John 2:4
Jesus said to her, Woman, what have I to do with you? my hour is not yet come.
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(4) Woman, what have I to do with thee?—This is an old battle-ground between Protestant and Romanist expositors. The former have found in each clause of the sentence a condemnation of Mariolatry; the latter have sought explanations not inconsistent with their faith and practice. It may be hoped that the day is now past, when anything other than thoughts of reverence and honour is to be connected with the title “Woman,” least of all in the words of One who claimed as His own highest dignity Sonship of, identity with, humanity; and who was here addressing the mother to whom He had been subject, and from whom His own humanity had been derived. Were proof needed of the tenderness which underlies the word as used by Him, it would be found in the other instances which the Gospels supply. . It is spoken only to the Syro-Phœnician whose faith is great (Matthew 15:28); to the daughter of Abraham loosed from her infirmity (Luke 13:12); and, in this Gospel, to the Samaritan embracing the higher faith (John 4:21); perhaps to the sinner whom He does not condemn (John 8:10); to the same mother from the cross (John 19:26); and to Mary Magdalene in tears (John 20:13; John 20:15).

Still the second part of the sentence declares beyond all doubt that the two regarded His life-work from stand-points so different that there is nothing common between them. It is literally, What is that to me and to thee? The parallels for the form of the question are Joshua 22:24; Judges 11:12; 2Samuel 16:10; 1Kings 17:18; 2Kings 3:13; and the thrice-recorded question of the demoniac (Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 8:28). The real parallel is in this Gospel in John 7:6. Mother and brethren alike regarded life in its events; for Him it is an unchanging principle. For them, action is determined by the outer stimulus; for Him, by the eternal will of the Father. Their hour is always ready; His is the development of a law. His answer is another form of that question kept in her heart: “Wist ye not that I must be about My Father’s business?” but “they understood not the saying which He spake unto them” (Luke 2:49).

Mine hour is not yet come—i.e., the hour for My being openly manifested as the Messiah. (Comp. especially John 2:16; John 8:20; John 12:23; John 17:1.)

2:1-11 It is very desirable when there is a marriage, to have Christ own and bless it. Those that would have Christ with them at their marriage, must invite him by prayer, and he will come. While in this world we sometimes find ourselves in straits, even when we think ourselves in fulness. There was want at a marriage feast. Those who are come to care for the things of the world, must look for trouble, and count upon disappointment. In our addresses to Christ, we must humbly spread our case before him, and then refer ourselves to him to do as he pleases. In Christ's reply to his mother there was no disrespect. He used the same word when speaking to her with affection from the cross; yet it is a standing testimony against the idolatry of after-ages, in giving undue honours to his mother. His hour is come when we know not what to do. Delays of mercy are not denials of prayer. Those that expect Christ's favours, must observe his orders with ready obedience. The way of duty is the way to mercy; and Christ's methods must not be objected against. The beginning of Moses' miracles was turning water into blood, Ex 7:20; the beginning of Christ's miracles was turning water into wine; which may remind us of the difference between the law of Moses and the gospel of Christ. He showed that he improves creature-comforts to all true believers, and make them comforts indeed. And Christ's works are all for use. Has he turned thy water into wine, given thee knowledge and grace? it is to profit withal; therefore draw out now, and use it. It was the best wine. Christ's works commend themselves even to those who know not their Author. What was produced by miracles, always was the best in its kind. Though Christ hereby allows a right use of wine, he does not in the least do away his own caution, which is, that our hearts be not at any time overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness, Lu 21:34. Though we need not scruple to feast with our friends on proper occasions, yet every social interview should be so conducted, that we might invite the Redeemer to join with us, if he were now on earth; and all levity, luxury, and excess offend him.Woman - This term, as used here, seems to imply reproof, as if she was interfering in that which did not properly concern her; but it is evident that no such reproof or disrespect was intended by the use of the term "woman" instead of "mother." It is the same term by which he tenderly addressed Mary Magdalene after his resurrection John 20:15, and his mother when he was on the cross, John 19:26. Compare also Matthew 15:28; John 4:21; 1 Corinthians 7:16.

