The Temple in Christian Thought - ISBE

From the time that the temple ceased to exist, the Talmud took its place in Jewish estimation; but it is in Christianity rather than in Judaism that the temple has a perpetual existence. The New Testament writers make no distinction between one temple and another. It is the idea rather than the building which is perpetuated in Christian teaching. The interweaving of temple associations with Christian thought and life runs through the whole New Testament. Jesus Himself supplied the germ for this development in the word He spoke concerning the temple of His body (Jn 2:19,21). Paul, notwithstanding all he had suffered from Jews and Jewish Christians, remained saturated with Jewish ideas and modes of thought. In one of his earliest Epistles he recognizes the "Jerus that is above" as "the mother of us all" (Gal 4:26 the King James Version). In another, the "man of sin" is sitting "in the temple of God" (2 Thess 2:4). The collective church (1 Cor 3:16,17), but also the individual believer (1 Cor 6:19), is a temple. One notable passage shows how deep was the impression made upon Paul's mind by the incident connected with Trophimus the Ephesian (Acts 21:29). That "middle wall of partition" which so nearly proved fatal to him then was no longer to be looked for in the Christian church (Eph 2:14), which was "a holy temple" in the Lord (Eph 2:21). It is naturally in the Epistle to the Hebrews that we have the fullest exposition of ideas connected with the temple, although here the form of allusion is to the tabernacle rather than the temple (see TABERNACLE; compare Westcott on Hebrews, 233 ff). The sanctuary and all it included were but representations of heavenly things. Finally, in Revelation, the vision is that of the heavenly temple itself (11:19). But the church--professing Christendom?--is a temple measured by God's command (11:1,2 ff). The climax is reached in 21:22-23: "I saw no temple therein (i.e. in the holy city): for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof .... and the lamp thereof is the Lamb." Special ordinances are altogether superseded.