Did Jesus Cleanse the Temple Once or Twice?

John’s Gospel puts the cleansing of the Temple at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, while the other Gospels have it at the end. Which is it?

The “cleansing of the Temple” is when Jesus drove out the money changers and those who were selling animals for sacrifice, as they were profaning the Temple by exploiting the poor and turning God’s house into a “den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13).

But there is an interesting challenge when reading about this event in your Bible.

In the Gospels of Mathew, Mark, and Luke (knowns as the Synoptic Gospels), the cleansing of the Temple is presented as occurring in the final days of His earthly ministry. Each of these Gospels place this event immediately after Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem and just prior to His arrest, trial, and crucifixion.

This dramatic act results in “the chief priests and the scribes and the principal men among the people…seeking to destroy Him” (Luke 19:47). Their plotting against Jesus would, of course, culminate in His death on the cross.

Matthew’s Account
Mark’s Account
Luke’s Account

However, John’s Gospel places what appears to be this same event not at the end of Jesus’ public ministry but at its outset – right after the miracle at the wedding in Cana and before His interaction with Nicodemus.

John’s Account

Those familiar with the differences between the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John will not be surprised to find that there are details that differ, and yet such a significant rearranging of an important event would go well beyond mere stylistic or thematic emphases.

Whether Jesus cleansed the Temple at the beginning or at the end of His ministry appears to be, at least at first glance, an irreconcilable chronological disagreement between John and the Synoptic Gospels.

Possible Solutions to the Problem

There are three potential solutions for reconciling the different placements of the cleansing of the Temple:

  1. The accounts contradict because either John or the Synoptics are simply incorrect in presenting the information,
  2. John is not concerned with chronology in this instance and places the cleansing of the Temple at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry for thematic or theological reasons, or
  3. Jesus cleansed the Temple twice. John records the one that occurred at the beginning of His public ministry while the Synoptics record the one that occurred at the end of it.

Each of these possible solutions will be explored, and I will argue that the third option as the one that best accounts for the biblical evidence. To put it plainly:

Jesus cleansed the Temple on two separate occasions. The Gospel of John records the first event which occurred at the beginning of His earthly ministry, while Matthew, Mark, and Luke record the second event at the end of His ministry just prior to His arrest and crucifixion.

Below we will explore the options for understanding these passages together and see why this view is the most likely.

Option 1: Are the Gospels Simply Mistaken?

I operate on the presupposition that Scripture is inerrant – meaning that it contains no errors. Therefore, a solution wherein the Gospels merely present irreconcilable chronological details is not a viable option. Additionally, the proceeding argument will serve to show that such a conclusion is unwarranted, as it is not only possible – but rather probable – that there is no contradiction present. The Synoptics and John are simply recording two similar, yet separate, events.

Option 2: Is Chronological Order Ignored in John?

Having dismissed the possibility that either John or the Synoptics are inaccurate in their recollection of the timing of this event in the life of Christ, a possible solution to our problem is that John is placing an event from the end of Jesus’ ministry at the beginning because he is recounting it thematically, not chronologically.

This would effectively remove the possibility of contradictory accounts while still allowing for John to place his telling of the event earlier in his Gospel. Because the Synoptic Gospels are in agreement, and because John’s Gospel was written last, it seems most probable that John would have been the one to relocate this event – if, in fact, any of the Gospel writers did so.

This is the position of scholars such as Dr. Craig A. Evans, who writes, “I believe John is giving his own account of one cleansing…he has moved the account chronologically for theological reasons.” He goes on to write that rather than being focused on chronology,

John is creating a theological portrait of Jesus’ display of signs in the context of Judaism. Jesus is the fulfillment and replacement of Judaism’s festivals and institutions. And the Temple is high on His list as a place that soon (through His death) will no longer serve the purposes of God.1

Evans is not alone in reaching this conclusion about thematic placement, though others suggest different purposes John may have had in moving the event. C.K. Barrett states that:

We may suppose either that John was in possession of an independent chronological tradition which he rated more highly than that of Mark, or that his placing of the incident was dictated by reasons theological rather than chronological. The latter supposition is more probable.2

