on John 2 :14
Found in the temple those that sold oxen, etc. - This is a similar fact to that mentioned Matthew 21:12; Mark 11:15; Luke 19:45. See it explained on Matthew 21:12 (note). If it be the same fact, then John anticipates three years of time in relating it here; as that cleansing of the temple mentioned by the other evangelists took place in the last week of our Lord's life. Mr. Mann, Dr. Priestley, and Bp. Pearce, contend that our Lord cleansed the temple only once; and that was at the last passover. Calvin, Mr. Mede, L'Enfant and Beausobre, Dr. Lardner, Bp. Hurd, and Bp. Newcome, contend that he purged the temple twice; and that this, mentioned by John, was the first cleansing, which none of the other evangelists have mentioned. Let the reader, says Bp. Newcome, observe the order of events.
"Jesus works his first miracle at Cana of Galilee, John 2:11; then he passes a few days at Capernaum, which bring him on his way to Jerusalem, John 2:12. The passover being near, he goes up to Jerusalem, John 2:13, and casts the traders out of the temple, John 2:15, John 2:16, At the passover he works many miracles, John 2:23. While he is in Jerusalem, which city he does not leave till, John 3:22, Nicodemus comes to him by night, John 3:1, John 3:2. John 3:2 contains a reference to John 2:23. After these things, Jesus departs from Jerusalem, and dwells and baptizes in Judea, John 3:22. And all these incidents take place before John was cast into prison, John 3:24. But the second cleansing of the temple happens most clearly during the last week of our Lord's life, after the death of the Baptist, and at a time when it would be absurd to say that afterwards Jesus dwelt and baptized in Judea."
The vindication of God's house from profanation was the first and the last care of our Lord; and it is probable he began and finished his public ministry by this significant act.
It certainly appears that John directly asserts an early cleansing of the temple, by the series of his history; as the other three evangelists assert a later cleansing of it. And though the act mentioned here seems to be nearly the same with that mentioned by the other evangelists, yet there are some differences. St. John alone mentions the scourge of rushes, and the casting out of the sheep and oxen. Besides, there is a considerable difference in our Lord's manner of doing it: in the cleansing mentioned by the three evangelists, he assumes a vast deal of authority, and speaks more pointedly concerning himself, than he appears to do in this cleansing mentioned by St. John: the reason which has been given is, In the first cleansing he was just entering upon his public ministry, and therefore avoided (as much as was consistent with the accomplishment of his work) the giving any offense to the Jewish rulers; but, in the last cleansing, he was just concluding his ministry, being about to offer up his life for the salvation of the world, in consequence of which he speaks fully and without reserve. For answers to all the objections made against two cleansings of the temple, see the notes at the end of Bp. Newcome's Greek Harmony of the Gospels, pp. 7-9.
on John 2 :14
Found in the temple ... - The transaction here recorded is in almost all respects similar to that which has been explained in the notes at Matthew 21:12. This took place at the commencement of his public ministry; that at the close. On each occasion he showed that his great regard was for the pure worship of his Father; and one great design of his coming was to reform the abuses which had crept into that worship, and to bring man to a proper regard for the glory of God. If it be asked how it was that those engaged in this traffic so readily yielded to Jesus of Nazareth, and that they left their gains and their property, and fled from the temple at the command of one so obscure as he was, it may be replied,
1. That their consciences reproved them for their impiety, and they could not set up the "appearance" of self-defense.
2. It was customary in the nation to cherish a profound regard for the authority of a prophet; and the appearance and manner of Jesus - so fearless, so decided, so authoritative led them to suppose "he" was a prophet, and they were afraid to resist him.
3. Even then, Jesus had a wide reputation among the people, but it is not improbable that many supposed him to be the Messiah.
4. Jesus on all occasions had a most wonderful control over people. None could resist him. There was something in his manner, as well as in his doctrine, that awed men, and made them tremble at his presence. Compare John 18:5-6. On this occasion he had the manner of a prophet, the authority of God, and the testimony of their own consciences, and they could not, therefore, resist the authority by which he spoke.
Though Jesus thus purified the temple at the commencement of his ministry, yet in three years the same scene was to be repeated. See Matthew 21:12. And from this we may learn:
1. How soon people forget the most solemn reproofs, and return to evil practices.
2. That no sacredness of time or place will guard them from sin. In the very temple, under the very eye of God, these people soon returned to practices for which their consciences reproved them, and which they knew that God disapproved.
3. We see here how strong is the love of gain - the ruling passion of mankind. Not even the sacredness of the temple, the presence of God, the awful ceremonials of religion, deterred them from this unholy traffic. So wicked men and hypocrites will always turn "religion," if possible, into gain; and not even the sanctuary, the Sabbath, or the most awful and sacred scenes, will deter them from schemes of gain. Compare Amos 8:5. So strong is this grovelling passion, and so deep is that depravity which fears not God, and regards not his Sabbaths, his sanctuary, or his law.
on John 2 :14
2:14 Oxen, and sheep, and doves - Used for sacrifice: And the changers of money - Those who changed foreign money for that which was current at Jerusalem, for the convenience of them that came from distant countries.