What I would like to present is a brief "commentary"/synopsis of my
paper on John 2:1-11 so that my interpretation can be evaluated after
seeing the whole picture. Mike, you will find my response to your
concerns in this post. Sorry for the delay.
"On the third day"/TE EMERA TE TRITE- the phrase would remind John's
audience, first of all, of the day of Jesus' resurrection. My
interpretation states that the Cana Miracle is the miracle of Jesus'
death and resurrection, and what Jesus accomplished through those
events. What follows will establish this interpretation.
"there was a wedding"/GAMOS- first connection to Ex 2. In Ex 2:21
Moses "marries" Zipporah. My interpretation of the Cana Miracle
states that this "wedding" involves Jesus as the Bridegroom and the
Church as the Bride. This is consistent with: a) The "master of the
banquet" saying to the bridegroom, "YOU have saved the best wine til
now" (Jesus was the provider of the wine; therefore, Jesus is the
bridegroom whom the master of the banquet addresses); b) John the
Baptist, in Jn 3:29, identifies Jesus as the Bridegroom, and he
identifies the people believing in Him as the Bride. John the
Baptist, who represents the Law and the Prophets, is the best man; c)
In John 4, in the Samaritan woman story, Jesus is there depicted once
again as the Bridegroom who "marries" the Samaritan woman/poeple. I
demonstrate that this is the case showing how the Evangelist used
Genesis 24 as one of his source materials in the composition of that
story. Unlike Abraham, who would only have for his son a wife from
his own people, and unlike Isaac who takes a virgin to be his wife,
and unlike Abraham's servant who was given a drink (and his animals)
when asked by Rebecca, Jesus takes for himself a wife from the hated
Samaritans, one who had been married 5 times and was now living with
a sixth, and was refused water by the Samaritan woman when asked.
Like Isaac who stood in the field and "looked up" to see his wife
approaching, Jesus tells his disciples to "look up" into "the fields"
for they are ripe unto harvest, as the Samaritan people/Jesus' bride
(in part) approach. Both scenes are "well" scenes, which are always
marriage scenes in the OT; d) Moreover, in Revelation 19:7-9, John
again depicts Jesus as the bridegroom, and the Church as the bride
(yes, I believe that the Evangelist wrote the gospel, the letters,
and Revelation) .
"in Cana/KANA of Galilee"- This Greek word KANA means, according to
Gerhard Kittel's Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Vol.
III, p. 596), "a basket woven from reeds", which should recall to our
minds Exodus 2:3:
"But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for
him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it
and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile."
Though the Greek words in the LXX are different, taken together with
all of the other parallels that are between these two texts, we can
assume the allusion to the birth story of Moses. This is our second
connection to Ex.2, where the infant Moses was placed in a wicker
basket and set among the reeds of the Nile (Ex 2:3,5).
"and the mother of Jesus was there"- "the mother of Jesus never
named, thus suggesting that she is symbolic. She represents the OT
Church. In Jn.19:26-27 when Jesus is hanging on the Cross, he says to
his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son", and to his
disciple, "Here is your mother". He is joining/bridging, via his
death, the Old Testament Church of the Law and the Prophets with the
New Testament Church of the Holy Spirit, recalling the words in Jn
3:5 to Nicodemus, "You must be born of "water"/the Law and the
Prophets AND the Spirit", and recalling John's words in 19:34, "a
sudden flow of blood and water" flowed from Jesus' side. Jesus, in
dying on the cross, carried the Father's/water/the Law and the
Prophets' ministry, and His own ministry/life/blood, to an end and
begun the ministry of the Holy Spirit/wine/Living Water (cf. I Jn 5:6-
"and both Jesus and His disciples were invited/EKLETHE to the
wedding"- Here we have the bride and bridegroom at the wedding. The
same greek word EKLETHE/invited (but a different verb form) is our
third connection to our Ex 2 passage. Jethro, in Ex.2:20, says to his
daughters, "Invite/KALESATE him to have something to eat".
