The ministry of the Messiah, 2:1-12:50

1. Jesus offers abundant new life, 2:1-3:36

ii] The cleansing of the temple


Having spent time with his family, Jesus leaves Capernaum and heads to Jerusalem to celebrate the coming Passover. Although all four gospels record this event, John's account has its own particular features. On entering the temple, Jesus sets about driving out the money changers and those selling sacrificial animals - "stop making my Father's house a market-place." The authorities demand divine authority for his actions and to this Jesus responds "destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." John notes that Jesus was speaking of his body, not the actual bricks-and-mortar temple.


Jesus fulfills all that the temple stands for - he is the living temple of God and we may come into the presence of the living God through him.


i] Context: See 2:1-12..


ii] Structure: Jesus cleanses the temple:

The passage presents as a chiasmus:

A1. Jesus in Jerusalem during Passover, v13;

B. The disciples remember Jesus cleansing the temple, v14-17;

C. Jesus' discussion with the authorities, v18-21:

"destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."

B2. The disciples' recollection of Jesus' words, v22;

A2. While in Jerusalem at the Passover, v23-25.

Jesus did not entrust himself to the people.


iii] Interpretation:

The temple had become a focus of national pride for Israel and was now designed in such a way as to exclude Gentiles. Yet, God's intention for his house was that it be a "house of prayer for all the nations", Isa.56:7. Now, not only was it exclusive, but it was also defiled. So, the religion of old Israel is beyond renewal and this is realized in a significant action (sign) by which Jesus signifies the end of the old order in a coming / appearing (parousia, advent) in judgment, Mal.3:1ff, Zech.14:21. The new order will be realized through faith in Christ, 3:16.


When did Jesus actually cleanse the temple? John has the cleansing of the temple early in Jesus' ministry, during his first recorded visit to Jerusalem for the passover. John records three separate visits to Jerusalem for the passover. The synoptics have the cleansing during Jesus' ministry in Jerusalem immediately prior to his crucifixion, Mk.11:15-18, Matt.21:12-17, Lk.19:45ff. There are hints that John used Mark's account, although it is more likely that he has used the Johannine tradition available to him, a tradition resting on an eye witness account rather than oral tradition. None-the-less, John would have known of the Synoptic tradition of a cleansing toward the end of Jesus' ministry and has simply ignored it. Unlike the gospel of John, the Synoptics frame the ministry of Jesus as if a year-long journey to Jerusalem. The Johannine tradition reveals that Jesus public ministry is at least three years long, and anyway, for John, the significance of the cleansing is not found in the when.

Commentators, such as Tasker and Leon Morris, argue that there is no reason why Jesus couldn't have cleansed the temple on a number of occasions - would he not get upset and cause a commotion on other visits to the temple? Murray argues that an early cleansing is more likely given that the witnesses at Jesus' trial cannot agree on their evidence. This would certainly be the case if the cleansing had taken place two years earlier.


"Destroy this temple and I will raise it again in three days", 2:19. Interestingly, in Mark the witnesses at Jesus' trial present a version of this statement in their testimony, Mk.14:58. It is even used as an insult against Jesus, Mk.15:29. Yet, there is no record of Jesus actually making this statement in Mark, other than his prediction that the temple would be destroyed, Mk.13:2. There is strong textual support that Jesus linked enigmatic statements concerning both the destruction of the temple-sanctuary and the destruction of his temple (his body as a dwelling place of the divine) and that the resurrection of his temple (or more properly the proclamation of the resurrection, ie., the gospel) would serve as the only sign for this sinful generation. The problem for the witnesses at Jesus' trial is that the mysterious nature of his sayings meant that they ended up contradicting each other. Was Jesus speaking about a sanctuary of stone, or a sanctuary "not made by man", or both? Of course, their problem is also ours.

