Therefore, the true tikun olam is impossible without the redeeming work of the King Messiah at His first coming and the renewing work of the King Messiah upon His return.
It’s not uncommon to hear Nicodemus being slighted by preachers, who claim he was a sneaky and cowardly Pharisee, ashamed to admit publicly that he believed in Yeshua. This is almost solely based on the present passage and the fact that Nicodemus came at night. Those same preachers, neglect to recognize the other instances in Scripture where Nicodemus proves himself to be more than willing to act on his faith in Yeshua (Yochanan/John 7:50-51, 19:49)
As we examine the text of Yochanan (John) 3 and in particular 3:1-21, we must put aside any bigoted view we may have of the Pharisees. The Pharisees were the sect of Judaism that most identified with Yeshua’s teaching. They believed in the resurrection of the dead, in angels, demons, healing, signs and wonders. They hoped for a Great One—Rabbi, a Mashiyach—Messiah and King to redeem the people of Israel. It is far too easy (and anti-Semitic) to disregard all Pharisees as anti-Christs. With regard to their theological position, they were by far the closest of all the sects of first century Judaism to the teaching and actions of Messiah. So why did some of them oppose Him? Why does one preacher oppose another, though they both share the same message? It is because they sought glory for themselves rather than for the message. Nicodemus and his like-minded friends (Pharisees) sought the glory of God and found Messiah Yeshua. Next time you’re tempted to disparage the Pharisees, remember that you share their beliefs and take care.
Joh 3:1 There was a man of the (Ho[G]) Pharisees (Pharisaios[G], Perushiym[H], chaste, abstinent ones), named Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) a ruler, officer (archon[G], ketziyn[H]) of the (Ho[G]) Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]):
“Nakdiymon” The Pharisee with a Greek name meaning “Conqueror of the assembly”. The Talmudic etymology for his name is derived from a Hebrew root that suggests the meaning “One who holds back the sun”. Others see Nakdimon as a compound of two Hebrew words joined to mean “Innocent blood”. He was one of the ruling class of the Judean religious community, a Pharisee, and a member of the Sanhedrin (John 7:50), and as such a teacher of Israel (ethnic, religious, chosen, empirical). As a leader of Israel—that is part of the
Sanhedrin (70 members, 70 being the Hebrew number for the nations)—he sought victory for his people from their physical and spiritual oppression. As a Jew he was a man of innocent blood. Thus there is a correlation to Yeshua’s description of Nathaniel, “a man in who there is no guile.”
It is likely that the Nikodemos mentioned here (John 3:1) is the same Nakdimon ben Gurion who was brother to Josephus ben Gurion the first century Jewish historian and writer of the Wars and Antiquities of the Jews (Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 1. Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 19. 1). Josephus writes in the first century CE (AD) of the historical events taking place in the Roman provinces of the middle east and in particular Roman occupied Israel, name Philistia by the Romans as a means of psychological warfare against and subjugation of the Jewish people.
Nakdimon ben Gurion is also mentioned in the Talmud (a codified oral tradition of the Jewish religion). The Talmud, albeit codified much later in history, non the less offers its readers many viable historic accounts from the first century passed on as oral traditions, and later codified.
Nakdimon ben Gurion was a contemporary of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zaccai of the Talmud, who also lived in first century Roman occupied Israel, right up until the destruction of the temple by the Romans in 70 CE (AD); both men are recorded as having been at a first century feast together, a celebration of the brit milah (circumcision) of the son of a common friend [Pirke Eliezer, c. 2. & Juchasin, fol. 23. 2].
Nakdimon was known to be exceedingly rich: the Babylonian Talmud names him as one of the three richest men in Jerusalem (T. Bab. Gittin, fol. 56. 1), a man who was able to sustain and maintain a city for a period of ten years (Midrash Kohelet, fol. 75. 4). The Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT) confirms that Nakdimon was very rich, recording that at the burial of the King Messiah, Nikodemos brought a great weight in costly myrrh and aloes to consecrate Yeshua’s body (John 19:39). As well as being rich he was also known as a righteous man. The Talmud tells an account of Nakdimon who, “On his way to the temple (House of Study) in Jerusalem to pray, had carpets laid out on the path before him which were to be left behind and given to the poor” (Ket. 66.b).
Nakdimon ben Gurion, is said by historical Jewish tradition to have been an advisor/a counsellor in Jerusalem (Echa Rabbati, fol. 46. 3. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 75. 1). Which is clearly the case in John’s Gospel (John 7:32-50). Therefore, the Talmud is effectively confirming Nakdimon’s role as a member of the Sanhedrin (Jewish religious government).
He was also known by the name Boni (T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 43. 1; Ta’an 20.a). Jewish tradition records that Boni was one of the talmidim (disciples) of Yeshua (Echa Rabbati, fol. 49. 3). This is consistent with his actions following Yeshua’s death where he openly identified with Joseph of Arimathea, another of Yeshua’s disciples from the rich ruling class. It seems that as a result of Nakdimon’s open profession of faith in Yeshua following the resurrection, that poverty came upon him and his family. The Babylonian Talmud records that Rav Yochanan ben Zaccai saw the daughter of Nakdimon, having been reduced to extreme poverty, gleaning barley kernels from under the hooves of horses in the northern coastal city of Akko (T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 66. 2). The name Boni may be related to the Greek Boanerges “Sons of Thunder”, or may simply mean “My son” or “The coming of me”, “My coming”.
Based on Jewish legend, the Hebrew meaning of Nakdimon’s name is derived from nakdah meaning to shine forth. The legend tells of an occasion (T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 20. 1.) when Nakdimon, needing water for pilgrims for the purpose of ritual cleansing prior to a feast, made an agreement with a certain man to use the water from twelve wells and replace it by a certain day, or pay 297 kilos of silver for the water used. When the day came, the man demanded he be compensated either with the water, or the money. Therefore, Nakdimon went and prayed, and there was a torrential rain fall that filled the wells with water. However, the owner of the wells insisted that by the time the rain had ended the sun had set, and the appointed day was passed, and therefore, the money was still owed him. Nakdimon went and prayed again in the temple, and as a result of his prayer the sun turned back from setting, meaning that the appointed day had not ended and that the money was no longer owed to the lender.
The Babylonian Talmud concludes the matter by saying:
“His name was not Nakdimon but Boni, and he was called Nakdimon because on his account the sun was held back. The rabbis taught: ‘For the sake of each of only three men the sun nakdimah (nkdmh) was prevented/held back, and they are Moses, Joshua (T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 25. 1), and Nakdimon ben Gurion.’” -Talmud Babylonia Ta’anith 3
Joh 3:2 The same (man) came to Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) by night (noox[G], laylah[H]) and said to Him (Yeshua), “Rabbi (Rhabbi[G], Rabiy[H]: my great one) we know that you are a teacher (didaskalos[G], moreh[H]) come from God (Theos[G], Elohim[H]): for no man can do these signs, miracles (semeion[G], ha-otot[H]) that you do, unless the (Ho[G]) God (Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) is with him.”
“The same (man) came to Yeshua by night” Much has been made of these few simple words, almost all of it demeaning to Nakdimon. There are many possible answers as to why Nakdimon sought out Yeshua at night:
• He may have wanted to converse with Yeshua on a deeper level than was possible
among the crowds of Passover
• Perhaps he wanted to keep his position in the Sanhedrin secure so that he could
advocate for Yeshua along with the other Pharisees who believed in Him
• It is possible that he had Yeshua’s safety in mind
• Or that it was simply the coolest and most convenient time of the day in the Israeli
The least convincing possibility is that he was a coward and cared only for his own betterment in the Sanhedrin and the ruling class of Israel.
As I’ve explained, some have suggested that Nakdimon came by night so as not to be seen. While this is a possibility (John 12:42) but highly unlikely, it is equally possible and far more likely that Nakdimon had commitments during the day which included adjudicating disputes, teaching Torah and other practical tasks related to the rule of the Jewish community in Roman occupied Israel during the first century. Therefore, just as members of our own community must often arrange to meet after work hours in the evening, so too Nakdimon arranged to meet Yeshua at the end of the work day. When we assume the worst of righteous men, we prove ourselves unrighteous. It was also traditional for Jewish religious teachers to study Torah at night and in particular on the nights of the festivals of the Torah:
"Rav Aba (Rabbi Abba) rose in the middle of the night, as did the rest of the companions, in order to study in the Torah (Instruction).” -Zohar in Exod. fol. 84. 1.
“And it is often said of Rav Simeon ben Yoechal, and Ele’etzer his son, that they sat in the night and laboured in the Torah (Instruction); and it was reckoned very commendable so to do, and highly pleasing to God…” - Ib. fol. 8S. 2. in Lev. fol. 5. 3, 4. & 10. 1. & passim.
“Whoever studies in the Torah (Instruction) in the night, the holy blessed God draws a thread of mercy upon him in the day:'' - T. Bab. Chagiga, fol. 12. 2. Avoda Zara, fol. 3. 2. Maimon. Hilch. Talmud Tora, c. 3. sect. 13.
"Everyone that studies in the Torah (Instruction) in the night, the Shekinah (manifest glory of God) is over and with him.'' - T. Bab. Tamid. foi. 32. 2.
For two reasons we know that Nakdimon didn’t come to Yeshua alone:
“Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God: for no man can do these signs, that you do, unless the God is with him.” Nakdimon begins his conversation with Yeshua by stating that he and his compatriots believe Yeshua is from God. This amounts to an open admission of Yeshua’s Messianic status. Nakdimon believes and is seeking the mechanism for his belief.
As evidence for their belief, Nakdimon calls to attention the signs (miracles) of Yeshua. He calls them signs because they are clear signs of the specific miraculous actions that the coming Messiah must perform as proof of His identity. Yeshua is about to preach to the choir here, only it’s a choir that has the sheet music but doesn’t know how to read it.
“And he shall send them a saviour, and a Great One—Rabbi, and he shall deliver them.” Yeshayahu/Isaiah 19:20
Nakdimon calls Yeshua “My Great One”, while some may employ this title in flattery, it is clearly not the case with Nakdimon. Rather than come publicly with other Jewish religious leaders and taunt Yeshua, Nakdimon has come at night to dialogue with Him in a more intimate setting, proving his righteous character. Thus, when he uses the title Rabbi he shows respect for Yeshua. This is quickly backed up by Nakdimon’s acknowledgement of the evidence that Yeshua is a man of God, Who has shown this in a manifest and powerful way. None of this denotes doubt or disrespect. Although Nakdimon is a religious ruler who carries great authority, he non the less approaches Yeshua with humility and genuine questioning. Nakdimon’s questions are from the good inclination (yetzer ha-tov) showing that he seeks the truth with a teachable heart.
The previous chapter concludes with mention of the many signs Yeshua did in Jerusalem during Passover (2:23). Some of the specific signs (miracles) He performed are recorded in the other Gospels, some are not. Regardless, it is to a wealth of signs in addition to the sign of water to wine and the destruction of the trading tables, that Nikodemos is referring.
“you are a teacher come from God” One of the first century Jewish expectations of the Messiah was that He would be a teacher like Moses.
“‘The teacher’, he is the King Messiah.'' - Maimon. Hilch. Melacim, c. 11. sect. 3.
"O you children of Tziyon (Zion), rejoice and be glad in the word of the Lord your God, for He will return ‘your teacher’ to you.’'' -Targum Yonatan Joel 2:23
“No man can do these signs, that you do, unless the God is with him.” Even more prominent in the first century Messianic expectations of the Jewish people was the belief that the King Messiah would perform miraculous signs like those of Moses and Elijah.
