John 2:17
And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of your house has eaten me up.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Was written . . . hath eaten me up .—More literally, is written . . . shall eat me up. The verse is full of interest in many ways. It gives us the thought of the disciples at the time (comp. John 2:22) which could be known only to one of their number. It shows us what we too seldom realise in reading the New Testament, that the Jewish mind was filled to overflowing with thoughts of the Old Testament. The child was taught to say by heart large portions of the Law and Psalms and Prophets, and they formed the very texture of the mind, ready to pass into conscious thought whenever occasion suggested. With the exception of the 22nd Psalm, no part of the Old Testament is so frequently referred to in the New as the psalm from which these words are taken (Psalm 69:9), and yet that psalm could not have been in its historic meaning Messianic (see, e.g., John 2:5; John 2:22-25). This reference to it gives us, then, their method of interpretation. Every human life is typical. The persecution without reason, the wrong heaped upon the innocent, the appeal to and trust in Jehovah, the song of thanksgiving from him whose parched throat was weary of calling—all this was true of some representative sufferer of earlier days, and we may hear in it almost certainly the voice of Jeremiah; but it was true of him in that he was a forerunner of the representative sufferer. The darker features of the psalm belong to the individual; the Life which sustains in all, and the Light which illumines in all, was even then in the world, though men knew Him not. The words of Jeremiah are Messianic, because his life—like every noble, self-forgetting, others’ sorrow bearing, man and God loving life—was itself Messianic.

The change of tense, from the past of the Psalmist to the future here, is itself significant. The words were true of the inner burning which consumed the prophet-priest. They come to the heart as true, with a fuller truth, of Christ’s spirit burning with righteous indignation, and cast down by deepest sorrow; but shrinking not from the painful task, which leaves its mark falling on that face as the shadow of a deeper darkness. They are to be, in a deeper sense, truer still.

2:12-22 The first public work in which we find Christ engaged, was driving from the temple the traders whom the covetous priests and rulers encouraged to make a market-place of its courts. Those now make God's house a house of merchandise, whose minds are filled with cares about worldly business when attending religious exercises, or who perform Divine offices for love of gain. Christ, having thus cleansed the temple, gave a sign to those who demanded it, to prove his authority for so doing. He foretells his death by the Jews' malice, Destroy ye this temple; I will permit you to destroy it. He foretells his resurrection by his own power; In three days I will raise it up. Christ took again his own life. Men mistake by understanding that according to the letter, which the Scripture speaks by way of figure. When Jesus was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered he has said this. It helps much in understanding the Divine word, to observe the fulfilling of the Scriptures.It was written ... - This is recorded in Psalm 69:9. Its meaning is, that he was affected with great zeal or concern for the pure worship of God.

The zeal of thine house - "Zeal" is intense ardor in reference to any object. The "zeal of thine house" means extraordinary concern for the temple of God; intense solicitude that the worship there should be pure, and such as God would approve.

Hath eaten me up - Hath absorbed me, or engaged my entire attention and affection; hath surpassed all other feelings, so that it may be said to be the one great absorbing affection and desire of the mind. Here is an example set for ministers and for all Christians. In Jesus this was the great commanding sentiment of his life. In us it should be also. In this manifestation of zeal he began and ended his ministry. In this we should begin and end our lives. We learn, also, that ministers of religion should aim to purify the church of God. Wicked men, conscience-smitten, will tremble when they see proper zeal in the ministers of Jesus Christ; and there is no combination of wicked men, and no form of depravity, that can stand before the faithful, zealous, pure preaching of the gospel. The preaching of every minister should be such that wicked men will feel that they must either become Christians or leave the house of God, or spend their lives there in the consciousness of guilt and the fear of hell.

