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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

John 2:15

And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables;
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Nave's Topical Bible - Covetousness;   Jesus, the Christ;   Money Changers;   Sacrilege;   Table;   Temple;   Thompson Chain Reference - Awakenings and Religious Reforms;   Money;   Reforms, Religious;   Religious;   Temple;   The Topic Concordance - Theft;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Money;   Prophecies Respecting Christ;   Temple, the Second;  
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Courage;   Temple;   Wrath;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Anger;   Jerusalem;   Priest, Christ as;   Psalms, Theology of;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Marriage;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Money-Changer;   Temple, Herod's;   Woman;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Dove;   Jordan;   Nehemiah;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Banking;   Jesus, Life and Ministry of;   Money Changers;   Table;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Cord, Rope;   Marriage;   Mary;   Money-Changers;   World;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Business (2);   Dates (2);   Debt, Debtor (2);   Dispersion ;   Example;   Fierceness;   House;   Individualism;   Law of God;   Luke, Gospel According to;   Manliness;   Money (2);   Scourge, Scourging;   Sheep, Shepherd;   Temple (2);   Trade and Commerce;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - New Testament;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Cana;   Passover;   Veil;   Zeal;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Dove;   Money;   Money-changers;   Scourge;   Smith Bible Dictionary - Cord;   Money-Changers;  
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bank;   Changer;   Cord;   Cords, Small;   Debt;   Law in the New Testament;   Money;   Money-Changers;   Rope;  
Every Day Light - Devotion for June 2;  

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


20. Cleansing the temple (John 2:13-25)

From Capernaum Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Passover (John 2:13). When he visited the temple he found that its outer court (the Court of the Gentiles) was crowded with Jewish merchants and money changers. The merchants were selling animals for sacrifice, and the money changers were exchanging foreign money for money acceptable to the temple authorities. The place looked more like a market than a place of prayer. Jesus was so angry at what he saw that he took bold action to cleanse the temple of all commercial activity (John 2:14-16).

The Jews objected to Jesus’ interfering with the temple and challenged him to perform some miracle as evidence that he had authority from God to act in such a way. Jesus referred to the sign of his resurrection as his authority, but no one understood its meaning at the time. Jesus knew that because of his zeal for the purity of God’s house the Jews would eventually kill him, but he would rise from the dead and bring in a new era of life for the world (John 2:17-22).

At that time few had a genuine belief in Jesus as Saviour. Many said they believed in him but their faith was not soundly based. They were impressed with Jesus’ miracles, but had little idea of what was involved in being disciples of the Messiah. Jesus could not trust people to be loyal followers if their ‘belief’ in him was little more than enthusiasm for his spectacular deeds (John 2:23-25).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on John 2:15". "Brideway Bible Commentary". 2005.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

And he made a scourge of cords, and cast all out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and he poured out the changers' money, and overthrew their tables.

It is said that Jesus never used force, but this verse proves otherwise. It is a moot question whether or not Jesus actually used a whip on any of the money changers, the usual interpretation being that he did not; but the very existence of such a weapon in the strong hand of the vigorous young carpenter from Nazareth was a threat of force sufficient to deter any of the money-changers from contesting it. The whip was necessary in driving out the animals; but, with regard to the money-changers, the moral indignation of the Holy One crying out against the callous commercialization of the very house of God was far more effective than any physical threat could have been. Needless to say, such action by Jesus was requited by the undying hatred of the godless Sadducees who were the principal operators of the temple concessions. Their financial interests had been jeopardized; and one may be sure that from this day forward murderous schemes were devised for getting rid of Jesus.

This further comment on the meaning of "all" in this verse comes from Hendriksen:

The KJV and RSV favor the idea that Jesus actually drove out all the wicked traffickers together with the sheep and oxen. In the second cleansing of the temple (Matthew 21:12), it is definitely stated that the cattle dealers were themselves driven out. If that happened then, we may take for granted that it took place now.[15]

Copyright Statement
Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on John 2:15". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A scourge - A whip.

Of small cords - This whip was made as an emblem of authority, and also for the purpose of driving from the temple the cattle which had been brought there for sale. There is no evidence that he used any violence to the men engaged in that unhallowed traffic. The original word implies that these “cords” were made of twisted “rushes” or “reeds” - probably the ancient material for making ropes.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on John 2:15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Shall we turn in our Bibles to the gospel according to John.

The gospel of John was the last of the gospels that were written. It was written towards the close of that first century, written by John, for the purpose of convincing people that Jesus is the Christ, that by believing in Him they might have life in His name. John declares his purpose in writing these books. He said, "Many other things did Jesus which are not written, but these things were written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and by believing have life in His name" ( John 20:30-31 ). So there is a definite purpose in John's mind as he wrote this book. And because this is the reason for this book, it is the best book to encourage an unbeliever to read. Because John wrote, "That they might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and by believing have life in His name." That's why he wrote it. And he's very up-front in telling you why he wrote it. And so it was written to counteract some of the false concepts concerning Jesus Christ, a lot of the heresy that had developed in the very first century.

Now, Paul the apostle warned the Ephesian elders that, "After I'm gone, I know that there are going to be wolves that are going to come in, not sparing the flock of God, but seeking to draw men after themselves, and from your own group there will be those who arise who will even deny our very Lord." And before Paul was gone long from Ephesus, these things were already happening. The false teachers were moving in, perverting the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. A system known as Gnosticism was one of the early systems of belief that permeated the church and began to draw people away into false concepts concerning Jesus Christ.

The church wasn't very old before the Arian heresy arose, the denying of the deity of Jesus Christ, putting Him on the level of man. Gnosticism, with its concepts of Jesus and really confusing concepts of Jesus, part divine, part man, and yet, a sort of a phantom kind of a thing. They made up stories that as He walked on the sandy beach, He wouldn't leave footprints because He wasn't really real. And their idea was: anything that is real is evil, the world is so evil that God could not have created the world. And so, originally there was the pure holy God and emanations went out from this pure holy God, and finally, one of these emanations got so far from God that it no longer knew God; and it was from this emanation that created the world, and thus the world was created by an evil force and everything material is evil, and so Jesus could not have been a man, else He would have been evil. So, He was a phantom and a lot of weird things. And, so John wrote this epistle, or this letter, this gospel actually, in order to correct some of those early false teachings that have begun to permeate the church.

Now, it is interesting that as the writers begin the gospels, they each one picked a different place to begin. And with the gospel of Matthew, he began with the generation or the genealogy of Jesus going back to Abraham. And when Mark began his gospel, he began it at the baptism of Jesus by John. When Luke began his gospel, he began it with the enunciation to Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, the forerunner of Jesus. But when John begins his gospel, he goes clear on back to the very beginning of time, which had no beginning. He goes back even further than Genesis. The book of Genesis is the beginning of creation, "In the beginning, God created..." But God existed long before He created. And so, in Genesis you go back to the beginning of creation, but before that, God was. God existed. So, John goes back to that infinite eternal past and declares,

In the beginning was the Word ( John 1:1 ),

Now, the Greeks talked much about the Logos. And according to the Greek philosophy, everything pre-existed in a thought. Anything that you see existed in thought before it became form. In other words, this pulpit here began with a thought. Some craftsman had in his mind a design, an idea for a podium. And so, he drew it out on a piece of paper, but it was the expression of his thought. And so, before anything exists, it has pre-existed in a thought. So, to the Greek philosopher, the thought was the origin of things. Well, the Bible takes you one step further back. It said if there was a thought, then there had to be a thinker, because you can't have a thought without a thinker. So, in the beginning, God, "In the beginning, was the Word." And so, it actually goes back even before the thought, you have the existence of the One who thought, or the existence of God. So, "In the beginning, God," here, "In the beginning was the Word," He was existing then.

and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ( John 1:1 ).

