What does John 2:19 mean?
ESV: Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
NIV: Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.'
NASB: Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.'
CSB: Jesus answered, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days."
NLT: All right,' Jesus replied. 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.'
KJV: Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
Verse Commentary:
John uses the term "the Jews" to refer to the scribes and other religious leaders. Since Jesus had just disrupted their business and caused a scene, they were right to question Him. In doing so, they challenged Him (John 1:18) to perform a miracle. This was the sign of a prophet, and would have demonstrated that Jesus' words were actually from God. This is precisely why John refers to Jesus' miracles as "signs," because they were meant to prove Christ's divinity. And yet, Jesus will point out later that even miracles don't matter to the hardened skeptic (Luke 16:31–31).

So, instead of responding with fireworks, Jesus makes a claim which almost nobody understands at first. The temple in Jerusalem had taken nearly fifty years to build. It was the most important place in Jewish society. Work on this particular temple had been nearly constant since around 20 BC. So, when Jesus claimed that He could rebuild a destroyed temple in only three days, they assumed He was crazy. However, Jesus' reference was to His future death and resurrection. After He is crucified, that connection will be clear to the disciples.
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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