buying and selling, ceremonial purification process, changing old system to new system, cleansing the Temple, emporion, emporium, exchange and negotiation, First Book of the Maccabees, house of merchandise, messianic purification of Temple, moneychangers and sellers of doves, semeion or sign
And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. ~ John 2:13-16, KJV
At the beginning of Christ Jesus’ ministry, while cleansing the Temple, He accuses the Temple moneychangers and the sellers of doves, oxen, and sheep of turning God’s Temple into a house of merchandise (cf. John 2:13-16). The word merchandise in the Greek New Testament’s language is “emporion,” from which we get the English word “emporium.” So, in essence, the Lord is saying to these sellers and moneychangers that they have changed the Lord’s House/Temple from a place of prayer and worship to a place of exchange and negotiation!
In context, it is evident that the Lord had a Divine purpose in mind, when He left the wedding at Cana (cf. John 2:1-12), where He changed ordinary water into superior wine. It is important to note here that the water in the pots at this wedding represents the old purification ceremony, while the wine the water becomes symbolizes the fulfillment of the ceremonial purification process (represents a new order). For these reasons, after Christ Jesus leaves Cana for Capernaum, and then goes from there to Jerusalem, it is obvious that His Divine purpose is to set spiritual natters in order, which He immediately does by replacing the old Jewish Temple system, because it has been superseded by the wine (Holy Spirit) of the Gospel, or the new spiritual system (the Kingdom of God that has come on earth). In other words, Christ Jesus replaces the old wineskins so that He can pour new wine into new wineskins (cf. Mark 2:22). That is why, when the Jerusalem Jews ask Christ Jesus by what “sign” could He show them that He has the authority to chase the sellers and moneychangers out of the Jewish Temple (cf. John 2:18), the Lord answers: “…Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19, ESV).
Now, the word “sign” is an English translation of the Greek New Testament’s word “semeion,” which is the term that is used when speaking of miracles that are accepted as evidence of divine authority. Thus, in the context of John 2:6-13, Jesus the Christ has performed His first “sign”—the “miracle” in Cana that manifests His glory (the glory which fills Him via the Holy Spirit who came upon Him like a dove; see Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; John 1:32). Furthermore, this first “sign” symbolizes who Christ Jesus really is, which is the prophesied Messiah, and this first “sign” represents the fulfillment of the Jewish religious institutions, traditions/customs, and annual feasts.
For these abovementioned reasons, the Lord, in John 2:18-19, boldly is telling the Jerusalem Jews that He is the messianic sign they are looking for (the prophesied One who would perform a messianic purification of the Temple; see Malachi 3:3), and He is telling them that His body is the new Temple of God. As such, He also is telling the Jerusalem Jews that He is the without spot or blemish sacrificial Lamb who would be slaughtered/killed on the Feast of Passover yet resurrected three days later on the Feast of Firstfruits.
Then too, in The First Book of the Maccabees, the Hebrew author writes:
Therefore, the Jews and their priests are happy to have Simon and his descendants as their leaders and High Priests, until a true prophet appears. Simon shall govern their country, have charge of the Temple, and shall be their military commander. He shall be in charge of military supplies, fortifications, and public works. ~ 1 Maccabees 14:41-42, GNT
In Deuteronomy, an the Old Testament book, God says through Moses that:
I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. ~ Deuteronomy 18:18-22, ESV
Thus, based on the verses quoted above, Christ Jesus also is telling the Jerusalem Jews that He specifically fulfills the ancient prophecies about the One who, in Old Testament writings, along with other traditional Jewish writings, is to be the Prophet who would come having more power and authority than all of the past and existing religious Jewish authorities. Christ Jesus is indeed the Prophet who would have caused the religious Jewish authorities in His day to step down from their places of leadership, if they had not already become corrupt, power hungry religious leaders. That is why these religious Jewish leaders’ inability to recognize Christ Jesus as the Prophet who has been prophesied about is what causes the Pharisees, for example, to ask John the Baptist if he is that prophesied Prophet (cf. John 1:21).
Be that as it may; what is more important to note here is what the Lord actually has done in John 2:13-22. He has let the Jerusalem Jews know that He has the Divine Power and Authority to cleanse the Jewish Temple by stopping the animal sellers and the moneychangers’ corrupt buying and selling (exchanging and negotiating), which have been going on in the court of the Gentiles. Moreover, He has let the Jerusalem Jews know that He has the Divine Power and Authority to change the emphasis on the Temple from being about a physical building where Jews go to worship God, to being about the Lord Jesus’ literal body, which is now God’s new House of Prayer (the spiritual temple’s outer court where there no longer is any need for exchange and negotiation tactics). Indeed, Christ Jesus is saying that He is the true replacement of the Jewish Temple! Put differently, the Lord is saying that inside of His body, which is the outer court portion of God’s new temple, lives the Lord’s inner spirit, which dwells in God’s new inner holy place. Also, He is saying that the Holy Spirit, who lives inside the innermost holiest of holy place of God’s new temple, is the new wine, or the glory of God that now fills the Lord!
Even the apostle Paul says:
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, KJV
By all of these above verses we can understand that what Christ Jesus is saying in John 2:13-22 is that because of Him believers NO LONGER can go to a temple or a “church” to worship, for just like the Jewish Temple in the Lord’s day would eventually no longer be a place to go to worship God, which actually comes to pass in 70 A.D., the so-called “church,” which began on the Day of Pentecost and continues until this very day, NEVER has been a physical brick and mortar building in which believers worship God, either. This spiritual replacement of the physical Temple is the reason why, especially since believers’ bodies no longer belong to them, believers no longer have any right to use their individual bodies as a piece of merchandise—as something with which they can exchange and/or negotiate.
Lastly, because the “church” in the Greek New Testament’s language is the word “ekkelsia,” then it is important to note here that from its inception every “ekkelsia” has had NO steeples, no walls, no doors, no stained glass windows, no aisles, no pews, no pulpits, no bathrooms, and so forth. From its Day of Pentecost beginning, every one of the Lord’s “ekklesia” has consisted of His “called out ones.” Put differently, to Christ Jesus, His “ekklesia” ONLY is made up of His born again, saved (justified), and being sanctified believers in whom the glory of God (His Holy Spirit) also has filled!
Therefore, since the Holy Spirit is Father God’s Spirit who not only is inside of but also the One who has filled believers with the same power and authority Jesus the Christ has, believers also are able to worship and, thus, glorify God with their bodies. Moreover, this godly kind of in Spirit and in Truth worship (cf. John 4:24) only can happen when born again, saved (justified), Holy Spirit indwelt, and Holy Spirit-filled believers daily are presenting their individual bodies as a holy and acceptable living sacrifice, for according to apostle Paul it is ONLY each believer’s every day LIVING sacrifice that God will recognize as each believer’s true and proper spiritual worship (cf. Romans 12:1-3)!
For additional information, please read my blog posts: Is Begging for Money a God Anointed Spiritual Gift?, and God and His Temple Are NOT Brands, So Stop Making Secular Businesses of Payer and Worship