedding Sequence

Andy Woods gives us an excellent review of the customs and sequence of steps associated with the typical Hebrew wedding: 

Christ's relationship to His church is analogous to that of a groom to his bride (Eph. 5:22-33; 2 Cor. 11:2). Thus, the New Testament uses the Jewish marriage custom to depict the relationship between Christ and the church. Although this analogy may be obscure to a twenty-first century audience, given the Jewish background of the Scriptures (Ro 3:1-2)‒as well as Christ, the Apostles, and the early church‒it is fitting that the New Testament would liken the relationship between Christ and His church to the Hebrew wedding sequence. In other words, because the Bible was written predominantly by Jews who were culturally familiar with these various phases in the wedding sequence and because Christ's relationship to His church is analogized in Scripture to the relationship between a bride and groom (Eph. 5:22-32), each of these distinct Hebrew marriage phases can also be seen in Christ's dealings with His church. There are at least ten distinct phases or aspects to this relationship.[1]

First, the groom traveled to the home of the bride's father and paid the betrothal contract price for the hand of the bride. This step is the equivalent of Christ's death that paid the price necessary for the church to enter into a relationship with Him (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Here, the groom was the initiator. Such initiation speaks of the fact that Christ has elected unto salvation members of His church (John 15:16a). During this step the bride and the groom drank from the same cup as a commemoration of the new betrothal contract. Such commemoration is symbolized in the ordinance of Communion that the church is to regularly practice until Christ returns (1 Cor. 11:25).

Second, the bride was set apart exclusively for the groom. Namely, she was a woman no longer available to be pursued by other suitors, but rather was a woman already spoken for. Such setting apart of the bride is represented in how the church has been positionally sanctified or set apart from the world unto Christ (1 Cor. 1:2; 6:9-11).

Third, the groom separated from the bride and returned to his father’s house to prepare bridal chamber. In that case, these dwellings would eventually be occupied by the groom and his new bride. This step represents Christ's Ascension (Acts 1:9-11) and the beginning of the Church Age. Here, Christ is separated bodily from His church while He is preparing dwelling places for His bride in His Father's house (John 14:2). This time of separation represents the last two-thousand years of church history.

Fourth, this time of separation is known as the betrothal period. During this time of separation, the fidelity of the groom and the bride was tested. The test, of course, involved whether the bride and the groom would be loyal to each other despite the vast distance between them. If either failed the test during this time of separation, the betrothal contract would be dissolved. This ancient Jewish ritual explains Joseph's dismay and desire to end the engagement upon discovering Mary's pregnancy. The severity of this situation also explains why an angel had to be dispatched from heaven to assure Joseph that Mary's pregnancy had in fact been wrought by the Holy Spirit rather than caused by Mary's unfaithfulness to Joseph during the betrothal period (Matt. 1:18-25). Just as the fidelity of the groom and bride are tested during this time of separation, the church's loyalty to Christ is currently being tested as the church is tempted to succumb to false teaching and worldly conduct (Jas 4:4; 2 Cor. 11:2) during Christ's physical absence. The church demonstrates her loyalty to Christ during this time by maintaining both correct beliefs (orthodoxy) and correct practice (orthopraxy). Apparently, the church will be either given or denied rewards at the Bema Seat Judgment based upon her faithfulness to Christ during this time of separation in the intervening Church Age.[2]

Fifth, the groom retrieved the bride. At an unknown time, the groom returned to the bride's home, accompanied by escorts and preceded by a shout, to collect his bride and take her to his father's house. This step is the equivalent of the rapture of the church. At the rapture, Christ will be accompanied by deceased Church-Age saints and preceded by the shout of an archangel (1 Thess. 4:16-17). He will come at an unknown time to take the church to His father's house in heaven to the temporary dwellings He has prepared for her (John 14:3).

Sixth, the bridal party returns to the groom's father's home in order to meet wedding guests who have already assembled. A private wedding ceremony then took place. This step correlates to the raptured church being taken to heaven in order to greet Old Testament saints who are already in the presence of the Lord.

Seventh, the bride and the groom were then hidden in the Father's house for a period of seven days while other events (described in steps eight and nine) transpired. In the same way, the church will be veiled or hidden from world during Daniel’s Seventieth Week. Thus, this step is the equivalent of the church after the rapture being hidden with Christ in heaven for seven years (Dan. 9:27), while the events of the Tribulation come to pass on the earth below.

Eighth, the bride then underwent ritual cleansing. This step involved the bride experiencing a ritual cleansing prior to the wedding ceremony. This ritual cleansing equates to the Bema Seat Judgment of rewards to be experienced by the church in heaven following the rapture (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10). Here, members of Christ's church will have the work that they have accomplished following conversion tested in order to ascertain their quality. All fleshly motivated activity will be consumed by the refiner's fire. Conversely, works that were done through spiritual motives and power will survive the fire's trying work. Whatever remains after the consuming fire will be part of the Church-Age believer's reward above and beyond salvation (1 Cor. 3:10-15).

Ninth, during the consummation of the marriage stage the wedding party waited outside the marital chamber while the new couple enters into this chamber in order to physically consummate their new union. The groom emerged from the marital chamber announcing to the wedding party the reality of this new physical union. He then returned to the marital chamber to be with his bride for seven days while the wedding guests continued to celebrate outside the marital chamber. This step pictures the church's marriage to Christ (Eph. 5:27). Thus, at this point, the church is no longer merely the bride of Christ but now has formally been married to Him.

Tenth, the groom and the bride emerged from the marital chamber unveiled and in full view of the wedding party. Thus far, the bride had been veiled to the wedding party. At the conclusion of these seven days, the newly married couple were then officially presented to the world as the new "Mr. and Mrs." This step is the equivalent of Christ and the church returning to the earth at the conclusion of the seven-year Tribulation period, both unveiled (Col 3:4) and visible to the entire world (Rev 1:7; Rev 19:7-9). (Article by Andy Woods)

John 2:4  And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come."

KJV - Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

NLT - "How does that concern you and me?" Jesus asked. "My time has not yet come."

  • Woman: John 19:26,27 20:13,15 Mt 15:28 
  • what: Dt 33:9 2Sa 16:10 19:22 Lu 2:49 2Co 5:16 Ga 2:5,6 
  • My hour has not yet come: John 7:6,30 8:20 12:23 13:1 Ec 3:1 

And Jesus said to her, "Woman - This is not disrespect by Jesus but is akin to our modern word "Lady." (cf Jn 19:26 as Jesus spoke from the Cross) ESV Study note says it was "an expression of polite distance."

Morris adds the comment "That Jesus calls Mary 'Woman' and not 'Mother' probably indicates that there is a new relationship between them as he enters his public ministry."