What have I to do with thee? - See the notes at Matthew 8:29. This expression is sometimes used to denote indignation or contempt. See Judges 11:12; 2 Samuel 16:10; 1 Kings 17:18. But it is not probable that it denoted either in this place; if it did, it was a mild reproof of Mary for attempting to control or direct him in his power of working miracles. Most of the ancients supposed this to be the intention of Jesus. The words sound to us harsh, but they might have been spoken in a tender manner, and not have been intended as a reproof. It is clear that he did not intend to refuse to provide wine, but only to delay it a little; and the design was, therefore, to compose the anxiety of Mary, and to prevent her being solicitous about it. It may, then, be thus expressed: "My mother, be not anxious. To you and to me this should not be a matter of solicitude. The proper time of my interfering has not yet come. When that is come I will furnish a supply, and in the meantime neither you nor I should be solicitous." Thus understood, it is so far from being a "harsh reproof," that it was a mild exhortation for her to dismiss her fears and to put proper trust in him.

Mine hour ... - My time. The proper time for my interposing. Perhaps the wine was not yet entirely exhausted. The wine had begun to fail, but he would not work a miracle until it was entirely gone, that the miracle might be free-from all possibility of suspicion. It does not mean that the proper time for his working a miracle, or entering. on his public work had not come, but that the proper time for his interposing there had not arrived.

4, 5. Woman—no term of disrespect in the language of that day (Joh 19:26).

what … to do with thee—that is, "In my Father's business I have to do with Him only." It was a gentle rebuke for officious interference, entering a region from which all creatures were excluded (compare Ac 4:19, 20).

mine hour, &c.—hinting that He would do something, but at His own time; and so she understood it (Joh 2:5).

That it was ordinary with the Jews, speaking to women, to call them by the name of their sex, is plain from Matthew 15:28 Luke 13:12 Luke 22:57 John 4:21. But that, speaking to their relations, they were wont to own their relation in their compellation, sometimes is also evident, from 1 Kings 2:20, Ask on, my mother. So as our Saviour’s here calling the blessed virgin, Woman, not mother, is agreed by most to signify to her, that in this thing he did not own her as his mother, and so clothed with an authority to command him. And indeed so much the next words (what have I to do with thee?) signify, which is a form of speech that both signifies some displeasure for her unseasonable interrupting him, and also that she had no right nor authority upon him in this thing. See the use of the same phrase, Judges 11:12 2 Samuel 16:10 Ezra 4:3 Matthew 8:29 27:19. None was more obedient and respective to his parents than our Saviour, Luke 2:51, therein fulfilling the will of God, Jeremiah 35:13,14; but in the business of his calling he regarded them not, Matthew 12:48 Luke 2:49; and hath hereby taught us our duty, to prefer our obedience to our heavenly Father before our obedience to any earthly relation, Matthew 5:37 Luke 14:26. He hath also hereby taught us, that the blessed virgin is not to be preferred before her Son (as the papists do). Besides this, our Lord giveth another reason for his not present hearkening to his mother,

mine hour is not yet come; either, because the time was not yet come to work miracles publicly; or to show her, that she was not to prescribe the time to him when he should work miraculously; thereby also showing us, that for things in this life we are to submit our desires to the Divine will, and to wait God’s leisure; yet by this expression he also gives her some hopes that he would in his own time supply this want. 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 (p):

"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 (q):

"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.''

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. 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 (r) 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. 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, , "what have I to do with thee?" used in 1 Kings 17:18, where the Septuagint use the same phrase as here; and such a way of speaking is common with Jewish writers (s): 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.

(p) Vet. Nizzachon, p. 222. (q) R. Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 2. c. 42. p. 433. (r) Vet. Nizzachon, p. 223. (s) Vid. Kimchi in Psal. ii. 12. Bechinat Olam, p. 70.

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

(b) My appointed time.

