Center for Biblical Theology and Eschatology

The 6 Water Pots of Stone

by Tony Warren

        A question came up in a recent discussion concerning what I thought the number six represented in the scriptures, and specifically as it relates to the "Six WaterPots Of Stone" referenced in John 2:6. My answer was that it doesn't matter what I think, what matters is what the scripture have to say in connection with it. The accurate interpretation of scripture is not found in our reliance upon the thoughts of men, but upon the thoughts of God (Isaiah 55:8-9). And those thoughts are the words God has inspired written upon the pages of scripture itself. Indeed as righteous Joseph understood, interpretations belong to God (Gen. 40:8, 41:16) and therefore if one's understanding of scripture is not validated by the word of God itself, then we have no real evidence that what we believe is anything more than a private interpretation or personal opinion.

The Number Six

        Over the years there have been quite a lot of opinions concerning the number six, but in most cases there simply is no conclusive scripture that would clearly validate these ideas. One example is the idea that six hundred and sixty six is the number six three times, which of course is actually not the case. It actually is the number "six hundred and sixty six," which of course is a totally different number than either six, or of six written three times. Another example is the common belief that the number six represents the number of man. When asked for Biblical validation for anyone to to propose this, I am told that the sixth commandment prohibits the murder of man or that since man was made on the sixth day, this is justification for this belief. However, man isn't the only thing created on the sixth day. So using logic like this, we'd have to also conclude that the number six is the number of cattle, because God also created cattle on the sixth day. Or we night go further and say the number five is the number of lobsters, because God created the creatures in the sea on the fifth day? Clearly, this interpretation is built upon an unsound hermeneutic and is the flimsiest of justifications upon which to construct our Biblical perspectives. Using sound Biblical hermeneutics means that we must have some solid biblical foundation and reference before we conclude that a number illustrates a certain thing. And there is no such Biblical reference with the theory of the number six being the number of man. Quite the contrary, when we look circumspectly at the number six as it is seen throughout the scriptures, it most often deals in some way with the application of "work" in the world. The Bible clearly reveals that the number six ultimately identifies with either work itself, or our period of work as we sojourn in this world on our way to the Sabbath of rest. In reality, from the very beginning God has given us some very Biblical and practical examples of the number six used to illustrate a period of work. The Lord Himself records that He "worked" for 6 days, and then rested on the seventh.

Genesis 1:31

Genesis 2:1-2 God did all the work of creation, made Heaven and earth, made all that is in heaven and earth, in six days. The "seventh" day was the day of completion, where He rested from this work of creation. That is not insignificant. The number six is used here to signify the total period of time that God worked in creation, and the seventh representing completion in when He rested. The days are the units of six, the number that is the designation for that period of work. Moreover, just as God worked for six days, He also uses that same number for man who He commanded "to work" these very same six days.

Exodus 20:9

The number "six" was the designated length of time that God assigned Himself to work in creation, and it is also the length of time He assigned to man to work in this world. That is a fact of great significance and importance. Moreover, this signification for this number bears itself out consistently throughout Scripture as is not only illustrated in six days, but is also applied in years as well. For example, as we read that God had made a Covenant with the children of Israel, and that Hebrew slaves or bondmen were to work for their masters for "six" years. On the seventh year, the year of completion, they were to be set free, signifying a rest from their labors. Again, that same sign of six illustrating their period of work.

Jeremiah 34:13

The emphasis again is on the working for the period of time illustrated by the number six, and in the seventh year its completion when they were to be set at liberty (free) from that work. This law was spiritually pointing to a Sabbath of rest in Christ, wherein those in bondage to sin might be set free. God doesn't inspire these things written by mere coincidence, these are spiritual truths to guide and teach us what the number signifies. The number seven illustrates the totality (completeness) of whatever is in view, [1] while the number six is the part of the seven designated for our work.

Exodus 35:2

The fact is, this number is clearly illustrated in far too many places of scripture as a designator of our work in the world to simply be by happenstance. It is often specifically signifying work on this earth before we enter into our Sabbath of rest, which is in the Lord Jesus Christ. We work in this world for six, and then we enter into our Sabbath of rest on the seventh. This is backed up in the scriptures as God Himself declares that we are in this world in fact "laboring to enter into His rest." And He uses the seventh day Sabbath as an indicator of that rest. Of course, ultimately we enter into that rest the moment that we become regenerated or saved by the Holy Spirit, because our works were accomplished before the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4:3) through the Promise or Covenant of Christ, but that labor is "worked out" in our lives. Christians labor in the world as ambassadors of Christ, spreading the truth, declaring His gospel, and it is all because Christ has "finished" the requirement of works for us through His death and resurrection. This is why we also read of Paul's exhortations:

Hebrews 4:11

We earnestly labor, striving in this world, bringing the gospel of Christ to a rebellious people, knowing that there is a rest awaiting us in glory that is worth far more than our meager efforts. This idea of our labor and rest is also seen in verses found in places like Revelation chapter 14.