"When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, 'They have
no wine'."- this is John's first suggestion of the "famine"
situation that he is introducing into his Cana Miracle (said twice),
and thus is setting the stage for a "rescue scene". Note, Ex 2 has 3
rescue scenes where Moses "rescues" 1) a Hebrew from an Egyptian (Ex
2:11-12); 2) a Hebrew from a Hebrew (Ex 2:13), and 3) the seven
daughters from the bad shepherds. All of these rescue scenes set the
stage for the greater rescue scene of the Exodus that Moses will have
a major role in carrying out. And so, in Exodus 2:24-25 we read, "So
God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took
notice of them." So, too, is John setting his stage for the GREATEST
Rescue Scene of all to take place, and telling his audience that God
has heard their groaning, and remembered once again His covenant with
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the sending of his Son.
"And Jesus said to her, 'Woman, what between me and you?'/TI EMOI KAI
SOI, YUNAI- This phrase is taken from I Kings 17:18. In I Kings 17
God sends a drought, and as a consequence of the drought, a famine,
on the land, via his servant Elijah. Elijah then miraculously
provides flour and oil for the widow and her son until the drought
has ended. But the woman's son becomes sick, and dies. The woman then
says to Elijah, "What between me and you (TI EMOI KAI SOI), man of
God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?" Elijah
then takes the son to the upper room, stretches himself out on top of
him three times, and the boy's life returns to him. Elijah then gives
the son back to the mother, saying, "Look, your son is alive!"
Why does John take this phrase from I Kings 17:18 and include it into
his Cana miracle? Precisely because even as Elijah supplied for this
woman's need in time of drought, so too will Jesus supply for
the "woman's" need in time of famine (the wine that is lacking). Even
as Elijah brought back from the dead the son's life, after she was
reminded of her sin, by stretching himself out on top of the son
three times, so, too, shall the Son give his life for the sins of the
people and yet live again after being dead for three days. This
phrase that John borrows from I Kings 17:18 is one confirmation that
the Cana Miracle is not about turning physical water into physical
wine, but rather is the miracle of Jesus- God in the flesh- dying on
the cross and rising from the dead, thus rescuing those who would
believe in Him, and progressing the Old/water/Law and the Prophets
into the New/wine/Holy Spirit.
"My hour has not yet come."- This phrase is used in John only in
reference to Jesus' hour of passion. This is another clue that tells
us that the Cana Miracle is about the dying and rising of Christ.
Jesus says his hour has not yet come, thus refusing to do the miracle
that his mother asks. Only until the six stone jars are filled with
water will we see Jesus perform the miracle. The reason for this is
because his hour to die and rise again comes once the jars are filled
with water. See Jn 7:30; 8:20; 12:23,27; 13:1; 17:1. C.K. Barrett, in
his commentary on John, states: "It is unthinkable that in this
verse "my hour" should have a different meaning..." (p.191).
"His mother said to the servants, 'Whatever He says to you, do
it' "/O TI AN LEGEI UMIN POIESATE- This phrase is an indirect
allusion to Gen.41:55, when Pharaoh says to all the people who are
starving from the famine, 'Go to Joseph and do whatever he says to
you"/O EAN EIPE UMIN POIESATE. John borrows this phrase from Gen 41
to again bring to the minds of his audience "the famine situation" in
which they were/are presently in. Even as Joseph provided for the
people's need in Egypt, so too does John here portray Jesus as the
provider for the people. Jesus has thus been shown to be both the
redeemer/rescuer/Moses figure as well as the savior/provider/Joseph
figure. What famine is John referring to? He is referring to the
famine period that Amos predicts in Amos 8:11f-
"Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord God, "when I will send a
famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but
rather for hearing the words/LOGON of the Lord. People will stagger
from sea to sea and from the north even to the east; they will go to
and fro to seek/ZETOUNTES the word/TON LOGON of the Lord, but they
will not find/EUROSIN it."
