New English Translation
13 Now the Jewish feast of Passover[a] was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
14 [b] He found in the temple courts[c] those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables.[d] 15 So he made a whip of cords[e] and drove them all out of the temple courts,[f] with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers[g] and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make[h] my Father’s house a marketplace!”[i] 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal[j] for your house will devour me.”[k]
18 So then the Jewish leaders[l] responded,[m] “What sign can you show us, since you are doing these things?”[n] 19 Jesus replied,[o] “Destroy[p] this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” 20 Then the Jewish leaders[q] said to him, “This temple has been under construction[r] for forty-six years,[s] and are you going to raise it up in three days?” 21 But Jesus[t] was speaking about the temple of his body.[u] 22 So after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture[v] and the saying[w] that Jesus had spoken.Read full chapter
- John 2:13 tn Grk “the Passover of the Jews.” This is first of at least three (and possibly four) Passovers mentioned in John’s Gospel. If it is assumed that the Passovers appear in the Gospel in their chronological order (and following a date of a.d. 33 for the crucifixion), this would be the Passover of the spring of a.d. 30, the first of Jesus’ public ministry. There is a clear reference to another Passover in 6:4, and another still in 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:28, 39, and 19:14. The latter would be the Passover of a.d. 33. There is a possibility that 5:1 also refers to a Passover, in which case it would be the second of Jesus’ public ministry (a.d. 31), while 6:4 would refer to the third (a.d. 32) and the remaining references would refer to the final Passover at the time of the crucifixion. It is entirely possible, however, that the Passovers occurring in the Fourth Gospel are not intended to be understood as listed in chronological sequence. If the material of the Fourth Gospel originally existed in the form of homilies or sermons by the Apostle John on the life and ministry of Jesus, the present arrangement would not have to be in strict chronological order (it does not explicitly claim to be). In this case the Passover mentioned in 2:13, for example, might actually be later in Jesus’ public ministry than it might at first glance appear. This leads, however, to a discussion of an even greater problem in the passage, the relationship of the temple cleansing in John’s Gospel to the similar account in the synoptic gospels.
- John 2:14 sn John 2:14-22. Does John’s account of the temple cleansing describe the same event as the synoptic gospels describe, or a separate event? The other accounts of the cleansing of the temple are Matt 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; and Luke 19:45-46. None are as long as the Johannine account. The fullest of the synoptic accounts is Mark’s. John’s account differs from Mark’s in the mention of sheep and oxen, the mention of the whip of cords, the Greek word κερματιστῆς (kermatistēs) for money changer (the synoptics use κολλυβιστῆς [kollubistēs], which John mentions in 2:15), the scattering of the coins (2:15), and the command by Jesus, “Take these things away from here!” The word for overturned in John is ἀναστρεφω (anastrephō), while Matthew and Mark use καταστρεφω (katastrephō; Luke does not mention the moneychangers at all). The synoptics all mention that Jesus quoted Isa 56:7 followed by Jer 7:11. John mentions no citation of scripture at all, but says that later the disciples remembered Ps 69:9. John does not mention, as does Mark, Jesus’ prohibition on carrying things through the temple (i.e., using it for a shortcut). But the most important difference is one of time: In John the cleansing appears as the first great public act of Jesus’ ministry, while in the synoptics it is virtually the last. The most common solution of the problem, which has been endlessly discussed among NT scholars, is to say there was only one cleansing, and that it took place, as the synoptics record it, at the end of Jesus’ ministry. In the synoptics it appears to be the event that finalized the opposition of the high priest, and precipitated the arrest of Jesus. According to this view, John’s placing of the event at the opening of Jesus’ ministry is due to his general approach; it was fitting ‘theologically’ for Jesus to open his ministry this way, so this is the way John records it. Some have overstated the case for one cleansing and John’s placing of it at the opening of Jesus’ public