preaching study: john 2:13-25

In “preaching study” posts, I’m really interested in fostering a “community” approach to study and prep for the message, so please interact as much as you like. All Scripture quotes are from the TNIV unless otherwise noted. Thanks!

This week I’m again preaching in our contemporary worship service. The text is John 2:13-25. Here is some initial work on it. 

Literary Context

  • The outline is fairly simple: Jesus creates a stir, People talk to Jesus about it, John shares a little more commentary about this point in Jesus’ story. 
    • 2:13-17 – Jesus runs the marketplace out of the temple 
    • 2:18-22 – People question Jesus  about doing so 
    • 2:23-25 – Jesus has success, but is cautious about it 
  • One interesting recurrance is the reference in both v17 and v22 to the memory of the disciples, which seems to serve as an interpretive touch for the reader. 
    • v17 – “His disciples remember that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.'” The OT reference is Psalm 69:9. My initial impression of the interpretive function of this verse is that it frames our reading of Jesus’ outbreak in a positive direction–“zeal for your house will consume me,” rather than in a negative direction–anger at the moneychangers (this may be present, but the quotation emphasizes the former). Plus it explains the wildness of Jesus’ actions: “zeal for your house will consume me.” It also establishes a purpose for Jesus’ actions–defense of the Temple. Perhaps John is making a case that the true defender of the Temple faith is Jesus and not the other religious figures available–Pharisees, Saducees, scribes, teachers, etc. 
    • v22 – “After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.” John likes the flashforward approach, tipping his hand narratively as it were and offering “spoilers” in order to put the present actions in the context of the story-as-a-whole. In that light, this verse seems like a good example of John’s commitment to his purpose, articulated plainly in 20:30-31
  • Contrasts 
    • vv14-16 – Jesus’ understanding of the Temple courts vs. those selling livestock and exchanging money. In Jesus’ words, he understands the Temple courts to be his “Father’s house,” while his opponents think of it as a marketplace. 
    • vv20-21 – “The Jews” who question Jesus think his reference to “this temple” refers to the building, but he is actually referring to his own physical body (we know this thanks to John’s commentary within the narrative). 
    • vv23-25 – Jesus seems cautious about those who are coming to believe in him based on the signs “he was performing” at the Passover Festival, and therefore does not “entrust himself” to them. This reservation on his part is substantiated by John due to the fact that “he knew all people” (v24) and “knew what was in them” (v25). 
  • The exchange that follows Jesus’ seemingly abrupt actions in vv13-17 unfolds like an interrogation as “the Jews” question Jesus (v18), he answers them (v19), and they respond in disbelief with another question (v20). Then John jumps into his narrative with explanatory comments (vv21-22). 
  • v18 – The theme of signs and the demand for and offering of signs in order to substantiate the claims of Jesus is one that runs throughout John, the first half in particular. 

Cultural Cues 

  • Good to review cultural practices and elements of the Passover Feast 
  • Investigate the practice of selling livestock (in particular the significance of the different types of animals mentioned) and exchanging money in the Temple courts 
  • Explore the role of the Temple culturally and religiously, and differences in the various areas of the Temple structure
  • What was the role of signs in substantiating the ministry of a prophet or would-be Messiah?

Canonical Connections 

  • v17 – Psalm 69 (noted above)


That’s all for now… thoughts so far?

Published by Guy M Williams

Christian | Husband, Father | Pastor | 8th-Gen Texan | Texas A&M ‘96 | Asbury Seminary ‘01 | Enjoy family, reading, running, golf, college football

One thought on “preaching study: john 2:13-25

  1. I know I’m jumping ahead from a “close reading of the text” to application here, but what does it look like to have zeal for something today? What’s an equivalent that would help us understand: Jesus has such ZEAL for the temple that he is consumed by it. We don’t use the word zeal anymore – so what are some stories / examples of zeal today?

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