Revelation 14:13

Again we see clearly that the seventh say Sabbath is equated with our rest from our six days of work. When Jesus gave the parable of the sower in the field, it was a picture of our laboring in the world to bring the gospel. Would we really think that it is just coincidence that Israel was commanded literally to sow in the field six years, and to rest on the seventh year? The answer of course is, absolutely not, because it was part of God's magnificent salvation program, and a marvelous spiritual portrait of God's plan of evangelism.

Exodus 23:10

Who are "truly" the poor and needy in view that shall be filled on the seventh year? The seventh year was to be a "cessation of work," that the poor and needy may eat. These are all spiritual truths signifying that in Christ (our Sabbath) shall the poor and needy eat and in their laborers would find rest. These are the continual illustrations by God that the number six is a signification of the period or time of work we do in the world. Sometimes the meaning of the number is less conspicuous, as it is for example in a verse like Ezekiel 46:1, when Ezekiel is talking about the Sanctuary.

Ezekiel 46:1

Again, the six signifying "working," and the opening of the gate to the Sanctuary on the Sabbath designating that no one can enter into the Sanctuary except on the Sabbath (Christ) of Rest "with the cessation of works." An even less conspicuous verse is found in 1st Kings chapter 10.

1st Kings 10:19

If we weren't conscientious Christians we might think that God had arbitrarily picked the number six here just because six steps to the throne might be a nice round or perfect number. But being knowledgeable of Christ, we understand that God's ways are not our ways, and that there is more to be gleaned from scripture than any man could learn in a lifetime. There is a reason God says there are six steps to the throne, which is that these six steps signify our journey to the throne of God. Blessed are those whom God gives the knowledge to discern these truths, for it is our Christian walk to God in Christ. These passages aren't exceptions, there are many, many verses like this to show that the number "six" is often illustrative of the period of our walk, work and sojourn in the world, that at the end of it, our seventh of rest in the Lord.

Deuteronomy 16:8

This indeed is the prevailing illustration in Scripture of what the number six represents. It is not a designator of man, but of the time that God has assigned in the world for work. Whether it be us, or God Himself. The six is illustrative of work.

This Illustration in the Six Water Pots

        Taking what we've learned about the number six and going back to John 2:6 and the miracle of the six waterpots of stone, we can slowly begin to see how this number relates to this verse in relationship to the ews idea of the work of religious purification.

John 2:6

The stone pots or vessels were very literally large stone water basins that were used as receptacles for the supply of water for the Jewish custom or tradition of ceremonial purification (Mark 7:4). This is also illustrated in the amount of water they contained, which is about two or three firkins apiece. A firkin is an old English unit of measurement derived from the Middle Dutch "vierdekijn," which means fourth. Thus it is a designator of a fourth of a barrel. You may note that the God inspired actual Greek word translated "firkin" is "metretes." The metretes is approximately 8.7 gallons. One may ask, why was it translated firkin? We can only speculate that since the firkin is almost the same measure as the metretes, the translators decided to use a contemporary (at that time) term of similar value so the reader would understand. Much the same as I describe the amount above in terms of "gallons" to help us in the U.S. to understand how much water there was. It should be noted, that assigning modern equivalents to ancient measurements is not an exact science. But the real "point" here is just to illustrate that these were large stone basins holding close to 30 gallons of water a piece, and there were six of them. These six stone waterpots were used for their religious ceremonial ablutions or washings for the purification of the Jews. The Jewish tradition was to regarded themselves as ceremonially unclean if they did not wash before eating (Matthew 15:2). Eg:

Mark 7:3-5

This was the manner or custom of the Jews in ceremonial purification in these large stone waterpots that Christ spoke of and commanded to be filled with water to the brim. He is about to illustrate in this that the "true" purification of the Jews is through the drinking of wine, revealed to be His shed blood. This is the true purification of the Jews at their spiritual wedding.

