Peter & Kelly

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Peter & Kelly + Lukas + Emmet + Danai

Going to Heaven: The concept of heaven in the Bible and Christian teaching
Research Paper (All Nations Christian College) 2 June 2004 — Peter Passchier

Is participation in Freemasonry wholesome for disciples of Jesus?
Advanced Religions Paper (All Nations Christian College) 7 May 2004 — Peter Passchier

Passages from Colossians and Hebrews compared
Assignment Christology (All Nations Christian College) 5 December 2003 — Peter Passchier

Is Israel's election related to any inherent qualities?
Assignment Old Testament Theology (All Nations Christian College) 28 November 2003 — Peter Passchier

The Gospel and the Religions
Reading Report Theology of Mission (All Nations Christian College) 11 November 2003 — Peter Passchier

Efforts towards unity within the church
Assignment Churchplanting (All Nations Christian College) 27 June 2003 — Peter Passchier

Jesus: transactional or transformational?
Assignment Leadership (All Nations Christian College) 20 June 2003 — Peter Passchier

Isaiah in crises
Assignment History and Literature of the Hebrew Bible (All Nations Christian College) 17 March 2003 — Peter Passchier

Do missionaries destroy cultures?
Assignment Social Anthropology (All Nations Christan College) 6 December 2002 — Peter Passchier

Temple Tumult
Assignment New Testament: Gospels and Acts (All Nations Christian College) 29 November 2002 — Peter Passchier

Initial Assignment (All Nations Christian College) 1 October 2002 — Peter Passchier

A Narrow Escape
A Narrow Escape (Creative writing) 13 September 2015 — Kelly Passchier

Assignment New Testament: Gospels and Acts (All Nations Christian College) 29 November 2002 — Peter Passchier

Temple Tumult


The incident —occurring in all four gospels— of Jesus driving people out of the temple will be referred to as the Temple Tumult — to avoid the common association with cleansing. It will be considered how to relate the different accounts to each other, and the historical context will be taken into consideration. The main reason for the Temple Tumult is Jesus' concern for the Gentiles — being disregarded by Jewish leadership.

Textual-historical considerations

One of the incidents in the Gospel of Jesus that was deemed significant by all writers of the canonical gospels is what Jerome in his Vulgate labeled Purgatio templi — The Cleansing of the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46 and John 2:13-16). This title imposes a definite way of looking at the incident that is not straightforwardly supported by the texts, and hints at a debatable theological view. Because of the obvious disruption and commotion surrounding the incident, we will refer to it as the Temple Tumult. The accounts of this historical narrative are different in all four gospels, both in the details chosen to be reported and in the immediate and larger context within each gospel. A comprehensive harmonizing attempt would not encounter flagrant contradictions between the passages on their own, and might read:

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and they went up to Jerusalem, and Jesus entered the temple of God. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the moneychangers at their business. And making a whip of cords, he drove out all who sold and bought, with the sheep and oxen out of the temple, and he poured out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables, and the seats of those who sold pigeons, and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He told them: "Take these things away; you shall not make my Father's house a house of trade." And he taught, and said to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers." His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for thy house will consume me".

Contrastingly, the only thing that all evangelists are saying is: Jesus drove salespeople out of the temple. Looking at this particular passage, there are differences in style, wording and prolixity between the evangelists, as well as the presence or absence of phrases and incidents. We want to be looking at the impact on reality of the historical event which will engage us in historical reconstruction — assuming that there was a Temple Tumult. A harmonization will give us the broad picture of what happened, regardless whether there were two incidents, or when exactly it happened in Jesus' life. Personally I'm inclined to think that there was at least a temple cleansing shortly before Jesus' arrest, but another incident reported by John in the beginning of Jesus' public ministry can be persuasively argued (Köstenberger 1999:74-79), which makes the different quotes attributed to Jesus easier to understand. Besides historical reconstruction of the incident, there are also the ideas and intentions of the authors to consider, and differing phrases matter more here. The knowledge each author might have had about other gospel accounts —the focus of source criticism— is important here, as well as redaction-critical issues — choices that have been made in the selection of known text fragments, the way they are expressed and put together. I find the Luke-knew-Matthew-knew-Mark approach to the synoptic problem quite convincing (Goodacre 2002), and it is easy to see John's relative independency from the other evangelists, but it seems highly improbable that he never read their gospels (Carson 1991:49-58).

Literary context

All gospels have the coming to Jerusalem for the Passover, the driving out of salespeople and the Jewish leaders questioning him. The larger setting for the story in the synoptic gospels is the arrival in Jerusalem as a prelude to the Passion — but the Passover is not mentioned at this stage. All synoptics tell about Jericho and giving sight to the blind, going up from Bethphage on donkey, the cheering crowd with mantles being laid on the ground, the driving out of salespeople from the temple with the reference to Isaiah 56:7 and the allusion to Jeremiah 7:11, teaching there, being confronted by the Jewish leaders and infuriating them to the point that they decide to arrest him.


