John 2:21
But he spake of the temple of his body.
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(21) But he spake.—Literally, was speaking. This is the solution of the enigma as the disciples read it in the after history. It is remarkable that we have the interpretation of the spiritual temple in Mark 14:58 (see Note there, and comp. John 4:21; John 4:23).

2:12-22 The first public work in which we find Christ engaged, was driving from the temple the traders whom the covetous priests and rulers encouraged to make a market-place of its courts. Those now make God's house a house of merchandise, whose minds are filled with cares about worldly business when attending religious exercises, or who perform Divine offices for love of gain. Christ, having thus cleansed the temple, gave a sign to those who demanded it, to prove his authority for so doing. He foretells his death by the Jews' malice, Destroy ye this temple; I will permit you to destroy it. He foretells his resurrection by his own power; In three days I will raise it up. Christ took again his own life. Men mistake by understanding that according to the letter, which the Scripture speaks by way of figure. When Jesus was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered he has said this. It helps much in understanding the Divine word, to observe the fulfilling of the Scriptures.Then said the Jews ... - The Jews, either from the ambiguity of his language, or more probably from a design to cavil, understood him as speaking of the temple at Jerusalem. What he said here is all the evidence that they could adduce on his trial Matthew 26:61; Mark 14:58, and they reproached him with it when on the cross, Matthew 27:40. The Jews frequently perverted our Saviour's meaning. The language which he used was often that of parables or metaphor; and as they Sought to misunderstand him and pervert his language, so he often left them to their own delusions, as he himself says, "that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand," Matthew 13:13. This was a case which they "might," if they had been disposed, have easily understood. They were in the temple; the conversation was about the temple; and though he probably pointed to his body, or designated it in some plain way, yet they chose to understand him as referring to the temple itself; and as it appeared so improbable that he could raise up that in three days, they sought to pervert his words and pour ridicule on his pretensions.

Forty and six years ... - The temple in which they then were was that which was commonly called "the second temple," built after the return of the Jews from Babylon. See the notes at Matthew 21:12. This temple Herod the Great commenced repairing, or began to rebuild, in the eighteenth year of his reign - that is, sixteen years before the birth of Christ (Jos. 'Ant.,' b. xv. Section 1). The main body of the temple he completed in "nine years and a half" (Jos. 'Ant.,' xv. 5, 6), yet the temple, with its outbuildings, was not entirely complete in the time of our Saviour. Herod continued to ornament it and to perfect it even until the time of Agrippa (Jos. 'Ant.,' b. xx. chapter viii. Section 11). As Herod began to rebuild the temple sixteen years before the birth of Jesus, and as what is here mentioned happened in the thirtieth year of the age of Jesus, so the time which had been occupied in it was "forty-six years." This circumstance is one of the many in the New Testament which show the accuracy of the evangelists, and which prove that they were well acquainted with what they recorded. It demonstrates that their narration is true. Impostors do not trouble themselves to be very accurate about names and dates, and there is nothing in which they are more liable to make mistakes.

Wilt thou ... - This is an expression of contempt. Herod, with all his wealth and power, had been engaged in this work almost half a century. Can you, an obscure and unknown Galilean, accomplish it in three days? The thing, in their judgment, was ridiculous, and showed, as "they" supposed, that he had no authority to do what he had done in the temple.

21. temple of his body—in which was enshrined the glory of the eternal Word. (See on [1773]Joh 1:14). By its resurrection the true Temple of God upon earth was reared up, of which the stone one was but a shadow; so that the allusion is not quite exclusively to Himself, but takes in that Temple of which He is the foundation, and all believers are the "lively stones." (1Pe 2:4, 5). But, alas, our Saviour spoke not of their material temple, but of the temple of his body; which yet was proper speaking: for if the apostle calleth our bodies the temple of God, as he doth, 1 Corinthians 3:16 6:19 2 Corinthians 6:16; it much more may be said so of the body of Christ: for as God dwelt in the temple, and there revealed his will, and would be there worshipped; how properly must the notion of the temple agree to Christ, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, Colossians 2:9, who revealeth his Father’s nature and will to men, Matthew 11:27, and in whom all must worship him? So as the temple at Jerusalem was every way a most illustrious type of Christ, and Christ might well, speaking concerning his body, say, Destroy this temple; and thus Christ (would these blind Jews have seen it) drew off the Jews from glorying in their temple, Jeremiah 7:4; and from the temple, which was but a type, (as the tabernacle was before, Acts 7:44 Hebrews 9:23,24), to himself, prefigured by those houses, Hebrews 9:11. Nor doth he think fit at this time to speak more plainly; for as he knew that the perverse Jews, in seeing would not see, nor bear any such doctrine; so he also knew, that his better disciples were as yet weak in faith; and none putteth new wine into old bottles.

