2:13-25 Exegesis Prospectus


JOHN 2:13-25

13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me. 18 Then the Jews demanded of him, “What miraculous sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” 20 The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken. 23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. 25 He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (John 2:13-25, NIV)

· What is the significance of the mentioning the nearness of the Jewish Passover? Who is John’s audience?

· What role, if any does Jesus going to Jewish feasts play in the Fourth Gospel?

· Is the reader/hearer of this gospel supposed to hear “Jesus went up to Jerusalem in a higher sense, cf. Jn. 7?

· What was it about the buying and selling taking place in the Temple that leads to Jesus’ cleansing the temple?

· What is the relationship between John’s account of the Temple cleansing and the Synoptic version? Noting the similarity between the two, should we assume John knew the Synoptic version? Why, however, does John only mention Jesus making a whip?

· Noticing one obvious difference between the Synoptic account and the Johannine version, what conclusion should be made about the number of cleansings and the chronology of such an event?

· What result would Jesus’ actions have had for the Temple cult that day?

· Why does Jesus only take action against the sellers and not the buyers?

· What is the significance of the change in the usage of the word for Temple in Greek?

· Is there an allusion to Zec 14:21 with Jesus word’s, “How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market?” What is the significance of the two uses of the word house in Greek?

· What is Jesus attacking? The Temple, or the market in the Temple? Was the market place in the temple even necessary?

· Why does John alter the tense of the verb in the OT quotation of LXX Ps 68:10/Ps.69:9?

· Is it right to hear an echo of the passion in v. 17 in light of the post-resurrection remembering of the disciples, cf. 2:22? Or is this a later redaction?

· How does the introduction of “the Jews,” fit into this pericope as well as the overall narrative?

· Who exactly is meant by the phrase, “the Jews?” Does the author intend all Jewish people or a certain segment of the Jewish population?

· What is the significance of “the Jew’s” request for a miraculous sign? Are there different kinds of faith presented in the narrative? If so, how does this pericope help our understanding?

· What is meant by, “Destroy this temple?” Is it right to see two levels of understanding here?

· What is the significance of the mention of “three days?” If this expression is referring to a physical building, how does that fit? If this is referring to resurrection, is this a post-Easter redaction, or does it refer to something else entirely?

· How does the misunderstanding of “the Jews” function in the Gospel?

· Does John record events accurately, i.e., the mention by “the Jews” that it has taken 46 years to build the Temple? Is it possible the fourth evangelist doesn’t know the historical details of the Temple building construction? Does the formulation we read in the text, suggest that building was completed and that the author is writing significantly later, nearer the destruction of the Temple, or even after?

· Is the reader meant to see symbolism behind the number 46? Is this a reference to Adam? Is it possible to see this a connection with Acts 7, and Stephen’s words about “A temple made with human hands?” If so, what is the fourth evangelist saying? Could this be an allusion to Christ’s age?

· What is the significance of the narrator’s comments in v. 21, that the temple he was referring to was his body?

· Noting later Christian usage of the phrase “his body,” is the reader of John, supposed to see here a reference to the church?

· In v. 22, what is the Scripture that the disciples are said to remember?

· What is the significance of the resurrection to the disciples’ remembering?

· What are the miraculous signs Jesus is performing in v. 23? None are mentioned in the pericope, does this presuppose a familiarity with the Synoptic accounts? Or is this meant to be treated thematically, cf. 2:1-12?

· How does 2:23-25 function in the narrative? Is it a transitional statement, a bridge of sorts connecting the previous account with the Nicodemus narrative?

· What does this final section say about Jesus’ knowledge of humanity? Is this an attribution of Jesus’ divinity by the author?

· Who are those that Jesus might entrust himself too?


The Fourth Evangelist’s dramatic retelling of the temple cleansing incident fits in with the overall plot of the Fourth Gospel’s emphasis of portraying Jesus as the replacement/supersession/fulfillment of some aspect of traditional Jewish worship. My objective is to show that the Fourth Evangelist’s aim for locating his temple cleansing account early in his narrative is more theological/Christological than chronological and how this episode sets the stage for what is to come in the narrative about Jesus the Lamb of God (1:29), as the Word made flesh (1:14), as the locus of the divine presence (1:51), as God (1:1) comes to the Temple (Mal.3:1-3) to reveal the true nature of worship (4:21-24), and the true place of worship being in Jesus.


About Jason Retherford

The random musings of a youth minister.
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