What did John mean by “second sign” (δεύτερον σημεῖον) in John 4:54?
This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee. (John 4:54, ESV)
Τοῦτο [δὲ] πάλιν δεύτερον σημεῖον ἐποίησεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς ἐλθὼν ἐκ τῆς Ἰουδαίας εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν. (John 4:54, NA27)
That an official came from Capernaum asking Jesus to heal his son seems to indicate that Jesus already had a reputation as a healer. Thus, it seems unlikely that Jesus healed no one since he changed the water into wine (John 2:11).
- Roberson explains this as the second sign in Cana, but Jesus performed many in Jerusalem:
The second sign that (δευτερον σημειον [deuteron sēmeion]). No article, simply predicate accusative, “This again a second sign did Jesus having come out of Judea into Galilee.” The first one was also in Cana (2:1ff.), but many were wrought in Jerusalem also (2:23).
Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Jn 4:54). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.
Bryant writes the same thing:
Since John 2:23 and 4:45 mentioned more than two miracles done by Jesus, this healing of the official’s son could not be accurately called Jesus’ second miraculous sign; so say several commentators. This is to overlook the contents of these several statements about miracles by Jesus. John meant here “the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed in Cana.”
Bryant, B. H., & Krause, M. S. (1998). John (Jn 4:54). Joplin, MO: College Press Pub. Co.
This is again the second miracle. The word is “sign” in the Greek. He had wrought other miracles in Judea, but this was the second wrought in Galilee. The seat of the first was Cana; the Lord was at Cana when he wrought the second, but the subject of it was at Capernaum.
Johnson, B. W. (1886). John: the New Testament commentary, vol. III (p. 83). St. Louis, MO: Christian Board of Publication.
- Lange writes that second sign marks Jesus’ second return to Galilee, not his second miracle. Although, note in his explanation, he recognizes that the grammar puts δευτερον with σημειον.
This sign Jesus wrought as the second, etc., Πάλιν is not to be connected with δεύτερον, nor to be referred to ἐποίησεν by itself, but to the statement that Jesus had returned from Judea to Galilee. Jesus had meantime done many other miracles, even in Capernaum; this miracle marks His second return to Galilee, as the miracle at Cana had marked the first. He brought healing with Him at once, and it went out from Him even in distant results.
Lange, J. P., & Schaff, P. (2008). A commentary on the Holy Scriptures: John (p. 174). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
- John records seven signs, but indicates that Jesus did much more (John 21:25). Is John saying this is the second sign he recorded?
The designation of this as “the second sign that Jesus did” is a further hint (cf. 2:11) that the reader is to observe the number of signs, seven, recorded in the Gospel.
Goodspeed, E. J. (1917). The Gospel of John (p. 11). Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
- While Guthrie sees "second sign" as referring to the sequence of seven, he also sees it as making a connection to the first sign.
The healing of the official’s son described in chapter iv is specifically linked in iv. 46 with the miracle of the wine. It is more than a link of locality in that both happened at Cana. This healing is described as ‘the second sign’, no doubt in order to draw attention to the sequence. We may expect that this sign will complement the first and this is precisely what it does. -- Donald Guthrie, “The Importance of Signs in the Fourth Gospel,” Vox Evangelica 5 (1967): 74.
How should we understand John’s meaning of “second sign?”