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Jesus whipping the money changers in the temple (John 2.14-15)


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#21 John Charmley

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Posted 22 November 2006 - 06:05 PM

Dear Ian,

That depends on what you mean by 'love' and 'violence'.

INXC, Matthew


Dear Matthew,

For the connoisseurs of what might be called Steenbergisms amongst us, this is a vintage sample. Now, is this one of those which pulls us up short, questions our casual causal assumptions, and makes us furiously to think; or is it one of those which does these things, and suggests there may be an interesting Steenbergian train of thought that can be teased out? Or is it one of the third variety - those which produce a self-deprecating response? Even more exciting is the prospect it may be a fourth and therefore new variety.

On the assumption it may just be the second (which may provoke the third), could I make so bold as to pose two questions:


1. What would you think is signified by such words?

2. In what contexts might they be less antithetical than a visceral reaction might lead one to suppose?

INXC

John

#22 Olympiada

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 05:44 AM

Are love and violence not diametrically opposed?

Peace,

Ian


Nope. In fact, in a covenant relationship, love can be expressed as violence, especially when God is involved. Try suspending your judgment for a minute. Sometimes people require violent chastizing. Jesus in the Temple was nothing compared to the OT which we do believe is the Word of God. Perhaps you might want to embark on a study of the OT. Try Exodus and Numbers for starters. Good violent material in there.

Olympiada

#23 Fr Raphael Vereshack

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 02:39 PM

Nope. In fact, in a covenant relationship, love can be expressed as violence, especially when God is involved. Try suspending your judgment for a minute. Sometimes people require violent chastizing. Jesus in the Temple was nothing compared to the OT which we do believe is the Word of God. Perhaps you might want to embark on a study of the OT. Try Exodus and Numbers for starters. Good violent material in there.

Olympiada


Chastizing is related to what are called trials & these are of different types according to the spiritual fathers:

There are the trials of those actively engaged in the struggle, so that they may make additional gains and progress in their struggle.

There are the trials of the slothful and unwilling, to make them beware of things that are harmful and dangerous.

There are the trials of those who are drowsy or sleeping, in order to wake them up.

Then again there are the trials of those who have distanced themselves and gone astray, to make them draw near to God.

Different again are the trials of the righteous and friends of God, so that they may inherit the promise.

There are also trials of the perfect, which God permits in order to bring them forward in the Church for the strengthening of the faithful and as an example to be emulated.

There is also another kind of trial, again of the perfect, such as those endured by our Lord and the Apostles, who fulfilled the law of communion with the world by taking up the trials which are ours.

Joseph the Hesychast on The Differences between the Trials



There is much which could be said about these words. But in terms of 'violence and love' we can see that most of the above is far more biting than Christ's cleansing of the Temple.

It's also important also to recognize that in the John 2 it does not say that He struck anyone during this cleansing.

13 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers doing business. 15 When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables. 16 And He said to those who sold doves, “Take these things away! Do not make My Father’s house a house of merchandise!” 17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”


In Christ- Fr Raphael

#24 Reader Andreas

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Posted 23 November 2006 - 02:45 PM

In the OT, how about Elijah slaughtering the 450 priests of Baal? Not very inclusive, was it? No ecumenical dialogue and 'outreach' there!

But I think there are teachings of Christ which do show a break with the OT. The disciples had the OT attitude to the man who was casting out devils though he wasn't 'one of us'. As I remember, the disciples were all for calling down fire from heaven to consume him. Christ indicated to them that things were being done somewhat differently now.

But I think especially of the parable of the Prodigal Son. Deut. 21:17 (I think!) says that a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and who is a glutton and a drunkard is to be brought by his parents to the elders and the men of the town are to stone him to death. Could our Lord have had this OT law in mind when He told His parable? In describing the loving, forgiving father, was He contrasting the old covenant of the law with the new covenant of love? Does not the awesome Jehovah of the OT become the loving Father of the NT? I think of this especially when I look at the famous painting by Rembrandt.

Andreas.

