Why did Jesus cast out the money changers, buyers and sellers?

The story of Jesus casting out the money changers and those that bought and sold from the temple is a very famous biblical story. However, what many people do not realise is that Jesus actually did this twice. He did it once at the beginning of his ministry which is recorded in the gospel of John chapter 2 

John 2- 13And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: 15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; 16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. 

But Jesus also did it again near the end just before he was eventually crucified. 

This is recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. 

Matthew 21: 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, 13And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.

Mark 11: 15And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; 16And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. 17And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. 18And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.

Luke 19: 45And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; 46Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.

This is sometimes mistakenly used as a contradiction between the Gospel of John and the other 3 gospels but once we realise that they depict two distinct and separate occasions of a similar event then the contradiction disappears. 

Some people even claim that the money changers, buyers and sellers were doing what was LAWFUL for them to do and that Jesus was actually incorrect in clearing the temple. 

They will go to Deuteronomy 14 to prove this.  

Deuteronomy 14: 24And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: 25Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: 26And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, 

However, of course, Jesus was fully justified in what he did. If we go to Deuteronomy 14 and go back just 22 verses to verse 22 what we will see is that this was to do with the TITHE.

Deuteronomy 14 22Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 23And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always

BOTH of the occurrences of Jesus cleansing the temple happened just before the passover. 

In the first instance John tells us that the passover was at hand. 

John 2: 13And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, 14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

On the second occurence 

6 days before Passover Jesus went to Bethany where he rose Lazarus from the dead. 

John 12: 1Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.

The NEXT day Jesus entered into Jerusalem (the triumphal entry) 

John 12: 12On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 

This is depicted in MAtthew 21, Mark 11 and Luke 19. These are the same chapters as Jesus cleansing the Temple. 

There is NO command for the money changers, buyers or sellers to be operating at the time of the Passover and there certainly is no command for them to be doing so inside the Temple. 

They were not in fact doing what was lawful for them to do and so Jesus was in fact correct to clear them from doing so in the temple. 



Notice that Jesus drove out those that were selling oxen, sheep and doves. 

John 2: 14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

ALL of these animals were used in sacrifices and burnt offerings. 

Exodus 20:24 An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.

Leviticus 1:14 And if the burnt sacrifice for his offering to the Lord be of fowls, then he shall bring his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.

Leviticus 5: 7 And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the Lord; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering.

Leviticus 14:22 And two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, such as he is able to get; and the one shall be a sin offering, and the other a burnt offering.

Those selling the animals were actually doing so for people to buy in order to offer sacrifices for their sins and for burnt offerings



And this leads us into the Spiritual meaning behind the actions of Jesus. 


The spiritual meaning is often completely overlooked or totally missed although there is a spiritual meaning behind everything Jesus did and said. 

Jesus in his rebuking makes 2 very important statements that when understood give a lot of information. 

Mark 11: 17And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.

The first of these statements  “Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer?” this is written in Isaiah 56:7 

Isaiah 56: 7 Even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.

In this verse it very clearly states that THEIR burnt offerings and sacrifices shall be accepted. This is referring to the ALL people.  

If we go and look at the context of the verse we will see that the stranger will not be cut off and they will join themselves to the LORD

Isaiah 56 3Neither let the son of the stranger, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying, The LORD hath utterly separated me from his people: neither let the eunuch say, Behold, I am a dry tree.

Isaiah 56: 5Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

6Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; 

If we look at verse one we see that we even given a time frame for when this is referring to.

Isaiah 56:1 Thus saith the LORD, Keep ye judgment, and do justice: for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed.

Jesus is that coming of the salvation of God.  He is God’s righteousness revealed and he was bringing this to attention. 

Jesus was highlighting that the time of God’s salvation had now come. 

The sacrifices and offerings of the stranger will be accepted. Jesus is that sacrifice and offering. It is through Jesus that ALL nations have been able to come to God and by which all nations will be accepted. 

1 John 2:2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world



The second statement “but ye have made it a den of thieves.” is found in Jeremiah chapter 7 


Jeremiah 7:11 Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.

God’s house, the temple, had become a den of robbers. 

So again we have to go back to that passage to get a full understanding of what Jesus was referring to.

In the chapter we will see that God is calling the Jews to change their ways, turn back to him and he would allow them to dwell in their land. 

Jeremiah 7: 1The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, 2Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. 3Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. 4Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. 5For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; 6If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: 7Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever.

God refers to the abominations that they were committing. 

Jeremiah 7: 8Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. 9Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; 10And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations?

And he tells the that he will cast them from his sight as he had already done to Ephrain (the Northern Kingdom) 

Jeremiah 7: 12But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. 13And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; 14Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust, and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. 15And I will cast you out of my sight, as I have cast out all your brethren, even the whole seed of Ephraim.

We know that God did in fact cast the Jews from his sight because of their wickedness. The temple was destroyed and the Jews were dispersed from the land. 

So as we can see this was to do with sin and as we have already seen the Jews were in the temple selling the animals for sin sacrifices.

But we see in Jeremiah chapter 7 that God states that he did not command burnt offerings or sacrifices of the Israelites when he brought them out of Egypt. 

Jeremiah 7: 21Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Put your burnt offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat flesh. 22For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices:

The sin offerings were later added by God because of their transgressions and their sins. 

God does not delight, no pleasure in sacrifices and neither did he require them.

Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.



Hebrews 10:8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 

The Jews were offering sin sacrifices instead of actually changing their ways and again Jesus is highlighting that God did not want the sacrifice. 



So not only did Jesus clear the temple of those who were selling unlawfully animals for sacrifices that God did not want, his clearing of those selling the animals for sacrifice spiritually shows the removal of those sacrifices. No longer would there be any more need for those selling the animals for sacrifices and there would be no more sacrifices made in the temple, through the destruction of the temple it is impossible to make sin sacrifice as per the law. Jesus is now the sacrifice taking away sacrifices under the law both physically and spiritually. 


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