There is so much talk today of a Third Temple, and many many people seem to look at this as a Sign of Christ's Return. But what does the Bible say, exactly, about a Third Temple? Will there be a Third Temple? Is a Third Temple needed to fulfill all prophecy?
What the Gospels say about a Third Temple
Let's do a Word Search of the word Temple (KJV), starting with the gospels. Let's see what we find. There are 61 responses, but let's consider where it talks specifically on this subject and not in general of the Temple.
Here's what we find in the gospels... I am looking in order as the verses come forth, so as not to bring my own ideas into the mix. Let's simply look at what the scriptures teach...
1. Jesus is Greater than the Temple. Here Jesus is putting the Temple in its proper perspective, for those who exalt the building over Him who sanctifies the building.
Matthew 12:6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple.
2. Jesus here compares the Temple to His Body. "Destroy this Temple, my body, and I will raise it in three days."
Matthew 26:61 “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”
3. The death of Jesus Christ and the tearing of the veil rendered a Third Temple obsolete. Jesus has now paved the way for all believers to come directly into the Father's presence, whereas in the Temple the Holy of Holies is only for the High Priests from the order of Levi.
Matthew 27:51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split...
4. Jesus clearly told the disciples that the Second Temple would be torn down... will He clearly tell them that a Third Temple will be erected?
Luke 21:5-6 And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and gifts, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in the which there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
5. Again Jesus refers to the Temple as His Body, and Confirming that this Temple, the 2nd Temple, which was built in 46 years, will be replaced with My Body, which will be raised up in 3 days.
John 2:19-21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.
This is our Summary of the Temple from the Gospels... Jesus is Greater than the Temple. The Temple is Jesus' Body. A Third Temple was rendered obsolete by the tearing of the veil. Jesus clearly told His disciples the 2nd Temple would be destroyed, but He never talked about a Third Temple being constructed or even needed. And Jesus finalizes by confirming that the Temple built in 46 years will be replaced by His Body, raised from the dead after three days. This was just the Gospels... we still need to consider the Old Testament and the rest of the New Testament.
What the Old Testament says about a Third Temple
The word Temple appears 76 times in the Old Testament. This is surprising since there were two temples built through the course of OT history. I thought there would be many more. Maybe we also need to consider the word Tabernacle (used 277x) to confirm if there is mention of a Third Temple, or Third Tabernacle in the Old Testament. Again we will focus on scriptures that apply to our understanding of whether the Bible prophesies a Third Temple or not. Use these links to compare for yourself what we are finding.
1. This first text with indication of the Temple's purpose shows that the Lord is in His Temple... and that His throne is in heaven.
Psalm 11:4 The Lord is in his holy temple, the Lord's throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.2. Ezekiel 40-48 talk of the Temple that would soon be built after Ezekiel's day. Ezekiel was of a priestly family and therefore was eligible to serve as a priest. As a priest-prophet called to minister to the exiles, his message had much to do with the temple and its ceremonies. Ezekiel's ministry spanned from 593BC to 571BC, yet this temple was not built until 515BC, approximately 55 years later. Ezekiel speaks and plans of this second temple... where the healing waters will flow. There is no talk here of "In the End Days" or other terminology that could link this in any way to a 3rd temple... source
Ezekiel 47:5 Again he measured one thousand, and it was a river that I could not cross; for the water was too deep, water in which one must swim, a river that could not be crossed.3. Haggai chapter 2 talks of the Second Temple as having Greater Glory than the First. It was also said that in this second Temple the Lord would give Peace. There was clear talk of this 2nd temple here, and so far no mention of a Third Temple. How would the glory of this 2nd Temple be greater than the 1st, and how would the Lord bring Peace here? Was it not Jesus Christ Himself that visited, walked and taught in this Second Temple? Was He Himself not, the Prince of Peace (Is 9:6)?
Haggai 2:9 The glory of this latter house shall be greater than of the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.Was it not here in this 2nd Temple that the Lord Jesus Christ Himself declared...?
Luke 4:18-21 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.4. Zechariah chapter 6 speaks of the coming Messianic figure, the Branch, showing that He will build the Temple, He shall bear the glory, and will sit and rule upon his Throne. Did Jesus build a temple, or did He simply mention that He now was the Temple... His Body?
Zechariah 6:12-13 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: Even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.5. The OT ends with the Promise of the Coming Messiah. Its says the Lord shall suddenly come to His Temple. This is still speaking of the 2nd temple... there is still no mention at all of a Third Temple.
Malachi 3:1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.
Now let's study the word Tabernacle to see what we can find.... After looking carefully at all 277 times the word Tabernacle is used in the OT I could not find one reference to a Third Temple or a Third Tabernacle. Could you?
So, in the Old Testament we see that the throne of the Lord is in Heaven, that the Glory of the 2nd Temple was greater then the 1st, yet there was no mention of the glory of a 3rd temple.... 8 chapters of Ezekiel are dedicated to the temple, yet all referring to the 2nd Temple. So far after examining all 350+ verses of the OT that talk of Temple & Tabernacle I could not find one verse that mentions a Third Temple.
Now let's consider what the rest of the New Testament has to say about a Third Temple...
Our NT Word Search of the word Temple has 106 responses, but we've already looked at 61 of those in the gospels, so there remain 45 verses that mention Temple in the NT. Can we find if the NT talks of a prophesied 3rd temple?
