- Christogenea Internet Radio
Our last segment of this series, titled On the Gospel of John, Part 6: The Wedding Feast at Cana, was presented here on July 6th. Now I shall resume with Part 7 before we travel again to East Tennessee in order to attend a League of the South event at Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park on September 29th. Yahweh willing, we will resume the series once more in mid-October, and stay with it through winter, hopefully completing it in early 2019.
On the Gospel of John, Part 7: Challenging Orthodoxy
Before commencing with our presentation and commentary on the Gospel of John, I have a short digression, and this will necessarily lead me to another and much longer digression. In our previous portions of this commentary I explained that some of the disciples of Yahshua Christ had at first been disciples of John the Baptist, and that they, namely Andrew the brother of Simon Peter and John himself, the author of this gospel, had sought Christ immediately after John the Baptist had declared Him to be the Lamb of God. Upon attaching themselves to Him, they introduced to Him Simon Peter. Immediately after that the small group returned to Galilee where Philip, Nathanael and the others – such as the younger James, the brother of John – were also introduced to Him. These opening chapters of the Gospel of John are the earliest records of the development of the association of Christ with His apostles.
Since our last presentation, which discussed the marriage feast recorded in John chapter 2, I was confronted by a friend who claimed that both John and James, the sons of Zebedee, were known to Yahshua Christ even before that, where he asserted that the Salome who is mentioned in the Crucifixion account in Mark’s gospel was their mother, and that she was also the sister of Mary the mother of Christ. But these assertions I must reject, since they are taken from apocryphal tales repeated by some or other of the so-called “Church Fathers”, but which are not based upon any Scripture.
We see in Matthew chapter 10 an account related after Christ was speaking in reference to His coming travails, which says “20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshiping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.” The same account is also related in Mark chapter 10, but the unnamed woman is not mentioned at all in that version. Later, from so-called church traditions, some sources claim that this unnamed woman was the Salome who is mentioned only in Mark chapters 15 and 16, and others made the additional claim concerning her kinship to Mary. These claims or similar claims are also found in some of the Gnostic literature, where many other fabulous innovations also appear.
But no matter where these Church traditions originated, as is often the case, there are other traditions or accounts which refute them. For example, in Chapter 52 of the Diatessaron which is commonly attributed to the 2nd century Christian apologist Tatian, we read of the scene of the Crucifixion: “21 And there were in the distance all the acquaintance of Jesus standing, and the women that came with him from Galilee, those that followed him and ministered. One of them was Mary Magdalene; and Mary the mother of James the little and Joses, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee, and Salome, and many others which came up with him unto Jerusalem; and they saw that.” So the author of the Diatessaron reckoned the mother of the sons of Zebedee to be different woman than the Salome who is mentioned only in the Gospel of Mark. James the son of Mary is also called “James the less” in Mark 15:40.
If we spent our time studying the early so-called Church Fathers, the Gnostic documents, and whatever other early apocryphal and supposed Christian literature we could find that has survived the centuries, we would find ourselves lost in an ever-conflicting puzzle of contradictory “facts”, contrary interpretations, myths, elaborations, injections of Gnosticism, Platonism or Aristotelianism, and many other novel contrivances. But if we seek to follow Christ, we must adhere to His Gospel and the original application of it which is found in the epistles of His apostles, which are indeed in agreement with the words of His holy prophets.
If we are truly catholic Christians, in the original sense of the word catholic, then all early and purportedly Christian writings must be measured against the Law, the Prophets, and the apostles, and if there is any conflict then it must be soundly rejected. This was the advice of the apostles themselves, as Paul had written in the opening passage of his epistle to the Hebrews, that “1 On many occasions and in many ways in past times Yahweh had spoken to the fathers by the prophets. 2 At the end of these days He speaks to us by a Son, whom He has appointed heir of all, through whom He also made the ages.” In another place, Paul informed us that it was the things written beforetime – meaning before the apostles themselves – which are for our learning and expectation, in Romans chapter 15 where he wrote “4 Now whatever things have been written before, have been written for our instruction, so that through patient endurance and the calling of the writings we may have expectation; 5 and that Yahweh of patience and exhortation would give to you the same, to have understanding with one another concerning Yahshua Christ; 6 in order that with one accord, in one voice, you should honor the God and Father of our Prince, Yahshua Christ.” [Christians have never had one voice because the “Church Fathers” injected Plato, or Aristotle, or Gnosticism or diverse other pagan philosophies into their doctrines.] Writing his second epistle to Timothy, Paul informs him that sound doctrine comes from the same Scriptures which had already been written, in 2 Timothy chapter 3: “15 And because from infancy you know the divine writings, which enable you to pursue wisdom unto preservation through faith of that which is in Christ Yahshua. 16 All writing inspired of God [referring to the Old Testament literature] is also beneficial for teaching, for evidence, for correction, for education which is in righteousness, 17 that the man of Yahweh would be perfect, having prepared himself for all good works.”