#25 Ian Leyda

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Posted 24 November 2006 - 07:50 PM

Professor D.A. Carson suggests, in consideration of the socio-cultural context of the time, that the whips had the purpose of driving out the animals; they were not used against the money changers.

-Athanasius


Dear all,

For the record, I should say that I agree with Athanasius, his professor, and Fr. Raphael on this examination of the text. This makes sense in reading the narrative. And since it doesn't say that Jesus whipped the money changers, it is best that we don't read that into the story.

I think M.C. Steenberg raises a fair question when he asks what I meant by "love and violence." Though this is not exhaustively categorized, it is important to make some distinctions in violence. There is violence in warfare, corporal and capital punishment, physical abuse, etc.

But one thing is extremely important to point out:

- Because God is justified in doing something does not mean humans are justified in doing the same thing.

-Because Jesus did it, it is not a license or call for us to do the same and claim we are justified. Actually, just the opposite is true in the case of judgment.

Though our primary moral direction is the "Imitation of God," the arena of justice is firmly distinguished. We are not to "Imitate God" in his administration of justice, punishment of the wicked, etc.

It is on the very issue of violence in which God makes this distinction: Vengeance/justice belongs to God alone.

Why is it that the first example of worldly sin and punishment in the entire Bible is that of Cain and Abel? The Bible immediately establishes the nature of sin, punishment, and its consequence in its first 4 chapters.

Cain and Abel:
-It is the first mention of sin in the Bible.
-The first sin is murder.
-God forbids the killing of Cain (4:14-15).
-God claims authority over the punishment for sin (4:15-16).
-Whoever executes judgment over Cain is subject to sevenfold judgment.

We are not to judge others because judgment is God's domain. We are not to execute vengeance, because that is God's domain. Instead, we are judged according to the manner in which we have judged others (Rom. 2:1-11). Jesus says this often (Matt. 6:12, 6:14-15, etc.)

Though we are deemed righteous and justified because we are in Christ, it does not mean that we are righteous and justified for authority in judgment. (This is part of Paul's point, I think, in Romans 2).

Is it correct for us to identify with Jesus in the cleansing of the temple, the righteous one who drives out the wicked? Or should we identify with the money-changers and the livestock, who do not belong there and have disgraced the holy place?

We should not identify with Jesus where he is executing judgment. And most importantly, it is not a license for our use of violence.

Peace,

Ian

#26 Matthew Panchisin

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Posted 25 November 2006 - 02:04 PM