ministry, however. For example W. Barclay stated: “John, as someone has said, is more interested in the truth than in the facts. He was not interested to tell men when Jesus cleansed the Temple; he was supremely interested in telling men that Jesus did cleanse the Temple” (John [DSBS], 94). But this is not the impression one gets by a reading of John’s Gospel: The evangelist seems to go out of his way to give details and facts, including notes of time and place. To argue as Barclay does that John is interested in truth apart from the facts is to set up a false dichotomy. Why should one have to assume, in any case, that there could have been only one cleansing of the temple? This account in John is found in a large section of nonsynoptic material. Apart from the work of John the Baptist—and even this is markedly different from the references in the synoptics—nothing else in the first five chapters of John’s Gospel is found in any of the synoptics. It is certainly not impossible that John took one isolated episode from the conclusion of Jesus’ earthly ministry and inserted it into his own narrative in a place which seemed appropriate according to his purposes. But in view of the differences between John and the synoptics, in both wording and content, as well as setting and time, it is at least possible that the event in question actually occurred twice (unless one begins with the presupposition that the Fourth Gospel is nonhistorical anyway). In support of two separate cleansings of the temple, it has been suggested that Jesus’ actions on this occasion were not permanent in their result, and after (probably) 3 years the status quo in the temple courts had returned to normal. And at this time early in Jesus’ ministry, he was virtually unknown. Such an action as he took on this occasion would have created a stir, and evoked the response John records in 2:18-22, but that is probably about all, especially if Jesus’ actions met with approval among part of the populace. But later in Jesus’ ministry, when he was well-known, and vigorously opposed by the high-priestly party in Jerusalem, his actions might have brought forth another, harsher response. It thus appears possible to argue for two separate cleansings of the temple as well as a single one relocated by John to suit his own purposes. Which then is more probable? On the whole, more has been made of the differences between John’s account and the synoptic accounts than perhaps should have been. After all, the synoptic accounts also differ considerably from one another, yet few scholars would be willing to posit four cleansings of the temple as an explanation for this. While it is certainly possible that the author did not intend by his positioning of the temple cleansing to correct the synoptics’ timing of the event, but to highlight its significance for the course of Jesus’ ministry, it still appears somewhat more probable that John has placed the event he records in the approximate period of Jesus’ public ministry in which it did occur, that is, within the first year or so of Jesus’ public ministry. The statement of the Jewish authorities recorded by the author (this temple has been under construction for forty-six years) would tend to support an earlier rather than a later date for the temple cleansing described by John, since 46 years from the beginning of construction on Herod’s temple in ca. 19 b.c. (the date varies somewhat in different sources) would be around a.d. 27. This is not conclusive proof, however.
- John 2:14 tn Grk “in the temple.”sn The merchants (those who were selling) would have been located in the Court of the Gentiles.
- John 2:14 tn Grk “the money changers sitting”; the words “at tables” are not in the Greek text, but are implied.
- John 2:15 tc Several witnesses, two of which are quite ancient (P66,75 L N ƒ1 33 565 892 1241 al lat), have ὡς (hōs, “like”) before φραγέλλιον (phragellion, “whip”). A decision based on external evidence would be difficult to make because the shorter reading also has excellent witnesses, as well as the majority, on its side (א A B Θ Ψ ƒ13 M co). Internal evidence, though, leans toward the shorter reading. Scribes tended to add to the text, and the addition of ὡς here clearly softens the assertion of the evangelist: Instead of making a whip of cords, Jesus made “[something] like a whip of cords.”
- John 2:15 tn Grk “the temple.”
- John 2:15 sn Because of the imperial Roman portraits they carried, Roman denarii and Attic drachmas were not permitted to be used in paying the half-shekel temple-tax (the Jews considered the portraits idolatrous). The money changers exchanged these coins for legal Tyrian coinage at a small profit.
- John 2:16 tn Or (perhaps) “Stop making.”
