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03 March 2020

Jesus, the True and Final Temple - (John 2:13-17)

SYNOPSIS:  The Gospel of John presents Jesus as the True and Final Temple in which the presence of God dwells.

His Resurrection
In the second chapter of the gospel of John, the disciples learned that Jesus is the True and Final Temple of God, not any manmade building in Jerusalem or elsewhere (John 2:13-22).

After a Passover celebration, Jesus “went up to Jerusalem” and visited the Temple where he observed financial transactions taking place in the Court of the Gentiles (“those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting”). This produced the famous incident in which Jesus “cleansed the Temple” and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers (John 2:12-17).

The Temple in Jerusalem was the heart and center of the Jewish faith. The hostile reactions to Jesus by certain “Jews” illustrate the words of John 1:11 (“he came to his own and those who were his own did not receive him”).

From the start of his ministry, Jesus was opposed by the temple leadership of Jerusalem. In this story, they sent representatives to ask for a sign to demonstrate Christ’s authority to act as he did in the Temple.

Jesus was in the “temple” (John 2:14), which translates the Greek noun hieron and refers to the entire temple complex. But in verse 19, Christ used the term naos instead of hieronNaos referred to the sanctuary proper within the larger complex. This would have included the Holy of Holies or inner sanctum where God’s presence dwelt.

After the Resurrection, the disciples would remember the passage from Psalm 69:9 quoted in John 2:17.  In the Hebrew Old Testament, this clause has a past tense verb, “the zeal of your house consumed me," but in John 2:17 it changes to a future tense, “the zeal of your house will consume me.”

The Greek verb rendered “consume” (katesthiƍ) is a compound of the verb for “eat” (esthiƍ) and the preposition kata (“down, down from, down to”). The compound intensifies the sense to connote, “eat up, consume.”  Christ’s zeal for his Father's house was demonstrated in his “cleansing” of the Court of the Gentiles, an act that contributed to his arrest, trial, and execution (Matthew 26:60-6127:40Mark 14:5815:29).
Jesus responded to his critics by claiming that if they destroyed “this sanctuary” (naos), he would raise it up after three days. His opponents took his words literally, having misunderstood his meaning. John adds a comment so his readers will not make the same mistake (“But he was speaking of the sanctuary [naosof his body”).
Jesus, thus, pointed to himself as the True Sanctuary or Temple, the Naos of God.  His opponents would destroy that sanctuary by putting him to death. However, he would “rebuild” the very same “building” by means of his bodily resurrection (“when, therefore, he had been raised from the dead…”). After the resurrection, the disciples remembered this saying and “believed in the Scripture.”  The reference is to the passage already cited, Psalm 69:9 (“the zeal of your house consumed me”).

The Gospel of John presents Jesus as the true and greater Temple. Unlike the manmade structure in Jerusalem, this one can never be destroyed.  Christ is the full and final incarnation of Yahweh’s glory, His permanent dwelling place.

In Christ, God’s presence no longer is restricted to a physical and manmade structure located in Jerusalem. His glory is seen in the face of Jesus throughout the earth forevermore (2 Corinthians 3:18, 4:4-6).

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