Gospel of John 2015 – 02 Lesson two chapters 2, 3



Anderson, Paul. N.  The Riddles of the Fourth Gospel: An Introduction to John.  (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2011).


Brown, Raymond E.   The Community of the Beloved Disciple: The Life, Loves, and Hates of an Individual Church in New Testament Times.  (Paulist Press, New York, 1979).


________________.   The Gospel According to John I – XII.    Volume 29 of the Anchor Bible Series, Series edited by W.F. Allbright and David Noel Freedman.   (Doubleday, Garden City NY, 1966).


________________.   The Gospel According to John XIII – XXI.    Volume 29A of the Anchor Bible Series, Series edited by W.F. Allbright and David Noel Freedman.   (Doubleday, Garden City NY, 1970).


Elowsky, Joel C. editor.  John 1 – 10.  Volume Iva of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series edited by Thomas C. Oden.  (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2006).


__________________.  John 11 – 21.  Volume IVb of the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series edited by Thomas C. Oden.  (InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2007).


Keener, Craig S.   The Gospel of John: A Commentary  Volume One(Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody MA, 2003).


_______________  The Gospel of John: A Commentary  Volume Two(Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody MA, 2003).


Lewis, Scott M.  The Gospel According to John and the Johannine Letters. Part of the New Collegeville Bible Commentary series edited by Daniel Durkin O.S.B.  (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 2005).


Maloney S.D.B., Francis J.   The Gospel of John.   Volume 4 of the Sacra Pagina series edited by Daniel J. Harrington S.J.   (Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 1998).


Martyn, J. Louis.  History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel.  One of the Classics in the New Testament Library series whose editorial board is C. Clifton Black, John T. Carroll, and Beverly Roberts Gaventa.  Third Edition.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2003).


O’Day, Gail R.  The Gospel of John: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections.  In Volume IX of the New Interpreter’s Bible whose editorial board is convened by Leander Kick.  (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 1995).


Sloyan, Gerard.   John.   Part of the Interpretation series edited by Mays, Miller, Achtemeier.

(John Knox Press, Atlanta GA, 1988).





John Chapter 2


On the third day there was a wedding in Cana inGalilee,

and the mother of Jesus was there.

Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.


When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him,

“They have no wine.”

And Jesus said to her,

“Woman, how does your concern affect me?

My hour has not yet come.”

His mother said to the servers,

“Do whatever he tells you.”


Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings,

each holding twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus told them,

“Fill the jars with water.”

So they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them,

“Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.”

So they took it.


And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine,

without knowing where it came from

(although the servers who had drawn the water knew),

the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him,

“Everyone serves good wine first,

and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one;

but you have kept the good wine until now.”


Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana inGalilee

and so revealed his glory,

and his disciples began to believe in him.

After this, he and his mother, (his) brothers,

and his disciples went down toCapernaum

and stayed there only a few days.


Since the Passover of the Jews was near,

Jesus went up toJerusalem.

He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep, and doves,

as well as the money-changers seated there.

He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area,

with the sheep and oxen,

and spilled the coins of the money-changers

and overturned their tables,

and to those who sold doves he said,

“Take these out of here,

and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.”


His disciples recalled the words of scripture,

“Zeal for your house will consume me.”

At this the Jews answered and said to him,

“What sign can you show us for doing this?”

Jesus answered and said to them,

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”


The Jews said,

“This temple has been under construction for forty-six years,

and you will raise it up in three days?”

But he was speaking about the temple of his body.

Therefore, when he was raised from the dead,

his disciples remembered that he had said this,

and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken.


While he was in Jerusalem for the feast of Passover,

many began to believe in his name when they saw the signs he was doing.

But Jesus would not trust himself to them

because he knew them all,

and did not need anyone to testify about human nature.

He himself understood it well.


John Chapter 3


Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus,

a ruler of the Jews.