What does that have to do with us? - More literally it reads “What to me and to you?” and means in essence “What do we have in common?" Jesus' point is that Mary was no longer to think of Him as her son, for now He was consumed with the consummation of His commission and mission, to die for the sins of the world that He might be the Redeemer of all who believe in Him. It is interesting that the demons spoke similar words when confronted by Christ ("What business do we have with each other, in Mk 1:24+, Mk 5:7+)

MacArthur explains "The expression (What does that have to do with us?) common in Semitic idiom (Jdg 11:12; 2Sa 16:10), always distances the two parties (ED: cf the painful lesson Mary would have to learn as alluded to in Lk 2:35+), the speaker's tone conveying some degree of reproach. Jesus' tone was not rude, but abrupt. The phrase asks what is shared in common between the parties. The thrust of Jesus' comment was that He had entered into the purpose for His mission on earth, so that He subordinated all activities to the fulfillment of that mission. Mary had to recognize Him not so much as a son whom she raised but as the promised Messiah and Son of God. Cf. Mk 3:31-35." (MacArthur Study Bible)

Toussaint adds "The Lord is very positively saying they are no longer on common ground. Up to this time their relationship had been purely domestic; now He is entering into public ministry." (Ref)

My hour has not yet come - The time of His crucifixion, the time He would accomplish His rescue mission of redemption for planet earth and all Adam's sinful offspring (Ro 5:12+). Jesus meet the need for wine, but when His hour finally came He met man's greatest need for salvation! Jesus is continually conscious that He is to do the will of His Father and that each act or action He carried out was to be done in the timing determined by His Father (Jn 7:6, Jn 7:30; Jn 8:20). In the latter part of His ministry Jesus begins to say "the hour has come" (Jn 12:23; Jn 17:1, cf Jn 13:1 = "Jesus knowing that His hour had come")

THOUGHT - As aged Solomon came to understand There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven." Ec 3:1) It was true in Jesus' life and it is true in our lives also beloved. Am I willing to wait on the Father's perfect timing just as my Master was willing to wait?

MacArthur on My hour has not yet come The phrase constantly refers to Jesus' death and exaltation (Jn 7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 17:1). He was on a divine schedule decreed by God before the foundation of the world. Since the prophets characterized the messianic age as a time when wine would flow liberally (Jer 31:12; Hos 14:7; Am 9:13, 14), Jesus was likely referring to the fact that the necessity of the cross must come before the blessings of the millennial age. (MacArthur Study Bible)

John 2:5  His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it."

KJV - His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

NLT - But his mother told the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

  • Whatever: Joh 15:14 Ge 6:22 Jud 13:14 Lu 5:5,6 6:46-49 Ac 9:6 Heb 5:9 11:8 

His mother said to the servants, "Whatever He says to you, do it." - Somewhat rebuked by Jesus' response to her desire for Him to get more wine for the guests, Jesus' mother is never shown again in Scripture as requesting or demanding anything from Jesus. Instead, the only command the record shows on her part, anywhere in Scripture, is this one. Simply: "Do whatever Jesus says!" No doubt she would say the same to us today.

Toussaint - It is quite clear Mary was expecting a miracle. It is true the Lord had not as yet performed any miracles, but she certainly had many evidences of His Supernatural character—His conception, the events surrounding His birth and presentation in the Temple (cf. Luke 2:8–38), and the incident in the Temple area when He was only twelve years old. Now His appearance with the disciples whom He had called would point to the beginning of His public ministry. Mary informed the Lord of the problem so He could supernaturally solve it. (Ref)

Constable She did not understand what He would do or when, but she had confidence in His compassion and ability. She demonstrated admirable submission and faith toward Jesus. She allowed Jesus to take charge and solve the problem, and she pointed others to Jesus, not to herself. Previously she had approached Jesus as His mother and had received a mild rebuke. Now she approached Him as her Lord and shortly received satisfaction (cf. Matt. 15:21-28). In this she provides an excellent example for us." (Constable's Notes on the Bible)

John 2:6  Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each.

KJV - And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

NLT - Six stone waterpots were standing there; they were used for Jewish ceremonial purposes and held twenty to thirty gallons each.

  • for the Jewish custom of purification: Joh 3:25 Mk 7:2-5 Eph 5:26 Heb 6:2 9:10,19 10:22 

Now there were six stone waterpots set there - Each would hold about 20-30 gallons. 

For the Jewish custom of purification - This refers to purification rites associated with eating as described by Matthew "Then some Pharisees and scribes *came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, "Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.”(Matt. 15:1-2, cf Mk 7:3-4+)  Constable points out that "Stone pots did not absorb moisture and uncleanness as earthenware vessels did, so they were better containers for water used in ceremonial washings." (Ibid)

Blum comments that "The contrast between the old order and the new way is evident (cf. John 4:13+; Jn 7:38-39+). (Bible Knowledge Commentary)

containing twenty or thirty gallons each.

ESV Study note on stone waterpots - Archaeologists have found large goblet-shaped stone storage jars from this period in Jerusalem and elsewhere. The examples were lathe-cut from sizable single blocks of stone.

Nelson's NKJV Study Bible on the Jewish custom of purification - Jewish tradition required several kinds of ceremonial washings. Strict Jews washed their hands before a meal, between courses, and after the meal. This “purifying” extended not only to washing hands, but also to washing cups and vessels (see Mark 7:3, 4). Because the roads were not paved and people wore sandals, water was needed for foot washing. At a large Jewish wedding, a large amount of water would have been required.

John 2:7  Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water." So they filled them up to the brim

KJV - Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

NLT - Jesus told the servants, "Fill the jars with water." When the jars had been filled to the brim,

  • Fill: Joh 2:3,5 Nu 21:6-9 Jos 6:3-5 1Ki 17:13 2Ki 4:2-6 5:10-14 Mk 11:2-6 Mk 14:12-17 Ac 8:26-40

Jesus said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water."

So they filled them up to the brim - Obedience would lead to blessing for these servants, who would come to have insight into what Jesus had done (Jn 2:9). This principle of obedience and increased spiritual understanding is timeless. 

Toussaint points out the significance of the phrase filled them up to the brim - "This was important because it left no room for the addition of any solutions. Furthermore, these waterpots had been used for water so there would not have been any residue of grapes in them. There was no way, humanly speaking, in which the water could have been made to taste like wine." (Ibid)

John 2:8  And He said to them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter." So they took it to him

KJV - And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

NLT -  he said, "Dip some out and take it to the master of ceremonies." So they followed his instructions.

  • Draw some: Joh 2:9 Pr 3:5,6 Ec 9:6 
  • take it to the headwaiter: Ro 13:7 

And He said to them, "Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter."

Headwaiter means “ruler of a room with three couches.”

So they took it to him

John 2:9  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

KJV - 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,

NLT -  When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over.

  • tasted the water which had become wine: Joh 4:46 
  • but the servants who had drawn the water knew: Joh 7:17 Ps 119:100 


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 - There is a very important principle in this phrase. Obeying God is important so that we might have true understanding of God's Word. In John 7:17 Jesus said “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself."

the headwaiter called the bridegroom

John 2:10  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.

KJV - And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

NLT - "Usually a host serves the best wine first," he said. "Then, when everyone is full and doesn't care, he brings out the less expensive wines. But you have kept the best until now!"

  • when the people have drunk freely: Ge 43:34 Song 5:1 
  • but you have kept the good wine until now: Ps 104:15 Pr 9:1-6,16-18 Lu 16:25 Rev 7:16,17


As Ryrie says "Similarly, God's best, His Son, had now come!" At last! 

and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely,

Diluted wine  was a common beverage with meals in the culture of that day. It had to be diluted because in the hot climate even newly made wine would quickly ferment and imbibing it would quickly produce a drunken state (cf comments of the Spirit filled believers in Acts 2:4,13+). So the practice was common to dilute wine with water (from 1/3 to 1/10 wine to water).  Not only that, but wine mixed with water was a way to assure purer water (there were no water purification plants in first century Palestine!)

Our Lord's first miracle in John speaks of the new blessings which come as a result of His presence. Wine typically speaks of the joy of spiritual life. With the coming of Jesus, God's best had arrived at last, and in contrast to Moses, who turned water into blood in judgment (cf. Ex. 7:14-24), Jesus turns water into wine in joyful celebration of a new age.

then he serves the poorer wine - 

but you have kept the good wine until now -

As Hindson says "The symbolism is clear. The power of Christ filled the emptiness of the waterpots and that same power is able to fill the emptiness of Judaistic religion."