Powerful declaration of the deity of Jesus Christ. So plain, so straight, so forthright, that even a little child in reading it could not be confused. It would take a Jehovah Witness to confuse this passage of scripture. And they did, by the insertion of an article "the". "And the Word was a God." But they had to create something that doesn't exist in the original language in order to twist this whole thing around. John is starting out with the plain declaration that Jesus, the Word, is God. Just as straightforward, forthright as can be declared.

The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made ( John 1:2-3 ).

So, now he comes to creation. You see, John goes back before creation. In the beginning, before there was anything, there was the Word. He was with God, He was God, He was in the beginning with God. And then creation, "All things were made by him."

In the account in Genesis, we read, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" ( Genesis 1:1 ). The word God in Hebrew there is Elohiym, which is a plural form. Now, there are those who say, "Well, the plural form was used for emphasis." But that appears to be an invention. Because God is also referred to as the singular, and if it is used only for emphasis, then it would be confusing to use the same term to refer to God in the singular. It is my opinion that when the God, El singular, is used that it is a reference to the Father. That the "Elohiym" is a reference to the tri-unity of the godhead, one God existing in three persons. "And God said, Let us make man in our image and after our likeness" ( Genesis 1:26 ). Who was God talking to? In the divine counsels there was that creation, the Father, the Son, the Spirit, in the divine counsel. "Let us make man in our image after our likeness."

Here in John, the first chapter, Jesus is ascribed as the creator of all things. Paul, as he is writing to the Colossians concerning the pre-eminence of Jesus, declares that He is not only the creator, but He is the object of creation, by Him were all things made and for Him. So, He is not only the creator, but the object of creation. "All things were made by him," the universe around us and all of its life forms.

and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; but the darkness comprehended it not [or apprehended it not, or could not lay hold of it] ( John 1:3-5 ).

Jesus said, "I am the light of the world: he that cometh unto me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" ( John 8:12 ). Now, here it is declared that the light shineth in darkness. This is the reference to the coming of Jesus Christ to the earth. Here He is, the light of the world shining in the darkness, but the darkness is not apprehended.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness ( John 1:6-7 ),

And twice we will read of John's witness. Here in chapter l, verse l5, "John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake." And then he also testified in verse Joh 2:34 , "And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God." That's the testimony of John the Baptist concerning Jesus Christ. So,

There was a man who was sent from God, his name was John. He came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He [John] was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, the world was made by him, and the world knew him not ( John 1:6-10 ).

Can you grasp that one? Jesus, the Light...He came to shine in the darkness, the true light. He was in the world. We're already told that all things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made. He was in the world and the world was made by Him, and yet, the world knew Him not. That is, the world of man. It would appear that there aspects of nature and of the world that did know Him. It is interesting that those who were possessed with evil spirits often cried out, "We know who you are!" Evidently, the winds and the waves knew who He was. For when He was standing in the little ship and it was about to sink, when He spoke to the wind and waves and said, "Peace, be still!" they obeyed His voice, they knew who He was. The rocks evidently knew who He was, because when the Pharisees were encouraging Him to rebuke His disciples on the day of His triumphant entry, He said, "I say unto you that if these should hold their peace, these very stones would immediately cry out." They knew who He was. But it was only the darkened minds of man that failed to recognize Him. He was in the world, the world was made by Him, and yet, the world knew Him not. Evidently, that little donkey knew who He was. No man had ever ridden on that little donkey before, and yet, I'm sure that when Jesus sat on him, he was just as docile as could be. He knew who He was.

Someone has put words in the mouth of that little donkey; I think it was Chetterton. I don't know if I can recall it or not. It's coming, it's working, the juices are flowing and the circuits are coming together . . .

"When fishes flew and forests walked and figs grew upon a thorn, some moment when the moon was blood, then surely I was born. With an ugly face and ears like errant wings, the devil's walking parody of all four-footed things. The ancient outlaw the earth with stubborn, tattered will. Mock me, scourge me, I am dumb, but I hold my secret still, fools. I also had my day, one fierce day in sweet. I heard the shouts around my ears and there were palm branches at my feet."

The story of the donkey, I missed one line in there. I'll get it one of these days.

"He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not." One step further,

He came unto his own, and his own received him not ( John 1:11 ).

He said, "I am come to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." His own; He was their promised Messiah. He came to His own, but they said, "We have no king, but Caesar." They said, "We will not have this man to rule over us." And his own received Him not, and the prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled, He was despised and rejected of men. But, glorious good news!

As many as received him, to them gave he the power and the authority to become the sons of God, even as many as believed on his name ( John 1:12 ):

So, here He is, in the beginning with God, the creator of all things, coming to His creation not being recognized, not being apprehended, coming to His own not being received, and yet, as many as would receive Him and sow the gospel of grace, as many as would receive Him to them He gave the power to become the sons of God. The Son of God becoming man in order that He might make each of us sons of God who would believe in His name.

Which were born, not of blood ( John 1:13 ),

You cannot become a son of God through physical genealogy. I am not a son of God because my parents were Christians. My children are not Christians because I am a Christian. It's not of blood, it's not something that you can inherit from your parents or pass on to your children. This dynamic life as a child of God is

not of the will of the flesh ( John 1:13 ),

It is not something that you can set your mind to and become. That is, "I am going to live this new dynamic life. I'm not going to walk in darkness any more; I'm going to live a generous, self-sacrificing life, the life that is the ideal that God has declared for man." You can't do it by the will of the flesh.

nor is it by the will of man ( John 1:13 ),

It isn't by the force or coercion of others, or the encouragement of others. You cannot come into this new life because someone is pushing you or coercing you into it. This new birth can only come from God, born of God, as a child of God.

So, I was born once by blood, by the will of the flesh and by the will of man, here I am. That was my physical birth. But my spiritual birth can't take place that way. The spiritual birth has to come from God. And so, I have been born again by the Spirit of God, the new life.

And the Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us ( John 1:14 ),

This is, of course, the tremendous swing of the pendulum, if you can follow it. In the beginning was the Word, He was with God, He was God, He was in the beginning with God, and all things were made by Him. The divine, eternal creator. "And the Word was made flesh, and He dwelt among us..." This tremendous downward sweep from the area of the infinity into the realm of the finite, from the eternal into time. Surely our minds cannot grasp the scope of this.

The disciples, as years passed, and they had an opportunity to really reflect upon Jesus and their acquaintance and their relationship to Him, I'm certain were more and more amazed and marveled at what actually transpired.

As John begins his first epistle, he begins it much the same way as he declares, "That which was from the beginning, which we have seen, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes and gazed steadfastly upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of Life; (For that life was manifested, and we've seen it, and we bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested to us;)" ( 1 John 1:1-2 ). John is just reflecting on his relationship with Jesus. "That which is from the beginning, which we have heard..."

And suddenly they realized, "When we heard Him talk, we were listening to the voice of God. When we looked upon Him, we were looking upon God. When we touched Him, we were touching God. That eternal life! We saw Him, we gazed, we touched." Oh, the wonder of it all! And, John stands in awe and wonder of that experience that he had had.

Jesus said, "I and the Father are one." When Philip said, "Lord, just show us the Father, and we'll be satisfied." He said, "Philip, have I been so long a time with you, have you not seen me? He who hath seen me has seen the Father; how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? The works that I do I do not of myself: but the Father, he doeth the works. Now, believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake" ( John 14:8-11 ). In other words, "I've been doing the work of God. I've been showing you the Father."

