Sunday, November 5, 2017

Reflections on Romans #6

The Longing of Paul

Romans 1:11-15

Connected with Paul’s prayer is his longing. Verses 11-15 reveal the primary purpose of his wanting to go to Rome. They are introduced by the word “for” which he wants to minister to them in Rome. His desire was expressed in this prayer as clearly seen in verse 10. “I long” is a strong word in the Greek,[1] meaning to desire earnestly. It indicates not simply a desire or want, but a really strong desire. This desire was not personal or selfish. He did not want to come to Rome for a vacation or to sightsee the wonder of that city. Its object was to personally minister to them in Rome. He strongly wanted to see them. However, we must be aware, as Paul was, that longings are not always satisfied immediately. Paul makes clear this is the case of his wanting to come to Rome. This is evident in Romans 15:22-23. Even with the writing of this letter, he was still unable to fulfill this desire. Hindrances are a part of God’s will as they are fulfillments. Paul was hindered by three things: other priorities, personal circumstances, Satan’s hinderances (1 Thess. 2:18), and prevention by the Holy Spirit (Acts 16:6-7). We must have patience in the will of God. Do we thank God for his hindrances as well as His encouragements? They both are a part of God’s plan for our life and His leading us in His will.

The purpose of Paul’s longing to come to them is twofold. It is balanced between them and himself. The purpose of his visit is clearly expressed by the words, “so that I may impart,” (1:11) and “that I may be” (1:12). The twofold purpose is:
1. To impart to them “some spiritual gift” (1:11). The first thing I notice is the word gift is singular, not plural. Therefore, Paul is not thinking of the charismatic gifts. Nor is it referring to imparting the gift of the Holy Spirit which they already processed. Rather it is the use of his gift that he refers to. It is the only place the phrase is used.  Morris comments: “There is no reason to think that Paul has the special gifts in mind here, and the indefinite for of the expression favors the more general concept.”[2] The word impart has the sense of sharing (cf. Rom. 12:8; 1 Thess. 2:8; Eph. 4:28).[3] He is speaking of exercising his gift on their behalf. Some understand this gift as a reference to this letter to Rome.[4] If that is so, it can only be in a limited sense. However, the context points that Paul was to share the gift in person with them. Personal presence is what the language entails—coming to you, so that, encourage together with you.” In doing so he wants to “establish[5] them. His ministry of strengthening of the church was part of his role as the apostle of the Gentiles.[6]
2, To gain benefit from them: “that I may be encouraged[7] together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine” (1:12). This clearly indicates that ministry is mutual, not exclusive. The word establish and mutually encourage is connected with one another. They are encouraged together by one another's faith. Both are encouraged by the exercise of their mutual faith. Moo writes:
This mutual encouragement will be accomplished through faith— “both yours and mine.” This rather cumbersome expression suggests both commonality—Paul and the Romans share the same faith—and distinction—the faith they share brings with it different perspectives and gifts, which, when shared, bring mutual edification.[8]
Paul interjects a personal note (1:13). He does not want them “unaware or ignorant (KJV)[9] that he has “planned to come to” them, but “have been prevented so far.” The phrase about ignorance is an expression used by Paul to designate a special note of his desire or importance. It denotes taking special note of something. The word planned has the indication of intent (cf. Rom 15:23). His longtime intent had to be delayed. The tone of the passage is that of confession as to why he has not come to them before. Paul does not identify the hinderances that prevented his coming to them. We are hindered in our service by a number of things: circumstances, opposition, sickness, Satan, other priorities, by the Spirit of God, and a number of other reasons. Haldane brings out two important principles here: (1) the providence of God. “The times and the ways of God’s providence are often known to us, and therefore of desires, and designs in His service ought always to be cherished I submission to His divine wisdom.”[10]  (2) It shows that the plans or desires of the Apostle were not under the guidance of Divine Inspiration. He is careful to note that this has nothing to do with the inspiration of the Scriptures. Inspiration has to do with the recording of the Word of God.

The reason— “so that.” It introduces the phrase that indicates why Paul wanted to come to Rome. It was to “obtain some fruit among you” (1:13). The word fruit is an interesting one.[11] It is an agricultural term used three ways in antiquity besides the literal: (1) a euphemism for offspring, (2) a locution for the praise offering, (3) or as a metaphor for a product, outcome, or profit.[12] Here it is used as a metaphor for a result. It refers to the fruit (product or results) of his work as an apostle.  He has had these results among other Gentiles, and now wants to experience among the believers at Rome. By using the phrase, he is connecting them to his sphere of ministry among the Gentiles.

