This John 2:12-25 Bible study contains outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications.  Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.

John 2:12-25 Bible Study Commentary And

Inductive Questions


I. His journey (2:12-13)
II. His righteous anger (14-17)
III. His prophecy (18-22)
IV. His ministry (23-25)

Discussion Questions

  • Explain a brief history of the Passover.
  • Was this the first time recorded Jesus went to Jerusalem?
  • What happened the first time He went there?
  • Explain a brief history of the temple.
  • What was taking place at the temple?
  • Why did this make Jesus’ angry?
  • Can you think of any comparisons in today’s world?
  • What does this tell us about God’s feelings for the holiness of temple/church?
  • What does this tell us about the purpose for going to church?
  • Was it sin for Jesus to be angry?
  • Why or why not?
  • How can you explain his actions?
  • Should we get angry?
  • When is it acceptable to get angry?
  • What kinds of things should make us angry?
  • What should we do with our anger?
  • What can we learn from verse 17?
  • What basic misunderstanding repeated throughout Jesus’ ministry can we see in verses 18-22?
  • Explain verses 24 and 25.
  • What was in man that Jesus knew about?


Exodus 11-12 – The Passover instituted.

Luke 2:39-52 – Jesus’ first recorded trip to Jerusalem for the Passover.

Jonah 4 – Jonah was angry for a bad reason.

Isaiah 57:16-17 – God was angry because of someone’s iniquity.

Ephesians 4:26 – Be angry yet do not sin.

Psalms 69:9 – Zeal for His house consumed Him.

Matthew 21:12-13 – Matthew’s account of the purification of the temple by Jesus (but it was on separate trips, meaning the Jews went right back to their sinful ways!).

John 4:24 – Must worship in spirit and truth.

1 Timothy 6:5-6 – Many suppose godliness is a means of gain.

Psalms 24:3-4 – The one with clean hands a pure heart shall receive a blessing from God.

Verse by Verse Commentary

Verses 12-13

Jesus often traveled around, rarely staying in one place very long. This is His second recorded trip to Jerusalem for the Passover. The first took place when He was just a boy. That time Jesus stayed behind when His parents left and spent days talking and debating with the teachers at the temple. At that time He also called it His father’s house. Jesus didn’t just become God or indwelt by God when He began His public ministry. He was always God. His public ministry is just when He chose to reveal Himself to the world as the Messiah. Tell a little about the history of the Passover.

This was the first Passover after Christ’s baptism. The second is mentioned, Luke 6:1. The third, John 6:4. And the fourth, which was that at which he was crucified, John 11:55. From which it appears,

1. That our blessed Lord continued his public ministry about three years and a half, according to the prophecy of Daniel, Dan 9:27. And,

2. That, having been baptized about the beginning of his thirtieth year, he was crucified precisely in the middle of his thirty-third. See Martin.

Verses 14-16

When Jesus saw the temple He found that it was turned into a place of business. People were selling the animals for sacrifice. They had money exchange. Quite simply the temple had become a center of business and profit. The people who were doing this had selfish motivations. They obviously didn’t really care about worshiping God or offering sacrifices to God. They were using God as excuse to make money. They were doing the exact opposite of what Jesus wanted them to do when He told them to render to God the things that are God and to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. They were bringing God down to a low and base level. They should have been going there out of service, worship, and altruistic motives. Instead they were going out of greed, selfishness, and evil desire. James 1:27 says that true religion is visiting orphans and widows in their distress and being unstained by the world. Again, they were doing the exact opposite.

IT IS POSSIBLE TO GO TO CHURCH OR FELLOWSHIP EVERY WEEK WITHOUT TRULY WORSHIPPING GOD! Many people have the exact same problem today. Evangelists, pastors, and missionaries get on TV, radio, or in front of the church and beg for money. They offer products like prayer cloths, holy water, and even prayer of blessings over any product you send them (many years ago the Catholics also sold papers saying that the person who bought it would have their sins forgiven!). Scandal after scandal has broken out where these have been proved to be fake. Duh! The bad reputation of these evangelist money-grabbers has tarnished the reputation of much of the church. However, this thought process has tinkled down to mass numbers of church-goers. Most of these probably wouldn’t admit to going to church for personal gain, but many do nonetheless. You can see it when people ask what they will get because they follow God. Will they be able to pass their coming exam or having a better job? One guy last week repeatedly asked me what physical benefits we could get from following God. To Him, the spiritual side didn’t count for much if anything at all. So what kinds of reasons to people go to “worship” on Sundays?