John's editorial comment on this saying of Jesus is rather interesting, cf., v21-22. Barclay suggests that John is reading far more into Jesus' words than were originally in them. Maybe, but if we fail to take John's words as inspired we are forced into selective inspiration. It is likely that John is referring to a temple raised in three days, but not the Jerusalem temple which faces destruction. The new rebuilt temple is Jesus himself, the living Christ; God with us. From now on the divine presence will be accessed by those who come to the risen Lord rather than the temple mount. It is possible that John sees in this new temple Christ's body, the church, the community of believers, but this is discounted by many commentators.


iv] Synoptics:

Of the three synoptic accounts of the cleansing of the temple, Mark 11:11, 15-17, 27-33; Matthew 21:12f., 23-27; Luke 19:45f., 20:1-8, John's account is closest to Mark, possibly indicating an awareness of Mark's account.


v] Exposition: A simple exposition of this passage may be found in the linked pew-level Sermon Notes.

Text - 2:13

The cleansing of the temple, v13-22: i] John sets the scene, v13. It is the passover and Jesus has gone up to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. A devout Jew is to "appear before Jehovah" at the feast of Passover to commemorate the salvation of the people of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. John records three visits to the temple by Jesus, this being the first.

egguV adv. "when [it was] almost time for" - [and the passover of the jews was] near. Predicate adverb; Temporal use of an adverb of place.

twn Ioudaiwn adj. "the Jewish [Passover]" - The genitive is adjectival, attributive, limiting "the Passover", as NIV; "the passover, a feast of the Jews", AV, 6:4.

anebh (anabainw) aor. "[Jesus] went up" - [and jesus] went up [to jerusalem]. Going up in elevation, ie., to the hill country of Judea from Capernaum beside lake Galilee. The term is also used of going on a pilgrimage. "Jesus went to Jerusalem", CEV.


ii] Jesus acts against the temple market and the authorities respond, v14-17. In one of the outer courts, probably the court of the Gentiles, sacrificial animals were on sale and money changes exchanged foreign coinage into Tyrian coinage, at a fee of course. Only Tyrian coinage was permitted for use in the temple offertory and this because it was of superfine quality. Making a whip out of strong reeds, Jesus set about driving the traders out of the temple precincts. Unlike Mark, where the traders are described as a "den of robbers" (thieves), the issue here is over their trading in "my Father's house" - it's not a shop. Quoting Psalm 69:9, albeit with a change of tense, the disciples recognize in Jesus' behavior messianic qualities - a passion to honor, even at personal risk, the dwelling place of the divine. So here, Jesus confronts the sin of religious worship defiled by the intrusion of commerce, cf., Jer.7:9-11.

en + dat. "in" - [and he found] in. Local, expressing space.

tw/ iJerw/ (on) dat. "the temple courts" - the temple. Obviously the outer court of the temple, the court of the Gentiles.

touV pwlountaV (pwlew) pres. part. "men selling" - the ones selling [oxen and sheep and doves]. The articular participle serves as a substantive. There is no extant evidence that this was excessively corrupt, other than a trader's profit margin and a fee to the authorities for use of the site. The issue is that the temple has a higher purpose and this purpose is being prostituted by trading, even if the trading is of animals for sacrifice and exchange of foreign coinage for Tyrian coinage.

kaqhmenouV (kaqhmai) part. "[others] sitting at tables [exchanging money]" - [and the money-changers] sitting at their tables. The participle serves as the accusative complement of the direct object "the money-changers", standing in a double accusative construction. Used of a person who exchanges money in denomination terms, although here of exchanging one type of coinage for another. The Tyrian coinage was prescribed, not because it was free of idolatrous images, which it wasn't, but probably because it was of fine quality and exact weight. "The money changers sitting at their tables", Barclay.


kai "so" - and. A consecutive sense is probably intended, BDF.442[2], as NIV.

poihsaV (poiew) aor. part. "he made" - having made. The participle is adverbial, possibly temporal; "and when he had made a whip."

fragellion (on) "whip" - a flagellum, scourge (Latin). Accusative direct object of the participle "having made." Also a whip to drive animals which is most likely the meaning here. A whip of cords, or possibly, a whip of rushes.

ek + gen. "out of [cords]" - from [fiber of some sort]. Expressing source / origin.

exebalen (ekballw) aor. "drove [all] from" - he cast out [everyone from the temple]. "He drove them all out (those engaged in trade), the sheep and the oxen as well", Barrett. Note the typical repetition of the prepositional prefix ek, "he cast out from".

te .... kai ... "both ...and ]" - both [the sheep] and [the oxen]. Forming a coordinate series; "both the sheep and the oxen."

twn kollubistwn (hV ou) "[he scattered the coins] of the money changers" - [and] of the money-changers, [he poured out the coins]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive; "he scattered the money that belonged to the money changers."

kai "and" - Coordinative.

anetreyen (anatrefw) aor. "overturned" - he turned / threw over [the / their tables]. "He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins", TEV.


