Man of Sin, Sitting in the Temple of God

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sastark

Puritan Board Graduate
I just posted this on my blog at http://www.xanga.com/sastark

Let me know what you think!

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"Temple" in 2 Thess 2:4

by Seth Stark


There are four Greek words translated in the AV NT as "temple": naos (Strong's #3485), hieron (#2411), oikos (#3624), and eidoleion (#1493). Naos is used either in reference to the sanctuary of the temple in Jerusalem (that is the Holy place and the Holy of Holies), a heathen temple or metaphorically for the Church. Naos is the Greek word used in 2 Thess. 2:4. So, what does "naos" mean in 2 Thess. 2:4? What was the "temple of God" referred to by Paul? Was it the Holy of Holies in the Jerusalem temple which the High Priest would enter once a year? Or is Paul referring to the Church?

To answer this question, we must go beyond Paul's warning of the man of sin, and examine other uses of the word "naos" in the NT. As already stated, this word is used to refer to three things: the Holy place and Holy of Holies, a heathen temple, or the Church. Since Paul clearly says the man of sin sits in the "temple of God" we can dismiss the one time in the NT when naos is translated as a heathen temple. Therefore we are left with two possible interpretations of the word- either the sanctuary of the physical temple in Jerusalem or the body of Christ, the Church.

Let us first examine passages where "naos" is used and the definition if obvious. Matthew 23:16-17; 21 is the first occurrence of naos in the NT:

"'Woe to you, blind guides, who say, "Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it." Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?'"..."'He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it.'"

Here, Jesus condemns the Pharisees for swearing by the gold of the temple, and because we know that "naos" refers to the holy place and holy of holies, we can know that the Pharisees swore by the gold of the sanctuary, which only the Priests could enter. What arrogance and blasphemy!

Only a few verses later, in Matt 23:35, "naos" occurs again:

"'That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.'"

Here, Christ makes reference to the historical event of the slaying of the prophet Zechariah, author of the book of Zechariah. Obviously, Jesus is speaking of the physical temple in Jerusalem.

Other occurrences of naos which obviously refer to the physical temple in Jerusalem are:

Matt. 27:5- When Judas Iscariot throws down the silver which he received as payment for betraying Jesus in the temple.

Matt 27:51- When the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom.

Mark 15:38- Again, referring to the veil of the temple being torn.

Luke 1:9, 21-22- These verses tell us about Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, offering incense in the temple and the vision which he had seen.

Luke 23:45- Again, referring to the veil of the temple being torn.

The next occurrence of naos, where the meaning is obvious, is in 1 Corinthians 3. Here, Paul writing to the church in Corinth says in verses 16-17:

"Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are. "

In Ephesians chapter 2, we again find a passage where naos is used, and the definition is clear.

"Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."

These are the passages where the use of the word naos is clearest. Can these shed light on 2 Thess 2:4? I believe they can.

There were many significant events which occurred while Christ was on the cross; however, one of these events relates directly to our study, and that is the tearing of the veil in the temple. What was the significance of the veil being torn? It shows that we now no longer need an intercessor between God and men as was the case in the Old Covenant. We now have direct access to the throne of God through Jesus Christ, our one mediator and advocate. When that veil was torn, the temple worship in Jerusalem ceased to be the acceptable manner in which the people of God were to worship the Lord. The blood of goats and bulls would no longer suffice, for the One perfect sacrifice had been made. The temple in Jerusalem was no longer the temple of God, for the people of God would no longer worship God in that temple. Instead, God created for Himself a new temple, but not a temple built with hands (Acts 7:48 and 17:24), but rather a spiritual temple, also called the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), commonly called the "œchurch". Now, it ought to be clear, since the Temple in Jerusalem was no longer the "œtemple of God" that Paul is referring to the church in 2 Thess. 2:4.

In conclusion, we can know that the man of sin would sit in the temple of God- the church, claiming to be God. And who better fits this description that the bishop of Rome? Did he not sit in the church, the temple of God, showing himself to be God by taking to himself titles such as "œMost Holy Father", "œThe Head of the Church", and "œThe Vicar of Christ on Earth"?

Therefore, to say that "œNo justification exists for separating Paul's words from either the Temple standing at the time of his writing or the end of the Jewish age." is to ignore the weight of Scripture which, when examined, makes it very clear that Paul is speaking of the Church- the only temple of God at the time of Paul´s writing.