John 2:11  This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him

KJV - This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

NLT - This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was Jesus' first display of his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

  • beginning  Joh 1:17 Ex 4:9 7:19-21 Ec 9:7 Mal 2:2 2Co 4:17 Ga 3:10-13 
  • did  Joh 1:50 3:2 4:46 
  • manifested  Joh 1:14 5:23 12:41 14:9-11,13 De 5:24 Ps 72:19 96:3 Isa 40:5 2Co 3:18 4:6
  • and His disciples: Joh 11:15 20:30,31 1Jn 5:13 


This beginning of His signs - The function of any sign is to point to something, and these "great" signs were to point to the Greatest Man in eternity! Sadly the people more often focused on the great sign then on the great Man! The former could be seen with their physical eyes, but the latter could only be seen with spiritual eyes of one's heart! Israel's epidemic eye problem was really a heart problem!

Signs (4592)(semeion - in depth discussion from sema = sign) a sign is something that serves as a pointer to aid perception or insight. Semeion  looks at a miracle as proof of a point or as a means of teaching something. The crucial thing is not the miracle, as genuine and important as it is, but the lesson to be learned from the miracle. Thus in the NT a sign speaks of a token which has behind it a particular message to be conveyed. In other words, in John's Gospel (where semeion is most concentrated) the apostle recorded certain miracles not for the wonder they produced, but because of the message they taught (Jn 20:31). A sign directs attention away from its unusual nature to the meaning and the significance it points to. It speaks of outward compelling proof of divine authority. In John a sign is generally a "miraculous sign" that points to some deeper spiritual significance in connection with the event (Jn 2:11, 18). Semeion describes a miracle whose purpose is that of attesting the claims of the one performing the miracle to be true.

John's uses of semeion -  Jn. 2:11; Jn. 2:18; Jn. 2:23; Jn. 3:2; Jn. 4:48; Jn. 4:54; Jn. 6:2; Jn. 6:14; Jn. 6:26; Jn. 6:30; Jn. 7:31; Jn. 9:16; Jn. 10:41; Jn. 11:47; Jn. 12:18; Jn. 12:37; Jn. 20:30

Jesus did in Cana of Galilee - It is interesting that this miracles was grasped only by Jesus' disciples, the servants present, and Jesus' mother.

Criswell - John speaks of Christ's "miracles" as signs (semeion, Gk.). The word stresses the spiritual significance of the miracle and points away from itself to Christ who performed it. John chooses seven major signs to relate in his Gospel, each characteristically pointing the way to Christ and, hence, to some aspect of the meaning of salvation (cf. vv. 1-11; 4:46-54; 5:1-16; 6:1-14; 6:15-21; 9:1-41; 11:1-46). John's entire Gospel is designed to convince its readers that Jesus is the Son of God through whom one may truly live, in this life and in eternity (20:30, 31).

Ryrie - The miracles of Jesus are called signs by John in order to emphasize the significance of the miracles rather than the miracles themselves. They revealed various aspects of the person or work of Christ (here His glory), and their purpose was to encourage faith in His followers. For the specific signs in this book, see Introduction under "Contents" (John 1:1 book note) 

Henry Morris - This is the first of the seven great "miracles," or "signs" (same Greek word) which John describes in order to persuade his readers to believe in Jesus Christ (John 20:30,31). Like the other six (John 4:49-54; 5:5-9; 6:5-14; 6:16-21; 9:1-7; 11:41-44), this first miracle was a miracle of creation (as distinct from miracles of providence, which only control rates and timing of natural processes). It required the direct creative power of the Creator, superseding the law of entropy to cause an instantaneous increase of complexity, transmuting the simple molecular structure of water into the much more complex structure of new wine.

Toussaint writes that "This miracle is commonly viewed as a sign which reveals the Lord Jesus as the Creator. In this miracle He “created” wine—the whole process of growth, bearing fruit, harvest, and production of wine is compressed into a minuscule fragment of time." (Ref)

and manifested His glory - Notice that the purpose of the sign was to manifest Jesus' glory. In other words this miracle of creation would have been clear evidence of Jesus power and authority over Creation (water in pots). 

and His disciples believed in Him - This sign was faith strengthening, for John mentions that they had believed (at least Nathanael but presumably all 5 or they would not have given up everything and followed Him). Jesus had told Nathanael earlier "Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” (Jn 1:50+) Indeed John alludes to the significance of the signs of Jesus writing

Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 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.(Jn 20:30-31)

Here as Seven Signs that Jesus was God in the Flesh

    Changing Water to Wine Jn 2:1-11
    Healing Royal Official's Son Jn 4:46-54
    Healing the Lame Man  Jn 5:1-15
    Walking on Water (not called a sign) Jn 6:16-21
    Healing the Man Born Blind Jn 9:1-7
    Raising Lazarus from the Dead Jn 11:1-44

Here is Stanley Toussaint's summary of the "The Significance of the First Sign in John’s Gospel"

The Significance

John designates this miracle as the Lord’s first sign. The fact that this is said to be the first does away with the apocryphal miracles recorded in the apocryphal Gospels. That it is a sign indicates there is a truth behind the miracle, a truth greater than the miracle itself. The first message by way of a miracle in John’s Gospel and the Lord’s ministry is this sign.

The Significance for Israel

There is significance in the miracle first for Israel, especially the Israel of Christ’s day. The wedding feast with its new wine portrays the coming of the kingdom. By this sign the Lord declares He is the Messiah of Israel who is capable of bringing the predicted kingdom into its glorious existence. There are a number of factors that show this is the point of the miracle: (1) The kingdom is often portrayed in terms of a banquet, especially a wedding feast (Matt 8:11; 22:1–14; Luke 13:29; 14:15–24; Rev 19:7–9). The presence of the Lord at these marriage festivities at Cana graphically pictures the coming of the kingdom. (2) A number of references in the Old Testament picture the kingdom age in terms of wine. For instance, Isaiah 25:6 joins the figures of a banquet and wine together to illustrate the joys of the future kingdom age. In Isaiah 27:2–6 the prophet describes Israel as God’s vineyard in the millennium. An abundance of wine was a description often used in the Old Testament of the time when Abraham’s promises would be fulfilled (Gen 49:11–12; Jer 31:12; Hos 2:22; 14:7; Joel 2:19, 24; 3:18; Amos 9:13–14; Zech 9:15–17; 10:7).

This gives significance to the lapse of wine. Not only was this a gross social error; it was also a picture of the obsolescence of Judaism. The old wine had run out and Christ the Messiah was here to bring the new. As Paul put it, “the fullness of time” had come (Gal 4:4). The Lord used the same kind of a figure in the parable of the wineskins (Matt 9:17; Luke 5:37–38). The Apostle John beautifully prepared for this miracle in John 1:17: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (NASB). The miracle shows the old order had run its course; now was the time for a new one.

The Significance for Christians

The significance of this miracle is not for Jews only; it is obviously for the church as well. The basic truth for Christians is found in the joy of salvation. Wine and joy are also associated together. The psalmist praises God for His generous providence in giving man “wine which makes man’s heart glad” (Ps 104:15). In a classic case of personification the vine of Judges 9:13 objects, “Shall I leave my new wine, which cheers God and men, and go to wave over the trees?” Although Westcott fails to see this miracle as an illustration of God’s provision of joy for the Christian he does remark, “There is a Jewish saying, ‘Without wine there is no joy’….”6

This miracle portrays not only the joy Christ brings into a person’s life but also the abundance of joy. The Lord made between 120 and 150 gallons of wine! Not only do believers have access to a peace that passes understanding (Phil 4:7) and grace unbounding (Rom 5:20), but also joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Pet 1:8). Surely the vast supply of wine portrays both the abundance of the kingdom age and the fullness of joy in the individual Christian’s experience. Hymn writers have caught this aspect of the spiritual life in various phrases and clauses—”Come we that love the Lord, and let our joys be known…”; “He brings a poor lost sinner into His house of wine…”; “Rejoice, give thanks, and sing…”; and a myriad more.