Barret goes on to survey some views held by other scholars: perhaps John moved this event to the beginning to emphasize the theme of worship, or he may have removed it from chapter 12 to make room for the raising of Lazarus to be recounted, or maybe John wanted to “obscure the connection between the act of violence in the Temple and the crucifixion.” 3

There are many other possibilities given by scholars. No wonder that DA Carson states: When interpreters of John who hold that the Evangelist has moved the narrative here for theological reasons try to articulate those reasons, they neither agree with each other nor prove intrinsically convincing. 4

Because of this lack of agreement, I won’t attempt to refute each of the possible reasons John may have had for moving this event. Instead, we will examine the passage to see if there is reason to believe that John is not attempting to present a chronological picture of the cleansing of the Temple. If it appears that both John and the Synoptics intend to give a chronologically accurate account of when this incident took place, a better solution must be found to overcome the apparent contradiction.

Chronology Considered

Although most who argue for a single Temple cleansing claim that it is John who would have moved it, Craig Blomberg suggests that it is actually the Synoptics which “contain remarkably few references to time, place, or sequence of events.” Meanwhile, it is John that is “replete with chronological and geographical details.” He goes on to state that the case can be made that “John describes the ministry of Jesus almost entirely in chronological order.” 5

But in the case of the Temple cleaning we review the Synoptics and find that they do make use chronological language related to this event. For example, all three Synoptics are clear that immediately preceding the cleansing of the Temple Jesus’ disciples acquired a donkey’s colt “when they drew near to Jerusalem” and that He rode on it during His Triumphal Entry (Matthew 21:1; Mark 11:1).

Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, Frederic Edwin Church – 1870

It was “as He was drawing near” that the people began to rejoice (Luke 19:37), and Mark adds that upon entering Jerusalem Jesus entered the Temple but, “as it was already late,” He and the disciples went out to Bethany (Mark 11:11).

Chronological language is used after the Temple is cleansed as well. Mark tells us that “when evening came they departed” (11:19) and both Matthew and Mark recount that “in the morning” (Matthew 21:18) “on the following day” (Mark 11:12) the disciples are given the lesson of the withered fig tree.

Clearly the Synoptics are presenting the cleansing of the Temple as fitting within a chronological narrative during the final days of Jesus’ life. The question becomes whether John is likewise presenting his account of Jesus cleansing the Temple chronologically or if the language used suggests some sort of thematic or theological reasons for reordering the event.

But John’s Gospel does not appear to be unconcerned with chronology either. In fact, we see just the opposite. John indicates that the wedding in Cana was “on the third day” after he went into Galilee (2:1) and that this event ended with Jesus and the disciples going to Capernaum and staying there “for a few days” (John 2:12).

They went to Jerusalem because “the Passover of the Jews was at hand” (2:13), and the passage after the cleansing of the Temple begins by saying “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast…” (2:23).

The most significant chronological marker is found in John 2:18-22:

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the Temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

This interaction, unique to John’s Gospel, provides us with a means of dating this event. When Jesus makes His initial statement about destroying and raising up the temple of His body, the Jews misunderstand and say, “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” (John 2:20).

The footnote in the ESV states that this phrase can also be rendered “this temple was built forty-six years ago.” However, since the Temple was not fully complete until AD 63, it seems more natural to take this phrase as indicating that Temple construction had begun 46 years prior.

Here we have a helpful clue for determining when this event took place. It is known from Josephus that “the rebuilding of the Temple began in the autumn of the eighteenth year of Herod’s reign.” 6 This would put us at roughly 20 or 19 BC. 7

Depending on how we account for the Jewish reckoning of time, adding 46 years to that brings us to roughly AD 27 or 28. This fits with the chronology presented by Carson and Moo, which dates the start of Jesus’ public ministry as beginning in either 28 or 29, lasting at least two years, and ending with His crucifixion occurring in AD 30 or later. 8

[For more on dating the birth, ministry, and death of Christ, see my article “What Year Was Jesus Actually Born?” which argues that Jesus was born between 5 and 6 B.C]

The Temple cleansing likely took place in the outermost court, the Court of the Gentiles

Even Barrett, who we have already seen as rejecting the idea of two Temple cleansing events, agrees with this assessment. He states that this phrase is “impossible to translate otherwise” and that it presents us with a date for this Temple cleansing of about A.D. 27/28. 9

If John’s telling of the Temple cleansing is simply a parallel account to that found in the Synoptics, the timing does not work – dating the event just before Jesus’ crucifixion is far too late to have occurred 46 years after the reconstruction of the Temple had begun. If, however, there were two Temple cleansings – one at the beginning and one at the end of Jesus’ ministry – this chronological marker fits perfectly.