He came to Jesus at night and said to him,

“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God,

for no one can do these signs that you are doing unless God is with him.”


Jesus answered and said to him,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.”

Nicodemus said to him,

“How can a person once grown old be born again?

Surely he cannot reenter his mother’s womb and be born again, can he?”



Jesus answered,

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.

What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit.

Do not be amazed that I told you,

‘You must be born from above.’

The wind blows where it wills,

and you can hear the sound it makes,

but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes;

so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”


Nicodemus answered and said to him,

“How can this happen?”

Jesus answered and said to him,

“You are the teacher of Israel and you do not understand this?

Amen, amen, I say to you,

we speak of what we know and we testify to what we have seen,

but you people do not accept our testimony.

If I tell you about earthly things and you do not believe,

how will you believe if I tell you about heavenly things?


No one has gone up to heaven except the one who has come down from heaven, the Son of Man.

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert,

so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”


For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,

so that everyone who believes in him might not perish

but might have eternal life.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,

but that the world might be saved through him.


Whoever believes in him will not be condemned,

but whoever does not believe has already been condemned,

because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

And this is the verdict,

that the light came into the world,

but people preferred darkness to light,

because their works were evil.


For everyone who does wicked things hates the light

and does not come toward the light,

so that his works might not be exposed.

But whoever lives the truth comes to the light,

so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.


After this, Jesus and his disciples went into the region ofJudea,

where he spent some time with them baptizing.

John was also baptizing in Aenon near Salim,

because there was an abundance of water there,

and people came to be baptized,

for John had not yet been imprisoned.


Now a dispute arose between the disciples of John and a Jew

about ceremonial washings.

So they came to John and said to him,

“Rabbi, the one who was with you across the Jordan,

to whom you testified,

here he is baptizing and everyone is coming to him.”



John answered and said,

“No one can receive anything except what has been given him from heaven.

You yourselves can testify that I said (that) I am not the Messiah,

but that I was sent before him.

The one who has the bride is the bridegroom;

the best man, who stands and listens for him,

rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice.

So this joy of mine has been made complete.

He must increase; I must decrease.”



The one who comes from above is above all.

The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things.

But the one who comes from heaven is above all.

He testifies to what he has seen and heard,

but no one accepts his testimony.


Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy.

For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God.

He does not ration his gift of the Spirit.

The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life,

but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life,

but the wrath of God remains upon him.










Overall theme that comes through – the old is replaced with the new.  (Better, I think: the old is fully transformed into something new.)


The six jars would have contained approximately 180 gallons of water.  To emphasize the staggering generosity and love of God.


John 2:11:

Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs in Cana inGalilee

and so revealed his glory,

and his disciples began to believe in him.


“The sign of water turned into wine at Cana already announces the Hour of Jesus’ glorification.  It makes manifest the fulfillment of the wedding feast in the Father’s kingdom, where the faithful will drink the new wine that has become the Blood of Christ.”  CCC 1335


Contrast with multiplication of the loaves which was not a transformation but an increase.  Here, a transformation.


A simple story and its meaning.  As with all of the signs, Jesus uses concrete things (water, wine, hunger, bread, blindness, sight, being dead and being alive).  Each of these normal and simple real things is something more, and reveal to those willing to see that Jesus is the living Word in action.


  • Stone jars used for purification rituals represent the old order of Jewish law and custom.
  • Six may represent a lack of completeness (7).
  • Wine a symbol of joy, of the kingdom.
  • Wedding banquet – kingdom, messianic age has begun.
  • Jesus replaces the Law with the Spirit.  (Better – Jesus IS the law transformed.)
  • The water pots filled to the brim may convey the idea that the time for ceremonial purification had been fulfilled.


“My hour has not yet come.” Foreshadows the passion and resurrection, connects to it.

Both on the “third day”.


The scene then shifts to Jerusalem and the Temple – a great contrast with the Synoptic gospels where Jesus has a long ministry in Galilee and makes only one fateful trip to Jerusalem during the time of his public ministry.