We'll read in a moment, "No man has seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He has displayed Him." He has made Him known, He has declared Him. He that hath seen me has seen the Father. And so, do you want to know what God is like? Do you want to know the truth about God? Then you must look at Jesus Christ and study Him carefully, for He was God manifested in flesh. For the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, in order that He might reveal the Father unto man. Because man had developed such wrong concepts of God.

God has been maligned and lied against continually by Satan. And even today, Satan continues his work so that people have all kinds of grotesque, false concepts concerning God.

One of the most common phrases in profanity is that God would damn certain things or certain people. And you hear it so often, as though God is just desiring to damn everything and everybody. Nothing could be farther from the truth. God himself declares, the Bible declares concerning God, "He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." And God cried to Israel and said, "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will ye die?" saith the Lord, "Behold, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked. Turn ye!"

People see God as fury and wrath and judgment and fire and thunder, when in reality, He has a heart that yearns after your love and your fellowship. How people misread the Bible even.

In the book of Genesis when man first fell, and God came into the garden to commune with man and Adam hid himself, for he realized that he was naked, and God said, "Adam, where art thou?" Now, we have the words, but we don't have the tone of voice, and that's what people put into their own minds, the tone of voice. And so often, a person in reading that, puts in that tone of voice of an arresting officer holding the gun on the bank robber, "Hold your hands up, or I'll blast a hole through you!" "Adam, where art thou?!!" But, as I read the whole scripture, and I understand God through the whole revelation of Himself, I'm convinced that rather than the bark of an arresting officer, to hear the voice correctly, you will hear it as the sob of a heartbroken Father. "Adam, what have you done? Adam, where are you?" Just that broken heart of God over the failure of man. And this is what Jesus shows to us as He weeps over Jerusalem. "Oh, Jerusalem, if you only knew your possibilities, if you only knew the potentials, if you only knew the things that belong to your peace! But you don't. They are hid from your eyes, and as a result of your ignorance, devastation is going to come." And we see His chest as it is heaving, and we hear Him as He is sobbing, as He cries over Jerusalem, and the terror that will come because of their blindness, because of their ignorance. "If you only knew, if you only knew." And He weeps as He looks at the city and He knows the impending doom that is coming because of the path that they have chosen. And there you see the broken heart of the heavenly Father as He is weeping over the lost estate of man. Jesus came to reveal God. The Word became flesh and He dwelt among us in order that we might know the truth about God.

There was a publisher of a newspaper who declared himself an agnostic. And yet, every year his wife, who was a Christian, and the children would go to church for the Christmas Eve service and, because it was Christmas Eve and a family celebration, he went yearly with them, as the children would give their recitations and their programs and sing the carols. But this one particular year he decided that he wasn't going to make his annual pilgrimage to the church because he saw it as an act of hypocrisy. He said, "I do not believe in the incarnation, I do not believe that Jesus was God in the flesh. For I don't see any reason why God would have to come in the flesh. And therefore, I'm not going to be a hypocrite any longer. I'm not going to church with the family on Christmas." And despite all of the persuasive efforts of the wife, he could not be dissuaded from his position. And so, on Christmas Eve he saw the family leaving in a blizzard to go to the church to celebrate the Christmas Eve program, as he sat by the fire, got out a book and began to just sort of settle in to his reading.

Before long, a little bird tried to fly into the window, attracted by the light of the fire inside. And suffering outside in the blizzard, this little bird started flying up against the window, beating itself against the windowpane trying to come inside. It distracted him from his reading, and he thought, "Well, little bird go away!" But it wouldn't, it kept trying to fly in. And so, he finally decided, "Well, I guess I'll have to do something about it." And so, he went down to the barn and opened up the door and turned on the light, so that the little bird would be attracted to the light in the barn, hoping that it would see the light and fly on down and find the shelter there in the barn from the blizzard. Walking back up to the house, he found the little bird on the outside still trying to fly into the window. By now, it had begun to bloody itself from just flying up against the pane of glass. So, he tried to show the bird that there was the light on in the barn, and there was a place down there for it to go and to get warm and to be sheltered from the storm. And he started to sort of "Shoosh!" at the bird and swing at it a bit, but the more he did, the more frantic the little bird became in trying to fly into the glass and began to injure itself even more. And he found himself talking to the little bird. He said, "Little bird, I don't hate you, I'm trying to help you, don't you understand little bird? I'm your friend. I don't mean you harm, I want to help you. Poor stupid little bird, don't you know?" And then the thought came into his mind, "Oh, if only I could become a bird for a moment to communicate to this poor little creature that I don't hate it, I'm trying to help it." And suddenly, the light flashed! God became man because man so misunderstood God. He didn't hate man, He wasn't trying to harm man. He wanted to help man. He went into the house, got his overcoat and everything and headed off for church and met the family. He saw the reason for the incarnation, that God might communicate to us the truth about Himself, the truth that had been lost in the garbled concepts man had created of God.

So, the Word was made flesh, and He dwelt among us,

(and we [John said] beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)( John 1:14 )

We are sons of God through faith, but we have been begotten again through our faith, we've been born again. But there is only one begotten Son in the sense that Jesus was begotten of the Father and we beheld Him as the only begotten of the Father,

full of grace and truth ( John 1:14 ).

Now, John. There was a man sent from God; his name was John. He wasn't the light. He came to bear witness of the light.

And John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This is he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me; for he was before me ( John 1:15 ).

Now, John was, by physical birth, a cousin to Jesus. However, John was born before Jesus was born. Probably in about the sixth month of Mary's pregnancy when John was born. Yet, John is saying of Him, "He is preferred before me: for He was before me." So, he is talking about that pre-existence of Jesus prior to His incarnation.

And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ ( John 1:16-17 ).

Now, when God made man, God made man for fellowship. That was the purpose of God creating you, that He might receive just that praise and glory and all from your fellowship with Him, that He might enjoy and just receive that joy and blessing of just fellowshipping with you. You say, "Well, that sounds sort of selfish to me." Well, perhaps it was. Nothing I can do about it. That's why God created me. That's the only reason why God created me, really, that I might have fellowship with Him. That's the primary purpose, that we might have fellowship with Him.

Now, if you are not fulfilling that primary purpose of your life, then your life is bound to be empty, unfulfilling and ultimately frustrating. Because you're not fulfilling the basic purpose for which God created you. You're not answering to that basic need and necessity in man of worshipping God, fellowshipping with Him. But man did not live on this planet long before he broke that fellowship with God by disobedience, sinning against God in his disobeying of the commandment of God. And the net effect of sin is always that of severing fellowship with God. "God's hand is not short, that He cannot save; neither is his ear heavy, that He cannot hear: but your sins have separated between you and God" ( Isaiah 59:1-2 ). Sin always has that effect of separating a man from God.

God said to Adam, "In the day that you eat you will surely die." That is, the death of the consciousness of God within the heart of man. The death of the life of God, that Spirit of God and that life of God within man. It happened. Adam ate and that death took place, that spiritual death.

Now, God still longed for fellowship with man, but that fellowship had been severed by man because of man's sin. Now in order that man might have fellowship with God, something first had to be done about man's sin. And so, God sent Moses and God gave to Moses the law, the law of the sacrifices, the covering of sin, making possible the restoration of fellowship with God. And in part of the sacrificial offerings were these offerings that were just fellowship offerings. The communion offerings, the meal offering, in which I just would just sit and eat with God and fellowship with God after the sin offering; then, that offering of consecration, the burnt offering, and then, the peace offering, the fellowship offering, where I just sit down and eat with God and fellowship with Him, but that could not be until first of all the sin offering. I had to take care, first, of the sin. And so, under the law and under Moses, the covenant of God through Moses, there was that provision for the covering of sin so that sinful man could be restored into fellowship with God and could sit and commune and eat with God.

