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I was wondering if anyone had some insight on the translation of John 2:4. The verse seems to be rendered in a variety of ways, usually either that Jesus says the lack of wine is of no concern to Him, or to both Him and Mary.

All the Greek texts I found seem to contain the same phrase "Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί", so I don't suppose the difference in translation has to do with textual variants. My limited understanding of Greek suggests that both "ἐμοὶ" and "σοί" are in the dative case, if that's of any significance. The same phrase is found a few times in the Septuagint as well as the New Testament (e.g. Judges 11:12 & Mark 5:7), where it seems to have the sense, "What conflict is there between us?" or "What do you have against me?"

SBLGNT:
καὶ λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι; οὔπω ἥκει ἡ ὥρα μου.

A literal translation of the Greek seems a bit ambiguous in meaning:

YLT:
Jesus saith to her, 'What -- to me and to thee, woman? not yet is mine hour come.'

Some popular translations include:

KJV:
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.
ESV:
And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come."
NASB:
And Jesus said to her, "Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come."

Could someone explain the phrase "Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί" for me? And also, if you could help me understand the translation in the context of the narrative, that would be much appreciated.

3 Answers 3

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This is a typically terse Koine Greek conversation. The Greek phrase in question is:

Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι

We note the following facts:

  • ἐμοὶ is dative and thus, "to me"
  • σοί is dative and thus, "to you/thee" (singular)
  • γύναι is vocative and thus, "Woman", or, "Ma'am" and is the person to whom the question is addressed. Thus, in English, this must be placed first, perhaps with a "Dear" or equivalent in front to make it clear we are translating the vocative.
  • καὶ in this case acts as a cumulative coordinating conjunction. Thus, technically, ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί could be rendered "us".
  • Τί is the terse tricky part that is simply "what?" This is simply an interrogative.

Thus we might fairly literally translate: "Well Ma'am, what to me and to thee?" Most versions will add an extra word to render finished product something like:

Dear Woman, What is that to me and to thee? (or "you" in more modern speech)

Now, what is the significance of this remark?

Jesus repeatedly asked the beneficiaries of His miracles not to tell anyone (eg, Matt 8:4, 16:20, 17:9, Mark 1:44, 7:36, 8:30, Luke 5:14, 8:56, etc) because His hour had not yet come. The same was true at this wedding in John 2:4 when Jesus says, "My hour has not yet come." Jesus did not wish to make too much of His miracles because people would follow Him for the wrong reasons

It was much later, very near the end of His ministry that Jesus finally said, "The hour is come" (John 12:23, 17:1, etc)

Thus, Jesus was forced to turn the water into wine in such a way that nobody knew what had happened (John 2:9) except the servants. Jesus wanted people to follow Him for the beauty and truth of His teaching, and to love Him as their savior, and not as a celestial Santa Claus that works miracles on demand.

We see what happened at the feeding of the 5000 - the crowd wanted to make Jesus king by force so He vanished up the mountain (John 6:14, 15). Had He not done this, His ministry would have been crippled.

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  • The most logical explanation I have ever seen. Whether it is all correct or not, I cannot tell, not being sufficiently competent. But it is certainly the most logical. +1.
    – Nigel J
    Aug 12, 2020 at 12:34
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    I agree. There is also a subtle undertone of the water of mundane religious ritual being turned into that which gladdens the hearts of men. Aug 12, 2020 at 20:21
  • This answer seems plausible to me, so I "accepted it", but I still feel like there's room for different interpretation of the phrase as well as how it fits in the narrative. John 2:11, for example, potentially contradicts this answer. I do like how you tied in the larger narrative of John with John 12:23 and John 17:1 though; I found that helpful. Aug 13, 2020 at 4:47
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    @Benjamin-Garcia - thanks for raising such a good point.The disciples were not about to make Jesus king, or mob him. They we close associates and were a small minority at the wedding. It is also unclear if John 2:11 was placed there by John as a comment about what the disciples thought at the time of much later; perhaps a bit of each?
    – Dottard
    Aug 13, 2020 at 5:34
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In this particular case, the answer you seek is not in the Greek but more in the fact that this is more a Jewish idiom.

The article Was Jesus being rude to Mary when He referred to her as “woman” in John 2:4? first address the issue of Jesus calling his own mother Woman'. In those times this was more a sign of respect.

What Jesus says to His mother in John 2:4 sounds almost rude in English. However, in the original language, and in that culture, Mary would not have interpreted Jesus’ words that way. The term woman was used like we use the term ma’am. By addressing Mary this way, Jesus does distance Himself from His mother somewhat—He was exerting His independence from her wishes—but in no way was it a rude manner of speaking. Jesus lovingly uses the same word from the cross when He tells Mary that He is entrusting her to John’s care (John 19:26).

As to Jesus' question "what have I to do with thee?", the article further explains that this is more along the lines of saying "why are you asking me?"

The question Jesus asks His mother isn’t rude, either. It may sound rude in the KJV: “What have I to do with thee?” (John 2:4), but it was a common idiom. In the Greek, Jesus’ question is “Ti emoi kai soi?” The phrase was used to ask of the connection between two people. The question could be translated as “What business do we have with each other?” Or, in less formal terms, “What does this have to do with me?” (ESV) or “Why do you involve me?” (NIV). Again, Jesus is expressing the fact that He is independent of His mother; as eager as Mary was to see Jesus do a miracle, she had no right to determine the time or the manner in which Jesus publicly revealed His glory. Jesus makes His point gently and without being rude, however.