Joh 3:3 Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) answered and said to him (Nikodemos), “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, if (ean[G]) one (tis[G]) is not (me[G], lo[H]) fathered, born (gennao[G]) from above (anothen[G], milmalah[H]), he cannot (ou[G]) have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) see (eido[G], lirot[H]) the (Ho[G]) kingdom, dominion, rule, royal power, kingship (basileia[G], et-malchut[H]) of the (Ho[G]) God (Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]).”
The repetition of the Amen is according to the Jewish literary devise an affirmation of that which has preceded and an assurance of that which is about to be revealed as something firmly established by God.
Notice that Yeshua agrees with the assessment of Nakdimon and his fellow Pharisees. “Amen—of course true! You got that right!” Nakdimon had rightly assessed the divine origin of Messiah, he knew that Yeshua was from above. What he didn’t realize was that Yeshua had come so that Nakdimon and his friends could also be born anew through Yeshua, from above.
“fathered, born from above” We note that the text is best translated “born from above” or “born anew”. The translation “born again” is misleading and can be easily misunderstood.
The concept of one being spiritually born is not foreign to Judaism:
“Shimon ben Lakish said, ‘…a proselyte (convert to Judaism) is like a newborn infant.’” - Talmud Babylonia. Yevamot 62 a. [Rabbi Yosi of the Talmud said the same (Yevamot 48 b.)]
“If one is not fathered, born from above, he cannot have power, permission, ability to see the kingdom, dominion, rule, royal power, kingship of the God.” There are many facets to this teaching. Yeshua is in essence saying that the Kingdom of God cannot be attained through Torah observance. He is also saying that being born physically into the sin affected world is a death sentence unless one is born anew from above. In addition, He is alluding to the power (Spirit) of God required for one to walk perpetually in righteousness and thus into the Olam Haba (World to come). The “sight” Yeshua refers to is spiritual sight that can only be received from God by His Spirit and through His Son the King Messiah. All of this teaching is a direct affront to the teaching that says that repentance, Torah observance, mitzvot, petitioning and prayer can earn one entry into the Olam Haba.
Therefore, unlike the rabbis of the Talmud, Yeshua does not teach that conversion to Judaism will birth one anew, but rather, that only salvation through the redemptive work of God will bring newness of life to the repentant.
“Kingdom of the God” The equivalent Hebrew term is Malkut Shamayim “Kingdom of the Heavens” (Dan. 4:3; 1 Chr. 29:10-12), and implies God’s divine reign over the present world made new (rid of sin, evil etc). This is a more correct understanding than the traditional and (extra Biblical) Christian concept of a heaven in the clouds. To the contrary, by the tikun olam (repairing of the world) of God through the atoning blood of His Son Yeshua, the present world will be cleansed, restored, and renewed, and will transition to become the Olam Haba (world to come). This is well supported by both the Tanakh (OT) and the Brit Ha-Chadashah (NT).
Joh 3:4 Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) said to Him (Yeshua), “How, in what way (pos[G]) can a man (adam[H]) have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) be fathered, born (gennao[G]) when he is old? He does not have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) enter, return to (lashuv[H]) the womb (koilia[G], el-beten[H]) of his mother (meter[G], Imo[H]) of himself (autos[G]) a second (deuteros[G]) time, and be fathered, born (gennao[G], yivaleid[H])?”
What surprises me most about this response from Nakdimon is that he hears a parable--mashal—from Yeshua, but instead of interpreting it as a parable he takes it literally. As “The teacher of Israel,” Nakdimon was familiar with using, listening to and interpreting metaphorical and allegorical parables and sayings. Why then did he jump straight passed the obvious metaphor and go with a literal interpretation of The Rabbi’s answer? I know in myself that I only do this when I am unable to absorb the consequences or perceived impossibility of what I know the answer to be. Perhaps Nakdimon could just not see how God might impart life renewal to Israel.
By his question Nakdimon shows a limited understanding of the coming Kingdom of the Heavens (something he himself teaches others). His understanding sees the Kingdom of the heavens only in physical terms. Therefore, rather than consider the spiritual implications he instead asks how it is possible for a man to be made righteous through a renewed birth from a human mother. This is certainly in keeping with the miraculous nature of the signs of God through the Messiah, however, it misses the point entirely. We may see these things in retrospect, but be assured, had we been in the position of Nakdimon we too would have entirely missed the point. He asked his question in order to understand what might be possible and not in order to refute Yeshua’s teaching.
Joh 3:5 Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) answered, “Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you, if (ean[G]) one (tis[G]) is not (me[G], lo[H]) fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of (ek[G]) water (hudor[G], mayim[H]) and of the Spirit, breath, wind (Pneuma[G], Ruach[H]), he cannot have power, permission, ability to (dunamai[G]) enter, return to (lashuv[H]) the (Ho[G]) kingdom, dominion, rule, royal power, kingship (basileia[G], et-malchut[H]) of the (Ho[G]) God (Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]).
Again, Yeshua doesn’t tell Nakdimon that he’s got it all wrong. He simply points to the first instance, being physical birth and affirms that both it and a spiritual renewal are necessary. All are born through the breaking water of the mother but something more is needed if we are to enter God’s Kingdom. We must be born of God’s Spirit, born anew, from above. We can also find in the words “water” and “Spirit” the tevilot immersions (baptisms) of both Yochanan (John) the Immerser (Baptist) and Yeshua. Water represents the tevilah (baptism) of repentance and The Spirit the tevilah (baptism) of Spirit and Fire from above. Without Yeshua’s tevilah (baptism) of death and His resurrection we are unable to receive the Spirit. In Him we have access to the mechanism for our Salvation, His very own Spirit, and the Spirit of the Father in us. God’s Spirit births in us the desire to repent--tishuvah—turn around, turn back to God. Then only through Messiah are we able to receive the fullness of the gift of the Holy Spirit who births us anew from above into a life reconciled to God.
“Born out of water” As per the context denoted by the previous verse, born of water refers to the breaking of a mother’s waters at physical birth. It speaks of being born into this world (the sin affected creation).
“And of the Spirit” Refers to being born anew, fathered by God through His Spirit. In the same way that physical birth breaks water and through blood brings new life into the present world, so too spiritual birth breaks the living waters of Messiah and through His blood atonement births anew the soul of a human being into the Olam Haba (world to come). Meaning that one’s entry into the Olam Haba (world to come) begins at the moment of being born anew in the Spirit through Messiah and continues through physical death into everlasting living. This is why Yeshua says:
“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live: And whosoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” -Yeshua [Yochanan (John) 11:15-16]
Joh 3:6 That which is fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of (ek[G]) the flesh, meat, body, sensuous nature (sarx[G], basar[H]) is flesh (sarx[G], basar[H]); and that which is fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of (ek[G]) the Spirit, breath, wind (Ho-Pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]), is spirit (pneuma[G], ruach[H]).
Nakdimon has an earthly understanding. Messiah wants to impart to him and his fellows an understanding from above.
“But the natural man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness to him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” -1 Corinthians 2:14
Joh 3:7 Don’t marvel, be in wonder (thaumazo[G]) that I said to you, you must, it is necessary (dei[G]) you (humas[G]) be fathered, born (gennao[G]) from above (anothen[G], milmalah[H]). Joh 3:8 The Spirit, wind, breath (Ho-Pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]) blows where He (Hu[H]) intends, determines, desires, takes delight, sits (thelo[G], nosheiv[H]), Alt. Heb. [Yachepotz sham hu novsheiv[H], where the Spirit wants to blow there He sits], and you hear (akouo[G], tish’ma[H]) the sound, voice, language, of Him (phone[G], et-kolo[H]) of it, but cannot see, perceive, know, examine (eido[G], teida[H]) the place (pothen[G]) where (anah[H]) it He came from (ba[H]), and where it He (hu[H]) leads, goes (hupago[G], holeikh[H]): so it is with every individual (pas[G]) those the (ho[G]) fathered, born (gennao[G]) out of, from (ek[G], min[H]) the Spirit (Ho-Pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]).”
“You must be born anew from above” One born of the race of Ha-Adam the first man are born into the sin affected world due to the inherent nature of the sin choice of the first human beings. Therefore, to be born from above means to be delivered from the just consequences of the sin we commit as heirs to the sin affected world of the first man (Adam) and this redemption comes through the last Adam, that is, the King Messiah Yeshua:
“For as in Adam all die, so in Messiah all will be made alive.” -1 Corinthians 15:22
“So it is written: ‘The first human Adam became a living being’; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.” -1 Corinthians 15:45
Being born anew from above is the work of God, it is not achieved through human labour—as is the case in the physical effort of birthing a child. We are not able to work our way toward or earn new birth by our own efforts. We are born anew through the mechanism of Messiah’s death and resurrection in the Spirit of God.
In Greek the determiners regarding the Spirit are neuter but in Hebrew the Spirit is referred to as He.
The metaphor of the wind (spirit, breathe) shows how the Holy Spirit, Who comes from above, moves in such a way as to be unrecognised by the spiritually blind. He comes from a place unknown to human understanding and goes to that place where He intends to abide, rest, sit; that is, within the believer through the redemptive work of Yeshua. The unbeliever comprehends the Holy Spirit in the same way that human beings consider the wind. That is, the wind comes up at times we least expect and often blows from a place we cannot determine, coming to rest on a land we may not have considered. Therefore, the origin, destination, and movements of the Holy Spirit are ordered from above and transcend human understanding until such a time as Yeshua, through His death, resurrection, and ascension, together with the Father, pours out the Holy Spirit without measure or restriction.
Joh 3:9 Nakdiymon[H] (Nikodemos[G], nikos: vanquish, victory; demos: the people, assembled mass of people) answered and said to Him (Yeshua), “How, in what way (pos[G]) are these things (kazot[H]) possible, able to be (dunamai[G]), come to pass, come into existence (ginomai[G])?”
Nakdimon genuinely wants to know how these things can be made possible. As a righteous teacher of Israel he has desired her redemption and looked with great anticipation for the coming Kingdom of the Heavens. Once again, this is a question asked with a genuine desire to learn. As a teacher of such high standing, authority, and reputation, Nakdimon shows great humility in asking this of Yeshua.
Joh 3:10 Yeshua[H, A] (Iesous[G], Jesus, Joshua) answered and said to him (Nikodemos), “You, (su[G]) you are (ei[G]) the (ho[G]) teacher (didaskalos[G]) of the (Ho[G]) Yisrael[H] (Israel), Alt. Heb. [Rav be’Yisrael[H], Great one in Israel], and these things (tauta[G], zot[H]) you haven’t learned, don’t know, are not intimately familiar with (ginosko[G], yodata[H])?
Nakdimon still doesn’t understand and if we’re honest, neither do we. Fortunately it is not our own understanding that we are relying on, but rather, God’s understanding. Yeshua calls Nakdimon, “The teacher of Israel.” This indicates that Nakdimon had a very high position among the Rabbis of Israel. His coming to faith was strategic to the move of God through the leaders who later believed.
“You are the teacher, Great one of Israel” From Yeshua’s words we can deduce that Nikodemos must have been one of the highest authorities among the Torah teachers of Israel at that time. He was afforded this position through his association with the Judean religious leaders and the ruling body of the Sanhedrin and was therefore a powerful figure in the ruling religious class of first century Israelites under the Roman occupation. His position is likely the reason that he had come to see Yeshua at night when he would be less likely to be noticed by the other members of the religious ruling class.
