What's with Ezekiel's Temple in chapters 40-42

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Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Junior
I have always been mystified by these chapters. I am reading them, but I just don't get it. I have heard it said that the New Temple represents the Church. Any insights you may have will be appreciated.


Adam Olive

Puritan Board Freshman
Barnes Notes (Chapter notes on Ezekiel 40)

The vision is intended to depict the perpetual worship of the God of heaven in the Kingdom of Christ. To the mind of an Israelite the proper figure to represent this would be the temple and its services, with people, priest, and prince, each doing their fitting part. The most appropriate services to exhibit this worship would be those of continual recurrence, in which day by day, week by week, month by month, prayer and praise ascended to the throne of heaven; namely, the Morning Sacrifice, the Sabbath and the New moon festival. Here we have the Israelite symbol of perpetual public adoration. This will also account for the absence of all mention of the high priest and his office.”

I think of it as :
Ezekiel describes the future in prophetic-temporal terms while John uses Ezekiel's descriptions and apocalyptically interprets them in relation to eternity.


Staff member
Ed, the temple is measured, which means it already exists. However, no temple on earth ever looked like the temple of Ezekiel. Most remarkably, when the second temple was being built, no one even thought to use Ezekiel's chapters as some kind of blueprint. The only logical conclusion is that Ezekiel's temple is actually the heavenly archetype of the temples on earth. Think of it as a "theology of space," much like how the precise position of things in the tabernacle in the later part of Exodus have theological meaning.

Adam Olive

Puritan Board Freshman
Think of it as a "theology of space"

I think this is a good line. I'm going to take the phrase and below I will share some of my thoughts as to how I would understand a "theology of space" torelate to how we understand the vision. (Again remembering that Revelation 21-22 is the reality to which Ezekiel points).

Within the description of the New Temple there is an emphasis on details relating to the THICKNESS and HEIGHT of walls and on OPEN SPACES surrounding holy spaces (e.g. the courtyard and open fields).

The reason for these emphasis is to highlight the separation of what is holy from what is not.

Ezekiel 43:7-8 He said: "… This is where I will live among the Israelites forever. The house of Israel will never again defile my holy name … When they placed their threshold next to my threshold and their doorposts beside my doorposts, with only a wall between me and them, they defiled my holy name by their detestable practices …"

Ezekiel 43:10-12 "Son of man, describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple--its arrangement, its exits and entrances--its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. This is the law of the temple: All the surrounding area on top of the mountain will be most holy. Such is the law of the temple.

There is a significant interest in the GATES (i.e. entrances and exits) approaching holy areas with the purpose on emphasizing access to holy space.

The details concerning the KITCHENS AND VARIOUS CHAMBERS is for the purpose on emphasizing what should be done where in relation to the holy place. Again the idea of separation is apparent.

So the ' symbol ' of perpetual worship is using a 'theology of space' to indicate a kind of true worship in which nothing unclean (unlike had been the case in Ezekiel's time) will feature in the perpetual true worship in the future. Note that Revelation 21-22 has a similar interest.
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Puritan Board Freshman
Patrick Fairbairn’s “Ezekiel and the Book of His Prophecy” is worth reading, particularly his “Preliminary Remarks” which cover various issues concerning the vision of the temple and holy city. A free pdf is available.


The connection between the tabernacle, the Jerusalem temple, Ezekiel’s temple and the New Jerusalem in Revelation shows that the Church is pictured in all of these images, with the water of life flowing forth over the earth. Note that as revelation progresses the size of the temple/city grows and grows until it is fantastically large. The holy city in Ezekiel is so large it barely fits into the Promised Land and the size alone shows that this was never meant to be a physical city, it is too large to build. What it communicates to the exiles is that God’s plan for their restoration goes way beyond returning to Jerusalem and rebuilding the old temple. He is going to create a large,holy and expansive holy city/church that will create a paradise out of the barren places of the earth.


Puritan Board Sophomore
Note that as revelation progresses the size of the temple/city grows and grows until it is fantastically large. The holy city in Ezekiel is so large it barely fits into the Promised Land and the size alone shows that this was never meant to be a physical city, it is too large to build.
I don't think this is right. The city portion is about 1.6 miles by 8.3 miles according to Ezekiel 45:6. What is striking is that the location of the temple is about 60 miles north of Jerusalem (no surprise to anyone familiar with the prophet's view of that city). Ezekiel 40-48 is certainly theology expressed in the form of architecture, legislation and geography. The key is to notice what is different about Ezekiel's vision from the temple and tabernacle - and indeed from John's New Jerusalem. See my commentary for more details.


Puritan Board Freshman
Professor Duguid: I see that Fairbairn (following Lightfoot) makes a case for the dimensionless sizes of Ezekiel 45:6 to be 25,000 x 5000 rods, not cubits. That is how they end up with the extremely large city.
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