There are many more places where the so-called Church Fathers, following after their own ideas and not those found in Scripture, have led us into much more serious errors. For example, in a homily on 1 Corinthians chapter 13 (Homily XXXIV), the supposed saint, John Chrysostom, teaches that marriage between people of different races unites the human race in love. So he said in part: “God also devised another foundation for us to have loving relationships with each other. Having forbidden the marriage of kindred, God led us to seek out strangers, again drawing strangers toward us. Since we were not designed to be connected in certain ways with our natural kindred, God connects us anew by marriage, uniting together whole families by a single person, the bride, and mingling entire peoples and races.” Another translation of the same passage reads: “And He devised also another foundation of affection. For having forbidden the marriage of kindred, he led us out unto strangers and drew them again unto us. For since by this natural kindred it was not possible that they should be connected with us, he connected us anew by marriage, uniting together whole families by the single person of the bride, and mingling entire races with races.”
If this meant to John Chrysostom what it means to us today, perhaps he may have been called silver-tongued, rather than golden-mouthed. The law of marriage is expressed by Adam from his experience described in Genesis chapter 2: “23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” A wife must be flesh of a man’s flesh, and bone of his bone. So Rebekkah thought her own life to be useless if Jacob took a wife from among the daughters of Heth. This cannot be discarded as a mere difference of religion, because there is no attempt in the Old Testament to convert the Canaanites. They were proscribed in Deuteronomy, and when they managed to infiltrate anyway, there is a promise in Zechariah that they shall be proscribed once more.
Here John Chrysostom actually defies two of Paul’s earlier statements in that same epistle upon which he was writing a commentary. In the first, in chapter 9 of 1 Corinthians, Paul had asked “5 Do we not have license to always have with us a kinswoman: a wife, as also the other ambassadors, and the brethren of the Prince, and Kephas?” Therefore, we see that if we choose to marry, we certainly should marry a kinswoman, which is the expectation that Paul reveals here as he considers the sort of woman which he himself may marry. The law does not forbid the marriage of kindred, but only of kindred of very close degree, specifically parent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew or grandchild. Under the law, even first cousins may marry, so John Chrysostom’s claims rest on a false foundation. Secondly, in chapter 10 of that epistle Paul had warned the Corinthians, speaking of their ancestors who were with Moses in the Exodus, telling them “8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand.” The fornication to which Paul had referred was recorded in Numbers chapter 25, where we read that “the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab”, and Phineas was rewarded eternally for killing one such race-mixing couple, thereby ending the plague upon Israel. As the apostle Jude describes it, fornication is the pursuit of different flesh, and the Moabites of the time were mixed with the Canaanites, Kenites and Rephaim.
In his commentary on 1 Corinthians 10:8, Chrysostom did admit that the sin included the alien women “appearing in the camp and alluring them to wantonness according to the counsel of Balaam.” But he seems to have nevertheless misconstrued the meaning of Paul’s use of the word fornication, instead describing their sin only as idolatry. It seems that perhaps he could not conceive of race-mixing as a sin, even in spite of the other warnings of the apostles and their own description of the error of Balaam, which Jude directly associated with the pursuit of different flesh, and which Peter directly associated with adultery and covetousness. The word adultery was also used by ancient Greeks such as Aristotle and Strabo to describe race-mixing, in addition to the word for fornication as it was used by Paul and by Jude. But maybe Chrysostom could not conceive of race-mixing as a sin, because he had a different concept of race than we have today. In the ancient Greek writings, a race was a subdivision of a nation describing people who descended from a particular patriarch, or of some other division within that nation. As Chrysostom was writing, nobody really conceived the possibility that black Africans, tawny Amerindians or yellow Asians should be relocated to European or American cities while Whites were compelled to accept them by law. The general concept of the world of the time was rather limited to the Greco-Roman world, and we cannot fairly project upon Chrysostom the idea that he would have White Christian women married off to apes and monkeys. Nevertheless, that is how he is interpreted by modern so-called Orthodox Christian denominations.
One day soon, I hope to address this issue and more at much greater length in a criticism of Orthodoxy. Sadly, many White Nationalists think that Orthodoxy is a solution to our Western religious woes, when in fact Orthodoxy has all along been a large part of the problem. Neither Roman Catholic nor Greek Orthodoxy are representative of a true Christian orthodoxy, and they never were. Rather, they have always been an orthodoxy of the empire, developed in the 4th through the 6th centuries AD in order to sustain the empire, and for that reason they both encourage race-mixing and reject every form of racism, which is absolutely evident in their interpretations of passages such as the one we just cited from John Chrysostom. In John chapter 2, Christ attended a wedding feast, but we can be absolutely certain that it was not a mixed-race wedding.