Lastly, we see that a plain reading of the Gospel of John strongly implies that this event took place prior to the arrest of John the Baptist, which is not referenced until John 3:22-24:

After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison).

“After this” (ESV), or “after these things” (NASB), indicates that we are to read this as occurring after Jesus’ interaction with Nicodemus which occurred immediately prior. Looking back at that passage, we see that it occurred after Jesus cleansed the Temple. A plain reading of John leaves the reader with the distinct impression that the Temple cleansing occurred well before John the Baptist was imprisoned and killed.

The Synoptics, however, indicate that John’s arrest and subsequent beheading takes place several chapters before Jesus enters Jerusalem and cleanses the Temple. While the text does not explicitly state the chronological relationship between these events, there is nothing in the text to suggest that this relationship is something other than what is implied. In John, the Temple is cleansed prior to John the Baptist’s death and in the Synoptics a cleansing occurs long after.

Reconstructed art depicting worshipers around the southwestern corner of the Temple Mount.

These few examples are enough to conclude that all of the Gospel writers appear to be presenting this episode in Jesus’ ministry in a particular chronological position that is connected to the events which immediately precede and follow it. Additionally, there is no clear evidence that John has relocated the Temple cleansing in order to make a theological or thematic point.

Option 3: Jesus Cleansed the Temple Twice

Although there is more that can be said about the other two possibilities for reconciling the differing accounts of the cleansing of the Temple, the above should be enough to show that neither option is without significant weaknesses.

As we turn to look at the positive evidence for there having been two separate cleansings, it will become apparent that this third option is the most probable and best accounts for all of the biblical evidence.

Still, I have to admit that such a conclusion is far from achieving consensus among scholars. Some regard the idea with a good deal of derision. In his commentary on the Gospel of Mark, RT France states that:

The suggestion, still sometimes met as an attempt to ‘harmonize’ Mark and John, that it happened twice is about as probable as that the Normandy landings took place both at the beginning and the end of the Second World War. 10

I think this is uncharitable and unwarranted. That could be a fair comparison if John and the Synoptics presented an identical or nearly identical event in two different places. In that case, to force an interpretation of the event happening twice merely to avoid an apparent contradiction would be inappropriate. However, if the details of the parallel event have a significant degree of variations this objection is significantly weakened.

This is just what we see when closely examine the details offered in John as compared to the details in the Synoptics. There is a high degree of dissimilarity, which suggests that they are presenting two similar yet distinct events – one occurring at the beginning and the other at the end of Jesus’ ministry. In order to make this case, we will consider a number of dissimilarities between the two accounts.

Dissimilarities Between the Synoptics and John

There are, of course, a number of important similarities between the account of the Temple cleansing in John and that which is found in the other Gospels. All four accounts take place in the same location, occur at the same time of year (just before the Passover), and feature Jesus driving out those who were profaning the Temple with commerce.

Many of the larger details of these events are strikingly similar. However, upon closer inspection, there are also many important differences. Consider the following:

  • Only John records Jesus driving out the sheep and oxen in addition to the people, and the fact that He did so using a makeshift “whip of cords” is also found only in John’s Gospel. The Synoptics make no mention of the animals or Jesus’ use of a whip.
  • Only John mentions the presence of the disciples, whereas the Synoptics imply that Jesus is on His own. We are told that “they” came to Jerusalem, and that “He entered the Temple” (Mark 11:15).
  • While Jesus overturns tables in both the Synoptic event and in John, only the latter mentions that Jesus poured out the coins of the money-changers (2:15).
  • In Mark, Jesus overturns the chairs of those who sell pigeons (11:15) while in John Jesus instructs them to “take these things away” (2:16).
  • Also, Mark is alone in mentioning that Jesus did not allow “anyone to carry anything through the Temple” (11:16).
  • Only in Matthew and Mark do we see that after this event Jesus left the city (Mark 11:19) and went out to lodge at Bethany (Matthew 21:17).