John 2:4. Jesus understands His mother’s wish, but He has in His mind a method of help altogether different from what she meant. He therefore repels her interference, in the consciousness of the call which here is given Him to begin His Messianic ministry of miracles, and holds out the prospect of rendering help at a later period.

τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί;] a rejection of fellowship (מַה־לִּי וָלָךְ, Joshua 22:24; Jdg 11:12, al.; Matthew 8:29; Matthew 27:19; Mark 1:24; Luke 8:28; also in the classics; see Bernhardy, p. 98), here with reference to the help to be rendered, which He Himself, without His mother’s assistance, and independently of her, would accomplish, according to His own divinely determined call and will, and in a miraculous manner. Godet well says: “Sa devise sera désormais: mon père et moi.” Comp. Dorner, Jesu sündlose Vollkommenh. p. 11. The appellation γύναι added to the τί

σοί (which Hofmann thinks should be joined to what follows; but why?) does not contain anything unfriendly (“duriter respondet,” Melancthon), as is clear already from John 19:21; see also Wetstein. Comp. John 20:15. But His not saying μῆτερ followed involuntarily from the consciousness of His higher wonder-working capacity and will, by virtue of which, as an ἀμήτωρ, He rejected any, interference proceeding from feminine weakness, even such as, was presented here before Him in His mother. The remark of Euthymius Zigabenus is not happy (comp. Augustine): “He spoke thus as God;” while that of Epiphanius, Beza, Calvin, and many others, is singular: “His aim was to oppose that future Mariolatry which He foresaw.” Still, the passage tells against that worship. Schenkel says erroneously, quoting Mark 3:21, “He was at variance with the members of His family.”

ἡ ὥρα μου] can only mean, the moment when it will he for me to help.[135] So also Hengstenberg, in keeping with the context. Jesus, conscious of His close communion with the Father, sees clearly that this His first manifestation of Himself as Messiah in the working of miracles stands, even with reference to the time when it is to begin, in close connection with the divine appointment; and He feels that the moment (ἡ ὥρα = ὁ καιρός, as in John 16:21, and often in the N. T. and the classics) for this first Messianio display of power is not yet present when His mother refers to the want of wine. How He was conscious of the exact horas et moras for working, cannot be more precisely determined. Euthymius Zigabenus is substantially right: ἡ τοῦ θαυματουργῆσαι; and Ewald: “the hour of full Messianic sense of power.” Strangely attributing to Mary thoughts of that kind, Baumgarten Crusius remarks, “the moment of my public appearance as Messiah;” and Godet: “l’heure de l’avénement royal.” Anticipating John 2:11, Lücke, Tholuck, Brückner, Maier, Baur, Baumgarten render: “the moment of the revelation of my glory.” Comp. Luthardt: “This miracle, as the figurative prolepsis of Christ’s subsequent full revelation of Himself before the eyes of men, was of significance only for that narrow circle, and was intended to lead Jesus on from it into public life,”—of which, however, the text contains no hint either in John 2 :or elsewhere.

