The Temples in Jewish History
There is a simple 11/9/2018 post on this blog about the history of the Jewish Temples. Today’s post goes a bit deeper into the Jewish and NT views of the Temple(s) and into the historical context.
Maybe the Jewish view of their history isn’t particularly important to us since we view it from the perspective of Jesus Christ as fulfillment of the Law and Prophets. But Jesus spent time in (or at) the Temple, cleansed it, and proclaimed himself to be the Temple, and much of the post-resurrection activity of the early Church as described in Acts was in and around the Temple so we should probably think about what it meant to the first century Jews and the importance of it to Jews of today. Scan the lists at the end of this post of verses from Matthew, Luke, and Acts noting the distinction between “the Temple” and “the Temple area.”
Here is the basic Jewish understanding from jewishvirtuallibrary.org in their words. Click the links for brief and interesting information.
- Solomon’s Temple built around 3000 years ago (~1000 BC) and destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 BC.
- The Second Temple was built beginning 70 years later when the Jewish leaders who had been exiled to Babylon, led by Ezra and Nehemiah, were allowed to return and rebuild. Note the fourth paragraph at this link and hover over “Herod” to read about the four Roman kings of Judea named Herod and about King Herod’s expansion of the Temple.
The Second Temple was destroyed (after Herod had spent all that money) by the Romans in 70 AD. So for almost 2000 years the Jews have had no Temple.
The Ark of the Covenant which held the Ten Commandments was lost when the Babylonians destroyed Solomon’s temple. Read all about it HERE. (There is one group of Christians claiming to possess the Ark today. Click on the link to find out who they are. Indiana Jones’s fruitless search is mentioned.)
Muslims took control of the land the two Temples had occupied and, in 692 AD, built a mosque and dome which are still there. For the current Jewish view of the Temple, read the last three paragraphs at this link.
And, just so you know, there are many Christians today who believe that rebuilding of the Temple is essential to and will be a clear sign of the Second Coming of Jesus. You can read a pretty good explanation of that viewpoint HERE. Even among Catholics, it is a somewhat controversial issue as you can read HERE. I think it is good for us to be aware of all the issues surrounding our faith so we aren’t caught standing with dropped jaw when we hear about them. But I’m not worrying about this issue, instead sticking with Mark Twain: “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.”
The Divided Kingdom History and the Temple Location
After the reign of King Solomon, the Jews had some major disagreements and divided their “Promised Land” into two kingdoms, the Northern Kingdom, Israel, and the Southern Kingdom, Judah. As explained in more detail in this earlier post, the Northern Kingdom was defeated and occupied by Assyria (721 BC) and the residents became the infamous Samaritans because of intermarriage and worship of false gods. The Southern Kingdom, the location of Jerusalem and the Temple, was defeated but not occupied by Babylon in 586 BC. Leaders were exiled for 70 years while farmers were left at home to till the land. As a result of those different approaches, purity of race and religion were better maintained in Judah than in Israel. Read more HERE.
Here is a diagram from that earlier post.
The Temple in the New Testament
“Temple” in Matthew, the “Jewish Gospel.”
NAB Matthew 4:5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, and made him stand on the parapet of the temple,
NAB Matthew 12:5 Or have you not read in the law that on the sabbath the priests serving in the temple violate the sabbath and are innocent?
6 I say to you, something greater than the temple is here.
NAB Matthew 17:24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”
27 But that we may not offend them, go to the sea, drop in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up. Open its mouth and you will find a coin worth twice the temple tax. Give that to them for me and for you.”
NAB Matthew 21:12 Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those engaged in selling and buying there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves.
14 The blind and the lame approached him in the temple area, and he cured them.
15 When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wondrous things he was doing, and the children crying out in the temple area, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they were indignant
23 When he had come into the temple area, the chief priests and the elders of the people approached him as he was teaching and said, “By what authority are you doing these things? And who gave you this authority?”
