The Cleansing of the Temple

The Catena Aurea (Golden Chain) is Thomas Aquinas’ compilation of Patristic commentary on the Gospels. It seamlessly weaves together extracts from various Church Fathers.
Annotated index of Church Fathers used in commentary

Third Century

  • Origen – Alexandrian biblical critic, exegete, theologian, and spiritual writer; analyzed the Scriptures on three levels: the literal, the moral, and the allegorical
  • Cyprian – pagan rhetorician converted to Christianity; acquired acquired a profound knowledge of the Scriptures and the writings of Tertullian; elected bishop of Carthage; martyred in 258

Fourth Century

  • Eusebius – Bishop of Caesarea; author of Ecclesiastical History, the principal source for the history of Christianity from the Apostolic Age till his own day; also wrote a valuable work on Biblical topography called the Onomasticon
  • Athanasius – Bishop of Alexandria; attended the Council of Nicea; opposed Arianism, in defence of the faith proclaimed at Nicaea—that is, the true deity of God the Son
  • Hilary – Bishop of Poitiers; the earliest known writer of hymns in the Western Church; defended the cause of orthodoxy against Arianism; became the leading Latin theologian of his age
  • Gregory of Nazianzus – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; a great influence in restoring the Nicene faith and leading to its final establishment at the Council of Constantinople in 381
  • Gregory of Nyssa – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Nyssa; took part in the Council of Constantinople
  • Ambrose – Bishop of Milan; partly responsible for the conversion of Augustine; author of Latin hymns; it was through his influence that hymns became an integral part of the liturgy of the Western Church
  • Jerome – biblical scholar; devoted to a life of asceticism and study; his greatest achievement was his translation of the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate); also wrote many biblical commentaries
  • Nemesius – Christian philosopher; Bishop of Emesa in Syria
  • Augustine – Bishop of Hippo (in northern Africa); a “Doctor of the Church”; most famous work is his Confessions; his influence on the course of subsequent theology has been immense
  • Chrysostom – Bishop of Constantinople; a “Doctor of the Church”; a gifted orator; his sermons on Gen, Ps, Isa, Matt, John, Acts, and the Pauline Epistles (including Hebrews) established him as the greatest of Christian expositors
  • Prosper of Aquitaine – theologian; supporter of Augustinian doctrines; closely associated with Pope Leo I (“the Great”)
  • Damasus – pope; active in suppressing heresy
  • Apollinaris of Laodicea – Bishop of Laodicea; close friend of Athanasias; vigorous advocate of orthodoxy against the Arians
  • Amphilochius of Iconium – Bishop of Iconium; close friend of the Cappadocian Fathers; defended the full Divinity of the Holy Spirit

Fifth Century

  • Asterius of Amasea – Arian theologian; some extant homilies on the Psalms attributed to him
  • Evagrius Ponticus – spiritual writer; noted preacher at Constantinople; spent the last third of his life living a monastic life in the desert
  • Isidore of Pelusium – an ascetic and exegete; his extant correspondence contains much of doctrinal, exegetical, and moral interest
  • Cyril of Alexandria – Patriarch of Alexandria; contested Nestorius; put into systematic form the classical Greek doctrines of the Trinity and of the Person of Christ
  • Maximus of Turin – Bishop of Turin; over 100 of his sermons survive
  • Cassion (prob. Cassian) – one of the great leaders of Eastern Christian monasticism; founded two monasteries near Marseilles; best known books the Institutes and the Conferences
  • Chrysologus – Bishop of Ravenna; a “Doctor of the Church”
  • Basil “the Great” – one of the “Cappadocian Fathers”; Bishop of Caesarea; responsible for the Arian controversy’s being put to rest at the Council of Constantinople
  • Theodotus of Ancyra – Bishop of Ancyra; wrote against the teaching of Nestorius
  • Leo the Great – Pope who significantly consolidated the influence of the Roman see; a “Doctor of the Church”; his legates defended Christological orthodoxy at the Council of Chalcedon
  • Gennadius – Patriarch of Constantinople; the author of many commentaries, notably on Genesis, Daniel, and the Pauline Epistles
  • Victor of Antioch – presbyter of Antioch; commentator and collector of earlier exegetical writings
  • Council of Ephesus – declared the teachings of Nestorious heretical, affirming instead the unity between Christ’s human and divine natures
  • Nilus – Bishop of Ancyra; disciple of St John Chrysostom; founder of a monastery; conducted a large correspondence influencing his contemporaries; his writings deal mainly with ascetic and moral subjects

