Critics claim that the temple cleansing in the Gospel of John is either the same temple cleansing reported by the three Synoptics and/or is out of place and out of harmony with them, therefore constituting a contradiction in the Gospels. Below are listed a number of reasons why the temple cleansing in John is accurate and was performed by Jesus around the time of the first Passover after his baptism, which was probably about six months earlier. John clearly states in 20:31 and 21:25 that he was highly selective in his reporting on the events of Jesus’ life. The other three Gospel writers has already reported on the second temple cleansing. It seems fairly obvious that John was very familiar with these other three Gospels and quite possibly had copies of them in his possession as he wrote his fourth Gospel.
Jn 2:1 – “on the third day.”
Jn 2:11 – “was the first of his signs”
John’s Gospel states this first temple cleansing was the first of the seven signs or miracles reported by John that Jesus performed prior to his death.
Jn 2:12 – “After this”
Jn 2:13 – “When it was almost time for the Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem.”
Jn 4:54 – “This was the second sign Jesus performed after coming from Judea to Galilee.”
This miracle or sign is stated by John to be number two of the seven signs or miracles he reports. This fact is conclusive in itself that John’s temple cleansing took place about three years prior to the second temple cleansing reported by the Synoptics. By the time of Jesus’ second temple cleansing, he had performed numerous miracles as reported in the four Gospels.
Unique to John’s cleansing:
· John 2:14 – “people selling cattle and sheep”
· John 2:15 – “whip out of cords”
· John 2:15 – “he scattered the coins of the money changers”
· John 2:16 – “To those who sold the doves he said, ‘Get these out of here.'”
· John 2:17 – “His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.'”
This temple cleansing occurred at the first Passover of Jesus’ ministry, and the synoptic Gospels’ cleansing took place at Jesus’ last Passover.
Those who find “contradictions” in the Bible have not checked closely to get all the details. When one does analyze all the details, these so-called contradictions vanish. Honest, factual witnesses never have 100% identical stories. They are always on the same page when reporting the main facts or events, but their details are divergent, depending on their various perspectives.