He finds the outer court of the temple crowded and confused, a market place.

After driving out the money changes etc. Jesus is confronted by the authorities and they ask for a sign that would justify what he had just done.  Temple / 3 days.  Misunderstanding by all, clarity comes later.


This same pattern is continued in Nicodemus story.

Came at night – caution?  Searching for light?

(She is wrong – Pharisees DID interpret the law.)


When dealing with seekers Jesus often responds to a question with an ambiguous teaching that leaves them confused.  The seeker then misunderstands the answer.  Jesus responds with additional teaching that is even more difficult to understand. 


Here:  Jesus comes from God.  Jesus responds: one must be begotten from above.

Nicodemus: cannot re-enter the womb!  Jesus: one must be born of water and the spirit.


The gospel explains the meaning in 3:16:

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,

but that the world might be saved through him.”





Wedding at Cana

Sloyan p. 33: “Some think…John tells the story of the initial refusal of the request only to show that ties of blood could not prevail in the new community.”  In John’s community synagogues were divided, neighborhoods divided, families divided – between Jews who followed Jesus and were thrown out of the synagogues and those who remained.


O’Day p. 537: “The expression translated ‘what concern is that to you and me?’ like ‘woman’ is a formula of disengagement, not rudeness.  It may have been a common expression in the Semitic world (cf. 2 Kings 3:13; 2 Chronicles 35:21).”


2 Kings 3:13:

Elisha asked the king of Israel, “What do you want with me? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.”


2 Chron. 35:21:

Neco sent messengers to him, saying: “What quarrel is between us, king of Judah? I have not come against you this day, for my war is with another kingdom, and God has told me to hasten. Do not interfere with God who is with me; let him not destroy you.”


Sloyan p. 34: “Doing whatever Jesus commands is for John the essence of discipleship.”


Sloyan:  Symbolism – some we get, some perhaps not.  Why 6 jars, why so much?  What we do get – here the water represents the old era that is passing away, the wine represents the new age.  Additionally – in such a place – there was always a shortage of water so the quantity is staggering.  Where did it come from?  (The same question as will be at the root of the Woman at the Well story.)  The focus and meaning of the story is not Mary and Jesus’ relationship but that in a quiet little village with an extended family in humble circumstances the first sign is given that the universe is changed.


note – the water becomes the wine, is not replaced by it.  The Law becomes Jesus, Jesus does not replace the Law.  Perhaps even – Judaism becomes Christian faith, but Christian faith does not replace Judaism.   A water jug reappears in the story of the Woman at the Well.


Lewis p. 16: “In Amos 9:11, 13; Joel 3:18; Isaiah 25:6, the advent of the messianic age is signified by an abundance of rich and sweet wine.  Through this sign Jesus reveals his glory (v. 11) or divine power (Doxa …) and his disciples begin to believe in him.”


Amos 9:13:


Yes, days are coming—

oracle of the LORD—

When the one who plows shall overtake the one who reaps

and the vintager, the sower of the seed;

The mountains shall drip with the juice of grapes,

and all the hills shall run with it.


Joel 4:18 (not 3:18 as in the commentary)

On that day

the mountains will drip new wine,

and the hills flow with milk,

All the streams of Judah

will flow with water.

A spring will rise from the house of the LORD,

watering the Valley of Shittim.


Keener p. 513: “…the explicit statement of John is that these water pots were set apart for the ceremony of ritual purification, and that Jesus replaced water that was pure, at least by the host’s standards, with what could not be pure for washing by anyone’s standards.  Preventing a social affront to his host or the dissatisfaction of the guests was more critical to the Johannine Jesus than the affront offered to the tradition of purification by water.”


O’Day p. 538: “Rather, jars stood empty, waiting to be filled.  Jewish vessels are filled with a wondrous new gift.  This miracle is thus neither a rejection nor a replacement of the old, but the creation of something new in the midst of Judaism.”