Finally, for the Christian there is a new life in Christ. The old is passed away and there is a whole new life and perspective in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

This miracle, then, was a sign, a sign to prompt faith in Jesus as the Messiah and to provide new life through Him, just as John states in the declaration of the purpose of his Gospel (John 20:31). (Bibliotheca Sacra 134:533 Jan 77)

John 2:12  After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days

KJV - After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.

NLT - After the wedding he went to Capernaum for a few days with his mother, his brothers, and his disciples.

  • Capernaum: Joh 6:17 Mt 4:13 11:23 
  • and His brothers and His disciples: Joh 7:3-5 Mt 12:46 13:55,56 Mk 6:3 Ac 1:13,14 1Co 9:5 Ga 1:19 

After this - This time phrase is used by John in Jn 11:7 and Jn 19:28. The similar phrase after these things is more common (Jn 3:22, Jn 5:1, Jn 6:1, Jn 7:1, Jn 19:38, Jn 21:1) and both frequently served to begin a new narrative section. In the present passage the after this draws our attention to the fact that Jesus is now transitioning from Cana in Galilee to Capernaum and eventually to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. 

He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days - This ministry was not discussed in the Synoptic Gospel. As discussed more below note that between Luke 4:13,14+ there is a time gap of 12-14 months. This was the time of Jesus' early Judean ministry which John alone describes during Jesus' first year of ministry. The synoptic gospels are largely silent about Jesus’ ministry between His baptism and His return to Galilee, but John recorded a fairly extensive ministry in Jerusalem and Judea (Jn 2:12–4:42) and because of this, news about Jesus quickly spread throughout Judea.

You may read in some commentaries that this period was referred to as  THE YEAR OF OBSCURITY. Jesus may have been "obscure" but He was not inactive! We see this period described by John from about John 1:19+ through John 4:44, 45+. It is also known as the Early Judean ministry for most of the events occurred in Judea the province in which Jerusalem is located (See map). Note however that some of the events in John 1:19-4:54 took place in Samaria and even Galilee. 

MacArthur adds that "It might appear from reading Luke's account, as well as the parallel histories of Matthew (Mt 4:12) and Mark (Mk 1:14+), that the Lord's ministry in Galilee began immediately after His baptism. That was not the case, however. There was an interval of about a year between Jesus' baptism and the beginning of His Galilean ministry. While the Synoptic Gospels are silent about that year, which Jesus spent ministering in Judea, the gospel of John describes it in detail (chapters 1-4) (Luke Commentary)

And so we see this TIME GAP in Luke's Gospel between Jesus Baptism and Temptation and the beginning of His ministry in Galilee. Thus just as Mark has the TIME GAP between Mk 1:13+ and Mark 1:14+, Luke has a similar TIME GAP between Luke 4:13 and Luke 4:14

Luke 4:13+ When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.

12-14 MONTHS

Luke 4:14+  And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about Him spread through all the surrounding district.

Comment Power is dunamis which is simply (but profoundly) the inherent power or ability to accomplish supernaturally that which cannot be accomplished naturally. Beloved, we have access to the same power for the same Spirit indwells us! See The Holy Spirit-Walking Like Jesus Walked! and Spirit-Filled Believers Are Like Artesian Wells!

Click Irving Jensen's diagram below to enlarge - Note that the SHADED areas refer to Jesus' Ministry in the Gospel of Mark. Note on the left side of the diagram the UNSHADED area which depicts a period of Jesus' ministry lasting about 12 months and described only in the Gospel of John. 


John 2:13  The Passover of the Jews was nea, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem

KJV - And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,

NLT - And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,

  • Passover: John 2:23 5:1 6:4 11:55 Ex 12:6-14 Nu 28:16-25 De 16:1-8,16 Lu 2:41 


See Jensen's diagram above for his placement of Jesus' Early Judean Ministry.

John MacArthur summarizes this last section of John chapter 2 observing that John "highlighted 3 attributes of Jesus that confirm His deity: (1) His passion for reverence (Jn 2:13-17); (2) His power of resurrection (Jn 2:18-22); and (3) His perception of reality (Jn 3:23-25). (Study Bible)

The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem - This is the first of 3 Passovers mentioned by John (Jn 2:13, Jn 6:4, Jn 11:55), and was not mentioned in the synoptic Gospels. The Passover alluded to by Luke was during Jesus' boyhood (Lk 2:41-42)

Morris John called it "the Jews' passover" rather than "the Lord's passover" (Exodus 12:27), probably because he was writing for Gentiles but perhaps also because the Jewish leaders had so corrupted its observance.

Criswell (Jn 2:13-17) Because John's account of the cleansing of the temple occurs at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, while in the Synoptics it is at the end, many feel that the event is evaluated differently and that John places it where it best fits his scheme. However, in view of the important differences in the accounts, many conclude that the matter is best resolved by suggesting two cleansings (some suggest that the temple is not cleansed but rejected by Christ). The reference to "temple" refers to that outer area known as the Court of the Gentiles where merchandising took place.

John 2:14  And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables

KJV - And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

NLT - In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; and he saw money changers behind their counters.

  • De 14:23-26 Mt 21:12 Mk 11:15 Lu 19:45,46 

And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables

Morris - This visit to Jerusalem and the temple at the beginning of Christ's ministry is recorded only by John as is true with many of the other events and discourses in this Gospel. As the "disciple whom Jesus loved" (John 13:23), John may well have been told more by Jesus and also been able to remember more through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) than the other writers in order to do this.

John 2:15  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

KJV - And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;

NLT - Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and oxen, scattered the money changers' coins over the floor, and turned over their tables.

  • He drove: Joh 18:6 Zec 4:6 2Co 10:4 


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

When Paul speaks of the middle wall of partition Eph 2:14 he probably makes allusion to this dividing wall. Within this partition wall stood the temple proper, consisting of:

(1) the court of the women, 8 feet higher than the outer court; 
(2) 10 feet higher than this court was the court of Israel; 
(3) the court of the priests, again 3 feet higher; and lastly 
(4) the temple floor, 8 feet above that; thus in all 29 feet above the level of the outer court. 

John 2:16  and to those who were selling the doves He said, "Take these things away; stop making My Father's house a place of business.

KJV - And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise.

NLT - Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, "Get these things out of here. Don't turn my Father's house into a marketplace!"

  • stop making: Isa 56:5-11 Jer 7:11 Ho 12:7,8 Mt 21:13 Mk 11:17 Ac 19:24-27 1Ti 6:5 2Pe 2:3,14,15 
  • My Father's house: Joh 5:17 8:49 10:29 20:17 Lu 2:49 

And to those who were selling the doves He said, "Take these things away;

Stop making My Father's house a place of business.

Business (1712) (emporion from émporos = merchant) means an emporium, market, a place where commerce occurs (John 2:16). Contrasted to emporía (1711), which means trade, commerce. An emporium in the English dictionary refers to "a large retail store organized into departments offering a variety of merchandise; commonly part of a retail chain."

Morris - Note John's reference to "my Father" instead of "your Father" (Luke 2:49), essentially thereby claiming His unique divine Sonship (John 1:34; 5:18).

