The Meaning of John 2:19 Explained

John 2:19

KJV: Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

YLT: Jesus answered and said to them, 'Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up.'

Darby: Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

ASV: Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

What does John 2:19 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Jesus gave them a sign but not the kind they wanted. They wanted some immediate demonstration of prophetic authority. Instead Jesus announced a miracle that would vindicate His authority after He died.
"As for "the sign," then and ever again sought by an "evil and adulterous generation"-evil in their thoughts and ways and adulterous to the God of Israel-He had then, as afterwards, only one "sign" to give: "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up." Thus He met their challenge for a sign by the challenge of a sign: Crucify Him, and He would rise again; let them suppress the Christ, He would triumph. A sign this which they understood not, but misunderstood, and by making it the ground of their false charge in His final trial, themselves unwittingly fulfilled." [1]
Why was Jesus not more cooperative? First, He controlled when as well as how He would act under the Father"s authority, and the time was not yet right for a dramatic sign (cf. John 2:4). Second, these Jews had already demonstrated that they had no real interest in justice, only in discrediting Jesus ( John 2:18). They did not sincerely want a sign. They would not have acknowledged Jesus" authority even if He had performed a miracle for them.
The Jews thought that Jesus was offering to rebuild Herod"s temple within three days if they would knock it down. His ability to do so would have been a miraculous enough sign for any of them. Furthermore it would have demonstrated His authority to regulate temple service. However they were unwilling to fulfill their part of the sign. By suggesting this action Jesus was also implying that the old temple and its service had served its purpose. He had come to establish a new temple and a new way of worship.
Why did Jesus answer enigmatically (with a riddle) rather than clearly? Why did He not say, Destroy my body, and I will raise it up in three days? Jesus was replying to unbelief the way He often did, in parabolic language. He wanted to hide revelation from the unbelieving but to reveal it to believers.
The Sanhedrin used Jesus" words about destroying the temple as a capital charge against Him at His trial ( Matthew 26:61; Mark 14:58; cf. Matthew 27:40; Mark 15:29). This was unfair, however, because Jesus had said, "You destroy the temple," not, "I will destroy the temple." Furthermore Jesus was speaking of His body primarily, not the temple.

Context Summary

John 2:12-22 - Right And Wrong Uses Of God's House
This market was established in the Temple courts, and many evils were associated with it. The animals were sold at exorbitant prices, which made the dealers only the more covetous. The money-changers made considerable profit in supplying Jewish coins-which alone could be offered in the Temple service-in exchange for Roman and Greek money. Our Lord's presence was august, His soul being aflame with the passion of zeal for His Father's honor. The consciences of those who offended were smitten by the contrast between that holy zeal and their own eagerness to barter.
Our Lord's reference to His body as the true temple is very impressive and interesting. The Apostle adverts to it in 1 Corinthians 6:19. As Jesus cleansed the Temple so He can cleanse our hearts. When He comes to dwell within us, He finds our hearts desecrated by unholy things, which He quickly casts out. He sits as a refiner of silver: His fan is in His hand, and He thoroughly purges His floor. Our Lord's reference to the distraction of His body, by the act of the Jewish leaders, and to His resurrection, proves that from the first He had His sacrifice well before His eyes. In the next chapter this becomes the more apparent. [source]

Chapter Summary: John 2

1  Jesus turns water into wine;
12  departs into Capernaum,
13  and to Jerusalem,
14  where he purges the temple of buyers and sellers
18  He foretells his death and resurrection
23  Many believe because of his miracles, but he will not trust himself with them

Greek Commentary for John 2:19

Destroy this temple [λυσατε τον ναον τουτον]
First aorist active imperative of λυω — luō to loosen or destroy. It is the permissive imperative, not a command to do it. Note also ναος — naos not ιερον — hieron the sanctuary, symbol of God‘s ναος — naos in our hearts (1 Corinthians 3:16.). There is much confusion about this language since Jesus added: “And in three days I will raise it up” Those who heard Jesus, including the disciples till after the resurrection (John 2:22), understood the reference to be to Herod‘s temple. Certainly that is the obvious way to take it. But Jesus often spoke in parables and even in enigmas. He may have spoken of the literal temple as a parable for his own body which of course they would not understand, least of all the resurrection in three days. [source]

