This is part 5 of 49 parts video series covering the Gospel of John. In this part, Jesus overturned the tables of the money changers and faced the Jewish authorities. Watch how Jesus responded to them.
John 2:13-25 (GNT)
Watch Part 6 here >>>
JOHN 2: 13-25 (GNT)
Jesus Goes to the Temple
13 It was almost time for the Passover Festival, so Jesus went to Jerusalem. 14 There in the Temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and pigeons, and also the moneychangers sitting at their tables. 15 So he made a whip from cords and drove all the animals out of the Temple, both the sheep and the cattle; he overturned the tables of the moneychangers and scattered their coins; 16 and he ordered those who sold the pigeons, “Take them out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” 17 His disciples remembered that the scripture says, “My devotion to your house, O God, burns in me like a fire.”
18 The Jewish authorities came back at him with a question, “What miracle can you perform to show us that you have the right to do this?”
19 Jesus answered, “Tear down this Temple, and in three days I will build it again.”
20 “Are you going to build it again in three days?” they asked him. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple!”
21 But the temple Jesus was speaking about was his body. 22 So when he was raised from death, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and what Jesus had said.
Jesus’ Knowledge of Human Nature
23 While Jesus was in Jerusalem during the Passover Festival, many believed in him as they saw the miracles he performed. 24 But Jesus did not trust himself to them, because he knew them all. 25 There was no need for anyone to tell him about them, because he himself knew what was in their hearts.
Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers doing business. When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”
a. The Passover of the Jews was at hand: Jerusalem would be crowded with thousands of visitors coming at Passover. The temple mount would be particularly crowded, and Jesus saw many doing business in the outer courts of the temple.
i. “The very fact of the market being held there would produce an unseemly mixture of sacred and profane transactions, even setting aside the abuses which would be certain to be mingled with the traffic.” (Alford)
ii. The moneychangers doing business: “Astonishing as it may sound, it is likely that as many as two and a quarter million Jews sometimes assembled in the Holy City to keep the Passover.” (Barclay) According to Barclay, they all had to pay the temple tax, which was the equivalent of about two days wages for a working man – but had to be paid in the special temple coin. This is why the moneychangers did so much business.
iii. Many commentators say the reason why foreign coins were not allowed in temple contributions was because they bore the image of the emperor or pagan gods. But “Tyrian coinage was not only permitted, but expressly prescribed (Mishnah, Bekh. 8:7), and this bore heathen symbols.” (Morris) It seems that the issue was not what was on the coin, but what was in the coin, and only coinage that had a reputation for being of good weight and content was allowed.
iv. “Being familiar it became legitimate, and no one though of any incongruity in it until this young Nazarene felt a flash of zeal for the sanctity of His Father’s house consuming Him.” (Maclaren)
v. The Passover of the Jews: “Our Evangelist repeatedly refers to festivals as festivals ‘of the Jews’ – not because he himself was not a Jew by birth and upbringing (he was), but because many of his readers would be Gentiles, unacquainted with the details of the Jewish sacred year.” (Bruce)
b. When He had made a whip of cords: When Jesus drove those doing businessout of the temple courts, He did not do it in a flash of anger. He carefully took the time to make a whip of cords, and thought carefully about what He would do.
i. Curiously, some commentators are confident that Jesus used the whip of cords only upon the animals, and others are confident that He used it upon both men and animals. Nevertheless, the sense is much more a display of Jesus’ authority than violence.
c. He drove them all out . . . poured out the changers’ money and overturned tables: Those doing business in the outer courts of the temple spoiled the only place where Gentiles could come and worship. This area (the court of the Gentiles) was made into a house of merchandise.
i. Remember that cleansing was part of the Passover celebration. Removing every speck of anything leavened (made with yeast) from the home was a symbol, a picture, of cleansing from sin.
ii. Matthew, Mark, and Luke each describe another cleansing of the temple performed by Jesus, towards the end of His earthly ministry. In both cases, the presence of these merchants in the temple courts spoiled the only place Gentiles could pray. In addition their dishonesty made their presence all the worse.
iii. “John is not correcting a supposed chronological blunder on the part of the earlier evangelists, nor deliberately altering their history in the interests of theological exposition, but, we may reasonably suppose, relating an additional ‘cleansing’.” (Tasker)
iv. “The evil in question was one which was likely to recur after a check. Jesus’ action, though salutary, is not likely to have put a permanent end to the practice.” (Morris)
d. Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up: The disciples remembered this line from Psalm 69:9 and connected it to the zeal Jesus had for the purity of God’s house and worship practiced there.
i. John began with a miracle of conversion (changing water into wine). Then he showed Jesus performing a work of cleansing (the cleansing of the temple). This is always how Jesus works in His people: conversion first, then cleansing.