Social life – People go to church because that is where their friends are. Hey, churches have lots of nice people that go to them and it is easy to make friends there. There are lots of activities around the week to enjoy during one’s free time. This includes trips to amusement parks, bowling, pizza parties, seafood meals, sports games, park parties, etc. Our church even went on a mission trip to Alaska! This is not to say that any of these things are wrong. One can fellowship in these kinds of settings and make an impact on others for Christ. However, it is all too easy to begin going for the fun, food, or friends. Church is not meant to be a club to meet your friends! Are you going to church to worship God and grow or to be with your friends?

Safe feeling – Many others go to church for the feeling of safety that it provides. It makes them feel they are doing well spiritually. Basically they get their assurance of salvation from going to church rather than from faith in God. In this category can be included people who to church so that they won’t feel guilty. Are you going to church because it makes you feel close to God?

Warm feeling – I’ve invited lots of people to church with me for the first time. After they go to church I often ask them what they thought and what they like about it. The most common answer is that they like it because it makes them feel warm. Even many non-Christians have given this answer! They feel comfortable and peaceful when they go to church. Many continue in this state going to church for years without ever really knowing the gospel and it what it means to truly worship God. Are you going to church because it makes you feel peaceful?

Pressure – Another category go to church because their parents or friends put pressure on them to go. They are the ones who go because they “have to.” Are you going to church because you have to?

Pharisaic – Another very common reason for going to church is that it has become an ingrained ritual. We go because “we have always gone” or it’s “what we do on Sundays”. In a way this is good to set a habit. We should not choose not to go to church because we don’t feel like it on a given Sunday. However, we need to be careful not to fall into the trap of letting church become and impersonal ritual. Are you going to church because that is what you do on Sundays?

Psalms 24:3-4 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.

So what is the solution for us to avoid these church-traps? There is no magic trick. We need to have the right attitude and motivation. If you have been going for the wrong reasons confess and ask God to give you right motivation. When you go to church focus on worshiping. Focus on listening to the sermon and growing spiritually. You can try some new things to make church more fresh and personal. Pray on your own during the prayer times. Think deeply about the words of the songs. Make notes and applications about the sermon. Pray beforehand and afterward that God will teach you in that days service. Discuss what you learned with others. Choose one or two points and practice them during the week. Most importantly, remember to go to church for the right reason and don’t think about what you can get out of it. Confess all selfish motivation. Go to worship, learn, grow, and encourage others. Think about what you can give to God and people, not what you can get.

John 4:24 – God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”

1 Timothy 6:5-6 – And constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. But godliness with contentment is great gain,

Also, if the church you go to is not a place where you can truly worship and grow you should think about finding another church.

Another angle to think about this issue from is what if Jesus came to your church and see you there. Would He be happy with your reasons for going and your activities there? What practices and things might He cleanse from your church?

Verses 15-16

Jesus saw the greedy and selfish business practices going on at what was supposed to be a center of worship (the world religion during the tribulation will also be tied closely with economy). He made a whip and then drove them out of the temple with it! He overturned the tables where people were exchanging money! Wasn’t Jesus gentle? Wasn’t He like a quiet sheep? What was it that set Him off? Quite simply, He was angry.

It is common for us to think that anger is not sin. But this is not so. There are two kinds of anger. The second kind, the sinful kind, is very common to us so we naturally assume that all anger must be bad. This kind of anger stems from selfishness. Someone does something to us that we deem is unfair so we get angry. Someone gossips about us behind our back and we get angry. Somebody steals money, cheats us, lies to us, takes our seat on the subway, cuts in line, fouls us in sports, etc. and we get angry. In all of these cases this is probably a sinful response. We are upset because someone did something to us. They violated our rights! This kind of anger is sin and we should avoid it.

However, the first kind is a righteous or holy anger. This kind of anger is aroused because of injustice and sin. This is the kind of anger Jesus had. He was angry because people were sinning and violating the temple. See also Isaiah 57:16-17. Ephesians 4:26. In Greek this is actually a command to be angry! We are supposed to get angry when we see sin in the world. If we don’t ever have this kind of anger we have some problems. Probably we are too much like the world. Either we are agree with their sinful practices or are apathetic and indifferent. Do you ever experience righteous anger? Describe.