Bright Friday - Driving Out the Money Changers

John 2:12-22

From The Explanation of the Gospel of St. John

by Blessed Theophylact, Archbishop of Ochrid and Bulgaria

12-17. After this He went down to Capernaum, He, and His mother, and His brethren, and His disciples: and they continued there not many days. And the Pascha of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, and found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting. And when He had made a scourge of small cords, He drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers' money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not My Father's house a house of merchandise. And His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of Thine house hath eaten Me up. They had come to Cana for the wedding, and when the wedding was over, He takes His mother back to her home in Capernaum so that she would not be drawn to follow Him everywhere. That He went down to Capernaum for this reason only is clear from the fact that He did not remain there many days, nor work any miracles there. For the inhabitants of that city did not believe in Him, which is why the Lord, on another occasion, laments her fate. [See Lk. 10:15.] By saying that the Pascha was at hand, the Evangelist shows that the Lord was baptized not many days before Pascha. Going up to Jerusalem, the Lord performs an act of great authority, casting out the sheep and the oxen from the temple. Matthew also records this act, but it is not the same occasion. Lord drove out the money changers twice: first, at the beginning of His miracles, as recorded here, and second, near the time of His passion, as described by Matthew. [See Mt. 21:12-13.] Here the Lord spoke more gently, Make not My Father's house a house of merchandise. Because this was the beginning of His miracles, He did not speak with such boldness as He would later when He had already shown His power on many occasions. Then He would say, as Matthew relates, "Do not make it a den of thieves." There He openly named them thieves, who made their profit by unrighteous means. If a man demands a high price for something which cost him very little, and makes a profit from the poor and the widows (as most do, who buy and sell the necessities of life), how does his work differ from that of a thief, who derives his profit from the misfortunes of others? We may also ask, "Is there a reason why the Lord expelled them completely from the temple?" Indeed there is. Because He intended to heal on the Sabbath and relax the strictness of the letter of the law, from the outset He wanted to allay any suspicion that He was an adversary of God. One who showed such zeal for the house could not reject the Master of the house. Furthermore, He did not merely chase them away, but also struck them with a whip of twisted cords, overturned their tables, and dumped on the ground the coins of the money changers. These were bold and dangerous actions. A man who would throw himself into such danger for the sake of the house of God could not be an adversary of God who set aside His law. He could be none other than the Son of God, of equal authority to God the Father Who gave the law of the Sabbath. This is why He did not say, "God's house," but instead, My Father's house, showing that He has authority as the Son over the Father's possessions. The money changers [kollybistai] are those who sell coins of small denomination [kollybos]. There are also many hierarchs who sin in the same way as those profiteering money changers. They too sell cattle in the Church, meaning, they do not advance to the priesthood those who excel in teaching the word of God, but instead sell this office to the unlearned and greedy. They also sell the sheep, meaning the simple and guileless people in need of a shepherd, and the doves, which are the spiritual gifts of the sacraments. These things they sell to the highest bidder, advancing to the higher ranks of the clergy those who have given the most money. Such hierarchs the Lord casts out of the temple, judging them unworthy of the episcopacy. The pennies and coins represent words and teachings; therefore, when a teacher of the Church dares to exchange these things with monetary profit to himself, the Lord will overthrow his table, meaning, his chair of teaching. If a teacher out of greed has withheld his words and not given to all, the Lord will strip that man of his authority and place another on the chair of teaching who is worthy. Thus, in His compassion the Lord will pour out words of teaching upon the people. The disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of Thy house hath eaten me up. [Ps. 68:12] In a short time they have made progress towards the good; already they can call to mind the Scriptures and find in them testimonies which make them more sure in their knowledge of Christ.

#27 Paul

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Posted 05 May 2007 - 10:29 AM

He had courage. He had strength, He had authority, He had power.
He was truth, He stood up for it, was it with His whole being, His whole existence, His whole life.

He loved man, but not his wickedness, He came to save us from it.

For it did rightly anger Him.
And it should have.

How could He be called the Son of God if it didn't.

Did He deal cruelly viciously?

No courageously, truly.

He didn't harm anyone, kill anyone, but He alone has the authority to, but did what was needful, what was true, and stood up for what is true and right.
He stood up against evil, He stood up for love, He was love, is love.

I don't have such courage, such devotion for such love and truth as i would like, Jesus did.
If a Holy Church today had evolved into such ways, would one single person alone have the courage to walk in there and do as Jesus did, i think very few would have such courage, zeal, love of God.

#28 Paul Cowan

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Posted 06 May 2007 - 02:55 AM

If a Holy Church today had evolved into such ways, would one single person alone have the courage to walk in there and do as Jesus did, i think very few would have such courage, zeal, love of God.


Birds of a feather comes to mind. I can see people getting courageous enough in a group to stand up for what is right. But as for an individual...in the 21st century... standing up for what is right is a rare bird indeed.

How many times have I seen an injustice or flat out blasphemy and ducked my head and turned and went the other way in the hopes of not being caught in a confrontation? God have mercy on my soul

How often will I keep my mouth shut until someone else starts talking about God and then I will only say the most minimal thing to stay in the conversation. God have mercy on my soul

How many times have I had the chance to offer God's consoling love to someone who is hurting and don't. God have mercy on me

The worst of sinners
Paul

#29 Sacha

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 06:37 PM

Nope. In fact, in a covenant relationship, love can be expressed as violence, especially when God is involved. Try suspending your judgment for a minute. Sometimes people require violent chastizing. Jesus in the Temple was nothing compared to the OT which we do believe is the Word of God. Perhaps you might want to embark on a study of the OT. Try Exodus and Numbers for starters. Good violent material in there.