Where Mark has Jesus saying "my house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations, but you have made it a den of robbers", John has Jesus saying "stop turning my Father's house into a market." In Mark the issue is corrupt trading, whereas in John it is trading itself, and this in line with prophetic fulfillment, "and there will no longer be a trader in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day", Zech.14:21.

toiV ... pwlousin (pwlew) dat. pres. part. "to those who sold" - [and] to the ones selling [doves he said]. The participle serves as a substantive, dative of indirect object.

enteuqen adv. "out of here" - [take these things] from here. Adverb of place.

mh poieite (poiew) pres. imp. "how dare you turn / stop turning" - do not make [the house of the father of me]. The negation mh is possibly being used to express the cessation of action in progress; "stop making", Zerwick.

tou patroV "[my] Father's [house]" - [the house] of the father [of me]. The genitive is adjectival, possessive. Note Jesus' childhood reference to the temple as "my Father's house", Lk.2:49.

emporiou (on) gen. "into a market" - [a house, place] of merchandise, trade. The genitive is adjectival, attributive / idiomatic, limiting "house"; "a house used for trade." Trading, of itself, pollutes the proper function of the temple. "Don't you dare turn my Father's house into a market", Phillips.


emnhsqhsan (mimnhskomai) aor. pas. "remembered" - [the disciples of him] remembered. Passive form conveying a middle idea. "The disciples recalled the words of scripture", REB.

oJti "that" - Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what the disciples remembered; "that the scripture said ....."

gegrammenon (grafw) perf. part. "[it is] written" - [it has been] written. The perfect participle with the present tense of the verb to-be forms a periphrastic perfect construction emphasizing aspect, the ongoing reality of God's revealed word. This is a standard formula for the introducing of a quotation from scripture.

tou oikou (oV) "[zeal] for [your] house" - [zeal] of the house [of you]. The genitive is usually taken as adjectival, verbal, objective, as NIV. A righteous zeal for God's house / people brings with it suffering.

katafagetai (katesqiw) fut. ind. mid. "will consume" - will consume, eat up [me]. In the Hebrew text the word is perfect, indicating that the psalmist is, at the present moment, undergoing suffering due to his zeal for the temple. The LXX has a variant reading where the word is in the future tense, although this may be a later textual change due to Christian influence where the gospel quote is read back into the LXX text. The future tense gives the quote a messianic flavor. The consuming suffering of the messiah, even his destruction, due to his passion for God's dwelling place, is the salient point of the quote. "Burns in me like fire", CEV.


iii] Jesus' discussion with the authorities, v18-21: The Jewish authorities are most likely aware that a market in the temple precincts is anything but proper and that Jesus' denouncing of the practice has messianic overtones, cf., Zech.14:21. Yet, if Jesus is the messiah, possessing the authority to perform such an act, the authorities want a significant miracle to conform his authority and thus, his messianic credentials. Jesus offers a sign, but to his hearers it is a dark saying. As already indicated, it is possible that the saying has a double meaning. At one level, Jesus may be alluding to the actual temple, a kind of "if you continue on your present path, you will bring about the destruction of this temple." In 70AD it was destroyed. The authorities certainly think Jesus is talking about Israel's Temple. Yet, they have asked for a sign, and the sign, as John explains, is the sign of Jesus' resurrection. Jesus is referring to his own "temple", a "temple" soon to be destroyed, but raised in three days. The fact is that the deity no longer dwells in Israel's Temple, but rather in Jesus - the sanctuary at Jerusalem will be destroyed, but a new sanctuary exists in the risen Christ. The authorities miss the point altogether and assert that it is now some 46 years since the reconstruction of the temple began during the reign of Herod the Great; Does Jesus think he can build it in three days? As John makes clear, the building Jesus is on about is "not made by man", cf., Mk.14:58. The messianic age, having come upon God's people, requires a new temple, undefiled. Christ is that new temple - Jesus "become the temple's replacement in the life and worship of his people", Kostenberger.

