The Final Temple

One day, the disciples discovered that Jesus was the Temple of God. The era in which God “dwelt” in portable tents in the wilderness or stone buildings in Jerusalem had concluded with the arrival of the Messiah. No longer does God dwell in structures “made by hand.”  His presence cannot be contained by physical walls or geographic boundaries.

After the Passover, Jesus “went up to Jerusalem” to visit the Temple, where he observed financial transactions taking place in the “Court of the Gentiles,” causing him to drive out the moneychangers and merchants.

Alpine Meadow - Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash
[Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash]

  • (John 2:13-16) – “And near was the Passover of the Jews. And Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And he found in the temple them that were selling oxen and sheep and doves, also the moneychangers sitting. And making a scourge out of rushes, he drove out all of them, both the sheep and the oxen. And the moneychangers’ small coins poured he forth, and the tables he overturned. And to them who were selling the doves, he said, Take these things hence! Be not making the house of my Father a house of merchandise.

The Temple was the center of the Jewish faith, especially its prescribed sacrifices, annual feast days, and related rituals. The hostile reaction of certain “Jews” to the actions of Jesus illustrates the words in the Prologue of John – “He came to his own and those who were his own received him not” - (John 1:11).

From the start of his ministry, he was opposed by the priestly leaders of the Temple. In this incident, they sent representatives to ask him for a sign to demonstrate his authority.

The Greek noun translated as “Temple” is hieron (ίερον), which referred to the entire temple complex (Strong’s Concordance #G2411). However, in verse 19, the term naos (ναος) is found on his lips (Strong’s Concordance #G3485): “Destroy this SANCTUARY and in three days I will raise it.”

The latter term refers to the Sanctuary within the larger Temple complex, including the “Holy of Holies,” the inner sanctum where the presence of God dwelt.

  • (John 2:17-22) – “His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thy house is consuming me. The Jews, therefore, answered and said to him, What sign do you point out to us in that these things you are doing? Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this sanctuary and in three days I will raise it. The Jews, therefore, said, In forty and six years was this sanctuary built, and you in three days will raise it! But he was speaking concerning the sanctuary of his body. When, therefore, he had been raised from among the dead, his disciples remembered that this he had been saying, and they believed in the Scripture and in the word which Jesus had spoken.


The disciples remembered the passage cited from the Psalms after his resurrection. In the Hebrew Bible, it has a past tense verb, “The zeal of your house CONSUMED me," but the passage in John has a Greek verb in the future tense, “The zeal of your house WILL CONSUME me” - (Psalm 69:9).

The Greek verb translated as “consume” or katesthiō is a compound of the verb “eat” (esthiō) and the preposition kata (Strong’s Concordance #G2719). The compound form intensifies the sense of esthiō so it has the sense “to eat up, consume entirely.”

Thus, his zeal demonstrated by Jesus in the Court of the Gentiles contributed to his arrest, trial, and execution - (Matthew 26:60-61, 27:40, Mark 14:58, 15:29).

Jesus responded to his critics. If they destroyed “this Sanctuary,” he would raise it “after three days.”  His opponents took his words literally and misunderstood his point. The Gospel of John added a comment so readers would not make the same mistake - “But he was speaking of the SANCTUARY [naos, ναος] of his body.”

Jesus declared himself to be the True Sanctuary, the Naos of God. His opponents would destroy “that Sanctuary” when they killed him. After his resurrection, the disciples remembered this saying and “believed in the Scripture.”

Thus, the Gospel of John presents Jesus as the True Temple. Unlike the manmade stone structure in Jerusalem, this one would never be destroyed.

In Jesus of Nazareth, the presence of God is no longer restricted to any structure “made by hand” in Jerusalem or any other holy site. The glory of God is seen in the face of Jesus Christ for all men to behold - (2 Corinthians 3:18-4:6).

  • The True Tabernacle - (Jesus is the True and Greater Tabernacle in whom the presence and glory of God reside and manifest for all men to behold – John 1:14)
  • House of God - (Jesus is the true and only way of access to the Father, the Greater Bethel, and the House of God – John 1:47-50)
  • True Worship - (In Samaria, Jesus revealed that the presence of God no longer is limited to specific locations or man-made structures – John 4:20-24)



The Word Made Flesh

Language of the New Testament