Joh 3:11 Amen[H] [G]Amen[H] [G] (B’emet[H], B’emet[H]), In truth, In truth, It’s certain, it’s certain, I say to you (lakh[H] f.), We (hemon[G]) speak of that which we do know, see, perceive (eido[G]), and testify (martureo[G]) to that which we have seen with our eyes (horao[G]); and you won’t receive (lambano[G]) our testimony, witness (maturia[G]) Alt. Heb. [Kiy et asher-yodanu nedabeir ve’et asher-raiynu naiyd ve’atem lo tekabelu eiduteinu[H], For that which we know intimately we have spoken and that which we see we testify to, and you (plural) don’t accept us or that which we present].
“I say to you” Not just to Nikodemos but to all Israel: the Greek (you) is plural, and the Hebrew lakh (you) while singular is non the less feminine and infers the people of Israel rather than Nikodemos (who is male) alone. For this reason and because the plural “atem” (all of you) is used in the latter part of the verse, it seems likely that the disciples of Yeshua are included in this admonition. Therefore, “We” refers to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. After all, Yeshua speaks of things seen with the eyes that can only have been perceived by Him at this point in time. Those things being the things of the Spirit of God and not yet made known to human beings (including the disciples of Yeshua). Yeshua’s teaching (testimony, witness) concerning the need to be fathered from above acknowledges the Father God. His explanation of the need for this new birth to be accomplished by the Spirit, reveals the Holy Spirit of God. Finally, this teaching is being given to Israel (and humanity) by the King Messiah and true Teacher of Israel, the Son, Yeshua. The teaching of Yeshua in verse 3 through 10 expounds knowledge and personal experience that the disciples of Yeshua have not had, nor have they yet understood or seen these things.
“We speak of that which we know and that which our eyes have seen” Some believe the “we” Yeshua is referring to is the unity of the God-head—Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Some think He is referring to Himself and His disciples, still others believe He is referring to the patriarchs and prophets of Israel. However, He cannot be speaking of the disciples, whose eyes have not yet seen the new birth of the Spirit, nor do they yet know the fullness of God’s redemptive work through Yeshua, the means by which a human being can be fathered by God, born of His Spirit. Nor do the patriarchs and prophets of Israel qualify, given that they only prophesied in part and placed their hope in what is unseen. Therefore, Yeshua says “We” referring to the Godhead, or the Godhead and the malakhim (Angelic Messengers) of God.
Joh 3:12 If I have told you the (Ho[G]) earthly, terrestrial (epigeios[G], Ha-aretz[H]) things, and you don’t believe, trust, think them true (pisteuo[G], ma’amiyniym[H]), how will you believe, if I tell you of the (Ho[G]) things that exist in the heavens, that are of heavenly origin (epouranios[G], Ha-shamayim[H])?
Yeshua is simply saying, “I’ve spoken to you in earthly metaphors and you people don’t get it. How do you hope to understand the literal reality of the heavenly things I tell you about?”
The “earthly things” are explained in the previous verses and concern the progression from physical birth, through spiritual renewal and into the Olam Haba. Therefore, Yeshua does not make a separation between the physical and the spiritual as some suppose, rather the “earthly things” include spiritual things and are the explanation of a convergence between the present physical birth and the subsequent spiritual birth from above which Yeshua has spoken of.
The teaching of Yeshua reveals the ultimate form of tikun olam (repairing of the world). The Scriptures clearly teach a renewed heavens and earth and a descending New Jerusalem at the end of the age. Thus, through Yeshua, God empowers His children to begin the work that will be filled in the return of the Messiah and the dwelling of God with humanity. We are admonished to remember that without the perpetual indwelling of the Holy Spirit we are incapable of participating in the true tikun olam. The religion that teaches we can repair the world by our own efforts is a religion of anti-Christ. Therefore, the true tikun olam is impossible without the redeeming work of the King Messiah at His first coming and the renewing work of the King Messiah upon His return. The Bible clearly teaches that we will spend eternity with God on the renewed earth under a renewed heavens and not in some Greco-Roman gnostic inspired heavenly kingdom in the sky.
Joh 3:13 And no one, nothing, no man (oudeis[G], ve’iysh[H]) has ascended, gone up (anabaino[G], alah[H]) into (eis[G]) the (Ho[G]) heavens (ouranos[G], Ha-shamayim[H]), but He that descended (katabaino[G]) from the heavens (ouranos[G], Ha-shamayim[H]), the (Ho) Son (uihos[G], ben[H]) of the man, human being, humanity (Ho-anthropos[G], Ha-adam[H]) which came out from (ek[G]), is in the heavens (ba’shamayim[H]).
Wait a minute, didn’t Enoch and Elijah ascend into the heavens? In fact they ascended only into the second heaven, and now await their return and subsequent death, for “it is appointed unto human beings to die once, and then the judgement”. The Messiah has come with revelation of God Himself, from the third heaven outside of time and space, whereas Elijah and Enoch were born first of water—natural birth. Messiah has always been God and has come down to be united in flesh, fully God and fully man. Regardless of the possible solutions to this conundrum, the point is that Yeshua is the only begotten, singular in kind Son of God and His is a unique and all-encompassing revelation of God with us (Immanuel).
There is a correlation here between Yeshua’s words and the Torah. In fact it is likely that Yeshua is making a drash using the Torah:
11 “For this mitzvah that I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it far off. 12 It is not in the heavens, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to the heavens and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ 13 Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross over for us to the other side of the sea and get it for us, and have us hear it so we may do it?’ 14 No, the word is very near to you—in your mouth and in your heart, to do it.[a] 15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. 16 What I am commanding you today is to love Adonai your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His mitzvot, statutes and ordinances. Then you will live and multiply, and Adonai your God will bless you in the land you are going in to possess. 17 But if your heart turns away and you do not listen, but are drawn away and bow down to other gods and worship them, 18 I tell you today that you will certainly perish! You will not prolong your days on the land, where you are about to cross over the Jordan to go in to possess.” -Deuteronomy 30:11-18 TLV
This is consistent with what follows regarding both the redemption of the believer and the judgement and condemnation of those who refuse to believe.
“The words of Agur son of Jakeh--
an oracle this man declared to Ithiel, to Ithiel and to Ucal:
“Surely I am more stupid than any man
and do not have a man’s understanding.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has gone up into heaven, and come down?[a]
Who has gathered the wind in the palm of His hand?
Who has wrapped the waters in a cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name and what is the name of His son—if you know?” -Proverbs 30:1-4 TLV
Joh 3:14 And according to (kathosas[G]) Moses (Moshe[H]: drawn out one) lifting up the serpent (Ho-ophis[G], Ha-nachash[H]) in the wilderness, solitary, desolate place (eremos[G], bamidbar[H]: ba [in the] mi [from] dabar [word, essence]), in this same manner (houto[G]) it is necessary (dei[G]) that the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) of the man, human being, humanity (Ho-anthropos[G], Ha-adam[H]) be lifted up:
The snake (Ha-Satan) was the one who enticed humanity and Israel into disobedience and is also the constant accuser and tormentor of Israel and humanity. By looking to this symbol of sin, disobedience, fear and offence each Israelite was admitting their sin and recognizing that only God could save them from destruction. In the same way we must look upon Him who became sin for us (that is, took on the punishment we rightly deserve), in this simple action of turning--tishuvah—our heads to gaze upon the execution tree of the Messiah, upon His tortured body and unfathomable sacrifice, we are born anew in His Spirit, poured out without measure upon those who will simply acknowledge His Kingship. It is here, that in a very real sense, we are living both within and outside of time and space. There is a parallel universe, but it is not the sum of science fiction and quantum physics.
“Look to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the land: for I am God, and there is none other.” -Isaiah 45:22
The Targum Yonatan translation of Numbers 21:8 is incredible:
"and Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a high place; and it was, when a serpent had bitten any man, and he looked to the serpent of brass, and directed his heart, to the name of the word of the Lord, he lived.''
Jewish tradition attributes healing of both the body and spirit, the entire soul, to those who looked upon the seraph (serpent):
"as soon as they said, ‘we have sinned’, immediately their iniquity was expiated; and they had the good news brought them ‘of the healing of the soul’, as it is written, ‘make thee a seraph’; and he does not say a serpent; and this is it: ‘and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looked upon it, shall live’, ‘through the healing of the soul:'' - Tzeror Hammor, fol. 123. 2.
The Targum also likens the King Messiah to a flying serpent:
"the Messiah shall come forth from Jesse's children's children; and his works shall be among you as a "flying serpent.'' -Isaiah 14:29 (Targum)
As does the Zohar:
"other serpent of life" - Zohar in Gen fol. 36. 2.
"holy serpent" - Tikkun Zohar in Jetzira, p. 134.
Joh 3:15 That whosoever, any individual who (pas[G], kol[H]) believes, trusts in, is convinced of (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) Him should not perish (appolumi[G], lo yovad[H]), but have everlasting living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]).”
The belief that receives Messiah has by receipt, already entered everlasting living and is assured of eternal security and redemption from the just destruction that awaits those who refuse God’s loving offer.
The Greek appolumi translated “perish, die” etc. means “be ruined, destroyed, lost” in perpetuity. Therefore, to continue to be ruined, to continue to be lost, to continue to be destroyed. It does not allow for the false teaching of Annihilationism, which is contradicted by a wealth of other Scripture including but not limited to:
“Then He will also say to those on the left, ‘Go away from Me, you cursed ones, into the everlasting fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels.” -Matthew 25:41 TLV
“Sinners in Zion are afraid. Trembling has seized the godless: “Who among us can live with the consuming fire?” “Who among us can live with everlasting burnings?”
-Isaiah 33:14 TLV
“13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Sheol gave up the dead in them. Then they were each judged, each one of them, according to their deeds.14 Then death and Sheol were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death—the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” -Revelation 20:13-15 TLV
Joh 3:16 In this way (houto[G]) because (gar[G], kiy[H]) the God (Ho Theos[G], Ha Elohim[H]) so morally, intimately and truly loved (agape[G], Ahavah[H]) the world (Ha-kosmos[G], et Ha-olam[H]), Alt. Heb. [Kiy-ahavah rabah ahav ha-Elohim et Ha-olam[H], because with love that is great, all surpassing, the God loved the world], insomuch that (hoste[G]) He gave (didomi[G], natan[H]) His One (Ekhadaya[A]) only begotten (Monogenes[G] Singular in kind, Yachiyd[H]) the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben), that whosoever, any individual who (pas[G], kol[H]) believes, trusts in, is convinced of (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) Him should not perish (apollumi[G], lo yovad[H]), but have, hold onto (echo[G]) everlasting living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]).
Clearly God desires that every human being come into right relationship with Him. He is holy, loving, merciful, compassionate, self-sacrificing (literally sacrificing Himself in Messiah), and just. Elsewhere we read, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
The Gospel message is presented in a concise form within this verse and its subsequent counterpart:
Joh 3:17 For the God (Ho Theos[G], Ha Elohim[H]) did not order, appoint, send (apostello[G], shalach[H]) His the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) into the world (Ha-kosmos[G], et Ha-olam[H]) in order to (hinah[G]) separate, condemn, put asunder (krino[G]) the world (Ha-kosmos[G], et Ha-olam[H]); but that the world through, by, in, with Him (the Son, Yeshua) might be saved, kept safe, rescued from destruction (sozo[G], yivasha[H]).
Through His redemptive plan God sought to reconcile Creation to Himself. He did not send the Messiah Yeshua in an attempt to punish His creation with punitive aforethought, rather, as a loving Father He sent Yeshua to save. Perpetual condemnation must result against those who refuse salvation as a logical outworking of the consequences of sin. God does not send people to everlasting torment, to the contrary, they choose to go there.