Reverse Greek Commentary Search for John 2:19

Matthew 12:6 One greater [μείζων]
The correct reading makes the adjective neuter, so that the right rendering is something greater (Rev., in margin). The reference is, of course, to Christ himself (compare Matthew 12:41, Matthew 12:42, where the neuter πλεῖον , more (so Rev., in margin), is used in the same way). Compare, also, John 2:19, where Christ speaks of his own body as a temple. The indefiniteness of the neuter gives a more solemn and impressive sense. [source]
Matthew 26:61 I am able to destroy the temple of God [δυναμαι καταλυσαι τον ναον του τεου]
What he had said (John 2:19) referred to the temple of his body which they were to destroy (and did) and which he would raise again in three days as he did. It was a pitiful perversion of what Jesus had said and even so the two witnesses disagreed in their misrepresentation (Mark 14:59). [source]
Mark 14:58 Made with hands [χειροποιητον]
In Mark alone. An old Greek word. The negative form αχειροποιητον — acheiropoiēton here occurs elsewhere only in 2 Corinthians 5:1; Colossians 2:11. In Hebrews 9:11 the negative ου — ou is used with the positive form. It is possible that a real λογιον — logion of Jesus underlies the perversion of it here. Mark and Matthew do not quote the witnesses precisely alike. Perhaps they quoted Jesus differently and therein is shown part of the disagreement, for Mark adds Mark 14:59 (not in Matthew). “And not even so did their witness agree together,” repeating the point of Mark 14:57. Swete observes that Jesus, as a matter of fact, did do what he is quoted as saying in Mark: “He said what the event has proved to be true; His death destroyed the old order, and His resurrection created the new.” But these witnesses did not mean that by what they said. The only saying of Jesus at all like this preserved to us is that in John 2:19, when he referred not to the temple in Jerusalem, but to the temple of his body, though no one understood it at the time. [source]
John 2:22 Was risen [ἠγέρθη]
Rev., more correctly, was raised. The same verb as in John 2:19, John 2:20. [source]
John 14:31 But that the world may know, etc. []
The connection in this verse is much disputed. Some explain, Arise, let us go hence, that the world may know that I love the Father, and that even as the Father commanded me so I do. Others, So I do, that the world may know - and even as the Father, etc. Others, again, take the opening phrase as elliptical, supplying either, he cometh, i.e., Satan, in order that the world may know - and that as the Father, etc.; or, I surrender myself to suffering and death that the world may know, etc. In this case, Arise, etc., will form, as in A.V. and Rev., an independent sentence. I incline to adopt this. The phrase ἀλλ ' ἵνα , but in order that, with an ellipsis, is common in John. See John 1:8, John 1:31; John 9:3; John 13:18; John 15:25; 1 John 2:19. [source]
John 10:35 Broken [λυθῆναι]
Literally, loosened. Wyc., undone. The word is characteristic of John. He uses it of the destruction of the temple (John 2:19); the breaking of the Sabbath (John 5:18); the violation of the law (John 7:23); the destruction of Satan's works (1 John 3:8), besides elsewhere in the physical sense. [source]
John 18:20 Openly [παρρησιαι]
As already shown (John 7:4; John 8:26; John 10:24, John 10:39; John 16:25, John 16:29. See John 7:4 for same contrast between εν παρρησιαι — en parrēsiāi and εν κρυπτωι — en kruptōi I ever taught Constative aorist active indicative. For the temple teaching see John 2:19; John 7:14, John 7:28; John 8:20, John 19:23; Mark 14:49 and John 6:59 for the synagogue teaching (often in the Synoptics). Examples of private teaching are Nicodemus (John 3) and the woman of Samaria (John 4). Jesus ignores the sneer at his disciples, but challenges the inquiry about his teaching as needless. [source]
John 2:22 When therefore he was raised from the dead [οτε ουν ηγερτη εκ νεκρων]
First aorist passive indicative of εγειρω — egeirō to raise up. And not at first then, but only slowly after the disciples themselves were convinced. Then “they believed the Scripture” They “believed” again. Dative case γραπηι — graphēi Probably Psalm 16:10 is meant (Acts 2:31; Acts 13:35). And the word which Jesus had said Dative case λογωι — logōi also, but ον — hon (relative) is not attracted to the dative. Clearly then John interprets Jesus to have a parabolic reference to his death and resurrection by his language in John 2:19. There are those who bluntly say that John was mistaken. I prefer to say that these scholars are mistaken. Even Bernard considers it “hardly possible” that John interprets Jesus rightly in John 1:21. “Had he meant that, He would have spoken with less ambiguity.” But how do we know that Jesus wished to be understood clearly at this time? Certainly no one understood Christ when he spoke the words. The language of Jesus is recalled and perverted at his trial as “I will destroy” (Mark 14:58), “I can destroy” (Matthew 26:61), neither of which he said. [source]
Ephesians 2:14 Both one [τα αμποτερα εν]