John 2:6-7

Here we get to the true spiritual significance of these large waterpots for purification, as Christ is "making a statement" about the works of men for purification, versus His creative work of wine for their true purification. The sign here is that it is the miraculous creative work of Christ alone that would truly be the method of purification of the Jews. Notice the number six with relationship to this work of the ceremonial purifying water. The portrait God is painting for us is that the people believed this water would "purify of the Jews," but God uses this same water to demonstrate that the Jews will only be cleansed or purified by the creative work of His providing the wine, illustrative of the shed blood of Christ. Wine in scripture is often used of God to signify blood, and thus without the creative work of Christ turning the water from the stone into wine, there would be no purification of the Jews (Hebrews 9:22), since almost all things are by the law purged with blood--and without shedding of blood is no remission. Selah! Just as in an actual birth of a child there is water and blood, so also in the recreation brought about in Christ Jesus the new birth must be by water and blood.

1st John 5:6

True purification of the Jews can only come by this method. Note also, the pots that hold the water are carefully identified as "stone" pots, signifying that Christ is the Stone "from which" the purification must come. There is no other stone that Israel can be purified from, other than the Stone that is Christ Jesus. This is all part of the great picturet of Christ and His work of purification for the Jews.

In similar fashion, God illustrated this same principle when He had the saving water for the children of Israel coming out of Egypt, come from a Stone. The Jews were forty years in the wilderness and they had no water, and God in His mercy had a Rock smitten that they might have water. The smitten Rock signified Christ (Isaiah 53:4). Do you see the spiritual correlation here?

Exodus 17:6

"..the Old Testament concealed, is the New Testament revealed!"

That is a faithful axiom. Some may have read this verse in Exodus of smiting this Rock and thought that it indeed is curious language that a Rock could be hit and water would come out. But the fact is, it's not curious at all. God has set it up as a spiritual example, a picture pointing to the smiting of Christ illustrating His work in affliction for us, that we might learn from it. It is truly a prophesy that Christ is that Rock that will be smitten "for the Children of God," that they might be purified. Likewise, He is the true Stone from which the saving water which purifies the Jews must come from. And just as Israel was saved by the smiting of this rock, we were saved by the smiting of the Rock, which is Christ. But don't take my word for it, as in 1st Corinthians God speaks of this episode of the smiting of the Rock in the wilderness:

1st Corinthians 10:4

And so again, it's not idle speculation, God's word very plainly confirms all this. Christ is the true Rock that the purification water for our delivery comes from, and the Rock in Horeb was merely was a shadow of this, casting a spiritual portrait of this actual event. That is why these waterpots in John chapter 2 whereof wine would come, are meticulously pointed out as being of stone. Because true purification is from the Stone, which is Christ. Six Stone waterpots signifying that it is by "His work" of shedding His blood that the people will have this purification that they may enter into His Sabbath of rest. While in Exodus, the portrait of "work" was put forth in the fact that the stone had to be "smitten" in order that water would come forth, here it is illustrated in the pots numbering six. That is the work Christ did for the Jews that they might become the true children of God. He was smitten of God for their sins that they might be purified and made perfect in drinking the wine of His blood. This fulfilled God's Covenant (or promise) of providing a deliverer for the Jews.

1st Corinthians 11:25

We drink the wine of communion to illustrate our communion with Christ in His saving work on the cross. Likewise, the first miracle Christ did of creation in turning the purifying water into wine illustrates it is by our drinking Christ's blood only, that we are purified. In the smiting of Christ, and His work shedding His blood, our impurities are taken away, that we might enter into the Sabbath of Rest.

Isaiah 53:4

As the Rock in the wilderness of Horeb was smitten in order to provide life saving water, so Christ, the Rock, was spiritually smitten that we might have the living waters of purification by His shed blood. We discern from Exodus that the waters came forth because Christ was smitten. And the six waterpots of stone illustrate the work that was required for the purifying water to be the power of the blood. The power was in the blood of Christ, and the new creation illustrated in Christ "creating" wine from that ceremonial water.

Turning the Water into Wine

        We can understand the six signifying work, we can understand the stone waterpots of purifying water for the Jews, but some puzzle over why Jesus turns the water in these six stone pots into wine. As I said earlier, wine in the scriptures is often used to symbolize blood. And it is the new creation in Jesus' shed blood that will be the miraculous effect of the work that is required for purification. Without the shedding of blood, there is no purification.