Note that the famine is for the Word of God. Note also that Amos says
in 9:11, in his prediction about the end of the famine period, that
God will "raise up David's fallen tent"/SKENEN. Amos, also in 9:13ff,
predicts, at the end of the famine period, a period in which there
will be an abundance of "wine" (cf Amos 9:13-14).
Joel, in Joel 1:5,10, also predicts this "famine" period, but instead
of using a shortage of the "word of God", he uses a shortage
of "wine" as one of his metaphors. Then, like Amos, Joel predicts a
time of abundance, once the famine has ended, and uses, like Amos,
the metaphor of "new wine" (cf Joel 2:19,24; 3:18). Inbetween Joel
2:19,24 and 3:18 where he predicts the "overflow of new wine" we find
Joel's prediction of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (cf Joel 2:28-
Shortly after Amos' and Joel's prophecies end, the Hebrews do not
hear from God for some 400 years (same amount of time before the
Exodus event)- which is the "famine" period that Amos and Joel
predicted- a famine of the Word of God . And then, at the end of the
400 year period, John begins his gospel with the words,
"In the beginning was the Word/O LOGOS, and the Word/O LOGOS was with
God, and the Word/O LOGOS was God....And the Word/O LOGOS became
flesh and 'tented'/ESKENOSEN among us" (Jn.1:1,14). Note John's use
of LOGOS and ESKENOSEN- two of the words used by Amos to predict the
famine and the end of the famine/the messianic days.
When John the Baptist, who represents the Law and the Prophets,
points his disciples to Jesus and testifies in Jesus' favor, his own
disciples/the disciples of the Law and the Prophets leave him and
follow Jesus. John then has Jesus turn to them and ask, "What do you
seek?"/TI ZETEITE (cf Jn.1:38). These disciples then run and tell
others, "We have found/EUREKAMEN the Messiah...We have
found/EUREKAMEN the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom
the prophets also wrote" (Jn 1:41,45). The word "found" is used 4
times in Jn.1;41-45. John then has Jesus provide the "new wine" in
the Cana Miracle. What is John doing? By word (i.e.LOGOS, SKENEN,
ZETEITE, EUREKAMEN) and thematic (i.e.famine, new wine) parallels,
John is reminding his readers of the prophecies found in Amos and
Joel. He is showing Jesus to be the end of the famine period. Jesus
is "the Word" of God that people would "search for" and "not find"
until the time was ripe. And then, when the time was ripe, Jesus
would provide the "new wine"/Holy Spirit.
"Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom
of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each."
Mike Grondin wrote:
Stone: You claim in your paper that John got this word from Paul -
or more specifically, that John got its connection with the Law from
one of Paul's letters. I have no problem with John being familiar
with Paul's letters, but the claim that he got this element from
them strikes me as a textbook case of parallelomania. Surely John
didn't need Paul to tell him that the Commandments were engraved
on stone? I think the general rule is that if the author can be
expected to have figured out X on his own, there's insufficient
grounds for claiming that he got it elsewhere.
My response: Mike,
Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your questions (family
and work). In response to your first concern, if we compare II Cor 3
to Jn 2:1-11 (I do this for the sake of the other list members, as I
know you have read my paper), we find the following:
a) "You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our
ministry/DIAKONHTHEISA, written not with ink but with the Spirit of
the Living God" (3:3)
b) "not on tablets of stone/LITHINAIS but on tablets of the human
c) "ministers/DIAKONOUS of a new covenant- not of the letter but of
the Spirit; for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life" (3:6)
d) "the ministryDIAKONIA that brought death, which was engraved in
letters on stone/LITHOIS, came with glory/DOXH, so that Israel could
not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory/DOXAN ,
fading though it was, will not the ministry/DIAKONIA of the Spirit be
even more glorious/DOXH? (3:7-8)
e) If the ministry/DIAKONIA that condemns men is glorious/DOXA, how
much more glorious/DOXH is the ministry/DIAKONIA that brings
righteousness. For what was glorious/DEDOXASMENON has no
glory/DEDOXASTAI now in comparison with the surpassing glory/DOXHS.
