20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.
Then the Jews said,
The Jews completely misunderstood Jesus because He did not answer them on their terms but His. They only understood the surface of what He said. In the next pericope, Jesus would make it clear what it meant to become a Christian (Jn 3:1f). In this passage Jesus shifted the conversation to Himself.
“It has taken forty-six years to build this temple,
The Jews responded to Jesus with an incredulous question. Herod the Great’s temple was a long time in the works. Herod wanted to replace Zerubbabel’s temple because it did not have the same glory as that of Solomon’s (Hag 2:3). Work on the temple continued until around AD 63.
The Jews considered Jesus’ statement as a threat to the temple buildings. They were dubious about Jesus’ statement.
and will You [emphatic] raise it up in three days?”
It would be impossible to rebuild the temple in three days if it took 46 years for Herod to build it. The Jews’ emphasis on the word “You” shows their contempt for Jesus’ statement.
The apostle John responded with his own commentary of what Jesus said.
He was speaking of the temple of His body.
Jesus spoke of the temple as being His body. He was not the Herodian temple. It was in this body where the glory of the eternal Word abode (Jn 1:14). The miracle of the resurrection was a much greater indication of His authority than rebuilding Herod’s temple in three days.
The “therefore” here continues and elaborates the narrative.
when He had risen from the dead,
John was writing from the viewpoint of the post-resurrection of Christ. Jesus’ death and resurrection rendered the Herodian temple obsolete.
His disciples remembered that He had said this to them;
The disciples did not get Jesus’ full point until after He rose from the dead (Jn 12:16). It took the bodily resurrection of Christ for the disciples to fully understand the events of this section of Scripture.
and they believed the Scripture
Disciples after Jesus’ resurrection during the apostle John’s day clearly believed Jesus rose from the dead. This is genuine belief, not spurious belief.
There is no particular “Scripture” here but the principle of Scripture that Jesus would rise from the dead. If there was a special passage in His mind, it was probably Psalm 16:8-11.
and the word which Jesus had said.
The disciples did not understand Jesus’ words until after He rose from the dead on the third day. They had to go through a process to understand the significance of Christ’s coming, death, and resurrection.
All types of the Old Testament were rendered inoperative at the arrival of Christ on earth.
Jesus’ point was that if you destroy the temple of His body, His body in effect renders inoperative the purpose of the original temple. Jesus said, “Destroy this temple”; the crucifixion of Christ destroyed the true and eternal temple.