Temple is used for the Old Testament Hebrew word pronounced hay-kawl, and the New Testament Greek words hee-er-on and nah-os. In The Bible, the Old Testament and New Testament meanings and applications of the word Temple sharply differ.
The original Temple of God in Jerusalem, patterned after The Tabernacle In The Wilderness, was completed by King Solomon about 950 B.C. (1 Kings 6:1-38). It survived over 360 years before it was destroyed by the Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25:1-9) (see Why Babylon?)
After the Persians (see Ancient Empires - Persia) permitted their return from the Babylonian exile about 538 B.C., the Jews began to rebuild the Temple, which was completed about 15 years later. While almost certainly not as grand as the original Temple of Solomon, it survived over 450 years. It was this Temple that the Syrian king Antiochus IV desecrated in 168 B.C., triggering the revolt by The Maccabees. This Temple was largely destroyed by the conquering Romans under Pompey in 63 B.C. (see Ancient Empires - Rome)
The Herodian Temple, a rebuilding of the earlier Temple by Herod The Great, was the magnificent structure that existed at the time of Jesus Christ. It was there that The Lord drove out the money changers and had numerous confrontations with the Pharisees and Sadducees. This Temple was completely destroyed by the Roman Legions in 70 A.D., exactly as Jesus Christ prophesied, nearly 40 years earlier, that it would be (Matthew 24:1-2) (see Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D.). Since then, there has been no Temple in Jerusalem.
In the Christian era, Temple took on a much wider meaning -
- "Then the Jews demanded of Him, "What miraculous sign can you show us to prove Your authority to do all this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this Temple, and I will raise it again in three days." The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and You are going to raise it in three days?" But the Temple He had spoken of was His body." (John 2:18-21 NIV)
- "For through Him we both have access to The Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy Temple in The Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit." (Ephesians 2:18-22 NIV)
- "Our forefathers had the tabernacle of the Testimony with them in the desert. It had been made as God directed Moses, according to the pattern he had seen. Having received the tabernacle, our fathers under Joshua brought it with them when they took the land from the nations God drove out before them. It remained in the land until the time of David, who enjoyed God's favor and asked that he might provide a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built the house for Him. "However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men. As the prophet says: "'Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. What kind of house will you build for Me? says the Lord." (Acts 7:44-49 NIV) (see Stephen)
- "Don't you know that you yourselves are God's Temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God's Temple, God will destroy him; for God's Temple is sacred, and you are that Temple." (1 Corinthians 3:16-17 NIV)
- "For we are the Temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people." (2 Corinthians 6:16 NIV)
- "Do you not know that your body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)
Spiritual Temple In Prophecy
Prophetic interpretations of the meaning of Temple also sharply differ. There are physical and spiritual applications and interpretations. Examples of spiritual -
- "I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the Temple of My God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him The Name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from My God; and I will also write on him My new Name." (Revelation 3:11-12 NIV)
- "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of The Lamb [see What Is A Saint?]. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve Him day and night in His Temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For The Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes." (Revelation 7:14-17 NIV)
- "The nations were angry; and Your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding Your servants the prophets and Your saints and those who reverence Your Name, both small and great - and for destroying those who destroy the earth." Then God's Temple in heaven was opened, and within His Temple was seen The Ark of His covenant. And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake and a great hailstorm." (Revelation 11:18-19 NIV)
- "After this I looked and in heaven the Temple, that is, the Tabernacle of the Testimony, was opened. Out of the Temple came the seven angels with the seven plagues. They were dressed in clean, shining linen and wore golden sashes around their chests. Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls filled with the wrath of God, Who lives for ever and ever. And the Temple was filled with smoke from The Glory of God and from His power, and no one could enter the Temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were completed." (Revelation 15:5-8 NIV)
An End-Time Physical Temple?
There are a number of Jewish groups working toward the construction of an end-time Jewish Temple - a physical, Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Their preparations are genuine, professional, and well financed. They would begin building today if the political situation permitted it. But will it happen? Many Christians reject the thought of any such possibility, because their Christian perspective of "Temple" is now purely spiritual, and so they disregard the minds and actions of the Jewish people. But Jews aren't Christians. Jews have a religious perspective of their own, and since 1948, the Jewish state of Israel has been a reality.
Other Christians believe that the Jewish people will indeed construct another Jewish Temple in Jerusalem that is going to play an immense role in end-time prophecy - events that will affect everyone, everywhere.
What makes them believe that? Well, they believe that these Scriptures of Bible Prophecy, among others, can only mean a physical Jewish Temple, in Jerusalem, just prior to The Return Of Jesus Christ -
- "I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the Temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. And I will give power to My Two Witnesses [see also Are The Two Witnesses Here Now? and Down Without A Fight?], and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." (Revelation 11:1-3 NIV)
- "And one who causes desolation will place abominations on a wing of the Temple until the end that is decreed is poured out on him." (Daniel 9:27 NIV) (see The Abomination of Desolation)
- "His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the Temple and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation. With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him." (Daniel 11:31-32 NIV) (see The Antichrist)
- "He opposes and exalts himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, and even sets himself up in God's Temple, proclaiming himself to be God." (2 Thessalonians 2:4 NIV) (see The Lawless One)
- And, in The Words of Jesus Christ Himself -
"And this Gospel of The Kingdom [see The Kingdom of God] will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. "So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' [see The Place To Watch and When Could It Happen?] spoken of through the prophet Daniel - let the reader understand - then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let no one on the roof of his house go down to take anything out of the house. Let no one in the field go back to get his cloak. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now - and never to be equaled again [see The Seven Seals]."
"If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets [see The Great False Prophet] will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect - if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time."
"So if anyone tells you, 'There he is, out in the desert,' do not go out; or, 'Here he is, in the inner rooms,' do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of The Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather."
"Immediately after the distress of those days "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' [see Signs In The Heavens] "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." (Matthew 24:14-30 NIV)
Fact Finder: Will there be a Temple in the New Jerusalem?