“The both” (Jew and Gentile). Jesus had said “other sheep I have which are not of this fold” (John 10:16). One (εν — hen) is neuter singular (oneness, unity, identity) as in Galatians 3:28. Race and national distinctions vanish in Christ. If all men were really in Christ, war would disappear. Brake down the middle wall of partition “Having loosened (first aorist active participle of λυω — luō see note on John 2:19) the middle-wall (late word, only here in N.T., and very rare anywhere, one in papyri, and one inscription) of partition See the uproar when Paul was accused of taking Trophimus beyond this wall (Acts 21:28). [source]
Ephesians 2:14 Brake down the middle wall of partition [το μεσοτοιχον του πραγμου λυσας]
“Having loosened (first aorist active participle of λυω — luō see note on John 2:19) the middle-wall (late word, only here in N.T., and very rare anywhere, one in papyri, and one inscription) of partition See the uproar when Paul was accused of taking Trophimus beyond this wall (Acts 21:28). [source]
1 John 2:21 And because no lie is of the truth [και οτι παν πσευδος εκ της αλητειας ουκ εστιν]
Not certain whether οτι — hoti here is causal (because) or declarative (that). Either makes sense. Note the idiomatic use of εκ — ek and πανουκουδεν — pān- ouk = ouden (no) as in 1 John 2:19. [source]
1 John 2:28 If he shall be manifested [εαν πανερωτηι]
Condition of third class with εαν — ean and first aorist passive subjunctive as in 1 John 2:19; Colossians 3:3. A clear reference to the second coming of Christ which may be at any time.That we have boldness (ινα σχωμεν παρρησιαν — hina schōmen parrēsian). Purpose clause with ινα — hina and the ingressive second aorist active subjunctive of εχω — echō “that we may get boldness.”And not be ashamed Likewise negative purpose (after John‘s fashion) with μη — mē and the first aorist passive subjunctive of αισχυνω — aischunō to put to shame.Before him (απ αυτου — ap' autou). “From him,” as if shrinking away from Christ in guilty surprise. See 2 Thessalonians 1:9 for this use of απο — apo (from the face of the Lord). [source]
1 John 3:15 No [πασου]
According to current Hebraistic idiom = μενουσαν — oudeis as in 1 John 2:19, 1 John 2:21.Abiding (μενω — menousan). Present active feminine accusative predicate participle of menō “a continuous power and a communicated gift” (Westcott). [source]
1 John 4:1 Believe not every spirit [μη παντι πνευματι πιστευετε]
“Stop believing,” as some were clearly carried away by the spirits of error rampant among them, both Docetic and Cerinthian Gnostics. Credulity means gullibility and some believers fall easy victims to the latest fads in spiritualistic humbuggery.Prove the spirits (δοκιμαζετε τα πνευματα — dokimazete ta pneumata). Put them to the acid test of truth as the metallurgist does his metals. If it stands the test like a coin, it is acceptable (δοκιμος — dokimos 2 Corinthians 10:18), otherwise it is rejected (αδοκιμος — adokimos 1 Corinthians 9:27; 2 Corinthians 13:5-7).Many false prophets Jesus had warned people against them (Matthew 7:15), even when they as false Christs work portents (Matthew 24:11, Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). It is an old story (Luke 6:26) and recurs again and again (Acts 13:6; Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10) along with false teachers (2 Peter 2:1).Are gone out (εχεληλυτασιν — exelēluthasin). Perfect active indicative of εχερχομαι — exerchomai Cf. aorist in 1 John 2:19. They are abroad always. [source]
1 John 4:1 Many false prophets [πολλοι πσευδοπροπηται]
Jesus had warned people against them (Matthew 7:15), even when they as false Christs work portents (Matthew 24:11, Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22). It is an old story (Luke 6:26) and recurs again and again (Acts 13:6; Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20; Revelation 20:10) along with false teachers (2 Peter 2:1).Are gone out (εχεληλυτασιν — exelēluthasin). Perfect active indicative of εχερχομαι — exerchomai Cf. aorist in 1 John 2:19. They are abroad always. [source]
1 John 4:1 Are gone out [εχεληλυτασιν]
Perfect active indicative of εχερχομαι — exerchomai Cf. aorist in 1 John 2:19. They are abroad always. [source]
2 John 1:7 Are gone forth [εχηλταν]
Second aorist active indicative of εχερχομαι — exerchomai perhaps an allusion to the crisis when they left the churches (1 John 2:19, same form).Even they that confess not (οι μη ομολογουντες — hoi mē homologountes). “The ones not confessing” (μη — mē regular negative with the participle). The articular participle describes the deceivers (πλανοι — planoi).That Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh “Jesus Christ coming in the flesh.” Present middle participle of ερχομαι — erchomai treating the Incarnation as a continuing fact which the Docetic Gnostics flatly denied. In 1 John 4:2 we have εληλυτοτα — elēluthota (perfect active participle) in this same construction with ομολογεω — homologeō because there the reference is to the definite historical fact of the Incarnation. There is no allusion here to the second coming of Christ.This (ουτος — houtos). See 1 John 2:18, 1 John 2:22; 1 John 5:6, 1 John 5:20.The deceiver and the antichrist Article with each word, as in Revelation 1:17, to bring out sharply each separate phrase, though one individual is referred to. The one par excellence in popular expectation (1 John 2:22), though many in reality (1 John 2:18; 3 John 1:7). [source]