Sixth Century

  • Dionysius Areopagita (aka Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite) – mystical theologian; combined Neoplatonism with Christianity; the aim of all his works is the union of the whole created order with God
  • Gregory the Great – Pope; a “Doctor of the Church”; very prolific writer of works on practical theology, pastoral life, expositions of Job, sermons on the Gospels, etc.
  • Isidore – Bishop of Seville; a “Doctor of the Church”; concerned with monastic discipline, clerical education, liturgical uniformity, conversion of the Jews; helped secure Western acceptance of Filioque clause
  • Eutychius (Patriarch of Constan­tinople) – consecrated the church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople; defended the Chalcedonian faith against an unorthodox sect; became controversial later in life
  • Isaac (Bp. of Nineveh) (aka Isaac the Syrian) – monastic writer on ascetic subjects
  • Severus (Bp. of Antioch) – Syrian Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch; the leading theologian of the moderate Monophysites
  • John Climacus – ascetic and writer on the spiritual life; later Abbot of Mt. Sinai; best known for his Ladder of Divine Ascent which treats of the monastic virtues and vices
  • Fulgentius – Bishop of Ruspe in N. Africa; scholarly disposition; follower of St. Augustine; wrote many treatises against Arianism and Pelagianism

Seventh Century

  • Maximus ( of Constantinople, 645.) – Greek theologian; prolific writer on doctrinal, ascetical, exegetical, and liturgical subjects

Eighth Century

  • Bede (131CESK) – “the Venerable Bede”; a “Doctor of the Church”; pedagogue, biblical exegete, hagiographer, and historian, the most influential scholar from Anglo-Saxon England
  • John Damascene – Greek theologian; a “Doctor of the Church”; defender of images in the Iconoclastic Controversy; expounded the doctrine of the perichoresis (circumincession) of the Persons of the Trinity
  • Alcuin – Abbot of St. Martin’s (Tours); a major contributor to the Carolingian Renaissance; supervised the production of several complete editions of the Bible; responsible for full acceptance of the Vulgate in the West

Ninth Century

  • Haymo (of Halberstadt) – German Benedictine monk who became bishop of Halberstadt; prolific writer
  • Photius (of Constantinople) – Patriarch of Constantinople; a scholar of wide interests and encyclopedic knowledge; his most important work, Bibliotheca, is a description of several hundred books (many now lost), with analyses and extracts; also wrote a Lexicon
  • Rabanus Maurus – Abbot of Fulda in Hess Nassau; later Archbishop of Mainz; wrote commentaries on nearly every Book of the Bible
  • Remigius (of Auxerre) – monk, scholar, and teacher
  • Paschasius Radbertus – Carolingian theologian; wrote commentaries on Lamentations and Matthew, as well as the first doctrinal monograph on the Eucharist, he maintained the real Presence of Christ

Eleventh Century

  • Theophylact – Byzantine exegete; his principal work, a series of commentaries on several OT books and on the whole of the NT except Revelation, is marked by lucidity of thought and expression and closely follows the scriptural text
  • Anselm – Archbishop of Canterbury; a “Doctor of the Church”; highly regarded teacher and spiritual director; famous ontological argument for the existence of God as “that than which nothing greater can be thought”
  • Petrus Alphonsus – Jewish Spanish writer and astronomer, a convert to Christianity; one of the most important figures in anti-Judaic polemics
  • Laufranc (prob. Lanfranc) – Archbishop of Canterbury; commented on the Psalms and Pauline Epistles; his biblical commentary passed into the Glossa Ordinaria

