1. Question

In Mark, was Jesus expecting Jews and Non-Jews in the Temple?

What are the Biblical bases for this? Does the Hebrew text clarify this?

2. The Text :

NASB, Mark 11:17 - And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’”

3. Issue :

Granted - he was obviously not expecting "Thieves".

Does "House of 'all nations' mean, a "house of Jews from all nations"?

Or - does it mean a house of prayer - for all "people", regardless?

2 Answers 2


Good question. So of course Christ here is quoting 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 a house of prayer for all people.

It's sort of a double meaning. Firstly He's saying all nations should look upon Israel and identify Israel as a house of prayer unto The Lord. Secondly, there is a subtle Messianic prophecy, in that, at some point all, gentiles and Jews will look upon The God of Israel and pray to Him and He will accept them.

  • 1
    N.ish - +1, Thanks! A.) Is "Nations", in Hebrew, a reference to actual nations - (potentially a reference to Jews scattered in different nations)? B.) Can the text be read "inclusively", perhaps including Christians too? C.) Hoping for a little help from the Hebrew. Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 19:10
  • Absolutely, my pleasure. When saying nations it's almost exclusively everyone except Israel. Not unlike how we'd use it in America. If I were to say all the nations, I'd almost always be using that in a context of places away from or surrounding my domestic soil.
    – N.Ish
    Commented Mar 15, 2017 at 19:10
  • Could be elaborated in another answer, but in addition to the Isaiah quotation, there is also the background of Solomon's prayer of dedication in 1 Kings 8 where the purpose of the temple as a focal place for prayer is developed at length (v29 is representative). Also, verses 41-43 will be of particular interest to the "nations" question.
    – Soldarnal
    Commented Mar 16, 2017 at 17:34
  • An additional complementary explanation that I have heard - but I cannot find the original source - is that the place in the Temple where the moneychangers set up their business was the area that was originally reserved for Gentile proselytes. By taking over their area, the moneychangers literally prevented people from all nations from coming to worship.
    – user33515
    Commented Mar 17, 2017 at 19:01

As N.Ish's answer says, it means a house of prayer for all peoples, whether Jew or Gentile. Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 56, in which God addresses the foreigners who have joined themselves to Him:

Thus says the Lord:

1 “Keep justice, and do righteousness,
For My salvation is about to come,
And My righteousness to be revealed.
2 Blessed is the man who does this,
And the son of man who lays hold on it;
Who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And keeps his hand from doing any evil.”

3 Do not let the son of the foreigner
Who has joined himself to the Lord
Speak, saying,
“The Lord has utterly separated me from His people
Nor let the eunuch say,
“Here I am, a dry tree.”
4 For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
5 Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
That shall not be cut off.

6Also the sons of the foreigner
Who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him
And to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants—
Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath,
And holds fast My covenant—
7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain,
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
Will be accepted on My altar;
For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations
8 The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says,
“Yet I will gather to him
Others besides those who are gathered to him.”

-Isaiah 56:1-8 (NKJV)

God accepts the sacrifices of foreigners on His altar, and His house is a house of prayer for all nations and peoples, Jew and Gentile.


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