We have here a common formula repeated throughout John's gospel. Jesus will testify to his messianic credentials, but "the Jews" will misunderstand the testimony. Jesus will then go on to further explain what he means and "the Jews" will react negatively, sometimes with violence.

oiJ Ioudaioi (oV) "the Jews" - Nominative subject of the verb "to answer." On most occasions, John uses this term to represent those who do not believe, usually Israel's disbelieving religious establishment - religious authorities, members of the Sanhedrin, Pharisees, chief priests, rabbis, .......... It goes without saying that the word "Jew" today is used differently to the way John is using the word and so for the sake of clarity, an identifier such as "the Jewish leaders (religious authorities)", CEV, is to be preferred. The modern misuse of the word is common, eg., stating "the Jews are always causing trouble in the Middle East" is problematic, if not anti-semitic; it would be more correct to say "the State of Israel is always causing trouble in the Middle East." It is unlikely that the word is being used here to refer to the traders.

oun "then" - therefore. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so, consequently." Cassirer opts for an adversative / concessive sense; "the Jews, however, challenged him and said, ...."

apekriqhsan (apokrinomai) aor. pas. "demanded / responded" - answered [and said]. "Answered" is used to introduce a direct statement rather than actually answering Jesus, so translated as NIV. "The Jewish authorities intervened and said."

autw/ dat. pro. "of him / to him" - [said] to him. Dative of indirect object.

shmeion (on) "miraculous sign / sign" - sign. The authorities are looking for some spectacular miracle that can verify Jesus' authority, something like jumping off the corner of the Temple roof and floating down to the crowd below!!! It seems that the messianic signs, the lame walking, the blind seeing, ... didn't have the necessary impact.

deiknueiV (deiknumi) "can you show" - do you reveal. John combines what are separate questions in Mark - "by what authority" at the cleansing, and the Pharisees "asked of him a sign." John goes on to explain that the only sign they will receive is the resurrection, although for the immediate audience it is not really a sign but rather a dark saying. Mark has no sign, Matthew and Luke have the sign of Jonah. For Matthew, 12:39f, Jesus' sign to his own sinful generation aligns to Jonah's three days in the belly of a large fish (another dark saying) , whereas in Luke it aligns to Jonah's preaching ministry in Ninivah, 11:29. In Matthew 16:4 the phrase "sign of Jonah" is used without explanation. Preaching (the proclamation of the resurrection of Christ) to a "wicked generation" is most likely the meaning of the sign of Jonah. Although, note that Matthew, along with John, obliquely hints that the sign is itself the resurrection. "What sign ..... can you show as authority for your action?", NEB.

hJmin dat. pro. "us" - to us. Dative of indirect object.

oJti "to prove your authority to [do all this]" - that [you do these things]. Here causal; "seeing that thou doest these things", Westcott. "Because you do these things, what sign can you show us that will confirm your authority to act as you have ?" "To account for doing these things", Zerwick. Possibly here instead of an epexegetic infinitive, as NIV, so Novakovic, "what sign do you show to us that you have the authority to do these things."


autoiV dat. pro. "[Jesus answered] them" - [jesus answered and said] to them. Dative of indirect object.

lusate (luw) aor. imp. act. "destroy" - loose (loose component parts and therefore destroy, break down, even kill). It seems likely that the imperative here is rhetorical, virtually producing a 3rd. class conditional clause where the proposed condition is assumed to be true; "if, as is the case, you continue on your present path, then you will bring about the destruction of this temple." To this sign (ie., the destruction of the temple in 70AD) Jesus adds kai, "and", "in a brief time (three days) I will raise up another center of worship", Hunter. The reference to "three days" is surely a reference to Jesus' resurrection - at this time Jesus' words to the Samaritan woman will be realized; "the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth", Jn.4:23.

