How Many Temple Cleansings Were There?

Q. I was surprised to learn your view that John had recorded the “cleansing of the Temple” out of order. There were two cleansings to indicate two points. In the first Jesus said it was His Fathers Temple, at the beginning of His ministry. While in the second cleansing at the end of His ministry, He says “your temple” indicating the departure of the Holy.

A. Sorry, but I’ve never bought the “two cleansings” theory. It’s a matter of historical fact that the Holy Presence of God had departed from Solomon’s Temple 600 years earlier, and neither He nor the Ark of the Covenant had ever resided in the 2nd Temple. Matthew wrote to a primarily Jewish audience that would have been very interested in anything concerning the Temple, and yet he mentions only one cleansing. In fact none of the gospels mentions two, not even John’s. It’s a hypothesis of man which is not supported by Scripture.

Many Study Bibles refer to the accounts in Matt 23:12-17, Mark 11:12-19, and Luke 19:45-48, as being the same as the one in John 2:12-16. And in fact they are all remarkably similar in detail, so much so that it would require much more proof than is currently available to support the two cleansing theory.

John’s Gospel is neither a history nor a chronology of the Lord’s ministry. It’s self stated purpose is to convince us that Jesus is the Son of God (John 20:31) It describes 7 miracles, 7 discourses and 7 “I am” statements, focusing primarily on only 21 days out of His 3 1/2 year ministry. 10 chapters are devoted to the last week and 1/3 of all its verses deal with a single day.

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