In John chapter 2, just after His first miracle of turning water into wine, Jesus arrives in Jerusalem. He throws the money changers out of the temple, and says His Father’s house should be a house of prayer and not a house of merchandise.In Matthew 21, Mark 11 and Luke 19 we read a similar story.
While John’s account takes place at the beginning of Christ’s 3 year ministry, the other 3 Gospel writers record Jesus encounter with the money changers, as taking place,one week prior to His crucifixion. Today this date is known today as Palm Sunday.
John’s timing, and wording, of the event, leads some to believe there were two separate incidents where Jesus ran buyers and sellers from His Father’s house.The beloved disciple, (John) has interpreted his Master as stating that there should be no type of trading, buying or selling in the temple. The church I grew up attending held to this belief.
Once, some of the young adults wanted to sell spaghetti dinners to raise money. Even though the dinners were not to be sold inside the church, a few of the older church members cited this scripture, and said that it was forbidden to sell in the church.This caused many of the youth to stop attending.
A former pastor expounded upon the wording of the tax collector, (Matthew),the Doctor, (Luke) and the disciple who was one of the 70, but not one of the 12, (Mark). This pastor believed it was not the selling that was the issue, but the fact that money changer were cheating people. Based on the number of churches today that have bake sales, and other fund raisers, it seems to me that many believe as my former pastor.
While Jesus was on earth, He abided by the law, and considered the temple as His Father’s home. When however, the woman at the well, in John chapter 4, asked where was the right place to worship, Jesus replied that the time was coming when true worshipers would not get caught up in where to worship, but would worship in spirit and in truth.
After He was resurrected, His disciple were not allowed to preach about Him in the synagogue, because the Jews desired to stick to the script of the letter of the law. The first Apostles began preaching on street corners, and other venues to tell the great news that Jesus rose from the dead.
Early believers met in homes, and it was Constantine, who decided to erect buildings in 323 A.D. Paul mentions several times that our bodies are now the temple of the Holy Spirit, and God does not dwell in temples made with hands, one could infer from this, that selling in or outside a “church” building really means very little at all.
Those however, who consider the building where they gather to worship as the church, rather than the believers who gather in said building, will more than likely continue to debate, as to whether to accept John’s message, or that of Matthew, Mark and Luke.