13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” John 2:13-16

My Questions:

  • Is this passage a "call to action" for Catholics?
  • Should Catholics be on alert for those who may hijack and corrupt the Church for unsavory purposes?
  • And should Catholics feel compelled or obligated to eradicate such individuals from the Church?
  • 1
    The 'market' was 'essential' to the functioning of the Temple. Indulgences were 'essential' to the Church. Neither turned out to be all that 'essential' as both institutions survived. What is your question really? Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 6:59
  • 4
    Are you essentially asking us to justify an idea you've had?
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 8:23
  • 1
    I think there are two questions here but they should be asked without presupposition. Of course, it would be helpful to provide how you came to that conclusion and if you have considered other verses in Bible that talks about judging and authority. 1. Is it within the Catholic faith or authority to condemn non-Catholics? & 2. Do Catholics consider Martin Luther and the Protestant Reformation like how Jesus considered the people in the temple courts? But really, there is no passive or general way to ask what you ask.
    – Zoe
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 10:13
  • I think your first question is a reasonable one. I think the second one, aside from being very unclear what you mean by "reconsider", is is 100% "opinion based" and should probably be removed from the question.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 11:39
  • 1
    @Flimzy: I just edited my question accordingly.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 11:43

2 Answers 2


First, to do an exegesis on the passage in question, I would not that there is a parallel passage to your citation from John in each of the other three Gospels: Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; and Luke 19:45-46. Comparing Jesus words in the three Synoptic Gospels, with those in John, one finds that John gives a more benign description of the activities in the Temple, quoting Jesus as saying that the activities constituted making the Temple a "house of trade" (RSV), or "market" (version cited above), while Matthew, Mark, and Luke refer to the activities as a "den of robbers" (RSV). I was taught years ago that in Roman occupied Palestine, money changers and tax collectors were not very highly respected people, as it was felt that they were not necessarily honest in their dealings, and take an excessive fee to cover their activities. I was also taught that those who sold animals for use in the sacrifice were not honest, either. If a farmer brought his own sheep, for example, the Priests would reject it for having a blemish, and send him to those who sold animals, who would accept his sheep in trade for one without blemish (collecting a fee in the process), and then provide him with a sheep that was without blemish. The sheep of the man that the priests had declared blemished, would be sold later to another man to use for offerings. Now in my later years, I've come to suspect that the behaviors described are speculative. I don't know that there is any surviving standard operating procedure manual from either the money changers, or from the livestock merchants to know whether these were exactly the behaviors to which Our Lord took exception, or not. But for Jesus to teach (Luke 10:7) that the worker is entitled to his wages, and then react as he did when he through the money changers and livestock sellers out of the temple, taken with Jesus' characterization of the activities as "den of robbers" in the synoptic gospels seems to suggest that it is not so much the animal sales and money changing (house of trade / market) as it is the dishonesty (den of robbers) of those who were taking advantage of pilgrims.

Turning to the questions: I do not know whether or not I would characterize either Jesus actions, or the descriptions of them in Scripture as "calls to actions", so much as a call to piety or holiness. As a call to us today, I consider these, as more than anything else, an exhortation to us to be honest and faithful to both our fellow man and to God in our dealings with other. Were I to preach against the consumer finance industry, in general, and the payday loan and "rent-to-own" subsets in particular, these might be texts I would start with, as the rates charged for the services offered seem to be excessive, and to prey on the financially naive. But the events do not occur in a house of prayer, at which point the parallel breaks down. We know what Jesus thought about the activities in the temple, and what actions he was moved to take. But Jesus' activities against similar activities outside the temple to those carried out in the Courts of the temple are unrecorded, though we do know that Jesus dined with tax collectors, who I was taught also were frequently dishonest in Israel in Jesus' day.

As to whether Catholics should be alert for those who would hijack and corrupt the church, the answer is unquestionably "yes", although I don't think the passage of cleansing the Temple directly relates to this question, as I see it relating to the particular situation in the Temple some 2000 years ago.

As to Catholics eradicating from the church those who would hijack it, I understand that there is no way that this can happen. I understand (though I should note that I am not a canon lawyer, and have not studied the matter) that the most severe punishment that the Church can currently mete out is excommunication, and that merely inhibits the individual from access to most sacraments (with the exception of Reconciliation, and perhaps annointing of the sick in some circumstances), an doesn't throw them out of the church. It was once pointed out that while Jesus said that a sinner who refused to listen to the church should be treated as a "gentile and a tax collector" (Matthew 18:17b, RSV), he also exhorted us to minister to dishonored and downtrodden among us, and that this would include gentiles and tax collectors. So, if the church was to exile those who would hijack it, it should turn right around, and teach repentance, and try to bring them back to the fold.


One of the comments:

"This is too long. Please try to make it more concise."

Is this passage a "call to action" for Catholics?

Not especially, we are sinners and Jesus was not.