2. (18-22) Jesus speaks of a new temple, and its destiny.
So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
a. What sign do You show to us, since You do these things? This wasn’t necessarily a bad question. Anyone who drove the merchants out from the temple courts claimed the authority to do it. The Jews wanted to know if Jesus really had this authority. The problem is that they demanded a sign from Jesus to prove it.
i. “Their request for a ‘sign’ was misguided: what sign could have been more eloquent than that which they had just witnessed?” (Bruce)
b. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up: Jesus spoke here of the temple of His body. He probably even gestured to Himself as He said this. Jesus knew that these religious leaders would attempt to destroy His body, but He also knew that they would not succeed.
i. The irony is that the religious leaders themselves would be the means by which the prophecy was fulfilled. When Jesus said, “Destroy this temple,” He knew that they would in fact do their best to destroy it.
ii. At the trial of Jesus, one of the charges brought against Him was that He said He would destroy the temple (Matthew 26:60-61, Mark 14:57-59). When He died on the cross, the mockers reminded Jesus of what seemed to be an impossible promise (Matthew 27:40, Mark 15:29).
iii. Destroy this temple: Jesus wasn’t against the temple, but He certainly looked beyond it. He told the Samaritan woman that there was a day coming when people would no longer worship at a temple in Samaria or Jerusalem, but they would worship God in Spirit and in truth.
iv. The body of Jesus is still a temple. Ephesians 2:19-22 and 1 Peter 2:5 both connect the idea of the church – metaphorically called the body of Christ – with a temple built upon and built by Jesus Christ.
c. I will raise it up: Jesus confidently claimed the power to raise Himself from the dead, and He repeated the claim in John 10:18. It is interesting to note that the New Testament also claims that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 6:4 and Galatians 1:1), and that that Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead (Romans 1:4 and 8:11). The resurrection of Jesus was a work of each Person of the Trinity, each working together.
i. No mere man could make the claim to raise himself from the dead, even if one had confidence that God would raise him. The claim of Jesus is remarkable, audacious, and evidence of His self-awareness of Deity.
ii. “Jesus’ technique of using a paradoxical statement to bewilder his enemies, which he subsequently explained for his disciples, frequently appears in John’s Gospel.” (Tenney)
d. His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture: It was only after the death and resurrection of Jesus that His disciples understood and believed both the Scriptures and the specific promises of Jesus.
i. The Scripture they believed was primarily Psalm 16:10, the promise that God’s Holy One would not remain in the grave.
ii. They believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said: “The placing of Jesus’ saying alongside Scripture is interesting and its Christological implications should not be overlooked.” (Morris)
3. (23-25) Jesus does not entrust Himself to the many who believe.
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
a. Many believed in His name when they saw the signs: Jesus knew that this was thin, superficial belief. It wasn’t based on anything other than an admiration of the spectacular. Knowing this, Jesus did not commit Himself to them.
i. “If belief is nothing more than admiration for the spectacular, it will create in multitudes applause; but the Son of God cannot commit Himself to that kind of faith.” (Morgan)
ii. A light or superficial faith may be better than none at all, but no one should think that it is enough – and Jesus knows. “It is what Luther calls ‘milk faith’ and may grow into something more trustworthy.” (Dods)
b. He knew what was in man: Knowing what was and is in humanity, Jesus stillloves. He knew and knows the worst; yet also sees the image of God, even upon fallen men and women.
i. Jesus did not commit Himself to them: “Other leaders and teachers may be misled at times into giving their followers more credit for loyalty and understanding than they actually possess; not so Jesus, who could read the inmost thoughts of men and women like an open book.” (Bruce)
ii. “When many came to believe on Him He did not commit Himself to them. He was not dependent on man’s approval.” (Morris)
iii. He knew what was in man: “Nothing less than divine knowledge is here set forth…as the text now stands, it asserts an entire knowledge of all that is in all men.” (Alford)
Commentary by Enduring Word
About the Gospel of John. The gospel of John was written to persuade people to believe in Jesus (20:30-31). The opening verses declare that Jesus is God, stressing His unique relationship with God the Father. The book focuses on seven of Jesus’ signs (miracles), to show his divinity. Jesus called people to believe in him, promising eternal life. He proved he could give life by raising Lazarus (ch.11) and by his own death and resurrection. John features Christ’s seven “I am” statements, his encounters with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, his upper room teachings and washing of disciple’s feet (chs. 13-16, and his high priestly prayer (ch. 17. It includes the most well-known summary of the gospel (3:16).