Jesus flipping tables in the temple

I had a friend say to me- "we need to understand the rioters, where they’re coming from and not judge them so much because even Jesus was a rioter, he flipped those tables in the temple " they said. I was looking for input on this as well as how to counter that idea. I do not believe Jesus was a rioter, just look at the record of his life, he clearly was not a rioter. I wanted wisdom from other’s on this topic-thank you!



2 things I would say.

  1. The money changers in the temple were using an area that was supposed to be for prayer to conduct commerce. It is also quite likely that they were using rigged scales to cheat the people when they made exchanges. Jesus was right to be upset with them and throw them out of the temple.

  2. Notice that Jesus threw them out of the TEMPLE. He did NOT go through the city of Jerusalem burning down other people’s homes and businesses. He protested; He didn’t riot.


Hey @jeffaspenson, glad you brought this to the connect! This is a very complex issue! I think your friend was right on in recognizing our need to understand where a lot of these rioters are coming from! Many of them have had trauma and injustice in their life. But like you, I too do not believe Jesus to be a rioter. In the thread
I mentioned this about Jesus and the turning over of the tables:

“With the Story of Jesus,… It was the temple that they were perverting to be a place of merchandise rather than a house of prayer, like it was intended
to be. He wasn’t going around turning over tables in every place He went. It was, of all places, His own ‘house’ that He did that in and rightfully so.”
He was purging the temple.

There were plenty of people around Christ that were rioters, they stirred up the crowd to riotous activity. Pilot didn’t crucify Christ to satisfy himself, he did so to appease the crowd (rioters).
Jesus came to offer healing to those that were rioting against Him.

We as Christians shouldn’t get bitter at the rioters, but in strength offer the gospel of Jesus Christ to those that are rioting.
When we are rioting in an uncontrolled way we are opposing ourselves in that we are casting down the very sociological foundations that could bring us peace. (2 Timothy 2:24-26)

Jesus came to heal not to destroy, to forgive not to condemn, and to give life not death. He willingly gave His life in the hands of sinful and unjust men – it wasn’t fair, but He did it because of His great love for us all.

Grant it that justice is necessary but must not be brought about in an unjust way!

Like @petros555 mentioned, I do believe He protested, but I don’t see anywhere in Scripture of Him rioting as I believe it would’ve been contrary to His character.


Thank you for asking this question. I noticed an old friend of mine using the same example to justify the destruction of property. I knew he grossly misunderstood and applied Jesus’s actions, but didn’t have an opportunity to address him about it.

These responses from @CharityLinzey and @petros555 were very helpful. I thank you both for the answers you gave.

In Christ,


I see this as Petros and Charity do. At this time, the goal of Jesus was clearly to run them from the Temple, not to destroy their profession. He spent his entire ministry talking to cheaters and convincing them to change their ways without ever once disrupting their business. There is no reason to believe He was looking throughout the city for money changers to confront. This was done because of where they were doing it, not what they were doing.

It really seems like a stretch to equate this Scripture with anything we are seeing from rioters.


Thank you so much @petros555. This was great

thank you @bbattista

thank you @CharityLinzey. This was very helpful

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thank you @ccmccomas

And Jesus didn’t destroy property nor cause loss to the merchants. He overturned the money tables but didn’t pocket the coins, he used a whip of cords to scatter the livestock which could be recaptured, and he told the sellers of birds, “take these things out of here.” He didn’t open the cages so the birds would fly away, thus not depriving the owners of selling them in a proper venue. He didn’t cause harm to the property itself.


That’s true! I appreciate you bringing that out, @carmen.

In my view when I read of Jesus turning tables over I see the wrath of God displayed on earth. Jesus is God in human flesh. The Temple is Jesus’s home. Those vendors disrespected the house of God, Jesus’s house.
From that account I am reminded that God punishes sin!
Jesus is God, therefore, He has all rights to flip tables and cleanse the temple. We as humans cannot do that.
I think that many times we Christians think we can do exactly everything Jesus did but we forget that He is God! That is a stark difference. Only God can exercise wrath. Humans cannot. It is a sin when we are angry and it is a sin when we act in anger (even if we are angry at someone else’s sin).
Therefore when Jesus acted in anger He did not sin but He punished sin, not riot.
I hope this adds value to the discussion


I agree that God never gave us permission to display wrath. I just wanted to add that in Ephesians 4:26, He has acknowledged that we will be angry (that emotion) but we must not take a step further to sin: “Be ye angry, and sin not…” I take this to mean, for example, if we get angry when we see someone kicking someone that wouldn’t be sin, but kicking them back would be sin. Our reaction to that anger should be to help save the victim and to bear true witness to civic leaders to whom God gave the responsibility to rule righteously.


Thank you all for your input! Greatly appreciated. I have a follow up question, is it a sin to defend ourselves if we are attacked or harassed by someone who may hurt us. Not to hurt us because we are Christians, but just because they want to take something from you or they are angry and “take it out” on you.

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Hi @jeffaspenson I believe that the questioner is addressing two moral issues, the first is to understand the rights of the complainant, and second the right way to address their complaints. The motive is very important to understand.
Scripture teaches us in 1 Pet 3:9 not to render evil for evil.
Jesus was addressing an issue that the priest and been ignoring due to there love for money. He was cleaning His father’s house and not breaking down property that does not belong to him.
He has not broken any laws as the law was clear not to make the house of the Lord a house of thieves and vipers. Jesus Love is always misunderstood when he corrects.
Rioting at most times is breaking laws that are against what the scriptures are teaching us. Christians are not against the grievances of the rioter but are against the moral laws that are been broken. Jesus teaches us that we know we should love our neighbors, but then He says in Matt 5:44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.
So what gave Jesus the right to through over the tables? It’s his house, it’s His Father’s house. We tend to look at Him not acting lovingly. He loved them and that is why He needed to correct their ways. By disagreeing with the rioter actions, we are trying to help them to see the anger in their eyes and correct the way they are looking at the situation.
The main reason was that the scriptures needed to be fulfilled, the Jews needed a sign and He needed to fulfill the scriptures.

Thank you for sharing! This is something which I have been struggling with and so I decided to see what the scriptures really said about anger. Upon my research GOD spoke to me in Colossians 3:8 ~ But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
This verse comes together with the appeal to mortify the members upon the earth and Paul lists fornication, uncleanness, idolatry and so on.
So to me, the Lord told me that anger is just as bad as these other sins and that I needed to repent of it, as often as possible.
When I really studied the forbearance of GOD I realised that only GOD has the right to be angry and not any human being, yet he forbears, or make allowances for our sins. It’s an amazing thing! You see, GOD is totally perfect and sin is destroyed in His presence. Therefore every human was supposed to die but God forbears. So too Paul urges us to forbear. If GOD who is perfect makes allowances for our sins and loves us we are to also make allowances for each other’s sins and don’t be angry with them. If we do feel that emotion we are to take time out and repent of it then deal with the situation without anger but in peace. You would see how different your testimony would be! Trust me I know… Lol! It’s a work in progress. Just thought I would share.
God bless!

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