Joh 3:18 The believer (pisteuo[G], Ha-ma’amiyn[H]) in, on, toward, for (eis[G]) Him is not separated, condemned, put asunder (krino[G]): but the disbeliever, one who has chosen disbelief (me pisteuo[G], lo-ya’amiyn[H]) is separated, condemned, put asunder (krino[G]) already, because he has not believed, trusted in, become convinced of (pisteuo[G], hama’amiyn[H]) the name (Ho onoma[G], Be’sheim[H]) of the One (Ekhadaya[A]) only begotten (Monogenes[G] Singular in kind, Ha-Yachiyd[H]) the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) of the God (Ho Theos[G], Ha Elohim[H]).
This means our belief in Him has put condemnation behind us, as it is written elsewhere:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Messiah Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1
“Those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” The statement “condemned already,” is qualified by, “because they have chosen not to believe in the name of the only Son of God.” Because God is just, all must be presented with the opportunity to receive redemption through the One True Son of God and His saving work, and must then wilfully choose to reject Him, only then does anyone stand condemned.
Joh 3:19 And this is the condemnation, separation, judgement, just decision (krisis[G]) Alt. Heb. [Ve’zeh hu hadiyn[H], And this is His judgement], it is because (hoti[G]) the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]) is come into the world (Ha-kosmos[G], el Ha-olam[H]), and people, the children of Adam (agapao[G], uv’neiy ha-adam[H]) preferred, loved (mallon[G], Ahavu[H]) the darkness (Ho-skotos[G], ha-choshekh[H]) over the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]), because of their evil, (poneros[G], raiym[H]) actions, business, art, accomplishments (ergon[G], ma’asheiyhem[H]).
The judgment of God is just, because He has offered light to those living in darkness. Many, having seen the true light of God, Yeshua, have chosen to remain in darkness. Those who are determined to do what is wicked are unwilling to have their deeds exposed, though they are aware of their need the thought of dwelling in perpetual light is abhorrent to them, they have truly become sons and daughters of the evil one, children of darkness.
Joh 3:20 For every one, whosoever, any individual who (pas[G], kol[H]) does, practices (prasso[G]) what is evil, bad, wicked, mean, easy (phaulos[G]) hates, detests (miseo[G]) the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]), nor do they come near to the light, so that they won’t be convicted (elegcho[G]) for their actions.
Those who act wickedly often do so in darkness and are ashamed for their deeds to be brought into the light.
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” -Ephesians 5:11
It is interesting to note that the Greek phaulos which refers to wicked deeds can also be translated as easy deeds. It is easier to give in to the dark inclination than it is to repair the world. Therefore, God sent the King Messiah Yeshua so that we might be afforded the strength of His Spirit in order to do what is hard, and to live in the Light.
All that is hidden will be brought into the Light.
Joh 3:21 But he that does the truth (altheia[G], ha-emet[H]) comes to the light (Ho-phos[G], Ha-Or[H]), so that his actions, business, art, accomplishments (ergon[G], ma’asheiyhem[H])
may be made manifest, visible (phaneroo[G]), because they are performed (ergazomai[G]) in God (en Theos[G], Bei-Elohim[H]).
Those who see their need for light have already been motivated by the Spirit of God to begin to do what is true, thus they welcome the opportunity to dwell in that light perpetually. Thus their deeds have been done in God. That is, their salvation comes, not by their works but through the work of the Spirit and the sacrifice of Messiah. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph.2:8). God chose us and in response, we have received Him. Condemnation is found in the simple act of refusing to be chosen.
Joh 3:22 After these things Yeshua[H] and His disciples (Talmidim[H]) came into the land of Judaea (Yehudah[H]); and there he remained with them, and immersed (baptizo[G], yitbol [H] [tevilah[H]]).
We known from John 4:2 that it was not Yeshua but His disciples who performed the immersions. The immersion attributed to Yeshua is the immersion he makes possible. Simply put, His immersion teaching was manifest in practical terms via the participation of His talmidim.
Joh 3:23 And Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist, YHVH gracious giver) was also immersing (baptizo[G], yitbol [H] [tevilah[H]]) in Aeiynon[H] (Ayin[H]eye, spring; Yonah[H], dove; Ain-Yon[A] “Spring/Eye of a Dove”) near to the Salim, because there was much (polus[G], le’rav[H]) water (hudor[G], mayim[H]) there: and they came, and were immersed (baptizo[G], yitaveilu[H] [tevilah[H]]).
“Aeiynon” The proposed location of Aenon is on the west side of the Jordan river close to a natural spring and near the ancient town of Salim (Not to be confused with Salem, a synonym for Jerusalem). Aenon is approximately 95 km north east of Jerusalem (20 hrs. walk). Being located near a natural spring meant an abundance of water and large pools suitable for ritual immersion known as tevilah. As explained in a previous article, the gathered waters used for immersion are known as mikveh.
This location is on the opposite side of the Jordan river from where Yochanan had been immersing. Both the Hebrew and Aramaic names for this location mean “Spring/Eye of a Dove”. This of course correlates to Yochanan identifying Yeshua as the One upon Whom the Spirit will descend like a dove (John.1:32-33). It is significant that there is a physical spring near to the location and that a spring is a source of mayim chayim (living waters from a pure source). Thus, the eye of the earth bears witness to the King Messiah and reveals Him and His living waters to the eye of the believer.
“and they came, and were immersed” The “they” consisted of Jews from many sects and regions, including those from the ruling Judean religious class, as alluded to in the following verse.
Joh 3:24 For Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) had not yet been cast into prison (Beit ha-sohar[H]).
The author’s initial Jewish audience would have been aware of the chronology of events and the imprisonment of Yochanan the Immerser, thus Yochanan the Gospel writer clarifies the chronology for the reader by showing that these events took place prior to Yochanan the Immerser’s imprisonment.
This is an illuminating portion because John’s Gospel is the only Gospel that shows Yeshua and Yochanan the Immerser’s ministries overlapping.
Joh 3:25 Then a debate (zetesis[G]) arose between some of Yochanan’s[H] (John the Baptist) disciples (mathetes[G] , talmidim[H]) and some Judeans Alt. Aram. [a Judean[A]] (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H], Yihudaya[A]) about purifying, ritual cleansing (katharismos[H], ha-taharah[H]).
“Some Judeans/A Judean” While other English translations misrepresent both the Greek and Hebrew text, I have chosen not to render “the Jews” or “the Judeans” because neither the Greek or Hebrew texts use the definite article “The”. Therefore, “a debate arose between some of Yochanan’s disciples and some Judeans” or, as the Aramaic text renders, “a question had arisen between one of Yochanan’s disciples and a Judean”.
There were differences in the ritual washing practices of various sects of first century Judaism. Added to this was the focus that Yochanan placed on immersion as an act of repentance and the further teaching of Yeshua that would eventually identify immersion with death and resurrection in addition to its many other facets. The debate that arose in this case must have initially related to the emphasis Yochanan had placed on repentance, and then progressed to a dialogue over the aspects of Yeshua’s immersion teaching that seemed to add to the teaching of Yochanan (The Immerser) [v.26].
The fact that this debate was concerning “ritual purification”, a concept that has its roots in Torah observance (Lev.14:8), tells us that the immersion of Yeshua given to the disciples (Matt. 28:19) is firmly rooted in a Torah instructed practice. The immersion of Yeshua is a reframing of that immersion which already existed within Biblical Judaism and not an entirely new immersion (Christian Baptism). Therefore, so called “Christian Baptism” is the progeny of the marriage between Torah and Living Word (Yeshua).
Joh 3:26 And they came to Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist), and said to him, “Rabbi (Rav, great one, teacher) He (Yeshua) that was with you beyond the Yarden (Jordan, descender), the one you bore witness to, behold, the same man immerses, performs tevilah[H], and all come to him (Yeshua).”
“Rabbi” This is the one exception in the New Testament where someone other than Yeshua is called Rabbi. In all other places the title is used of Yeshua or is explained by Yeshua. I misspoke in a former article where I failed to state this exception.
The disciples of Yochanan, perhaps along with those debating immersion, came to Yochanan the Immerser concerned that Yeshua might be taking followers from Yochanan the Immerser.
Joh 3:27 Yochanan[H] (John the Baptist) answered and said, “A man can receive nothing, Alt. Heb. [lo-yuchol iysh lachat davar[H], none among all men can take anything], except it be given (didomi[G], nitan[H]) him from the heavens (Ho-ouranos[G], Ha-shamayim[H]).
Sadly, in modern religious practice (both in Christianity and Judaism), many religious leaders are intent on making a name for themselves and their respective theologies and practices. Yochanan the Immerser seeks no glory for himself but instead explains to his disciples the simple truth that all things are given by God for a purpose and in keeping with a person’s identity and calling in life. Therefore, there is no need for jealousy concerning the success of others when one’s focus is entirely on pointing to and acknowledging God and His redemptive purpose.
Yochanan’s practice stood in opposition to that of the rabbis, who said:
"It is not lawful for a disciple to teach the constitutions, or sentences of the law, before his master; but must be twelve miles distant from him, as the camp of Israel… a disciple that teaches before, or in the presence of his master, is guilty of death” - T. Hieros. Sheviith, fol. 37. 3.
Joh 3:28 You yourselves bear me witness (martureo[G]), that I said, I am not the Christ, Anointed One (Ho-Christos[G], Ha-Mashiach[H]), but that I am sent, ordered, appointed (apostello[G], shaluach[H]) before Him.
Yochanan reminds his listeners that he has been very clear to point them beyond himself to the King Messiah. He reiterates his proclamation that “I am not the Christ!” Yochanan is not the Messiah but he has been appointed by God as a shaliach sent one who is to come before the Messiah and point Israel to Him.
Yochanan is the epitome of humility, in many ways he is the Brit Chadashah’s (NT) Moses.
Oh that the leaders of our religious communities would take a leaf from Yochanan’s book and chose to point to Yeshua rather than to themselves (I include myself in this admonishment).
Joh 3:29 He that has, holds (echo[G]) the bride, betrothed (numphe[G], Ha-Kalah[H]) is the bridegroom (numphios[G], Ha-Chatan[H]): but the friend (philos[G]) of the bridegroom (numphios[G]), which stands and hears (akouo[G], shomeia[H]) Him, rejoices (chara[G], samoach[H]) greatly (chairo[G], yismach[H]) because of the voice (phone[G], kol[H]) of the bridegroom: this my joy (chara[G], simchatiy[H]) therefore is filled up, brimming with peace, wholeness, wellbeing, perfected, made secure (pleroo[G], sheleimah[H], from shalem, related to shalom).
The bridegroom imagery is firmly established in the writings of Israel’s prophets and is a prophetic vision of one who celebrates and rejoices over his bride. God Himself is likened to the bridegroom:
“As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.” -Isaiah 62:5 NIV
This bridegroom imagery is connected to the recently celebrated wedding in Cana and to the Jewish idea of an eschatological banquet at the end of the age, when joy and abundance will be manifest in the promised Messianic age, the Olam Haba (world to come)[Isa. 25:6-8; Exek. 34:17-30].
Allusions to the Messianic Banquet also occur in later rabbinic literature (Babylonian Talmud Sanh. 96-99).
Joh 3:30 He must increase, grow larger and larger (auxano[G], gadeil[H]), but I must decrease, subtracting and subtracting (elattoo[G], chasor[H]).
No greater statement of humility has ever been spoken by a prophet of Hashem. Thus Yeshua says elsewhere, “Amen, I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than Yochanan the Immerser…” (Matt.11:11a).