What do the individual words in John 2:19 mean?

Answered Jesus and said to them Destroy the temple this in three days I will raise up it
Ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς Λύσατε τὸν ναὸν τοῦτον ἐν τρισὶν ἡμέραις ἐγερῶ αὐτόν

Ἀπεκρίθη  Answered 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Passive, 3rd Person Singular
Root: ἀποκρίνομαι  
Sense: to give an answer to a question proposed, to answer.
Ἰησοῦς  Jesus 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Masculine Singular
Root: Ἰησοῦς  
Sense: Joshua was the famous captain of the Israelites, Moses’ successor.
εἶπεν  said 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Indicative Active, 3rd Person Singular
Root: λέγω  
Sense: to speak, say.
αὐτοῖς  to  them 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Dative Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: αὐτός  
Sense: himself, herself, themselves, itself.
Λύσατε  Destroy 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Imperative Active, 2nd Person Plural
Root: λύω  
Sense: to loose any person (or thing) tied or fastened.
ναὸν  temple 
Parse: Noun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: ναός  
Sense: used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies (in classical Greek it is used of the sanctuary or cell of the temple, where the image of gold was placed which is distinguished from the whole enclosure).
τοῦτον  this 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Accusative Masculine Singular
Root: οὗτος  
Sense: this.
τρισὶν  three 
Parse: Adjective, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: τρεῖς 
Sense: three.
ἡμέραις  days 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: ἡμέρα  
Sense: the day, used of the natural day, or the interval between sunrise and sunset, as distinguished from and contrasted with the night.
ἐγερῶ  I  will  raise  up 
Parse: Verb, Future Indicative Active, 1st Person Singular
Root: ἐγείρω  
Sense: to arouse, cause to rise.