Should Catholics be on alert for those who may hijack and corrupt the Church for unsavory purposes?

Yes, see Acts IV.

And should Catholics feel compelled or obligated to eradicate such individuals from the Church?

Yes, within reason. See Matthew 18.

Why? Well...


While this an open question, my advice would be to follow a passage latter on in John 8:7 that is more clearly directed toward us (as sinners):

... “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

As sinners in a fallen world, we must be exceedingly careful when interacting with others for the purposes of pointing out their sin.

From Matthew 7:3, also a quote from Jesus:

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

Remember, Jesus was living a perfect life, which we, most likely, are all failing to do (Matthew 19:21):

...If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.

While everyone is in a different position, I find it fairly unlikely that any of us are without sin.


Now, let's not use that as an excuse to be complacent. There is something we can do, and that is show love (John 15:12):

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Unfortunately I have to get back to work now, but I'll try to flesh this out a bit later. The point is, there is a call to action for all people (Catholics included), but it is first and foremost to love.


Before I got to flesh out my answer I got some further questions I'd like to address in the main body. I'll use the Church to refer to the specific Church and the church to refer to any or all churches that are right with God.

Should Catholics be on alert for those who may hijack and corrupt the Church for unsavory purposes?

The great thing about this question is that it applies to more than just Catholics and more than just the Church. However, as direct descendant of the earlier church and almost unarguably the most theologically sound denomination, Catholics certainly serve as a powerful example.

The answer is, of course, yes!

However, this is somewhat difficult to get at directly, as I believe the most compelling arguments in favor of vigilance within the church are derived from the broader moral context of our faith. However, there are a few Biblical examples, the foremost being Ananias and Sapphira (Acts IV):

During the Acts of the Apostles, many believers liquidated assets to fund the ministry. The early church, of course, rejoiced in this sacrifice of worldly possession. However, one couple sold a field but kept some of the money for themselves.

Now this sounds like a fairly straight forward instance of corruption and unsavory purposes to me. First, this couple claimed to do what they were doing for the church, then they claimed some of what should have been the church's funds for themselves. Definately not okay. However, the important part of the story for this discussion isn't that what they did wasn't okay, but rather what happened afterwards.

As soon as the couple brought the partial sum of money to the Apostles, Peter accused them of deceit before God and church, and while the consequences (sudden death) certainly came from God, Peter's vigilance plays a key role in the story.

From this tale, I interpret, such as I am able, that the burden of vigilance is upon everyone (including Catholics) to watch for corruption everywhere (including the Church). But also, I learn that imposition of consequences, such as they are, are within the sole purvey of God's role within the church, and not of any other sinners.

Vengence is [the Lord's]...

as per Deuteronomy 32:35, Romans 12:19, and Hebrews 10:30. Three times, that might be important.

And should Catholics feel compelled or obligated to eradicate such individuals from the Church?

This is perhaps a more difficult question, because my own, as well as many other's, natural instinct is to cast anyone from the church that may not reach some arbitrary degree of morality. I do not, however, believe that this is a Biblical position. After all:

... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

Romans 3:23 (emphasis added)

There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you--who are you to judge your neighbor?

James 4:12

For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.

2 Corinthians 5:14

All of this is a lot of Biblical text to say we aren't perfect, God is, only God gets to decide who's perfect and who isn't, salvation is for all people, and if it somehow isn't for someone, that is God's decision and not ours. We probably are all familiar with this concept.

So why would we not apply this to the church?

There certainly are crimes that can be held as grounds for removal from the church, such as apostasy, as in 2 John, where individuals renouncing the resurrection are excluded from the homes of believers.

However, in any case involving disputes within the church, there is an established procedure to follow (Matthew 18:15-17):

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.‘ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

And just so we're all clear on how we treat tax collectors (from the story of Zacchaeus in Luke 19):

Jesus said to [the tax collector], “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

Now, of course, Zacchaeus did take actions toward his salvation, but let us just rememer that:

...the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.


In cases of clear and unrepentant apostasy in the opinion of the entire church, there is a Biblical mandate for expulsion on the condition that repentance may immediately be met with a welcoming return. In all other cases, follow the established procedure for addressing sin but prioritize above all else love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

  • What about these questions: "Should Catholics be on alert for those who may hijack and corrupt the Church for unsavory purposes? And should Catholics feel compelled or obligated to eradicate such individuals from the Church?"
    – LCIII
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 19:04
  • @LCIII I have attempted to address your questions in the main body of my response.
    – Calvin
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 20:47
  • "and almost unarguably the most theologically sound denomination" You're joking right? Whether it's right or wrong, Catholic theology gets argued over the most of all!
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 23:00
  • 1
    This is too long. Please try to make it more concise.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 23:27
  • ""and almost unarguably the most theologically sound denomination"" Yes it gets argued over, and that is why it is the most sound.
    – Calvin
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 14:15

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