Yochanan could only point to the One Who would open the way to the Olam Haba. Whereas Yeshua was and is the Creator, the means of entry, and the One Who sustains the Olam Haba (world to come).
Joh 3:31 He that comes (Ha-ba[H]) from above, from the beginning (anothen[G]) is above (epano[G]) every individual (pas[G]): he that is of the earth (meieretz[H]) is earthly, and speaks (dabeir[H]) of the earth (meieretz[H]): He that comes from the heavens (Ho-ouranos[G], mi-shamayim[H]) is above (epano[G], na’aleh[H]) every individual (pas[G], col[H]).
Yochanan’s testimony of the person of Yeshua is impeccable. Yeshua is from above, from the beginning of all things, and is above every created thing while being submissive toward God the Father. On the other hand, Yochanan speaks from an earthly (albeit God inspired) perspective and therefore sees himself as subordinate to the One Who is from above.
Joh 3:32 And what He (Who is from above) has seen with His eyes, perceived (horao[G], ra’ah[H]) and heard (akouo[G], shama[H]) that He testifies (martureo[G], yaiyd[H]); and no one receives (lambano[G]) His testimony (maturia[G], eiduto[H]).
“What He has seen” recalls the words of Yeshua, “We testify” (v.11), and is further proof that Yeshua was speaking of the Godhead.
“and no one receives His testimony” Yochanan prophecies the rejection that Yeshua will face from those who refuse the testimony He brings from above. On the other hand the text says “no one receives His testimony” in the present tense, meaning it is yet to be received by some.
Joh 3:33 He that has received (lambano[G]) His testimony (maturia[G], eiduto[H]) has secured His seal, double sealed (sphragizo[G], chatom chatam[H]) showing that the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) is true (alethes[G], emet[H]).
The one who receives the testimony of Yeshua has been double sealed in that because he has believed Yeshua (God with us) he has also shown his belief in God and is therefore safe in Messiah, in God (John 14:20). A double seal is a figure for that which is unbreakable.
"the seal of the blessed God is truth" - T. Hieros. Sanhedrin, fol. 18. 1. & T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 64. 1. & Yoma, fol. 69. 2.
Joh 3:34 For He Whom the God (Ho-Theos[G], Elohim[H]) has sent, appointed, ordered (apostello[G], shelachu[H]) speaks (yadabeir[H]) the utterances, words (rhema[G], divreiy[H]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]): Who (God) does not give out a limited measure of the Spirit (Ho-pneuma[G], Ha-Ruach[H]).
Judaism had understood up to this point that the Holy Spirit was only ever given in measure:
"Says R. Joden bar R. Simeon, even the waters which descend from above are not given, but, "in measure".--Says R. Acha, even the Holy Spirit, which dwells upon the prophets, does not dwell, but "in weight".'' - Vajikra Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 157. 3.
The sent Word speaks the Word of the God. It is the Word (Yeshua) Who is given authority in the Father to pour out the Spirit without measure, something that has never happened in Israel before. This is prophetic of the outpouring of the Spirit at Shavuot (Pentecost) 50 days after the resurrection of Yeshua (Isa.44:3; Joel 2:28; Acts 2).
Joh 3:35 The Father (Ho-pater[G], Ha-Av[H]) loves (ohev[H]) His Son (et-beno[H]), and the all, everything, every individual (pas[G], ve’et-kol[H]) has been given (didomi[G], natan[H]) into His hand (be’yado[H]).
Having revealed the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit, Yochanan now speaks of the Father having given all creation into the hands of the Son. Thus the Godhead is revealed in complex unity. Yeshua has been given authority because it is through Him (a man, Who is also God) that humanity and creation are to be redeemed. Yeshua in turn will submit both Himself and all of the renewed creation to the Father.
“When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son will also make Himself subject to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” -1 Corinthians 15:28
Joh 3:36 He (all) that believes, trusts, is persuaded of, places his confidence (pisteuo[G], kol-hama’amiyn[H]) in, on, with, for the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) has, holds (echo[G]) everlasting living (zoe aionios[G], chayeiy olam[H]): and he that does not believe, is apathetic toward (apeitheo[G]) the Son (Ho-uihos[G], Ha-ben[H]) shall not see, or be seen by (optanomai[G]) life, living (zoe[G], chayim[H]); because (kiy[H]) the wrath, anger (orge[G]) of the God (Ho-Theos[G], Ha-Elohim[H]) abides, remains, sits (meno[G], yishkon[H]) on, by, before, against, over (epi[G], alayv[H]) him.
A Midrash speaks of the King Messiah, the Latter Redeemer:
“whosoever believes in him shall live; but he that believes not in him shall go to the nations of the world, and they shall kill him.'' - Midrash Ruth, fol. 33. 2.
“The one that believes, in the Son holds everlasting living” We note that the one who believes in the Son Yeshua “holds” present tense, “everlasting living”. The one who believes has already entered everlasting living, a form of living that death has no hold over.
“The one that does not believe, who is apathetic toward the Son shall not see, or be seen by living because the wrath of the God remains on that one.” Many today are happy to talk about redemption but are unwilling to speak of consequences for those who refuse redemption. The Gospel is clear in its affirmation of the just judgement of God. His wrath is (present tense) on all who have had the opportunity to receive His Son but have rejected Him and refused God’s loving offer of sacrificial atonement. As long as one resists God that one stands condemned, judged. However, in the moment that that same one choses to receive the Son and return to God, that one enters everlasting living. Thus, as I stated previously, God does not send people to eternal punishment, to the contrary, those who go to that place have chosen it through a perpetual refusal of Gods love, grace and mercy. This kind of persistent refusal of God’s mercy is elsewhere called the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit (Matt.12:30-32).
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Water into Wine (John 2:1-11):
The wedding in Cana and the miraculous sign of the water being turned to wine appears at first glance to be a party trick, a fanciful form of entertainment, and for those who detest wine and prefer an unfermented faith, a miracle of water into grape juice, albeit a far less miraculous transformation. However, Yeshua is no magician, nor is He a performer or a people pleaser, and both the Greek and Hebrew words for wine mean fermented grape juice, that is, alcohol. So what is this miracle all about? After all, one would think that Yeshua’s first recorded miracle would carry some significance outside of “Wow, we haven’t seen that done before”.
In fact, the miracle of water to wine has deep significance beyond the plain action described in the text of the Gospel of Yochanan. It links Yeshua to creation itself, to the miraculous work of Moses, and symbolically reveals Yeshua’s vicarious, sacrificial blood. All this, at a wedding banquet that prefigures that great wedding banquet at the end of the age, the wedding supper (Rev. 19:7, 9) of the “Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world” (John. 1:29).
Joh 2:1 And in the day, the third (uvayom hashliyshiy[H]) there was a marriage festival (gamos[G]Chatunah[H]) beginning (ginomai[G], haytah[H]) in Cana (Kana[G], Qanah [H], reeds) of Galilee (Ho-Galilaia[G] circuit, Yam Ha-Kineret[H] Lake of the harp, [region]); and the mother (meter[G], eim[H]) of the (tos[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] (Iesous[G] YHVH Saves) was in that place (ekei[G]):
NB: Cana is approximately 7.9 km north of Nazareth. This would have been approximately 1 ½ hours walk. Yeshua spent His middle years in Nazareth.
“Cana of Galilee” Is a town assigned to the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28). Cana meaning reeds and Asher meaning Happiness.
“In the third day” (uvayom hashliyshiy), could refer either to the third day following the day that the disciples of John (the Immerser) first meet Yeshua, or to the third day of a week, that being comparable to Tuesday in the modern western calendar. It is also a figurative prophetic reference to the resurrection of the King Messiah Yeshua. If it refers to the third day of the Hebrew week, there is a significant inference. The third day of the week is that day of the created order where “God saw that it was good” twice (Genesis 1:10, 12). As a result it is thought to be a day of twofold blessing.
The Hebrew chatunah (Marriage) is interesting in that the Hebrew groom, chatan having been joined by the Hebrew bride kalah (arusah, betrothed), enters a binding commitment of love that is named by a feminine form of the masculine noun chatan (groom), that being chatunah. In other words, the bride joins with the groom and takes on his character.
“The mother of” Yeshua’s mother Miriyam (Mary) is never mentioned by name in the Gospel of Yochanan (John). It seems that Yochanan shares his sense of intimate connection to Yeshua with his understanding of Yeshua’s special connection to His mother. It is to Miriyam that Yeshua says “Woman here is your son” and to Yochanan He says “Here is your mother”.
“25 Near the execution tree of Yeshua stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Yeshua saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Precious Woman, here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” -John 19:25-27
Thus, those whom the author sees in this way need not be mentioned by name because they are known to the intimate circle of his audience. This is still further evidence that this gospel was initially intended for a Jewish audience and only by extension to the gentiles being saved throughout the Roman empire of the latter first century CE (AD).
“The Yeshua” It is interesting to note that while the more recent Hebrew text available does not have the definite article in conjunction with Yeshua’s name, both the Greek and Aramaic texts do. Meaning that the Jewish author, writing in Greek, clearly intended that this Yeshua be seen as exceptional. Thus, “And the mother of the Yeshua was in that place”. Keeping in mind that Joshua (Yeshua, Yehoshua) was an extremely common Jewish name in the first century CE (AD). Therefore, there may well have been several of the 1200 guests who were named Yeshua (Yehoshua, Joshua).
Marriage in Judea and Galilee in the first century CE (AD):
There were some differences between the Jewish marriage customs of Judea and the Galilee during the first century CE (AD). Religious laws were codified in order to establish correct practise for Jews living in the land at that time.
"There are three countries (regions), for the celebration of marriages; Judea, the country beyond Jordan, and Galilee;''
-Misn. Cetubot, c. 13. sect. 10. T. Hieros. Cetubot, fol. 36. 2.
Therefore, these three distinct tribal regions of Jews were obligated by Jewish religious law to marry among themselves. If a member of one group married a woman from outside of the group she was not obliged to leave her region and go with him. This is consistent with the Torah requirements regarding the passing on of land as an inheritance to the respective tribes.
"They do not bring them out from city to city, (i.e. oblige them to go with them from city to city,) nor from town to town; but in the same country they bring them out from city to city, and from town to town.''
-Bartenora in ib.
"In Judea, at first, they joined the bridegroom and bride together an hour before they went into the bride chamber, that so his heart might be lifted up in her; but in Galilee they did not do so: in Judea, at first, they appointed for them two companions, one for him, and another for her, that they might minister to, or wait on the bridegroom, and bride, when they went into the bride chamber; but in Galilee they did not do so: in Judea, at first, the companions slept in the house where the bridegroom and bride slept; but in Galilee they did not do so.''
-Talmud. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 12. 1.
Joh 2:2 And both Yeshua[H] and His disciples (mathetes[G] [pupils], talmidim[H] [religious students, followers]) were called by name (kaleo[G]) to the marriage festival (gamos[G]Chatunah[H]).
The Greek “kaleo” denotes the receipt of a person by name, and or the receiving of the person’s name and identity. A deep form of welcome that infers either familial relationship or close friendship. Therefore, it is likely that the families who were celebrating this wedding knew Yeshua and His disciples personally. They were either related to Miriyam (Mary) or Yosef (Joseph) [now deceased] or were close friends of the family. Certainly, at very least Yeshua was known to the family through His mother and thus His disciples would have been invited in connection to their newly found spiritual teacher and Rabbi.