- John 2:16 tn Or “a house of merchants” (an allusion to Zech 14:21).sn A marketplace. Zech 14:20-21, in context, is clearly a picture of the messianic kingdom. The Hebrew word translated “Canaanite” may also be translated “merchant” or “trader.” Read in this light, Zech 14:21 states that there will be no merchant in the house of the Lord in that day (the day of the Lord, at the establishment of the messianic kingdom). And what would Jesus’ words (and actions) in cleansing the temple have suggested to the observers? That Jesus was fulfilling messianic expectations would have been obvious—especially to the disciples, who had just seen the miracle at Cana with all its messianic implications.
- John 2:17 tn Or “Fervent devotion to your house.”
- John 2:17 sn A quotation from Ps 69:9.
- John 2:18 tn Or “the Jewish authorities”; Grk “the Jews.” In NT usage the term ᾿Ιουδαῖοι (Ioudaioi) may refer to the entire Jewish people, the residents of Jerusalem and surrounding territory, the authorities in Jerusalem, or merely those who were hostile to Jesus. Here the author refers to the authorities or leaders in Jerusalem. (For further information see R. G. Bratcher, “‘The Jews’ in the Gospel of John,” BT 26 : 401-9.)
- John 2:18 tn Grk “answered and said to him.”
- John 2:18 sn The request “What sign can you show us” by Jesus’ adversaries was a request for a defense of his actions—a mark of divine authentication. Whether this was a request for a miracle is not entirely clear. Jesus never obliged such a request. Yet, ironically, the only sign the Jewish leadership will get is that predicted by Jesus in 2:19—his crucifixion and resurrection. Cf. the “sign of Jonah” in the synoptics (Matt 12:39, 40; Luke 11:29-32).
- John 2:19 tn Grk “answered and said to them.”
- John 2:19 tn The imperative here is really more than a simple conditional imperative (= “if you destroy”); its semantic force here is more like the ironical imperative found in the prophets (Amos 4:4, Isa 8:9) = “Go ahead and do this and see what happens.”
- John 2:20 tn See the note on this phrase in v. 18.
- John 2:20 tn A close parallel to the aorist οἰκοδομήθη (oikodomēthē) can be found in Ezra 5:16 (LXX), where it is clear from the following verb that the construction had not yet been completed. Thus the phrase has been translated “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years.” Some, however, see the term ναός (naos) here as referring only to the sanctuary and the aorist verb as consummative, so that the meaning would be “this temple was built forty-six years ago” (so ExSyn 560-61). Ultimately in context the logic of the authorities’ reply appears to fit more naturally if it compares length of time for original construction with length of time to reconstruct it.
- John 2:20 sn According to Josephus (Ant. 15.11.1 [15.380]), work on this temple was begun in the 18th year of Herod the Great’s reign, which would have been ca. 19 b.c. (The reference in the Ant. is probably more accurate than the date given in J. W. 1.21.1 [1.401]). Forty-six years later would be around the Passover of a.d. 27/28.
- John 2:21 tn Grk “that one”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity. This Greek term is frequently used as a way of referring to Jesus in the Johannine letters (cf. 1 John 2:6; 3:3, 5, 7, 16; 4:17).
- John 2:21 tn The genitive “of his body” (τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ, tou sōmatos autou) is a genitive of apposition, clarifying which temple Jesus was referring to. Thus, Jesus not only was referring to his physical resurrection, but also to his participation in the resurrection process. The New Testament thus records the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as all performing the miracle of Christ’s resurrection.sn Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. For the author, the temple is not just the building, it is Jesus’ resurrected body. Compare the nonlocalized worship mentioned in John 4:21-23, and also Rev 21:22 (there is to be no temple in the New Jerusalem; the Lord and the Lamb are its temple). John points to the fact that, as the place where men go in order to meet God, the temple has been supplanted and replaced by Jesus himself, in whose resurrected person people may now encounter God (see John 1:18; 14:6).
- John 2:22 sn They believed the scripture is probably an anaphoric reference to Ps 69:9 (69:10 LXX), quoted in John 2:17 above. Presumably the disciples did not remember Ps 69:9 on the spot, but it was a later insight.
- John 2:22 tn Or “statement”; Grk “word.”