More significantly, the words of Jesus recorded nearly verbatim in each of the Synoptics (“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of thieves”) are nowhere to be found in John’s Gospel. A reference to “My Father’s house” is made in John, but the statement and quote from Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11 is absent. Instead, John sees fit to quote from Psalm 69:9 as he recounts the disciples’ reaction to this event: “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.’”

The biggest difference between these two events is found in the unique material of John 2:18-22. This particular section is significant in that only John records the Jews directly confronting Jesus over His actions:

So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. (John 2:18-21)

While the Synoptics indicate that the chief priests and scribes were displeased and “were seeking a way to destroy Him” (Mark 11:18), there is no Synoptic account of a negative interaction directly with any Jews apart from when they “were indignant” about the children calling out “Hosanna to the Son of David” (Matthew 21:14-16).

Consider also Jesus’ response to their demand for a sign, as well as their reaction to His words about destroying and raising up “this Temple.” When the Jews ask Jesus for a sign that would prove His authority to do such things, Jesus responds by saying, “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Verse 21 explains to the reader that Jesus “was speaking about the temple of His body.”

Note that this prophetic statement from Jesus is only found in the Gospel of John. Nowhere in the Synoptics does Jesus make a statement about destroying and raising up the Temple. Despite this fact, this phrase is found in Matthew and Mark – on the lips of Jesus’ enemies.

In the Synoptics, the crowds who mock Jesus during His crucifixion refer to this teaching about destroying the Temple (Matthew 27:40; Mark 15:29-30). Earlier, when Jesus was being accused before His enemies, the false witnesses used Jesus’ words as a means to condemn Him. However, they recount them incorrectly. In Matthew 26:61, the people claim, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” In Mark, the people claim that Jesus said “I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands” (Mark 14:58).

We might count this simply as the false witnesses twisting Jesus’ words in order to condemn Him, if not for the broader testimony of Mark 14:56-59:

For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. And some stood up and bore false witness against him, saying, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands.’” Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.

If Jesus’ original statement had been made only a few days prior to His arrest and trial (as a single Temple-cleansing would require), it seems odd that they would have difficulty agreeing as to what He said. However, if this statement was given several years prior, as a two-Temple-cleansing theory would require, this is less unusual. Either the length of time that had passed between the event and their accusations had prevented them from remembering it correctly or gave them ability to misrepresent Jesus’ words more freely. Either scenario is more likely for an event occurring several years prior rather than just several days prior.

As we consider the above differences, a single Temple clearing event becomes less certain. While there are broad stroke similarities between the events in John and the Synoptics, a review of the finer details suggest that these are two separate events.

Having demonstrated this, it is useful to respond to some common objections to a two-cleansing position.

Objections Answered

For a variety of reasons, the idea that Jesus cleansed the Temple twice is not the uniform opinion among biblical scholars. To begin with, Carson notes that there is a “deep-seated scholarly bias against doubles of anything in Scripture.” 11

However, such a bias can be overcome in the face of both an irreconcilable difference in the chronology and varying details in the accounts themselves, as demonstrated above. But it is not bias alone which prevents some from being willing to conclude that Jesus cleansed the Temple twice instead of once.

Below are specific objections to this view and a response to each.

Objection 1: Jesus Could Not Have Cleansed the Temple Without Facing Immediate Arrest

Skeptic Bart Ehrman finds himself in agreement with many evangelical scholars when he asks, “If Jesus made a disruption in the Temple at the beginning of his ministry, why wasn’t he arrested by the authorities then?” 12

The claim raised by such questions is that Jesus would not have been able to cause such a significant disruption in the Temple without incurring the swift wrath of the authorities.

The reaction of the authorities, it is supposed, would be what we see in the Luke 19:47, with “the chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people [seeking] to destroy Him.” This is often presented as evidence that this event is what precipitated an immediate and deadly response.

However, Jesus was not immediately arrested after the Temple cleansing recorded in the Synoptics. In Matthew we see that immediately after the cleansing Jesus remained in the Temple, healing the blind and the lame. It is when people respond with praise that the chief priests and scribes become “indignant” (Matthew 21:15). In Luke’s Gospel, we see that afterwards Jesus was “teaching daily in the Temple” (Luke 19:47). Two entire chapters go by before a plot to kill Jesus is mentioned.

