What does John 2:14 mean?
ESV: In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there.
NIV: In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money.
NASB: And within the temple grounds He found those who were selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.
CSB: In the temple he found people selling oxen, sheep, and doves, and he also found the money changers sitting there.
NLT: In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money.
KJV: And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:
Verse Commentary:
The work of the livestock vendors and money changers probably started off with good intentions. Jews coming to the temple did not always have the means to bring animals with them. So, it made sense to provide a way to purchase proper sacrifices. There was also good reason to help people convert their coins into local money. Apparently, interest in making money soon took over. And, instead of conducting business near the temple, or just outside it, the marketplace had been moved inside the temple grounds.

The area in question is known as the "Court of the Gentiles," just inside the borders of the temple. This should have been the place where Israel reached out to tell others about God. Instead, it was being used as a blatant money grab. Part of the warning in this story is the danger in allowing a ministry to become a business, and losing sight of its original purpose. Worse, is the threat of letting business concerns outweigh spiritual concerns.
Verse Context:
John 2:13–23 describes Jesus driving corrupt businessmen from the temple. Selling sacrifices to travelers was not a problem. The sin was in gouging the people, focusing on money, rather than serving God. Jesus is never depicted as out of control, but His anger is clear. It’s likely that this is an early temple cleansing, and the other gospels record a second, separate cleansing. Jesus’ authority is challenged by the authorities. In typical Hebrew style, they demand a miraculous sign. Jesus instead predicts His own death and resurrection. This passage is in contrast to the quiet, joyous miracle at the wedding.
Chapter Summary:
Jesus attends a wedding where He performs His first miracle: turning water into wine. This is symbolic of His transformation of human rituals into divine sacrifice. Few people are even aware that a miracle has occurred. Jesus then drives crooked businessmen out of the temple, scolding them for turning a sacred place into a market place.
Chapter Context:
Chapter 2 begins to show Jesus’ “signs,” or miracles, which will prove that He is the Savior. The miracles will grow more and more spectacular, but they start quietly. Contrast is an important part of the gospel of John. The quiet, joyful miracle at the wedding is very different from the loud public spectacle of clearing the temple. Jesus’ first miracle symbolizes His mission. During the temple clearing, He also predicts His death and resurrection.
Book Summary:
The gospel of John was written by the disciple John, decades later than the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The author assumes that a reader is already familiar with the content of these other works. So, John presents a different perspective, with a greater emphasis on meaning. John uses seven miracles—which he calls “signs”—in order to prove that Jesus is, in fact, God incarnate. Some of the most well-known verses in all of the Bible are found here. None is more famous than the one-sentence summary of the gospel found in John 3:16.
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