Only in Matthew is the temple specifically designating as being God's —though not in all manuscripts— and actually this phrase is unique in the Bible. It could be argued to be consistent with his emphasis on Jesus being the son of God and the offspring of David, the bearer of God's promise for the temple. Matthew together with John says that Jesus drove out instead of Mark and Luke's began to drive out, suggesting completion. Together with Mark he mentions also the buyers were driven out, and the overturning of the table of the moneychangers and the seats of the pigeon sellers. Together with Luke he says it is written before quoting Isaiah, where Mark says that he taught and said is it not written. Afterwards Jesus healed people in the temple, and children sang Hosanna — infuriating the temple authorities. Spending the night in Bethany, the next morning he withered the unfruitful fig tree, astonishing his disciples and teaching them about faith and prayer. In the temple he taught about authority and was confronted by the Jewish leaders, he tells the parable of the Two Sons and of the Tenant and generally speaks out against the leaders, after which they decided to arrest him (21:46).


Jesus starts the Temple Tumult on the day after his arrival in Jerusalem, allowing Mark to interweave the cursing of the fig tree. It appears in all synoptics, and is taken as an acted allegory referring to the temple (Wright 1996:421). Mark is the only one mentioning that Jesus didn't allow anyone carrying anything through the temple, probably left out by Matthew and Luke because of its obscurity, although it might point to Zechariah 14:21, which also talks about traders. The court of the Gentiles had been used as a shortcut for city traffic, and there had been rules in place where one was not allowed to wear sandals, wallet or staff in this area (Lane 1974:405-406). The fact that Jesus is said to teach is consistent with Mark's emphasis on Jesus' didactic authority. Mark is also the only one including 'for all the nations' to the quote of Isaiah, which has been taken as indicating that the temple had been destroyed by the time Matthew and Luke wrote, but it's easy to think of redaction-critical reasons why they would want to leave that out. The allusion to Jeremiah 7:11 has been transformed into past tense, as Luke also has, possibly indicating irrevocable judgment. Immediately afterwards the authorities want to kill him. The next morning the fig tree appears to have withered and Jesus teaches about faith, prayer and forgiveness. Then in the temple the authorities get stuck asking him about his authority and then he tells the parable of the Tenants, after which they wanted to arrest him (12:12).


Jesus wept and prophesied over Jerusalem right before entering the temple, often assumed to have been reported by Luke because he wrote it after the destruction of the temple (Marshall 1978:717). Maybe, but only the events after AD 132 brought about its fulfillment — or it can be taken it as prophetic hyperbole. Luke's focus on the poor may account for only mentioning the driving out of the sellers, and generally Luke obviously didn't want to go into much detail here, possibly because Luke likes actions to give rise to teachings, and he doesn't seem to like long expositions, or he didn't like the violence (Marshall 1978:719-721). Then Jesus was teaching daily in the temple, and on one day he was asked about his authority by the Jewish leaders, and then he tells the parable of the Tenants, after which they wanted to arrest him (20:19).


After his first sign in Cana and having stayed in Capernaum for a few days (2:1-12), when the Passover was near, Jesus went to Jerusalem. The depiction of the Temple Tumult is longest in John, the only one mentioning sheep and oxen, the whip of cords, and the pouring out of coins, and only here Jesus is specifically addressing the pigeon sellers to take their business out, with an allusion to Zechariah 14:21. In the Bible, the expression 'the house of my Father' appears only in John (2:16 and 14:2), stressing Jesus as the unique Son of God. Also the verse from Psalm 69:9 that came to the minds of the disciples is only in John, both quotations from the Old Testament are replaced those in the synoptics, which hint at foreigners being included in Isaiah, and of warnings and judgment of Israel in Jeremiah, while John's allusion to Zechariah is about the presence of the kingdom of God, and Psalm 69 is about the judgment of Israel's enemies and deliverance. Afterwards, as an answer to the Jews asking for a sign Jesus said that he would rebuild this temple in three days, referring to his body — as his disciples realized later. Jesus did many signs around Passover, many believed in him, but he didn't reveal himself (2:25).

Historical context

The temple is central to the covenant that God made with the people of Israel, the focal part of their obligations toward God and staying within the covenant. Manifold are the instructions regarding the things that had to be done at the temple, and also how it should be build. The temple (Greek hieron) was not just the Holy and the Holy of Holies (Greek naos), but the priestly platform, the walled court of (men of) Israel, the walled court of women, the platform of Israel, the outer court (of the Gentiles) with the outer walls, most walls having colonnades or rooms. Before the stairs to the temple complex were bathing places, and on mount Olive were four markets to buy sacrificial animals according to rabbinic sources (Davies & Allison 1997:132-140). Before high days —when huge crowds gathered around Jerusalem— provisions were made for paying the half shekel temple tax (in Tyrian coinage, hence the moneychangers) — quite possibly in the outer court. It might have been a recent development to also sell animals on the temple precincts, although authorities on Jewish and rabbinic custom consider that unthinkable (Frankovic 1994), but possibly in the colonnade of the outer wall.


