A brief word study in the Bible reveals that the word ‘temple’ can hold one of several meanings depending on the context:
The Earthly and Heavenly Temples
Most of us understand the word ‘temple’ to mean either the earthly place of worship – the Tabernacle – or the place in heaven where God dwells. In this article, we will not go into any detail about the earthly Jerusalem temple.
Regarding the heavenly temple, Revelation 21:22 tells us that John saw no temple in heaven because “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.” Since God Almighty and the Lamb ARE the temple in this context, it would be a bit off the mark to assume it is a physical building as we understand it. We may consider the heavenly temple (the encompassing presence of God himself) to be the same temple referred to in many other places throughout the book of Revelation. We understand the following verses as referring to the heavenly temple because of their contextual setting. (See Revelation 7:15; 11:19; 14:15; 14:17; 15:5-6; 15:8; 16:1; 16:17).
“Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” (Revelation 7:15)
“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.” (Revelation 11:19)
“And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” (Revelation 14:15)
“And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle.” (Revelation 14:17)
“15:5 And after that I looked, and, behold, the temple of the tabernacle of the testimony in heaven was opened: 6 And the seven angels came out of the temple, having the seven plagues, clothed in pure and white linen, and having their breasts girded with golden girdles.” (Revelation 15:5-6)
“And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God, and from his power; and no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.” (Revelation 15:8)
“And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth.” (Revelation 16:1)
“And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done.” (Revelation 16:17)
The New Testament Temple: The Human Body
The third and final Biblical ‘temple’ is that which was introduced to us by the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Many are aware that Jesus Christ referred to his own body as a temple. Specifically, John 2:19-21 tells us that Jesus stood in the Jerusalem temple as he prophesied that his body will be rebuilt in three days upon his resurrection.
“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” (John 2:19-21)
This use of the term, meaning Christ’s physical body, is later applied when referring to every saved Christian as his or her body becomes a dwelling place of the Holy Ghost. In 1 Corinthians, Paul states it succinctly for us.
“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.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)
“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?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)
Thus, we gather that the human body is the new temple of the Holy Ghost on Earth as revealed by Christ in the New Testament. The New Testament writings make a much bigger deal about this than many people today might assume.
The Antichrist’s Temple: Also the Human Body?
Let us make a logical leap and assume the temple of God, the body, is the same one referred to in passages about the antichrist. Let us also assume for the sake of argument that the temple in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 is not the third temple rebuilt in Israel. Assuming this is true, let’s read through a familiar passage about the Man of Sin “showing himself that he is God.”
(2 Thessalonians 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.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)
Now, verse four is where we want to focus our attention. If we try to set aside everything we may have learned in the past about this verse, and we choose to read what it says plainly, we may be surprised at what we discover. What does God’s Word tell us here? “…so that HE AS GOD SITTETH IN THE TEMPLE of God, SHEWING HIMSELF that HE IS GOD.“
Does the antichrist sit in the temple (the body) – in the place where the Holy Ghost should dwell? How else could sitting in the temple show the Man of Sin his own state of godhood, or his apotheosis?
We covered in another blog post, The Antichrist Unveiled, that the ANTICHRIST is not just a name for one man. The Bible states quite clearly that the antichrist is a spirit that indwells anyone who denies that Jesus Christ is “come in flesh,” or denies his deity.
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.” (2 John 1:7)
“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 John 4:3)
Our goal is to put these passages together in a systematic way to better understand God’s word. Therefore we ask: does the Man of Sin sitting in the temple refer to the antichrist spirit in the average person rejecting Christ, leading one to regard himself as God? Note Genesis 3:5, “ye shall be as gods” is a doctrine of Satan, the serpent. In raising this question, we are not exempt from error. But we believe it is a question worth asking, no matter what the reader believes about it. If you can make known a better way of understanding the scriptures, we would love to hear from you. Please comment with your thoughts below.