ton naon (oV) "temple" - [this] sanctuary. Accusative direct object of the verb "to loose." Possibly the inner sanctuary of the temple, shrine.

egerw (egeirw) fut. "raise" - [and in three day] i will raise up [it]. Like "destroy", the word can easily mean the raising up or rebuilding of buildings just as easily of the rebuilding of a body. "I will build it again", CEV, or "I will raise it up", NJB.

en + dat. "in [three days]" - in. Adverbial use of the preposition, temporal, introducing a temporal clause. The sense is "a point three days hence", Kostenberger; "within the space of three days", Barrett. A similar construction, en + dat. is found in Mark 15:29.


oun "-" - then [the Jews said]. Inferential, establishing a logical connection, "so, consequently, ....; "to which the Jews replied", Phillips.

oikodomhqh (oikodomew) aor. ind. pass. "It has taken [forty-six years] to build" - [this sanctuary] was built, erected. The temple complex was not completed until the early 60's so work on this part of the building was still in progress, although the temple proper had been rebuilt by Herod the Great during the years 20-18BC. The aorist is appropriate for the completed temple, but not for the ongoing building work. Do we stretch the grammar and add "so far"?

etesin (etoV ouV) dat. "[forty-six] years" - [forty and six] years [was built this temple]. A dative of time is used instead of an accusative of duration, cf., Zerwick #54; "during the course of forty-six years this temple was constructed." Kostenberger suggests that the dative is actually locative, giving the sense "this temple was built forty six years ago."

en + dat. "in [three days]" - [and] in [three days you will raise it]? Temporal use of the preposition.


An editorial comment regarding Jesus' statement about the building of a temple in three days.

de "but" - but/and [that one]. Often treated here as an adversative, as NIV, although properly transitional, indicating a step in the narrative - here a parenthesis.

ekeinoV "he" - that one. Distant demonstrative pronoun used as an emphatic personal pronoun.

elegen (legw) imperf. "had spoken" - was speaking. As a general rule the default narrative tense is aorist with the present tense used to indicate narrative transition (narrative / historic present). Here the imperfect is probably used to indicate a parenthetical statement outside the narrative.

peri + gen. "of" - about [the temple, sanctuary]. Here expressing reference / respect; "with reference to, concerning."

autou gen. pro. "[was] his" - [of the body] of him. The genitive is adjectival, possessive.

tou swomatoV (a atoV) "body" - of the body. The genitive is adjectival, epexegetic / appositional; "he was speaking about the temple, namely, his body."


iv] The disciples' recollection of Jesus words, v22. Only after the resurrection, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit (cf. 14:26), were the disciples able to understand the meaning of Jesus' mysterious words. It was only then that they "believed" his words and the scripture that they rested on.

oJte oun "after" - when therefore. An inferential temporal phrase common in John's gospel, eg., 2:22, 4:45, etc.; "so when he was raised from the dead", Barclay.

hgerqh (egeirw) aor. pas. "he was raised" - Either transitive, "when he was raised", or intransitive "when Jesus rose from the dead." Either way, both are true. The passive is usually taken as theological - the Father does the raising.

ek + gen. "from [the dead]" - out of, from [dead]. Expressing separation; "away from."

elegen (legw) imperf. "had said" - [the disciples of him remembered that] he was saying [this]. The imperfect indicates continued action, so possibly "that he said this on a number of occasions", although an imperfect tense for speech is not of itself unusual.

emnhsqhsan (mimnhskomai) aor. pas. "recalled" - remembered. During Jesus' ministry the disciples never fully understand his teachings. Their recall of his ministry, post the resurrection, informed its individual elements, while the Holy Spirit inspired its proper interpretation. The gospels then record this inspired interpretation for us. "The disciples remembered that he had said this", Goodspeed.

oJti "[what he said]" - that [he was saying this]. Introducing a dependent statement of perception expressing what they remembered; "that he had said this unto them", AV.

