John 2:1-11 NKJV

2 On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

6 Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. 9 When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. 10 And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”

11 This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.

What I'm wondering is:

Is there anything in the text that lends itself as a reason for this being Jesus' first miracle?

Is there any indication within the text as to why this particular event marks Jesus' first recorded miracle?

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    Please don't overlook the fact that this first miracle wasn't done by Jesus on his own initiative, but clearly his mother, Mary, manipulated him into doing it. Now why do you think Mary coerced Jesus regarding the wine? Is it possible that Jesus did such things for his mother before he started his public ministry? Is that why Jesus sounded annoyed?
    – Dieter
    Commented Feb 22 at 23:51
  • 4
    A good question : great is the significance of this, the first sign in John's gospel account. Up-voted +1. (My own answer below.)
    – Nigel J
    Commented Feb 23 at 15:48
  • @Dieter, I like your comment but hesitate at the concept of Mary’s confident trust being relegated to unseemly manipulation. There I respectfully disagree.
    – Rachel
    Commented Feb 24 at 19:12
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    When someone makes an assertion, the onus is on them to support the assertion rather than taking a "prove me wrong" position. Here's an example. "The Bible was written by Pharaoh Thutmose III. Can anyone come up with any witnesses to prove me wrong?" The text in John 2:1,2 ESV reads, "On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples." This witness should be taken at face value unless there are more credible witnesses to the contrary.
    – Dieter
    Commented Feb 24 at 22:08
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    @Rachel, look at the conversation recorded in John 2:4,5 ESV: "And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Would you call your mother "woman"? What did Jesus mean when he told Mary, "My hour has not yet come"? Why didn't Jesus say something like "Mother, you know that all things are possible with God. Because of your great faith in me, what you ask shall be done." Do you think Mary sounded just a tad frustrated when she ordered the servants, “Do whatever he tells you”?
    – Dieter
    Commented Feb 24 at 22:22

9 Answers 9


Everything recorded about Jesus was laden with significance and Jesus' first miracle in John's gospel is no exception. See appendix below.

In the case of the water being turned into wine, the significance appears to include the following:

  1. The beginning of Jesus' ministry was also the beginning of the kingdom of God. It is significant that when the Israelites explored the promised land of Cainan, they brought back a HUGE bunch of grapes to show how good this land was, Num 13.
  2. Jesus demonstrated by this miracle that ALL parts of the ordinary life are important to God, including social occasions and the joy of people. As MacLaren points out, Jesus thus hallowed all parts of the life dedicated to God's service.
  3. Jesus' earthly ministry was book-ended by teaching using the metaphor of grapes and the fruit of the vine - the first miracle in John 2 involved wine and the last metaphor/parable in John 15 about Jesus being the true vine and source of good things. Thus, Jesus is the ennobler and heightener of all earthly joys (MacLaren).
  4. Jesus is the source of all true and holy joy, just as the wine Jesus provided at the wedding was noticeably superior to the earthly wine. It is also significant that this wine was drawn from stone jars used for purification, specifically at Jesus direction.
  5. The miracle was a keynote of Jesus ministry. Nothing but divine power could produce such a transformation of water to wine - to take something common (water) and make it noble and prized (wine) and superior to all else. This same work Jesus would perform on His disciple and followers to make them great and effective evangelists of His kingdom. Jesus' message in John 15 about the vine and the branches contains a similar message.

APPENDIX - John's Record of Jesus' Ministry

John records and selects incidents in the life of Jesus that consistently illustrate Jesus' connection and continuation of the history of ancient Israel. Here is a sample:

The usual list of Jesus’ seven “signs” includes:

  1. Turns water to wine (John 2:1-11)
  2. Heals a Royal official’s son (John 4:43-54)
  3. Heals a disabled man at Bethesda pool (John 5:1-47)
  4. Feeds ~20,000 people (John 6:1-15)
  5. Walks on Water (John 6:16-24)
  6. Heals a blind man (John 9 & 10)
  7. Resurrects Lazarus (John 11:1-57)

I would also suggest that after Jesus' death, there were three more “faith confirming” miracles, namely,

  • Jesus' own resurrection (John 2:19, 22, 10:17, 18, 20:1-18, 21:14)
  • Jesus' appearance to disciples in the locked upper room (John 20:19-30)
  • The miraculous catch of fish (John 21:1-21)

Jesus' Seven Predicated "I am" statements:

  1. John 6:35, 41, 48, 50, 51 – Jesus said, “I am the bread of life” (See Ex 16 about Manna)
  2. John 8:12 (and 1:4, 9, 12:46) – Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (see Ps 27:1, 18:28, Micah 7:8, Isa 60:19)
  3. John 10:1-18 – Jesus said, “I am the good Shepherd” (v11, 14) and the disciples are sheep (see Psalm 23:1; Eze 34:11ff, Isa 40:11)
  4. John 10:8 – Jesus said, “I am the gate/door to the sheep”
  5. John 11:25 – Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and life” (Job 19:23-27, Dan 12:2)
  6. John 14:6 – Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life”. Jesus is here effectively claiming the role of the Great High Priest as the only way to the Father
  7. John 15:1-5 – Jesus said, “I am the vine and you are the branches” (see Isa 5:1ff, Jer 12:10)

Jesus' Ministry Parallels the Temple Services

There also appears to be a general structural theme to John's gospel that walks through the sanctuary/temple as follows:

  • The sacrificial lamb represented Jesus (John 1:29)
  • Jesus’ teaching is closely associated with water (in the laver), John 4:13, 14.
  • Jesus was the bread of life as symbolized by the shew bread (John 6:35-51)
  • The light of the Menorah represented Jesus (John 8:12, 9:5)
  • Jesus was the door (John 10:7-9)
  • Jesus is represented as our great High Priest and intercessor in heaven (John 14:6, 17:1-24)
  • +1. Very comprehensive. I really appreciate all the different ideas portrayed here!
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 23 at 1:49

In addition to the theological context of the other answers, there's a historical and cultural context: Jesus' mother asked him to.

the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

4 Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.”

5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Jesus (and his disciples) were at a wedding with Jesus' mother. Jesus' entourage was probably relatively "lower-class," and may have significantly contributed to running out of wine. Jesus was a Galilean Jew (high respect for mothers, who were head-of-household), and Mary would have some extra level of deference as a widow within the community. Jesus demonstrated deference to the Father at Gethsemane ("take this cup..." but "thy will be done") and deference to his mother at Cana ("what does your concern have to do with Me? my hour has not yet come" but "whatever He says to you, do it.")

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Commented Feb 23 at 14:50
  • Thank you for your answer! I'd love it if you could add some sources, but otherwise it's definitely an interesting answer.
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 24 at 18:36
  • @ssh, It’s difficult to find sources to support this, but I agree with much of your response. As a righteous and godly observant Jew, Jesus would indeed have been extremely respectful to His mother, when possible. Mothers were and are held in high esteem by thier children, within Judaism. What Mary gently asks her Son is in trusting expectation, and not an inappropriate request. Jesus response that her timing is off is a correctively mild rebuke, but nevertheless he grants her gentle plea. Thus is His entire ministry set in motion by this, His first miracle.
    – Rachel
    Commented Feb 24 at 19:32

The significance of this being the first sign (it is a 'sign', semaion ) is the significance of the meaning of the sign, the concept which is expressed by the supernatural act which supernatural act is not intended to draw mere awed wonder and publicity but which is enacted in order to display spiritual truth and to fix that truth in the mind.

Matthew, Mark and Luke all contain the parable of the sower (the outcome of four types of preparation, or non-preparation, of ground ; leading to fruitfulness or non-fruitfulness). Yet this parable, of which Jesus stresses that without understanding it, no other parable will be comprehended, is not in John.

Instead, John, uniquely, reports the reality of the parable, that is to say the ministry of John the Baptist, the Messenger of Preparation prophesied of by Malachi and Isaiah, and we see two disciples under that ministry, Andrew and, without doubt, John himself, who, in order to follow John's command 'Behold the Lamb of God' ; we see them having to leave the stationary John in order to continue, steadfastly, 'beholding' a disappearing back and they, thus, follow Jesus.

This preparatory work of the baptism of repentance was a feature not only of Andrew and John's experience but also of Peter.

In Mark's account, after John is put in prison, we see these disciples being called again, in the north, in Galilee, this time as a vocation, leaving all behind, to become fishers of men.

But in John we see what occurred to them previously in the south, by Jordan where John baptised : their personal submission to a preparatory ministry, then their obedient leaving of that ministry to follow Jesus.

The result of this is a union with Christ.

And that union is set forth in a marriage and in the provision of wine.

This is no mere 'miracle', no vain spectacle. It is a sign with deep signification and it comes as the first sign in John's account for very good reason.

For this is the beginning of the soul's journey. To leave that ministry, so very necessary in the prior preparation of the soul previous to the coming of Jesus into one's life, yet to leave it and to progress to a real union with the Lord.