Additionally, Mark’s Gospel states that when “the chief priests and the scribes heard it” they were “seeking a way to destroy Him.” But why was that the case? Mark specifically mentions that “they feared Him, because all the crowd was astonished at His teaching” (Mark 11:18). This makes it seem as though their offense and response were not so much because of the Temple cleansing but because of the response of the crowds. When Jesus is finally put on trial the list of His “crimes” does not actually include the account of cleansing the Temple, but only His statement about “destroying” it.

Any suggestion that Jesus could not have cleansed the Temple early in His ministry because doing so would result in His immediate arrest fails to take into account the testimony of the Synoptics. They clearly show that Jesus did not face immediate arrest even after He disrupted the activities of the Temple in this dramatic fashion in the last days of His earthly ministry. Even if they did intend to arrest Jesus at that time we cannot assume that they would have been successful, as we see later in John 10:39: “Again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped from their hands.”

There is yet another plausible reason for believing that Jesus could have cleared the Temple without facing immediate repercussions. Edershiem reveals that the practice of buying and selling within the Temple was deeply unpopular among the people. After surveying the profane dealings occurring within the Temple on behalf of a corrupt leadership, he concludes that “the unpopularity of the whole traffic, if not their consciences, prevented their proceeding to actual violence.” 13

As we see throughout the New Testament, Jesus’ opponents are reluctant to oppose Him openly whenever they perceive that the crowds may not respond favorably.

Beyond that, the claim that the Jewish authorities would have immediately retaliated against Jesus relies on the assumption that they were completely closed off to the possibility of a prophetic response revealing God’s objection to their current practices. E. Randolph Richards, in his journal article arguing for a distinct early Temple clearing, makes the case that the practice of having the animals inside the Temple in Jerusalem was a relatively recent phenomenon, and one that was not universally accepted as appropriate. 14

Richards writes:

[John] the Baptist was widely accepted as a prophet by the crowds. For another prophet to arise was not out of the question. We must allow that the authorities likely knew very little about Jesus, His message, or His powers. They did not share our skepticism over the supernatural. Powerful prophets and miracle workers were possible. The only question was if Jesus was such a one. 15

And so it is at least possible, if not probable, that the leaders’ reaction against this disturbance would have been subdued, allowing for the possibility that this Jesus of Nazareth – who’s ministry had been publicly endorsed by John – really was a prophet. That the Jews ask Jesus in John 2:18, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” certainly lends credence to this position. The fact that Jesus “failed” to produce a sign may have been, in the minds of the Jewish authorities, enough to sufficiently discredit Jesus among the people so that He could be dismissed as a nuisance rather than a threat.

While this objection is common, it is rather difficult to prove that Jesus could not have cleansed the Temple without precipitating His arrest and cutting His ministry short. Moreover, the evidence to the contrary is at least as strong, if not stronger.

Objection 2: Jesus Would Not Have Had the Opportunity to Cleanse the Temple a Second Time

This objection is similar to the previous one, but instead focuses on Jesus inability to cleanse the Temple a second time if an earlier cleansing occurred. Chapple states that “there is little likelihood that Jesus could have intervened in the Temple on a second occasion, because the authorities would ensure that it was not repeated.” 16

This argument presents an even lower hurdle than the previous one, and so will be dealt with more briefly. There are two practical reasons that this objection is a weak one.

  • First, we are speaking of two different events separated by several years. In between the first and second cleansing Jesus would have visited the Temple several times without incident. Even if the authorities were watching for Jesus and His followers, it is not unreasonable to believe that they would let their guard down at some point.
  • Secondly, these events happened during the busiest and most crowded time of the year. As Chapple notes, “the crowds of pilgrims in Jerusalem were immense, as were the throngs that entered the huge area of the Temple complex.” 17

Even if the authorities had made a concerted effort to prevent Jesus from entering – or at least disrupting – the Temple, the task would have been nearly impossible.

Objection 3: None of the Gospels Record Both Cleansings

A third objection that is sometimes offered is “if there were two cleansings, why are they not both recorded in any of the four Gospels?” This objection, while raising a valid question, is not insurmountable.

