Question: Where was Jesus when He cleansed the temple?

Question: Where was Jesus at when He cleansed the temple?

I was recently asked this questions and I thought I would share my answer.

We will take Matthew 21:12-15 as our key text for study.  We do know that he cleansed the temple twice in his ministry, towards the beginning and the end (here is some quick info on that  

12And 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, 13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them. 15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased”  (Matthew 25:12-15, KJV).
First thing we will notice from prior scripture is that they are in Jerusalem for the passover (this is the passion week).
Jesus went straight from the triumphal entry to the temple.  The for temple here in the Greek is ἱερός (hieros) meaning sacred.  In terms of the temple it means the entire complex of buildings (including its major temple) consecrated for the the worship of a deity (Thomas, R. L. (1998). New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek dictionaries : updated edition. Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc.)
The NIV adds something that several versions don’t, that Jesus walked into the “temple courts.”  We’re not arguing over the addition of courts but it does beg us to understand what courts are meant by here.  The temple had courts?  
For a more extensive study on the Temple look at Edersheim’s  “The Temple, its ministry and services as they were at the time of Jesus Christ” (2003). For a smaller more condensed look we will notice that especially after Herod’s construction on the Temple that it was a huge complex.  Josephus wrote that Herod increased the size of temple complex from “one Stadium to six stadia” (  If you google a map of Jerusalem in Jesus’ day (or look in the back of some Bibles) you will notice that the temple looks to be almost a quarter of the city.  It was a large complex with many sections.  Many of which were not dictated by the scriptures but by extra-biblical Jewish scriptures.  The courts from outer to inner were, Gentiles, Women, Israel, and Priests.  The idea was that the closer one came inside the more holy the place became.
The rules of the temple major reached the entire structure except by the provision that each court made.  In the court of gentiles, any traveler, that was deemed whole, could enter.  In the court of women, only Jewish men, women and children could enter.  In the court of Israel, only Jewish men.  Finally, the court of Priests, the actual prescribed biblical court, was for the priests only.  
So for as much as a precise location named, we won’t find that in scripture.  He just somewhere in the temple.  But there are other pieces to this puzzle that gives us a good understanding.
Two key things help us from our passage.  Some key actions and people help us find this out.  The key action is that in verse twelve sharing that selling was taken place.  The key people are found in verse fourteen where it notes that the blind and lame were in the temple, and verse fifteen shows that children were present in the temple.  
The temple is believed to always had a market for those who may of lacked in their own resources to sacrifice.  We see that “The temple market is supposed to have been established after the captivity, when many came from foreign lands to Jerusalem. Lightfoot says: “There was always a constant market in the temple in that place, which was called ‘the shops’ where, every day, was sold wine, salt, oil, and other requisites to sacrifices; as also oxen and sheep in the spacious Court of the Gentiles” (Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible (p. 451). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.)
By the way, there was selling in the day of Zechariah the minor prophet, as one of the fulfillments of the Messiahs coming was that there would be no more selling, “Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: And all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: And in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts” (Zech 14:21).  The word Canaanite כְּנַעֲנִי (Kenaani) means one who travels for trade or profit, hence it is translated as “trader” in many versions.
Also, some of the people present support this notion that they at in the Court of the Gentiles.  The lame and the blind were not permitted to be any where on the holy grounds, “And David said on that day, Whosoever getteth up to the gutter, and smiteth the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house” (2 Samuel 5:8).  The fact that they were in the temple to be healed still means they could be present anywhere but most likely they were court of Gentiles, in “the shops.” section.
So, perhaps the noise of the animals and people selling reducing the atmosphere of a sacred place to another market street was a reason for cleaning.  Maybe the fact that some record that it be a travel route north to south for people to just pass through the court of gentiles was a reason for cleansing.  Or it may be the lack of access for all people to reach God (division by the courts) was all a part of the reason that Jesus cleansed.  Not just that they were selling.