Paul’s longing is to fulfill his missionary obligation (1:14). He declares: “I am under obligation.” The KJV translated it more literally: “I am a debtor.” Paul uses the term two other times in Romans (8:12; 15:27) and once in Galatians (5:3).  The word denotes responsibility. These verses give us different aspects we are debtors to: (1) to others to preach the gospel, (2) to live in the spirit, not the flesh, (3) to contributors to the collection, and (4) once one begins to do the law, he is responsible to keep the whole law. The debt is underlined by the divine compulsion of his commission. 

Here Paul expresses his debt to the Gentiles and barbarians, the wise and the foolish. Here we are told he considers himself a debtor “to the Greeks and barbarians” and to “the wise and to the foolish.” The phrase has been taken different ways. In ancient references of Philo and Josephus, it indicates an inferior group. However, the context does not altogether contain the idea of inferiority (although Jews may feel they are so).  It is clear that it is a reference to Gentiles. There are two possible meanings that the phrase could indicate: By the terms used it may be a contrast between cultured world with the uncultured. Or, it could be speaking of those who spoke Greek and those who did not. The second part of the phrase of wise and unwise further describes the Gentiles. It indicates educated and uneducated.

Paul is ready to pay his debt to the Romans (1:15), While some modern versions translate the word as eager it is not the best, the KJV is better as ready.[13] Paul now is prepared to go to Rome to preach the gospel. Scripture speaks much of the doctrine of preparation.  
1. Prepared to preach the gospel (Rom 1:15).
2. Prepared to give a defense of the gospel (1 Pet. 3:15).
3. Prepared to share in good works (1 Tim.18).
4. Prepared to meet the Lord (Matt. 25:60).
Paul’s overall longing was to preach the gospel in Rome. He felt he owed them a debt and was prepared to pay the debt. What about us? What is our longing? Are we to fellowship with others? To identify with those who need the gospel? Willing to pay the debt? Prepared to witness to the gospel to others?

[1]  Epipoqw (present active indicative), meaning a strong desire, longing, or a strong bent. The mood here in addition of the prefix epi intensifies the word desire (Longenecker, 114). A major part of this desire was to “see” them face to face.
[2]  Leon Morris, PNTC: ROMANS, 60.
[3]  Richard N Longenecker, NIGTC: ROMANS, 114.
[4] Ibid, 116-117.
[5] Otihpicqnai, (infinitive aorist passive accusative), the word means to set fast, to settle, confirm; thus, establish. Used of establishing persons (Vine, 2:41).
[6] Thomas R. Schreiner, BECNT: ROMANS, 54.
[7] Sumparaklhqvvvhvai, (infinitive accusative plural), to share in mutual encouragement.
[9]  Agnoeivvn (present active infinitive) not to understand, to be ignorant.
[10]  Robert Haldane, AN EXPOSITION OF ROMANS, [Grand Rapids MI, Mac Donald Publishing, reprint nd), 42.
[11]  Karpon (accusative noun), meaning fruit or harvest.
[12]  Richard N. Longenecker, NIGTC: ROMANS, 136.
[13]  ProQnmon, means ready in mind, prepared, willing. It speaks of preparation and willingness.

Saturday, October 21, 2017



ACTS 1:18-19

Acts 1:18-19 are inserted into the narrative by Luke to explain what had happened to Judas.[1] It is reasonable to assume that the readers were unfamiliar with Judas’ death, which was the cause of this insertion. It also may have been inserted to underscore the horrific judgment Judas experienced. This insertion presents a problem in the reconciliation of the Acts with Matthew’s account. Longenecker states the problem precisely:
The difficulty of reconciling 1:18-19 with Matthew 27:3-10 is well known and often considered the most intractable contradiction in the NT. The problem chiefly concerns how Judas died. But it also involves such questions as who bought the field? And why was it called “Field of Blood”?[2]

Both accounts are true, yet giving different details of the same event. We need not look further than the standard harmony that dates back at least to the Latin Vulgate for an answer to the problem. Judas hanged himself and fell on his face afterward. His body burst open because of the fall. Precisely what caused the fall is unknown. It may well be that this happened when they were trying to take the body down. The Sanhedrin with the ill-gotten gain bought the field, probably in Judas’ name, seeing that the money was his (cf. Luke 22:5). Since it was with his money and in his name, it could be said he bought it. It is called the field of blood, (Aramaic Hakeldama,) because of the abdomen being torn open and blood was on the ground. Luke gives the clear meaning of the Aramaic for the benefit of the Gentile readers. Tradition says the location of the field of blood is where the Hinnom and Kidron Valleys meet southeast of Jerusalem.