First, it is not unusual for one Gospel to record an event that is absent in the others – this is particularly common when comparing the Gospel of John to the Synoptics. Certainly the lack of information about an incident in one Gospel does not disprove its authenticity in another. The Gospel of John omits many significant events from Jesus’ final week, such as the Transfiguration (Matthew 17, Mark 9, Luke 9), the cursing of the fig tree (Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 13), and the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 22).

Meanwhile, the Synoptics do not contain the resurrection of Lazarus, the extended farewell discourse (John 13-17) or, most importantly, Jesus’ earliest Passover trips to Jerusalem. The Synoptics record only one Passover occurring during Jesus’ Ministry, while John mentions two or three (2:13, 6:4, 11:55). Since they do not record any of the events associated with earlier Passovers it should not surprise us to find that this episode is omitted. The issue is even broader than this, as the Synoptics completely omit Jesus early ministry in Judea – nothing in John 1 – 5 is found in Matthew, Mark, or Luke – and so there would not be a place to add this event.

It is not, therefore, a significant problem that none of the Gospels record two separate Temple cleansings. The fact that John has only the early cleansing and the Synoptics only the latter one is not a significant enough objection to dismiss the evidence in favor of two separate cleansings.


As we have seen, the witness of the four Gospels together present the reader with an apparent contradiction: did Jesus cleanse the Temple at the beginning or at the end of His ministry?

Having a presupposition that none of the Gospels are simply incorrect in their assertions, we are left with two possibilities: either John moved the event for a thematic or theological reason or the Gospels are recording two similar, yet separate, events.

A plain reading of  the passages in the Synoptics and in John strongly supports the conclusion that they are presenting these events as being placed in their proper chronological position.

There is nothing in the language of John’s Gospel to suggest that He is rearranging this incident to make a theological point, and there is a great deal of evidence to suggest that He is presenting this event chronologically in relation to what precedes and follows it.

This evidence prevents us from seeing a theological motive for rearranging the timing of the Temple cleansing, and so we are left with a final option: that Jesus cleansed the Temple on two different occasions. But is this just special pleading to avoid tension between the Gospel narratives, as RT France and others have alleged?

As we have seen, there is good reason to conclude that these are two separate events, with John recording the first incident and the Synoptics recording the second. While the minimum details for a Passover Temple cleansing are the same (the timing, the location, driving out the merchants, etc.), a comparison of the finer details show that there is a high degree of dissimilarity.

We have also seen that objections to a two-cleansings position are not insurmountable: it would have been possible for Jesus to both avoid arrest after the first cleansing and to repeat this action later. Additionally, the fact that none of the Gospels present us with two cleansings is not troublesome, as John and the Synoptics vary in reporting other important aspects of Jesus’ life that they record.

In conclusion, it is not a forced harmonization of John and the Synoptics that leads us to believe that Jesus cleansed the Temple on two separate occasions. Rather, it is the most natural conclusion we can reach based on the biblical evidence presented in the Gospel accounts.

Image Credit: Featured image for this article is a photograph by Dana Murray of a 50:1 scale model of the Second Temple.


  1. Craig A. Evans, The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: John’s Gospel, Hebrews-Revelation (Colorado Springs, Colo: Victor, 2005), 49. Bottom of Form ↩︎
  2. C.K. Barrett, The Gospel According to St. John: An Introduction with Commentary and Notes on the Greek Text (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster John Knox Press, 1978), 195. ↩︎
  3. Ibid. ↩︎
  4. D.A. Carson, The Gospel according to John (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2015), 178. ↩︎
  5. Craig L. Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2007), 215. ↩︎
  6. Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979), 375, n. 2. ↩︎
  7. Tim Chaffey, “The Temple Cleansing.” AnswersinGenesis.com. ↩︎
  8. D.A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 124-127. ↩︎
  9. Barrett, 200. ↩︎
  10. R.T. France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), 438 n. 34. ↩︎
  11. Carson, 177. ↩︎
  12. Bart Ehrman, Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (New York, NY: HarperOne, 2010), 7. ↩︎
  13. Edersheim, 372. ↩︎
  14. E. Randolph Richards. “An Honor/Shame Argument for Two Temple Clearings.” Trinity Journal 29 (2008): 28. ↩︎
  15. Ibid. ↩︎
  16. Chapple, 568. ↩︎
  17. Ibid. ↩︎
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