NAB Matthew 23:16 “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If one swears by the temple, it means nothing, but if one swears by the gold of the temple, one is obligated.’
17 Blind fools, which is greater, the gold, or the temple that made the gold sacred?
21 one who swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it;
NAB Matthew 24:1 Jesus left the temple area and was going away, when his disciples approached him to point out the temple buildings.
NAB Matthew 26:55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me? Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me.
61 who stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.'”
NAB Matthew 27:5 Flinging the money into the temple, he departed and went off and hanged himself.
6 The chief priests gathered up the money, but said, “It is not lawful to deposit this in the temple treasury, for it is the price of blood.”
40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, if you are the Son of God, (and) come down from the cross!”
“Temple” in Luke, the “Gentile Gospel.”
NAB Luke 2:27 He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him,
37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.
46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions,
NAB Luke 4:9 Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here,
NAB Luke 11:51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah who died between the altar and the temple building. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be charged with their blood!
NAB Luke 18:10 “Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector.
NAB Luke 19:45 Then Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things,
47 And every day he was teaching in the temple area. The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people, meanwhile, were seeking to put him to death,
NAB Luke 20:1 One day as he was teaching the people in the temple area and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and scribes, together with the elders, approached him
NAB Luke 21:5 While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, he said,
37 During the day, Jesus was teaching in the temple area, but at night he would leave and stay at the place called the Mount of Olives.
38 And all the people would get up early each morning to listen to him in the temple area.
NAB Luke 22:4 and he went to the chief priests and temple guards to discuss a plan for handing him over to them.
52 And Jesus said to the chief priests and temple guards and elders who had come for him, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs?
53 Day after day I was with you in the temple area, and you did not seize me; but this is your hour, the time for the power of darkness.”
NAB Luke 23:45 because of an eclipse of the sun. Then the veil of the temple was torn down the middle.
NAB Luke 24:53 and they were continually in the temple praising God.
“Temple” in Acts, the Early Church
NAB Acts 2:46 Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes. They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart,
NAB Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer.
2 And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple.
3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms.
8 He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God.
10 they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him.
NAB Acts 4:1 While they were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees confronted them,
NAB Acts 5:20 “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.”
21 When they heard this, they went to the temple early in the morning and taught. When the high priest and his companions arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin, the full senate of the Israelites, and sent to the jail to have them brought in.
24 When they heard this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss about them, as to what this would come to.
25 Then someone came in and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area and are teaching the people.”
42 And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus.
NAB Acts 14:13 And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was at the entrance to the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, for he together with the people intended to offer sacrifice.
NAB Acts 19:27 The danger grows, not only that our business will be discredited, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be of no account, and that she whom the whole province of Asia and all the world worship will be stripped of her magnificence.”
35 Finally the town clerk restrained the crowd and said, “You Ephesians, what person is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image that fell from the sky?
37 The men you brought here are not temple robbers, nor have they insulted our goddess.
NAB Acts 21:26 So Paul took the men, and on the next day after purifying himself together with them entered the temple to give notice of the day when the purification would be completed and the offering made for each of them.
27 When the seven days were nearly completed, the Jews from the province of Asia noticed him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd, and laid hands on him,
28 shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us. This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place, and what is more, he has even brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this sacred place.”
29 For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him and supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple.
30 The whole city was in turmoil with people rushing together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple, and immediately the gates were closed.
NAB Acts 22:17 “After I had returned to Jerusalem and while I was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance
NAB Acts 24:6 He even tried to desecrate our temple, but we arrested him.
12 Neither in the temple, nor in the synagogues, nor anywhere in the city did they find me arguing with anyone or instigating a riot among the people.
18 While I was so engaged, they found me, after my purification, in the temple without a crowd or disturbance.
NAB Acts 25:8 In defending himself Paul said, “I have committed no crime either against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.”
NAB Acts 26:21 That is why the Jews seized me (when I was) in the temple and tried to kill me.