John 2:12–13

12. After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.

13. And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.


CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xxiii) Our Lord being about shortly to go up to Jerusalem, proceeded to Capernaum, that He might not take His mother and brethren every where about with Him: After this he went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples, and they continued there not many days.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. x. in Joan. 1, 2) The Lord our God is He, high, that He might create us; low, that He might create us anew; walking among men, suffering what was human, hiding what was divine. So He hath a mother, hath brethren, hath disciples: whence He hath a mother, thence hath He brethren. Scripture frequently gives the name of brethren, not to those only who are born of the same womb, or the same father, but to those of the same generation, cousins by the father’s or mother’s side. Those who are unacquainted with this way of speaking, ask, Whence hath our Lord brothers? did Mary bring forth again? That could not be: with her commenced the dignity of the virgin state. Abraham was uncle of Lot, and Jacob was nephew to Laban the Syrian. Yet Abraham and Lot are called brethren; and likewise Jacob and Laban.

ALCUIN. Our Lord’s brethren are the relations of Mary and Joseph, not the sons of Mary and Joseph. For not only the blessed Virgin, but Joseph also, the witness of her chastity, abstained from all conjugal intercourse.

AUGUSTINE. (de Cons. Ev. c. ii. c. xvii. [39.]) And His disciples; it is uncertain whether Peter and Andrew and the sons of Zebedee, were of their number or not at this time. For Matthew first relates that our Lord came and dwelt at Capernaum, and afterwards that He called those disciples from their boats, as they were fishing. Is Matthew perhaps supplying what he had omitted? For without any mention that it was at a subsequent time, he says, Jesus walking by the sea of Galilee saw two brethren. (Matt. 4:18) Or is it better to suppose that these were other disciples? For the writings of the Evangelists and Apostles, call not the twelve only, but all who believing in God were prepared for the kingdom of heaven by our Lord’s teaching, disciplesa. (id. cap. 18). How is it too that our Lord’s journey to Galilee is placed here before John the Baptist’s imprisonmentb, when Matthew says, Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee: and Mark the same? Luke too, though he says nothing of John’s imprisonment, yet places Christ’s visit to Galilee after His temptation and baptismc, as the two former do. We should understand then that the three Evangelists are not opposed to John, but pass over our Lord’s first coming into Galilee after his baptism; at which time it was that He converted the water into wine.

EUSEBIUS. (Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. iii. c. 24) When copies of the three Gospels had come to the Evangelist John, he is reported, while he confirmed their fidelity and correctness, to have at the same time noticed some omissions, especially at the opening of our Lord’s ministry. Certain it is that the first three Gospels seem only to contain the events of the year in which John the Baptist was imprisoned, and put to death. And therefore John, it is said, was asked to write down those acts of our Saviour’s before the apprehension of the Baptist, which the former Evangelists had passed over. Any one then, by attending, will find that the Gospels do not disagree, but that John is relating the events of a different date, from that which the others refer to.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xxiii. 1) He did not perform any miracle at Capernaum, the inhabitants of which city were in a very corrupt state, and not well disposed to Him; He went there however, and stayed some time out of respect to His motherd.

BEDE. He did not stay many days there, on account of the Passover, which was approaching: And the Jews’ passover was at hand.

ORIGEN. (tom. x. in Joan. c. 14) But what need of saying, of the Jews, when no other nation had the rite of the Passover? Perhapse because there are two sorts of Passover, one human, which is celebrated in a way very different from the design of Scripture; another the true and Divine, which is kept in spirit and in truth. To distinguish it then from the Divine, it is said, of the Jews.

ALCUIN. And He went up to Jerusalem. The Gospels mention two journeys of our Lord to Jerusalem, one in the first year of His preaching, before John was sent to prison, which is the journey now spoken of; the other in the year of His Passion. Our Lord has set us here an example of careful obedience to the Divine commands. For if the Son of God fulfilled the injunctions of His own law, by keeping the festivals, like the rest, with what holy zeal should we servants prepare for and celebrate them?

