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First Cleansing of the Temple

Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? John 2:18

Not in this book
Not in this book
Not in this book


Quotes & Notes on:     John 2:18   

  • John Wesley's Notes:
     Then answered the Jews-Either some of those whom he had just driven out, or their friends:

    What sign showest thou?-So they require a miracle, to confirm a miracle!

  • Treasury of Scripture Knowledge:

    * What. Joh 6:30; Mt 12:38-42; 16:1-4; Mr 8:11; Lu 11:29
    * seeing. Joh 1:25; Mt 21:23; Mr 11:27,28; Lu 20:1,2; Ac 4:7; 5:28

  • Adam Clarke's Commentary:

       What sign showest thou] See on Mt 12:38; 16:1. When Moses came to deliver Israel, he gave signs, or miracles, that he acted under a Divine commission. What miracle dost thou work to show us that thou art vested with similar authority?

  • Family Bible Notes:

     What sign showest thou; what miracle dost thou work in proof of thy authority to do these things?

  • 1599 Geneva Bible Notes:
    Against those who so bind God to an ordinary calling, which they themselves most shamefully abuse, that they will not admit of an extraordinary calling, which God confirms from heaven (and they would have it extinguished, although in vain) unless it is sealed with outward and bodily miracles. (h) With what miracle do you confirm it, that we may see the heavenly power and strength which gives you authority to speak and to act in this manner?

  • People's New Testament Commentary:

       What sign? The Jewish officials demand some sign that would demonstrate that he had authority over the temple.

  • Robertson's Word Pictures:
      What sign shewest thou unto us? (Ti sÍmeion deiknueis hÍmin;). They may have heard of the "sign" at Cana or not, but they have rallied a bit on the outside of the temple area and demand proof for his Messianic assumption of authority over the temple worship. These traders had paid the Sadducees and Pharisees in the Sanhedrin for the concession as traffickers which they enjoyed. They were within their technical rights in this question.

  • Albert Barnes' Commentary:

       What sign, &c. What miracle dost thou work? He assumed the character of a prophet. He was reforming, by his authority, the temple. It was natural to ask by what authority this was done; and as they had been accustomed to miracles in the life of Moses, and Elijah, and the other prophets, so they demanded evidence that he had authority thus to cleanse the house of God.

    Seeing that thou doest. Rather "by what title or authority thou doest these things." Our translation is ambiguous. They wished to know by what miracle he had shown, or could show, his right to do those things.

    {p} "What sign" Mt 12:38; Joh 6:30

  • Jamieson-Faussett Brown:

    What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?--Though the act and the words of Christ, taken together, were sign enough, they were unconvinced: yet they were awed, and though at His very next appearance at Jerusalem they "sought to kill Him" for speaking of "His Father" just as He did now (Joh 5:18), they, at this early stage, only ask a sign.

  • Spurgeon Devotional Commentary:

    (No comment on this verse).

  • William Burkitt's Notes:

    Observe here, 1. How exceedingly offended the Jews were at the reformation which our Saviour had made in the house of God; they were awed indeed with the majesty of this great work, and durst not openly oppose, but secretly malign it.

    Thence note, That redress of abuses in God's worship, especially if it crosses our ease, and controls our profit, (as this did), is usually distasted.

    Observe, 2. How these Jews discover their old inveterate disease of infidelity; they require a sign, and call for a miracle to justify Christ's commission. Why! had they not a miracle before their eyes? Was not the work of purging the temple a wonderful miracle? Yet they demanded another miracle to make this good.

    Learn thence, That obstinate infidelity will not be satisfied with the most sufficient means for satisfaction, but still object and oppose against the clearest, the fullest, and most convincing evidence. What sign showest thou us? says the Jews, when they had so many signs and wonders daily before their eyes.

    Observe, 3. The Jews demanding a sign. our Saviour grants them one; he remits them to his death and resurrection, to prove that he was the true Messiah. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. That is, "I know you will destroy this temple of my body, by putting me to deaeth; but I will raise myself again from the grave the third day." Christ did not command them to destroy his body, but only foretold that they would do it. Non est verbum Praecepti, sed Praedictionis: "The words are not imperative, but only predictive and permissive." Christ did not bid them destroy his body, but foretells what they would do. "Ye will destroy this temple, but after three days I will raise it up."

