The True Temple

Jesus is the True and Final Sanctuary where the glory of Yahweh dwells, the substance foreshadowed by the old TempleIn the second chapter of John, the disciples discover that Jesus is the True and Final Temple of God. The era in which God “dwelt” in portable tents and stone buildings came to an end with the resurrection of the Messiah from the dead. No longer does God dwell in structures “made-by-hand,” nor can His presence be contained within physical walls or geographical boundaries that keep His people separated from His presence.

Beach Cosmos - Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash
[Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash]

After the Passover celebration, Jesus “
went up to Jerusalem” to visit the Temple. There, he observed financial transactions taking place in the “Court of the Gentiles.” This produced the incident when the Messiah of Israel “cleansed the Temple” and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers:

  • (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 other rituals. The hostile reaction by certain “Jews” to the actions of Jesus illustrates the words from the Prologue of John – “He came to his own and those who were his own did not receive him” - (John 1:11).

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

Jesus was in the “Temple,” which translates the Greek noun hieron and refers to the entire temple complex. However, in verse 19, the term naos is found on his lips, not hieron (“Destroy this SANCTUARY and in three days I will raise it”).

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


After his resurrection, the disciples remembered the passage cited from the Psalms by Jesus. In the Hebrew Bible, it has a past tense verb, “The zeal of your house consumed me." But in John, the Greek verb tense becomes future, “The zeal of your house WILL CONSUME me” - (Psalm 69:9: “Because zeal for your house has eaten me up”).

The Greek verb rendered “consume” or katesthiō is a compound of the verb “eat” (esthiō) and the preposition kata, commonly used for “down.” The compound form intensifies the sense of esthiō so it denotes “to eat up, consume entirely.”  Thus, his zeal demonstrated in the “cleansing” of 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,” referring to his coming resurrection. His opponents took his words literally and misunderstood his meaning. John adds a comment so his readers will not make the same mistake - “But he was speaking of the SANCTUARY [naos] of his body.”

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

Thus, the Gospel of John presents Jesus as the True and Greater Temple. Unlike the manmade stone structure in Jerusalem, this one would never be destroyed, and since his resurrection, he has been the dwelling place of the glory of Yahweh.

In the Crucified Messiah, 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 forevermore in the face of Jesus Christ for all men to behold - (2 Corinthians 3:18-4:6).




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