And if what was fading away came with glory/DOXHS, how much greater
is the gloryDOXH of that which lasts (3:9-11)
f) We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep
the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.
But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains
when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only
in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a
veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the
veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit
of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all
reflect the Lord's glory/DOXAN, are being transformed into his
likeness with ever-increasing glory/DOXHS EIS DOXAN, which comes from
the Lord, who is the Spirit.
John 2:1-11 is a drama acted out based on II Cor. 3, in part.
John uses the word "glory"/DOXA once in 2:11. He earlier used it in
the Prologue in Jn. 1:14, where immediately after he, like Paul,
contrasts Moses' ministry with that of Jesus'. I have argued that
this word DOXA in John refers to Jesus' "hour of
passion/death/resurrection/ascension". So, for example, in Jn 7:39,
John states, "Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since
Jesus had not yet been glorified/EDOXASTHE", and in 12:23 John has
Jesus say, "The hour/ORA has come for the Son of Man to be
glorified/DOXASTHN". Both of these verses also confirm my
interpretation of the Cana Miracle being the miracle of Jesus' death
and resurrection and what that brings about- the changing of the
dispensation of the"water"/Law and the Prophets into the dispensation
of the "wine"/Holy Spirit. John states in 7:39 that "the Spirit" had
not been given since Jesus had not been "glorified". John states that
via Jesus' Cana Miracle his "glory" was revealed, and thus
the "wine"/Holy Spirit was provided. In Jn 12:23 John has Jesus
say "the hour" has come for Him to be "glorified". In the Cana
miracle John has Jesus say, "My hour" has not come, and then he
reveals his "glory", meaning that his "hour" had come a little later,
meaning that he died and rose again and thus revealed his "glory".
Bultmann, in his commentary on the Gospel of John, states, "For the
Evangelist this "hour" [2:4] is the hour of the passion, which is
however the hour of the DOXASTHEVAI of Jesus" (p.121).
Clearly, then, when John first has Jesus say, "My hour/ORA has not
yet come", and then, after the turning of "water" into "wine", John
says that Jesus revealed his "glory"/DOXA, John is telling us that
Christ died and rose again sometime WITHIN the Cana Miracle story.
When did this occur? When the stone jars were filled with "water" "to
the brim"/EOS ANO (which can be translated "the end of a period of
Paul uses the word "glory" some 13 times in II Cor. 3. If John's
readers were familiar with Paul's letters (and I am arguing they
were), then John's audience would immediately be reminded of II Cor 3
when they read/heard the word "glory" in John's Cana Miracle story.
John, a believer himself in Jesus as the Christ of the Jews, and
living in a time when the leaders within Judaism in Jerusalem ("the
Jews" in John's Gospel) were using the OT Scriptures to speak against
Jesus as the Christ, decided to write a work showing Jesus to be the
Christ (20:31). In composing his Cana Miracle, and in wanting to
contrast Jesus with the interpretation of the Law and the Prophets by
these leaders in Jerusalem, he found conveniently available to him
certain source materials that he could use in the composition of his
Cana Miracle drama/allegory. Paul's writings were one such source
material (II Cor.3 in particular, since this particular passage
contrasted the Old with the New, showing the New to be far superior
to the Old). So John borrows words ("glory", "stone", "servants") and
themes (Old vs New, letter vs Spirit, Moses vs Christ, etc) from this
source material (as well as other words and themes from other source
materials), knowing that these words and themes would recall in the
minds of his audience the familiar sources that he himself had turned
to in order to compose his story. The word "DOXA"/glory was one such
word, that having been repeated by Paul 13 times, would surely be an
allusion that Paul's readers/hearers would pick up on.