Olympiada


Olympiada, are we not called to read the old in light of the new? When Jesus' disciples asked Him to rain down fire like Elijah on to the Samaritans, what was His response to them? "Read the scriptures, plenty of 'good' violent material in there"? Or did He instead rebuke them, and say you do not know what Spirit you are of. Is not the Son one with the Father and hasn't anyone who has seen the Son seen the Father?

There is absolutely nothing in the text to suggest that Jesus actually whipped the money changers, but instead reasons to believe that it was the animals that He was whipping at. Was He angry at the money changers. Yes and righteously so. Did He drive them out by driving out their business and money makers? Yes. De He whip them directly? You have no evidence to prove so.

#30 Reader Andreas

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 07:44 PM

The Temple authorities must have given permission for these 'bureaux de change' to set up business in the Temple, so who had the greater sin?

#31 Sacha

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:09 PM

The Temple authorities must have given permission for these 'bureaux de change' to set up business in the Temple, so who had the greater sin?


Who are you comparing here (re greater sin)? Can you clarify, thanks.

#32 Reader Andreas

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:34 PM

If the Temple authorities granted permission for the money changers to conduct their business in the Temple, were they not more culpable?

#33 Sacha

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:47 PM

If the Temple authorities granted permission for the money changers to conduct their business in the Temple, were they not more culpable?


I would say they are just as culpable, but I'm afraid I might be missing your point.

#34 Reader Andreas

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Posted 28 March 2012 - 11:50 PM

I would say they are just as culpable, . . .


I thought more so, but that's only an opinion - I might be wrong.

#35 Mike L

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:44 AM

Love & hate go hand-in-hand.. Psalm 139:22,23 Amos 5:15 Romans 9:13

And the Biblical definition of "love" isnt the modern-day secular definition we all judge it by today anyway..

"If you love Me, obey my commandments.." Agape is a much different word than eros, as any Greek here would know.

We are to love what God loves, and hate what He hates. Not lean to own understanding, to be sure; however, these various attributes God has as well.

#36 Sacha

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 05:09 PM

Love & hate go hand-in-hand.. Psalm 139:22,23 Amos 5:15 Romans 9:13

And the Biblical definition of "love" isnt the modern-day secular definition we all judge it by today anyway..

"If you love Me, obey my commandments.." Agape is a much different word than eros, as any Greek here would know.

We are to love what God loves, and hate what He hates. Not lean to own understanding, to be sure; however, these various attributes God has as well.



It appears to me that you might be overlaying a modern understanding of 'hate' into the verses you mention. First, Romans 9:13, much to the chagrin of Calvinists, has nothing to do with God hating Esau (btw it is the nation of the Edomites which is in view here, and not the individual Esau, who was in fact greatly blessed, his sin notwithstanding). The word hate is a poor translation of the hebrew, which means to 'love less'. As in Jacob loved Rachel but 'hated' Leah, i.e., loved her less, or preferred Rachel over Leah.

The OT verses you quote are to be read in the light of the Lord's teaching, who is the exact representation of the Father: He says this regarding our enemies, contra David:

"43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighborand hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven."

#37 Mike L

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 05:37 PM

Big difference between your enemies & God's enemies, ma'am. I'm not a Calvinist..perhaps have a touch of Augustinian however. God hating Esau doesnt mean God hating Esau? Of course it is national in scope. Read the book of Obadiah. The name of the patriarch/progenitor of a nation is often used in reference to the whole nation. This only proves my point.

#38 Michael Stickles

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 09:24 PM

There is absolutely nothing in the text to suggest that Jesus actually whipped the money changers, but instead reasons to believe that it was the animals that He was whipping at. Was He angry at the money changers. Yes and righteously so. Did He drive them out by driving out their business and money makers? Yes. De He whip them directly? You have no evidence to prove so.