I think the proceedings when Jesus entered the temple were not as mundane as they have been depicted, there was a strong sense of holiness of the temple, and —clean, unblemished— animals were bound to be there, as was the half shekel (Exodus 30:13) and Jesus was not opposed to paying it (Matthew 17:27). There were restrictions in place forbidding Gentiles onto the platform leading to the inner courts (Gundry 1992:642-643). The court of the Gentiles came into being by Herod's temple efforts, done before Jesus' birth. It's interesting to note that nearly all commentators place the Temple Tumult here, any other part of the temple is out of the question. Many commentators have found it hard to imagine that Jesus actually made much impact. Looking at accomplishments of charismatic leaders throughout history, I find it easy to see how Jesus —in his Father's house— could have commanded the few hundred metres of the southern colonnade, moving in this emotional energy that carried his righteous anger — and people being convinced of doing something wrong and acting upon that (Gundry 1992:646). There is no suggestion in the gospels that people didn't listen, on the contrary, later he healed and taught. The reported fact that the authorities were angry suggests they felt threatened, and indeed the whole incident reminds of Malachi 3:1-3 —judgment and cleansing of temple servants— although there is no explicit quote. The incident has also been taken as a condemnation of the sacrificial system (Lightfoot in Barrett 1978:196), of any external worship (Roloff in Sanders 1985), but then why agitate at the fringes rather than at the inner court? In the New Testament the temple is never denounced, in fact Christ's ministry is patterned after it in Hebrews 9-10, and the disciples gathered daily at the temple (Acts 2:46). Many have thought financial considerations were the main threat felt by the leaders (like Bauckham in Carson 1991:179), and that the Tumult was directed against exploitation of the poor. It is remarkable then that Luke —most concerned with financial matters— did not expound on the story, and from rabbinic sources it is known that the moneychangers didn't really make a big profit (Frankovic 1994), besides that, the direct financial involvement of the leaders is unsubstantiated (Keener 1999:497). Many have argued for the Tumult to be a sign of coming judgment —especially for the temple servants-, or a prophecy of the destruction (Watty 1982). Subsequent history has made it hard to argue against that, and I believe it surely to be part of the significance, but Jesus' actions were not directed towards the Jewish leaders. Jesus is the fulfillment of what the temple was a blueprint for —Immanuel, God with us— together with the warnings of judgment on the temple — unless the temple servants would repent, the temple would be taken down. Christianity is about not needing any sacrifice to be restored in our relationship with God except Jesus' final sacrifice. But I don't think this specific incident of the Temple Tumult is meant to say all that, like it didn't happen just to teach about righteous anger, even though it can be used for that.

Taken at face value, the texts indicate that Jesus was bothered by the trading specifically in the temple, and John's Old Testament quotes support this. Furthermore, the synoptics' quotes stress judgment on the people in charge and their lack of focus on prayer. It is obvious that the Temple Tumult led to a decision to arrest him, and finally to his crucifixion. I'm convinced that Jesus was really angry, triggered by the ongoing business. It was not proper to make the grounds set apart by God for a definite purpose —Gentile worship— into a market area. The court of Gentiles did not exist in Old Testament times, there is no biblical commandment about it, but it was clearly regarded as part of the temple, and gentiles were allowed there. I like to think it shows Jesus' concern for the Gentiles in addition to his zeal for God's temple. It was a warning of judgment for the authorities, they did cause Jesus to be crucified, and we know that the temple was destroyed — and build again in three days.


Jesus, in his anger towards the trade in the temple grounds dedicated to the worship of Gentiles, clears the temple area — showing his concern for the Gentiles and incurring the wrath of the Jewish leaders, ultimately leading to his crucifixion and the destruction of the temple.


Barrett, C.K. (1978) The Gospel according to St.John (London: SPCK).

Carson, D.A. (1991) The Gospel according to John (Leicester: IVP).

Davies, W.D. & Allison, D.C (1997) Matthew (Edinburgh: T&T Clark).

Frankovic, J. (1994) 'Remember Shiloh!' Jerusalem Perspective, 46&47, Dec 1994, pp.24-31.

Goodacre, M. (2002) 'The case against Q' <>, November 2002.

Gundry, R.H. (1992) Mark (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).

Marshall, I.H. (1978) The Gospel of Luke (Exeter: Paternoster).

Meyers, R. (2002) 'e-Sword 6.5.0' at <>, November 2002.

Köstenberger, A.J. (1999) Encountering John (Grand Rapids: Baker).

Keener, C.S. (1999) A Commentary on the Gospel of Matthew (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).

Lane, W.L. (1974) The Gospel of Mark (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott).

Sanders, E.P. (1985) Jesus and Judaism (London: SCM).

Watty, W.W. (1982) 'Jesus and the Temple — cleansing or cursing?' The Expository Times, 93:8, May 1982, pp.235-239.

Wright, N.T. (1996) Jesus an the Victory of God (London: SPCK).

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