Morris on a place of business - Three years later, when Christ came to the temple again and found the situation even worse, He called it "a den of thieves" (Matthew 21:13). This coming to the temple may also be considered as a precursive fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies regarding Christ's coming to the future temple (Haggai 2:7; Malachi 3:1-4; Ezekiel 40ff.; especially Ezekiel 43:5).

John 2:17  His disciples remembered that it was written, "ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME.

KJV - And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

NLT- Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: "Passion for God's house burns within me."

  • The zeal: Ps 69:9 Ps 119:139 

His disciples remembered that it was written,

"ZEAL FOR YOUR HOUSE WILL CONSUME ME. - This event fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 69:9. "For zeal for Your house has consumed me, And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me."

Ryrie - Christ was jealous for the holiness of God's house. The offense of the money changers was in their defiling it. 

THOUGHT - Where is God's Temple today beloved? It is YOU! YOUR BODY (1 Cor 6:19-20+) ! This begs the question "Are you zealous for the holiness of His Temple, your body?" Beloved, men (and women) are falling like flies (to use an old expression) into the depraved depths of internet pornography! I know it is a struggle, but we have the Holy Spirit in our temple. Paul made the clear distinction "if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Ro 8:13+) So enabled by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Word we can resist and flee from temptation and HE WILL WIN THE BATTLE! Do not be deceived beloved brethren! See this article if you do not agree with great, grave danger of internet pornography - Why Pornography is the Greatest Threat to Today's Church. Read this long list of incredible statistics on internet pornography to help understand the gravity of the situation - Christians and Online Porn Archives - Enough Is Enough

John 2:18  The Jews then said to Him, "What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?

KJV - Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

NLT - "What right do you have to do these things?" the Jewish leaders demanded. "If you have this authority from God, show us a miraculous sign to prove it."

  • What sign: Joh 6:30 Mt 12:38-42 16:1-4 Mk 8:11 Lu 11:29 
  • For doing these things: Joh 1:25 Mt 21:23 Mk 11:27,28 Lu 20:1,2 Ac 4:7 5:28 

The Jews then said to Him,

"What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?

John 6:30  So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?

1 Corinthians 1:22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;

Matthew 12:38  Then some of the scribes and Pharisees said to Him, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”

John 2:19  Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

KJV - Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

NLT - "All right," Jesus replied. "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."

  • Destroy: Mt 26:60,61 27:40 Mk 14:58 15:29 
  • and in: Mt 12:40 27:63 
  • I will: Joh 5:19 10:17,18 11:25 Mk 8:31 Ac 2:24,32 3:15,26 Ro 4:24 6:4 Ro 8:11 1Co 15:3,4,12 Col 2:12 1Pe 3:18 

Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple,

and in three days I will raise it up - Explained in John 2:21 "He was speaking of the temple of His body." These words about 3 years later were the very words that the religious leaders used to condemn Christ declaring ""This man stated, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.'" (Mt 26:61) Of course this was a distortion of Jesus' words here in John 2:19, but it was the best evidence the illegally assembled kangaroo court of Caiaphas could produce in this infamous travesty of a trial.

Morris on three days.  In addition to referring to the temple of His body (John 2:21), there may be a parallel reference to the raising up of the future millennial temple (compare Hosea 6:2).

At his trial, the authorities charged Jesus (Mk14:29, 58) with making a threatening statement against the temple, revealing that they did not understand Jesus’ response here. Once again John’s gospel supplements the other gospels at this point by indicating that Jesus enigmatically referred to His resurrection. As with His usage of parables, Jesus’ cryptic statement most likely was designed to reveal the truth to His disciples but conceal its meaning from unbelievers who questioned Him (Mt13:10, 11). Only after His resurrection, however, did the disciples understand the real significance of this statement (v22; cf. Mt12:40). Importantly, through the death and resurrection of Christ, temple worship in Jerusalem was destroyed (cf. 4:21) and reinstituted in the hearts of those who were built into a spiritual temple called the church (Ep2:19–22).

John 2:20  The Jews then said, "It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"

KJV - Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

NLT - "What!" they exclaimed. "It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can do it in three days?"

  • Forty-six. Ezr 5:16.
  • temple. Mt 12:6. 26:61.
  • three days. Ho 6:2.

 The Jews then said, "It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?"

This was not a reference to the Solomonic temple, since it had been destroyed during the Babylonian conquest in 586 b.c. When the captives returned from Babylon, Zerubbabel and Joshua began rebuilding the temple (Ezra1-4). Encouraged by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (Ezra 5:1–6:18), the Jews completed the work in 516 b.c. In 20/19 b.c. Herod the Great began a reconstruction and expansion. Workers completed the main part of the project in 10 years, but other parts were still being constructed even at the time Jesus cleansed the temple. Interestingly, the finishing touches on the whole enterprise were still being made at its destruction by the Romans along with Jerusalem in a.d. 70. The famous “Wailing Wall” is built on part of the Herodian temple foundation.

John 2:21  But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

KJV - But he spake of the temple of his body.

NLT- But by "this temple," Jesus meant his body.

  • he: Joh 1:14 *Gr: Col 1:19 2:9 Heb 8:2 
  • temple 1Co 3:16 1 Cor 6:19-20 2Co 6:16 Eph 2:20-22 1Pe 2:4,5 

But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

Paul wrote "Or do you not know (IMPLICATION? OF COURSE YOU DO KNOW THIS TRUTH!) that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1 Cor 6:19-20+)

John 2:22  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

KJV When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

NLT After he was raised from the dead, the disciples remembered that he had said this. And they believed both Jesus and the Scriptures.

  • His disciples: Joh 2:17 12:16 14:26 16:4 Lu 24:7,8,44 Ac 11:16 
  • and they believed: Joh 2:11 20:8,9 

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 - They believed and their belief was saving belief in contrast to the many who believed Jesus' signs. 

Morris on believed the Scriptures -  Note the superior category of faith (THE BIBLE) of the disciples to that of the "many" (John 2:23) who believed "when they saw the miracles," (John 2:23) but soon fell away. The disciples did not believe because of the miracles but because of the Scriptures and Jesus' words. It is far better to place one's faith in God's Word than in signs and wonders.

John Piper's has some very important comments on John 2:22-23

John’s Task: Belief in Jesus - In John 1:12, John says, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” After the miracle of turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana, John says, “This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him” (John 2:11). Then after he drove the moneychangers out of the Temple and said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” John comments, “His disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken” (John 2:22). So John is on task. He is writing with a view to helping people see the glory of the Son of God, experience his grace, and believe on him as the Son of God and supreme treasure of their lives and have eternal life. 

Some Belief Is Not Saving - In view of this, John 2:23–25 has an unsettling effect. 

What it says, in essence, is that Jesus knows what is in every heart, and so he can see when someone believes in a way that is not really believing. In other words, Jesus’ ability to know every heart perfectly leads to the unsettling truth that some belief is not the kind of belief that obtains fellowship with Jesus and eternal life. Some belief is not saving belief. So there are two things to focus on here. First is the glory of the omniscience of Jesus. And the second is the discovery that there is a kind of faith in Jesus that he does not approve and does not accept. 

Faith That Jesus Doesn’t Accept - We said there are two things we should focus on in this today’s text: The first is the glory of the omniscience of Jesus. Now the second is the discovery that there is a kind of faith in Jesus that he does not approve. This is the implication of his omniscience that John focuses on. He draws out the implication that when Jesus looks into the heart of those who believed, he sees something other than the kind of faith that makes you a child of God. Remember John 1:12 says, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). And here in John 2:23 it says, “Many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.” It seems Jesus should be thrilled. But he’s not. John 2:24 says, “But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people.” This is not the way he treats His own sheep whom He calls by name, His own disciples. When Jesus withholds Himself from them, 

He is saying that they are not believing in a saving way. They are not the children of God. They are not doing John 1:12. Whatever their faith is, Jesus does not approve. 

