Christianity 201

May 23, 2013

Jesus is the New Temple

Jesus A TheographyI am currently working my way very slowly through the book, Jesus: A Theography by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet. The book explores various aspects of Jesus’ ministry and goes beyond the simple ‘womb to tomb’ biography by dealing with the pre-incarnate and post-incarnate Christ. I’m currently about half-way through the book and landed on this section where the authors enumerate the various places where Jesus takes on the role that Israel formerly ascribed to ‘temple.’  This is taken from pages 171-173. I encourage you to visit Bible Gateway or Bible Hub to check out the various references in context.

  • The Jews understood that the temple was the one place on earth where heaven and earth intersected.  It was the extension of the garden of Eden, the playground of angels and humans.  Jesus was God and man.  He was the joining together of God’s dwelling and the dwelling of humans.  Jesus is the reality of Bethel, the “house of God,” which is marked by commerce between the heavens and the earth.  (Recall Jacob’s dream in Genesis 28, where angels ascended and descended from heaven to earth, and Jesus’ words to Nathanael in John 1 that Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s house.)
  • Jesus identified Himself as the tabernacle of God, the fulfillment of the tabernacle of Moses, where God’s glory rested.  The words of John 1:14, He “dwelt among us”, literally mean He “tabernacled among us.”  In the same text, John went on to say “and we beheld his glory.”
  • In John 2:19, Jesus said to the Jews, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”  John then informed us, two verses later, that Jesus was speaking of the temple of His body.
  • In Matthew 12:6, Jesus announced that he is greater than the physical temple.  The physical temple was a signpost.  Jesus is the reality.
  • In Colossians 2:9, Paul says that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Jesus in bodily form.  In other words, Jesus is the dwelling place of God.
  • In John 20, Jesus breathed into the disciples.  They were now a new creation.  He then gave them the word of proclaiming forgiveness to sinners.  Forgiveness was the rule of the temple in Jerusalem.  The temple afforded forgiveness of sins by the sacrifices that were offered there.  Now Jesus, the real Temple and the real Sacrifice, offered forgiveness.  And those who were part of the Temple, His disciples, declared it as well.
  • In His ministry in Galilee, Jesus was acting and living as though He were the temple itself.  He was fulfilling all of the temple’s functions.  To have your sins forgiven in that day, you had to go to the temple.  Jesus was subverting this system by offering forgiveness Himself.
  • After the temple of His body was destroyed, Jesus rose again on the third day.  Fifty days later, at Pentecost, thousands of Jews were converted to Christ.  They were the “living stones” that were “hewn out of the one Rock,” which is Christ.  In Mark 14:58, one of the witnesses at Jesus’ trial said, “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man'”.  These living stones became the building blocks for the house of God.  Jesus, the real Temple, had increased.  Now the church has become the temple of God on earth.
  • In Acts 2, an unusual event occurred on the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem.  The Spirit of God fell on 120 disciples of Jesus.  They spoke in tongues, and tongues of fire appeared on their heads.  The real temple of God was being born right in the midst of the old physical temple.  The tongues were the reverse of what happened in Babel.  At Babel sinful men tried to achieve unity by creating a tower to reach the heavens.  God judged their effort and confused them by scrambling their languages.  At Pentecost the Spirit of God united them, they spoke in other tongues, and they understood one another.  The fire on their heads is reminiscent of the fire that fell from heaven on the temple when it was dedicated.  The new temple of God is not built with human hands.
  • The temple was a signpost of a future reality.  It was God’s dwelling place.  It was the place of forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and wholeness.  It was the place of God’s presence on earth.



  1. […] An excerpt from the book appears here at Christianity 201. […]

    Pingback by Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Jesus | Thinking Out Loud — June 3, 2013 @ 7:20 am | Reply

  2. […] April, 2013: Intricacies in the Jesus Narrative. May, 2013: Jesus is the New Temple. […]

    Pingback by Jesus: A Paradox and an Oxymoron | Christianity 201 — December 21, 2020 @ 5:34 pm | Reply

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