Did Jesus Cleanse the Temple Once or Twice?

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Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning when Jesus cleansed the temple. Did Jesus cleanse the temple once or twice? The argument is that John 2:13-15 says that Jesus cleansed the temple during the first of three Passovers mentioned in his book, but Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, and Luke 19:45-46 say that Jesus cleansed the temple only days before his crucifixion. However, there is a reasonable explanation that would solve this alleged contradiction in the Bible.

Scriptures – Did Jesus Cleanse the Temple Once or Twice?

Jesus Cleansed the Temple Early in His Ministry

13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.

John 2:13-15

Jesus Cleansed the Temple Later in His Ministry

12 And Jesus entered the temple[a] and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

Matthew 21:12-13

15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.”

Mark 11:15-17

45 And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, 46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

Luke 19:45-46

The Answer

Jesus Cleansed the Temple Twice

It is reasonable to believe that Jesus cleansed the temple twice, once early in his ministry and another time later in his ministry.

Some object to this proposed solution, saying that it is unlikely that Jesus would have cleansed the temple twice. However, this is merely an opinion and does not eliminate the possibility that Jesus did actually cleanse the temple twice.

Something to note is that John’s account mentions Jesus making a whip of cords, while Matthew, Mark, and Luke do not mention this detail. There is simply no reason to believe that Jesus would ”not” be angry twice when he saw the corruption in the temple.

Foundational Principles Regarding Bible Difficulties

There are some foundational principles that apply to all alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible. To read more, see Bible Difficulties: Foundational Principles.

More Answers to “Contradictions” in the Bible

To read more answers to alleged and apparent contradictions in the Bible, see “Contradictions” in the Bible Answered.

These books are also excellent resources:

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