“Yeshua and His disciples” These being Andrew, and the John (other disciple, not John the Baptist), who followed Yeshua, Simon Peter, Philip, and Nathanael, all of whom were from the Galilee region. Therefore, five of Yeshua’s disciples were present along with His mother and brothers, Yaakov (James), Yosef (Joseph), Yehudah (Judah) and Shimon (Simon) [Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55-56]. Including Yeshua this makes a total of ten free Jewish men present. Ten being a number of fullness and completion, wholeness and restoration, renewal and well-being. This is significant given that according to Jewish Law 10 free Jewish men (a minyan) were required to be present at the blessing of a bridegroom.
“They do not bless the blessing of bridegrooms, but with ten principal and free men; and the bridegroom may be one of the number.”
-Maimon. Hilch. Ishot, c. 10. sect. 5. Pirke Eliezer, c. 19. Shirhashirim Rabba, fol. 9. 3.
Aside from the plan circumstances in which Yeshua was a guest and not the bridegroom, we non the less note that figuratively speaking the bridegroom of the body of believers (Yeshua) was among their number.
Joh 2:3 And when they were behind in the supply of (hustereo[G]) wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]) the mother of the (tos[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] said to Him, “They have no wine.”
The Greek “oinos” is yet another Hebrew/Aramaic transliteration into Greek. The Hebrew word is “yiyn” and is used to describe the fermented juice of grapes. Wine is a symbol of blessing in both ancient and modern Judaism, thus a lack of wine is symbolic of a lack of blessing or is otherwise seen as a sign that the blessing has run out.
Whatever role Yeshua’s mother played at the wedding banquet, she is almost certainly serving as a direct aid to the banquet master, who was likely a close relative. There is a beautiful correlation here. Miriyam is servant both to the banquet master of this wedding and to her own Son Yeshua, the Son of the banquet Master of creation (YHVH). Just as she serves, so she offers Yeshua and opportunity to reveal His service. He is after all the Servant King Messiah (Isa. 53).
In this ancient Jewish cultural setting it would have been seen as a disgrace to the families of both bride and groom had the wine run out before the festivities had been concluded. Therefore, the remedying of this situation was of great importance to Miriyam (Mary).
Joh 2:4 The (Ho[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] said to her, “What have I to do with your doings (soi[G]) precious woman (gune[G])? [Alt. Hebrew reading: mah-liy valach ishah[H] What of Me and to/for you woman?] My hour, season, time (hora[G]) is not yet arrived (heko[G]) [Alt. Hebrew reading: itiy adayin lo-ba’ah[H] With Me what is yet to be is not come.”
The Greek gune in this context refers specifically to a woman relative, wife, betrothed, mother etc.
“Precious woman” is a phrase used throughout the Gospel of John as a precursor to a revelation to those women dear to the heart of the Messiah (4:21; 19:26; 20:13,15).
“What have I to do with your doings precious woman?” This is a Hebrew idiom from the Tanakh which has been translated into Greek in order to convey a uniquely Hebrew perspective. It is clear that the author knew his primary readers (Jews) would understand it without explanation, and he intentionally fails to clarify its meaning for any later gentile readers. This is because some of the food of the gospel is first and foremost for the children of Israel (Jews, ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) [Matt.15:26]. The phrase in question is used throughout the Tanakh in different contexts to mean, “What do we have in common?”, “Why are you involving me?”, “Don’t tell me what to do!”, “Why are you turning to me?”, “Your concern is not my concern.”
In this case the idiom is employed as a gentle rebuke that seeks to illuminate for Miriyam the importance of Yeshua’s timely revelation of His manifest glory and ultimate goal. None the less, HaShem (YHVH) had always intended for this to be Yeshua’s first miraculous sign, and Yeshua knew this. He did not give in to His mother’s request as some foolishly suggest, rather He helped His mother understand the true significance of her request. Thus Yeshua obeys the will of His Father (YHVH) and proceeds to do what He had always intended to do.
“With Me what is yet to be is not come.” Meaning, “The full revelation of my redeeming work and identity awaits its perfect timing.” Therefore, while Miriyam was hoping for Yeshua to be fully recognised for Who He truly was on the occasion of this wedding, He was making sure she understood that His actions at the wedding would be a mitigated revelation that would point to the perfect hour (time) of His vicarious death and resurrection unto glory, resulting in eternal life for all who would receive Him.
Joh 2:5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
This is one line of motherly advice that every believer should take heed of. Miriyam was approximately 44 years old at the time of these events.
Miriyam’s response to Yeshua’s gentle rebuke is one of submission, respect and honour. A carnal mother would have rebuked her son and said to him, “Do as I say” but Miriyam the mother of Yeshua is a devote worshipper and lover of God. Thus she turns to the servants and says, “Do whatever He says”.
We note that Yeshua’s mother Miriyam (Mary), who had treasured in her heart that which she had understood of His identity, none the less, does not respond. Rather, like a Yiddish momma, she simply turns to the servants and directs them to obey her son. In doing so Miriyam shows that she understands that while Yeshua’s time of sacrificial death (Luke 2:19, 34-25, 51-52) has not yet come, His time to launch his miraculous ministry has.
We must remember that when Yosef (Joseph) and Miriyam had brought the new-born Yeshua to the Temple for consecration, the righteous man Simeon had spoken directly to Miriyam about Yeshua’s destiny:
“Then Shimeon blessed them and said to Miriyam, his mother: ‘This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.’” -Luke 2:34-35
Miriyam had listened to and watched Yeshua grow and treasured both Him and His role as redeemer of Israel (Luke 2:19, 51-52). Therefore, the account of her conversation at the wedding in Cana does not show that she misunderstands Yeshua’s appointed time, to the contrary, her response shows that she understands perfectly and in spite of what she knows will lead to her own great loss, she none the less makes it possible for the people of Israel to begin to understand the fullness of God’s purpose of redemption made manifest in Yeshua, her precious, beloved and treasured son.
Joh 2:6 And there were set in that place (ekei[G]) six stone (lithinos[G]) water vessels (hudria[G], kadeiy-even[H]), according to the purification, cleansing, washing rituals, judgements, regulations (mishpat[H]) of the (Ho[G]) Judeans (Ioudaios[G], Ha-Yehudiym[H]) each capable of containing 75 to 115 litres.
According to Jewish tradition stone jars can be cleansed if made impure but jars made of clay must be destroyed (Lev.6:28; 11:33). It is interesting to note that stone vessels of this kind have been found in a quarry near Nazareth which dates to the first century CE. Additionally, the Greek word tekton, which is translated carpenter in most English Bibles can refer to any kind of labourer, craftsman, or artisan, including a stone mason. Therefore, it is quite possible that both Yosef (Yeshua’s father) and Yeshua (initially as apprentice to His father) were in fact stone masons (Matt.13:55; Mark.6:3). Thus, Yeshua Himself may have made the stone vessels that were present at this wedding in Cana, at the quarry outside of Nazareth, where He spent the majority of His pre-ministry years.
“Six stone water vessels” Stone (earth) and water, the elements present at the beginning of creation (Gen.1:1) are present in the six stone vessels, which are themselves representative of the six days of creation. Therefore, figuratively speaking Yeshua as the Creative Word (John 1:1) begins the ministry that will bring about a renewed creation with a sign that speaks of how the renewed creation will come about. That is, through the shed blood of the King Messiah.
“According to the purification, rituals, of the Judeans” Refers to Judeans by religion as opposed to Judeans by location or ethnicity, although, for the most part those who were Judean by ethnicity were also at least under the religious instruction of the Judean religious authorities in Jerusalem. The Galileans, who were Jewish by ethnicity but did not necessarily keep all the same sectarian rituals as the Judeans, had none the less provided for the religious rites of their fellow Jews from Judea and may share some of those rites with their brothers and sisters. The ritual washing vessels in this case were most likely used for the washing before meals, a tradition that makes its way through history to the modern rabbinical practise of Netilat Yadaiym (The cleansing of the hands). This practise is likely very similar in form to that of the first century CE (AD) practise.
What this tells us is that the wedding was attended by Jews from both Galilee and Judea and that the couple, contrary to extrabiblical Jewish legal custom, may have been a mixed Jewish couple, one Galilean (Of Asher – Cana) and one Judean (Of Judah).
“Each capable of containing 75 to 115 litres” In total the six jars were capable of holding approximately 600 litres of water. If we estimate that each guest used the 300 – 500 millilitres of water necessary to perform Netilat Yadayim, we can safely say that there were a minimum of 1200 guests at the wedding. It is no wonder then that there was a wine shortage.
Joh 2:7 The (O[G]) Yeshua[H] [A] said to them, “Fill entirely (gemizo[G]) the water jars (hudria[G]) with water (mayim[H]).” And they filled them entirely, up to the brim.”
In order for something to be filled it must first be emptied. This means that those attending the wedding festival were devout Judean Jews and observant Jews from the Galilee and Nazareth, many of whom had performed ritual washing (Netilat Yadayim) using the water in the stone vessels before eating at the wedding feast.
This filling is figurative of the fresh living water that Yeshua would fill creation with (John 4:14).
We note that this sign is given following the account of John the Immerser (John 1:33) speaking of the Messiah bringing a tevilah (Immersion, baptism) in the Spirit that perfects the tevilah (Immersion) of water.
Both the beginning of creation and the beginning of Yeshua’s miraculous signs allude to the mikveh (gathering of waters, immersion pool), and to tevilah (immersion).
Joh 2:8 And He said to them, “Draw out now (nun[G]), and carry (phero[G]) it to the master, the great one (architriklinos[G], el-Rav[H]) of the feast.” And they carried it.
“Draw out now” No sooner had the vessels been filled with fresh water, that they were straight away poured into wine jugs and transported to the master of the banquet. This miraculous sign happened instantaneously, in the same way that the Nile had been turned red by the command of Moses.
We note that Yeshua made a presentation to the lord of the feast, of the fine wine that had resulted from His work. This is of course figurative of the presenting of His own blood before the Lord of All things (YHVH).
“The great one of the feast” The Greek architriklinos (Master of Festivities) is a compound title made up of three words: arche meaning beginning, origin, tria meaning three, and klino meaning to recline, rest, the declining of the day. It is a description of a dinner bed, or three couches connected and used for feasting and thus becomes a noun describing the master of ceremonies at a banquet. However, it is also a figure for the unity of God, Who begins all things (arche), is three and One (tria), and Who offers rest and reclining at the declining of time, to all who receive His Son (klino). Interestingly, the Hebrew text calls the master of the feast “El-Rav” The Great One”, Rav being the root for Rabbi.
Joh 2:9 When the master, the great one (architriklinos[G], el-Rav[H]) of the feast had tasted the water (hudatos[G], mayim[H]) it had become wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]), and he had not seen the place it had come from: (but the servants who drew the water knew;) thus, the great one (architriklinos[G], el-Rav[H]) of the feast called the bridegroom (numphios[G], chatan[H])
It is impossible to think of a modern scientific explanation for this miraculous sign. Water does not become wine through any instantaneous process, nor is it feasible to suggest that this was simply diluted wine made from some deposit of wine in the base of the jars because the master of the banquet himself states that it is the best of wines, a fine, full bodied wine incomparable to the weaker wines served up to that point.
We note that only Yeshua’s mother (who possibly told His brothers and relatives), the disciples with Him and the servants, knew what had taken place at this point. Metaphorically speaking there is a miracle (sign) that only the servants, followers, and relatives of Yeshua know, that being the salvation that comes through His vicarious death and miraculous resurrection. To others the wonderful transformation of those being saved is seen publicly as the “finest wine” which is saved for last. While still others are not even invited to the Wedding Banquet.
