Did Jesus whip the money changers?

Considering this was the reading this last Sunday, this has come up as a bit of a debtate. In Matthew 21 and John 2 Jesus is depicted as cleansing the temple. The account of John indicates Jesus grabbed a whip and drove them away.

I hadn’t really stumbled upon the disagreements of this passage until very recently. Some claim Jesus only tapped the whip on the animals to get them out, and some claim that Jesus actually used to whip on the men themselves, i.e. striking them. Most agree Jesus likely swung the whip towards both the animals and the men, but the controversy is did he hit anybody/ anything.

I had always believed he used the whip to hit the people and animals that were present. What else is a whip for than striking people or creatures?

I also encountered that up until Augustine, most of the Christian exegesis of these passages indicated that Christ did not strike anybody. Yet, from Augustine onward it seems that changed. Does anybody know where Augustine discusses this? Any other bits of credible church scholars on this?

It does not seem to say He did.

And that occurred to me.

"“He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables,”

I mean I think it is open to interpretation here. I have read current blogs that argue that he did not whip anybody. I just see the correlation between him making them whip and then “drove them all out of the temple area.” So logically he made the whip in order to drive them out. The whip can certainly be used on the animals, but the whip is made to strike a living creature, man or animal. So because it says “them” (which includes the moneychangers) I take the meaning to be that these money-changers would have been struck with the cords as they were bring driven out. While it doesn’t say it, it may not need to. There isn’t much need to be that specific if this is what was already understood. That is what I am trying to figure out.

Why put in the time to make a whip if you aren’t going to use it? :shrug:

I read a blog stating that the “them” is in reference to the sheep and oxen, as, once they are all gone, he turns to the people selling doves and orders them to get out. So, if He was whipping people, it would seem odd that the bird-sellers should be exempt.


Have you ever been close to a whip in use? If someone started cracking a whip around me, I’d be leaving. They can be used to scare people and animals without physically hurting them.

Yes, I have been around whips. I have a messed up family and people would crack them close to me just to make me jump, then I became immune. I’ve also been popped my one. Getting hit will make you run every time. No immunity in that one.

We’re supposed to believe that the greedy and evil moneychangers would leave their tables and overturned money because Jesus was cracking a whip NEAR them?!?!?!

I’m imagining Jesus doing an Indiana Jones, using the whip to grab the legs of the table, then pulling them, turning the tables over. Lather, rinse, repeat for the chairs they’re sitting on.


John Chapter 2 Verse 15: Making a whip out of cord, he drove them all out of the temple, sheep and cattle as well.

St. Augustine thinks Christ did this on three different occasions and that each story was not a retelling of the same story.

Can you provide the quotation?

Interesting passages.

It is doubtful that the animals and money-changers were in the Inner Sanctuary, where the temple building itself was and other courts. It was surrounded by a 60 foot wall and non-Jews could not enter on pain of death.

The outer courtyard was huge, and a gathering place for those of all faiths as well as tourists. It was elevated and access was limited. The remains can be seen today in Jerusalem.

So if Jesus drove the money-changers and animals OUT of that outer temple courtyard- probably that area known as the Royal Cloisters), are we to assume he bullied them down the steps that led up to base floor? Or was there some sort of service tunnel used for commerce that Jesus drove them to?

Not likely a single man could be that intimidating for that long a time over large beasts and their owners, as well as the moneychangers- who probably had guards with them as they wanted to protect their money.

Add that to the fact that during the Passover, scores of Roman soldiers would have been patrolling the ramparts of the walls and looking down into the tiled courtyard looking for any signs of trouble.

Jesus’ act was more like a hit-and-run commando attack that lasted for maybe a couple of minutes at best.

My bad, not three times, but rather two times.

“This makes it evident that this act was performed by the Lord not on a single occasion, but twice over; but that only the first instance is put on record by John, and the last by the other three.”
-St Augustine of Hippo, Harmony of the Gospels

One of my favorite Franciscans recently did a homily on this passage on the day it was the reading. He seemed to think Jesus meant business with the whip, and he usually gets his homily points from some kind of trusted and traditional commentaries.

Mar 08 - Homily: Jesus Cleanses the Temple