Not All That Looks Like Faith Is Really Faith - John is still on task here. The aim of his book is “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). So it’s crucial that John clarify that not all that looks like faith is really faith. It is unsettling. But that’s the way life is. Better to have Jesus point this out, and help us come to terms with it, than discover it on our own when it may be too late. What’s wrong with their faith? Are there clues here? Yes, there are. The first clue is the reference to signs and what Jesus says about this elsewhere. And the second clue is that this incident is mentioned as an introduction to the story of Nicodemus that comes next. Nicodemus is probably supposed to represent the people (of John 2:23) who believe in one sense but not in the way Jesus approves. 

The Faith of Nicodemus - Take the clue of Nicodemus first. Remember chapter divisions are added later. Don’t pay much attention to them. John 2:25 ends, “For [Jesus] himself knew what was in man.” And the next verses say, “Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him’” (John 2:25–3:2). I think this is the kind of faith Jesus sees in the people: “We know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him” (Jn 3:2). This is a great statement of faith. It’s what some pious Jews believe about Jesus. It’s what Muslims believe. It is a very high view of Jesus. He is “from God.” God is “with him.” What he does are “signs” of God’s power in him. This is significant faith.  

Signs Meant to Point to Jesus - But it is not saving faith. Nicodemus was not born again. That is the point of John 3:1–8. Nicodemus, with all his faith, needed to be born again. Nicodemus had no spiritual life. What he had seen was entirely natural, not spiritual. He was still spiritually blind. He did not see through the signs to the glory of the only Son of God. He only saw the signs, and they were so impressive that the natural mind drew the conclusion they must involve God. Notice the reference to signs in John 2:23—this is now the second clue about what’s wrong with the faith of John 2:23—“Many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing.” They believed when they saw the signs. Signs were meant to point people to the true Son of God and what he stood for. But many saw the signs and did not see what they stood for. (For complete discussion please see Dr Piper's message He Knew What Was in Man)

Zane C. Hodges wrote an article entitled  “Untrustworthy Believers—John 2:23–25, ” Bibliotheca Sacra 135:538 (April-June 1978):139-52 and argued that these Jews in John 2 were genuine believers who “were not ready for fuller disclosures from the One they had just trusted” (p148)."

Comment: Be a Berean! Acts 17:11+- Even the title of Hodge's article strikes me as a theological "oxymoron" so to speak! Clearly Hodges belief is diametrically opposite to that of most conservative evangelical scholars. Only one teaching can be correct. And only one teaching results in eternal salvation. These issues have eternal consequences. See that no one takes you captive through specious reasoning (cf Col 2:8-9+), instead of letting the plain sense of God's Word mean what He says!  Compare the sobering words of our Lord Jesus Christ - Mt 7:21+, Mt 7:22, 23+) (See The Unusual Teachings of Zane HodgesThe Teachings of Zane Hodges, Joseph Dillow, Robert WilkinThe Teachings of Zane Hodges, Joseph Dillow, Robert WilkinRefutation of Teachings of Zane Hodges and Joseph Dillow)

It is interesting that another professor from Dallas Theological Seminary (where Zane Hodges was professor) held an interpretation diametrically opposite to that of Hodges. Here is the comment by Edwin Blum on John 2:23-25 in the The Bible Knowledge Commentary...

They believed in His name, that is, they trusted in Him. This was not necessarily saving faith as the next verse (John 2:24) implies. They believed He was a great Healer, but not necessarily a great Savior from sin. Jesus knew that a temporary excitement or a faith based on signs was not sufficient. Many of the early followers later turned back when He did not take up the role of a political king (cf. John 6:15, 60, 66).

Below are a number of expositors that interpret this section as belief that does not result in salvation or as Warren Wiersbe calls them "unsaved believers!":

Adam Clarke: 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.

Larry Richards: But the belief of the people was shallow; so shallow that "Jesus would not entrust [or commit] Himself" to the crowds as He had to the Twelve. What is a shallow faith? Perhaps it is best to think of it as a faith that exists only as long as its object fits our expectations. These people, who "believed" in Jesus superficially, turned away from Him when He did not speak and act as they expected (see John 6:60-66). They "believed," but not enough to abandon their own notions and submit themselves fully to Jesus' fresh revelation of God. May God protect you and me and those we teach from shallow faith as we study John's Gospel. May He help us be willing to abandon our old ideas when He calls us to submit fully to His Son, Jesus, so that we might find life now. (Teacher's Commentary)

Harold Wilmington: Jesus knew that many of the Jews who professed to believe in him had only a superficial faith, relating to his miracles and not to his deeper ministry of deliverance from sin. John would later come back to this theme of "unbelieving believers" (see John 6:22-66; John 8:31-59). (Willmington's Bible Handbook.)

KJV Bible Commentary: The word used to express belief (Greek pisteuo) is used in the next verse. But Jesus did not commit himself. Christ did not entrust Himself to them because they were not true believers. He concluded this because he knew all men. These were nominal (in name only) believers whose only interest was the miracles. He did not need their testimony for he knew what was in man. These people had not accepted Him with saving faith, but rather they accepted Him as a powerful miracle worker. (Dobson, E G, Charles Feinberg, E Hindson, Woodrow Kroll, H L. Wilmington: KJV Bible Commentary: Nelson)

Gerald Borchert in New American Commentary: The real point is that Jesus did not believe their believing… Accordingly, we need to understand that the living Jesus does not believe everyone’s believing because he knows what is in them. Those words ought to stand as a warning to everyone.

Steven Cole commenting on John 2:24 - Jesus never committed Himself to unbelief.  (Jesus: True, Yet Rejected)

William Hendriksen in Baker NT Commentary: Jesus did not look upon all these individuals as being true believers to whom his cause could be entrusted. The reason why he did not do this was because he knew all men; i.e., knew just what was in the heart of anyone with whom he would come in contact.

G Campbell Morgan: If belief is nothing more than admiration for the spectacular, it will create in multitudes applause; but the Son of God cannot commit Himself to that kind of faith.

Warren Wiersbe: The words believed in John 2:23 and commit in John 2:24 are the same Greek word (pisteuo). These people believed in Jesus, but He did not believe in them! They were “unsaved believers”! It was one thing to respond to a miracle but quite something else to commit oneself to Jesus Christ and continue in His Word (John 8:30, 31). (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor) (Bolding added)

John 2:23  Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing

KJV - Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.

NLT - Because of the miraculous signs he did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many people were convinced that he was indeed the Messiah.

  • many believed: Joh 3:2 Jn 6:14 Jn 7:31 Jn 8:30,31 Jn 12:42,43 Mt 13:20,21 Mk 4:16,17 Lu 8:13 Ga 5:6 Eph 3:16,17 Jas 2:19,20 


Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast - Jn 2:23, 24 serves as the introduction to Nicodemus’ story, since chap3 constitutes tangible evidence of Jesus’ ability to know men’s hearts and thereby also demonstrates Jesus’ deity.

Passover included:  (1). Passover per se (Ex12:6,7) (1st mo, Nissan, Lev 23:5).(2). Unleavened Bread: (Lev 23:6,7,8) for 7 days right after Passover (one day strictly), though to pascha is used either for the passover meal or for the whole 8 days (3)  Firstfruits (Lev 23:9ff; 1Cor 15:20,21,22). 