1. We are the Temple of God. The 1st mention of the meaning or definition of the Temple after the Gospels is in I Corinthians 3:16-17, where it declares that we, the believers, are the Temple of God. The Spirit of God now rests in us. It repeats that the Temple of God is US, or in the believers, and as God's resting place, we are HOLY.
I Cor 3:16-17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.2. Our Body is a Temple of the Holy Ghost.
1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?3. Paul repeats this idea that we are the Temple of the Living God, that He dwells in us, and walks in us... He is our God, and we are His people.
2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.4. Paul explains it another way when he says that the Apostles are the Foundation, that Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone and that together we are being built up "Unto an Holy Temple in the Lord." Peter also confirms, we are Living Stones, unto a Spiritual House.
Ephesians 2:20-22 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
I Peter 2:5 You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.5. The Book of Revelation talks about a Temple in Heaven.
Rev 11:19 And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.6. John's Final Vision of Heaven showed there was no need for a Temple in Heaven. The Lord Almighty and the Lamb are its Temple.
Revelation 21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.What have we found so far in all our studies?
From the Gospels... Jesus is Greater than the Temple. The Temple is Jesus' Body. A Third Temple was rendered obsolete by the tearing of the veil. Jesus clearly told His disciples the 2nd Temple would be destroyed, but He never talked about a Third Temple being constructed or even needed. And Jesus finalizes by confirming that the Temple built in 46 years will be replaced by His Body, raised from the dead after three days.
From the Old Testament... we see that the throne of the Lord is in Heaven, that the Glory of the 2nd Temple was greater then the 1st, yet there was no mention of the glory of a 3rd temple.... 350+ verses of the OT that talk of the Temple yet not one verse that mentions a Third Temple.
In the NT after the Gospels... we find that we are the Temple, God dwells in us, and we are called Holy. Our Body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit. We are living stones, in a Spiritual House. In eternity there is no Temple, but the Lord and the Lamb are its Temple.THE ANTICHRIST IN THE TEMPLE
After careful study of all Biblical texts then, there is no mention of a Third Temple anywhere, neither in the gospels, nor in the Old or New Testaments. There is one passage then that needs careful consideration and study. It's when Paul mentions that the Antichrist will sit in the temple of God demanding worship. If we've already seen that there is no third Temple prophesied or needed, what could this mean? Let's consider this passage carefully.
2 Thess 2:3-4 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.Let's try to define this passage and the meaning of Temple usinggood exegesis. In short that means looking at the passage grammatically, literally, historically, contextually, and practically.
A. Grammatically. We see in this passage that the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition, also known as the Antichrist, will sit in the Temple of God and show himself, or proclaim himself, to be God.
B. Literally. We know what a Temple is. It is a building. But we have also seen literally from the NT that We are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. We are God's Spiritual House, and God dwells in us. Aren't both these statements equally true, that, A Temple is a building, but it is also the Spiritual Body of Christ? Are these both not true at exactly the same time? So we have to see which type of Temple Paul is talking about here... WE CANNOT ASSUME.
C. Historically. We can know what the Temple was in the past. In the Old Testament and leading up to Jesus time there was a physical temple, until 70AD. What about now, at the writing of Paul's Epistle to the Thessalonians? Was there still a temple at the time of this writing? Yes. It is believed that Paul wrote this letter to the Church in Thessalonica in 51 or 52AD. So Historically we know what the Temple was and is when Paul writes.
D. Contextually. Here is where we need to understand the Bible as a whole and all that is said about a Third Temple. So much is riding on this interpretation of what it means for the Antichrist to sit in the Temple and proclaim himself to be God. Could it be possible that this is the only mention in the entire bible of 3rd Temple, and that we simply have to accept that Paul is talking of a physical building, with no further proof? No, we do not have to simply accept that interpretation, we NEED to and MUST have supporting confirmation. The Bible says clearly, on 4 different occasions in the NT alone, that all matters shall be confirmed two or three witnesses.
By the mouth of two or three witnesses every word shall be established. (Mt 18:16, 2 Cor 13:1, I Tim 5:19, Heb 10:28)The Bible also says that no prophecy can be of private interpretation, or to stand by itself. There must be confirmations.
2 Pet 1:20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation...So, after considering the context of the Temple in this passage, and after examining ALL passages through the whole of scripture, we see there is absolutely no biblical confirmation for a Third Temple, anywhere. Paul mentions this one passage, yet it stands alone. And the Bible does not and cannot contradict itself.
E. Practically. Based on our study of the Third Temple from the entire bible, we can know that practically there will not be a Third Temple. Can we justify this while also being faithful to this one passage that mentions the Antichrist sitting in the Temple of God? YES WE CAN!
What was the Temple shown to be after the destruction of the 2nd Temple in 70AD? Didn't Jesus say that His Body was the Temple, and that we became His Body? Is not the Church considered to be the Body of Christ, His Temple? Since we can know from the whole of scripture that no Third Temple is prophesied, can't we then see that when it talks of the Temple here in 2 Thessalonians Paul is talking of the Spiritual body of Christ? Would it not be considered sitting in the temple of the person that has given themselves over to the worship of Satan, let's say, as an example, by taking the Mark of the Beast?
Does the Bible Prophesy a Third Temple? After studying more than 450 verses carefully that mention the Temple and the Tabernacle, not once is it mentioned that there will be a Third Temple. NOT ONCE!!! There is not enough weight to make the case that the Antichrist will sit in a physical temple, but their is overwhelming evidence that this temple mentioned is our body... We ARE THE TEMPLE!!!
I Cor 3:16-17 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
By Steve Fletcher