17. eaten me up—a glorious feature in the predicted character of the suffering Messiah (Ps 69:9), and rising high even in some not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoes. (Ex 32:19, &c.). The disciples, as well as the rest of the people there present, could not but be astonished at this so strange a thing, to see a single person, and he in no repute but as a private person, to make a whip, and with authority drive the buyers and sellers out of the temple, and nobody to oppose him; but they remembered the words of David, Psalm 69:9. Some think that John here reports what they did after Christ’s resurrection; and, indeed, whoso considereth the following part of the gospel history, would think that it were so; for they did not seem so early to have had a persuasion of Christ’s Divine nature, nor that he was the Messiah; or if they at this time remembered it, and apprehended that Christ was the Son of David, the impression seems to have worn off. It is a greater question whether Psalm 69:1-36 (from whence this quotation is) is to be understood of Christ, properly and literally, or merely as the Antitype to David, of whom that Psalm is literally to be understood? Some of the Lutherans think that Psalm primarily concerned Christ. Mr. Calvin and others think it only concerned Christ as David’s Antitype. The former, for their opinion, take notice of the frequent quotation of it in the New Testament, Matthew 27:48 John 19:28 Acts 1:20 Romans 15:3. The other urge that there are some things in that Psalm which cannot agree to Christ. The matter is not much. Zeal is nothing but a warmth of love and anger. It is good to be zealous, yea, swallowed up with zeal, in a good cause; but men must take heed of the Pharisaical zeal, not according to knowledge. Christ was zealous, but the cause was good. And his disciples remembered that it was written,.... In Psalm 69:9, which Psalm belongs to the Messiah, as is manifest from the citations out of it in the New Testament, and the application of them to Christ, as in John 15:25, compared with Psalm 69:4. Christ is represented in it, as suffering for the sins of his people; for he himself was innocent; and was hated without a cause; but having the sins of his people imputed to him, he made satisfaction for them, and so restored what he took not away. His sufferings are spoken of in it as very great; and from it we learn, that they are fitly called, by himself, a baptism, which he desired to be baptized with, Luke 12:50, since the waters are said to come into his soul, and he to be in deep waters, where the floods overflowed him; so that he was as one immersed in them: it is not only prophesied of him in it, that he should be the object of the scorn and contempt of the Jewish nation, and be rejected by them, and treated with the utmost indignity, and loaded with reproaches; but it foretold, that they should give him gall to eat, and vinegar to drink, which were literally fulfilled in him: and even the Jews themselves seem to be under some conviction, that the Psalm has respect to him; for Aben Ezra, a noted commentator of theirs, on the last words of the Psalm, has this note;

"the sense is, they and their children shall inherit it in the days of David, or in the days of the Messiah.''

It appears from hence, that the disciples of Christ were acquainted with the sacred writings, and had diligently read them, and searched into them, and had made them their study; and upon this wonderful action of Christ, called to mind, and reflected upon the following passage of Scripture, which they judged very proper and pertinent to him:

the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up. This passage, so far as it is cited, agrees exactly, word for word, with the original text in Psalm 69:9, wherefore it is very strange that Surenhusius (f) should remark a difference, and give himself a good deal of trouble to reconcile it: he observes, that in the Hebrew text, it is read, "the zeal of the Lord", in the third person; whereas it is there, , "the zeal of thine house", as here, in the second person: indeed, the word "for", is left out, as he remarks, there being no need of it in the citation; the evangelist only historically relating the accommodation of it to Christ, by the disciples; whereas in the original text, the words contain a reason of the reproach and shame which Christ endured, and was put to by the Jews on account of his zeal for the house, honour, and worship of God; and the latter part of the text is not produced at all, being not for the present purpose, though very applicable to Christ; and is cited, and applied to him by the apostle, in Romans 15:3. Such was Christ's regard to his Father's house, and which was typical of the church of God; and such his concern for his honour, ordinances, and worship, that when he saw the merchandise that was carried on in the temple, his zeal, which was a true and hearty affection for God, and was according to knowledge, was stirred up in him, and to such a degree, that it was like a consuming fire within him, that ate up his spirits; so that he could not forbear giving it vent, and expressing it in the manner he did, by driving those traders out of it. Phinehas and Elias were in their zeal, as well as other things, types of Christ; and in the Spirit and power of the latter he came; and Christ not only expressed a zeal for the house of God, the place of religious worship, but for the church and people of God, whose salvation he most earnestly desired, and most zealously pursued: he showed his strong, and affectionate regard to it, by his suretyship engagements for them, by his assumption of their nature, by his ardent desire to accomplish it, and by his voluntary and cheerful submission to death on account of it. And such was his zeal for it, that it eat him up, it inflamed his Spirit and affections, consumed his time and strength, and, at last, his life: and he also showed a zeal for the discipline of God's house, by his severe reflections on human traditions; by asserting the spirituality of worship; by commanding a strict regard to divine institutions; and by sharply inveighing against the sins of professors of religion: and he discovered a warm zeal for the truths of the Gospel, by a lively and powerful preaching of them; by his constancy and assiduity in it; by the many fatiguing journeys he took for that purpose; by the dangers he exposed himself to by it; and by the care he took to free the Gospel from prejudice and calumnies: and it becomes us, in imitation of our great master, to be zealous for his truths and ordinances, and for the discipline of his house, and not bear with either the erroneous principles, or the bad practices of wicked men.

(f) Biblos Katallages, p. 347.