But these offerings of the bulls and goats could not put away sin. All they could do was cover sin, and they could point to an offering that God Himself was going to make, by which the sin of man could be put away so that the fellowship between man and God could be totally and completely restored.

And so, the law came by Moses. This is not looking at the law in a derogatory sense. This is looking at the law as God intended it as a tool by which man could come into fellowship with God, but an imperfect tool because of man's failure. There's nothing wrong with the law, it was good, it was holy. But man was still sinful, and thus, the necessity of year after year the offering of the sacrifices for sin.

So, God has established now through Jesus Christ a new covenant of grace and truth. By the law, Moses' covenant with God, but now through Jesus Christ a new covenant, a new covenant that is established on the grace of God and the truth of Jesus Christ. So, "The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ."

No man has seen God at any time ( John 1:18 );

Of course, people immediately say, "Well, what about Moses?" When God said to Moses, "What would you like?" He said, "Lord, I'd just like to see you." And God said, "You can't see Me and live." But God said, "I'll tell you what, you get there in the rocks and I will pass by and then you can see the afterglow." It says "the hinder part," but it's actually the afterglow of God having passed by a spot and then Moses looking at the radiation of the afterglow. And he became irradiated in looking at that. His face began to shine so that when he came back to the children of Israel they couldn't look at his face. They said, "Cover it, man, you're shining. We can't stand to look at your face." But no man has seen God at any time. Your physical body just couldn't handle that. It'd be like trying to stand in the sun; you'd be consumed.

Now, God has promised that the pure in heart shall see Him, but not in this body. We're going to have to have a change of body. Paul said, "This corruption must put on incorruption, this mortal must put on immortality" ( 1 Corinthians 15:53 ). One day I expect to see God, but not in this body, in my new body. This body is designed for the earth of the earthy, designed for the environmental conditions of the earth. My new body, far superior, designed for the heavenly environment. And in that new body, I can behold the face of the Lord and I can sit and worship at His feet. What a glorious day that will be!

No man has seen God at any time;

but the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath manifested him ( John 1:18 ).

Declared Him, demonstrated Him, brought Him forth into full revelation, He has revealed Him to us.

And this is the record of John [the Baptist], when the Jews sent the priests and the Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who are you? ( John 1:19 )

John was baptizing, we read, in the wilderness, and multitudes of people were going out, being attracted by this man. And so in Jerusalem, the religious leaders got upset, "This guy's out there baptizing and we didn't send him out there and he doesn't have our authority." And they sent the priests and Levites out to ask the guy, "Who are you anyhow?" And this is the record of John.

He confessed, and he did not deny; but he confessed, I am not the Messiah ( John 1:20 ).

And that was really, "Who are you? Are you saying that you are the Messiah? Are you pretending?" He said, "I am not the Messiah." And because the word Christ is Messiah, so you've got to remember that. "I am not the Messiah."

And they asked him, Are you then Elijah? ( John 1:21 )

Now, the prophecy said that Elijah would first come and turn the hearts of the children to the fathers before the coming of the great day of the Lord. And so, "Are you Elijah?" The Jews even to the present day at their Passover services, in their home at their Passover celebrations, have the chair, the empty chair. The door is open, waiting for Elijah. "Are you Elijah, forerunner of the Messiah?"

And he said, I am not ( John 1:21 ).

Now, this brings confusion to some people because in Matthew's gospel, about the seventeenth chapter, Jesus talking about John said, "This is Elijah, if you're able to receive it." But John said, "I am not." That is, he is not the full complete fulfillment of the prophecy of Elijah. He came in the spirit and the power of Elijah.

Going back to Luke's gospel, chapter l, when Gabriel the angel appeared unto Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, as he was ministering during his course in the temple. And when Zacharias saw the angel standing there at the right side of the altar, he was greatly afraid, and he said to Zacharias, "Fear not, I am Gabriel, I am standing in the presence of God and I have been sent unto thee to let you know that your wife Elizabeth in her old age is going to conceive and bear a son and thou shalt call his name John, and he shall go forth in the spirit and the power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers." And he began to tell him of the ministry of his son, John the Baptist. "He'll go forth in the spirit and the power of Elijah." But when they asked John plainly, "Are you then Elijah?" he said, "No." And they said,

Are you that Prophet? ( John 1:21 )

Now Moses promised, "And there shall come a prophet like unto myself; and to him shall you give heed" ( Deuteronomy 18:15 ). "Are you that prophet that Moses spoke about?"

And he said, No ( John 1:21 ).

Twenty questions!

And they then said unto him, Who are you? that we may give an answer to those who have sent us. What do you say of yourself? And he said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as was predicted by Isaiah the prophet. And they which were sent were of the Pharisees. And they asked him, and said unto him, Why do you baptize then, if you are not the Messiah, or Elijah, or the Prophet? And John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there is standing one among you, whom you do not know; He it is, whose coming after me is preferred before me, whose shoe latchet I'm not worthy to untie. These things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing. And the next day John saw Jesus coming unto him, and he said, Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world! ( John 1:22-29 )

Oh, what a tremendous statement concerning Jesus: the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.

How did the Lamb of God remove the sin? By a sacrificial substitutionary death. That was just deeply imbedded in their mind as a result of their culture and their worship and their religion. How then is Jesus to take away the sin of the world? By His substitutionary death. "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world."

This is he of whom I said, After me there comes a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore I am come baptizing with water ( John 1:30-31 ).

Now, "I knew Him not" and then we have a new phrase, "But that He should be made manifest to Israel, I have come baptizing with water. That's why I'm here, in order that this Man might be made manifest to Israel. He's my cousin, I didn't realize who He was. I knew Him; I didn't know who He was. I didn't know that He was the One. I know that God sent me to prepare you the way of the Lord, make straight His paths, but I didn't know who He was. But the purpose of my being here is that He might be made manifest to Israel. And I knew Him not, but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore I am come baptizing with water."

And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shall see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizes with the Holy Spirit ( John 1:32-33 ).

So John said, "I didn't know Him until I saw the Spirit like a dove coming and resting upon him, and I know that the one who told me to go out and baptize also told me that the one that you see, the Spirit descending and staying upon, that is the one who is going to baptize with the Holy Spirit."

And John said,

I saw and I bare record that this is the Son of God ( John 1:34 ).

John was sent as a witness of the light. What is John's witness concerning Jesus Christ? He is the Son of God.

Now the next day after this John was standing with two of his disciples; and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he said, Behold the Lamb of God! ( John 1:35-36 )

Again, he had said earlier, "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world." Now he just says, "Behold, the Lamb of God."

As John is writing the book of Revelation, the book of Revelation centers around the Lamb of God. To understand the book of Revelation, you've got to see the Lamb. And our first view of the Lamb of God, of course, is in the first chapter of Revelation, as he describes Christ in His glory. But then, as he gets into the heavenly scene, chapter five, when he was weeping, sobbing convulsively, because no one was found worthy to take the scroll or loose the seals and the elders said unto him, "John, don't sob. Behold, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah hath prevailed to take the scroll and loose the seals. And I turned and I saw Him as a Lamb that had been slaughtered. And He came and He took the scroll out of the right hand of Him that sitting upon the throne. And when He took the scroll out of the right hand of Him sitting upon the throne, the twenty-four elders came forth with their little golden vials full of odors, which are the prayers of the saints, and they offered them before the throne of God. And they sang a new song saying, 'Worthy is the Lamb to take the scroll and loose the seals, for He was slain and has redeemed us by His blood'" ( Revelation 5:5-9 ) "Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world."

