Jesus, the True Sanctuary

SYNOPSIS - The Gospel of John presents Jesus as the True and Final Temple in which the glory of Yahweh now resides – John 2:13-22

Evening Cross - Photo by Denisse Leon on Unsplash
In the second chapter of the gospel of John, his disciples learn that Jesus is the True and Final Temple of God – The era of God “dwelling” in manmade buildings in Jerusalem or anywhere else had come to an end. After a Passover celebration, Jesus “went up to Jerusalem” and visited the Temple. While there, he observed financial transactions taking place in the “Court of the Gentiles.” This produced the famous incident in which the Messiah of Israel “cleansed the Temple” and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers:
  • (John 2:13-16) – “And near was the passover of the Jews; and Jesus went up unto Jerusalem. And he found in the temple them that were selling oxen and sheep and doves, also the money-changers sitting. And making a scourge out of rushes, all of them thrust he forth out of the temple, both the sheep and the oxen; and the money-changers’ small coins poured he forth, and the tables he overturned; and unto them who were selling the doves, he said — Take these things hence! Be not making the house of my Father a house of merchandise.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
The Temple was the center of the Jewish faith, especially its required religious rituals. The hostile reaction by certain “Jews” to Jesus illustrates the words from the prologue of the gospel of John – “He came to his own and those who were his own did not receive him” - (John 1:11).

From the start, he was opposed by the leaders of the Temple. In this incident, they sent representatives to ask Jesus for a sign that would demonstrate his authority to act as he did.

Jesus was in the “Temple,” which translates the Greek noun hieron and refers to the entire temple complex - (Strong’s - #G2411). However, in verse 19, the term naos is found on the lips of Jesus - (Strong’s - #G3485), not hieron - (“Destroy this sanctuary and, in three days, will I raise it”). The latter term referred to the sanctuary proper within the larger complex - The “Holy of Holies” - The inner sanctum where the presence of Yahweh dwelt.

After his resurrection, the disciples remembered the passage from the Psalms that is quoted in Verse 17.  In the Hebrew Bible, it has a past tense verb - “The zeal of your house consumed me." However, in this passage, the tense is future - “The zeal of your house will consume me” (Psalm 69:9 – “Because zeal for thy house hath eaten me up” - John 2:17).
  • (John 2:17-22) – “His disciples remembered that it was written — The zeal of thy house eateth me up. The Jews therefore answered, and said unto him, What sign dost thou point out to us in that, these things thou doest? Jesus answered, and said unto them — Take down this shrine and in three days will I raise it. The Jews, therefore, said — In forty and six years was this shrine built. And thou, in three days, wilt raise it! But he was speaking concerning the shrine of his body. When, therefore, he had been raised from among the dead, his disciples remembered that this he had been saying; and they believed in the Scripture and in the word which Jesus had spoken.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
The Greek verb rendered “consume” or katesthiō - (Strong’s - #G2719) is a compound from the verb “eat” (esthiō) and the preposition kata for “down.” The compound form intensifies the sense of esthiō so it denotes “to eat up, consume.”  Thus, his zeal for his “Father's house” demonstrated in the “cleansing” of the court by Jesus contributed to his arrest, trial, and execution - (Matthew 26:60-6127:40Mark 14:5815:29).

His Resurrection
His Resurrection
Jesus responded to his critics - If they destroyed “this sanctuary,” he would raise it “after three days.”  His opponents took his words literally and, therefore, misunderstood his meaning. John adds a comment so his readers will not make the same mistake - “But he was speaking of the sanctuary [naos] of his body.”

Thus, Jesus declared himself the True Sanctuary, the Naos of God. His opponents would destroy “this sanctuary” when they put him to death. After his resurrection, the disciples remembered this saying and “believed in the Scripture.”

The gospel of John presents Jesus as the True and Greater Temple. Unlike the manmade structure in Jerusalem, this one can never be destroyed. He is the permanent dwelling place of the glory of Yahweh.

In him, the presence of God no longer is restricted to any manmade structure in Jerusalem. His glory is seen in the face of Jesus throughout the earth forevermore - (2 Corinthians 3:18-4:6).


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