*All quotations are from the New King James Version of the Bible

[Edited on 4-25-2005 by sastark]
 

cornelius vantil

Puritan Board Freshman
ahh i must beg to differ...while it is true that "naos can be refered to as "The church" i believe the context of the passage would suggest a 1st century fullfillment for at the vwey least this reason

- the man of sin was being restrained in the 1st century

"6And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time."

according to Paul this prophecy was to be understood in a 1st centuryt context not a mideveal one. how would 1st century believers know that the bishop of rome was being restrain, when the papacy was still a few hundred years away? this prophecy understood in light of other escatalogical passages (ie olivet discourse) is best understood as events fullfilled around the fall of jerusalem in 70 ad
 

sastark

Puritan Board Graduate
Herminio- This is exactly where the discussion over on my blog has gone, and it has boiled down to this issue: When did the temple in Jerusalem cease to be the "temple of God"? I maintain that this occured when Christ was offered as the final sacrifice and brought sacrifice and offering to an end. After that point, how could the temple in Jerusalem any longer be referred to as the "temple of God"?

Also, of interesting note: Every other time Paul uses the phrase "temple of God" he is clearly referring to the church, and not to the temple in Jerusalem. I think that is significant, since Paul is the one who wrote this passage.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
It is also significant that Christ refers to the temple (naos) as His body in the gospel of John.
 

sastark

Puritan Board Graduate
Yes, very true, Fred. I have not brought that up yet on my blog, but it is a very interesting use of the word "naos".
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Seth,

Note also that Jesus is the one who sends the Spirit, and He is the one who brings the water of life (John 4). Compare this and the imagery in John 2 with Ezekiel 47, where the water of life flows out of the temple of God, bringing life to all places it touches.

The temple was the place that the Shekinah glory touched down - so this is true even more in Christ.

The temple, the place where God dwells with His people, is fulfilled in Christ.

And the argument that makes all this hinge on the "nun" of 2 Thess. 2:6 is at best, supremely weak. I believe I interacted with it in some other thread on the board. Suffice it to say that "nun" has a range of meanings.
 

cornelius vantil

Puritan Board Freshman
but you have addressed how would a 1st century christian understand this passage. You are right to say that everytime Paul used the word (naos) he refers to the church but your argument that Jerusalem could not be called "temple of God" does not add up. in Rev. 11:1 John is told to measure the temple in Jerusalem and the angel refered to it as the "Temple of God". once again my point is that we must understand this passage in light all other end times passages, which suggest a first century fullfilment.
 

andreas

Puritan Board Sophomore
Quote:
***In conclusion, we can know that the man of sin would sit in the temple of God- the church, claiming to be God. And who better fits this description that the bishop of Rome? Did he not sit in the church, the temple of God, showing himself to be God by taking to himself titles such as "œMost Holy Father", "œThe Head of the Church", and "œThe Vicar of Christ on Earth"?***


I agree that the temple of God refers to the church,the external corporate church who is the external representation of the kingdom of God,in the New Testament,much the same way National Israel was the external representation of the kingdom of God in the Old Testament.What i do not agree with, is the label of the man of sin, attached to the Pope.We are told in the bible, that sin is the transgression of God's law,so the man of sin, is ANY MAN that trasgresses the law of God,not just Pope,Hitler Musolini.........,just any sinner can be the man of sin.We are simply told "the man of sin",nothing more nothing less.

andreas.:candle:
 

sastark

Puritan Board Graduate
Herminio- Although how a 1st century Christian would understand this passage is important, we are not to interpret Scripture based on a percieved view of the early church, but rather on the rest of Scripture. Therefore, when we come across a passage that is unclear to us, we must compare it to other passages which are more clear.

And that is why i ask: when the did the temple in Jerusalem cease to be the "temple of God"? From Scripture, I believe it is clear that it ceased to be the temple of God when Christ was offered as the final and ultimate sacrifice on the cross. I think this is also clear from Scripture, because every time after that event when the phrase "temple of God" is used, it is in reference to the Church, and not the physical temple in Jerusalem.
 

sastark

Puritan Board Graduate
Andreas, we are also told that he exalts himself above God and shows himself to be God. While I suppose we could say that this is what every sinner does when he sins, I think it is also important to note that Paul is referring to an actual event that will take place in history; both the revealing of the man of sin, and the destruction of the man of sin. There is also the "falling away" which would occur before the man of sin would be revealed, so I think we can apply this passage to a historical personage, namely, the bishop of Rome, the pope.
 

cornelius vantil

Puritan Board Freshman
well seth you did not address the passage in rev.11:1 is the temple of God there the church? i do not think that is exigetically possible, but would love to hear your thoughts
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
If exegetically impossible, then the standard Puritan interpretation is. Here is Poole:

This temple was a type of the church under the New Testament, 1Co 3:17 2Co 6:16 , and is so to be interpreted generally in this book: for the material temple at Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans more than twenty years before this prophecy, never to be built more; not one stone was left upon another; so that John here was bid to measure the church
 

cornelius vantil

Puritan Board Freshman
ok brothers lets let scripture interpret scripture Rev.11:1-2 says,
"I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told. 'Go and measure the temple of God and the alter, 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 the Holy City for 42 months"

Luk. 21:20-24 says,
"When you see Jerusalem being surounde by armies, you will know that its desloation is near...........Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fullfilled."