The chief of three, at the wedding (and, as commented, on the third day) is gratified by the wine, another way of expressing the spiritual fruit of union with Christ. The filling of the six water pots, hitherto only partially filled under a legal ministry - an attendance at synagogue, an acquaintance with the law of Moses ; that filling, at the instruction of Jesus, yet not by Jesus himself but by 'servants', indicates the work of the Spirit - a progression onwards from the preparatory ministry to a Spirit-filled union.

Thus the bride of Christ, prepared by the friend of the bridegroom (John) and filled with the Spirit, unites in union with the Lord himself.

This is the first sign and great is its significance.

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    And the wedding ocurrs on the 3rd day. +1 Commented Feb 23 at 16:55
  • John would likely have assumed that everyone reading his Gospels have assess to the other Gospels. Commented Feb 24 at 13:13
  • @Mike Borden, ooo good insight.
    – Rachel
    Commented Feb 24 at 19:13

The question is looking for anything in the text that lends itself as a reason for this being Jesus' first miracle; also whether there is any indication within the text as to why this particular event marks Jesus' first recorded miracle.

The text selected is chapter 2 of John's gospel, the first 11 verses, but that immediately requires a problem being flagged up. We all know that John did not put any chapter or verse numbering in his text. When we read the verses immediately prior to the selected text, then we can find answers to those questions, because they set the scene and give the reasons for what then happened. Having grasped the context that led to this first sign, then we can learn especially from Mary matters of significance.

What had first happened was the baptising of Jesus by John the Baptist, and some of those who had been baptised then following Jesus. They had been prepared to recognise Jesus as "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world" as the Baptist testified, having seen the Holy Spirit descend on Christ." He had witnessed that; they believed his testimony. John added that he "knew him not: but that he should be manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water". That is a reason for why the first sign was performed three days after the Baptist was quizzed by priests and Levites from Jerusalem and said those things.

Note that when two of the Baptist's disciples heard his testimony and believed it, they started following Jesus who then invited them to stay with him. The next day Andrew called his brother to also follow Jesus. The following day, Jesus found Philip and called him to be a follower. Philip, in turn, found Nathaniel who was skeptical, doubting if anything good could come out of Nazareth. Jesus demolished that wrong idea by making a declaration about Nathaniel (requiring divine insight) that astonished the man, who was then told by Jesus that he had seen him sitting under a fig tree, before Philip called him. That was miracle enough for Nathaniel to proclaim Jesus as the Son of God, the King of Israel.

Such a miracle was a personal sign to Nathaniel, but it was not a manifestation to Israel. That would require the sign-event at Cana the next day when a large gathering who probably knew very little about Jesus were present to witness it.

As well as that sign-miracle getting the attention of the crowd, it bolstered the disciples' faith in Jesus as the Son of God, who, the day before, had told Nathaniel (and the few others present) that they would see greater things, and afterwards, they would "see heaven open, and angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" - reminding them of the vision of Jacob's ladder (Gen. ch. 28). The sign-miracle at Cana was the start of such "greater things".

Then begins the selected text. Yet already we should see the direct connection with disciples being prepared, then called to follow Jesus as the Messiah. This now leads into the significance of Mary in connection with the sign-miracle her son, Jesus, chose to perform.

From Mary, we learn how her heart was well prepared, from knowing the miraculous message of the angel, the miraculous birth, the boy Jesus aged 12, at the temple, and no doubt many other things not recorded. Yet despite that, her words to Jesus at the wedding, received a strange response. What is the significance of this part of the account? Let me quote from this book, which refers first to what her 12-year-old son said to her at the temple:

"Deep, deep down, the sayings of her son, Jesus, penetrated into the heart of his mother. And she was not offended. At first, she had made an enquiry. But on hearing the response, the word of Christ fell upon good ground.

Nor was she offended when he, now grown, responded to her statement, 'They have no wine', with, 'Woman, what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come.' No, not offended. 'Whatever he saith unto you, do it', she commanded unto the servants. Spiritualities took precedence. She accepted the rebuke. She submitted, correcting the situation. She took no offence. For the mother of Jesus had long kept things in her heart.

Long before, thirty years before, all who heard the report of the shepherds of the angels and the babe in the manger, 'wondered' at those things, Luke 2:18. And many still do, admiring, marvelling, wondering. It goes no deeper. But Mary, the rather, kept all these things and pondered them - in her heart.

