By what authority?
Matthew 21:12-17, 23-25
Then Yeshua entered the Temple and drove out all those selling and buying in the Temple. He overturned the tables of the moneychangers and the seats of those selling doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of thieves’!” The blind and lame came to Him in the Temple, and He healed them. But when the ruling kohanim and Torah scholars saw the wonders He performed, and the children crying out in the Temple and saying, “Hoshia-na to Ben-David,” they became indignant. And they said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” “Yes,” Yeshua said to them. “Haven’t you ever read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing toddlers You have prepared praise for Yourself’?” Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany, and He spent the night there.
(Matthew 21:12-17 TLV)
Now when He entered the Temple, the ruling kohanim and the elders of the people came to Him while He was teaching, saying, “By what authority are You doing these things? Who gave You this authority?” Yeshua replied to them, “I also will ask you one question. If you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things. John’s immersion, where was it from? From heaven or from men?” They began to dialogue among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’
(Matthew 21:23-25 TLV)
- The Third (Second) Temple- the temple built by Herod the Great
- The outer court of the temple where Jesus taught, where sacrificial animals were sold, and where the “cleansing of the temple” incident took place. The Court of the Gentiles was one of several courts attached to Herod’s temple.
- The first-century historian Josephus mentions four courts:
- 1. The outer court was open to all people, foreigners included, only menstruating women were refused admission. (Matt 9)
- 2. The second court was open to all Jews and, when uncontaminated by any defilement, their wives.
- 3. The third court was limited to male Jews who were clean and purified.
- 4. The fourth court was limited to priests robed in their priestly vestments.
Where does Jesus do his ministry? Where do his miracles take place in the temple? (Vs 14)
The Court of the Gentiles did not exist in the first two Jerusalem Temples, only the third. This actually referenced in the portion of Scripture that I used last week:
Then a measuring rod like a staff was given to me, saying, “Get up and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count those worshiping in it. But do not measure the court outside the Temple—leave it out, because it has been given to the nations, and they shall trample the holy city for forty-two months.
(Revelation 11:1-2 TLV)
So, what about us gentiles then, where is our place to worship?
Therefore, keep in mind that once you—Gentiles in the flesh—were called “uncircumcision” by those called “circumcision” (which is performed on flesh by hand). At that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation. Within His flesh He made powerless the hostility— the law code of mitzvot contained in regulations. He did this in order to create within Himself one new man from the two groups, making shalom, and to reconcile both to God in one body through the cross—by which He put the hostility to death. And He came and proclaimed shalom to you who were far away and shalom to those who were near— for through Him we both have access to the Father by the same Ruach. So then you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but you are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household. You have been built on the foundation made up of the emissaries and prophets, with Messiah Yeshua Himself being the cornerstone.
(Ephesians 2:11-20 TLV)
The Priests of the Temple took advantage of the temple built by Herod. They used the new Court of the Gentiles location as a sorting station for those worthy to enter into the actual Temple. They made money converting into a business, but why?
Then Adonai spoke to Moses saying, “When you tally the sum of Bnei-Yisrael by numbering them, then every man must pay a ransom for his soul to Adonai when you count them, so that no plague will fall on them. Everyone among them who crosses over must give half a shekel according to the Sanctuary shekel (which is 20 gerahs): half a shekel as an offering to Adonai. Everyone who crosses over among them who is counted, from 20 years old and upward, is to give the offering to Adonai. The rich are not to give more and the poor are not to give less than the half shekel, when they present the offering of Adonai to make atonement for your souls. You are to take the atonement money from Bnei-Yisrael and give it for the service of the Tent of Meeting, so that it may be a memorial for Bnei-Yisrael before Adonai, to make atonement for your souls.”
(Exodus 30:11-17 TLV)
The money changers and all the fencing for the animals to be sacrificed dominated the Court of the Gentiles. It was all about the Temple and not about the people!
Jesus had already warned them before:
The Jewish feast of Passover was near, so Yeshua went up to Jerusalem. In the Temple, He found the merchants selling oxen, sheep, and doves; also the moneychangers sitting there. Then He made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the Temple, both the sheep and oxen. He dumped out the coins of the moneychangers and overturned their tables. To those selling doves, He said, “Get these things out of here! Stop making My Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it is written, “Zeal for your House will consume Me!” The Judean leaders responded, “What sign do You show us, since You are doing these things?” “Destroy this Temple,” Yeshua answered them, “and in three days I will raise it up.” The Judean leaders then said to Him, “Forty-six years this Temple was being built, and You will raise it up in three days?” But He was talking about the temple of His body. So after He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He was talking about this. Then they believed the Scripture and the word that Yeshua had spoken.
(John 2:13-22 TLV)
Instead of you going to the Temple to meet God, God makes a temple in you:
- Or don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Ruach ha-Kodesh who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 TLV)
- Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that the Ruach Elohim dwells among you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
(1 Corinthians 3:16-17 TLV)
When it comes to the ministry of Jesus, what was his primary concern? The place of worship or the people in the community around the temple (the Court of the Gentiles AND the Jews that were deemed unclean)? The people are his focus and it has not changed since our initial creation by and through him either!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.
(John 3:16-17 TLV)
 Nylund, Jan. (2016). Court of the Gentiles.