So we must ask ourselves as Christians: who do we follow? Yahshua Christ said “follow Me”, but He never said “follow them” in reference to anyone else. Yahshua Christ told His apostles to spread His Gospel. He never told them to have their followers spread their own writings, writings which were usually mingled with all sorts of concepts from various pagan philosophies. Yahshua Christ said “upon this bedrock I will build My Church”, but he never told his followers to build an organized, empirical international Church. There is a message in the Revelation to seven churches, but not to some mysterious “one true church” later devised and organized by men. Those seven churches had no elevated foreign patriarch, and they certainly had no pope.
The apostles did not ordain a pope. The apostles did not set any bishop, or so-called patriarch, in preeminence over any other. Paul admitted to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians chapter 1 that he would not assert dominion over their faith. If Paul would not do such a thing, how could anyone who followed after him? Yahweh God the Father is the only Patriarch, and Yahshua Christ is “first-born among many brethren”. He Himself said, as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 23, that “8… one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.” The apostles assembled local communities and had them organize themselves, showing them how to operate as Christians independent of the corrupt world which was around them. The apostles taught those local communities to select their own bishops or elders and ministers and to give preeminence to those who merited preeminence. (For the details which prove this statement and the appropriate citations from Scripture I can only advise one to see my own article, Misconceptions Concerning Paul and the Church, written in early 2007.)
All throughout the persecutions under the Romans and even as far as the 6th century AD, Christians organized in that general manner, independent of any foreign authorities or influences on their faith. What we now call the writings of the “Church Fathers” had no authority outside of their own local churches, and they often conflict with one another in their opinions. Once the Roman Church authority was organized, some of the so-called “Church Fathers”, who never called themselves by that name, were at various times deemed heretical and even accursed or excommunicated long after they were dead, while others were discarded entirely and forgotten. None of them were ever completely followed by either the Roman or the Eastern Orthodox Churches.
We would challenge the Orthodoxy on this point, and in the end they would be left empty. They claim to have their foundations in the so-called “Church Fathers” but they do not follow any of them consistently. So which of the so-called “Church Fathers” do they follow? It is not Justin Martyr, who was an iconoclast and who considered baptists to be heretics. It is not Irenaeus, who was among the first to profess the primacy of the bishops of Rome, and who is the one mostly responsible for the adoption by Rome of the method of calculating the date which they use for Easter, upon which the Orthodox Church differs. Even Orthodox Church writers agree that Clement of Alexandria sought to unite Greek pagan philosophy with Christianity, notably the philosophies of Plato and Stoicism, a task which the Jew Philo Judaeus, who was also at Alexandria, had endeavored with the Old Testament nearly two centuries earlier. Clement also adopted many Gnostic concepts into his form of Christianity, while attempting to redefine Gnosticism itself. He believed, for instance, that Jesus Christ was “incapable of suffering” and “not subject to human needs”, both of which ideas are easily and soundly refuted by Scripture. Origen was a student and follower of Clement, and he later influenced Pamphilius and Eusebius. Tertullian was never recognized as a saint by Rome or Constantinople, and many of his writings clearly conflict with the doctrines of either church, while he asserted for himself to have been addressing heretics even among those whom were considered orthodox. But it may be demonstrated that all of these men and others of the so-called “Church Fathers” espoused many other heresies, even many heresies that the Orthodox Church does not follow.
We would also challenge Roman and Eastern Orthodoxy on one other significant point from the so-called “Church Fathers”, and that is their use of the term katholikos, or catholic. In another rather recent presentation I made here, which was titled in part What is a Catholic?, I cited my own April, 2012 commentary on 2 Peter chapter 3 and said the following in regard to this word: The original meaning of the word catholic as it was used in the earliest Christian writers is quite different than the perceived meaning which is attributed to the term today.
Contrary to popular belief, the word catholic – a word so often misused to describe these seven epistles of the apostles of Christ which are buried in the back of our Bibles - does not mean “universal” in the sense that the later Romish Church asserts that it means. It was never used in that sense by any of the early Christian writers, although they did on occasion use the term. Rather, catholic comes from two Greek words, kata meaning down, and holos meaning whole, of which one Genitive form is holikos. An elision occurring when the words are joined, kata holikos becomes katholikos. The word's immediate parent is a Greek adverb of like meaning, which is katholou, which means on the whole, or in general. But early Christians used the term to describe the derivation of their faith, and not its application! They used the term to signify that they received the whole faith, that they received the faith “down whole”, or completely. This distinguished [those original] orthodox Christians from the Jews who rejected the Gospel, and it also distinguished them from sects such as the followers of Marcion and some other more-or-less-Christian Gnostics who rejected the Old Testament. An original catholic was one who accepted the entire Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, although there was never a single official canon that determined exactly what that Scripture was composed of in each Testament. Rather, they called their faith catholic – with a small “c” - because they accepted Moses, the Writings, the prophets, and the Gospel. Therefore if a Christian claims to be a “New Testament Christian”, he is instead only relinquishing the Truth in exchange for the lies of the Jews, or [of] Marcion.