The word "stone"/LITHOIS was another such word (twice repeated in
Paul's II Cor.3 text). Even though this word was not emphasized to
the degree as was "glory" in II Cor 3, still, it would, together with
the word "glory", be recognized by John's audience as a reference to
the Ten Commandments as defined by Paul in II Cor 3. In other words,
once reminded of II Cor 3 via the word "glory", John's audience would
then also pick up on John's play on the word "stone" in his Cana
Miracle. Mike, you asked, did John really need Paul's reminder that
the Ten Commandments were written on "stone" in order to make his
point with the "six" "stone" "jars, the kind used by 'the Jews" for
ceremonial cleansing"? No, but Paul's use of the word "stone" would
reinforce John's intended symbolic meaning, and thus John found II
Cor 3 to be a convenient source in the writing of his allegory.
John also uses the word "ministers/servants"/DIAKONOIS in Jn.2:5,9.
These "servants" fill the jars with "water", draw out the "new wine"
and take it to the "master of the banquet". The servants "know where
it [the wine/Holy Spirit] came from", in contrast to the master of
the banquet who "does not know". I am suggesting that "Paul and
Jesus' other disciples" are the "servants". Perhaps the "master of
the banquet"/ARXITRIKLINOS represents "the Jews", but "the Jews who
believed in Him" (cf.Jn8:31) in contrast to "the Jews" who did not
believe in Him, who both, throughout John's Gospel, are shown to be
the ones who "do not know where Jesus comes from" (cf. Jn. 7:27-29,
41-44, 52; 8:14; 9:29). I make this distinction between "the
Jews"/TOUS IOUDAIOUS who believed and those who did not believe
because in each of the above texts we find some who do believe in
contrast to others who do not, and since "the master of the banquet"
responds with an affirmation of the groom's/Jesus' provision of
the "wine"/Holy Spirit (in contrast to the "old wine"/water), then we
should consider the ARXITRIKLINOS to be on the side of the
Christians. When we read in Jn.4:1 that "the Pharisees heard that
Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John...", which
is a reference back to 3:26 ("...he [Jesus] is baptizing and everyone
is going to him"), then do we see that John evidently lived during a
time in which many Jews were crossing over from Judaism to Judaic
Christianity. These "jews" (the ones who believed in Jesus), in
contrast to "the Jews" from Jerusalem who did not believe in Jesus,
must be given the honorific title of ARXITRIKLINOS, probably for the
purpose of persuading even more jews to believe in Jesus as the
Christ. John is placing these jews in an important role in his play
to encourage a positive response (similar to that of the
ARXITRIKLINOS in his play) to his gospel message.
"Six: I thought I had successfully countered your claim that the
number six connoted incompleteness and imperfection in Jewish
thought, by pointing out that AFTER the changing of water into wine,
the number of water-pots was STILL six. If, then, John took the
number six to represent incompleteness and imperfection, then what
you call the "greatest" sign (my objections to the contrary
notwithstanding) resulted in John's mind in a CONTINUATION of
incompleteness and imperfection. That cannot be the case. I thought
the argument was conclusive, and since you didn't respond to it, I
assumed that you did as well. But then in later response to Frank
you repeated the claim without explanation. So let me now ask you to
do something you didn't do in your paper - namely, to provide some
support for your assertion that the number six represented what you
say it did in Jewish thought."
Alan Culpepper states in his "Anatomy of the Fourth Gospel",
"What can be said is that the scene fits the recurring theme of the
fulfillment of Jewish expectations and the replacement of Jewish
festivals and institutions. Even if water become wine was drawn from
the vessels (UDRIAI), as seems probable, the vessels themselves are
no longer of any value and can be left behind like the Samaritan
woman's vessel (UDRIAN 4:28).
The six jars are irrelevant once the "water"/the Law and the Prophets
has been turned into "wine"/the Holy Spirit.
C.K. Barrett states:
"It is possible though by no means certain that the number six is
symbolic. Six, being less by one than seven, the number of
completeness and perfection, would indicate that the Jewish
dispensation, typified by its ceremonial water, was partial and
Many others have noted the same "possibility"(far-fetchedness) in
their commentaries on John. However, what may have been perceived by
many as "unlikely" (although possible) might now, with the
new "evidences"/insights that I am providing, be perceived as "most
likely" by these same scholars.