Moloney sees this miracle atCanaand the second (4:54) as brackets.  The section after that is then preoccupied with the various feasts of Judaism.  He also notes that this is the first appearance of “the hour” theme that occurs throughout the gospel.


Mary is rebuked but has total trust in the words of Jesus – do whatever he tells you to do.  This is the sort of faith the community sought to have.


Keener p. 504:  “Jesus’ mother’s expression of faith here may be seen by the Fourth Evangelist as characteristic of the sort of charismatic elements in Judaism that stood as a challenge to the institutional authority characterized by the water pots set aside for ritual purification.”


Controversy in the Temple


Sloyan p. 39: “The cleansing of the temple has long been taken as symbolic of the purification of candidates in preparation for their baptism on Easter eve.”  Hence it is used in the lectionary on the 3rd Sunday of Lent in cycle B.


O’Day p. 543 says that selling animals and changing money were practical realities at the time.  While there were likely abuses here and there that is not the point.  Jesus is confronting the whole sacrificial system and the priests / authorities, not people abusing the system.


Sloyan p. 41: “He acts authoritatively in his Father’s house, the temple, because the basic dwelling place of the LORD, the God of Israel, is henceforward to be Jesus’ body.  This body is the “temple” of the Evangelist’s concern.  The deed of Jesus indicates that the final days have arrived – in his person.”


Very early in the gospel the conflict begins with ‘hoi Judaoi’.  On their first appearance they are already set against Jesus.


Lewis p. 19: “The dangers of superficial or incomplete belief will be a recurrent theme in the rest of the gospel.”  (demand for a sign, belief on the basis of a sign)




Sloyan p. 44: “Nicodemus is an important Gospel figure in the lives of preachers, teachers, and laity deep in the life of the churches.  He is so familiar in his earnest spinelessness that he makes birth in the Spirit a very attractive option – for whoever will admit this beginning of new life on Jesus’ terms.”


Maloney – movement of Nicodemus from the darkness toward the light of Jesus is the key, the beginnings of conversion.


Sloyan p. 45: “The two, in modern parlance, are “talking past each other.”  The teachers ofIsrael, it seems are being charged with declaring the Spirit vocabulary of the Jesus people incomprehensible.  The question is left hanging with the exasperated conclusion of Jesus’ remarks at verse 12.  How can the heavenly – by definition all that touches on God’s dealing with humanity through Jesus – be understood if the earthly – by definition all things besides – cannot be grasped?”


O’Day p. 554, 555: the word in Greek ‘anothen’ does has the meaning of an ‘individual’s private moment of conversion’.  BUT it also has the meaning that Catholics most associate with it too – of Jesus lifting up a believer to new life through his death on the cross.  One is the action of a human being, the other the action of God.  Whoever might turn “born again” into a slogan or code-word does not honor the complexity of scripture or reality.


Nicodemus is neither a true follower nor a real opponent of Jesus.  Not part of the darkness and forces of evil discussed here.


Lewis p. 19: “In John’s uncompromising polemic, Nicodemus is used to challenge followers to make a public commitment and face the cost; he cannot straddle two different worlds.”


The ‘lifting up’ in glory theme makes its appearance.  Lifted up on the cross IS the glory, followed by being lifted up in resurrection and into heaven.


Lewis p. 22: “Belief is not intellectual assent to doctrine, but total surrender and openness to the object of belief.”







  • Ponder in prayer: “What do you thirst or hunger for?”
  • Read and pray over John chapters 4 and 5.
  • Read the commentary pages 24 to 34.
  • Ponder and pray over the questions page 16 – 18, make notes as you do so.  Pay special attention to these:
    • #6 – Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman.  In what was is Jesus’ example still a challenge today?
    • #8 – If you were to tell about Jesus, what would be most important for you to include?


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