Giving that presentation, What is a Catholic?, I also cited multiple passages from the writings of Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Lactantius in order to substantiate those assertions. So even on the point of the meaning of this term, which is so important to the later churches, the Orthodoxy does not agree with any of the ante-Nicene so-called “Church Fathers”. Furthermore, the terms “orthodox priest” or “Christian priest” are not found in any of the earliest Christian writers, which are the ante-Nicene “Church Fathers”.
Of perhaps thousands of Christian bishops who helped to carry the Gospel and other New Testament writings down throughout those early centuries of Christianity, only a relatively tiny percentage wrote books or epistles of their own which survive to us today. So in all but a few cases we do not know how a Tertullian, an Origen or an Irenaeus were received in the wider Christian world in their own time, except that each had their followers, successors and apologists as the churches developed. But it cannot be said that they were ever universally accepted, and clearly they were not. So to appeal to any of them on matters of doctrine is a false appeal to an authority which never actually existed beyond their own local bishoprics and in their own lifetimes.
The following citations are from the Enactments of Justinian, The Novels, CXXXI - Concerning ecclesiastical titles and privileges, and various other matters.
From Chapter I. Concerning four holy councils:
“Therefore We order that the sacred, ecclesiastical rules which were adopted and confirmed by the four Holy Councils, that is to say, that of the three hundred and eighteen bishops held at Nicea, that of the one hundred and fifty bishops held at Constantinople, the first one of Ephesus, where Nestorius was condemned, and the one assembled at Chalcedon, where Eutyches and Nestorius were anathematized, shall be considered as laws. We accept the dogmas of these four Councils as sacred writings, and observe their rules as legally effective.”
Now we must note, that evidently, in order to get the churches across the empire to universally accept the rules adopted by the various church councils, here Justinian was compelled to enact a law. In the early “Church Fathers” it is found that there was no such compulsion for any universal agreement of doctrine among the various churches. Reading further:
From Chapter II, Concerning the precedence of patriarchs:
“Hence, in accordance with the provisions of these Councils, We order that the Most Holy Pope of ancient Rome shall hold the first rank of all the Pontiffs, but the Most Blessed Archbishop of Constantinople, or New Rome, shall occupy the second place after the Holy Apostolic See of ancient Rome, which shall take precedence over all other sees.”
So there were 318 bishops assembled at Nicaea in 330 AD, but only 150 at Constantinople in 381 AD. According to an article in the Encyclopedia Britannica, the Emperor Theodosius I summoned only Eastern bishops, while at the same time claiming that this council was ecumenical. That alone is a disparity which may one day be worth further investigation. But these councils were assembled for political reasons, organized by Roman politicians. Likewise, the council of Nicaea was initiated by Constantine to serve a political agenda. The Council of Nicaea allegedly elevated the bishop of Rome above all others, and the Council of Constantinople added the bishop of that city to the list in second place. But it could not have been universally recognized, because Justinian found it necessary to codify the elevations into law. Here we have what Christ may have called “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” Even as late as the 3rd century AD, as Eusebius records, bishops remained independent of Rome, and often publicly disagreed with the decrees of the bishop of Rome, which only had authority among Christians in Rome itself.
The Roman Catholic Church is basically a self-anointed authority which had a permanent appointment for political reasons from the emperor Justinian. It then used this appointment by the Byzantine emperor to extend the bounds of its usurped authority far beyond the borders of the empire. The Eastern Orthodox Church was later separated from Rome as a protestant endeavor resulting from a difference in opinions between the eastern bishops and the Roman pope. If the Eastern Orthodox Church has the authority to separate from Rome, then so do we, and there is no Scriptural compulsion for us to join the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The apostles had brought Christianity to the West as soon as they had to the East, and Paul was even instructed to go to the Macedonians, where he also went to Illyricum, before he went to the Greeks of Asia, and as we also read in Acts chapter 16, neither did the Holy Spirit allow Paul to go to Bithynia when he was requested to do so by the Mysians. The city of Byzantium, which was later renamed as Constantinople, was far to the east of Macedonia, on the European edge of the Roman province of Bithynia which spanned the Bosporus to include Byzantium and where it was bordered by Thracia on the west. Later in his ministry, Paul did go to Asia and establish churches, and churches were also established in Bithynia. But this only helps to demonstrate that the precedence given to the bishop of Constantinople was for political reasons, and not out of any precedence in receiving the Gospel.
