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Bible Q

When did Jesus cleanse the temple?

John records Jesus driving the traders out of the temple in Jerusalem:

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (John 2:13-16)

This was at the start of his ministry. The other gospels describe him driving out the traders at the end of his ministry:

And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:12-13)

Some people have argued that this is a contradiction, since John places the cleansing of the temple at the beginning of Christ’s ministry, while the other gospel writers place it at the end of his ministry. This apparent problem is easily resolved — there were two occasions in which Jesus drove out traders.

In John’s gospel, the cleansing occurs at the beginning of Christ’s miracles at Cana of Galilee. (John 2:11). Jesus journeyed from Capernaum to Jerusalem in this Gospel. The cleansing is then followed by the Jews’ request for a sign. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus comes to Jerusalem from Judea beyond Jordan (Matthew 19:1), and enters Jerusalem on an ass to the cries of “Hosanna” from the populace. (Matthew 21:9). The cleansing of the temple is then followed by the cursing of the fig tree. (Matthew 21:18, 19). It follows, therefore, that two different cleansings occurred.

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