John 1 describes in some detail Jesus calling his first five disciples - Andrew, Simon, Philip, Nathanael and presumably John. John 2 1-2 says that Jesus' mother was at the wedding and Jesus was there with his disciples. So there were six followers of Jesus at the wedding (his mother and five disciples), and six jars filled with the new wine.

The passage here forms a beautiful contrast with Jeremiah 13; 12-14 where people are also referred to as jars of wine. In the Jeremiah passage the people described were the prophets, priests and the kings who sat on David's throne, as well as all the people of Jerusalem. They were all sentenced to destruction.

At the wedding at Cana one man, who was a prophet, priest and the king who would sit on David's throne, filled jars with a wine of blessing instead of destruction. It was as if the old wine of God's judgement a ran out at the wedding, and was replaced with the new wine of His blessing.

I wonder if this, the first sign that Jesus did, set the pattern for the rest of Jesus' ministry - he filled the 12, then the 70, then the 3,000 at Pentecost. And these people, like the jars of new wine filled to the brim at the wedding, (John 2:7) went on to share the new wine they carried with others, spreading the gospel of the Kingdom far and wide.

Incidentally the amount of wine Jesus created (approximately 150 gallons) was enough to give 3,000 people a good measure. Could it be that Jesus was looking all the way to Pentecost when he created the wine?

This all makes sense to me, but I've not seen this referenced anywhere else, so I would be curious to know if other people have found anything in church history like this?

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  • Possibly you could edit this question to ask what the Church Fathers wrote on the symbolism of the six jars of wine at Cana? Just a thought!
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Mar 12, 2021 at 16:44
  • John also notes that they caught 153 fish. Can't we just recognise that he specified some numbers because that's how many there were, without any deeper meanings?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Mar 13, 2021 at 4:18

5 Answers 5


The question was edited after my answer. But I have been unable to find any support for your own thesis among either the Church Fathers, the Reformers, the Strict Baptist movement or the early Plymouth Brethren Movement. Nor among the writings of William Huntington, the forerunner of the Strict baptist movement.

But I continue to look for any other examples . . . . . .

The three other gospel accounts mention the primary parable which Jesus tells us must be appreciated or we will not understand any other parable, that of the preparation of the ground prior to the sowing of the word. Wayside, stones and weeds must be cultivated, first, or nothing will grow to fruition.

John does not have this parable but instead he gives us a very detailed account of the preparatory ministry of John the baptist and the result of John's ministry, that disciples leave John and follow Jesus.

This is the ministry spoken of by Malachi, and highlighted in his first verses by Mark, denoting John the baptist as the messenger of preparation : the messenger of the covenant being the Lord himself.

Genesis 25 also gives a prophetic account of the filling up of camels with water by a servant (the imagery moving between two individuals) and a remarkable account of eleven men having their feet washed. Truly remarkable.

Six in scripture often refers to man (short of perfection which is seven). Stone often relates to the tables of stone. The small measure of water in the vessels (the human vessel is to be filled with Spirit) indicates that a legal progress within a legal background is better than nothing (the law is a schoolmaster to bring to Christ) but it does not fill to the brim.

This account (as elsewhere) demonstrates that the baptism of repentance is not on a legal basis. It goes much deeper than law.

It is Christ who stands by as water is provided (the ministry of word by the baptist) to fill the vessels up. Everything within is to be filled with the words of John until all else is displaced. This is a baptism of repentance. It is entire, nothing short.

Only then, and only when Jesus acts, himself, (John stood and Jesus walked) does the water become wine and is taken to the archetricline (the chief of three who recline) and he is gratified with the wine that results, the wine from the vessel.

You asked 'whether other people see the same things'. And this is what I, personally, see.


Did the Church Fathers ever reference the six jars of wine at the Wedding in Cana as symbolising the six followers of Jesus at the wedding?

The short answer seems to be no.

St. John also notes that they caught 153 fish. Can't we just recognise that he specified some numbers because that's how many there were, without any deeper meanings?

I can understand your rational in thinking that the six jars of wine at the Wedding in Cana could symbolize the six disciples who were present at the wedding feast. But it seems that no Church Father has done so.

Most scholars say that this wedding feast is symbolic of the Word's union with mankind. As the prophets had announced: I will seal with you an eternal alliance … Nations that do not know you will run to you (Is 55:3, 5). The Fathers of the Church see in the water contained in the stone jars, prepared for the Jewish purifications (Jn 2:6), a symbol of the Old Law which Jesus is bringing to perfection through the New Law of the Spirit imprinted on hearts. - The Significance of the Wedding at Cana

St. Augustine does mention a symbolism of the six jars at the Wedding at Cana, but the number six symbolizes “the six ages of the world up to the time of Jesus“.