One day, by the grace of God, we'll be standing in that heavenly scene and we'll see Him as He comes and takes the scroll and we'll hear there, "Behold, the Lamb of God who has taken away our sins, the sin of the world."

So, John is now with two of his disciples and John is saying to his disciples, they're standing there talking, he says, "Behold, the Lamb of God."

And the two disciples heard what John said, and they followed Jesus ( John 1:37 ).

Now, John's testimony of Jesus is, "Hey, you know, I'm only an attendant to the bridegroom, and I'm honored when the bridegroom is honored, and He must increase, I must decrease." So, John is now pointing his own disciples to Jesus. And one of those disciples happened to be Andrew, the brother of Peter. And so, these two disciples started to follow Jesus and,

Jesus turned, and he saw them following him, and he said, Who are you looking for? And they said unto him, Rabbi (which is, being interpreted, Master,) where do you live? And Jesus said, Come and see. And they came and saw where he was living, and they stayed with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour ( John 1:38-39 ).

It was getting late in the afternoon, four o'clock.

One of the two which heard John speaking, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother ( John 1:40 ).

Now, Andrew, we're not told too much about. He's Simon Peter's brother, but it is interesting that in the New Testament we always find Andrew bringing people to Jesus. That seemed to be his ministry, just bringing people to Jesus, but what a beautiful ministry that is! It was Andrew who brought the little boy to Jesus with the five loaves and two fish. And you'll see him bringing people to Jesus. So, Andrew, first of all,

found his own brother Simon, and he said unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ ( John 1:41 ).

So, there you see the Christ is Messiah.

And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, You're Simon the son of Jonah: and you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone ( John 1:42 ).

"You're Simon, the son of Jonah, but you're going to be called Cephas, the stone."

The following day Jesus came forth into the area of Galilee, and he found Philip, and he said unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, which was the same city where Andrew and Peter originated ( John 1:43-44 ).

Actually, Andrew and Peter evidently moved from Bethsaida to Capernaum because Peter had a house in Capernaum where Jesus stayed. But Bethsaida was probably their hometown on up about five miles from Capernaum around the Sea of Galilee and up near where the Jordan River comes into the Sea of Galilee. Now,

Philip found Nathanael, and said unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph ( John 1:45 ).

"We found Him, the one that Moses wrote about, the one the prophets have written about--Jesus of Nazareth."

And Nathanael said unto him, Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip said unto him, Come and see ( John 1:46 ).

Nazareth evidently didn't have too good of a reputation. And so, Philip's answer was just a good answer, "You just come and see."

So Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and he said of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! ( John 1:47 )

You're a straight shooter.

And Nathanael said unto him, How did you know me? And Jesus answered and said unto him, Before Philip called you, when you were sitting there under that fig tree, I saw you. And Nathanael answered and said unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; you're the King of Israel. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? [Stick around,] you're going to see greater things than that! And he said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, After this you're going to see the heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man ( John 1:48-51 ).

Where do we find that in scripture? The heaven opened and the angels ascending and descending. Remember when Jacob was running from his brother Esau and he came to Bethel and he was tired and he was scared and he got a rock for a pillow, and he went to sleep and dreamed. In his dream he saw the Lord of heaven standing at the top of the ladder, and the angels of God were ascending and descending. And God spoke to him and said, "Behold, I am the Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." And in the morning when Jacob got up, he said, "Truly the Lord is in this place and I knew it not."

Now, Jesus, in essence, is saying, "I am the ladder. I am the access by which man can come to God. I'm the One who ties heaven and earth together. You're going to see heaven open. You're going to see the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man." So, the Son of man is the ladder by which heaven is joined to earth.

When one of Job's friends counseled him, "Look man, just get right with God and you'll be over with your problems," he said, "Thanks a lot, you bag of wind! You tell me get right with God. You think you're helping me? Who am I that I can plead my case with God? God is so vast, I look for Him and I don't see Him! I look to my right, I look to my left, I look behind me, and I can't see Him." And he said, "There is no daysman between us who can lay his hand on us both. God is so vast. He fills the universe. I can't see Him. How can I plead my case with Him when I am just so nothing and God is so great, and there's no one between us that can touch us both. Heaven is so high, how can I ascend? How can I plead my case before God?" But Jesus is the answer to that cry of Job. The daysman who stands between God and man, who touches God and who touches me. The daysman between us. He is the ladder that has bridged from the infinite to the finite, from eternal to the time.


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Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on John 2:15". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

1. The first cleansing of the temple 2:13-22

The Synoptics record Jesus’ cleansing of the temple after His triumphal entry (Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-16; Luke 19:45-46). Only John noted this cleansing of the temple at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. The differences between the two cleansing incidents and their placement in the chronology of Jesus’ ministry argue for two cleansings rather than one. [Note: See W. Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel According to John , 1:120; and Morris, pp. 166-69.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 2:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

Jesus witnessed the buying and selling going on in the temple courtyard (Gr. hieron). This was undoubtedly the outer Court of the Gentiles, not the temple building (Gr. naos). [Note: See the diagram "Jerusalem in New Testament Times" at the end of these notes.] Probably the custom of selling sacrificial animals and exchanging various types of silver and copper money (e.g., Persian, Syrian, Egyptian, Grecian, and Roman) for temple coinage began as a convenience for pilgrims. The priests accepted only Tyrian coins because of the purity of their silver. By Jesus’ day this practice had escalated into a major business for the priests and had replaced spiritual worship in the courtyard during the Passover season. [Note: See Edersheim, 1:367-70.] The priests transformed this area from a place of quiet prayer into a noisy bazaar. It was virtually impossible for Gentiles to worship there, the only courtyard accessible to them, with all the business going on. This was probably where the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:27) and other Gentiles like him worshipped when they came to Jerusalem. The priests set up tables for the moneychangers only for about three weeks leading up to Passover. [Note: Mishnah Shekalim 1:1, 3.]

Jesus responded to this situation actively and verbally. He claimed that God was His Father and that He acted for God in what He did. John’s vivid description has inspired many painters who have drawn what they believed this action-packed scene must have looked like. John gave the reason for Jesus’ deeds as His concern for the misuse of the temple. He did not mention the corruption that may have been going on as the priests bought and sold and changed money. Jesus’ action constituted a major threat to the financial arrangements for the sacrificial system. [Note: Richard Bauckham, "Jesus’ Demonstration in the Temple," in Law and Religion: Essays on the Place of the Law in Israel and Early Christianity, pp. 72-89.]

"The Talmud also records the curse which a distinguished Rabbi of Jerusalem (Abba Shaul) pronounced upon the High-Priestly families (including that of Annas), who were ’themselves High-Priests, their sons treasurers (Gizbarin), their sons-in-law assistant-treasurers (Ammarkalin), while their servants beat the people with sticks.’ (Pes. [Pesiqta] 57 a) What a comment this passage offers on the bearing of Jesus, as He made a scourge to drive out the very servants who ’beat the people with sticks,’ and upset their unholy traffic!" [Note: Edersheim, 1:372.]

By claiming God as His Father, Jesus was citing authority for His action, not claiming equality with the Father, which He did another time (John 5:18). To those present, the issue was clearly Jesus’ authority, not His identity (John 2:18).