    Where note, That Christ asserts his own power in raising his own body from the dead. True! The Father is often said to raise him, and it is necessary that it be so said, that it might appear that divine justice was fully satisfied for our sins, in that he was by him delivered from that death which he underwent for us.

    But yet it is often asserted, That Christ raised himself, and that he was quickened by the Spirit, which was as well the Spirit of the Son, as of the Father, dwelling essentially in him.

    Now from Christ's foretelling his passion and resurrection, learn thence, that all our Saviour's sufferings wee foreknown unto him, were foretold by him; he would not prevent them, but willingly permitted them, and cheerfully underwent them. Destroy this temple.

    Note here, 1. The state and dignity of Christ's holy body: 'Tis a temple. He spake of the temple of his body. The saints' bodies are temples by special sanctification: Christ's body was a temple by substantial inhabitation. The divinity of Christ dwelt in his humanity personally and immediately. God dwells in saints by regal authority; he dwelt in Christ's humanity by personal residence.

    Note, 2. The violence and indignity offered to this holy temple at our Saviour's death, it was pulled down and destroyed; death dissolved the union betwixt our Saviour's soul and body; but there was a closer union, which no violence of death could dissolve: namely, the union of his godhead with his manhood; this was incapable either of dissolution or destruction.

    Note, 3. The repairing, restoring, and raising up of this temple out of the ruins of it, by our Saviour's resurrection. In three days I will raise it up.

    Observe, A full proof of our Saviour's divinity. To raise a dead man exceeds the power of nature; but for a dead man to raise himself, requires the power of God. We read of dead men raised by others; but none but Christ ever raised himself. The Jews could not say, he raised others from the grace, himself he could not raise.

    Inference, 1. Was Christ's body a temple? so shall ours be too; temples for the Holy Ghost to dwell in. Temples by special appropriation, temples by solemn consecration, temples by actual employment: If any man defile this temple, him will God destroy.

    2. Was the temple of Christ's body pulled down by death, and destroyed; so must also the temples of our bodies ere long. The temple of his body was pulled down for our sin; the temples of our bodies ruined by our sin. Sin brought mortality into our natures, and the wages of our sin is death.

    3. Was the temple of Christ's body repaired in the morning of the resurrection? So shall the temple of our bodies also, if we be the members of Christ by a vital union. Thy dead men, O blessed redeemer! shall live; together with thy dead body shall they arise. Awake then and sing, ye that dwell in the dust, for the dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead, Isa 26:19

  • Matthew Henry's  Commentary:

      (No comment on this verse).


  • Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary:

     (No comment on this verse).

  • The Fourfold Gospel:

       The Jews therefore answered and said unto him, What sign showest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? The Jews felt that only a divinely commissioned person could thus interfere with the ordering of God's house. They therefore called upon Jesus to give them a sign as an evidence that he possessed such divine commission. The manner in which he had cleansed the house of its traffickers was of itself a sign, if they had only had eyes to see it. Jesus could not have thus cleansed the temple unaided had he been a mere man. The power which he showed in the temple was much like that which he manifested in Gethsemane (Joh 18:6).




The Cleansing of the Temple is located at the beginning of Jesus' ministry in John, and at the end of his ministry in the Synoptics.   We take the event to be historically accurate in all four gospels, but allow the possibility that John's placement is for theological importance rather than chronological significance.   Materials relevant to all four gospel treatments of this subject will be presented in this harmony with the synoptic Holy Week event.

If this event in John is also chronologically significant, then several additional topics need to be considered.  For example:

  1. Jesus' ministry is framed in the cleansing event, as he begins and ends his ministry by purging the Temple.
  2. This violent revolutionary image becomes a primary backdrop to the entire ministry and teaching of Jesus, always in the minds of the religious leaders and others who have witnessed or heard about this event.
In either case, the theme of this event is woven throughout all the subsequent events as the primary purpose of the Messiah:  to cleanse the people of their sins.
  • Commentary Texts 



    Updated:   Wednesday, March 06, 2013 at 03:52 AM



    Status of Gospel Harmony Project

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