ORIGEN. (tom. x. c. 6, 7) In a mystical sense, it was meet that after the marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the banquet and wine, our Lord should take His mother, brethren, and disciples to the land of consolation (as Capernaum signifiesf) to console, by the fruits that were to spring up and by abundance of fields, those who received His discipline, and the mind which had conceived Him by the Holy Ghost; and who were there to be holpen. For some there are bearing fruit, to whom our Lord Himself comes down with the ministers of His word and disciples, helping such, His mother being present. Those however who are called to Capernaum, do not seem capable of His presence long: that is, a land which admitteth lower consolation, is not able to take in the enlightenment from many doctrines; being capable to receive few only.

ALCUIN. Or Capernaum, we may interpret “a most beautiful village,” and so it signifies the world, to which the Word of the Father came down.

BEDE. But He continued there only a few days, because he lived with men in this world only a short time.

ORIGEN. (tom. x. in Joan. c. 16) Jerusalem, as our Saviour Himself saith, is the city of the great King, into which none of those who remain on earth ascend, or enter. Only the soul which has a certain natural loftiness, and clear insight into things invisible, is the inhabitant of that city. Jesus alone goes up thitherg. But His disciples seem to have been present afterwards. The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up. But it is as though in every one of the disciples who went up, it was Jesus who went up.

John 2:14–17

14. And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

15. 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;

16. And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

17. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.


BEDE. Our Lord on coming to Jerusalem, immediately entered the temple to pray; giving us an example that, wheresoever we go, our first visit should be to the house of God to pray. And He found in the temple those that sold oxen, and sheep, and doves, and the changers of money sitting. (Mat. 21)

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. x. c. 4) Such sacrifices were prescribed to the people, in condescension to their carnal minds; to prevent them from turning aside to idols. They sacrificed sheep, and oxen, and doves.

BEDE. Those however, who came from a distance, being unable to bring with them the animals required for sacrifice, brought the money instead. For their convenience the Scribes and Pharisees ordered animals to be sold in the temple, in order that, when the people had bought and offered them afterwards, they might sell them again, and thus make great profits. And changers of money sitting; changers of money sat at the table to supply change to buyers and sellers. But our Lord disapproving of any worldly business in His house, especially one of so questionable a kind, drove out all engaged in it.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. x. c. 5) He who was to be scourged by them, was first of all the scourger; And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drore them all out of the temple.

THEOPHYLACT. Nor did He cast out only those who bought and sold, but their goods also: The sheep, and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables, i. e. of the money changers, which were coffers of pence.

ORIGEN. (tom. x. in Joan. c. 16) Should it appear something out of the order of things, that the Son of God should make a scourge of small cords, to drive them out of the temple? We have one answer in which some take refuge, viz. the divine power of Jesus, Who, when He pleased, could extinguish the wrath of His enemies however innumerable, and quiet the tumult of their minds: The Lord bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought. (Ps. 32, 33:10) This act indeed exhibits no less power, than His more positive miracles; nay rather, more than the miracle by which water was converted into wine: in that there the subject-matter was inanimate, here, the minds of so many thousands of men are overcome.

AUGUSTINE. (de Cons. Ev. l. ii. c. 67) It is evident that this was done on two several occasions; the first mentioned by John, the last by the other three.

ORIGEN. (tom. x. in Joan. c. 17) John says here that He drove out the sellers from the temple; Matthew, the sellers and buyers. The number of buyers was much greater than of the sellers: and therefore to drive them out was beyond the power of the carpenter’s Son, as He was supposed to be, had He not by His divine power put all things under Him, as it is said.

BEDE. The Evangelist sets before us both natures of Christ: the human in that His mother accompanied Him to Capernaum; the divine, in that He said, Make not My Father’s house an house of merchandize.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xxiii. in Joan. c. 2) Lo, He speaks of God as His Father, and they are not angry, for they think He means it in a common sense. But afterwards when He spoke more openly, and shewed that He meant equality, they were enraged. In Matthew’s account too, (c. 21) on driving them out, He says, Ye have made it (My Father’s house) a den of thieves. (21:13.) This was just before His Passion, and therefore He uses severer language. But the former being at the beginning of His miracles, His answer is milder and more indulgent.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. x. in Joan. c. 4) So that temple was still a figure only, and our Lord cast out of it all who came to it as a market. And what did they sell? Things that were necessary for the sacrifice of that time. What if He had found men drunken? If the house of God ought not to be a house of merchandize, ought it to be a house of drunkenness?

