In John 2:4, Jesus asks Mary:

Woman, what have I to do with thee (Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί)? My hour is not yet come.

In Mark 5:7, the Legion asks Jesus:

What have I to do with thee (Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί), Jesus, Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God (θεός), that thou torment me not.

Is there a significance that this same question being asked in these two places?

  • Its the demons speaking! Jul 9, 2021 at 14:06
  • YLT has, for John 2:4 What -- to me and to thee, woman? and I have seen it translated elsewhere (by Herman Hoskier) as 'What is that to me and to thee' which changes the meaning significantly.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 9, 2021 at 14:11
  • Why not include [Judges 11:12] "Τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί"? - This distracting phrase delays the unwanted actions of others. Jul 9, 2021 at 14:18
  • Indeed, that's interesting. I'll see how people react to my simpler question first. Thanks for the pointer :)
    – user35953
    Jul 9, 2021 at 14:22
  • This is almost the same as Mark 1:24, roughly "what to us and to you" Jul 9, 2021 at 17:41

3 Answers 3


(Τι ἐμοι και σοι; [Ti emoi kai soi?]). There are a number of examples of this ethical dative in the LXX (Judges 11:12; 2 Sam. 16:10; 1 Kings 17:18; 2 Kings 3:13; 2 Chron. 35:21) and in the N. T. (Mark 1:24; 5:7; Matt. 8:29; 27:19; Luke 8:28). Some divergence of thought is usually indicated. Literally the phrase means, “What is it to me and to thee?” In this instance F.C. Burkitt (Journal of Theol. Studies, July, 1912) interprets it to mean, “What is it to us?” That is certainly possible and suits the next clause also. -- Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (John 2:4). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

This shows the underlying Hebrew/Aramaic, מַה לִּי וּלְךָ which usually expresses the present tense with pronouns, infinitives, or participles.

Searching this phrase in the MT it's translated, "what have you against me," "what have I to do with you," "what have we to do with each other," "what am I to you." It seems to always be used to prevent confrontation. This makes more sense with the confrontation in Mark 5:7, but more difficult in John 2:4. Perhaps Jesus said this to his mother to keep quiet about what he was about to do to minimize the publicity. His mother didn't seem to take it as him refusing to help.

For example, Jesus by making this statement was avoiding a conflict (normal use of the phrase), but stated his time (for public miracles) was not yet. Thus, his mother knew to keep the miracle confined to those who needed to know. However, some of Jesus' apostles sitting close by observed what happened.


From the NET bible translation notes:

John 2:4 tn Grk “Woman, what to me and to you?” (an idiom). The phrase τί ἐμοὶ καὶ σοί, γύναι (ti emoi kai soi, gunai) is Semitic in origin. The equivalent Hebrew expression in the Old Testament had two basic meanings: (1) When one person was unjustly bothering another, the injured party could say “What to me and to you?” meaning, “What have I done to you that you should do this to me?” (Judg 11:12, 2 Chr 35:21, 1 Kgs 17:18). (2) When someone was asked to get involved in a matter he felt was no business of his, he could say to the one asking him, “What to me and to you?” meaning, “That is your business, how am I involved?” (2 Kgs 3:13, Hos 14:8). Option (1) implies hostility, while option (2) implies merely disengagement. Mere disengagement is almost certainly to be understood here as better fitting the context (although some of the Greek Fathers took the remark as a rebuke to Mary, such a rebuke is unlikely).

According to the above reference, the phrase is a Hebrew expression that basically has two meanings, one that implies hostility and the other, disengagement. The way the phrase is used by the demons in Mark (5:7) and by Jesus in John (2:4) reflect this difference. Mark (5:7) implies hostility, whereas John (2:4) conveys disengagement.

While the reason the phrase is employed by the demons seems clear, why Jesus uses it is much less so. However, his words draw a connection between the wedding at Cana to a seemingly unrelated event, an hour that “has not yet come.” They effectively juxtapose the first act of his public ministry against the last hour of his life.

From this perspective, Jesus’ response to Mary leads me to consider another and broader context for Mary’s observation that “they have no wine.” At Cana, Jesus’ words imply that the purpose of his coming is not to provide for the physical thirst of mankind. At the same time, they point to an hour when he will pour out his blood to provide for the spiritual thirst of all the world.


In John, Mary wants Jesus to perform a miracle before the appointed time of His public ministry inauguration.

In Mark, the demons knew He is the Son of the most high God. They call upon God (θεός) and not Satan for help. They know that Satan cannot help them. They know that Jesus will torment them one day. They are being premature with the appointed end time. The demons know that hell fire was real.

Besides the Good News revealed by Jesus, there is the Bad News revealed by the demons, and they coincide.

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