...No, not offended; but retaining all that she heard in her heart, she pondered. And accepted rebuke and correction, when it was applied to her. Such is the ground, prepared by the Preparative Messenger, wherein the word of God, when it falls there, takes deep, deep root. And, in due time, with patience, brings forth abundantly." The Beginning of the Gospel, Nigel Johnstone, pp. 51-52, Belmont, 2012 http://www.belmontpublications.co.uk

So, let no one think critically of Mary. We could do with learning from her.

Further, those present at Cana whose hearts were prepared to receive the words of Christ, which are life and truth, saw what the sign was pointing to - Christ as Messiah. If a sign is misunderstood, the wrong direction will be taken. One needs to know what to look for, with a sign - to what it is pointing. The sign is not the thing itself. No sign points to itself. At Cana, the miracle-sign pointed to Christ as the foretold Messiah. For those whose hearts are prepared to accept this, they will set out on the right direction, which is to follow Christ, wherever he goes. They will see and understand the other signs along the oft-difficult way. And all of those heaven-sent signs keep our eyes set on Jesus, the Son of God. But for many of those at Cana, whose delight was in splendid wine miraculously produced, they did not consider what that sign was pointing to; they were so taken up with the miracle-sign and did not consider who it was pointing to as sent from God, and all because their hearts were not prepared, as was Mary's.

Answer in Summary: Jesus had started gathering disciples and, both for their benefit to reassure their initial views (John 1:41; 45; 49), and to start manifesting himself to Israel (John 1:33; 50-51), Jesus began his miracles at Cana. This was the start of his pubic ministry.

  • +1. Great comprehensive answer!
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 24 at 18:21

Book Ends The idea of Book-ends has been noticed by readers of the Gospels, concerning Jesus's earthly ministry.

  1. As pointed out Jesus began with turning water into wine. And then in the final days of His teaching, Jesus teaching turned His physical life into a spiritual Vine of life giving wine. (John 2, John 15)

  2. Christ began His teaching with news of the Kingdom at hand (Matthew 9), and then He ended His announcement in Luke (at the Passover meal) by saying that He would not be drinking of the wine until He drank it in the Kingdom! (Luke).

  3. Jesus is recorded to have done His first miracle, as seen by John, at a Wedding. And then we are told by John the Revelator that the whole story of redemption of the Church will end in climax at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb! (Revelation 21)

Whether these book-ends are strained, or legitimately symbolic, or edifying is left up to the Believer to ascertain. But they do show that Jesus and His Gospel presents a vivid belief system, and not a solemn or drudgery type of perfunctory religion! Christianity is a joyous religion with exuberant worship to a happy God.

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    +1. I appreciate the answer. It is an interesting idea!
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 23 at 1:44
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    @ray grant;@Jason Ray, Great analogy on the bookends. It is more than an idea when you use the Bible as a whole, it is a theme. Upvoted for both question and answer. Although I don't think Jesus chose it based on the scriptural dialog. Obviously God the father chose it and inspired Mary's instruction for Jesus' first miracle. Mary preanounced it.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Feb 23 at 20:37
Jesus told Nicodemus:Jn3:5
  1. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Turning water into wine produced drink that was in a preserved state and actually gets better with time. It seems the first recorded miracle of Jesus foreshadowed his finished work provided by his propitionary death on the cross. Eternal life in Jesus was perhaps symbolized by his first miracle of turning the water into wine.

  • +1. That's an interesting take on it. I like that.
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 24 at 18:40

Jesus was the bridegroom and his entourage were chastised for not fasting as did John the Baptist, the wine was the joy he harvested from the world he cultivated. The book of Matthew hammers the analogy of wedding and legacy repeatedly [Matthew 9:14-15, Luke 7:33-34, Psalm 104:14-15, Matthew 26:27-29, 20:20-28, Matthew 21:28-32, Matthew 21:33-45, Matthew 22:1-14

He later treads the winepress of God's fury. It could have been communicated by any other metaphor, and Revelation is rich in metaphor, this choice is telling [Revelation 14:14-20]. I'm sure the bugonia mentioned in the account of Samson ties in as well but that's an article unto itself. [Judges 14]

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    – Community Bot
    Commented Feb 23 at 14:48
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    @ Nobody Special It takes a while to understand the paradigm or blueprint for answers to this site. Instead of a broad (shotgun) pattern you might try a more precise one. There are many good answers you can view on this question, alone. Hang in there and welcome to the BH site.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Feb 23 at 20:53
  • I chase themes and patterns not (translated) direct quotes, it's tough to dial in the specificity. I'll shorten and add verses to later entries.
    – user63380
    Commented Feb 24 at 0:17
  • Thank you for your answer. The Revelations reference is quite interesting!
    – Jason_
    Commented Feb 24 at 10:03

While the Gospel of John records Jesus' first miracle as turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana, it's worth considering Mary's perspective. In John 2:5, Mary demonstrates unwavering faith that Jesus will resolve the wine shortage issue. Although this event is the first sign according to John, Mary's trust in Jesus suggests that Jesus may have performed earlier miracles known only to her.

