"Revelation Lad" offers some very good comments in answer to this question: When does the cleansing of the Temple happen? At the beginning of Jesus's ministry or later?

Was there one cleansing or two? I have seen excellent arguments on both sides and do not expect to resolve the matter in this forum. To summarize: Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19 and Luke 19:45-48 record a temple cleansing by Jesus in the last week of His earthly ministry; while John 2:12-25 records a cleansing near the beginning of Jesus' ministry.

My question is this: What other evidence is there to help resolve this question, perhaps using other historical sources, or other internal evidence.

[For example, I have heard it said (without evidence) that the temple market was originally located on the Mount of Olives but the High Priest moved it into the temple court so as to get better control and a slice of the revenue; in about 28 or 29 AD. I cannot confirm this. What other data is available?]

  • This is not as clear-cut from the passages as the second catch of fish in John 21, where John's response indicates not the first time. It is not unusual for John to bring up events left out of the synoptics. We could also question if this cleansing happened more than twice.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 9:40
  • @PerryWebb - I am very happy for your contribution. Do you think there might have been more than two cleansings?
    – Dottard
    Commented Jul 24, 2020 at 10:09
  • 1
    That John's description of the event in his gospel is so similar to the Synoptics makes it seem like the same event. John has extra discourse, which is typical if John repeated something in the synoptics. John put the event different in his timeline, but some say he didn't follow a chronological timeline. If this event is the same in the Synoptics, John already wrote over half his gospel about passion week not counting this passage. If Jesus did this more than twice, you would think what happened wouldn't be exactly the same.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 0:19

2 Answers 2


One Temple cleansing or Two?

There were two Temple cleansing, the first one at the beginning of his ministry 30 C.E. and the second towards the last months of his ministry 33C.E.

First Cleansing:

John 2:10-17 (NET Bible)

10 And said to him, “Everyone[a] serves the good wine first, and then the cheaper[b] wine when the guests[c] are drunk. You have kept the good wine until now!” 11 Jesus did this as the first of his miraculous signs, in Cana of Galilee. In this way he revealed[e] his glory, and his disciples believed in him.

This is the First Cleansing of the Temple 30 C.E. which he did shortly after his wine miracle in Cana of Galilee.

12 After this, he went down to Capernaum[g] with his mother and brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there a few days. 13 Now the Jewish feast of Passover was near, so Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables.[l]

15 So he made a whip of cords[m] and drove them all out of the temple courts,[n] with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers[o] and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold the doves, he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make[p] my Father’s house a marketplace!”[q] 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal[r] for your house will devour me.”


Part of the Footnotes on Verse 2:13 John NET Bible.

John 2:13 tn Grk “the Passover of the Jews.” This is first of at least three (and possibly four) Passovers mentioned in John’s Gospel. If it is assumed that the Passovers appear in the Gospel in their chronological order (and following a date of a.d. 33 for the crucifixion), this would be the Passover of the spring of a.d. 30, the first of Jesus’ public ministry. There is a clear reference to another Passover in 6:4, and another still in 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; 18:28, 39, and 19:14. The latter would be the Passover of a.d. 33.

The Second Cleansing.

On Nisan 10, 33 C.E., Jesus cleansed the temple a second time. This occasion is described in the Gospels of Matthew 21:12, 13 , Mark 11:15-19, and Luke 19:45-48


Have you ever lived in a country where street hawkers are common? If the police comes to drive them away, they will return as soon as the police are gone.

John will often tell us events that are not covered by the other 3 gospels. He would expect his readers to know the other gospels.

In Jewish thought and customs, two or three witnesses are needed. The cleansing was a preaching against and rebuke of the temple authorities as well as a testimony to the sanctity of the Temple.

John also tells us about the anointing by Mary of his feet while other gospels tell us about the anointing of his head on a different day in a different house. Just another example of two events that look similar without being identical.

I consider it most likely that Jesus began his ministry in 28 AD and was crucified in the third year, that is, AD 30. But that is not what the question was asking about.

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