Now if we look at Revelation 13:18 (yes, I am one who believes that
the Evangelist is the same person who wrote the gospel, the letters
of John, and Revelation), there we read: "This calls for wisdom. If
anyone has insight, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it
is man's number. His number is 666".
Man was created the sixth day. Man is the one who sinned. Beasley-
Murray, in his commentary on Revelation, states, "It has long been
realized that 666 is eminently suitable to characterize the
Antichirst, since it implies a consistent falling short of the divine
perfection suggested by 777. Now it was early realized among
Christians that the name Jesus in Greek totals 888 [in Sibylline
Oracles I 324ff.]. Manifestly the contrast between 666 and 888
strikingly conveys the difference between the Devil's "Christ" and
God's Christ" (p.220).
So, for John to use the single number "6" would
symbolize "imperfection". When taken with the entire phrase- "six,
stone jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial cleansing"- it
would signify "the imperfection of the Jerusalem Jewish leaders'
interpretation/application of the Law and the Prophets". Thus John
says in I John 2:22:
"Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ.
Such a man is the antichrist- he denies the Father and the Son".
And in I John 4:3:
"but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God.
This is the spirit of the antichrist...".
John has thus identified "the Jews" (leaders from Jerusalem) in his
gospel as "little anti-christs", via his number 6 in Jn.2:6- those
who deny Jesus is the Christ, those who misinterpret the Law and the
Prophets and who HAD it contained in their "ceremonial jars" (but no
Jesus *said to them, "Fill the waterpots with water. So they filled
them up to the brim/EOS ANO". Again, the phrase "they filled them to
the brim" can also be translated "to the end of a period of time".
Thus, when Jesus first says, "My hour has not yet come" but then does
the miracle, we wonder what has changed. Via this phrase- EOS ANO-
John is telling us that "time" has changed. "Time" has passed before
our eyes in the filling of the "six, stone jars, the kind used by the
Jews for ceremonial cleansing", with "water"/the Law and the
Prophets. Thus, Jesus' hour has now arrived. Paul states in Galatians
"But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of
a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were
under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons". When the
six, stone, jars were filled with "water"/the Law and the
Prophets "to the brim"/to the end of a period of time, THEN had
Jesus' hour arrived. That is when he died and rose again (thus the
phrase "on the third day" in Jn. 1:1) and converted the "water"/the
Law and the Prophets into "wine"/the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 2:16-
4:11 we can find Paul's view of the Law (also in Romans), which,
interestingly, also is where we find Paul allegorizing OT Scripture.
John's view of the Law is the same as Paul's, and John uses the
Baptist and his "water" symbolism to act out those views.
"And He said to them, 'Draw/ANTLESATE some out now and take it to the
headwaiter.' So they took it to him." This word ANTLESATE is only
used in the context of a well-scene in Jewish literature. Thus the
scholars, in just about every commentary, remark how strange for John
to have used this word. However, according to my interpretation, John
used Ex 2 as one of his source materials in the composition of this
story. In Ex 2:16-17 the same greek word appears twice, thus our
fourth connection to this Exodus passage.
"When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did
not know where it came from/OUK EDIE POTHEN ESTIN (but the servants
who had drawn the water knew)". In Ex 2:20, after Moses rescued the
seven daughters, the daughters return home to their father Jethro,
and he ask, "Where is he?"/KAI POU ESTIN, which is our fifth
connection to Ex 2. (see my paper for more detail on the importance
of this phrase in John)
"the headwaiter called the bridegroom 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." Since Jesus is the one who provided the new wine, then we
should assume that this "headwaiter" is speaking to Jesus- the
"This beginning/ARXE of His signs/SEMEION Jesus did/EPOIESEN in Cana
of Galilee, and manifested His glory/DOXA, and His disciples
believed/EPISTEUSAN in Him."
