Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign show you unto us, seeing that you do these things?
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Alcuin of York
Note, that they allude here not to the first temple under Solomon, which was finished in seven years, but to the one rebuilt under Zorobabel. This was forty-six years building, in consequence of the hindrance raised by the enemies of the work.
For before the resurrection they did not understand the Scriptures, because they had not yet received the Holy Spirit, Who was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. But on the day of the resurrection our Lord appeared and opened their meaning to His disciples; that they might understand what was said of Him in the Law and the Prophets. And then they believed the prediction of the Prophets that Christ would rise the third day, and the word which Jesus had spoken to them: Destroy this temple
The Father also raised Him up again; to Whom He says, Raise You me up, and I shall reward them. But what did the Father do without the Word? As then the Father raised Him up, so did the Son also: even as He said below, I and My Father are one.
Or it may be that this number fits in with the perfection of the Lord’s Body. For six times forty-six are two hundred and seventy-six days, which make up nine months and six days, the time that our Lord’s Body was forming in the womb; as we know by authoritative traditions handed down from our fathers, and preserved by the Church. He was, according to general belief, conceived on the eighth of the Kalends of April, the one which He suffered, and born on the eighth of the Kalends of January. The intervening time contains two hundred and seventy-six days, i.e. six multiplied by forty.
The process of human conception is said to be this. The first six days produce a substance like milk, which in the following nine is converted into blood; in twelve m...
For inasmuch as they sought a sign from our Lord of His rightto eject the customary merchandise from the temple, He replied, that that temple signified the temple of His Body, in which was no spot of sin; as if He said, As by My power I purify your inanimate temple from your merchandise and wickedness; so the temple of My Body, of which that is the figure, destroyed by your hands, on the third day I will raise again.
The Jews therefore answered, &c. Meaning, what miracle dost Thou show, that Thou takest upon Thyself, contrary to the custom, to cast the sellers out of the Temple, as having received authority from God: for from Prayer of Manasseh , that Isaiah , from pontiff or governor, we know thou hast none? For Christ had intimated that He was sent by God, yea, that He was the Son of God; for He had said ( John 2:16), Make not My Father"s house a house of merchandise. They ask Him therefore to prove that He was the Son of God, and Messiah, even as Moses had shown signs and prodigies from heaven, by which he demonstrated to Pharaoh and the Egyptians that he was sent by God. So Ruperti.
The multitude of the Jews are startled at the unwonted authority, and they who are over the temple are extremely vexed, deprived of their not easily counted gains. And they cannot convict Him of not having spoken most rightly in commanding them not to exhibit the Divine Temple as a house of merchandise. But they devise delays to the flight of the merchants, excusing themselves that they ought not to submit to Him off-hand, nor without investigation to receive as Son of God Him Who was witnessed to by no sign.
Do you see their excessive malice, and how the benefits done to others incensed them more (than reproofs)?
At one time then He said, that the Temple was made by them a den of thieves, showing that what they sold was gotten by theft, and rapine, and covetousness, and that they were rich through other men's calamities; at another, a house of merchandise, pointing to their shameless traffickings. But wherefore did He this? Since he was about to heal on the Sabbath day, and to do many such things which were thought by them transgressions of the Law, in order that He might not seem to do this as though He had come to be some rival God and opponent of His Father, He takes occasion hence to correct any such suspicion of theirs. For One who had exhibited so much zeal for the House was not likely to oppose Him who was Lord of the House, and who was -->worshipped--> in it. No doubt even the former years during which He lived according to the Law, were sufficient to show His reverence for the L...
But were signs necessary for His putting a stop to evil practices? Was not the having such zeal for the house of God, the greatest sign of His virtue? They did not however remember the prophecy, but asked for a sign; at once irritated at the loss of their base gains, and wishing to prevent Him from going further. For this dilemma, they thought, would oblige Him either to work miracles, or give up His present course. But He refuses to give them the sign, as Hedid on a like occasion, when He answers, An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet; only the answer is more open there than here. He however who even anticipated men’s wishes, and gave signs when He was not asked, would not have rejected here a positive request, had He not seen a crafty design in it. As it was, Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
But why does He give them the sign of His resurre...
The Jews seeing Jesus thus acting with power, and having heard Him say, Make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise, ask of Him a sign; Then answered the Jews and said to Him, What sign show You to us, seeing that You do these things? .
He does not however provoke them to commit murder, by saying, Destroy; but only shows that their intentions were not hidden from Him. Let the Arians observe how our Lord, as the destroyer of death, says, I will raise it up; that is to say, by My own power.
The Jews, supposing that He spoke of the material temple, scoffed: Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and will You rear it up in three days? .
From this Apollinarius draws an heretical inference: and attempts to show that Christ's flesh was inanimate, because the temple was inanimate. In this way you will prove the flesh of Christ to be wood and stone, because the temple is composed of these materials. Now if you refuse to allow what is said, Now is My soul trou...