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xxiii. 2) But why did Christ use such violence? He was about to heal on the Sabbath day, and to do many things which appeared to them transgressions of the Law. That He might not appear therefore to be acting contrary to God, He did this at His own peril; and thus gave them to understand, that He who exposed Himself to such peril to defend the decency of the house, did not despise the Lord of that house. For the same reason, to shew His agreement with God, He said not, the Holy house, but, My Father’s house. It follows, And His disciples remembered what was written; The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

BEDE. (in loc.) His disciples seeing this most fervent zeal in Him, remembered that it was from zeal for His Father’s house that our Saviour drove the ungodly from the temple.

ALCUIN. Zeal, taken in a good sense, is a certain fervour of the Spirit, by which the mind, all human fears forgotten, is stirred up to the defence of the truth.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. x. c. 9) He then is eaten up with zeal for God’s house, who desires to correct all that he sees wrong there; and, if he cannot correct, endures and mourns. In thine house thou busiest thyself to prevent matters going wrong; in the house of God, where salvation is offered, oughtest thou to be indifferent? Hast thou a friend? admonish him gently; a wife? coerce her severely; a maid-servant? even compel her with stripes. Do what thou art able, according to thy station.

ALCUIN. To take the passage mystically, God enters His Church spiritually every day, and marks each one’s behaviour there. Let us be careful then, when we are in God’s Church, that we indulge not in stories, or jokes, or hatreds, or lusts, lest on a sudden He come and scourge us, and drive us out of His Church.

ORIGEN. (tom. x. in Joan. c. 16) It is possible even for the dweller in Jerusalem to incur guilt, and even the most richly endowed may stray. And unless these repent speedily, they lose the capacity wherewith they were endued. He finds them in the temple, i. e. in sacred places, or in the office of enunciating the Church’s truths, some who make His Father’s house an house of merchandize; i. e. who expose to sale the oxen whom they ought to reserve for the plough, lest by turning back they should become unfit for the kingdom of God: also who prefer the unrighteous mammon to the sheep, from which they have the material of ornament; also who for miserable gain abandon the watchful care of them who are called metaphorically doves, without all gall or bitternessh. Our Saviour finding these in the holy house, maketh a scourge of small cords, and driveth them out, together with the sheep and oxen exposed for sale, scatters the heaps of money, as unbeseeming in the house of God, and overthrows the tables set up in the minds of the covetous, forbidding them to sell doves in the house of God any longer. I think too that He meant the above, as a mystical intimation that whatsoeveri was to be performed with regard to that sacred oblation by the priests, was not to be performed after the manner of material oblations, and that the law was not to be observed as the carnal Jews wished. For our Lord, by driving away the sheep and oxen, and ordering away the doves, which were the most common offerings among the Jews, and by overthrowing the tables of material coins, which in a figure only, not in truth, bore the Divine stamp, (i. e. what according to the letter of the law seemed good,) and when with His own hand He scourged the people, He as much as declared that the dispensation was to be broken up and destroyed, and the kingdom translated to the believing from among the Gentiles.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. x. c. 6) Or, those who sell in the Church, are those who seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ. They who will not be bought, think they may sell earthly things. Thus Simon wished to buy the Spirit, that he might sell Him: for he was one of those who sell doves. (The Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove.) The dove however is not sold, but is given of free grace1; for it is called grace.

BEDE. (in loc.) They then are the sellers of doves, who, after receiving the free grace of the Holy Spirit, do not dispense it freely2, as they are commanded, but at a price: who confer the laying on of hands, by which the Holy Spirit is received, if not for money, at least for the sake of getting favour with the people, who bestow Holy Orders not according to merit, but favour.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. x. c. 7) By the oxen may be understood the Apostles and Prophets, who have dispensed to us the holy Scriptures. Those who by these very Scriptures deceive the people, from whom they seek honour, sell the oxen; and they sell the sheep too, i. e. the people themselves; and to whom do they sell them, but to the devil? For that which is cut off from the one Church, (1 Pet. 5:8) who taketh away, except the roaring lion, who goeth about every where, and seeketh whom he may devour?