Neither does precedence in receiving the Gospel endow one with any special authority. Of all the apostles, Paul of Tarsus considered himself both last and least. Yet he withstood James, Peter, John and the others, as he himself explains in his epistle to the Galatians, when he felt that they were not acting in a manner which accorded with Scripture. For that same reason, we as Christians have an obligation to withstand those who presume to be authorities today, but who are not acting in accordance with Scripture.
As we read in 1 Peter, chapter 2: “21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.” Then in 2 Peter chapter 3: “2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.” Peter did not encourage his readers to follow Peter, but to follow Christ. The example he spoke of is in the accounts of the Gospel, and there is no authority after the writings of the apostles.
So returning to our commentary on John chapter 2, and speaking of where Yahshua had changed the water to wine at the wedding feast in Cana, John had said in verse 11 of this 2nd chapter that “This was the first of the signs which Yahshua had done in Kana of Galilaia, and He made manifest His honor, and His students believed in Him.” When we commented on that passage, we mentioned in passing that John neglected to describe what must have happened next: that Christ was tempted in the wilderness, and then went to Nazareth. He only said in verse 12 that: “After this He went down into Kapharnaoum, and His mother and brethren and His students, and they abode there for not many days.”
Since John tells us at the opening of chapter 2 of his gospel that the wedding feast at Cana was no later than the third day from the time when Yahshua arrived in Galilee after His baptism, and since he left the site of His baptism and returned to Galilee with three of His new disciples, the forty days’ temptation in the desert must have happened some time after the events described in John up to this point. Then, as it is described in Luke, after the temptation in the desert Christ went to Nazareth where He, along with His family and disciples, attended the synagogue on a Sabbath where He stood to read. That event, which is recorded in Luke chapter 4, was significant because Christ had announced the purpose of His ministry as He read, as it was explained in Isaiah, and He told the people that the passage was fulfilled in Him.
So then, after those things, Christ went to Capernaum. Of this, we read in Luke chapter 4 how Christ departed from Nazareth, and then: “ 31 And came down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath days. 32 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for his word was with power.” Here we have a significant divergence, where the other Gospel accounts do not mention a sojourn to Jerusalem at this time, but John does. From Luke 4:31, Luke only has Christ spending considerable time in Capernaum, while John has Christ going to Jerusalem at this time, and returning to Capernaum in chapter 4. As we have explained before, it seems that John purposely sought to fill gaps in the accounts of the other gospels, especially where of the four gospel authors, he himself was the only witness to certain events. But he also omitted many things which the other three gospels explain sufficiently.
Now, finally, we shall commence from where we had left off in our last presentation:
13 And it was near [P66 has “But it also was near”, א “But it was near”] the Passover of the Judaeans, and Yahshua went up to Jerusalem.
Under the Old Covenant, of which the ordinances in rituals were still being kept in Judaea at this time, all able-bodied men were required to appear at the temple three times each year. This is found in Exodus chapter 23: “14 Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. 15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear before me empty:) 16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. 17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord GOD.” So while it was not recorded in all of the Gospels, but it is recorded more frequently in John, Yahshua Christ and His apostles must also have kept this commandment.
However it is apparent that the Judaeans themselves, or at least, those in Jerusalem, kept it for different reasons than the apostles, as we see in the following passage:
14 And He found seated in the temple those selling cattle and sheep and doves and the bankers, 15 and having made a whip of [P66, P75 and 0162 have “as a whip of”, or perhaps “something like a whip from”; the text follows א, A, B and the MT] ropes He cast them all out of the temple, and the sheep and the cattle, and He spilled out the coins of the bankers and overturned the tables, 16 and to those selling doves He said: “Take these things from here! Do not [P66 and A have “And do not”; the text follows P75, א, B, 0162 and the MT] make the house of My Father a house of merchandise!”
Here we may state, in relation to our introductory lecture before we returned to John chapter 2 this evening, that whether Christ represented the orthodoxy of the time, or whether He was challenging the orthodoxy of the time, is all a matter of opinion and perspective. Certainly, we could imagine that those who were running the temple would have accused Him of challenging orthodoxy, but we could also imagine that those who understood the Old Testament Scriptures would have known that He was upholding the True Orthodoxy, the Orthodoxy of God. That is how we see Identity Christians today, as opposed to the organized religions, Catholicism and Eastern or Russian or Greek Orthodoxy included, which have all traded the Word of God for mammon, a Word which we, like the apostles of Christ, can clearly read for ourselves. Identity Christians seek to return to the Scriptures and the intent of their Author, challenging the modern orthodoxy rather than just going along with and being destroyed by it.
