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John 2:19-21

Context
2:19 Jesus replied, 1  “Destroy 2  this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” 2:20 Then the Jewish leaders 3  said to him, “This temple has been under construction 4  for forty-six years, 5  and are you going to raise it up in three days?” 2:21 But Jesus 6  was speaking about the temple of his body. 7 

1 tn Grk “answered and said to them.”

2 tn The imperative here is really more than a simple conditional imperative (= “if you destroy”); its semantic force here is more like the ironical imperative found in the prophets (Amos 4:4, Isa 8:9) = “Go ahead and do this and see what happens.”

3 tn See the note on this phrase in v. 18.

4 tn A close parallel to the aorist οἰκοδομήθη (oikodomhqh) can be found in Ezra 5:16 (LXX), where it is clear from the following verb that the construction had not yet been completed. Thus the phrase has been translated “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years.” Some, however, see the term ναός (naos) here as referring only to the sanctuary and the aorist verb as consummative, so that the meaning would be “this temple was built forty-six years ago” (so ExSyn 560-61). Ultimately in context the logic of the authorities’ reply appears to fit more naturally if it compares length of time for original construction with length of time to reconstruct it.

5 sn According to Josephus (Ant. 15.11.1 [15.380]), work on this temple was begun in the 18th year of Herod the Great’s reign, which would have been ca. 19 b.c. (The reference in the Ant. is probably more accurate than the date given in J. W. 1.21.1 [1.401]). Forty-six years later would be around the Passover of a.d. 27/28.

6 tn Grk “that one”; the referent (Jesus) has been specified in the translation for clarity. This Greek term is frequently used as a way of referring to Jesus in the Johannine letters (cf. 1 John 2:6; 3:3, 5, 7, 16; 4:17).

7 tn The genitive “of his body” (τοῦ σώματος αὐτοῦ, tou swmato" autou) is a genitive of apposition, clarifying which temple Jesus was referring to. Thus, Jesus not only was referring to his physical resurrection, but also to his participation in the resurrection process. The New Testament thus records the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as all performing the miracle of Christ's resurrection.

sn Jesus was speaking about the temple of his body. For the author, the temple is not just the building, it is Jesus’ resurrected body. Compare the nonlocalized worship mentioned in John 4:21-23, and also Rev 21:22 (there is to be no temple in the New Jerusalem; the Lord and the Lamb are its temple). John points to the fact that, as the place where men go in order to meet God, the temple has been supplanted and replaced by Jesus himself, in whose resurrected person people may now encounter God (see John 1:18, 14:6).



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