“…and they remembered the Scripture…”: A Reflection on Ezra 6:13-22 & John 2:13-25

“The Temple was finished on the third day”

[A Reflection on Ezra 6:13-22 & John 2:13-25]

In the second chapter of John’s gospel, the Lord Jesus is asked by the angered Jews “What sign do You show us since You do these things?”[1]His answer is simply: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”[2] The answer shocked the Jews and caused them to stumble further in the darkness of their unbelief, for they were unable to see that “…He was speaking of the temple of His body.”[3] John clues us in to this fact, but what has always made me stop in my tracks as I read this passage is the short phrase given in v. 22b: “…and they believed the Scripture…” What Scripture is John speaking of in this verse? Seeing as he further says “…and the word which Jesus had  said to them…” we are not given the option of thinking that John is simply equating the Lord’s Words concerning His bodily resurrection with Scripture. So to what Scripture is John referring?

Looking back into the Old Testament, we encounter the book of Ezra. This book recounts the Sovereign hand of God during Israel’s exile which brought the building of the Temple of God to completion in spite of opposition from external threats. God’s hand was Sovereignly guiding all of history to bring this Temple to completion so that He could gather His people together to worship Him in spirit and in truth. After having been destroyed by the enemies of God, the Temple was eventually rebuilt, or raised up, being “finished on the third day.”[4] What God had promised Israel He would do, He did. And when He did it, all those who were in captivity worshiped Him and offered up sin offerings for the people of God.[5]

The significance of this cannot be overlooked, seeing as (i.)John 2:13-25 concerns the raising of the Temple of God on the third day, and (ii.)also concerns the Passover of the Jews being celebrated at the same time, a narrative/thematic structure which Ezra 6:13-22 also follows. Why does Ezra, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, jump from the third day upon which the Temple was completed to the fourteenth day upon which the Passover was celebrated? Why does the Lord Jesus cleanse the Temple, call His body the Temple which would be resurrected upon the third day, and decide to do these things during the Passover feast? Why does John find it necessary to emphasize all of these details?

The Temple that was completed on the “third day” prefigures not another physical building made with men’s hands, but the body of our Lord Jesus. He is the Temple, the sin offering for God’s people, the pure priesthood, and the Passover Lamb (all of which Ezra and John mention, to a greater or lesser degree, in their respective narratives). Can we say with one hundred percent certainty that this is “the Scripture” to which John refers in John 2:22b? No, but not because the argument made here is obscure or far fetched, but because John often writes in such a way as to point us to multiple Old Testament passages, by emphasizing details that others would not and that we, oftentimes, overlook in an attempt to “get the next miracle,” as one pastor has said.[6] While the Jews looked for another building of stone, those born of God see that Christ is the New and Better Temple “raised on the third day” which can never be broken again. Amen.


[1] Cf. John 2:18b


[2] 2:19b


[4] Cf. Ezra 6:15

[5] 6:17

[6] J.V. Fesko said this in a sermon on John 2. The sermon can be found here for free download.


2 thoughts on ““…and they remembered the Scripture…”: A Reflection on Ezra 6:13-22 & John 2:13-25

  1. AK says:

    I am just writing a small article about Jn 2:22. The problem of the OT referent of GRAFE in this verse is indeed unsettlet. There is a plethora of various passages proposed by commentators. Your proposal seems to be really interesting! Was the reference to Ezra 6 already argued by any author? Did you publish this argument somewhere?



  2. Hiram says:

    Thanks for the kind words :)

    This hasn’t been argued, as far as I can tell, by another theologian. But I could be wrong. I just try to let Scripture interpret itself.

    God bless :)


involve yourself

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s