Now to comment on the actual passage at hand, in the time of Nehemiah, not only were merchants barred from the Temple on the Sabbath, they were barred from the entire city. We read in Nehemiah chapter 13: “20 So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice. 21 Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.” But now, as Christ drives the merchants and bankers out of the Temple approximately five hundred and twenty years later, the merchants are selling their wares in the Temple itself as the high Sabbath of the Passover approaches. When we see the response of the people who witnessed this event in the verses which follow, it is evident that they are so far removed from Old Testament Scripture that they are surprised that Yahshua would even be upset with this situation.
This is only the first occasion where Yahshua had upset the business dealings being conducted within the temple on the Passover. This is also the first of several Passover feasts referenced in the Gospel of John. Another Passover may have been referred to in John 5:1, if indeed that passage refers to a Passover and not to some other feast. Then another Passover is referred to explicitly in John 6:4. In John 10:22 the winter feast of dedication is mentioned, and then the final Passover is mentioned in John 11:55, upon which the Crucifixion occurred. The last ten chapters of John all deal with the events that took place approaching, during and immediately following that final Passover.
As I explained several years ago at length in our commentary on the Gospel of Luke, and especially in relation to Luke chapter 3, it is evident that Yahshua Christ began His ministry at age 30 in the late summer or very early fall of 28 AD. So His ministry spanned the Passover feasts of 29, 30 and 31 AD, and He was crucified on the Passover of 32 AD. At least three of those Passovers are recorded in the Gospel of John. This accords with the dating of His ministry from the fifteenth year of Tiberius, as Luke attests, and with the expected three-and-a-half year duration of His ministry, which is evident in prophecy in Daniel chapter 9 and from the parable of the fig tree in Luke chapter 13.
So this Passover at which Christ first turned over the tables of the money-changers is in the Spring of 29 AD, and about six months from the start of his ministry when He was baptized in the River Jordan. Christ drove the money-changers out of the temple once again about a week before the Passover of 32 AD, which is recorded in Matthew chapter 21 and in Mark chapter 11. In Mathew 21 we read: “12 And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” This happened shortly before He was crucified.
Evidently Christ, where here in John chapter 2 He is recorded as having said “Do not make the house of My Father a house of merchandise!”, is referring to Isaiah chapter 56 where the Word of Yahweh says: “7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all [the] people.”
We have added the article the to that passage, as it speaks of particular people. The Hebrew contains the definite article and the King James translators should not have omitted it. Furthermore, while we believe that the passage has a more significant, allegorical interpretation, Christ is citing it in the immediate and literal sense. As this chapter of John’s Gospel continues, we shall see that the true house of Yahweh is not the temple in Jerusalem. The apostles themselves had another prophecy of the event in reference to Christ, and John now notes that:
17 His [A and the MT have “And His”; the text follows P66, P75, א and B] students remembered that it is written: “The zeal [P66 and P75 have “Because the zeal”] for Your house consumes Me!”
This is a citation of the 69th Psalm, where it says “9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” Paul of Tarsus cited the second part of that verse in reference to Christ, in Romans chapter 15. But the Psalm has an even greater Messianic significance, so we shall read a larger portion of it. From the 69th Psalm: “6 Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel. 7 Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face. 8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children. 9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. 10 When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach. 11 I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them. 12 They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards. 13 But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation… 16 Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies. 17 And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily. 18 Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies. 19 Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee. 20 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. 21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. 22 Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. 23 Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake. 24 Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. 25 Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents. 26 For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded. 27 Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness. 28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. 29 But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.” We may recognize the fact that other portions of this Psalm that were fulfilled in Christ were also noted by the apostles, and in several ways the Psalm also parallels the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah chapter 53.
Yahshua Christ challenged the orthodoxy of His time, His challenges offended many of the people, but his disciples, reading the Scriptures for themselves, acknowledged that the Scriptures fully supported the position of Christ, and that the generally accepted orthodoxy of their time was actually a heresy. Today we as Christians have an obligation to do the same thing which the apostles did: rebuke the heretical modern orthodoxies because neither do they agree with the Scriptures. The institutions of men change and can be corrupted, but Yahweh God does not change. Now that Christ challenged the orthodoxy, the people challenge Him:
18 Therefore the Judaeans responded and said to Him: “What sign do You show to us [P75 wants “to us”], since You do these things?”
Having no office in government, a sign from above would establish that His authority came from God. There were actually a few uprisings against the established order in Judaea in the decades before Christ, as Gamaliel is recorded as having said several years later, in Acts chapter 5: “36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. 37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. 38 And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: 39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.”