Though Jesus’ action was violent, it evidently did not constitute a threat to the peace in the temple area. Roman soldiers from the adjoining Antonia Fortress would have intervened quickly if it had. Jesus was forceful but not cruel. There is no indication that He injured anyone with His fairly harmless scourge of cords (Gr. phragellion ek schoinion). The Greek masculine plural pantas ("all") argues for Jesus driving the traders out, not just the animals, which the neuter plural panta would identify. Schoinion ("cords") elsewhere describes the ropes on a ship (Acts 27:32).

"It is clear that it was not so much the physical force as the moral power he employed that emptied the courts." [Note: Morris, p. 171.]

The Old Testament predicted that Messiah would come and purify the Levites (Malachi 3:1-3; cf. Zechariah 14:21). Jesus’ action perhaps recalled these prophecies to the godly in Israel who may have wondered if Jesus was the Messiah. His actions did not fulfill these prophecies, however, which appear in millennial contexts. Jesus will yet return to the temple that will be standing in Jerusalem when He returns at His second coming and purify the Levites serving there then. This will be preparation for His messianic reign that will follow. Another view is that Jesus’ first coming to the temple did fulfill Malachi’s prophecy. [Note: Bailey, p. 164.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on John 2:15". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And when he had made a scourge of small cords,.... That is, Jesus, as the Persic version expresses it. This scourge might be made either of thongs cut out of the hides of beasts slain in sacrifice; or of the cords, with which the owners of the cattle had brought them to this place; or with which they had fastened them in it. And it seems to be made, and used, not so much for force and terror, as to intimate, that these persons, the violators of the holy place, deserved the scourge of divine wrath and punishment; as well as to show the miraculous power of Christ in driving such a number of men before him, with so small and insignificant a weapon; for the phrase is diminutive. The reason given by Dr. Lightfoot, and others, why Christ made use of a whip, or scourge, rather than a staff, is, because it was contrary to a Jewish canon d to go into the mountain of the house, or temple, with a staff in the hand; and yet the man of the mountain of the house, or the master of it, who used to go about every ward with torches burning before him, if he found a Levite asleep in his ward e, struck him במקלו, with his staff, and had power to burn his clothes.

He drove them all out of the temple; that is, he drove out "the men", as the Persic version reads; the merchants, the sellers of oxen, sheep, and doves, and the money changers: "and the sheep, and the oxen" likewise; the Persic version adds, "doves"; but these are after mentioned:

and poured out the changers money; off of the tables, or out of the boxes, or dishes, or drawers, or purses, in which it was put:

and overthrew the tables; at which they sat, and on which they told their money.

d Misn. Beracot, c. 9. sect. 5. e Misn. Middot, c. 1. sect. 2.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on John 2:15". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

Temple-Merchandise Punished; Christ's Death and Resurrection Foretold.

      12 After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.   13 And the Jews' passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem,   14 And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:   15 And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables;   16 And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father's house a house of merchandise.   17 And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.   18 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?   19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.   20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?   21 But he spake of the temple of his body.   22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

      Here we have,

      I. The short visit Christ made to Capernaum, John 2:12; John 2:12. It was a large and populous city, about a day's journey from Cana; it is called his own city (Matthew 9:1), because he made it his head-quarters in Galilee, and what little rest he had was there. It was a place of concourse, and therefore Christ chose it, that the fame of his doctrine and miracles might thence spread the further. Observe,

      1. The company that attended him thither: his mother, his brethren, and his disciples. Wherever Christ went, (1.) He would not go alone, but would take those with him who had put themselves under his guidance, that he might instruct them, and that they might attest his miracles. (2.) He could not go alone, but they would follow him, because they liked the sweetness either of his doctrine or of his wine, John 6:26; John 6:26. His mother, though he had lately given her to understand that in the works of his ministry he should pay no more respect to her than to any other person, yet followed him; not to intercede with him, but to learn of him. His brethren also and relations, who were at the marriage and were wrought upon by the miracle there, and his disciples, who attended him wherever he went. It should seem, people were more affected with Christ's miracles at first than they were afterwards, when custom made them seem less strange.

      2. His continuance there, which was at this time not many days, designing now only to begin the acquaintance he would afterwards improve there. Christ was still upon the remove, would not confine his usefulness to one place, because many needed him. And he would teach his followers to look upon themselves but as sojourners in this world, and his ministers to follow their opportunities, and go where their work led them. We do not now find Christ in the synagogues, but he privately instructed his friends, and thus entered upon his work by degrees. It is good for young ministers to accustom themselves to pious and edifying discourse in private, that they may with the better preparation, and greater awe, approach their public work. He did not stay long at Capernaum, because the passover was at hand, and he must attend it at Jerusalem; for every thing is beautiful in its season. The less good must give way to the greater, and all the dwellings of Jacob must give place to the gates of Zion.

      II. The passover he kept at Jerusalem; it is the first after his baptism, and the evangelist takes notice of all the passovers he kept henceforward, which were four in all, the fourth that at which he suffered (three years after this), and half a year was now past since his baptism. Christ, being made under the law, observed the passover at Jerusalem; see Exodus 23:17. Thus he taught us by his example a strict observance of divine institutions, and a diligent attendance on religious assemblies. He went up to Jerusalem when the passover was at hand, that he might be there with the first. It is called the Jews' passover, because it was peculiar to them (Christ is our Passover); now shortly God will no longer own it for his. Christ kept the passover at Jerusalem yearly, ever since he was twelve years old, in obedience to the law; but now that he has entered upon his public ministry we may expect something more from him than before; and two things we are here told he did there:--

      1. He purged the temple,John 2:14-17; John 2:14-17. Observe here,

      (1.) The first place we find him in at Jerusalem was the temple, and, it should seem, he did not make any public appearance till he came thither; for his presence and preaching there were that glory of the latter house which was to exceed the glory of the former,Haggai 2:9. It was foretold (Malachi 3:1): I will send my messenger, John Baptist; he never preached in the temple, but the Lord, whom ye seek, he shall suddenly come to his temple, suddenly after the appearing of John Baptist; so that this was the time, and the temple the place, when, and where, the Messiah was to be expected.

      (2.) The first work we find him at in the temple was the purging of it; for so it was foretold there (Malachi 3:2; Malachi 3:3): He shall sit as a refiner and purify the sons of Levi. Now was come the time of reformation. Christ came to be the great reformer; and, according to the method of the reforming kings of Judah, he first purged out what was amiss (and that used to be passover-work too, as in Hezekiah's time, 2 Chronicles 30:14; 2 Chronicles 30:15, and Josiah's, 2 Kings 23:4, c.), and then taught them to do well. First purge out the old leaven, and then keep the feast. Christ's design in coming into the world was to reform the world and he expects that all who come to him should reform their hearts and lives, Genesis 35:2. And this he has taught us by purging the temple. See here,

      [1.] What were the corruptions that were to be purged out. He found a market in one of the courts of the temple, that which was called the court of the Gentiles, within the mountain of that house. There, First, They sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, for sacrifice; we will suppose, not for common use, but for the convenience of those who came out of the country, and could not bring their sacrifices in kind along with them; see Deuteronomy 14:24-26. This market perhaps had been kept by the pool of Bethesda (John 5:2; John 5:2), but was admitted into the temple by the chief priests, for filthy lucre; for, no doubt, the rents for standing there, and fees for searching the beasts sold there, and certifying that they were without blemish, would be a considerable revenue to them. Great corruptions in the church owe their rise to the love of money, 1 Timothy 6:5; 1 Timothy 6:10 Secondly, They changed money, for the convenience of those that were to pay a half-shekel in specie every year, by way of poll, for the service of the tabernacle (Exodus 30:12), and no doubt they got by it.

