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 2:21-22 ESV

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.

Through “his body,” Jesus dwelt among men. Because of his human nature, God’s Son became one with us and our Savior. “His body” is thus the “Sanctuary” in and by which we have this Savior. The material Sanctuary of the Jews prefigured that body of Jesus. It was a kind of substitute for it until the fulness of time should come. It was a promise of the true and everlasting connection our Savior-God would make with us sinners through a more sacred Sanctuary or dwelling place, namely our own human nature, which was assumed even in a material body but in altogether sinless form when he became man for our sake. When Jesus cleansed the Temple and was confronted by the guardians of the Temple, there stood side by side the beautiful type and the heavenly antitype: the earthly Sanctuary and the Son of God in his human body. The promise had been replaced at last by the fulfilment. However, instead of being impressed by the Savior whom their own Sanctuary had pictured to them for so long a time, they met him in the courts of that Sanctuary with an incipient hostility that would grow into violent rejection. Can they have the type when they reject the antitype? Can they keep the promise when they spurn the fulfilment? By killing the body of Jesus, the Jews would pull down their own Sanctuary. It was impossible for the Sanctuary to go on pointing to the human body of the divine Savior when that Savior had come and was rejected. The rejection of the Savior involved judgment (Matt. 26:67) and thus also the taking away of the Sanctuary.

Explaining the promise, “and in three days I will raise it up.” The manner of the rebuilding must match the manner of the destruction. If the Sanctuary is destroyed by the killing of the person of the Messiah, it must also again be erected in the resurrection of the Messiah. As his body is killed, so his body will be raised up. Moreover, Jesus himself will effect this raising up. The Scriptures use both expressions when speaking of this opus ad extra. God raises him up; Jesus himself rises. Thus the sign the Jews demanded will be theirs indeed: a sign of infinite grace for all believers but a sign of final judgment for these enemies. All the Jewish efforts to maintain their Sanctuary and Temple in opposition to all for which it stood would be in vain. To this day, it has not been rebuilt. The Mohammedan Dome of the Rock occupies the ancient site. The Temple of the Jews served its last purpose with its destruction. It is still the sign that answers unbelief once for all, the type of judgment to come. The resurrection of Jesus wrought the new spiritual Temple of God’s people with a new cultus in spirit and truth (4:21–24). It needed no more types and symbols since in Christ we have the promised substance itself. Zech. 6:12, 13; Heb. 3:3.

The Jews did not understand what the mashal of Jesus meant, but they did not want to understand. They wholly ignored its first half and fastened only on the second half, that Jesus would in three days erect a building that it had taken forty-six years to erect. Later, at the trial of Jesus, they boldly falsified that troublesome first half, making Jesus say, “I am able to destroy the Sanctuary of God” (Matt. 26:61), or, “I will destroy this Sanctuary” (Mark 14:58). From the start, the Jews must thus have felt the sting in that command, “Destroy it by your evil, vicious practices!” So also the second half, the Jews could tell themselves, did not mean and could not mean that Jesus would erect this great complex of a stone structure “in three days.”
Though they clung to this even at the trial of Jesus, Mark’s rendering, “and in three days I will build another made without hands,” indicates that they had an inkling that the Sanctuary Jesus intended to build was something other than another structure of the stone. However, the one point that mystified the Jews completely and was intended by Jesus to do so was the phrase “in three days.” This reference to the resurrection of Jesus was absolutely beyond the Jewish unbelief.

This phrase also exceeded the faith of Jesus’ own disciples. Whatever they made of the destruction and the raising up of the Sanctuary, the “three days” were beyond them. They, to be sure, kept their Master is saying inviolate and in their thoughts neither ignored its first half nor falsified it as the Jews did. Nevertheless, John tells us that they did not understand it until Jesus was raised from the dead. “When, therefore, he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he was saying this, and they believed the Scripture and the Word which Jesus spoke.” Not until that time did John discover the key and realize that Jesus was speaking of his own body, v. 21. Especially also, the “three days” were solved when Jesus died on Friday and arose on Sunday. What kept Jesus’ Word dark for them was their unwillingness to believe that Jesus would die as he kept telling them he would, i.e., that by killing him, the Jews would wreck their Sanctuary. Thus they also never caught what Jesus said of his resurrection even when he added that this would occur on the third day after his death. However, they remembered at last when the risen Savior stood before them. After the active “I will raise up” John now has the passive “he was raised up.”

Both are true and freely used, one indicating Christ’s agency, the other of his Father. The phrase ἐκ νεκρῶν (ek nekros) denotes separation and nothing more. The absence of the article points to the quality of being dead, not to so many dead individuals that are left behind, and the sense of the phrase is “from death.” In the interest of the doctrine of a double resurrection, the effort has been made to establish the meaning “out from among the dead.” Linguistically and doctrinally, this is untenable. When it is applied to the unique resurrection of Jesus, this is at once apparent; the idea is not that he left the other dead behind but that he passed “from death” to glorious life. No wonder ἐκ νεκρῶν is never used concerning the ungodly. The phrase is used 35 times concerning Christ, a few times with reference to other individuals in a figurative way, and twice with reference to the resurrection of many, Luke 20:35; Mark 12:25, where the phrase cannot have a meaning different from that which it has in the other passages.

John has the imperfect ἔλεγεν (lego), “he was saying this,” as in v. 21, and here it is set in contrast with the aorist εἶπεν, “which Jesus did say,” noting only the past fact as such. Then at last, when Jesus had risen from death, the disciples properly connected the Word of Jesus that had stuck in their minds all this time with the Scripture, τῇ γραφῇ(hog raphe), namely with passages like Ps. 16:9–11; Isa. 53; the type Jonah; etc.; compare Luke 24:25, etc.; John 20:9; Acts 2:24–32; 1 Cor. 15:4. Thus, at last, with full understanding, the disciples “did believe the Scripture and the word which Jesus (once) spoke.” The thought is not that they had disbelieved or doubted either of the two before but that now their implicit faith became explicit faith. A statement like v. 22, which gives us a glimpse into the inner biography of John and his fellow disciples, bears the stamp of historical reality in a manner so inimitable that only the strongest preconceptions can ignore its implications. No pseudo-John living in the second century could invent this ignorance of the apostle regarding a saying of Jesus that he had invented. The critics who make such a claim, dash themselves against a sheer moral impossibility

When we as Christians living in today’s context ask ourselves what our future holds, we forget that our future has already been written, the truth has been revealed, and there is no doubt that our destiny lies in Jesus Christ. Some seek to rewrite history and misinterpret its truths, only based on fitting narratives that the secular world insist on. Ignorance, governed by misguided logic, leads many along paths of impurity and soiled views of God’s revelations. We cannot allow our reasoning to be blinded by mis-truths when God himself has revealed the reality of what was, is and to come. The disciples only realized the words spoken by Jesus were a view into the near future of what was to come, and the ignorance of their present did not allow them to see ahead. We are not in the same position as the disciples, and history has proven otherwise, and the facts unfolded are directed to our objectivity to seek the essence of his Word that calls us to be steadfast to His Word and not ours.

Be wary of preachers and leaders or even fellow Christians who are bound by their own reasoning and their own objective goals rather than the revelation of Scripture. It is the Word of God that convicts us, and it is the Word of God that reveals, and it is the Word of God we live by. Those who allow their views, rather than the power of the Word, only seek to find weak and unspirited followers, who ultimately become followers of men rather than God. Do not allow foolishness to dictate the truths to meet our needs but allow the truths to reveal God’s path to reveal our need in Him.


Categories: christianity, english, Gospel of John

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