The identity of Theudas is debated, but records of this particular Theudas did not survive. Flavius Josephus, in Antiquities Book 17, says of the time of the first Herod that “269 Now, at this time there were ten thousand other disorders in Judea, which were like tumults, because a great number put themselves into a warlike posture, either out of hopes of gain to themselves, or out of enmity to the Judaeans.” Judas the Galilean led a tax revolt against the Romans in 6 AD. Josephus mentioned him in Antiquities, Book 18, as the founder of a “fourth sect” of Judaeans after the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes, so his followers must have been numerous. These, in my opinion, were the authors of what we know as the Dead Sea Scrolls, many of which are messianic in content, in a different way than the Gospel of Christ. As we had discussed in John chapter 1, and shall again when we present John chapter 4, many of the people of Judaea were anticipating the Messiah, which was also anticipated in the writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls made in this same period, and therefore the demand for a sign from a man who would stand against the orthodoxy of the era is not unusual. So upon being asked for a sign:
19 Yahshua replied and said to them: “You destroy this temple and in three days I shall raise it!” 20 Therefore the Judaeans said: “Forty-six years to build this temple, and You shall raise it in three days?”
The statement “Forty-six years to build this temple” is literally “This temple is built forty-six years”, which we shall comment upon below.
While Yahshua is not said to have elaborated here, later in His ministry, He would refer to this as “the sign of the prophet Jonas: 40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth”, as we may read in Matthew chapter 12. So here John makes a parenthetical remark:
21 (But He had spoken concerning the temple of His body. 22 Therefore when He had risen from the dead, His students remembered that He had said this, and they believed in the writing and in the word which Yahshua spoke.)
While the apostles later understood that Christ had spoken of the “temple of His body”, the people understood this to be a threat against the Temple, which of course they revered as a holy place, and therefore a sedition against the government. So we read at the trial of Christ as it is recorded in Mark chapter 14, “58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands.” Then the charge is repeated as mockery by His enemies as He was dying on the cross, in Mark chapter 15: “29 And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, 30 Save thyself, and come down from the cross.”
So the people took the words literally, as a sign of insurrection against the established order. But for Christ, it was a prophecy of the proof that they would indeed receive a sign of His commission from God, which would ultimately overthrow that same order.
Here we also have another condemnation of the opinions of the Eastern Orthodox Church. In an article titled The Mother of God (Theotokos) found at the website for the St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church of South Bend, Indiana, we read:
The election of the Virgin Mary is therefore, the culminating point of Israel's progress toward Reconciliation with God, but God's final response to this progress and the beginning of New Life comes with the Incarnation of the Logos/Word. Salvation needed '...a new root...' '...for no one, except God, is without sin; no one can give life; no one can remit sins.' This 'new root' is God the Logos/Word made Flesh; the Virgin Mary is His 'Temple.'
Supporting this statement, the article makes citations from Irenaeus and Tertullian, but the citations say nothing like what we see in this one short paragraph, and then it cites later writers, Cyril of Alexandria and John of Damascus, but neither do they go so far as to speak of a “new root” or consider Mary to have been the ‘temple’ of Christ in those citations. They give no citations from so-called “Church Fathers” in support of those statements. Christ is the Branch grown out of the “root of Jesse”, the father of David, as we see in Isaiah chapter 11, and is therefore called the “root of Jesse” in the Revelation, chapter 15. However that is hardly a “new root”, being the ancient “root of Jesse”, the father of David.
Here in John, we see that the physical body of Christ is His temple, and not the body of his mother, a concept which is found nowhere in Scripture. The Orthodox Church simply seems to have contrived an innovation whereby it worships a creature rather than the Creator. The real Mary must have been much more humble a woman. There are many such contrivances in so-called Orthodox doctrines, which are often based on pagan philosophies, and not at all on Scripture.
Here we also have another condemnation of the opinions of Jewry which have also crept into our modern churches, especially, in this case the Zionist Protestant churches. These organizations, along with the Freemasons and many sects of modern Jewry, all anticipate the building of a third temple in Jerusalem. But here in John chapter 2 we can see that there was already a third temple in Jerusalem, and it was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD!
It may be established in the Old Testament writings of Ezra and Haggai that in the time of Zerubbabel, who was appointed governor of those returning to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple in 520 BC, that the rebuilding of the temple commenced that year, and that it can be determined that it was completed in or around 516 BC, as Ezra 6:15 states that it was completed in the 6th year of Darius. We discussed this here at length in June of 2016, in the first two parts of our commentary on the prophet Zechariah. There we said in part:
According to Ezra, the second temple took only four years to build. The temple of the time of Christ was actually the third temple, Herod’s temple, as the second temple was rebuilt from the foundations up. That is how the Judaean historian Flavius Josephus described it, and the building of that third temple is mentioned in John chapter 2 where it is said that the project took 46 years to complete.