      [2.] What course our Lord took to purge out those corruptions. He had seen these in the temple formerly, when he was in a private station; but never went about to drive them out till now, when he had taken upon him the public character of a prophet. He did not complain to the chief priests, for he knew they countenanced those corruptions. But he himself,

      First, Drove out the sheep and oxen, and those that sold them, out of the temple. He never used force to drive any into the temple, but only to drive those out that profaned it. He did not seize the sheep and oxen for himself, did not distrain and impound them, though he found them damage faissant-actual trespassers upon his Father's ground; he only drove them out, and their owners with them. He made a scourge of small cords, which probably they had led their sheep and oxen with, and thrown them away upon the ground, whence Christ gathered them. Sinners prepare the scourges with which they themselves will be driven out from the temple of the Lord. He did not make a scourge to chastise the offenders (his punishments are of another nature), but only to drive out the cattle; he aimed no further than at reformation. See Romans 13:3; Romans 13:4; 2 Corinthians 10:8.

      Secondly, He poured out the changers' money, to kerma--the small money--the Nummorum Famulus. In pouring out the money, he showed his contempt of it; he threw it to the ground, to the earth as it was. In overthrowing the tables, he showed his displeasure against those that make religion a matter of worldly gain. Money-changers in the temple are the scandal of it. Note, In reformation, it is good to make thorough work; he drove them all out; and not only threw out the money, but, in overturning the tables, threw out the trade too.

      Thirdly, He said to them that sold doves (sacrifices for the poor), Take these things hence. The doves, though they took up less room, and were a less nuisance than the oxen and sheep, yet must not be allowed there. The sparrows and swallows were welcome, that were left to God's providence (Psalms 84:3), but not the doves, that were appropriated to man's profit. God's temple must not be made a pigeon-house. But see Christ's prudence in his zeal. When he drove out the sheep and oxen, the owners might follow them; when he poured out the money, they might gather it up again; but, if he had turned the doves flying, perhaps they could not have been retrieved; therefore to them that sold doves he said, Take these things hence. Note, Discretion must always guide and govern our zeal, that we do nothing unbecoming ourselves, or mischievous to others.

      Fourthly, He gave them a good reason for what he did: Make not my Father's house a house of merchandise. Reason for conviction should accompany force for correction.

      a. Here is a reason why they should not profane the temple, because it was the house of God, and not to be made a house of merchandise. Merchandise is a good thing in the exchange, but not in the temple. This was, (a.) to alienate that which was dedicated to the honour of God; it was sacrilege; it was robbing God. (b.) It was to debase that which was solemn and awful, and to make it mean. (c.) It was to disturb and distract those services in which men ought to be most solemn, serious, and intent. It was particularly an affront to the sons of the stranger in their worship to be forced to herd themselves with the sheep and oxen, and to be distracted in their worship by the noise of a market, for this market was kept in the court of the Gentiles. (d.) It was to make the business of religion subservient to a secular interest; for the holiness of the place must advance the market, and promote the sale of their commodities. Those make God's house a house of merchandise, [a.] Whose minds are filled with cares about worldly business when they are attending on religious exercises, as those, Amos 8:5; Ezekiel 33:31. [b.] Who perform divine offices for filthy lucre, and sell the gifts of the Holy Ghost, Acts 8:18.

      b. Here is a reason why he was concerned to purge it, because it was his Father's house. And, (a.) Therefore he had authority to purge it, for he was faithful, as a Son over his own house.Hebrews 3:5; Hebrews 3:6. In calling God his Father, he intimates that he was the Messiah, of whom it was said, He shall build a house for my name, and I will be his Father,2 Samuel 7:13; 2 Samuel 7:14. (b.) Therefore he had a zeal for the purging of it: "It is my Father's house, and therefore I cannot bear to see it profaned, and him dishonoured." Note, If God be our Father in heaven, and it be therefore our desire that his name may be sanctified, it cannot but be our grief to see it polluted. Christ's purging the temple thus may justly be reckoned among his wonderful works. Inter omnia signa quæ fecit Dominus, hoc mihi videtur esse mirabilius--Of all Christ's wonderful works this appears to me the most wonderful.--Hieron. Considering, [a.] That he did it without the assistance of any of his friends; probably it had been no hard matter to have raised the mob, who had a great veneration for the temple, against these profaners of it; but Christ never countenanced any thing that was tumultuous or disorderly. There was one to uphold, but his own arm did it. [b.] That he did it without the resistance of any of his enemies, either the market-people themselves, or the chief priests that gave them their licences, and had the posse templi--temple force, at their command. But the corruption was too plain to be justified; sinners' own consciences are reformers' best friends; yet that was not all, there was a divine power put forth herein, a power over the spirits of men; and in this non-resistance of theirs that scripture was fulfilled (Malachi 3:2; Malachi 3:3), Who shall stand when he appeareth?

      Fifthly, Here is the remark which his disciples made upon it (John 2:17; John 2:17): They remembered that it was written, The Zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. They were somewhat surprised at first to see him to whom they were directed as the Lamb of God in such a heat, and him whom they believed to be the King of Israel take so little state upon him as to do this himself; but one scripture came to their thoughts, which taught them to reconcile this action both with the meekness of the Lamb of God and with the majesty of the King of Israel; for David, speaking of the Messiah, takes notice of his zeal for God's house, as so great that it even ate him up, it made him forget himself, Psalms 69:9. Observe, 1. The disciples came to understand the meaning of what Christ did, by remembering the scriptures: They remembered now that it was written. Note, The word of God and the works of God do mutually explain and illustrate each other. Dark scriptures are expounded by their accomplishment in providence, and difficult providences are made easy by comparing them with the scriptures. See of what great use it is to the disciples of Christ to be ready and mighty in the scriptures, and to have their memories well stored with scripture truths, by which they will be furnished for every good work, 2. The scripture they remembered was very apposite: The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. David was in this a type of Christ that he was zealous for God's house,Psalms 132:2; Psalms 132:3. What he did for it was with all his might; see 1 Chronicles 29:2. The latter part of that verse (Psalms 69:9) is applied to Christ (Romans 15:3), as the former part of it here. All the graces that were to be found among the Old-Testament saints were eminently in Christ, and particularly this of zeal for the house of God, and in them, as they were patterns to us, so they were types of him. Observe, (1.) Jesus Christ was zealously affected to the house of God, his church: he loved it, and was always jealous for its honour and welfare. (2.) This zeal did even eat him up; it made him humble himself, and spend himself, and expose himself. My zeal has consumed me,Psalms 119:139. Zeal for the house of God forbids us to consult our own credit, ease, and safety, when they come in competition with our duty and Christ's service, and sometimes carries on our souls in our duty so far and so fast that our bodies cannot keep pace with them, and makes us as deaf as our Master was to those who suggested, Spare thyself. The grievances here redressed might seem but small, and such as should have been connived at; but such was Christ's zeal that he could not bear even those that sold and bought in the temple. Si ibi ebrios inveniret quid faceret Dominus! (saith St. Austin.) If he had found drunkards in the temple, how much more would he have been displeased!