Interestingly, this is not the first occurrence of this idiom. There are at least two other times this can be found in the Bible:

2 Samuel 16:10 - "And the king said, What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah? so let him curse, because the LORD hath said unto him, Curse David. Who shall then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?" (KJV)

1 Kings 17:18 - "And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?" (KJV)

The 'Questions From Readers' in the December 2006 Watchtower is entitled Was Jesus being disrespectful or unkind in the way he addressed his mother at the wedding feast in Cana?​—John 2:4. in talking about the previous scriptures says:

From these Bible examples, we can see that the expression “what have I to do with you?” is often used, not to show disdain or arrogance, but to refuse involvement in some proposed or suggested action or to express a difference in viewpoint or opinion. What, then, can be said about Jesus’ words to Mary?

Sometimes as students of the Bible we need to dig further into cultural, racial, or regional customs to understand what we are reading.

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First you have to understand that the miracles and what Jesus would say and the works was given to HIM by the FATHER. John 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do

John 12:49 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak

Jesus was a guest along with his disciples and yet in the planning of the wedding they didn't make the right preparations....like the parable of the 10 virgins. Would you invite Jesus and not make sure everything is in order. Yet being his mother he had to keep the law to fulfill it by honoring her... In Elijah and Elisha when he put the mantle on him Elisha asks can I go say bye? Well Jesus said let the dead bury the dead.....Elijah replies what have I to do with thee? So Elisha breaks up the plow....( Luke 5:39 No man also having drunk old wine straightway desireth new: for he saith, The old is better. Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.) Slayed a yoke of oxen. ...(two out of the twelve died during the betrayal Judas and Jesus) through the betrayal and Jesus laying down his life he feed us spiritually to raise us from the dead in the life of sin. As the first Adam ate of the fruit that gave life to self or the flesh. Jesus gave us fruit to give us life to the spirit) What Jesus did at the wedding was a anointing to birth the church....because after he leaves the wedding he goes down to the Jordan then to Samaria to the woman. At the well....He tells her NOW IS THE HOUR.......WHEN TRUE WORSHIP SHALL HAPPEN. (Paraphrased) the disciples didn't hear any of this conversation nor did they hang around while JESUS stayed for 2 More days they went back and went fishing........This is also shown in the story of ELISHA when the prophet's and son's of prophets are making fun of him when ELIJAH is going to be taking up and the first thing he does is heal a spring or changed the waters back to good ........then it goes on to where the children say go up bald head go.up....saying that Elisha wasn't anointed or had any glory from GOD SO HE CURSED THEM....two she bears meaning a slow death( the 6 pots of water is going to run out you better get prepared) In Exodus when they cross the wilderness of the red sea (meaning this sea=a breaking on the shore or rocks [a spiritual breaking then and anointing] wilderness= as livestock bought with a price being led or driven to a pasture[ the leadership and anointing of the Holy spirit led and drove....cloud by day and pillar of fire the baptism which Jesus said shall happen the HOLY ghost and fire....fire hear being as a refiners fire as the potter would set the vessel he made the trial of your faith being more precious than gold or even silver......it isn't just judgement) Red= Reed ( this is the key john the Baptist jesus said was least in the kingdom....Jesus said you went to the wilderness to see a REED SHAKEN.....so then the crossing over the red sea and then 3 days later (the wedding on the 3rd day) the butter waters changed by a tree the least of the anointing for salvation as given to John the Baptist) Then they go to 12 wells with palm trees a well for.each tribe or meaning the fullness of the Holy spirit as Jesus had he said greater works shall you do....hence the woman at the well ...that drink you never thrist again and out of.your bellies shall flow.....

Palm trees mean to stand erect....come as a child a child first learns to.stand and then JESUS IN THE SPIRIT walks and talks (walk in the spirit and the spirit is your teacher Faith cometh by hearing .....we need our Faith to grow as the mustard seed....Jesus said ye of little faith if you had faith.....then we walk by that faith here...

Proof of stand....when the enemy comes in like a flood .the Spirit of the Lord shall set.up a standard.....you stand where the standard is Having.done all you can do stand.... Ephesians 6:12-14 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

Acts 26:16 But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee;

Jeremiah 6:16 Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein. Isaiah 11:10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. 2 Chronicles 20:17 Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you. 1 Samuel 12:16 Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes.

Exodus 14:13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.

If you go look at the beginning of sorrows it is a birthing a traveling this would be the anointing at the well to raise up the standard of the kingdom .....for the church is weak....they have been polluted proof in exodus also

Exodus 17:12-13 But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

Aaron= future high priest Hur= white linen (the church) Moses played Jesus on the cross Joshua plays the sons of God to fight for the birth right back from it being sold Amalek was a descendant from the one who.sold the birth right..... Now I could go on about Moses and his children and Jethro....God tried to kill the oldest son and Zipporah circumcised him but no the.otherson So if moses plays Jesus Zipporah meaning bird The two sons one a. Physical circumcision the other being inward When jethro comes one meaning of the word in that chapter at the beginning is as one.coming with a written divorce The sons are never called the sons of moses They dont go with moses and Israel yet Jethro is a priest and descendant of abraham....to make this short He plays the Heavenly Father ....and tells moses to commit judgement into others hands....Jesus to the disciples they would judge Israel So Jethro because of the divorce sending zipporah and the sons back in l Exodus 4:24-25 And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the LORD met him, and sought to kill him. Then Zipporah took a sharp stone, and cut off the foreskin of her son, and cast it at his feet, and said, Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.

So when Jethro leaves zipporah being the BIRD OR HOLY SPIRIT and her sons go with the Father and He adopts them.....there was a tribe that didn't give attendance at the altar....a priest after a different priesthood Hebrews 12:6-8, 29 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. For our God is a consuming fire.

1 Peter 2:5, 9 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light

.in Revelations kings a d priests we are to.GOD. SO this is understanding that the Holy spirit gave me....there is much more yet I hope that helps you and anyone else who.reads this.

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