Hebrews 9:22

Without the blood, there is no purification of the Jews. That purifying or cleansing water had to be by the power of the shed blood of Christ. For without this shedding of blood, there is no cleansing of the Jews. It is written (Daniel 9:27) that the Covenant with the Jews had to be confirmed (literally, "made strong") by the empowering of Christ's shed Blood. Consider wisely Hebrews chapter 9:

Hebrews 9:16-18

Clearly, it is the work of the shedding of blood by Christ that gave that New Covenant with Israel its strength. Just as clearly, there would be no purification or cleansing without this washing in that blood. His Blood is the only thing that could truly wash the the sins away from the people of God. Turning the purifying water into wine was symbolizing a "new creation" in Christ's blood was necessary to make men clean. One example of wine being used as a signification of blood is found in Revelation chapter 14.

Revelation 14:20

From the winepress came blood instead of wine. We can also see this in the signification of the great Harlot that was made drunken by the blood of the Saints in Revelation 17. By the language of made drunken by the blood, God is again equating blood with wine. Or again, in Isaiah 63:2-3 where we read of the garments of Him that were stained in the winepress with blood. Or again, this signification in Isaiah chapter 49:

Isaiah 49:26

And on and on, wine is often used in the Bible to signify blood, and that is what is being seen in the book of John. In point of fact, that is exactly the same signification we use when we celebrate the Communion service. We use wine as a "sign or token" of the shed blood of Christ. What did Christ tell us about the wine of communion?

Matthew 26:27

The wine is used as a symbol of the blood of Christ that cleanses us from sin (purification). And that is why the water from the stone was turned to wine. It was to symbolize that there was a work of new creation for the wedding. That the work of Christ had to include blood for the purifying of the Jews. That six waterpots of stone were needed, not by coincidence, but God ordained and indicating the fullness of the work of Christ by which the Jews are truly cleansed. And without Christ "creating" wine from this water, we have no picture of the blood (remember, the stone waterpots represent Christ, and that within His blood). Without this, there is no true washing, no purifying, no remission of sins. He is the Stone vessel wherein the purifying water is evidenced in blood. Likewise, when Christ was crucified, we see revealed the same spiritual picture:

John 19:34

1st John 5:6 There is no creation in Christ without water and blood. Water cannot truly cleanse "without" the efficacy of the blood of Christ. So you see, this is the significance of the six stone pots of purifying water and Christ creating wine in it. Christ is the stone from which the purification comes, but in order for it to cleanse or wash us clean, He had to die. He had to shed blood because purification is not by water, except it be the water of washing in the blood of Christ. Only then do we have the purification and the wine for the spiritual wedding, and only then are we prepared with wedding garments (Matthew 22:10).

Christ's First Miracle, A Miracle of Creation!

        We have seen that these things are illustrating the work of Christ in shedding His blood, that we might be made purified. When we celebrate that purification by breaking bread and drinking His blood in the communion, we do that in remembrance of the work of His broken body on the cross. Indeed, it is no coincidence that we are told by God that this work of new creation is Christ's "First Miracle!"

John 2:11

This was the First, the beginning of miracles that Christ did on earth. And it is no coincidence that it is mirroring the six days of Creation. Note that they were also the beginning of miracles.

John 1:1-4

When we carefully think about this, here in the water to wine event, we see the work of Jesus Christ in the creation in His first miracle, mirroring His six days of work in His creation at the beginning. Six stone waterpots signifying by His work recreation that we "can" enter into His Sabbath of rest. Likewise, in the beginning six days the Lord worked and rested on the Sabbath of rest. We can understand it perfectly, for in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God, and all things were created by Him. This first miracle of Christ is a sign of creation mirroring His first creation. In His shed blood, we are a new creature or creation.

2nd Corinthians 5:17

In the wine of the New Testament, we are made the new creation in Christ. Consider that normally it takes years to make a fine wine such as Christ did for the wedding. But Jesus simply spoke and it was instantly created. Six Stone water pots filled with water instantly re-created, tuned into wine in the pots, enough to quench the thirst of who attended the wedding. The carnal man says this is impossible, because fine wine takes years to create. Even as they likewise claim that the world took billions of years to create, and it's impossible that God created it all in "six" literal days. Yet both were done as sure as there is a world, and done instantly and merely by the Word of the Creator. God can create age instantly precisely "because He is God" and not a man! He doesn't need years to create and age the finest wine as the scoffers would suppose. He doesn't need billions of years to create light from a star or to prepare the world for habitation as even some Theologians brainwashed by humanism suppose. He "is" the Creator, not a man that is bound by the laws of physics as men are. And the instantaneous miraculous creation of wine, was a sign of purification by the "new creation" that would be through Christ's shed blood.