As Josephus wrote in Book 15 of his Antiquities of the Judaeans, “391 So Herod took away the old foundations, and laid others, and erected the temple upon them, being in length a hundred cubits, and in height twenty additional cubits, which [twenty], upon the sinking of their foundations fell down; and this part it was that we resolved to raise again in the days of Nero. 392 Now the temple was built of stones that were white and strong, and each of their length was twenty-five cubits, their height was eight, and their breadth about twelve; 393 and the whole structure, as also the structure of the royal cloister, was on each side much lower, but the middle was much higher, till they were visible to those who dwelt in the country for a great many miles, but chiefly to such as lived opposite them, and those who approached to them.”
The building project having taken 46 years, and the foundations of the second temple being completely replaced, where Josephus said that new foundations were laid and Herod then “erected the temple upon them”, we cannot imagine that the resulting edifice was still the second temple. Rather, it could only be counted as a third temple, and that is a fact ignored by both Jews and Judaized Christians alike.
As we have already seen, the apostles of Christ were later able to discern from Scripture that the criticisms of Christ against the established order were valid, and that the orthodoxy of the time was contrary to the Word of God in Scripture. So they justified the words and actions of Christ in accordance with the Word of God in the Old Testament.
Christ Himself had told His adversaries, the chief men of Jerusalem, a couple of years later, “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” Then after correcting them from the law of Moses, He said “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.” In another place He told them “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.” If Christians are to take up their crosses and follow Christ, they too must condemn the traditions of men according to the Scriptures. Paul had written in his second letter to Timothy, in chapter 3, commending him: “15… that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” We do not need the so-called “Church Fathers”, with all of their layers of Plato, Aristotle, Gnosticism, Stoicism, and all the other pagan philosophies and ideas, in order to read and understand the Scriptures for ourselves, and in that manner to learn how we can please our God.
Continuing with John chapter 2:
23 And as He was among those in Jerusalem on [B has “at”] the Passover at the feast, many believed in His name, observing the signs which He had done.
As we have mentioned, the other Gospels do not record anything of this particular visit of Christ to Jerusalem. So we have no record of what these other signs may have been. The concluding statements of John chapter 2, we will not elaborate on fully until we present our commentary on John chapter 3:
24 But Yahshua Himself did not entrust Himself to them on account that He knowing everyone, 25 also therefore had no need that anyone testify concerning a man. Indeed He knew what was in a man.
The 3rd century papyrus P75 wants the second occurrence of the word “Himself” here, where by necessity the first part of verse 24 would be read “But Yahshua Himself did not trust them…” The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B), which have αὐτόν, and more precisely the 3rd century papyrus P66 and the Majority Text, which have ἑαυτόν.
As it is recorded in part in the Old Testament (i.e. Ezekiel chapter 35), which is also evident in Persian and Greek records, after the deportations of Israel and Judah by the Assyrians and Babylonians, in large numbers the Edomites and others moved into the lands vacated by those deportations. So the Roman province of Judaea at the time of Christ was a multi-ethnic province of Israelites, Edomites, Canaanites, Syrians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs and others. There were many converts into Judaism from the accursed races of Canaan, forced to Judaism from the time of the high priest John Hyrcanus around 125 BC in a policy that was continued by later high priest and self-declared king Alexander Jannaeus down through 76 BC, and then continued by the Edomite king Herod after 36 BC.
So Strabo of Cappadocia, the early first century Greek geographer, wrote in his Geography that the Idumaeans were “mixed up” with the Judaeans, and that they “joined the Judaeans, and shared in the same customs with them” (Strabo, Geography, Book 16, chapter 2 [16.2.34]). Josephus gives many exacting details of this same process of the conversion of the Edomites to Judaism in Books 13 and 15 of his Antiquities of the Judaeans. In one place in Book 13 he said of the Edomites that “they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the right of circumcision, and of the rest of the Judaean ways of living; at which time, therefore, this befell them, that they were hereafter considered to be Judaeans.”
For this reason, because there were so many Edomites and others who outwardly were circumcised and by the custom of dress and grooming they appeared to be Judaeans, that Paul of Tarsus wrote in his epistle to the Romans, in chapter 2, “28 One by appearance is not a Judaean, and not by appearance in flesh is circumcision; 29 but in concealment [meaning, within a man] is one a Judaean; and circumcision is of the heart; in Spirit, not in writing; of which approval is not from men, but from Yahweh.” Of course, Yahweh in Deuteronomy and in Jeremiah had promised to circumcise the hearts of the true children of Israel, and not the hearts of their impostors. After a hundred and fifty years of mingling, Christ could tell them all apart, where the men of the time could not.