And his disciples remembered that it was written, The {g} zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

(g) Zeal in this place is taken for a wrathful indignation and displeasure of the mind, brought about when someone deals wickedly and evilly towards those whom we love well.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
John 2:17. Ἐμνήσθησαν] At the very time of the occurrence, and not (as Olshausen asserts) after the resurrection, a circumstance which has to be stated in John 2:22 (comp. John 12:16).

The text quoted is Psalm 69:10; the theocratic sufferer in this psalm, a psalm written during the exile, is a type of the Messiah; see John 15:25, John 19:28 ff. Comp. Romans 15:3; Romans 11:9; Acts 1:20καταφάγεταί με] will devour or consume me, is to be understood of a power which wears one out internally, Psalm 119:139, not to be referred to the death of Jesus (Bengel, Olshausen, Hofmann, Weissag. u. Erf. p. 111; Luthardt, comp. Brückner), for the disciples could at that time have thought of anything but His death; comp. John 2:22. In this wrathful zeal, which they saw had taken hold of Jesus, they thought they saw the Messianic fulfilment of that word in the psalm, wherein the speaker declares his great zeal for God’s house, which was yet to wear him out. The fulfilment relates to the ὁ ζῆλος τοῦ οἴκου σου, whereof the καταφάγεται indicates only the violence and permanence; and there is therefore no ground for imagining already any gloomy forebodings on the part of the disciples (Lange). For ἐσθίειν and ἔδειν, used of consuming emotions (as in Aristophanes, Vesp. 287), see Jacobs, ad Anthol. VI. 280; Del. epigr. p. 257. As to the future φάγομαι, which belongs to the LXX. and Apocrypha, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 327; like the classical ἔδομαι, it never stands as present (against Tholuck, Hengstenberg, Godet, and others).

Note.

If there was but one cleansing of the temple, then either John or the Synoptics have given an erroneous narrative. But if it happened twice,[140] first at the beginning, and then at the end of the Messianic ministry of Jesus,—a supposition which in itself corresponds too well to the significance of the act (in so far as its repetition was occasioned by the state of disorder remaining unchanged after so long an interval had elapsed) to be inconceivable (as has been asserted by some), or even merely to pass the limits of probability,—it is then, on the one hand, conceivable that the Synoptics do not contain the first cleansing, because Christ’s early labours in Jerusalem do not belong to the range of events which they generally narrate; and, on the other hand, that John passes over the second cleansing, because he had already recorded the Messianic ΣΗΜΕῖΟΝ of the same kind. We are not therefore to suppose that the one account is true, and the other false, but to assume that the act was repeated. See on Matthew 21:12-13. So the Fathers and most subsequent writers; also Schleiermacher, Tholuck, Olshausen, B. Crusius, Maier, Ebrard, Luthardt, Riggenbach, Lange, Baumgarten, Hengstenberg, Godet, etc. Others, on the contrary, admitting only one temple-cleansing, decide in favour, some of the synoptical account (Strauss, Weisse, Baur, Hilgenfeld, Scholten, Schenkel[141]), and some in favour of John’s (Lücke, De Wette, Ammon, Krabbe, Brückner, Ewald, Weizsäcker, and many others; Bäumlein hesitatingly). The latter would be the correct view, because John was an eye-witness; although we are not to suppose, as Baur, in keeping with his view of the fourth Gospel, thinks, that John derived the facts from the Synoptics, but fixed the time of the transaction independently, in consistency with the idea of reformatory procedure. See also Hilgenfeld, who traces here the “idiosyncrasy of John,” who, with reference at least to the knowledge of the disciples and the relations of Jesus to the Jews, begins where the Synoptics leave off; and thus his narrative is merely a peculiar development of synoptical materials. Besides, upon the supposition of two distinct cleansings of the temple, any essential difference between the two acts themselves is not to be discovered. Luthardt, indeed, following Hofmann (comp. Lichtenstein, p. 156), thinks that, in the synoptical account, Jesus as prophet protects the place of divine worship, but that in John’s He as Son exercises His authority over the house; but the ὁ οἶκός μου of the Synoptics, as the declaration of God, exactly corresponds with ΤῸΝ ΟἾΚΟΝ ΤΟῦ ΠΑΤΡΌς ΜΟΥ in John as the word of Christ. The distinction, moreover, that the first cleansing was the announcement of reformation, and the second that of judgment (Hengstenberg), cannot be made good, separates what is clearly connected, and attaches too much importance to collateral minutiae. This remark in answer to Godet, who regards the first cleansing as “un appel,” the second as “une protestation.” The essential element of difference in John’s account lies in the very striking declaration of Jesus about the temple of His body, John 2:19, of which the Synoptics have not a word, and which possesses great prophetic significance as uttered at the very outset of His Messianic ministry, but has no special fitness at the end of it. Jesus accordingly did not utter it again at the second cleansing, but only at the first, though upon that second cleansing also, occasion was given for so doing (Matthew 21:23). It is this very declaration, however, which marks unmistakeably the Messianic character of the appearance of Jesus in Jerusalem from the very first (against Weizsäcker, Evang. Gesch. p. 260). Chap. John 7:3 is not the first place which treats of that Messianic appearance.

