Someone had a question about what Jesus meant when he said:
Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
I believe that it is often best to read the entire chapter (as well a commentary in link above) in order to understand John 2:19.
Note that the chapter begins with the wedding at Cana, where Jesus turned water into wine.
This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory; and His disciples believed in Him.
f. This beginning of signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee: This beginning of signs in the Gospel of John is a miracle of conversion, from the old ways of law, ceremony and purification to the new life of Jesus.
It is interesting to note that the money-changers, where Gentiles were selling wares, was on the outer court of the Temple. This was the only place where Gentiles could enter.
B. The temple cleansed.
1. (Jhn 2:13-17) Jesus drives out the moneychangers and sellers of expensive “approved” sacrificial animals.
a. The Passover of the Jews was at hand: Jerusalem would be crowded with thousands of visitors coming at Passover. The temple mount would be particularly crowded, and Jesus saw many doing business in the outer courts of the temple.
b. When He had made a whip of cords: When Jesus drove those doing business out of the temple courts, He did not do it in a flash of anger. He carefully took the time to make a whip of cords, and thought carefully about what He would do.
c. He drove them all out … poured out the changers’ money and overturned tables: Why did this offend Jesus so much? The outer courts of the temple were the only place where Gentiles could come and worship. This area (the court of the Gentiles) was made into house of merchandise.
i. Matthew, Mark, and Luke each describe another cleansing of the temple Jesus performed, towards the end of His earthly ministry. In both cases, the presence of these merchants in the temple courts spoiled the only place Gentiles could pray. In addition, their dishonesty made their presence all the worse.
d. John began with a miracle of conversion (changing water into wine). Then he shows Jesus with a work of cleansing (the cleansing of the temple). This is always how Jesus works in His people: conversion, then cleansing. [bold mine]
2. (Jhn 2:18-22) Jesus speaks of a new temple, and its destiny. [bold and italics mine]
So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. ” Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 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.
a. What sign do You show to us, since You do these things? This wasn’t necessarily a bad question. Anyone who drove out the merchants from the temple courts claimed the authority to do it. The Jews wanted to know if Jesus really had this authority. The problem is that they demanded a sign from Jesus to prove it.
b. Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up: Jesus speaks here of the temple of His body. He probably even gestured to Himself as He said this. Jesus knew that these religious leaders would attempt to destroy His body, but He also knew that they would not succeed.
c. I will raise it up: Who raised Jesus from the dead? Jesus says that He will raise Himself, despite the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses and others. This was a claim no mere man could make, a claim repeated dramatically in John 10:18.