Numerous commentaries exist regarding the seven signs in the Gospel of John, and I encourage everyone to explore them further. John deliberately selected these signs for a specific purpose, as he states in the closing verses of his gospel:

John 20:30-31 NIV

30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

As the Son of God, Jesus has the authority over creation. By changing water into wine, it revealed His power down to the molecular level. Despite His divine authority, Jesus also exemplified humility and honor. As the son of man, Jesus honors His mother even though His hour has not yet come.

  • lovely response. As for your statement that “Mary's trust in Jesus suggests that Jesus may have performed earlier miracles known only to her”; I have long suspected that as a poor widow with many hungry mouths to feed (Jesus’ brothers and sisters if one holds that view), Mary may indeed have been the recipient of past miracles within the family. Hence her knowing words to the servants to do whatever Jesus told them to do. There is no proof of such miraculous family provision, it’s only my conjecture. Yet I do wonder.
    – Rachel
    Commented Feb 24 at 19:41

Because Jesus is based on Dionysus, god of wine.

When the Romans had the propaganda that became the New Testament written, they made the Jewish scribes impose the religious paradigm of Rome, which was Orphism, wherein the god Dionysus is killed in order to effectuate the resurrection of humanity.

The idea was to instill the idea of an afterlife in the slave classes--the theocratic ruling class of the Jews were the Sadducees, who denied that there was an afterlife, which was leading to revolt in the slave classes that underpinned the economy. The Sadducees held strictly to the Mosaic law, which forbids man to partake of the fruit of eternal life, because eternal life is a divine aspect of God, guarded from man by cherubim and a flaming sword.

The way you create a slave mentality is by convincing a man that he will have a reward/punishment in an afterlife based on how humble and obedient of a servant he is. All the major civilizations of the ancient world (Egypt, Babylon, Persia etc) used religions incorporating the idea of the afterlife to keep their slaves meek as sheep: you don't have to pay to reward/punish obedience/disobedience if your servants believe that they will be punished/rewarded based on how humble and meek and obedient of servants they are.

The Romans were also using the idea of the afterlife to keep the slave classes in line.

Since the Sadducees were teaching the Law of Moses, and considered the idea of the afterlife to be the blasphemous heresy of gentiles, the Flavians eradicated the Sadducees, and made up a religion that fit within the Roman ideology, in which the Sadducees were responsible for killing a god who was based on their own god of wine.

Jesus' first miracle is an allusion to the fact that he is based on the god of wine.

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    I'm sorry my answer is unorthodox? I do allude to biblical text multiple times, even if I don't provide my references... Commented Feb 23 at 17:49
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    Unorthodox answers are not a problem if supported by verifiable evidence - sources that are reputable and can be quoted and checked by others. It's not enough on this site just to allude to a text. The text itself must be examined and the answerer show how they've gone about that. I hope you can yet do that.
    – Anne
    Commented Feb 23 at 18:26
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    Biblical context aside, this answer is not at all consistent with the Roman historical record. The Romans did not impose thier religion on conquered nations because they firmly believed that all religions worshiped the same gods, but by different names in different languages. You often see written records of Romans talking about the Jews worshiping Jupiter with total indifference about thier specific rites and beliefs. That said, Christianity was one of the few religions that Romans distinctly did not like. Early on, they speculated that the Christian belief in eternal life...
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Feb 23 at 21:40
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    made them have no value for life at all. They did not believe the world is as it should be, and they did not fear death, and that made them very dangerous from the Roman perspective and was the primary motivator in the first wave of persecutions. This is all well documented in letters sent between King Herod Agrippa I and Emperor Caligula. Also, the Sadducees, had a great relationship with Roman authorities. Because they taught that divine justice happens in THIS life, it meant that it was the will of God that Rome ruled.
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Feb 23 at 21:40
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    Because Romans ascribed thier own Gods to other cultures, it is very possible that Christianity was eventually attributed to Bacchus worship in Roman circles, but this would be a case of, "he's associated with Wine, so he is Bacchus". Not "he is Bacchus; so, he must be associated with wine".
    – Nosajimiki
    Commented Feb 23 at 21:48

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