But he spoke of the temple of his body. Which was the antitype of the material temple; and might well be called so, since the bodies of the saints are called temples, 1 Corinthians 3:16 2 Corinthians 6:16; and the human nature of Christ is called a tabernacle, Hebrews 8:2; and he himself, in prophecy, is said to be "for a sanctuary", or temple, Isaiah 8:14, and that because the fulness of the Godhead dwelt in him bodily, the train of the divine perfections filled the temple of his human nature, Colossians 2:9. And because here, as in the temple, God grants his presence, and communes with his saints, accepts of their prayers and praises, and all their spiritual sacrifices through him; and who is the oracle, the true "Urim" and "Thummim", by whom he delivers his whole mind and will to his people. But he spake of the {i} temple of his body.

(i) That is, of his body.

John 2:21-22. Τοῦ σώματος]

[147] Genitive of apposition; see Winer, p. 494 [E. T. p. 666].

John 2:22. οὖν] represents the recollection as answering to the true meaning of that declaration.

ἐμνήσθησαν] they became mindful of, John 2:17; John 12:16. The saying came afresh to their remembrance when it was explained as a fact by the resurrection; previously, because not understood, it had been forgotten. With ἠγέρθη comp. ἐγερῶ, John 2:19.

καὶ ἐπίστευσαν, κ.τ.λ.] As the result of this recollection, they believed the Scripture (felt convinced of the truth of its statements),—observing, that is, the harmony of its prophecies concerning the resurrection of Jesus (Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53; cf. Luke 24:26; Acts 13:33 ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:4; Matthew 12:40) with that saying of Christ’s,—and the word which Jesus had (then, John 2:19) spoken, which now, as fulfilled in the resurrection, presented itself to them in its full prophetic truth. Upon πιστεύειν τινι in St. John, comp. Weiss, Lehrbegr. p. 20.

Schweizer (whom Scholten follows) regards John 2:21-22 as spurious, quite groundlessly. The statement is the exact outcome of St. John’s inmost personal experience.

[147] John explains the saying so simply and definitely, that there is no room for the double meaning which Luthardt, Hengstenberg, and others import into it. With equal simplicity and definiteness does he represent the meaning given as that of Jesus Himself (against Weizsäcker, p. 266). In like manner John 7:38, John 12:32, John 21:19. In none of these passages is any distinction drawn between the sense given and the meaning intended by Jesus Himself.

21. spake] Or, was speaking. Setting aside inspiration, S. John’s explanation must be admitted as the true one. What better interpreter of the mind of Jesus can be found than ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved?’ And he gives the explanation not as his only, but as that of the disciples generally. Moreover it explains the ‘three days,’ which interpretations about destroying the old Temple religion and raising up a new spiritual theocracy do not.

John 2:21. Περὶ τοῦ ναοῦ τοῦ σώματος, concerning the temple of His body) that is, concerning the temple, which was the body of Jesus. Let the expression be compared, which is found ch. John 11:13, “Howbeit Jesus spake of His death; but they thought that He had spoken of taking rest in sleep.”

John 2:21He (ἐκεῖνος)

See on John 1:18. Emphatic, and marking the contrast between the deeper meaning of Jesus and the literalism of the Jews and of His disciples (see next verse). For other illustrations of John's pointing out the meaning of words of Jesus which were not at first understood, see John 7:39; John 12:33; John 21:19.

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