It was a necessity to replace Judas. Why must he be replaced? It was because of his defection; not his death that created the vacancy. He was disqualified by his actions caused by a crisis of faith. Jesus’ promise that the Twelve Apostles would sit on twelve thrones in his earthly kingdom judging the twelve tribes of Israel made the replacement necessary (Matt. 19:28; Luke 22:28-30; cf. Rev. 21:14). The number twelve is directly linked to the nation of Israel and the Messianic kingdom. Now there were only eleven, someone needed to be added so there would be twelve again. The Apostolic number needed to be restored because the kingdom was still at hand, and was to be offered (Acts 3:19-20). The Twelve had a twofold mission: To be witnesses to the lost sheep of the house of Israel and to be the judges of Israel in the end times. The replacement had to be named before the event of Pentecost and the offer of the kingdom to Israel. 

This is a one-time event. Apostolic succession is not taught in Scripture. When the other apostles died they were not replaced. This is clearly evident at the death of James. He was a martyr in 44 AD. He was not replaced. This is because of three reasons: (1) James did not disqualify himself, as in the case of Judas. (2) James and the other Apostles will be resurrected to take his place in the kingdom and sit upon one of the twelve thrones. (3) Apostolic succession would not work past the original generation because no one outside that time period could meet the requirements.

[1] To indicate this, modern translators have put brackets around these two verses (NASB, NIV).
[2]  Longenecker, EBC: ACTS, [Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1981], 263.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017



By Dr. Robert Jeffress [Grand Rapids MI, Baker, 2017].

Robert Jeffress is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas Texas. In recent years he is also known for his political views and as a Fox News contributor. He has written a book that will have universal appeal to all that are curious about heaven. He does so in a very refreshing way, not as an academic, but as a pastor of people. His style is welcoming, speaks to the average person, and is an encouragement to those who read it.

I especially liked his first chapter in which he gives us the benefits of thinking about heaven. Such a focus does 4 things for us here and now: (1) It reminds us of the brevity of our earthly life. (2) Prepares us for the certainty of judgment. (3) Motivates us to live pure lives. (4) It places our suffering in perspective.

He explains that Heaven is not a state of mind, but a sobering reality that each of us must confront one way or another. We all face mortality.

Jeffress asks fundament questions that all of us have. He deals with the subjects concerning heaven head on. This includes near death experiences; at death do we immediately go to heaven; the Old Testament saints’ relationship to Heaven; tries to separate fact from fiction; will we know one another in Heaven; and what we will do in heaven. He also deals with common myths about God and Heaven.

The book is also evangelistic in that he deals with hell and how to enter heaven. It is Scriptural. Upholds the finished work of Christ. It is an enjoyable, reader friendly, reassuring and encouraging to the reader. Well researched.  All who read it will benefit.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Review of Forgiveness and Justice

FORGIVENESS AND JUSTICE, by Bryan Maier, Grand Rapids MI, Kregel Ministries, 2017

This book endeavors to cut through the maze of views persistent in modern culture about forgiveness and justice and is turning away from the Biblical concept. Maier is an associate professor of Counseling and Psychology at Biblical Seminary, thus more than qualified to deal with the subject. He, therefore, writes from a theological concept of counseling. It seems to be geared toward the profession, rather than the laymen. It is academic in focus and nature.

In regard to forgiveness, he points out that the main models center on the therapeutic. He points out the weakness of this method is that it neglects the theological concept. Its primary focus is on self rather than the spiritual or theological.

The main emphasis of the book centers on the theological concept of forgiveness. It centers around four questions: (1) How Does God Forgive? (2) How Does Healing Relate to Forgiveness? (3) Is Forgiveness Primarily Self-Centered or Other-Centered? (4) Is Forgiveness Active or Passive?

To me, the best part of the book is on modeling God’s forgiveness. Our being able to forgive is based on God’s forgiveness which is rooted in substitutionary atonement. He argues that repentance is necessary for forgiveness. However, he views repentance as the act of turning from sin and says very little as it being a change of mind.

For justice, he features the imprecatory Psalms. While he expresses some concerns with these psalms, he points out they do not deal with revenge, but with the desire for justice which is proper in response to sin. This is my second best chapter.