Many believed in His Name - Because of the miracles, many people professed to believe which recalls Paul's words in (Titus 1:16) "They profess (present tense - continually profess!) to know God, but by their deeds they deny (present tense - continually profess!) Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed." Clearly Jesus did not accept their profession of faith. No matter what the people themselves said, He did not accept human testimony, because He knew what was in each person’s heart and mind. See John 1:12 Belief in His Name involves more than intellectual assent or simply mouthing the words "I believe in Jesus." (or praying a prayer!) Saving belief calls for whole-hearted commitment of one’s life as Jesus’ disciple (Mt 10:37; Mt 16:24,25,26). Jn 1:12 Jn 2:23 Jn 20:31).

Compare Simon the magician's "belief" (and even baptism) in Acts 8:13+ - "Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed." And then in Acts 8:19-23+ we read about Simon's "belief" 

(Simon says), “Give this authority to me as well, so that everyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 “Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 “For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”

Believed (4100)(pisteuo - click for lengthy discussion of faith from pistispistos; related studies the faith, the obedience of faith) means to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust. To accept as true, genuine, or real. To have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something or someone. To consider to be true. To accept the word or evidence of.

James uses pisteuo to describe belief that does not save

James 2:19+ You believe (pisteuo) that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe (pisteuo), and shudder.

Comment: In this passage, James explains that not all believing will result in salvation. The believing he is describing in this passage is a mental or intellectual believing that is not associated in a change in one's heart and thus in one's behavior or actions. Belief in the New Testament sense that effects the new birth denotes more than a "demonic" like, intellectual assent to a set of facts or truths. The demons believe but they are clearly not saved. Genuine belief does involve an intellectual assent and consent of one's mind, but also includes an act of one's heart and will. Biblical saving faith is not passive assent but an active staking of one's life on the claims of God. The respected Greek lexicon author W E Vine defines belief as consisting of

(1) a firm conviction which produces full acknowledgment of God's revelation of Truth - (2 Th 2:11 -"in order that they all may be judged who did not believe [pisteuo] the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.")

(2) a personal surrender to the Truth (Jn 1:12+ "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe [pisteuo] in His name") and

(3) a conduct inspired by and consistent with that surrender. (E.g. In Luke 3:8+ Jesus says "Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance [conduct reflecting genuine heart change - see Circumcision of the Heart], and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.")

The first use of pisteuo is found in the  Septuagint (Lxx) and is surely one of the most important uses of pisteuo in all of Scripture…

Genesis 15:6-commentary Then he (Abraham) believed (Hebrew = 'āmanLXX = pisteuo) in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.

Comment: Note that in the OT, salvation was by faith, not works. Paul explains that Abraham heard the gospel - see Galatians 3:8+. It is also worth noting that the Hebrew word for "believe" in this verse is 'aman (word study) means to confirm, support or uphold and conveys the essential idea that one remains steadfast. At the heart of the meaning of the root of the Hebrew verb 'aman is the idea of certainty or firmness. The derivatives reflect the concept of certainty and dependability. In other words faith is not a blind leap into the dark but a confident commitment to the One about Whom abundant evidence bears ample testimony of His eternal, immutable trustworthiness. Faith is far more than mere hope that something unlikely may happen. It is a deep, internal certainty, rooted in our trust of what God has said.

Observing His signs - The Jews were continually (present tense) giving rapt contemplation. The verb theoreo is from theoros which means a spectator, one who looks at something with interest and purpose, carefully observing the details of what is happening. These Jews were "seers" of the Word (the Living Word Himself) but failed to become "doers" of the Word and thus failed to become genuine believers. One is reminded of James' command to "But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves." (James 1:22+)

Observing (2334)(theoreo from theaomai = to look at closely or attentively or contemplatively - even with a sense of wonder; cp theoros = a spectator) (Gives us English = theater, theorize) usually refers to physical sight but can also refer to perception and understanding. It means to gaze, to look with interest and purpose, to carefully examine with emphasis on or attention to details. To behold intensely or attentively. Our English word scrutinize conveys this sense, for it means to examine closely and minutely. To be a spectator and thus to understand or perceive. To contemplate (Heb 13:7). Theoreo in some contexts can include the idea of to behold with amazement. For example, in Mark 5:15 theoreo is not translated merely "see" but "observe" for as Vincent explains that "(theoreo) was more than simple seeing. The verb means looking steadfastly, as one who has an interest in the object, and with a view to search into and understand it: to look inquiringly and intently." (Ed Note: And even with a sense of amazement.)

Wuest on theaomai (Comment on Mk 3:11) It is used primarily, not of an indifferent spectator, but of one who looks at a thing with interest and for a purpose. It would be used of a general officially reviewing or inspecting an army, while theaomai would be used of a civilian looking at the parade. Theōreō would include within its meaning a critical, understanding investigation, while theaomai would speak of the mere registering of impressions. The demons exhibited interest and purpose in their critical observation of the Lord Jesus. They looked at Him with a practiced eye, long used to the measuring of the good and the true as exhibited in the character of God. They recognized in Him the embodiment of the holiness out from the presence of which they were driven when the angel Lucifer fell and became Satan, in whose fall they shared because they followed him in his rebellion against the Most High.

J.Vernon McGee: "A great many folk read that and say, “My, isn’t it wonderful that people were believing on Him.” But it wasn’t wonderful, friend, because theirs was not saving faith at all. They merely nodded in assent when they saw the miracles that He did. So notice what follows."

Which He was doing - Doing is in the imperfect tense (over and over). Jesus did his first sign in Cana, but now he was doing many in Jerusalem. Already Jesus had become the center of all eyes in Jerusalem at this first visit in His ministry.  

The belief of these Jews is of the same quality (so to speak - non-salvific) as the Jews in John 8

(Jn 8:30,31) As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.8:31 So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine

Comment - What does Jesus equate with belief in context? Disciples! All believers are disciples contrary to what some teach, saying disciples are believers who are more mature, "believers on steroids" as we might say today. That is not what Jesus said! So what does Jesus say is one mark of genuine belief? Continuance in His Word. Beloved, we can apply this immediately -- If you claim to be a believer, a disciple of Jesus and you are NEVER in the Word of God, than you should do some serious circumspection of your heart as Paul describes in 2 Cor 13:5+  Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?" (Read the commentary on this passage for not everyone agrees with this "reformed" interpretation, which I favor)

And so this is example of believing that falls short of genuine saving belief. Their subsequent actions demonstrated their belief was not genuine for Jesus accused them declaring "you are seeking to kill Me" (John 8:40) and after several heated exchanges, these same "believing" Jews "fulfilled Jesus' prophecy" (He had moments before uttered) and sought to kill Jesus, picking "up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple." (John 8:59) These Jews had a profession but not genuine possession in respect to their belief in Jesus).

John 8:31-see in depth discussion

Related Resources:


John 2:24  But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men,

KJV - But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,

NLT - But Jesus didn't trust them, because he knew what people were really like.

  • was not entrusting Himself Joh 6:15 Mt 10:16,17 
  • for He knew all men: Joh 1:42,46,47 5:42 6:64 16:30 21:17 1Sa 16:7 1Ch 28:9 29:17 Jer 17:9 Mt 9:4 Mk 2:8 Ac 1:24 Heb 4:13 Rev 2:23 

But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them - These people believed in Jesus, but He did not believe in them! They were “unsaved believers”! It was one thing to respond to a miracle but quite something else to commit oneself from the heart to Jesus Christ and continue in His Word (Jn 8:30,31, cp Acts 8:13). He knew their hearts and knew their outward faith in Him was only superficial. Enthusiasm for the spectacular was present in them, but Jesus is always looking for genuine faith. See the interesting discussion of Simon the magician's "belief" in [Acts 8:13] 

John based these two phrases on the same Gr. verb for “believe.” Jn 2:23,24 subtly reveals the true nature of belief from a biblical standpoint. Because of what they knew of Jesus from His miraculous signs many came to believe in Him. However, Jesus made it His habit not to wholeheartedly “entrust” or “commit” Himself to them because He knew their hearts. John 2:24 indicates that Jesus looked for genuine conversion rather than enthusiasm for the spectacular. The latter verse also leaves a doubt as to the genuineness of the conversion of some (cf. John 8:31,32). This emphatic contrast between John 23, 24 in terms of type of trust, therefore, reveals that “belief into His name” involved much more than intellectual assent. It called for whole-hearted commitment of one’s life as Jesus’ disciple (cf. Mt 10:37; 16:24-26).