“The great one of the feast called the bridegroom” The bridegroom would have been seated with the bride in a prominent place. Therefore, the calling out of the bridegroom would have been seen by all. Figuratively, Yeshua is called by the Father to be honoured before all creation.
Joh 2:10 And said to him (bridegroom), “Every (individual) man (human being) first sets out the excellent, precious, surpassingly good (kalos[G], ha-tov[H]) wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]); and when people have become drunk (methuo[G]), then that which is worse (elasson[G]): but you have taken care, attended to matters carefully, reserved, kept (tereo[G]) the excellent, precious, surpassingly good (kalos[G] ha-tov[H]) wine (oinos[G], yiyn[H]) until this moment (arti[G]).”
Yeshua’s first sign prophetically prefigures the unsurpassable value of the last sign of His earthly ministry, that being His death and resurrection.
We note that the bridegroom had no idea of what had taken place (at least, not at this point).
“Every man first sets out the good wine; and when people have become drunk, then that which is worse” A drunk man cannot appreciate the fine qualities of superior wine. Therefore, common sense dictates that the good wine should be served first at a time in proceedings when it can be appreciated, and later, for those who have drunk too much, the cheap wine is served.
“but you have taken care, reserving the good wine until this moment” Yeshua has produced the best wine last for a reason. The fact that the wine had run out indicates that many of the guests must have been over drinking, many, but not all. Those who had become drunk would now be given the fine wine produced by Yeshua but would be unable to appreciate it, while those who had been drinking responsibly would have been free to enjoy the superior wine to the fullest. Based on his assessment of the wine we know that the master of the banquet was one who had drunk responsibly. Likewise Yeshua’s mother and disciples. It is also possible that the servants who had not been drinking but serving, were later afforded the opportunity to drink of the fine wine, not having indulged in irresponsible drinking because of their commitment to service.
Therefore, we conclude that the wine was appreciated by the sober but went unnoticed by the drunk. This is a figure for the Gospel, where the blood of Messiah is received as the sweet fragrance of salvation to those being saved and as the stench of death to those being lost (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).
Joh 2:11 This beginning, origin, first (arche[G], reishiyt[H]) of (O[G]) the signs, wonders, miracles (semeion[G], ha-otot[H]) Yeshua[H] [A] did in Cana (Kana[G], Qanah [H], reeds) of Galilee (Ho-Galilaia[G] [circuit], Yam Ha-Kineret[H] Lake of the harp, [region]), and manifested, made known, made visible (phaneroo[G]) His glory, splendour, brightness, opinion, judgement, view (doxa[G], kevodo[H]); and His disciples, religious students, followers (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]) believed, had faith, trusted, were persuaded, accepted the truth (pisteuo[G], ya’amiynu[H]) in/on Him.
“This beginning, origin, first of the signs, wonders, miracles” The Greek “semeion” (miracle) equates to the Hebrew “ot” which is the same word used to describe the signs and wonders that God performed for Israel through Moses and the prophets.
This was the first of seven miraculous signs that each showed how the created order submitted to the authority of Yeshua (2:1-11; 4:43-54; 5:1-9; 6:1-5; 9:1-41; 11:1-44), the seventh sign showing Yeshua’s authority over the grave. Additionally the turning of the water to wine at Cana is the first of a total of 37 public signs (miracles) which are recorded in the gospels. We add to these: 1. the miraculous birth of Yeshua, 2. the sign of His death on the tree, and 3. His miraculous resurrection and we come to the sum 40, a number symbolizing fullness and new beginning. A number closely associated with the prophet Moses.
By turning the water into wine Yeshua emulated the first public sign (miracle, plague) performed by Moses via his proxy Aaron (Moses brother), that being the turning of the waters of the Nile to blood (Exodus 7:19-20). We note that this first public sign of Moses (Following the consuming of Pharaoh’s snakes) began the 10 plagues against Egypt (Double Distress) and was the beginning of Israel’s journey to freedom through the blood of the Passover Lamb. Thus, Yeshua showed Himself to be the One Who Moses had prophesied would come:
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.” -Deuteronomy 18:15-19 (NIV)
The first public sign of Moses was a plague, the first public sign of Yeshua was a symbol of redemption and healing from the greatest of plagues (sin and death). The Torah brought the indictment against sin, the vicarious sacrifice of the Author of the Torah (Yeshua) brings atonement and freedom from the indictment of the Torah (cf. John 1:17).
Both the first sign of Moses and the first sign of Yeshua were the inauguration of a process that would lead to the death of the first born. In the case of Moses, to the death of the firstborn of Egypt (double distress), and in the case of Yeshua, the death of the First Born Son of God Himself. The former being the means of physical freedom, the latter being the means of eternal metaphysical freedom.
If we are not to be judged we have no need of salvation. Therefore, judgement is necessary in order to qualify redemption.
Where Moses’ miraculous sign brought judgement against the enemies of God, Yeshua’s sign prophesied the means by which the enemies of God might be redeemed. And, just as the Passover Lamb delivered Israel from physical slavery, so too the “Lamb of God” would deliver Israel from spiritual slavery. It is no coincidence therefore, that the following verses of John 2 (v.13) speak of the Passover, for that is exactly what this first miraculous sign of Yeshua was pointing toward.
In summation, the miracle of the water turned to wine uses the symbolism of creation and the first public miracle (sign) of Moses to present to Israel the One (Yeshua) Who brings the redemptive means by which the sin affected creation can be cleansed and reborn as a new creation.
John’s gospel began by illuminating the creative Word of God Yeshua and continued through chapter one to allude to the Immerser Yochanan, whose immersion (ritual washing) is one of repentance. Now in the opening account of chapter two, in the miracle (sign) of the wedding at Cana we see the creative Word (Yeshua) of God present at a wedding festival. We see six stone jars, which, unlike clay kilned jars, are not of man-made material (Yeshua may well have literally made the stone vessels present at the wedding at Cana). We recall the stone (rock) which is cut out and will destroy the wicked kingdoms of humanity, establishing His rule over all things, as referenced to the prophetic dream of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 2:34, 44-45).The six jars are the six days of creation and the stone (rock, earth) and water are the base elements of the created order of our world (Genesis 1:1-2). Therefore, the Word (Creative voice of God, Yeshua), Who was in the beginning with God (John 1:1) commands that the stone jars be filled to the brim with water on the third day (v.1), and in stone and water He creates wine, just as God created the grape vines on the third day (Gen. 1:10-13) following the creation of the Cosmos, heavens, earth and water, and prior to the creation of humanity.
The water from the jars for ritual cleansing had been used to purify the body but could never purify the soul, spirit, conscience, being. Yeshua fills the same jars with new water, His living water, and turns the notion of temporary purification (physical washing) into a symbol for the blood (wine) that will bring a cleansing which will rid the soul, spirit, conscience, being of impurity forever. That is, the blood of His own vicarious, sacrificial death, shed for many. This wine (blood) is presented before the Master (God the Father) of the wedding Banquet (Of the Lamb) and it is The Master (YHVH) Who says of this wine (blood), “you’ve saved the best for last”, in other words, the temporary blood (wine) of animal sacrifice and the temporary cleansing of water is now eclipsed by the all sufficient blood (wine) of the Messiah Yeshua, Who perpetually pours out the mayim Chayim living waters of His life into the lives of others.
Yeshua Makes a Whip (John 2:12-25):
Joh 2:12 After this He (Yeshua) went down to Kafar Nachum[H] (Village [atonement] of comfort Capernaum), He, and His mother (meter[G], eim[H]), and his brethren (adelphos[G], echayn [achim] [H]) and His disciples, religious students, followers (mathetes[G], talmidim[H]): and they continued there for only a few days.
Capernaum is not south (down) of Cana, rather it is “down” in the sense of terrain.
NB: Capernaum is 38 km north-east of Cana and is known as the town of both Peter and Yeshua. It would have been approximately 7 ½ hours walk from Capernaum to Cana.
Yeshua was born in Bethlehem, brought up in Nazareth and He preached in Jerusalem but spent the majority of His time during His public ministry years in Capernaum. It is thought that when the Bible speaks of Yeshua’s “own city”, it is referring to Capernaum (Matt. 9:1). It is interesting to note that the Comforter (Yeshua) spent much of His public ministry living in the village of comfort (K’far Nachum).
We note now for the second time that Yeshua’s earthly father (step father as it were) is not present with His mother and the family. It is highly unlikely that Joseph (being a righteous man) had divorced his wife (or we would hear of it elsewhere), therefore, it seems that between the age of 12 (Luke 2:41-52) and the beginning of Yeshua’s public ministry (age 30) His earthly father Joseph had passed away.
Joh 2:13 And the Holy convocation of the Passover (Pascha[G], Chag ha-Pesach[H]) of (Ho[G]) the (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) Judeans was at hand (eggus[G]), and Yeshua[H][A] went up upon, made aliyah (anabaino[G], vaya’al[H]) to Jerusalem (Yerushalayim[H]: Flood/Downpour of Peace and wholeness),
NB: Jerusalem is 163 km south-west of Capernaum. This would have been approximately 35 hours walk, or a day and a half’s journey.
“The Passover of the Judeans” means that it was the Passover sacrifice performed according to the Temple rites upon the Temple altar as commanded by God for when Israel entered the land of Israel (The Temple being in Jerusalem of Judah). Prior to Israel’s entry to the land the Passover sacrifice was made outside of Israel and the Temple mount. The Samaritans practiced the Passover sacrifice (in direct violation of Torah) on Mt Gerizim. An issue that Yeshua addressed directly with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:4-42). The Passover of the Judeans also infers a practice that had additional customs associated with the Biblical command, customs that the Judean religious leaders had added. Regardless, Yeshua came to share in the Passover observance in Jerusalem along with all those Jews from throughout the known world who regularly made Aliyah for the Regalim (three going up festivals: Pesach, Shavuot, Sukkot). Regalim is from the Hebrew root “rega” meaning to wait, thus these festivals were known as the three times when all Israel waited on the Lord together in His Holy City Jerusalem, where He had placed His Name.
It is no coincidence that the miracle of the water to wine occurs directly prior to the sacrifice of the Passover, which is the very thing that the symbolism of the miracle reveals. Therefore, having been called the “Lamb of God Who takes away the offence of the world” and having shown how His blood would become the finest wine of redemption, Yeshua now goes up to Jerusalem to the Passover celebration that has prefigured His coming for millennia.
Joh 2:14 And came upon, found, discovered (heurisko[G]) in (en[G]) the temple (hieron[G], vamikdash[H]) salesmen, barterers (poleo[G]) that sold oxen and sheep and doves (yonah[H]), and the money brokers (kermatistes[G], porteiy ha-kesef[H]) sitting in fixed abode (kathemai[G], yoshviym sham[H]):
This same incident is recorded in Matthew 21:12-27, Mark 11:12-17, and Luke 19:45-20:8 where the emphasis differs slightly. In John’s account Yeshua emphasises the need for the temple to be purified so that His own Jewish people might worship God in purity. Thus the author quotes Psalm 69:9. This makes sense, given that the author of the Gospel According to John sees the Jews as his primary audience. Whereas, the focus of Mark’s Gospel for example, is on rebuking the false witness that these practices exhibit to the nations. Therefore, the author of Mark’s Gospel quotes a different verse from the Tanakh (OT), “My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’ (Isaiah 56:7). But you have made it a den of robbers (Jeremiah 7:11).”
