1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Mark 11:17

ESV 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.”
NIV And as he taught them, he said, 'Is it not written: 'My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations'? But you have made it 'a den of robbers.''
NASB And He began to teach and say to them, 'Is it not written: ‘MY HOUSE WILL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS’? But you have made it a DEN OF ROBBERS.'
CSB He was teaching them: "Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves! "
NLT He said to them, 'The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.'
KJV And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

What does Mark 11:17 mean?

The first half of Jesus' quote is from Isaiah 56:7. Isaiah 56:3–8 prophesies about Gentiles who will worship God, and how God is faithful to them. God promises to bring non-Jews who choose Him over their families to His mountain, give them joy, and accept their offerings. This will be entirely fulfilled in the millennial kingdom, but God's purpose for Israel always included blessing Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6).

The second half of Jesus' condemnation is from Jeremiah 7:11: "Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes?" The courtyard once dedicated to God-worshiping Gentiles is now filled with money changers, bird merchants, and locals who think of it as a common shortcut. They are "robbing" Gentiles of space dedicated for worship and prayer to God. They are robbing the customers through inflated prices and opportunism.

Jesus isn't addressing the offerings due to the priests. The Bible establishes that the priests deserve to be supported by the Israelites (Deuteronomy 18:1) just like Christian teachers deserve to make a living from their work for the kingdom (1 Corinthians 9:8–12). Jesus is speaking to laymen who are abusing the devotion of God-worshipers for their own gain. This habit has unfortunately never stopped. In the early church age, relic hunters would sell you a fingerbone, supposedly from a saint. The modern era has con-men peddling special anointing oil or prayer cloths. They twist items used in the early church into false idols, and make money doing so.

Christ is also addressing God-worshipers who value convenience and appearances over genuine piety or concern toward others. That habit, as well, has persisted into the modern era. It might mean abusing spaces intended for the handicapped or crowding out a classroom or worship area with storage or decorations. Believers cannot ignore our responsibility to welcome needy, physically challenged, and foreign persons into our church body, nor choose expediency and convenience over the gospel. We must be like Christ and value "the least of these" (Mark 9:35–37; 10:13–16).
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: