It is common for New Testament readers to view Jesus’ message being “against the Temple.” Supposed support for this view comes when Jesus drives out of the “money-changers” from the Temple precincts (cf. Matt 21:12; Mark 11:15; Jn 2:14-15). This event, so this argument goes, shows that Jesus was opposed to the “Temple system” as a legitimate locus of worship, and that he encouraged people to abandon the physical Temple in favor of a spiritual relationship with God. However, this interpretation ignores Jesus’ positive disposition toward the Temple, and misunderstands the meaning of Jesus’ Temple action. Instead of being against the Temple, Jesus saves the Temple from those who would diminish its sanctity.

In order to see Jesus as “against” the Temple, one must overlook all the good things he has to say about his Father’s abode. For example, when Jesus’ parents lose him in Jerusalem as a child, they scour the city until they finally find him teaching in the Temple, where Jesus asks them, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:49). In adulthood, Jesus discourages the taking of oaths by noting that “whoever swears by the Temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it” (Matt 23:21). For Jesus, the Temple remains God’s house even during his ministry; the Messiah’s arrival as “God with us” (Matt 1:23) does not displace God from the divine dwelling place on Mount Zion.

When Jesus enters the Temple and removes those who bought and sold there, some see this action as a curse against the Temple a prophetic foreshadowing of its destruction in 70 CE. However, this interpretation does not attend to the language of Gospel account: “Jesus entered the Temple and cast out (ἐκβάλλω; ekballo) all who sold and bought in the Temple” (Matt 21:12). The term Matthew uses for “cast out” (ἐκβάλλω; ekballo) is the same term used to describe Jesus’ exorcisms: “They brought to him many who were possessed by demons, and he cast out (ἐκβάλλω; ekballo) the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick” (Matt 8:16; cf. 8:31; 9:33-34; 10:1, 8; 12:24-28; 17:19). Thus, when Jesus “casts out” the money-changers, he performs an exorcism on the Temple; Jesus removes those who have made the Temple a “den of robbers,” which allows for God’s house to be called “a house of prayer” (cf. Matt 21:13; Isa 56:7; Jer 7:11). Rather than condemning the Temple, Jesus “cleanses” the Temple in the most spiritual sense of the word.    

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20 COMMENTS

  1. Are you able to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit after you are truly saved?
    How is blasphemy translated into English?

    • Thanks, Richard. Blasphemy is just an English transliteration of the Greek “blasphemia” (βλασφημία), so the Greek doesn’t get us much traction on what the word means. In the context of the “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” text (cf. Matt 12:22-32; Mk 3:22-35), the scribes (in Mark) and/or the Pharisees (in Matthew) have just accused Jesus of casting out demons by Satan, and then Jesus responds by saying that it’s not Satan, but the Holy Spirit by whom he casts out demons. Thus, “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” is very specific: it is the act of attributing the work of the Spirit to the work of Satan. I suppose a follower of Jesus could do this, but it would be a very counterintuitive statement to make 🙂

  2. Shalom, As best I can undertand the N.T., Yeshua and his Apostles were Temple Worshipers and his Apostles and early followers were also. So was Paul.

  3. Blasphemy would be denying the inspired scripture given to the writers to write down for those, the next generation and those that are far off. Some deny that John and Paul are anti-Semitic as they say John wrote against the Jews in John 8:44 and Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16

  4. I have often seen this as symbolic of us. After all when we become born again and give our hearts to Him, we become the temple of the Holy Spirit. Jesus comes in, drives out the robbers (demons) making us new and clean for Himself.

  5. IMO: The reason for cleansing the temple was not just about the money changers, but Isaiah’s verse that Yeshua quotes from says that the area where they were selling was to be for the gentiles, so the Jews were supposed to be spreading the worship of Yahweh to all.

  6. Jesus Christ YESHUA has cast those changer and selling, Jesus did not against temple, rather temple is a place of worship.

  7. Will there be a Temple during the Millennial Reign? Ask any Christian this question who doesn’t believe the book of Haggi explains Father’s heart right now. Then ask them why.

  8. Praise the Lord! Is it possible that the money changers were gentiles in the outer court. Perhaps Jesus was emphasizing that whether Jew or gentile, this was a House of prayer, not a place of business and even gentiles needed to recognize it as such!

    • Thanks for your question, Susan. The inclusion of Gentiles is more plausible in Mark’s version, since Jesus’ citation of Isa 56:7 during the Temple cleansing includes the idea that God’s house would be a “house of prayer for all nations.” Matthew omits this final phrase, and therefore limits the problem of the moneychangers to the Jewish people.

  9. Certainly Jesus was not against the temple. Yet “destroy this temple and I’ll rebuild it in 3 days” indicates Jesus came to fulfill what the temple symbolized, the meeting place of God’s holy presence for his people. Jesus is the temple and in him so are we!

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