In Ex 4:29-31, immediately before Moses would be used to "rescue" the
Hebrews from the slavery, we read, "He also performed/EPOIESE the
signs/TA SEMEIA before the people, and they believed/EPISTEUSEN. And
when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen
their misery, they bowed down and worshipped". This is our sixth
connection which demonstrates John's use of this Exodus material as
one of his source materials in the composition of the Cana miracle
(there are other thematic paralles between John's Cana miracle and
Exodus 2 that we will not go into here because of the length of this
Why does John use this Exodus material? 1) To show Jesus as the new
Moses figure as foretold in Deut 18:18, thus showing him to be the
True Deliverer. 2) to elicit from his audience a response like the
response that came from the Hebrew people when they a) heard that God
had visited them, and b) when they saw the miracles performed by
Aaron and Moses. John wants his readers/listeners to "bow down and
worship"- to believe. 3) John also, by using this Exodus material,
has led his readers to the text where Moses' name is connected
to "water"- "She named him Moses saying, I drew him out of the
water". John can now play on Moses' name being connected with water
by using "water" in his gospel as a symbol for "the Law and the
Prophets". He does so by 1) having led his audience to where Moses,
the first of the Law and the Prophets, is connected to water; and 2)
establishing John the Baptist's, the last of the Law and the
Prophets, relationship to water in Jn 1:26,31,33 (3 times the
Evangelist has the Baptist state, "I came baptizing with water").
Thus, John establishes "water" to mean the Law and the Prophets, and
in doing so, also establishes both Moses and John the Baptist to
represent the Law and the Prophets. That this most important
interpretation is correct can be corroborated on several fronts:
1) In Jn 1:26,31,33, the Evangelist has John the Baptist say three
times, "I came baptizing with "water"/the Law and the Prophets. The
third time he says this he adds the phrase, Jesus "will baptize with
the Holy Spirit". The Evangelist is thus contrasting the Old with the
New, the Law and the Prophets with the Holy Spirit.
2) In Jn 2:1-11, the Evangelist has Jesus turn "water"/the Law and
the Prophets into "wine"/the Holy Spirit through his death and
resurrection, again contrasting the Old with the New, the Law and the
Prophets with the Holy Spirit.
3) In Jn 3:5, John has Jesus say to Nicodemus "you must be born
of 'water'/the Law and the Prophets and the Spirit", again
contrasting the Old with the New, the Law and the Prophets with the
4) In Jn.4:1ff, John again contrast the Old with the New, the Law and
the Prophets with the Holy Spirit, in his story about the "dead
water"/the Law and the Prophets from Jacob's well and the "living
water"/Holy Spirit that comes from Jesus.
5) In I Jn 5:6-8- a text that has confused the scholars in the past-
we read:"This is the one who came by water and blood- Jesus Christ.
He did not come by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the
Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are
three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood, and the
three are in agreement". According to my interpretation- that "water"
symbolizes "the Law and the Prophets" or the Father's manner of
revelation/dispensation, then what we have here is a trinitarian
statement. Water=Father, Blood=Son, Spirit=Holy Spirit. That this is
in accordance with John's Gospel is understood once one realizes that
John the Baptist and Moses, wherever they appear in John's gospel,
represent "the Law and the Prophets", since both are connected by
John to his "water" symbolism. Both John the Baptist and Moses are
not portrayed as enemies of Jesus in John's Gospel. Rather, John
portrays them as "witnesses", which, according to Paul's statement in
Rom 3:21, is one of the roles of the Law. John uses the Baptist as a
symbol of the Law to testify to the Jews that Jesus is the
Messiah. "The Jews" from Jerusalem tried to use "the Law and the
Prophets"/John the Baptist in their favor, but John the Baptist/the
Law and the Prophets works against their
misinterpretation/misapplication of the Law and the Prophets.