[135] It is an error to suppose that ἡ ὥρα μου in John always signifies the hour of Christ’s death. Its reference depends entirely upon the context, as in John 7:30, John 8:20, where it means the hour of Christ’s seizure; and John 13:1, where the more precise definition is expressly given. Already τινὲς in Chrysostom, Ebrard, and many, take it here as meaning the hour of Christ’s death. Hilgenfeld understands it of the hour of the glorification of Jesus, the culminating point of which was certainly the crucifixion; and that Jesus, according to John, gives expression to the full consciousness of the Logos, and its superhuman independence of all human counsel.John 2:4. His complete reply is, τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι; οὔπω ἥκει ἡ ὥρα μου. γύναι is a term of respect, not equivalent to our “woman”. See chap. John 19:26, John 20:13, Luke 13:12. In the Greek tragedians it is constantly used in addressing queens and persons of distinction. Augustus addresses Cleopatra as γύναι (Dio, quoted by Wetstein). Calvin goes too far when he says that this term of address was used to correct the superstitious adoration of the Virgin which was to arise. But while there is neither harshness nor disrespect, there is distance in the expression. Wetstein hits the point when he says: “Non poterat dicere: quid mihi tecum est, mater?”—τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί represents the Hebrew מַה־לִּי וָלָךְ (Jdg 11:12), and means: What have we in common? Trench gives the sense: “Let me alone; what is there common to thee and me; we stand in this matter on altogether different grounds”. Or, as Holtzmann gives it, Our point of view an interests are wholly diverse; why do you mingle them?—οὔπω ἥκει ἡ ὥρα μου. not as Bengel, “discedendi hora,” but, mine hour for bringing relief. This implies that He too had observed the failure of the wine and was waiting a fitting opportunity to interfere. That the same formula is more than once used by Jesus of His death (see chap. John 7:30, John 8:20) merely indicates that it could be used of any critical time. Euthymius says it here means “the hour of miracle working”. Wetstein quotes from R. Sira “non quavis hora fit miraculum”. Especially true is this of the first miracle-of the Messiah, which would commit Him to a life of publicity ending in an ignominious death. That Mary found hope in the οὔπω is obvious from John 2:5. She did not find His reply wholly refusal. She therefore says to the servants (John 2:5), ὅ τι ἂν λέγῃ ὑμῖν ποιήσατε. The διακόνοι, or servants waiting at table, might not otherwise have obeyed an unimportant guest. His orders might perhaps be of an unusual kind.4. Woman, what have I to do with thee?] S. John alone of all the Evangelists never gives the Virgin’s name. Here, as so often, he assumes that his readers know the main points in the Gospel narrative: or it may be part of the reserve which he exhibits with regard to all that nearly concerns himself. Christ’s Mother had become his mother (John 19:26-27). He nowhere mentions his brother James.

Treatises have been written to shew that these words do not contain a rebuke; for if Christ here rebukes His Mother, it cannot be maintained that she is immaculate. ‘Woman’ of course implies no rebuke; the Greek might more fairly be rendered ‘Lady’ (comp. John 19:26), At the same time it marks a difference between the Divine Son and the earthly parent: He does not say, ‘Mother.’ But ‘what have I to do with thee?’ does imply rebuke, as is evident from the other passages where the phrase occurs, Jdg 11:12; 1 Kings 17:18; 2 Kings 3:13; Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 8:28. Only in one passage does the meaning seem to vary: in 2 Chronicles 35:21 the question seems to mean ‘why need we quarrel?’ rather than ‘what have we in common?’ But such a meaning, if possible there, would be quite inappropriate here. The further question has been asked,—what was she rebuked for? Chrysostom thinks for vanity; she wished to glorify herself through her Son. More probably for interference: He will help, but in His own way, and in His own time. Comp. Luke 2:51.