BEDE. (in loc.) Or, the sheep are works of purity and piety, and they sell the sheep, who do works of piety to gain the praise of men. They exchange money in the temple, who, in the Church, openly devote themselves to secular business. And besides those who seek for money, or praise, or honour from Holy Orders, those too make the Lord’s house a house of merchandize, who do not employ the rank, or spiritual grace, which they have received in the Church at the Lord’s hands, with singleness of mind, but with an eye to human recompense.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. x. c. 5) Our Lord intended a meaning to be seen in His making a scourge of small cords, and then scourging those who were carrying on the merchandize in the temple. Every one by his sins twists for himself a cord, in that he goes on adding sin to sin. So then when men suffer for their iniquities, let them be sure that it is the Lord making a scourge of small cords, and admonishing them to change their lives: which if they fail to do, they will hear at the last, Bind. him hand and foot. (Mat. 23)

BEDE. (in loco.) With a scourge then made of small cords, He cast them out of the temple; for from the part and lot of the saints are cast out all, who, thrown externally among the Saints, do good works hypocritically, or bad openly. The sheep and the oxen too He cast out, to shew that the life and the doctrine of such were alike reprobate. And He overthrew the change heaps of the money-changers and their tables, as a sign that, at the final condemnation of the wicked, He will take away the form even of those things which they loved. The sale of doves He ordered to be removed out of the temple, because the grace of the Spirit, being freely received, should be freely given.

ORIGEN. (tom. x. in Joan. c. 16) By the temple we may understand too the soul wherein the Word of God dwelleth; in which, before the teaching of Christ, earthly and bestial affections had prevailed. The ox being the tiller of the soil, is the symbol of earthly affections: the sheep, being the most irrational of all animals, of dull ones; the dove is the type of light and volatile thoughts; and money, of earthly good things; which money Christ cast out by the Word of His doctrine, that His Father’s house might be no longer a market.

John 2:18–22

18. Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

19. Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

20. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

21. But he spake of the temple of his body.

22. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them: and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.


THEOPHYLACT. (hoc loco.) The Jews seeing Jesus thus acting with power, and having heard Him say, Make not My Father’s house an house of merchandize, ask of Him a sign; Then answered the Jews and said unto Him, What sign shewest Thou unto us, seeing that Thou doest these things?

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xxiii. 2) But were signs necessary for His putting a stop to evil practices? Was not the having such zeal for the house of God, the greatest sign of His virtue? They did not however remember the prophecy, but asked for a sign; at once irritated at the loss of their base gains, and wishing to prevent Him from going further. For this dilemma, they thought, would oblige Him either to work miracles, or give up His present course. But He refuses to give them the sign, as He did on a like occasion, when He answers, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign he given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet; (Mat. 12:39) only the answer is more open there than here. He however who even anticipated men’s wishes, and gave signs when He was not asked, would not have rejected here a positive request, had He not seen a crafty design in it. As it was, Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

BEDE. For inasmuch as they sought a sign from our Lord of His right to eject the customary merchandize from the temple, He replied, that that temple signified the temple of His Body, in which was no spot of sin; as if He said, As by My power I purify your inanimate temple from your merchandize and wickedness; so the temple of My Body, of which that is the figure, destroyed by your hands, on the third day I will raise again.

THEOPHYLACT. He does not however provoke them to commit murder, by saying, Destroy; but only shews that their intentions were not hidden from Him. Let the Arians observe how our Lord, as the destroyer of death, says, I will raise it up; that is to say, by My own power.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. x. in Joan c. 11.) The Father also raised Him up again; to Whom He says, Raise Thou me up, and I shall reward them. (Ps. 41:10) But what did the Father do without the Word? As then the Father raised Him up, so did the Son also: even as He saith below, I and My Father are one. John 10:30.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xxiii. 3) But why does He give them the sign of His resurrection? Because this was the greatest proof that He was not a mere man; shewing, as it did, that He could triumph over death, and in a moment overthrow its long tyranny.