This book is worthwhile to any person who deals with other people, as well as another one struggling with the need for forgiveness. The pastor should read and think about the subject. In fact, it is essential for the Pastor’s library. It is Biblical sound and deals with the subject on a serious practical level. It is reader-friendly, which will confront the reader on these subjects. It is an informative, practical, clear, and logical presentation. It was personally helpful to clarify my thinking on the subject.

I received this book from Kregel Ministry in return for a review but was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Reflections on Romans #5

The Thanksgiving

Romans 1:8-10

Paul opens this thanksgiving with the word “first.” Most commentators think that Paul had in mind a series, but never got around to or failed to mark the additional points, as there is no second point.[1] I reject this idea. The word means first in time or in order. It also has the sense of “above all.”[2] I believe Paul is drawing our attention to the idea of priority instead of order, The idea of priority fits the context. Lenski catches this idea when he points out “it naturally implies all that follows without a following ‘furthermore’ or is ‘second place’.”[3] It denotes the idea of first of all or priority. His priority in this thanksgiving prayer is to direct it to God the Father. This likely means that the idea of priority is the intent and thought in this context.[4] The giving of thanks is in the present tense, denoting he is in the continual course of giving thanks. Paul is repeatedly giving thanks to God for the presentation of His grace. Likewise, we should give thanks for His grace and goodness to us.

It is “through Jesus Christ.” The word “through” is a preposition used with the genitive case, signifying the “means of which an action passes to its accomplishment.”[5] Here it speaks of the mediatory work of Christ.[6] This phrase is used a number of times in Romans and seems to be a formula phrase for an aspect of the mediatory work of Christ. It is through Christ, not by or to Christ. There is only one mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). No man can approach God except through Jesus Christ. Mediation is a two-way channel. All we give to God goes through Jesus Christ and all God the Father gives us by His grace comes through Jesus Christ. Christ is not a one-sided mediator. Our prayer, praise, and glory to God go through Him. “Christ is Mediator not only of God’s approach to me (as, e.g., in v. 5) but also, as the risen and exalted Lord, of their responding approach to God in worship” notes Cranfield.[7] In Romans, Paul is strongly mindful of Christs’ intermediate role. There is no access to God except “through Jesus Christ.”

Through Jesus Christ” in Romans

Romans 1:8
Mediator in Prayer
Romans 2:16
Mediator of Judgment
Romans 5:1
Mediator of our Peace with God
Romans 5:11
Mediator of Joy and Reconciliation
Romans 5:21
Mediator of Righteousness to us
Romans 7:25a
Mediator in Prayer
Romans 15:30
Mediator of Petitions
Romans 16:27
Mediator of Glory to the Father

The thanksgiving denotes the following:

  • Paul’s interest in the Romans. He is thankful “for you all because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world” (1:8).  The word “because” gives a reason for His interest and thankfulness for them. It centers upon their faith. The faith referred to is the Romans saving faith, not a special gift of faith (1 Cor. 12:4-9). In Corinthians, we see there is a special faith given by the Spirit to selected believers.[8] This special gift of faith is limited, but saving faith is processed by every believer. Faith was the hand that accepted Christ; the invisible work of God whereby the believer is incorporated into the crucified and risen Christ. Their faith leads them to proclaim the message throughout the world. It is clearly their missionary attitude and mission. Their outreach was to the whole world. Stam tells us: "Think of it! Paul had never even visited Rome to encourage and establish the believers there, yet their faith in Christ was such that it excited worldwide attention and discussion!" [9]
  • Paul’s Sincerity. “For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the [preaching of the gospel] of His Son” (1:9). The Majority Greek text literally reads: “For God is my witness, whom I serve with (in) my spirit in the gospel of the Son” (so translated in the KJV). He calls on God as a witness of his sincerity as to his thanksgiving and prayer for the Romans. It displays his unselfishness. Prayer always is concerned about others and has the element of unselfishness. This may be a call on God to be a witness to his sincerity in his actions toward the Romans and to add an element of truth since they had never met Paul. The keynote of our service is the truth. It is to give an element of trust to his readers.  However, Lenski offers another explanation. He says Paul is speaking of his secret prayer life of which God only knows and can witness.[10] He is confirming the Omniscient God who knows the intents and actions of the heart. Truth is an element that God has witnessed in him. God is his witness “as to how unceasingly I make mention of you."
  • It is this God, who Paul serves (1:9). How he serves God is “in his spirit.” It is a spiritual service. Spirit here speaks of the human spirit. It is the internal element in which we serve God. Jesus said that “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Notice the two elements: spirit and truth. The spiritual nature of God requires spiritual worship. Carson observes that “The worshippers whom God seeks to worship him out of the fullness of the supernatural life they enjoy (“in spirit”) and on the basis of God’s incarnate Self-Expression, Christ Jesus Himself, through whom God’s person and will are finally and ultimately disclosed (“in truth”); and these two characteristics form one matrix, indivisible.”[11]   
The prayer life of Paul consists of two things: spiritual worship and intercession. It was in conjunction with the truth of God and continual prayer for others. “Prayer is one of the most definite and genuine proofs of sincere Christian affection[12] that Paul exhibited.