St. John Chrysostom seems to believe otherwise (emphasis added):

“And wherefore,” says one, “did Christ do this same, and use such severity against these men, a thing which He is nowhere else seen to do, even when insulted and reviled, and called by them ‘Samaritan’ and ‘demoniac’? for He was not even satisfied with words only, but took a scourge, and so cast them out.” Yes, but it was when others were receiving benefit, that the Jews accused and raged against Him; when it was probable that they would have been made savage by His rebukes, they showed no such disposition towards Him, for they neither accused nor reviled Him.

... For it was no light thing to offer Himself to the anger of so many market-folk, to excite against Himself a most brutal mob of petty dealers by His reproaches and His blows, this was not the action of a pretender, but of one choosing to suffer everything for the order of the House.


I suppose you could, theoretically, interpret this as blows against the cattle. But that seems rather out of line with the tone here. Note also that St. John is careful to acknowledge, through the words of his hypothetical questioner (which he does not contradict but rather agrees with), that Christ here acts in a way quite differently than is seen anywhere else in Scripture, even during the second cleansing of the temple.

I can see how one could interpret St. John's words as not asserting that Christ physically struck the people themselves, though it would be a bit awkward. But, at least as I read it, his words and tone aren't really compatible with the idea that Christ was only using the whip to "whip at" the animals to drive them out; to hold that position would, to me, be to assert that St. John is wrong here (which is conceivable, of course; we don't hold the saints to be infallible).

#39 Sacha

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 11:10 PM

Big difference between your enemies & God's enemies, ma'am. I'm not a Calvinist..perhaps have a touch of Augustinian however. God hating Esau doesnt mean God hating Esau? Of course it is national in scope. Read the book of Obadiah. The name of the patriarch/progenitor of a nation is often used in reference to the whole nation. This only proves my point.


No it doesn't Mike, not as you claim and Obadiah does not prove your point at all: Christ is the final authority. The distinction you make is a distinction without a difference, since Christ would not ask His followers to do something that He himself did not practice; when His disciples asked Him to rain down fire on the Samaritans for refusing Him hospitality, He rebuked them, saying you do not know of what spirit you are. Later on, when they crucified Him, He did not angrily point to Old Testament prophets to justify violence against His enemies. Instead, He said "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do." And elsewhere, does He not say, whoever has seen me has seen the Father.

What you understand with your Augustinian lenses by reading Obadiah represents the old wineskins. The new wineskins have long come with the Incarnation. You are absolutely mistaken. AmI correct in saying that you are a new convert to Orthodoxy from Calvinism. If not, you certainly sound like it.

Edited by Sacha, 29 March 2012 - 11:26 PM.


#40 Sacha

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 11:25 PM

St. John Chrysostom seems to believe otherwise (emphasis added):



I suppose you could, theoretically, interpret this as blows against the cattle. But that seems rather out of line with the tone here. Note also that St. John is careful to acknowledge, through the words of his hypothetical questioner (which he does not contradict but rather agrees with), that Christ here acts in a way quite differently than is seen anywhere else in Scripture, even during the second cleansing of the temple.

I can see how one could interpret St. John's words as not asserting that Christ physically struck the people themselves, though it would be a bit awkward. But, at least as I read it, his words and tone aren't really compatible with the idea that Christ was only using the whip to "whip at" the animals to drive them out; to hold that position would, to me, be to assert that St. John is wrong here (which is conceivable, of course; we don't hold the saints to be infallible).


Coming from a man who advocated violence against others:

"And should you hear any one in the public thoroughfare, or in the midst of the forum, blaspheming God; go up to him and rebuke him; and should it be necessary to inflict blows, spare not to do so. Smite him on the face; strike his mouth; sanctify your hand with the blow"


I wouldn't be surprised if what you say Michael is correct. But I reject Chrysostom's witness, I do not see the Spirit of Christ in him, nor do I see it in his words on Jews. Yes, yes, I am aware of the semantic rationalizations that have been put forth here on this forum to defend him, anti-judaic vs anti-semite etc, but I don't buy any of it.

I believe Christ would rebuke these words above and find it impossible that He would advocate 'loving' another by striking them with blows. If one takes this reasoning to its logical conclusion, then one can easily find oneself justifying any violence of any degree against anyone, all in the name of a 'love' emptied of all meaning.




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