For He knew all men - This of course speaks of the divine aspect of Jesus. (Mt 9:4; Jn 16:30; Rev 2:23): “He knew what was in man” is a statement that is proved several times in John’s Gospel. Jesus knew the character of Simon (Jn 1:42). He knew what Nathanael was like (Jn1:46ff), and He told the Samaritan woman “all things” that she had ever done (John 4:29). He knew that the Jewish leaders did not have God’s love in their hearts (Jn5:42), and that one of His disciples was not truly a believer (Jn 6:64). He saw the repentance in the heart of the adulteress (Jn8:10,11) and the murder in the hearts of His enemies (Jn8:40ff). Several times in the Upper Room message, Jesus revealed to His disciples their own inner feelings and questions.  As you follow our Lord’s ministry in John’s Gospel, you see Him moving gradually out of the bright light of popularity and into the dark shadows of rejection. At the beginning, it was easy for people to follow the crowd and watch His miracles. But then, His words began to penetrate hearts, with conviction following; and conviction leads either to conversion or opposition. It is impossible to be neutral. People had to decide, and most of them decided against Him. 

John MacArthur writes: "John based these two phrases on the same Gr. verb for "believe." This verse subtly reveals the true nature of belief from a biblical standpoint. Because of what they knew of Jesus from His miraculous signs many came to believe in Him. However, Jesus made it His habit not to wholeheartedly "entrust" or "commit" Himself to them because He knew their hearts. Jn 2:24 indicates that Jesus looked for genuine conversion rather than enthusiasm for the spectacular. The latter verse also leaves a subtle doubt as to the genuineness of the conversion of some (cp Jn 8:31, 32). This emphatic contrast between Jn 2:23, 24 in terms of type of trust, therefore, reveals that "belief into His name" involved much more than intellectual assent. It called for whole-hearted commitment of one’s life as Jesus’ disciple (cf. Mt 10:37; 16:24-26)."

Warren Wiersbe: "The words believed in Jn 2:23 entrusting in Jn2:24 are the same Greek word (pisteuo). These people believed in Jesus, but He did not believe in them! They were “unsaved believers”! It was one thing to respond to a miracle but quite something else to commit oneself to Jesus Christ and continue in His Word (Jn 8:30, 31). John was not discrediting the importance of our Lord’s signs, because he wrote his book to record these signs and to encourage his readers to trust Jesus Christ and receive eternal life" (Jn 20:30,31) However, throughout the book, John makes it clear that it takes more than believing in miracles for a person to be saved. Seeing the signs and believing in them would be a great beginning; in fact, even the disciples started that way and had to grow in their faith (compare Jn 2:11 and Jn 2:22).

J Vernon McGee: The language that is used here is saying that He did not believe in them. You see, they believed in Him, but He didn’t believe in them. In other words, to put it very frankly, their faith was not a saving faith, which He realized, of course. He knew what was in their hearts. This is always a grave danger today for those who say they believe in Jesus. What do you mean when you say you believe in Jesus? Do you mean that you believe in the facts of the gospel? The important question is: Do you trust Him as your Savior who died for your sins? Was He raised for your justification? Is He your only hope of heaven.

This gives an excellent picture of saving faith, of what genuine faith is—of the kind of faith that really saves a person. (see Jn 6:66)

1.Saving faith is not head knowledge, not just a mental conviction and intellectual assent. It is not just believing the fact that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. It is not just believing history, that Jesus Christ lived upon earth as the Savior just as George Washington lived upon earth as the President of America. It is not just believing the words and claims of Jesus in the same way that a person would believe the words of George Washington.

2.Saving faith is believing in Jesus, who and what He is, that He is the Savior and Lord of life. It is a man giving and turning his life over to Jesus. It is a man casting himself upon Jesus as Savior and Lord.

3.Saving faith is commitment—the commitment of a man’s total being and life to Jesus Christ. It is a man’s commitment of all he is and has to Jesus. It gives Jesus everything; therefore, it involves all of a man’s affairs. The man trusts Jesus to take care of his past (sins), his present (welfare), and his future (destiny). He entrusts his whole life, being and possessions into Jesus’ hands. He lays himself upon Jesus’ keeping, confiding in Him about his daily necessities and acknowledging Him in all the ways of life. He follows Jesus in every area and in every detail of life, seeking His instructions and leaving his welfare up to Him. It is simply commitment of a man’s whole being, all he is and has, to Jesus. (Jn 4:50—Heb 5:5-10.)

There are three steps involved in faith which alone saves, steps that are clearly seen in this passage. (See Ro 10:16-17 for more discussion.)

1.There is the step of seeing (Jn 2:23) or hearing (Ro 10:16). A man must be willing to listen to the message of Christ, the revelation of truth.

2.There is the step of mental assent. A man must agree that the message is true, that the facts of the case are thus and so. But this is not enough. Mere agreement does not lead to action. Many a person knows that something is true, but he does not change his behavior to match his knowledge. For example, a man knows that eating too much harms his body, but he may continue to eat too much. He agrees to the truth and knows the truth, but he does nothing about it. A person may believe and know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and yet do nothing about it, never make a decision to follow Christ. This man still does not have faith, not the kind of faith that the Bible talks about.

3. There is the step of commitment. When the New Testament speaks of faith, it speaks of commitment, a personal commitment to the truth. A man hears the truth and agrees that it is true and does something about it (See commentary on James 2:14-26). He commits and yields his life to the truth. The truth becomes a part of his very being, a part of his behavior and life. 

Morris notes that entrusting "here is the same Greek word as "believe." Although many in the Jerusalem crowd "believed in his name when they saw the miracles" (John 2:23), Jesus did not "believe" in them because He knew their hearts and knew their outward faith in Him was only superficial."

John 2:25  and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.

KJV - And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

NLT - No one needed to tell him about human nature.

  • He did not need. Jn 2:4. 4:32. 6:15. Mt 17:4. Mk 6:48. Lk 20:8. 22:49.
  • knew. Jn 1:42, 47, 48. 4:17-19, 29. 5:42. 6:61, 64, 71. Jn 10:14, 27. 13:1, 11, 27, 28. 16:19, 30. Jn 18:4. 21:17. Ge 42:7, 8. 16:7. 1 Ki 8:39. 1 Chr 28:9. 2 Chr 6:30. Ps 40:17, 44:21, 139:2. Is 66:18. Ezek 11:5. Mt 9:4. 12:25. 17:25-27. 22:18. Mk 2:8. 12:15. Lk 5:22. 6:8. 9:47. 11:17.
  • what was in. 1 Ki 8:39. Jer 17:10. Jer 20:12. Mk 7:21. Act 1:24. Rev 2:23.

And because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man,

For He Himself knew what was in man.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Ryrie Study Bible notes that "The contrast is between people who put their trust (pisteuo) in Jesus, and Jesus, who does not put His trust in people because He knows their motives and thoughts. Enthusiasm for the spectacular is present in them, but Jesus looks for genuine faith."