The Gospel of John Commentary Chapters 1-11 (by chapter)

John 2:12-25 - Jesus Cleanses the Temple

v12 After this He went down to Capernaum, He, His mother, His brothers, and His disciples; and they did not stay there many days.(Capernaum later on became His ministry-base, but not yet). 

v13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand (April/May AD 30) 
and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 
v14 And He found in the Temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 

The Temple authorities had made the Temple a moneymaking operation. They had to certify any sacrificial animal as without blemish, and so rather than risking their animal being rejected, people had to buy them at the Temple to be sure they would be approved. Their monopoly meant they could overcharge. Moreover, normal coins with the image of Caesar could not be used in the ‘holy’ Temple and so the animals had to be bought with special Temple-money, hence the need for moneychangers. Again, exchange rates were fixed in favour of the Temple-authorities! In the face of such corruption in high-places, Jesus made a symbolic act that showed God’s displeasure and warned of coming judgement on that Temple administration:

v15,16 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the Temple (He must have been full of the power and zeal of God, to terrify all the (hundreds of) people and officials into fleeing the Temple!), with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers' money and overturned the tables. And He said to those who sold doves, "Take these things away! Do not make ‘My Father's house’ a house of merchandise!" 

Here He makes a claim of unique Sonship, calling God: ‘My Father.’ He repeated this act of prophetic judgement exactly 3 years later, four days before Passover AD33 (Matthew 21:12-16, Mark 11:15-18, Luke 19:45-48), because the authorities had not repented. He was announcing the overthrow by God of the old, corrupt Temple order, and its replacement by the New Creation Temple of redeemed men in Christ. This would be accomplished through His death and resurrection.

v17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written (in Psalm 69:9)
"Zeal for Your House has eaten Me up (consumed Me)." 
The Jewish Temple was appointed by God and was still the Father’s House. However it was just symbolic of, and a preparation for 
the true Temple (Dwelling-Place) of God: Redeemed Man. That true Temple was already present in prototype form in the Person of Jesus. The quotation is from a Messianic Psalm that predicts the Messiah’s suffering and death for His people, the ultimate Temple (House) of God. His passionate zeal for God’s Temple caused Him to suffer and die for us. 

v18 So the Jews answered and said to Him, 
"What Sign do You show to us, since You do these things?" 
In other words: “Prove you have the authority of God behind your claims.”

v19 Jesus answered and said to them, "Destroy this Temple (pointing to Himself, signifying His death), and in three days I will raise it up." 
At His trial, these words were twisted to mean Jesus was threatening to destroy the Temple (Matthew 26:61), but He was predicting that they would put Him to death and that in three days He would rise again. He was already referring to Himself as the true Temple of God (see v21). 

Thus in response to their request for a sign, He gives them His greatest Sign: His death and resurrection after 3 days, that He would accomplish 3 years later. Notice His claim to Deity here, for only God can raise the dead, and He is saying that He will raise Himself from the dead. Some scriptures say it is the Father who raised up Jesus, others say the Son did it, others the Spirit. This reflects the fact that every act of God involves all three Persons of the Trinity working together in unity. 

v20 Then the Jews said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and will You raise it up in three days?" 
This allows us to date this event to the Passover of AD 30 (see Finegin: Handbook of Biblical Chronology). The word used for Temple refers to the central building rather than the Temple Courts (which continued to be under reconstruction until AD 62 at least). The rebuilding of the Temple itself (according to Josephus) by Herod was began in his 18th year Nisan 20BC-Nisan 19BC, and was completed in a year and a half. v20 is better translated: “This Temple has been built (and has stood) for 46 years.”  Therefore these words were spoken in the spring of AD 30.

v21 But He was speaking of the Temple of His body.
They of course had misunderstood which Temple He was talking about. He was predicting His physical resurrection. Those that represented the old Temple, would try to destroy the new Temple (Christ). 
Even though it looked like they succeeded, the new Temple was eternal and would be resurrected after 3 days. Then judgement would fall on the old Temple, it would be overthrown and destroyed (AD 70), but God would have a new Temple on earth (the Church).

v22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.   Jesus did not just rise from the dead after 3 days but He also predicted it! The disciple remembered all of Jesus’ prophecies about this and it greatly strengthened their faith. 

v23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the Feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.
This seems to be the time when Jesus came to the attention of the public through His cleansing of the Temple, His teachings and miracles at the Feast, which was attended by all Israel. He would have 3 more years of public ministry until His death at Passover 33 AD.

v24,25 But Jesus did not commit (trust) Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.   Although many believed in Him, He did not let Himself get carried away by their excitement about Him. It would seem their faith was superficial, that they were more interested in signs than following Him. Jesus knew what was in human nature through sin, and that the human heart can be fickle and unreliable, and that their apparent love for Him could quickly melt away, and only God’s grace could overcome that. 

As God He also knew what was in each person’s heart. However, He chose to live as a man under the limitations of His humanity (He laid aside His glory which included His omniscience), so that He depended on the Father to reveal to Him what He needed to know. Even so, as a perfect Man, led by the Holy-Spirit, He was able to accurately discern the hearts of men. He knows our heart, and He knows how much He can trust us and commit to us. Let God’s grace work in you so that He can trust you and work with you, knowing that you will be faithful to follow Him and do His will.

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