A Ministry of Giving

    We have heard the phrase, “It is better to give than to receive.”  It is probably better to note that this finds scriptural validation in Acts 20:35 when the apostle Paul spoke“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  An interesting note this is one of those instances where we have something that Jesus said that was not recorded in the Gospels.  Which just adds to the fact that Jesus did and said much more than what was recorded.

    Back to our phrase, it really is a blessing to give to people.  Francis of Assisi said, “For it is in giving that we receive.”  But, why do we keep the blessings from giving to ourselves?  There is nothing wrong with giving to those who are not able to give back but why do we rob them of a blessing of not being able to give.  I’m not suggesting the idea of being paid back but in paying it forward.  Also, for those that only think that giving is money to the poor, there are many more ways to give.  Perhaps, in our own personal giving, in our community circles, and church ministries, a deeper understanding of giving is required.
   The reality is that we all have something to give.  This was Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12 (specifically in verse 7).  No one has every gift, talent, or skill known to man, but we each possess something.  There is something each of us can bring to the table.  Every person can contribute to a community and many times those who are down on their luck or have fallen so far that it feels impossible to get up really just need somebody to come up beside them to help them value and find their gift and put it to use.
For example…
    Pastor Damien is from a place in Cincinnati, OH called “Over the Rhine.”  Over the Rhine was highest serviced area in the state of Ohio.  Pastor Damien took this gift based ministry mentality and through his church led his community to change.  The moment that he took this focus in his ministry was when he came across a drunk man by the name of Charles that he tried to invite to church.  Charles told him, “I’m a drunk and I won’t go to church.”  Pastor Damien constantly tried to invite him.  A few months later during a board meeting, in a side conversation about who the pastor had been visiting, he brought up Charles name.  One of the deacons said, “Charles used to be one of the best tuck points around until he fell to alcohol and lost everything.”  This caught Pastor Damien’s attention.  The next day he found Charles and asked him if he could repair the churches bricks and mortar (this is what a tuck point does).  
     Charles was amazed at this and after some talking on payment he agreed.  A few days later on after the church exterior walls had been repaired people were talking about how much nicer the church looked.  The next Sunday morning Pastor Damien introduced the congregation to Charles, the one who repaired the walls and Charles couldn’t have looked more proud.  Pastor Damien would say, “I couldn’t get Charles the drunk to come to church but I got Charles the tuck point to.”  Damien gave Charles value and in turn Charles gave his talents.  
       It truly is better to give than it is to receive and the best way for us to give is to help others to give.  The old saying is, give a man a fish and he will eat for day, but, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a life time.  Here are three easy steps to head this direction…


    Everybody has some type of gift, talent, or skill.  A lot of people have shared with me that they have no gifts and can not do anything.  That is simply not true.  What is true is that many have not acknowledged what God has already given.  No matter how big or how small.  Take a look at the man with one talent from Matthew 25:14-29.  He did not use what had been given to him because he felt it was to small.  So, it was taken from him and given to another.  If we don’t acknowledge what we have and use it then we won’t see any growth or change.


    For those who have not polished their skills can work to acquire new skills and refinement.  For example, this is a place where the church excel with music.  New musicians could come and find a place to play.  Experienced musicians and singers can take new prodigies under their wing and bring guidance.  In the same light, there may young welders in the church that need tips for jobs, help with purchasing equipment, or learning a new technique.  The question is how you can help people grow their gifts.  One thing we did at our church for the youth was a life skill class before we took them to a Casting Crowns concert.  Instead of just feeding them spaghetti we taught how to make them.  People around you have gifts.  What are you doing to help them discover them and mature them.


   Once people have discovered their gifts and have developed them they need a place to use them. If your church has a newly discovered group of skilled laborers could there be a ministry to helping the elderly and hurting fix issues in their houses?  What about a group of teens that want to do something.  Could they go to the local nursing home and play games with the seniors?  Counselors?  Could they start a addiction and recovery ministry?  They people in your church can do something and should be doing something.
    It is more blessed to give then to receive.  So give gifts that help others keep on giving.