episteusan (pisteuw) "they believed" - [and] they believed [the scripture and the word which jesus said]. What Scripture did the disciples believe (note the singular)? The "words that Jesus had spoken" are most likely v19, but what of the scripture? Possibly scriptures concerning the vindication of the messiah are intended. Some suggestions include: Ps.16:10, Isa.53:12, Hos.6:2... John is probably thinking of Psalm 69:9 quoted in v17. Zeal for God's dwelling place did consume /destroy Jesus, but in the end, you can't keep a good man down!

th/ grafh/ (h) dat. "the scripture" - the writing. As with tw/ logw/, "the words", dative of direct object after the verb "to believe."


v] While in Jerusalem at the Passover, v23-25. Although many people believe in him because of the signs he performed, Jesus does not trust himself to the people - he knows human nature and how fickle it is. A faith response based on Jesus' signs can serve as a gateway to true ("abiding") faith, but of itself carries little weight.

de "Now" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

wJV "while" - Temporal use of the conjunction serving to introduce a temporal clause. "During his stay in Jerusalem", Rieu.

en + dat. "in" - Local, expressing space.

toiV IerosolumoiV (a wn) dat. "Jerusalem" - the jerusalem. The article toiV is anaphoric, referring back; "While he (Jesus) was in the aforementioned Jerusalem", Harris. Note that "Jerusalem" is plural. It is not unusual for a city name to be plural; here possibly with the sense "in the region of Jerusalem."

en + dat. "at [the Passover Festival]" - in [the passover] in [the feast]. Here both uses of the preposition are adverbial, temporal; "when he was in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover, during the festival."

qewrounteV (qewrew) pres. part. "saw [the signs]" - [many believed into the name of him] seeing [the signs]. The participle is adverbial, best treated as causal, introducing a causal clause explaining why people were believing in Jesus; "because they witnessed the signs which he did"; "for they saw that his actions were visible demonstrations of the power of God", Barclay.

autou gen. pro. "[he was performing]" - of him [which he was doing]. The genitive is adjectival, possibly possessive, "his signs", but more likely proleptic, anticipating the subject of the relative clause "that he was doing", ESV, see Harris, Novakovic, Zerwick #206.

to onoma (a atoV) "[believed in his] name" - [believed into] the name [of him]. See 1:12. A person's name reflects their being, their person; it is the who they are; "many people .... began to put their trust in him", Rieu. Note how Rieu treats the aorist verb "to believe" as ingressive / inceptive, "began to believe."


de "but" - but/and. Usually treated as adversative here, as NIV, although primarily transitional.

autoiV dat. pro. "to them" - [Jesus was not entrusting he = himself] to them. Dative of indirect object. The personal pronoun auton, "he", is obviously reflective - we would have expected the reflective eJauton, "himself".

dia to + inf. "for [he knew]" - because [he knows all people]. This construction, dia + the articular infinitive, serves to introduce a causal clause explaining why Jesus didn't entrust himself to those who believed in response to his miracles, namely, because "he knew them all", REB. Note that although auton, "he", looks like the accusative subject of the infinitive, Harris suggests that it is adverbial, reference / respect, "as to himself"; "knowing all men as he did", Rieu.


oJti "-" - [and] because [he had]. Introducing a causal clause explaining the second reason why Jesus did not trust himself to those who believed in response to his miracles, namely, because "he did not need anyone to tell him about human nature", Barclay.

iJna + subj. "-" - [no need, necessity] that [anyone should testify]. Here serving as an epexegetic infinitive, specifying / explaining the noun creian, "need"; "No one needed to explain human nature to him."

peri + gen. "about [mankind]" - about [the man]. Expressing reference / respect.

gar "for" - for [he knows what was in man]. Introducing a causal clause explaining why Jesus didn't need anyone to explain human nature to him, because "he already knew", CEV. The workings of a person's mind is not only hidden from others, it is often hidden from ourselves. Such knowledge (what is in the heart of our neighbor) belongs only to God, cf., Ex.16:32. Yet, this knowing is well within the grasp of Jesus, for he knows the human heart.


John Introduction.



[Pumpkin Cottage]