      2. Christ, having thus purged the temple, gave a sign to those who demanded it to prove his authority for so doing. Observe here,

      (1.) Their demand of a sign: Then answered the Jews, that is the multitude of the people, with their leaders. Being Jews, they should rather have stood by him, and assisted him to vindicate the honour of their temple; but, instead of this, they objected against it. Note, Those who apply themselves in good earnest to the work of reformation must expect to meet with opposition. When they could object nothing against the thing itself, they questioned his authority to do it: "What sign showest thou unto us, to prove thyself authorized and commissioned to do these things?" It was indeed a good work to purge the temple; but what had he to do to undertake it, who was in no office there? They looked upon it as an act of jurisdiction, and that he must prove himself a prophet, yea, more than a prophet. But was not the thing itself sign enough? His ability to drive so many from their posts, without opposition, was a proof of his authority; he that was armed with such a divine power was surely armed with a divine commission. What ailed these buyers and sellers, that they fled, that they were driven back? Surely it was at the presence of the Lord (Psalms 114:5; Psalms 114:7), no less a presence.

      (2.) Christ's answer to this demand, John 2:19; John 2:19. He did not immediately work a miracle to convince them, but gave them a sign in something to come, the truth of which must appear by the event, according to Deuteronomy 18:21; Deuteronomy 18:22.

      Now, [1.] The sign that he gives them is his own death and resurrection. He refers them to that which would be, First, His last sign. If they would not be convinced by what they saw and heard, let them wait. Secondly, The great sign to prove him to be the Messiah; for concerning him it was foretold that he should be bruised (Isaiah 53:5), cut off (Daniel 9:26), and yet that he should not see corruption, Psalms 16:10 These things were fulfilled in the blessed Jesus, and therefore truly he was the Son of God, and had authority in the temple, his Father's house.

      [2.] He foretels his death and resurrection, not in plain terms, as he often did to his disciples, but in figurative expressions; as afterwards, when he gave this for a sign, he called it the sign of the prophet Jonas, so here, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Thus he spoke in parables to those who were willingly ignorant, that they might not perceive,Matthew 13:13; Matthew 13:14. Those that will not see shall not see. Nay, this figurative speech used here proved such a stumbling-block to them that it was produced in evidence against him at his trial to prove him a blasphemer. Matthew 26:60; Matthew 26:61. Had they humbly asked him the meaning of what he said, he would have told them, and it had been a savour of life unto life to them, but they were resolved to cavil, and it proved a savour of death unto death. They that would not be convinced were hardened, and the manner of expressing this prediction occasioned the accomplishment of the prediction itself. First, He foretels his death by the Jews' malice, in these words, Destroy you this temple; that is, "You will destroy it, I know you will. I will permit you to destroy it." Note, Christ, even at the beginning of his ministry, had a clear foresight of all his sufferings at the end of it, and yet went on cheerfully in it. It is good, at setting out, to expect the worst. Secondly, He foretels his resurrection by his own power: In three days I will raise it up. There were others that were raised, but Christ raised himself, resumed his own life.

      [3.] He chose to express this by destroying and re-edifying the temple, First, Because he was now to justify himself in purging the temple, which they had profaned; as if he had said, "You that defile one temple will destroy another; and I will prove my authority to purge what you have defiled by raising what you will destroy." The profaning of the temple is the destroying of it, and its reformation its resurrection. Secondly, Because the death of Christ was indeed the destruction of the Jewish temple, the procuring cause of it; and his resurrection was the raising up of another temple, the gospel church, Zechariah 6:12. The ruins of their place and nation (John 11:48; John 11:48) were the riches of the world. See Amos 9:11; Acts 15:16.

      (3.) Their cavil at this answer: "Forty and six years was this temple in building,John 2:20; John 2:20 Temple work was always slow work, and canst thou make such quick work of it?" Now here, [1.] They show some knowledge; they could tell how long the temple was in building. Dr. Lightfoot computes that it was just forty-six years from the founding of Zerubbabel's temple, in the second year of Cyrus, to the complete settlement of the temple service, in the 32nd year of Artaxerxes; and the same from Herod's beginning to build this temple, in the 18th year of his reign, to this very time, when the Jews said that this as just forty-six years: okodomethe--hath this temple been built. [2.] They show more ignorance, First, Of the meaning of Christ's words. Note, Men often run into gross mistakes by understanding that literally which the scripture speaks figuratively. What abundance of mischief has been done by interpreting, This is my body, after a corporal and carnal manner! Secondly, Of the almighty power of Christ, as if he could do no more than another man. Had they known that this was he who built all things in six days they would not have made it such an absurdity that he should build a temple in three days.

      (4.) A vindication of Christ's answer from their cavil. The difficulty is soon solved by explaining the terms: He spoke of the temple of his body,John 2:21; John 2:21. Though Christ had discovered a great respect for the temple, in purging it, yet he will have us know that the holiness of it, which he was so jealous for, was but typical, and leads us to the consideration of another temple of which that was but a shadow, the substance being Christ, Hebrews 9:9; Colossians 2:17. Some think that when he said, Destroy this temple, he pointed to his own body, or laid his hand upon it; however, it is certain that he spoke of the temple of his body. Note, The body of Christ is the true temple, of which that at Jerusalem was a type. [1.] Like the temple, it was built by immediate divine direction: "A body hast thou prepared me," 1 Chronicles 28:19. [2.] Like the temple, it was a holy house; it is called that holy thing. [3.] It was, like the temple, the habitation of God's glory; there the eternal Word dwelt, the true shechinah. He is Emmanuel--God with us. [4.] The temple was the place and medium of intercourse between God and Israel: there God revealed himself to them; there they presented themselves and their services to him. Thus by Christ God speaks to us, and we speak to him. Worshippers looked towards that house, 1 Kings 8:30; 1 Kings 8:35. So we must worship God with an eye to Christ.

      (5.) A reflection which the disciples made upon this, long after, inserted here, to illustrate the story (John 2:22; John 2:22): When he was risen from the dead, some years after, his disciples remembered that he had said this. We found them, John 2:17; John 2:17, remembering what had been written before of him, and here we find them remembering what they had heard from him. Note, The memories of Christ's disciples should be like the treasure of the good house-holder, furnished with things both new and old,Matthew 13:52. Now observe,

      [1.] When they remembered that saying: When he was risen from the dead. It seems, they did not at this time fully understand Christ's meaning, for they were as yet but babes in knowledge; but they laid up the saying in their hearts, and afterwards it became both intelligible and useful. Note, It is good to hear for the time to come,Isaiah 42:23. The juniors in years and profession should treasure up those truths of which at present they do not well understand either the meaning or the use, for they will be serviceable to them hereafter, when they come to greater proficiency. It was said of the scholars of Pythagoras that his precepts seemed to freeze in them till they were forty years old, and then they began to thaw; so this saying of Christ revived in the memories of his disciples when he was risen from the dead; and why the? First, Because then the Spirit was poured out to bring things to their remembrance which Christ had said to them, and to make them both easy and ready to them, John 14:26; John 14:26. That very day that Christ rose form the dead he opened their understandings,Luke 24:45. Secondly, Because then this saying of Christ was fulfilled. When the temple of his body had been destroyed and was raised again, and that upon the third day, then they remembered this among other words which Christ had said to this purport. Note, It contributes much to the understanding of the scripture to observe the fulfilling of the scripture. The event will expound the prophecy.

      [2.] What use they made of it: They believed the scripture, and the word that Jesus had said; their belief of these was confirmed and received fresh support and vigour. They were slow of heart to believe (Luke 24:25), but they were sure. The scripture and the word of Christ are here put together, not because they concur and exactly agree together, but because they mutually illustrate and strengthen each other. When the disciples saw both what they had read in the Old Testament, and what they had heard from Christ's own mouth, fulfilled in his death and resurrection, they were the more confirmed in their belief of both.

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Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on John 2:15". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". 1706.