ORIGEN. (tom. x. in Joan. c. 20) Both those, i. e. both the Body of Jesus and the temple, seem to me to be a type of the Church, which with lively stones is built up into a spiritual house, into an holy priesthood; according to St. Paul, Ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (1 Cor. 12:27) And though the structure of stones seem to be broken up, and all the bones of Christ scattered by adversities and tribulations, yet shall the temple be restored, and raised up again in three days, and stablished in the now heaven and the new earth. For as that sensible body of Christ was crucified and buried, and afterward rose again; so the whole body of Christ’s saints was crucified with Christ, (each glorying in that cross, by which He Himself too was crucified to the world,) and, after being buried with Christ, hath also risen with Him, walking in newness of life. Yet have we not risen yet in the power of the blessed resurrection, which is still going on, and is yet to be completed. Whence it is not said, On the third day I will build it up, but, in three days; for the erection is being in process throughout the whole of the three days.

THEOPHYLACT. The Jews, supposing that He spoke of the material temple, scoffed: Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will Thou rear it up in three days?

ALCUIN. Note, that they allude here not to the first temple under Solomon, which was finished in seven years, but to the one rebuilt under Zorobabel. (Ezra 4:5) This was forty-six years building, in consequence of the hindrance raised by the enemies of the work.

ORIGEN. (tom. x. c. 22) Or some will reckon perhaps the forty and six years from the time that David consulted Nathan the Prophet on the building of the temple. David from that time was busy in collecting materials. But perhaps the number forty may with reference to the four corners of the temple allude to the four elements of the world, and the number six, to the creation of man on the sixth day.

AUGUSTINE. (iv. de Trin. c. 9. [v.]) Or it may be that this number fits in with the perfection of the Lord’s Body. For six times forty-six are two hundred and seventy-six days, which make up nine months and six days, the time that our Lord’s Body was forming in the womb; as we know by authoritative traditions handed down from our fathers, and preserved by the Church. He was, according to general belief, conceived on the eighth of the Kalends of April, (March 24) the day on which He suffered, and born on the eighth of the Kalends of January1. (Dec. 25) The intervening time contains two hundred and seventy-six days, i. e. six multiplied by forty-six.

AUGUSTINE. (b. lxxxiii. Quæst. 2. 5. f.) The process of human conception is said to be this. The first six days produce a substance like milk, which in the following nine is converted into blood; in twelve more is consolidated, in eighteen more is formed into a perfect set of limbs, the growth and enlargement of which fills up the rest of the time till the birth. For six, and nine, and twelve, and eighteen, added together are forty-five, and with the addition of one (which1 stands for the summing up, all these numbers being collected into one) forty-six. This multiplied by the number six, which stands at the head of this calculation2, makes two hundred and seventy-six, i. e. nine months and six days. It is no unmeaning information then that the temple was forty and six years building; for the temple prefigured His Body, and as many years as the temple was in building, so many days was the Lord’s Body in forming.

AUGUSTINE. (in Joan. Tr. x. c. 12) Or thus, if you take the four Greek words, anatole, the east; dysis, the west; arctos, the north; and mesembria, the south; the first letters of these words make Adam. And our Lord says that He will gather together His saints from the four winds, when He comes to judgment. Now these letters of the word Adam, make up, according to Greek figuring, the number of the years during which the temple was building. For in Adam we have alpha, one; delta, four; alpha again, one; and mi, forty; making up together forty-six. The temple then signifies the body derived from Adam; which body our Lord did not take in its sinful state, but renewed it, in that after the Jews had destroyed it, He raised it again the third day. The Jews however, being carnal, understood carnally; He spoke spiritually. He tells us, by the Evangelist, what temple He means; But He spake of the temple of His Body.