mine hour] The meaning of ‘My hour’ and ‘His hour’ in this Gospel depends in each case on the context. There cannot here be any reference to His death; rather it means His hour for ‘manifesting forth His glory’ (John 2:11) as the Messiah by working miracles. The exact moment was still in the future. Comp. John 7:8, where He for the moment refuses what He soon after does; and John 12:23, John 17:1, which confirm the meaning here given to ‘hour.’John 2:4. Τὶ ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί; what is there[common] to Me and thee?) Thy thoughts are one thing, saith He, mine another. Similarly the disciples are disciplined, ch. John 6:6, “Jesus saith to Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? and this He said to prove him;” ch. John 13:7, [Jesus to Peter, when about to wash his feet] “What I do thou knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter.”—γύναι) He does not say, Mary, nor mother; but woman; which appellation held a middle place, and was especially becoming for the Lord to use: ch. John 19:26, “Woman, behold thy son;” perhaps, also, it was peculiar [in its use] to Him. The Lord had regard to the Father above all things; not even did He know His mother, according to the flesh. 2 Corinthians 5:16, “Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we Him no more.” Comp. note on John 20:13. Especially was the appellation of mother unsuitable to this formula, What is there to Me and thee? However, the Greek γύναι, having no synonym in our language, has a more respectful sound than Woman [ch. John 19:26 shows it betrays no want of tender respect], mulier, [Germ.] Weib, as contradistinguished from [female, lady] femina, [Germ.] Frau: and woman is used for mother, Isaiah 45:10, “Woe unto him, that saith—to the woman, What hast thou brought forth?”—οὔτω ἥκει) is not yet come. The same word [occurs], ch. John 4:47, John 8:42.—ὥρα, hour) of doing what you hint to Me, i.e. of withdrawing. Certainly his hour of assisting them was come.Verse 4. - With this thought, the reply of Jesus to the premature suggestion of the mother becomes perfectly comprehensible. What is there to me and thee, O woman? Mine hour has not yet come. The appellation "woman" was used by him upon the cross, when he was concerned most humanly and tenderly with her great grief and desolation, and therefore had no breath of unfilial harshness in it (cf. John 19:26; Dio Cassius, 'Hist.,' 51:12, where Augustus addresses Cleopatra, Θαρσεῖ ῶ γύναι. Maldonatus admits that Catholics "in varias tamen de sensu hujus loci sententias distracti sunt"). But the proverbial Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί; wheresoever the words occur, imply, if net personal estrangement, yet as to the matter in hand some divergence of feeling (see Matthew 8:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 8:28; see also 2 Samuel 16:10; 1 Kings 17:18; 2 Chronicles 35:21). Almost all commentators seem to suggest that our Lord refused to be guided by a mother's direction; that he wished her to understand that he was breaking off from her control and from that silent submission which he had hitherto willingly yielded (so Meyer, Hengstenberg, Godet, Westcott, Tholuck, Ebrard, and Lange). Schaff has quoted from the Fathers before the Nestorian controversy dear proof that they admitted censure, and therefore blame, in the blessed Virgin Mary. Still, it seems to me that the cause of the censure, coupled with an immediate response to her special request about the wine, has not been sufficiently appreciated, he said, "Mine hour is not yet come." It would have come if the provision of wine was the ground of divergence of sentiment; if the moment for the supply of these temporal wants were the point of difference between them. The "hour" for Christ to tell the world all that Mary knew had not come. The hour of the full revelation of his Messianic claims had not come, nor did it come in the temple, or by the lake, or in the feast day; not till the awful moment of rejection, when death was hovering over him, and the blow was about to fall, did he say, "The hour has come" (see John 12:23; John 17:1) - the hour of his greatest glory. "The hour had not yet come." The hour would come when rivers of living water would be supplied to all those who come to him; when the blood he would shed would be a Divine stream, clear as crystal, for the refreshment of all nations; when at another marriage supper of a saved humanity the precious blood should be an ample supply of costly wine for all the world. Moreover, the link at the present moment between our Lord and his mother must begin to shade into something more spiritual. It was not possible that he should be holden by it. A sword would pierce through her maternal heart when she became gradually alive to the fact that they that do the will of his Father, the same were his "brothers, sisters, and mother." Woman

Implying no severity nor disrespect. Compare John 20:13, John 20:15. It was a highly respectful and affectionate mode of address.

What have I to do with thee (τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοὶ)

Literally, what is there to me and to thee. See on Mark 5:7, and compare Matthew 8:29; Matthew 27:19; Mark 1:24; Luke 8:28. It occurs often in the Old Testament, 2 Samuel 16:10; 1 Kings 17:18, etc. Though in a gentle and affectionate manner, Jesus rejects her interference, intending to supply the demand in His own way. Compare John 6:6. Wyc., What to me and to thee, thou woman?

Mine hour is not yet come

Compare John 8:20; John 12:23; John 13:1. In every case the coming of the hour indicates some crisis in the personal life of the Lord, more commonly His passion. Here the hour of His Messianic manifestation (John 2:11).

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