For example, I am very upset and even angry whenever I think about abortion going on I the world. It is regularly accepted, encouraged, and supported. Presidential candidates in the US are talking about offering financial support for abortions. Those who support are furious if you even mention it is sin. It is a holocaust against the unprotected and there is perhaps nothing in this world that makes me more angry than abortion. Explain more. There are two ways to deal with this anger. One is to retaliate and take revenge. Some have gone this route and bombed abortion clinics in the States. But that is obviously sinful and doing the exact same sin that the abortion doctors are performing. The other route is to protest peacefully and do everything in our power to influence people not to do it. Every year the pro-life chain protests abortion. The organizers remind protestors to do so peacefully without argument.

If you haven’t experienced this kind of righteous anger you should take a deep look at your principles and see if they are biblically based. Study God’s Word and make deep and firm convictions from it. We don’t need to seek out opportunities to show this kind of anger to prove our spirituality. And we should be careful not to be prideful, thinking we are better, or hateful. Yet we should be involved in the world and in people’s lives and not just sit by and watch as others sin without any check. Also, it is much easier to have this anger against other people. Make sure that you are just as merciless against sin in your own life.

Did the Jews take to heart Jesus’ lesson? No! They were right back doing the same thing as we can see when Jesus visited the temple a long time later in Matthew 21:12-13. Jesus did the same thing then too!

Verses 18-23

The Jews wanted a sign from Jesus. Basically they wanted evidence or proof that Jesus was right and had the authority to do this. People are basically the same today. They want evidence. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. We should seek to know what we believe and to understand that it is reasonable. However, a blind person will never be able to see the evidence clearly. Faith is the most essential aspect.

Jesus told them that the sign would be His resurrection. But He used veiled language and they thought He was talking about the literal temple. As we study John you will see that this routinely caused misunderstandings of Jesus’ message. The people were thinking physical all the time (they thought even the Messiah’s kingdom would be physical) when Jesus taught them numerous spiritual truths. Even His disciples didn’t understand at that time. Let us not restrict ourselves to thinking only on a physical plane.

During this time many people believed in Him. As we will later, many turned away. Their belief was shallow and they were like the rocky soil. Nonetheless there must have been some true converts who persevered. Also, if our belief is only based on a sign that we saw there will come a time when that will be seriously tested because we won’t be seeing a sign.

Verses 24-25

Jesus knew that humans were sinful and totally depraved. No one could possibly know better than Him. He was coming to earth and giving His life for this very reason. No easy solution, enthusiastic response, or energetic feelings could change this fact. John’s overall focus is on telling us who is Jesus. Here we see that Jesus is independent, not relying on any person. Also more than anyone else, He knows the heart of man.

Likewise we should not put our trust in man or put our lives in their hands. Do not trust unbelievers easily or put yourself at their mercy. For example, working without a clear contract or no contract all. Other examples?

Instead entrust yourself to God. He is the one who is control of everything and holds our soul in His hands. Be dependent on God, not on people.

Main Points

  1. Evaluate your motivation for going to church and fellowship. Confess any selfish reasoning. Resolve to go for worship, growth, and the opportunity to encourage others. Be pure and holy in your worship. Make some specific changes that will help to focus on what is important.

  2. It is OK, even commanded, that we be angry. If we are never angry it means that we are insensitive to sin. First we need to have the right convictions and then when we get angry about sin work to help solve the problem in the right manner.

  3. Do not put entrust yourselves to man. Man will fail every time. Sometimes they will cheat, mistreat, or lie to us on purpose. Other times they will fail us simply because they are weak and sinful, not out of any maliciousness in their hearts. Be dependent on God, not on people.

Possible Applications

  1. Decide on a specific way to help you worship God and grow more at church. For example, you could decide to start taking notes during the sermon.

  2. Do something about a specific sin or injustice that you see going on around you. It might be your colleagues cheating the company, others going to church for the wrong reason, or immorality in someone’s life who is close to you. Or look at your life and root out some sin in your own life. Don’t be indifferent or complacent.

  3. Examine your life and see if you are dependent on someone. If so, confess and take steps to depend on God instead of that person.

Study John 3:1-21
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