John 2:4

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

John 2:4 Meaning and Commentary

John 2:4

Jesus saith unto her, woman
Calling her "woman", as it was no ways contrary to her being a virgin, ( Galatians 4:4 ) , so it was no mark of disrespect; it being an usual way of speaking with the Jews, when they showed the greatest respect to the person spoken to; and was used by our Lord when he addressed his mother with the greatest tenderness, and strongest affection, ( John 19:26 ) . The Jews frequently object this passage to us Christians: one of their writers his objection in this manner F16:

``they (the Christians) say, the mother of Jesus is never called a woman their law; but here her son himself calls her a man.''

Another puts it thus F17:

``it is their (the Christians) belief, that Mary, even after she brought forth Jesus, was a virgin; but if she was, as they say, why does not her son call her by the name of virgin? but he calls her a woman, which signifies one known by man, as appears from ( John 2:4 ) ( 8:10 ) .''

To which may be replied, that the mother of Jesus is never called a woman in the New Testament, is not said by us Christians: it is certain she is so called, both here, and elsewhere; but then this is no contradiction to her being a virgin; one, and the same person, may be a virgin, and a woman: the Abraham's servant was sent to take for wife for his son Isaac, is called a woman, though a virgin that had never known any man, ( Genesis 24:5 Genesis 24:8 Genesis 24:14 Genesis 24:16 Genesis 24:43 Genesis 24:44 ) . Besides, we do not think ourselves obliged to maintain the perpetual virginity of Mary, the mother of our Lord; it is enough that she was a virgin when she conceived, and when she brought forth her firstborn: and as the Jews endeavour to take an advantage of this against the character of Mary, the Papists are very solicitous about the manner in which these words are said, lest they should be thought to contain a reproof, which they cannot bear she should be judged worthy of; or suggest any thing to her dishonour, whom they magnify as equal to her son: but certain it is, that the following words,

what have I to do with thee?
show resentment and reproof. Some render the words, "what is it to thee and me?" and give this as the sense; what concern is this of ours? what business have we with it? let them look to it, who are the principal in the feast, and have the management of it. The Jew F18 objects to this sense of the words, but gives a very weak reason for it:

``but I say, (says he,) who should be concerned but the master of the feast? and he was the master of the feast:''

whereas it is a clear case that he was one of the guests, one that was invited, ( John 2:2 ) , and that there was a governor or ruler of the feast, who might be more properly called the master of it than Jesus, ( John 2:8 John 2:10 ) . However, since Christ afterwards did concern himself in it, it looks as if this was not his meaning. Others render it to the sense we do, "what have I with thee?" as the Ethiopic version; or "what business hast thou with me?" as the Persic version; and is the same with, (Klw yl hm) , "what have I to do with thee?" used in ( 1 Kings 17:18 ) ( 2 Kings 3:13 ) , where the Septuagint use the same phrase as here; and such a way of speaking is common with Jewish writers F19: hereby signifying, that though, as man, and a son of hers, he had been subject to her, in which he had set an example of obedience to parents; yet, as God, he had a Father in heaven, whose business he came to do; and in that, and in his office, as Mediator, she had nothing to do with him; nor was he to be directed by her in that work; or to be told, or the least hint given when a miracle should be wrought, by him in confirmation of his mission and doctrine. Moreover, he adds,

mine hour is not yet come:
meaning not the hour of his sufferings and death, in which sense he sometimes uses this phrase; as if the hint was, that it was not proper for him to work miracles as yet, lest it should provoke his enemies to seek his life before his time; but rather the time of his public ministry and miracles, which were to go together, and the one to be a proof of the other; though it seems to have a particular regard to the following miracle, the time of doing that was not yet come; the proper juncture, when all fit circumstances meeting together, it would be both the more useful, and the more illustrious: or his meaning is, that his time of doing miracles in public was not yet; and therefore, though he was willing to do this miracle, yet he chose to do it in the most private manner; so that only a few, and not the principal persons at the feast should know it: wherefore the reproof was not so much on the account of the motion itself, as the unseasonableness of it; and so his mother took it.


F16 Vet. Nizzachon, p. 222.
F17 R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 42. p. 433.
F18 Vet. Nizzachon, p. 223.
F19 Vid. Kimchi in Psal. ii. 12. Bechinat Olam, p. 70.

John 2:4 In-Context

2 And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.
3 And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.
4 Jesus saith unto her,Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
5 His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
6 And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.
The King James Version is in the public domain.