While the accounts are very similar the overturning of the tables is recorded at the end of Yeshua’s ministry in the other gospels rather than at the beginning as in the present text. This means that Yochanan the author of the Gospel According to John, either changed the chronology to suit his narrative and theme, or, more likely, that Yeshua turned over the trading tables in the Temple a second time in the latter days of His ministry. This is consistent with the fact that the accounts of the synoptic Gospels are thematically different from that of John.
Therefore, when He first turned over the tables Yeshua was showing Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) the need for the purification of the temple, whereas, nearing the end of His ministry He placed the emphasis on how the apostate worship of Israel was causing the nations to stumble.
It is interesting to note that the Mark 11:12-17 account has Yeshua cursing the fig tree prior to the events that took place in the temple courts. Later that fig tree had withered. We recall that Nathanael had been called from under the fig tree which represented the place of Torah study and the fruitfulness that should come from it, however, there were those who taught in the seat of authority who had made the fig tree (metaphorically) fruitless. Unlike Nathanael, who was “A true Israelite in whom there is no deceit”, many of the Torah scholars and teachers among the Judean religious leadership had made their fig trees fruitless through teaching “the rules of men”, and thus were cursed by Yeshua so that the tree of their false teaching might not bear fruit in the future.
“In the Mikdash (temple)” means inside the temple area itself, and does not refer to the outer court of the gentiles which is not considered part of the temple proper (Yet further proof that this is a separate, earlier event of similar nature). The selling and bartering of religious goods is most likely to have occurred in the court of the men of Israel which is located just prior to the court of the priests where the sacrifices are offered on the altar. Based on the Greek text we can deduce that the sellers and money changers had fixed abodes there. Simply put, they weren’t coming and going, rather they had set up semi-permanent tables and booths from which they sold their merchandise, changed money for interest into the temple shekel, and generally profited from those who had come from afar to observe the regalim festivals.
Pilgrims making Aliyah (going up) were obligated by the Torah to pay the Temple tax by way of the official half-shekel (Exodus 30:11-16).
Joh 2:15 And when He had prepared, constructed, fashioned (poieo[G]) a scourge, whip (phragellion[G]) out of individual cords [bound together] (schoinion pas[G]), He drove, cast (ekballo[G]) them all (kulam[H]) out of the temple (hieron[G], ha-mikdash[H]), and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out, sent flying, spilled abroad (ekchuno[G]) the changers' of small coins (kollubistes[G], Maot[H]), both the small coins (kerma[G]) and the tables (trapeza[G], ha-shulchaniym[H]) were overturned, destroyed (anatrepo[G], yahapokh[H]);
“And when He had fashioned a scourge out of individual cords” This task would have taken a minimum of 30 minutes and probably up to an hour to complete. Yeshua maintained His Godly anger (Yaakov 1:20) over this period of time and focused on the creative task of making the whip out of numerous leather cords bound at the base and knotted at the ends, designed to draw blood. This was not the foolish instantaneous reaction of an angry man, rather it was the contained, premeditated, disciplinary action of the Spirit filled King Messiah. It is utterly foolish therefore, to claim that Yeshua was a pacifist (non-violent resistance). Just as the gospel is perpetually first for the Jews (Rom.1:16), so to the discipline of God is perpetually first for the Jews (Rom.2:9), and the coming glory of God’s Kingdom will be first for the Jews (Rom.2:10). He disciplines the ones He loves (Proverbs 3:12; Hebrews 12:6).
The use of the Greek kollubistes (changers' of small coins) in place of kermatistes (Money brokers) which is used in the previous verse, is intentional. It refers to changers of even the smallest coins, meaning that every defiled item down to the least, was dispersed and driven out of the temple complex by the King Messiah Yeshua.
The Greek anatrepo is more forceful than simply overturning (as in many English translations), it carries the sense of destruction. Yeshua did more than simply overturn the tables, He stomped them into pieces, such was His anger concerning the defiling of His Father’s House. The phrase “Gentle Jesus meek and mild”, while not entirely untrue, has none the less, become a lie of omission on the tongues of many believers. Therefore, we are reminded by the Gospel of Yochanan, that Yeshua has already come as a meek Lamb to the slaughter but He is now resurrected and will return as the warrior King Messiah, destroying the tables and wealth of God’s enemies and restoring righteousness and truth to the temple mount.
Joh 2:16 And said to those that sold, bartered over (poleo[G]) doves (yonah[H]), “Take these things away; do not make My Father's (pater[G]) house a house of merchandise, trade, an emporium, a market place (emporion[G]).” Joh 2:17 And His disciples (talmidim[H]) remembered that it was written, “The zeal (zelos[G] kinat[H]) for Your, the (ho[G]) house (oikos[G] beiytecha[H]) has eaten me up, consumed me (katesthio[G achalateniy[H]).”
“Kiy-kinat Because jealousy beiytecha for Your House achalateniy eats me, burns me up, vecherpot and the scorn, blaspheme, taunt, defying chorfeycha that has scorned, blasphemed, taunted, defyied You nafelu has fallen alay upon me.” -Psalm 69:9
We note that the so called “uneducated” am ha-aretz (people of the land, common people) disciples (talmidim) of Yeshua, were in fact very well versed in the Torah, Prophets and Writings of the Tanakh.
The Scripture that they had recalled further illuminates the context of this incident at the temple.
“I am a foreigner to my own family,
a stranger to my own mother’s children;
for zeal for your house consumes me,
and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.” -Psalm 69:9-10 (NIV)
Yeshua’s disciples understood that this scripture was being enacted in all its prophetic fullness, right before their eyes. This psalm of David was written at a time when he had been scorned by his own people and treated as a foreigner because of his zeal for God’s House (Temple), and all that entailed.
Joh 2:18 Then (Ho[G]) the (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) Judeans (religious leaders in Jerusalem) answered and said to Him, “What sign (semeion[G], ot[H]) will you show, expose to our eyes (deiknuo[G]), seeing that you do these things?”
It was believed (And rightly so), that according to the Tanakh, the Messiah when He came, would manifest signs and wonders like those of Moses and Elijah. The question of the religious leaders was not wrong in and of itself but the motivation behind their question sought to disprove Yeshua’s identity as the King Messiah. Thus, it is in large part because of their evil intent that Yeshua answers the way He does in the following verse.
Joh 2:19 Yeshua answered and said to them, “Destroy, loose, unfasten, unbandage (luo[G]) this temple (naos[G], heiychal[H]) and in three days I will arouse, raise it up (egeiro[G]).”
The word for temple here is the Greek naos rather than the formerly rendered hieron. Where hieron refers to the sum of the temple precinct courts, naos refers to the temple proper, the Holy place and the holy of holies. Likewise, the Hebrew text uses heiychal (sanctuary, holy place & holy of holies), rather than mikdash (temple precinct).
We note that this chapter began “On the third day…”
Joh 2:20 Then (Ho[G]) the (Ioudaios[G], Yehudiym[H]) Judeans (religious leaders in Jerusalem) said, “This temple (naos[G], heiychal[H]) has been constructed over a period of forty six years, and wilt You arouse, raise it up (egeiro[G]) in three days?”
It seems logical that men looking at literal earthly objects would conclude a physical meaning related to the temple itself in Jerusalem. The construction of Herod’s temple had begun in approximately 20-19 BCE (BC). The two years of preparation in construction is probably not included in the estimate of the religious leaders, which means that these events probably too place about 28 CE (AD). This confirms the view that the gospel writer is speaking of the first of two occasions where Yeshua turned over the tables of the money changers.
In fact, the construction of the temple complex was not completed until 64 CE (AD) by Herod Agrippa, just six years before the Romans destroyed it.
Joh 2:21 But He had spoken of the temple (naos[G], heiychal[H]) of His body (soma[G]). Joh 2:22 When therefore He was aroused, risen (egeiro[G]) from the dead (nekros[G]), His disciples, religious students (talmidim[H]) remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed, trusted, were confident in (pisteuo[G], yamiynu[H]) the Writing (graphe[G], katuv [ketvi] [H]) and the word (logos[G], davar[H]) which Yeshua had spoken.
“The Temple of His body” being an intimate correlation to the temple of God. In both cases the Greek and Hebrew texts use the same word to describe the Holy place at the centre of the temple precinct
“they believed in the Writing” Both the Greek graphe and the Hebrew katuv (ketvi) mean writing, written thing. Where others translate “scripture” it is more accurate to translate “Writings”, referring specifically to the third section of the Tanakh (OT) called the Ketuvim (Writings) which includes the poetry books [(Psalms, Proverbs, and Job), the Megillot, or Scrolls (Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, and Esther), and some of the books of prophecy (Daniel), and history (Ezra, Nehemiah, and I and II Chronicles).]
Joh 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem (Yerushalayim[H]: Flood/Downpour of Peace and wholeness) at the Passover (Pascha[G], Chag ha-Pesach[H]), on the festival day (heorte[G], be’chag[H]), many believed, trusted, were confident (pisteuo[G], yamiynu[H]) in His Name (onoma[G], besh’mo[H]), when they saw the miracles (semeion[G], ha-otot[H]) which He did.
“The festival day” refers to the day of the Passover sacrifice called the Chagigah (Festival offering).
The miracles being referred to are those performed during this same period in Yeshua’s early ministry as recorded in the other gospels.
“Many believed in His Name, when they saw the miracles which He did.” Many outside of Yeshua’s circle of family and disciples believed in Him based on the signs He was doing, signs like those of Moses and Elijah, which was what had been expected of the Messiah by the Jewish people. Like the three thousand at Shavuot (Pentecost) and the many thousands more among the Jews who believed both before and after His death and resurrection, it was this remnant of Israel (ethnic, religious, empirical, chosen) who were the first to receive Yeshua, and His gospel continues to be first for the Jews (Romans 1:16).
Joh 2:24 But Yeshua did not commit, entrust (pisteuo[G], he’emiyn[H]), himself to them, upon which (al-asher[H]) he knew all (yada et-kulam[H]), Joh 2:25 And did not need the testimony (martureo[G], le’eidut[H]) of a man (iysh[H]) of humanity (anthropos[G], al-ha’adam[H]): for He knew (yada[H]) what was in, among (en[G], mah-bekerev[H]) humanity, the man (anthropos[G], ha-adam[H]).
“But Yeshua did not entrust himself to them, upon which he knew” At this point in His ministry those who believed Yeshua was the promised Messiah would also have held tightly to the prophecies of His dominion over Israel and the nations. Therefore, they would have been eager to make Him King on the throne of David and see Him physically defeat the Roman empire and bring about the Messianic reign promised in the Tanakh (OT). Knowing this, Yeshua did not entrust Himself to the plans of human beings (cf. Matt.16:23; Mark 8:33). His time to rule and the Messianic age had not yet come, He must first suffer and die for all humanity. This reflects the gentle rebuke made to Miriyam earlier in the chapter (v.4).
“Did not need the testimony of a man: for He knew what was in, among humanity” The second Adam Yeshua knew intimately the nature of the first Adam and his progeny (Humanity). It was not the approval or validation of human beings he sought but the honour and glory of the Father to Whom He submitted all things. Had Yeshua given in to the human desire to promote Himself, He may well have become King and victor over Rome, but at the cost of the damnation of all humanity. Yeshua was not afforded the luxury of error and repentance. He had come to be Holy, just as the Father is Holy. He would endure all things that a human being must endure but would remain sinless for the sake of all humanity.
“4 Therefore, since we have a Kohen Gadol great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Yeshua the Son of Elohim, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a Kohen Gadol high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet remained without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” -Hebrews 4:14-16
Copyright 2019 Yaakov Brown
Spiritual leader of Beth Melekh Community, Auckland, Aotearoa, N.Z.