11 And the crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth in Galilee.’
12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.

NASB  Matthew 21:12

12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, …
15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves;

NASB  Mark 11:12 and 15

SAB contradiction 902 (by book)

A visitor wrote:

‘I am having trouble with the stories of The Triumphal Entry, The Temple Cleansing, and the Cursing of the Fig Tree. The times, event order, and days ”seem” to be jumbled between the gospel accounts. I am a Christian who wants to understand and uphold Scripture.’


Indeed when comparing the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) one may wonder why the gospel writers told stories with those seeming differences. All the (four) gospels have a narration about the Triumphal Entry in Jerusalem. There they agree together, but then the questions come up.

In this article we will consider the questions concerning the Temple Cleansing.
The subjects are found in the chapters: John 2, Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19. In our comments we only mention the verses.


Was there a Temple Cleansing immediately after Jesus’ Glorious Entry (Matthew, Luke) or was that the next day in the morning when Jesus visited the temple (Mark)? It seems as if one of the two has given mistakenly a wrong order. Or wasn’t there any Cleansing at all (John)?

Temple Cleansing

Matthew and Luke relate a cleansing of the temple on the day of the Triumphal Entry, while Mark tells of a cleansing on the day thereafter. How to cope with that? Well, the authors didn’t individually like to repeat stories; sometimes they did, but generally not. So, Matthew and Luke only mention the first cleansing of that Passover, while Mark calls into remembrance the second one. John doesn’t even speak here about a cleansing, but previously, in the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, the first Passover, John mentioned such an event.

Mostly theologians reckon with one cleansing and they suppose that the gospel writers placed that in their story wherever they liked. Of course this is not in accordance with the order of events as the gospels overwhelmingly show. There is nothing wrong with accepting several cleansings on different occasions that Jesus was in Jerusalem. Jesus would have been inconsequent if he only cleansed the temple courts one time, so it is more natural to accept several such occasions.

N.B. The gospel writers generally used the word ‘Kai’, ‘And’, at the beginning of a sentence to indicate that there was a missing time interval in the order of events. With this formula, Matthew and Luke could easily skip the cleansing of the day after the Triumphal Entry.


There were at least three Temple Cleansings. John describes the first one (2:15), the first Passover. Matthew and Luke describe the second one after the Glorious Entry and Mark describes the third cleansing, on the day after the Entry.

Final remark

Too often our theologians have overlooked the meaning of ‘And-sentences’ (main clauses beginning with And): often not a seamless, continuous succession of events, but frequently a disconnection of events.

No Bible Contradiction