Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

John 2

Verses 13-22

John 2:13-22. The Cleansing of the Temple.—The Passover "of the Jews" as an author writing for Christians naturally describes it without special significance or bias, was near. Jesus, following the custom of the "religious" party in His nation, goes up with His disciples (John 2:17; John 2:22) to keep the feast (cf. Exodus 23:15). He finds the Temple desecrated by an illicit traffic in animals for the sacrifices, and "sacred" shekels of the heavy Phœnician standard (pp. 116f.), in which alone the Temple tax could be paid. The expulsion is described with a fullness and correctness of detail (notice especially the driving out of the cattle and (?) their attendants, the overturning of the moneychangers' tables, and the telling the bird-sellers to take away their cages) greater than we find in the Synoptic accounts, Mt. coming nearest. The words of the command in John 2:16, as compared with the quotation from Jeremiah 7:11 in Mark 11:17, favour the originality of the Johannine account. In the light of later events the disciples saw in the incident a fulfilment of Psalms 69:9. In the remonstrance which follows, it is possible that the author sees a fulfilment of Psalms 69:9 b. The "Jews," the religious party as represented by their leaders, demand His authority to act in this manner (cf. Mark 11:28). The language of John 18:6 seems to reflect Mark 8:11 [but the attitude of Jesus to the request is different, John 2:19, Mark 8:12.—A. J. G.]. As spoken to the men of His time the Lord's answer can only mean, "Go on with your evil practices here, which must lead to the final desecration and destruction of the place as the Temple of God; and when you have completed your fatal work, I will raise shortly a new ‘Temple,' in the hearts of true disciples of the kingdom, where God can dwell" (cf. Jeremiah 7:3-14). It was inevitable that later Christian reflection should see in the words a reference to His crucifixion, for which the Jews were responsible, and His resurrection. The "Scripture" is probably Psalms 69:9 (rather than Psalms 16:10), which received its final fulfilment on Calvary. The forty-six years may refer, not to Herod's alterations (p. 609), begun in 20 B.C. and not finished till A.D. 63 (Josephus, Ant. xx. 9), but to Zerubbabel's Temple, supposed to have been begun in the first year of Cyrus 559, and completed in the ninth year of Darius, 513 (see Classical Review, 1894, pp. 89ff.). If the words which were misrepresented at the trial (Mark 14:58) were spoken as here recorded, the incident of the false witnesses is naturally explained, especially if a period of two years or more had intervened.

Verses 23-25

John 2:23-25. The Results of the First Visit to Jerusalem.—The result of the Lord's visit to Jerusalem at the Passover and His work there was that many "believed on his name," i.e. they were convinced that He was the Messiah and were ready to follow Him as such, of course interpreting the title according to their own expectations and aspirations. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, refuses to trust Himself to them. Their views are incompatible with His. Before He can be the Messiah of His people, He must teach them the true character of the Messianic kingdom. If this is authentic history, it may go some way towards explaining the difference between this gospel and the Synoptists in respect of the attitude of Jesus, His disciples, and the people, with regard to the question of His Messiahship.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on John 2". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.