13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.
JOHN 2: 13-22 ESV
13 Καὶ ἐγγὺς ἦν τὸ πάσχα τῶν Ἰουδαίων, καὶ ἀνέβη εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα ὁ Ἰησοῦς. 14 καὶ εὗρεν ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ τοὺς πωλοῦντας βόας καὶ πρόβατα καὶ περιστερὰς καὶ τοὺς κερματιστὰς καθημένους, 15 καὶ ποιήσας φραγέλλιον ἐκ σχοινίων πάντας ἐξέβαλεν ἐκ τοῦ ἱεροῦ τά τε πρόβατα καὶ τοὺς βόας, καὶ τῶν κολλυβιστῶν ἐξέχεεν τὰ κερματα καὶ τὰς τραπέζας ἀνέστρεψεν, 16 καὶ τοῖς τὰς περιστερὰς πωλοῦσιν εἶπεν· Ἄρατε ταῦτα ἐντεῦθεν, μὴ ποιεῖτε τὸν οἶκον τοῦ πατρός μου οἶκον ἐμπορίου. 17 ἐμνήσθησαν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι γεγραμμένον ἐστίν· Ὁ ζῆλος τοῦ οἴκου σου καταφάγεταί με. 18 ἀπεκρίθησαν οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι καὶ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· Τί σημεῖον δεικνύεις ἡμῖν, ὅτι ταῦτα ποιεῖς; 19 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· Λύσατε τὸν ναὸν τοῦτον καὶ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερῶ αὐτόν. 20 εἶπαν οὖν οἱ Ἰουδαῖοι· Τεσσεράκοντα καὶ ἓξ ἔτεσιν οἰκοδομήθη ὁ ναὸς οὗτος, καὶ σὺ ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερεῖς αὐτόν; 21 ἐκεῖνος δὲ ἔλεγεν περὶ τοῦ ναοῦ τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ. 22 ὅτε οὖν ἠγέρθη ἐκ νεκρῶν, ἐμνήσθησαν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ὅτι τοῦτο ἔλεγεν, καὶ ἐπίστευσαν τῇ γραφῇ καὶ τῷ λόγῳ ὃν εἶπεν ὁ Ἰησοῦς.
JOHN 2: 13-22 SBLGNT
In Richard D. Phillips, Reformed Expository Commentary on the book of John gives this beautiful commentary on JOHN 2: 13-22, titled
JESUS’ BODY AS THE TRUE TEMPLE
This account shows Jesus’ zeal for pure worship and his authority as Lord. Finally, it makes an important point about Jesus and his coming into the world. The Jews were confused when Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). They naturally thought he was talking about a building. However, Jesus was making the point that his body is the true temple of God, which makes this accurate in several ways.
One is that whereas the temple was the place where God symbolically dwelt, Jesus is the person in whom God truly dwelt in the flesh. John noted this when he used the word for the Old Testament tabernacle in John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory.” Furthermore, the temple was intended to reveal the truth about God, and Jesus does this fully and perfectly: “Whoever has seen me,” he said, “has seen the Father” (14:9). “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3).
Nevertheless, the most important function of the temple was to house the ark of the covenant, the golden box that contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments, along with Aaron’s staff and a jar of manna. The most important part of the ark was the mercy seat. Therefore, this was where the blood of the Day of Atonement sacrifice was spread so those sinful humans could dwell in God’s presence, and was why the Israelites came to the temple for Passover. Every family was to sacrifice a lamb for their sins. They came to the temple because the priests made sacrifices and were received by God.
We see what Jesus meant, then, when he referred to his own body as the temple. His death on the cross serves as the place where sin is forgiven and where man is received into God’s grace. Have you come to the cross? Have you confessed your sin and looked to Jesus as the Lamb of God, slain for you—looked to his blood, shed for you—for the forgiveness of your sin and your only reconciliation to God? Just as the Jews had to come to Jerusalem, you have to come to Jesus. There is no other temple, no other place where you can meet with God, and no other way for you to be forgiven and gain eternal life.
Paul explained why we must come to Jesus: “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:23–24). However, how does Jesus redeem? Paul adds, “God put [him] forward as a propitiation by his blood” (3:25). A propitiation is an offering to satisfy God’s wrath. The glory of the gospel is that God sent his own Son, Jesus Christ, to avert his own wrath. Jesus shed his blood on our behalf so that by his death, we might be freed from the death and hell that we deserve and be received by God’s grace into eternal life. We receive God’s gift of eternal life by faith alone so that Paul completes his teaching about Jesus: “God put [him] forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith” (3:25).
We should also note that the New Testament refers to the church as “the body of Christ” (1 Cor. 12:27; see also Eph. 1:23). Therefore, this means that we now serve the function that the temple once did. The temple pointed forward to Christ’s once-for-all shedding of blood, and we point back to that atoning sacrifice. Through us, unbelieving sinners learn the good news and come to faith in Christ. Surely this indicates that we are to be holy in our worship and ministry and that if we are not, we can expect our loving but chastising Lord to come, cleansing us so that we will become the church that he wants us to be.
The same is also said of us individually: “You are the body of Christ and individually members of it,” Paul explains (1 Cor. 12:27). Therefore, he adds, we must be pure in the way we live and in the use of our bodies. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?” he asks (6:19). Paul’s specific point there has to do with sexual purity—an important calling for the church today—but the principle demands holiness in all of life. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price,” he concludes. “So glorify God in your body” (6:19–20). Are you doing this? Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, every believer is a dwelling place of God; thus, you are called to a holy life suitable for God’s dwelling.
What are we to do if we have defiled our bodies with sin? What do we do if our worship has been impure—individually or as a church? The answer is the same whether we are being forgiven for the first time or the hundredth. The answer is that we must come to the true temple—the cross where Jesus died—to confess and repent, believe in his shed blood, and be forgiven, cleansed, and renewed for holy fellowship with God. In this way, God’s glory is made manifest through our repentance. In his first epistle, John explained, “The blood of Jesus [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin.… If we confess our sins, he is faithful and ‘just’ to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.… He is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 1:7–2:2).
What if you do not come? What if you allow the temple of your heart and body to remain defiled, not repenting and not seeking cleansing? If you are a believer and thus one of God’s own, the same Christ who cleansed the temple may bring chastisement into your life. Hebrews 12:6 teaches, “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” How much better for you willing to seek the holiness that God demands!
If you are not a believer, if you refuse to humble yourself before Jesus, confessing the guilt of your sin and worshipping him as Savior and Lord, then Jesus will come to you as well. But it will not be with a mere whip of cords or with loving chastisement. The Bible tells of a day of wrath, when Jesus will come “from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance … on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. ‘They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed” (2 Thess. 1:7–10).
Jesus has come as Savior; he returns soon as Judge. Jesus has died as Lamb for those who believe—that is the past; he comes back as Lion to conquer, Judge, and reign forever—that is the future. So what about now? As Paul teaches in 2 Cor 6:2, “Behold, now is the favourable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” and in Romans 10:9 – “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”