  ..he that hath ears to hear, let him hear!

Christ's Response to Mary about the Wine!

        When Christ's mother asked for the wine, have you ever been puzzled by how Christ addressed her? His response was more a spiritual portrait illustrating the timing of His shed blood for the wedding, than a rebuke of Mary for an inopportune request for assistance.

John 2:4

Woman, what have I to do with thee isn't an unkind rebuke to Mary, nor a show of disrespect for her. Rather, it was because the woman in this instance is a "figure" of the Church. Christ's time had not yet come to go to the cross and give the wine, which is His blood. Many people think this was a curious or harsh statement when Christ addressed Mary this way, but it's only curious until we realize that He is finishing off this spiritual picture in declaring that it was not yet "His Hour," which was the time to shed His blood for the remission of sins. Remember, the wine represented His shed blood.

John 6:53-54

This is the true wine of which Christ spoke, which the time was not yet right for the woman, nor the wedding. It was not yet Christ's hour to go to the cross to provide the wine of communion. Mary was asking for literal wine for the Jews of the marriage supper, but Jesus was talking about the wine which was His shed blood, for the marriage of the Lamb. Consider similar language which also illustrates this.

John 7:10

John 8:20

This was Christ's hour, the same hour He told mary had not yet come. In all three of these verses (John 2:4, 7:10, 8:20) we have the same language illustrating the hour when He would shed His blood had not arrived. That's why Jesus said to her, "Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come." She was a portrait of the woman which is the church, and spiritually He was talking about the wine of the marriage supper for it.

I've heard theologians give all kinds of wild speculative reasons why Jesus said this, but they do not seem to fully grasp that Jesus very often spoke in parables. It's not unlike those who asked about the Temple being raised up in 3 days. They too were talking about the literal temple, but Christ was talking about the Temple of His body. Even the disciples didn't understand this until after He was risen (John 2:22). God is magnificent in putting forth His word in spiritual portraits or pictures. It's by the Holy Spirit of God, and to the glory of God that we discern that these things must be searched out to know that they are true. Jesus said this to Mary only because He was illustrating a spiritual picture about when His blood would be shed as the wine for the people bidden to the wedding supper. Not because it was an inopportune time, or He was irritated or cross, as some have surmised. Many times we lose sight of what God is truly saying because we simply read scripture in a worldly way, not understanding that the Bible is a spiritual book. We must consider it by comparing scripture with scripture, in spirit and truth, to find out what God is truly declaring. Scripture tells us, Jesus spoke in parables, and without a parable, He did not speak (Mark 4:34). We simply do not fully understand that God conceals things to His Glory, and that we, (like the more honorable Bereans) must be honorable to search them out. Unfortunately, today's Christians seem to avoid Bible study like the Plague. They most often say something like, "..I'll understand it when I get to heaven," or they parrot some other Christian or give some overused cliché. What ever happened to, "Thy word is a Lamp unto my feet?" Truly, how can His Word guide us if we relegate it to a hour at Church or a verse before bedtime? My, My, how would those Bereans have fared had they taken the attitude of much of the Church today? When Paul spoke to them of things they did not understand, they would have simply walked away saying, "..I guess we'll understand it better, by and by." But these were more noble (honest with themselves) Bereans, and understood a great many things that the churches today seem to have forgotten. For one, their first love! Thus they consulted His Holy word, and in return received God's glorious commendation and praise. We will not discern secrets by osmosis, but through surrender to His Spirit, in the open minded study of His Word.

        With spiritual eyes we can see that the six waterpots of stone for the purifying of the Jews, being turned to wine, is a magnificent example of the treasures that God has hidden in His Holy word for his conscientious people. Treasures that the more noble Berean-like, will receive as God's Word with all readiness of mind and search it out.

Proverbs 25:2

....He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. May the Gracious Lord give us all Wisdom and Understanding in the Study of His most Holy word. Amen!


[Return.]     1. The Significance of the Numbers In Scripture - By Tony Warren
                        ( http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/bible/numbers.html )

Copyright ©1994 Tony Warren
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