  • Paul’s request for following the will of God (1:10). The will of God is to be followed. It is to be supreme in all that we do. Here in his thanksgiving for the Romans, he requests that they pray for him for his coming by the will of God. The answer and the coming depends on God’s will. True service of verse 9 is guided by our submission to the will of God. Submission to the guidance of God’s will involves the following: (1) A desire to do the will of God. Although the fulfilling of that desire may not be immediate. (2) Submission should be bathed in prayer. (3) There is a need for patience in waiting for the guidance of His will. The text indicates that the desire to go to Rome was long on Paul’s mind, but the opportunity did not yet present itself. (4) God may fulfill His will in unexpected ways. Paul did go to Rome, but it was an all-expense paid trip by the Roman government as a prisoner of Rome. We need to be submissive to the outworking of God’s will, no manner what it entails.

Our prayers should always involve thankfulness to God, sincerity for others, and a desire that we do the will of God.  

[1]  Richard N. Longenecker, NIGTC: ROMANS, 102. Leon Morris, PNTC: THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, 55. James D.G. Dunn, WBC: ROMANS 1-8, 27. Charles Hodge, COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, [Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, Reprinted 1960], 24. Charles Lee Irons, A SYNTAX GUIDE FOR READERS OF THE GREEK NEW TESTMENT, [Grand Rapids MI, Kregel, 2016], 334.
[2]  C.E.B. Cranfield, ICC: ROMANS, 1:74.
[3]  R.C.H. Lenski, THE INTERPRETATION OF ST. PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS, [Minneapolis, Augsburg Publishing, 1961], 55-56.
[4]  W.H. Griffith Thomas, ST. PAUL’S EPISTLE TO THE ROMANS: A DEVOTIONAL COMMENTARY, [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1946], 53: William S. Plumer, COMMENTARY ON ROMANS, [Grand Rapids MI, Kregel, reprint 1993], 45. James D.G. Dunn, WBC: ROMANS 1-8, 27.
[5]  COMPANION BIBLE, “Appendix 104: Prepositions,” 149.
[6]  Contra Douglas J. Moo, NICNT: ROMANS, 57 who downplays this.
[7]  C.E.B Cranfield, ICC: ROMANS, 174.
[8]  Cf. David E. Garland, BECNT: 1 CORINTHIANS, [Grand Rapids MI, Baker, 2003], 581.
[9]  C.R. Stam, ROMANS, 30.
[11]  D.A. Carson, PNTC: THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN, [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1991], 225-226.
[12]  Griffith Thomas, ROMANS, 55.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Beatitudes: 3 Observations

As we look at the Beatitudes, it is important to make some observations.

First, the main emphasis of the sermon and the Beatitudes is the character of those who are waiting for and are to go into the messianic kingdom. Its primary application is to those Jews before the cross to whom the kingdom is at hand, and to the Jews that will go through the Tribulation before the coming earthly kingdom.

Second, it is wrong, however, to limit the Beatitudes simply to those saints who will inherit the physical promise of the earthly kingdom. Likewise, it is wrong to dismiss the physical blessings by replacing them with spiritual ones. Toussaint’s warning is worthy of repeating:
    The ordinary Jew of Christ’s day looked only at the physical benefits of the kingdom, which he thought would naturally be bestowed on every Israelite. The amillennialist of today, on the other hand, denies the physical existence of the promised Jewish kingdom by “spiritualizing” its material blessings. The Beatitudes of the King indicate that it is not an either-or proposition, but the kingdom includes both physical and spiritual blessings. A careful study of the Beatitudes displays the fact that the kingdom is a physical earthly kingdom with spiritual blessings founded on divine principles.[1]

Third, the ethical truth of the sermon is an inter-dispensational truth. The ethical truth is applicable to all believers. Baker points this out saying, “These character traits for the Kingdom saints are to be found in greater degree ever in the Pauline writings to members of the Body of Christ.”[2] He goes on to say, “These principles are as valid today as they will be for Israel in the coming tribulation.”[3] Therefore the sermon is eschatological indicating His coming to fulfill the sermon’s promises to Israel but also has an impact in the present on the believer’s conduct.


