What does John 2:10 mean?
ESV: and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.”
NIV: and said, 'Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.'
NASB: and *said to him, 'Every man serves the good wine first, and when the guests are drunk, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.'
CSB: and told him, "Everyone sets out the fine wine first, then, after people are drunk, the inferior. But you have kept the fine wine until now."
NLT: A host always serves the best wine first,' he said. 'Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!'
KJV: And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.
Verse Commentary:
The master of the banquet, or chief servant, is impressed and surprised by the quality of the wine. However, he has no idea that Jesus had created it out of water. Instead, he gives credit to the groom for saving the best for last. He assumes this was a deliberate, extravagant choice by the groom.

Questions about whether this was alcoholic wine are answered by a look at the original Greek words being used. The reference to "poorer wine" uses the word elasso, which means "lesser, inferior, or younger." The reference to the "good wine" uses the word kalon, meaning "superior." The chief servant also refers to the time when "poorer" wine was usually brought out by using the Greek word methysthosin, which is the same root word Paul uses in 1 Corinthians to warn against drunkenness. His comment could literally be translated as, "once the people are drunk," the poorer wine comes out.

So, according to the chief servant, what Jesus produced was the kind of high-quality wine which would usually be served first. After that wine—the same substance which Jesus had just created—had made people "a little drunk," lower-quality wines would be served. The Greek terms for grape juice and "new wine" are not used here. While the Bible clearly warns against drunkenness, there is no doubt that what Jesus produced was actual "wine," a fermented beverage, as the word is commonly understood.
Verse Context:
John 2:1–12 describes Jesus’ first miracle, which is turning water into wine at a wedding. This miracle was very quiet, known only to a few people. Changing water, meant for purification, into wine, symbolic of blood, is a reference to Jesus’ role as Messiah. Instead of rituals, we are purified by the miraculous blood of Christ. John specifically uses the Greek word semeion, or “sign,” for these miracles, since they are meant to prove that Jesus is God. This is the first of seven such signs in the gospel of John.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus attends a wedding where He performs His first miracle: turning water into wine. This is symbolic of His transformation of human rituals into divine sacrifice. Few people are even aware that a miracle has occurred. Jesus then drives crooked businessmen out of the temple, scolding them for turning a sacred place into a market place.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 2 begins to show Jesus’ “signs,” or miracles, which will prove that He is the Savior. The miracles will grow more and more spectacular, but they start quietly. Contrast is an important part of the gospel of John. The quiet, joyful miracle at the wedding is very different from the loud public spectacle of clearing the temple. Jesus’ first miracle symbolizes His mission. During the temple clearing, He also predicts His death and resurrection.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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