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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Epistle to Gregory and Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John.: Chapter XV

Early Church Fathers  Index     

15.  Discrepancy of the Gospel Narratives Connected with the Cleansing of the Temple.

“And Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 5049   And He found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves and the changers of money sitting; and He made a scourge of cords, and cast out of the temple the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the small coin of the changers, and overturned their tables, and to those who sold the doves He said, Take these things hence; make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise.  Then His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thy house shall eat me up.”  It is to be noted that John makes this transaction of Jesus with those He found selling oxen and sheep and doves in the temple His second work; while the other Evangelists narrate a similar incident almost at the end and in connection with the story of the passion.  Matthew has it thus: 5050   “At Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem the whole city was stirred, saying, Who is this?  And the multitudes said, This is Jesus the prophet, from Nazareth of Galilee.  And Jesus went into the temple p. 392 and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of them that sold doves.  And He says to them, It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you make it a den of robbers.”  Mark has the following:  “And they came to Jerusalem.  And having entered into the temple He began to cast out those that sold and bought in the temple, and the tables of the money-changers He overthrew and the seats of them that sold doves.  And He suffered not that any should carry a vessel through the temple; and He taught and said unto them, Is it not written that My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations?  But you have made it a den of robbers.”  And Luke: 5051   “And when he came near, He beheld the city and wept over it, saying that, if thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things that belong to peace; but now they are hid from thine eyes.  For the days shall come upon thee, when they shall surround thee and shut thee in on every side, and shall dash thee to the ground and thy children, and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another, because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.  And He entered into the temple and began to cast out those that sold, saying to them, It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of robbers.”  It is further to be observed that what is recorded by the three as having taken place in connection with the Lord’s going up to Jerusalem, when He did these things in the temple, is narrated in a very similar manner by John as taking place long after this, after another visit to Jerusalem different from this one.  We must consider the statements, and in the first place that of Matthew, where we read: 5052   “When He drew nigh to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage over against the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying unto them, Go ye into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied and a colt with her; loose them and bring them to Me.  And if any man say unto you, What are you doing? you shall say, The Lord hath need of them, and straightway he will send them.  But this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy king cometh, meek and seated upon an ass and upon the colt of an ass.  And the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them; they brought the ass and the foal, and they placed on them their garments, and He sat thereon.  And the most part of the multitude spread their garments on the road, but the multitudes that went before Him, and they that followed, cried, Hosanna to the Son of David, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.  Hosanna in the highest.”  After this comes, “And when He had entered into Jerusalem the whole city was stirred,” which we cited above.  Then we have Mark’s account: 5053   “And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, to the Mount of Olives, He sends two of His disciples and says to them, Go ye into the village over against you.  And straightway as ye enter into it ye shall find a colt tied, on which no man hath ever sat, loose it and bring it.  And if any one say to you, Why do ye this? say, Because the Lord hath need of him, and straightway he will send him back hither.  And they went and found the colt tied at the door outside on the road, and they loose him.  And some of them that stood there said to them, What do ye, loosing the colt?  And they said to them as Jesus told them, and they let them go.  And they brought the colt to Jesus, and cast on it their garments.  But others cut down branches from the field and spread them in the way.  And they that went before and they that followed cried, Hosanna, blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord; blessed be the kingdom that cometh, of our father David!  Hosanna in the highest!  And He went into Jerusalem to the temple, and looked round about on all things, and as it was already evening, He went out to Bethany with the twelve.  And on the morrow when they were come forth from Bethany He was hungry.”  Then, after the affair of the withered fig tree, “They came to Jerusalem.  And He went into the temple and began to cast out them that sold.”  Luke narrates as follows: 5054    “And it came to pass, when He drew near to Bethphage and Bethany at the mount that is called the Mount of Olives, He sent two of his disciples, saying, Go ye into the village over against you, in which when ye enter, ye shall find a colt tied, on which no man ever hath sate; loose him and bring him.  And if any man asks you, Why do ye loose him? Ye shall say thus, The Lord hath need of him.  And the disciples went and found as He said to them.  And when they were loosing the colt its owners said to them, Why loose ye the colt? p. 393 and they said, Because the Lord hath need of him.  And they brought him to Jesus, and they threw their garments on the colt, and set Jesus thereon.  And as He went, they strewed their garments in the way.  And when He was drawing near, being now at the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works which they had seen, saying, Blessed is the King in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven and glory in the highest.  And some of the Pharisees from the multitude said unto Him, Master, rebuke Thy disciples.  And He answered and said, I say unto you, If these shall hold their peace, the stones will cry out.  And when He drew near He beheld the city and wept over it,” and so on, as we cited above.  John, on the contrary, after giving an account nearly identical with this, as far as, “And Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep,” gives a second account of an ascent of the Lord to Jerusalem, and then goes on to tell of the supper in Bethany six days before the passover, at which Martha served and Lazarus was at table.  “On the morrow, 5055 a great multitude that had come to the feast, having heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went forth to meet Him; and they cried, Hosanna, blessed be the King of Israel in the name of the Lord.  And Jesus, having found a young ass, sat thereon, as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold thy King cometh, sitting on the foal of an ass.”  I have written out long sections from the Gospels, but I have thought it necessary to do so, in order to exhibit the discrepancy at this part of our Gospel.  Three of the Gospels place these incidents, which we supposed to be the same as those narrated by John, in connection with one visit of the Lord to Jerusalem.  While John, on the other hand, places them in connection with two visits which are widely separated from each other and between which were various journeys of the Lord to other places.  I conceive it to be impossible for those who admit nothing more than the history in their interpretation to show that these discrepant statements are in harmony with each other.  If any one considers that we have not given a sound exposition, let him write a reasoned rejoinder to this declaration of ours.



John ii. 13-17.


Matt. xxi. 10-13.


Luke 19:41, 42.


Matt. xxi. 1.


Mark xi. 1-12.


Luke xix. 29.


John xii. 12-15.

Next: Chapter XVI

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