Matthew 21:12

ESV And Jesus entered the temple 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.
NIV Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.
NASB And Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying on the temple grounds, and He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.
CSB Jesus went into the temple and threw out all those buying and selling. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.
NLT Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves.
KJV And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,

What does Matthew 21:12 mean?

What is sometimes called the "triumphal entry" of Jesus into Jerusalem happened on Sunday. This began what is often called Holy Week or Passion Week. All four gospel accounts include numerous details about this week. By compiling those accounts, a timeline of the last days of Jesus' earthly ministry can be formed.

Matthew has condensed and arranged the events of the week more by topic than by the order in which they took place. Most likely, the moment Jesus enters the temple and drives out the moneychangers takes place on Monday and not on Sunday immediately following His entry into the city. This appears to be the second time that Jesus "cleansed" the temple in this way. John described a similar event that seems to have taken place early in Jesus' ministry (John 2:13–17).

At that time in history, the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was enormous. It dominated the city, covering a space of 172,000 square yards—more than 140,000 square meters—an area larger than most American football stadiums. The outer area of the temple was called the Court of the Gentiles. That's likely where this marketplace was set up.

The problem Jesus addresses here is not that business was being done for the purposes of temple worship. Those coming to make sacrifices, especially from out of town, were required to purchase animals for sacrifice and to pay their annual temple tax. However, the temple tax could not be paid with foreign money, and several currencies were in use in and around Israel at the time. This required "money changers" to provide the service of trading temple currency for other currencies. That required some kind of a temple bank and perhaps the setting of exchange rates between currencies. It was all necessary.

Rather, Jesus may have been upset about either or both of two issues. First, it's possible Jesus objected to the placement of this market inside the temple grounds, which were meant as a holy place devoted to prayer and the worship of God. Second, there's reason to think buyers and sellers were overcharging those who came to worship—they were taking advantage of travelling people. These pilgrims had no other options for buying animals, including pigeons, or changing their money for the temple currency. The businessmen were working the temple like a business, buying low and selling high, perhaps depending on the supply and demand of resources.

In this case, Jesus doesn't deliver a sermon about corruption. He acts, pointing forward to the coming judgment of God. Jesus drives all the buyers and sellers from the temple. He overturns tables and chairs. He is forceful enough to send those there for business out into the streets (Mark 11:15–18).
What is the Gospel?
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