What is the meaning of the six stone jars at the wedding in Cana?

So it is not surprising that many readers interpret the six stone water jars symbolically. Barrett comments:

It is possible although by no means certain that the number six is symbolic. Six, being less by one and seven, the number of completeness and perfection, would indicate that the Jewish dispensation, typified by its ceremonial water, was partial and imperfect. (p 191)

Augustine goes much further, connecting the six jars with the six ages of the world up to the time of Jesus:

But observe what Himself says, The things which were written in the law, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms concerning me. And we know that the law extends from the time of which we have record, that is, from the beginning of the world: In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. Genesis 1:1 Thence down to the time in which we are now living are six ages, this being the sixth, as you have often heard and know. The first age is reckoned from Adam to Noah; the second, from Noah to Abraham; and, as Matthew the evangelist duly follows and distinguishes, the third, from Abraham to David; the fourth, from David to the carrying away into Babylon; the fifth, from the carrying away into Babylon to John the Baptist; Matthew 1:17 the sixth, from John the Baptist to the end of the world. Moreover, God made man after His own image on the sixth day, because in this sixth age is manifested the renewing of our mind through the gospel, after the image of Him who created us; Colossians 3:10 and the water is turned into wine, that we may taste of Christ, now manifested in the law and the prophets. Hence there were there six water-pots, which He bade be filled with water. Now the six water-pots signify the six ages, which were not without prophecy. And those six periods, divided and separated as it were by joints, would be as empty vessels unless they were filled by Christ. Why did I say, the periods which would run fruitlessly on, unless the Lord Jesus were preached in them? Prophecies are fulfilled, the water-pots are full; but that the water may be turned into wine, Christ must be understood in that whole prophecy. (Tractates on John 9.6)

The following articles may be of interest:

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    The number 153 is evenly divisible by 3, so clearly a reference to the Holy Trinity. Furthermore, 153 = 3 x 3 x 17, and the 17 clearly represents the 12 apostles, plus the three members of the Holy Trinity, plus the two natures of Christ. Clearly.
    – Kyralessa
    Commented Jun 21, 2021 at 16:49

I do not recall reading about this in any writing from one of the church fathers. The church fathers may have missed out on thinking through how it is possible that the Bible contains a lot more stories of humor than we realize.

Many modern people can attest to experiencing events that they might call, "serendipitous synchronicity." I could easily imagine a conversation with the Mary and the guys as they came to the wedding, "look here are 6 water vessels, one for each of us!"

The 6 vessels could have served as a type of memory aide in that Mary remembered this account and told John the fuller details of what went on a bit later on in life when she was staying with him. That explains why the other Gospels do not have the story.

The text seems to allow the interpretation that the miracle was hidden from the guests and done behind the scenes. The steward of the feast only knew that there was good wine brought out in the middle of the week. I suspect the miracle was kept hidden so that the bridegroom got all the recognition. At any rate, the first century writer Josephus stayed in Cana a few years after this event. He does not write about any miracle claim. So, I suspect it was out of sight and out of mind for most of the wedding guests. Although, Mary might have had a few chuckles with John, while reflecting on this eucatastrophe!


All I found related to the Church Fathers was from a commentary based on the Church Fathers. It asks the question why did John only mention Jesus' disciples and his mother at the wedding , but none of Jesus' brothers or sisters?

At this point, I can't say what the six stands for, but your tags imply that you are looking for more than this. John does make the point that there were six jars, but note that these jars were for purification washing.

 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification,... (John 2:6a, ESV)

John had previously compared Jesus' earthly ministry to Moses.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ... 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:14,16–17, ESV)

This was the first of seven miracles John recorded as signs of Jesus being the Messiah. This signs somewhat parallel the ten plagues in Egypt as far as purpose; the ten plagues, God superiority of the Egyptian gods, the seven signs, Jesus is the Messiah, Son of God. The first plague was changing water to blood. In the last supper Jesus used wine representing his blood. We are cleansed by his blood. Thus the jars for cleansing.

I hope this helps you find an answer.


Yes. Venerable Bede has several paragraphs that address the miracle of Cana, particularly in regard to the ritualistic function of stone water pots, water, wine, the 6 ages leading up to the incarnation of Christ, the symbology of the attendants who filled the pots and the Steward of the Feast. Homilies on the Gospels, Bk. 1: 136 - 139

St. John Chrysostom in Homily 22, P. G. 59:127 (col. 135)

St. Gregory the Great, Hom. in Evang. 2,30,7, P.L.. 76 (col. 1225)

St. Cyril of Alexandria, Explanation of the Gospel of St. John, pg 73, cols 223-226 in Toal, I:277

St. Romanos the Melodist, kontakia of Romanos, Strophe 20, I:74

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