THEOPHYLACT. (ad loc. fin.) From this Apollinarius draws an heretical inference: and attempts to shew that Christ’s flesh was inanimate, because the temple was inanimate. In this way you will prove the flesh of Christ to be wood and stone, because the temple is composed of these materials. Now if you refuse to allow what is said, Now is My soul troubled; (John 12:27) and, I have power to lay it (My life) down, (ib. 10:18) to be said of the rational soul, still how will you interpret, Into Thy hands, O Lord, I commend My spirit? (Luke 23:46) you cannot understand this of an irrational soul: or again, the passage, Thou shall not leave My soul in hell. (Ps. 16:11)

ORIGEN. (tom. x. in Joan. c. 23) Our Lord’s Body is called the temple, because as the temple contained the glory of God dwelling therein, so the Body of Christ, which represents the Church, contains the Only-Begotten, Who is the image and glory of God.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xxiii. in Joan. 3) TWO. things there were in the mean time very far removed from the comprehension of the disciples: one, the resurrection of our Lord’s Body: the other, and the greater mystery, that it was God who dwelt in that Body: as our Lord declares by saying, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. And thus it follows, When therefore He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this unto them: and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

ALCUIN. For before the resurrection they did not understand the Scriptures, because they had not yet received the Holy Ghost, Who was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:39) But on the day of the resurrection our Lord appeared and opened their meaning to His disciples; that they might understand what was said of Him in the Law and the Prophets. And then they believed the prediction of the Prophets that Christ would rise the third day, and the word which Jesus had spoken to them: Destroy this temple, &c.

ORIGEN. (t. x. c. 27) But (in the mystical interpretation) we shall attain to the full measure of faith, at the great resurrection of the whole body of Jesus, i. e. His Church; inasmuch as the faith which is from sight, is very different from that which seeth as through a glass darkly.

John 2:23–25

23. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.

24. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men.

25. And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.


BEDE. (in loc.) The Evangelist has related above what our Lord did on his way to Jerusalem; now He relates how others were affected towards Him at Jerusalem; Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in His Name, when they saw the miracles which He did.

ORIGEN. (tom. x. c. 30) But how was it that many believed on Him from seeing His miracles? for he seems to have performed no supernatural works at Jerusalem, except we suppose Scripture to have passed them over. May not however the act of His making a scourge of small cords, and driving all out of the temple, be reckoned a miracle?

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xxiv. 1) Those had been wiser disciples, however, who were brought to Christ not by His miracles, but by His doctrine. For it is the duller sort who are attracted by miracles; the more rational are convinced by prophecy, or doctrine. And therefore it follows, But Jesus did not commit Himself unto them.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xi. in Joan. c. 2. 3) What meaneth this, Many believed in His Name—but Jesus did not commit Himself unto them? Was it that they did not believe in Him, but only pretended that they did? In that case the Evangelist would not have said, Many believed in His Name. Wonderful this, and strange, that men should trust Christ, and Christ trusts not Himself to men; especially considering that He was the Son of God, and suffered voluntarily, or else need not have suffered at all. Yet such are all catechumens. If we say to a catechumen, Believest thou in Christ? he answers, I do believe, and crosses himself. If we ask him, Dost thou eat the flesh of the Son of man? he knows not what we sayk, for Jesus has not committed Himself to him.

ORIGEN. (tom. x. c. 28) Or, it was those who believed in His Name, not on Him, to whom Jesus would not commit Himself. They believe on Him, who follow the narrow way which leadeth unto life; they believe in His Name, who only believe the miracles.

CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. xxv. 1) Or it means that He did not place confidence in them, as perfect disciples, and did not, as if they were brethren of confirmed faith, commit to them all His doctrines, for He did not attend to their outward words, but entered into their hearts, and well knew how short-lived was their zeal1. Because He knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man, for He knew what was in man. To know what is in man’s heart, is in the power of God alone, who fashioned the heart. He does not want witnesses, to inform Him of that mind, which was of His own fashioning.

AUGUSTINE. (Tr. xi. c. 2) The Maker knew better what was in His own work, than the work knew what was in itself. Peter knew not what was in himself when he said, I will go with Thee unto death; (Luke 22:33. ver. 61) but our Lord’s answer shewed that He knew what was in man; Before the cock crow, thou shalt thrice deny Me.

BEDE. An admonition to us not to be confident of ourselves, but ever anxious and mistrustful; knowing that what escapes our own knowledge, cannot escape the eternal Judge.

SOURCE: eCatholic 2000Commentary in public domain.


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