[From a forthcoming book on the Sermon on the Mount by Pastor Jim Gray]

[1]   Toussaint, BEHOLD THE KING, 97.
[2]  C.F.  Baker, GOSPELS, 81.
[3]   Ibid, 82.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thoughts on John 2:14

One or Two Cleansings of the Temple?

John 2:14 recorded a cleansing of the Temple. John says it happened at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. However, in the Synoptics it is located at end of His ministry and leads directly to His death (cf. Mark 11:15-18). This leads us to the question of how many times did Jesus cleanse the temple—once or twice?  Because John places the event at the beginning of His ministry, while the gospels place it toward the end, after the triumphal entry, there seems to be two. This question is much debated. Those who hold to one cleansing of the temple contend:

·         No gospel records two cleansings, only one. It may well be that each writer omits the second cleansing because both did not fit their purpose.

·         Borchert says the problem may be one of perspective and false expectation.[1] Many hold that it is because John is writing topically, not chronological and one should not try to harmonize with the Synoptics. It is assumed that John is to be read chronologically.

·         Hamblin takes the gospel as more of a Platonic dialogue or a sequence of plays than a modern history or biography. He sees it as theme oriented indicating the account is Messianic presenting Him as the Lord of the Temple.[2]

There are with the view problems:[3]

·         The bias of scholars who do not see anything as double in Scripture.

·         It is argued that if Jesus cleanses the temple once, the leadership and temple police would never have allowed it again. However, the two cleansings are separated by 3 years. Since His other visits were peaceful, it likely the expectation had subsided. Jesus visited the temple a number of times and there was no other such occurrence until His passion at the end of His ministry.

·         In spite of the time references (the next day, on the third day, etc) in John’s record of the event, these are ignored and downplayed. They hold to the synoptic order and that holding to the time references is to miss the point as a picture of Messianic leadership and authority.[4] (This view lends itself to the spiritualization of the text as the expense of the literal facts).

·         In addition, I have found the one cleansing view seems to skip over the differences between the two accounts.

Two cleanings are possible based on the following facts:

·         The historical placement of the two accounts.

·         The event is placed in the non-Synoptic section of John. Morris points out “Apart from the work of the Baptist nothing else in the first five chapters of this Gospel is to be found in any of the Synoptics.”[5]

·         The differences in wording and setting. There are some things that only John mentions—e.g. the oxen, sheep the birds, and the whip.

·         The words “after this” in verse 12, as well as the words “a few days” indicate the time and the nearness of this event to the wedding in Cana. These time references do not interfere with the focus on Messianic authority. It is consistent with a literal view of the text.

·         Only John records three Passovers, the Synoptics record only two. This is the one that is not recorded in the Synoptics.

·         Unlike the Synoptic cleansings, there is no hint in John that this cleansing immediately leads to Jesus’ death (cf. Mark 11:15-18).

While the difficulty is not settled. I see the weight of the evidence being with the two cleansing view as being the most natural way to see the text. To harmonize the differences of the cleansing in John with that of the Synoptics is impossible, whether one sees John adapting the event for his purpose or not. This failure adds somewhat to the support they are not the same events. Blum reflects the two view position well, saying,

Probably there were two cleansings, for there are differences in the narrations. John was undoubtedly aware of the Synoptics, and he supplemented them. The first cleansing caught the people by surprise. The second cleansing, about three years later, was one of the immediate causes of His death (cf. Mark 11:15-18).[6]

[1]  Gerald Borchert, NAC: JOHN 1-11.
[2]  William Hamblin, John 2:13-25. THE PURIFICATION OF THE TEMPLE, paper,, Feb 1, 2011, 2
[3]  D.A. Carson, PNTC: JOHN, 177-178.
[4]  R.T. France, “Chronological Aspects of ‘Gospel Harmony’,” VOX EVANGELICA 16,(1986), 30-66.
[5]  Leon Morris, NICNT: JOHN, 190.
[6]  Edwin A. Blum, BKC: “John,” 279.