6) Luke, in Acts 2, plays on John's wordplay of "wine", having the
people say about the disciples who were filled with the Holy
Spirit, "they have had too much wine". Luke also uses Joel 2:28-32 as
his OT text to show the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to be a
fulfillment of the Jewish scriptures. Therefore, Luke's use of John's
wordplay on "wine"/Holy Spirit confirms my interpretation.
Besides all of this, there have been many problems in Johannine
interpretation that my one interpretation can solve. For example,
1) Scholars have argued that John's portrayal of the Baptist reveals
that there was strife between the Baptist's disciples and those of
Jesus, and that one of the purposes of John's Gospel was to show the
Baptist's disciples that their leader considered Jesus to be greater
than himself. My interpretation shows that this was not the case.
Rather, John uses the Baptist as a symbol of the Law and the Prophets
to show the disciples/the jews of the Law and the Prophets that the
Law and the Prophets/John the Baptist testifies in favor of Jesus,
against "the Jews" from Jerusalem who would have the jews to think
that the Law and the Prophets testify against Jesus.
2) Scholars have wondered why the Baptist is introduced so early on
in the Prologue. My interpretation provides a very reasonable answer-
namely, that since the Baptist is a personification of the Law and
the Prophets, John has introduced the Baptist/the Law and the
Prophets into the Prologue to show that the Law and the Prophets/John
the Baptist testifies that he is not the light, but only came as a
witness to the true light. The Evangelist, in using the Baptist as a
personification of the Law and the Prophets, can therefore use the
historical figure the Baptist on the superficial level for his gospel
story, and use what he personifies on the deeper allegorical level.
3) Some scholars have posited the existence of a Signs Source. My
interpretation does away with the need for a Signs Source, since the
turning of physical water into physical wine never occured, nor did
John ever intend for his story to be understood as such.
4) Scholars have asked, Why does Jesus address his mother with the
word, "woman", when in Jewish literature it is unheard of that a son
would address his mother in such a manner? My interpretation shows
that John was alluding to I Kings with the purpose of showing Jesus
to be the provider during the famine via His own death and
5) Scholars have asked, Why does John have Jesus say, My hour has not
yet come, and then turns around and performs the miracle. My
interpretation provides the answer, showing that "time" had passed
before our very eyes in the filling of the jars with "water"- then
Jesus' hour had come.
6) Scholars have asked, Why does John use the greek verb ANTLEO/to
draw in Jn 2:8 when this verb is only used in the context of a well-
scene. My interpretation shows that John borrowed this word, and
others, from Exodus 2.
7) Scholars have asked, Why does John use the word DOXA in Jn 2:11,
when it refers to Jesus' hour of glorification throughout his gospel?
My interpretation shows that the Cana Miracle was Jesus' hour of
glorification, and thus the word DOXA was used
appropriately/consistently with John's other uses of the word.
8) Scholars have asked, Why are the disciples portrayed
as "believing" in Jesus (2:11) after seeing Jesus perform this
miracle, and so early on in the Gospel, when, in the Synoptics, they
are full of unbelief after seeing many other miracles? My
interpretation provides the answer- the disciples believe after
seeing the Cana miracle because the Cana miracle is the miracle of
Jesus death and resurrection, resulting in the outpouring of the Holy
9) Scholars have asked, Why does Jesus explain to Nicodemus what it
means to be born of the Spirit and does not explain what it means to
be born of "water"? My interpretation answers this. Since "water"
symbolizes the Law and the Prophets, and since Nicodemus was a
teacher of the Law, he does not need an explanation of what it means
to be born of "water". He does need an explanation of what it means
to be born of the Spirit.
After this He went down to Capernaum, He and His mother and His
brothers and His disciples; and they stayed there a few days.
D.A. Carson, in his commentary on John, identifies the importance of
discovering what "water" symbolizes in John's Gospel (although he
admits to not knowing its meaning). I believe that the interpretation
that I am defending is the missing piece to the puzzle that fills in
a lot of blank holes that scholars have pointed out are there in