If someone wats to argue that Luke is talking about the church i would love to hear that :D putting that aside if someone would like to argue that these are two different events i am willing to hear that out. it seems to me that they are speaking of the same event (ie the fall of Jerusalem) which was Paul was aluding to in 2 thes.
 

fredtgreco

Vanilla Westminsterian
Staff member
Of course. But that, frankly, is beside the point. It is a preterist presupposition, not an exegetical consideration.
 

turmeric

Megerator
I'm still struggling with the temple described in the last part of Ezekiel - it DOES sound like he's talking about restored sacrifices and a prince coming there with his sacrifice at different times, i.e. a very human and not divine prince, complete with offspring to give land to, etc. Never really seen this dealt with by Reformed folks except very generally.
 

Peter

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks Seth.

Rev 11:1 is the church. I'm not committed to any particular interpretation of Luke, however, it seems to me Luke was a literal prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem and the apostle John was using the events of 70 AD (which would have been fresh in the minds of the recipients of the Apocalypse) to symbolize the future Romish apostasy.

BTW, there's a Historicism Yahoo Group online: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Historicism/?yguid=153329912
 

cornelius vantil

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by fredtgreco
Of course. But that, frankly, is beside the point. It is a preterist presupposition, not an exegetical consideration.

one can turn it on the flip side and say that the unterpretation being presented in this thread is based off of an historicist presupposition. now even thou i am vantillian i am not here to argue presuppositions :p all i have asked is to be shown that if my exegesis has been faulty where? when asked to show a passage where the temple of God refers to Jeruslaem in the nt i went to rev.11:1 when the response was that this also was the church i went to the olivet discourse to show that Jesu talked about the same event and applied it to Jerusalem. if someone thinks that i am just pulling verse out of thin air w/o considering the context then show me. i do not believe i am
 

andreas

Puritan Board Sophomore
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto." Luke 21:20

Jerusalem, and Judea, are synonymous with the church.

"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect," Hebrews12:22-23

Jerusalem is the Church, Luke is refering to the church,not to the literal city of Jerusalem in the Middle East.

andreas.:candle:
 

cornelius vantil

Puritan Board Freshman
Originally posted by andreas
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
Then let them which are in Judea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto." Luke 21:20

Jerusalem, and Judea, are synonymous with the church.

"But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect," Hebrews12:22-23

Jerusalem is the Church, Luke is refering to the church,not to the literal city of Jerusalem in the Middle East.

andreas.:candle:

andreas- consider the context in Luke..this passage comes as an answer to the question,

5Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, 6"As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down."
7"Teacher," they asked, "when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they about to take place?" -luk 21:5-7

The question is when will Jerusalem be destroyed, not when will the church suffer! Luk. 21:20 is part of the answer. also Jesus gave clear indications that he was speak about a 1st century event when he said,

32"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." Luk. 21:32-33

Jesus appeals to his own trustworthiness when he declares that these events are to happen within the lifetime of his disciples.
 

andreas

Puritan Board Sophomore
"This generation" ,is the generation of evil,NOT ONLY IN THOSE DAYS ,but through out time.

"And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.
O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.
A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things." Mathew 12:32-35

Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:" Matthew 23:32-34
andreas.:candle:
 

cornelius vantil

Puritan Board Freshman
andreas- the verses you quoted Jesus is talking about the Jews of the first century not to the entile interadvental peroid.
take matt 23 in it context

29"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous . 30And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' 31So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers! 33"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. 35And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36I tell you the truth, all this will come upon this generation.- Matt. 23:29-36

who is Jesus addressing here? who are the "generation that experience this judgment? according to the context they are
1. teachers of the law/pharisees
2. they built the tombs of the prophets
3. descendants of those who murdered the prophets

the entire context is Jesus condemning 1st Isreal and the judgment that is coming on them. i do not believe it is exegetically correct to say that Jesus is talking about the interadvental age here. this is the biggest problem with the historicist position, it ingnores the original audience and how they would have understood the passage.

[Edited on 4-28-2005 by cornelius vantil]
 

Roldan

Puritan Board Junior
Herminio, Your doing a great jod at defending the preterist position and exegetically showing that we must look at scripture from a historical context.

Jerusalem is the Church? hmmm thats weird to me, I always thought that ISRAEL was the church, but a city symbolizing the church?
 
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