[140] “Whether it took place before or after, once or twice, it takes nothing from our faith.”—LUTHER.

[141] Comp. also Luther: “It seems to me that John here skips over the three first years.”17. remembered] Then and there. Who could know this but a disciple? Who would think of inventing it? See above on John 2:11.

was written] Better, is written; in the Greek it is the perf. part. pass. with the auxiliary, which S. John almost always uses in quotations, while the Synoptists commonly use the perf. pass. Comp. John 6:31; John 6:45, John 10:34, John 12:14 (John 19:19).

hath eaten me up] Rather, will devour, or consume me, i.e. wear me out. Psalm 69:9, a psalm referred to again John 15:25 and John 19:28.

It is difficult to believe that this cleansing of the Temple is identical with the one placed by the Synoptists at the last Passover in Christ’s ministry; difficult also to see what is gained by the identification. If they are the same event, either S. John or the Synoptists have made a gross blunder in chronology. Could S. John, who was with our Lord at both Passovers, make such a mistake? Could S. Matthew, who was with Him at the last Passover, transfer to it an event which took place at the first Passover, a year before his conversion? When we consider the immense differences which distinguish the last Passover from the first in Christ’s ministry, it seems incredible that anyone who had contemporary evidence could through any lapse of memory transfer a very remarkable incident indeed from one to the other. On the other hand the difficulty of believing that the Temple was twice cleansed is very slight. Was Christ’s preaching so universally successful that one cleansing would be certain to suffice? And if two years later He found that the evil had returned, would He not be certain to drive it out once more? Differences in the details of the narratives corroborate this view.John 2:17. Ἐμνήσθησαν, they remembered) Comp. John 2:22, ch. John 12:16 [His triumphant entry into Jerusalem], “These things understood not His disciples at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him.” Concerning the time of remembrance, also ch. John 14:26, “The Holy Ghost shall bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”—ὁ ζῆλοςκαταφάγεταί με, Zeal—shall eat Me up[46]) So Septuagint, Psalm 69:10. In truth, His enemies afterwards killed Jesus on account of His zeal for His Father’s house.—οἴκου, house) See John 2:16.

[46] So ABP, the best authorities, read; but the old Latin Versions abc Vulg., and the Rec. Text, read κατέφαγέ, hath eaten Me up.—E. and T.Verse 17. - His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thy house will consume me. The future tense, affirmed by the best manuscripts, never (Meyer) bears the present meaning. The disciples, familiar with the Old Testament, remembered at the time the words of Psalm 69:9. In that psalm the theocratic Sufferer approached the climax of his sorrows, and admitted that a holy zeal for God's house will ultimately consume him - eat him up. Tile word is used for consuming emotions (cf. Aristoph., 'Vespae,' 287), and there is a foreshadowing of the reproach and agony which will befall the righteous Servant of God in his passion for God's honour. The parallelism of the second clause of the verse, "The reproaches of them that reproached thee have fallen upon me," confirm the application, though the words are not cited. Several other citations are made in the New Testament from this psalm, which, whether it be Messianic in the oracular sense or not, is dearly one that furnished the mind of the early Church with abundant illustration of the suffering of the Christ (Romans 15:3; Romans 11:9, 10; Acts 1:20; cf. also Psalm 69:21 with the narrative of the Crucifixion). Thoma labours to find in the Old Testament prophecies generally the true source of the Johannine narrative. He points to Hosea 6:5; Malachi 3:11; Jeremiah 25:29. It was written (γεγραμμένον ἐστὶν)

Literally, it stands written. This form of the phrase, the participle with the substantive verb, is peculiar to John in place of the more common γέγραπται. For a similar construction see John 3:21.

The zeal of thine house

Jealousy for the honor of God's house. Zeal, ζῆλος, from ζέω, to boil. See on James 3:14.

Hath eaten me up (κατέφαγέ με)

So the Sept., Psalm 68 (A.V., Psalm 69:9). But the best texts read καταφάγεται, shall eat up. So Rev., Wyc., "The fervor of love of thine house hath eaten me."

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