The Temple in the Olivet Discourse and Other New Testament -- By: Michael Stallard
CTJ 9:28 (December 2005) p. 370
The Temple in the Olivet Discourse and Other New Testament
Texts: A Brief Evaluation of
Nondispensational Understandings of NT Temple Imagery
One of the key topics of exegetical and theological importance in the area of prophetic interpretation is an understanding of the Temple in the New Testament. Dr Stallard’s article provides a solid basis for a consistent premillennial view.
How nondispensationalists handle New Testament statements using temple imagery can often confuse dispensationalists. Certainly, most nondispensationalists hold that many of the references to the temple in the Gospels should be understood as the concrete Jewish temple of the first century. Furthermore, there are other places in the New Testament where dispensationalists would readily agree with their theological counterparts that temple language is used to describe the Church or Church Age believers. However, at this point there is a divergence which at times causes the two camps to talk past each other. Nondispensationalists seem to use the fact that temple imagery sometimes describes the Church to read New Testament ecclesiology into other “temple” passages, especially ones that have an eschatological context. Such an approach appears to be consistent with a kind of replacement theology in which national Israel is now dead and gone, while the Church has become the recipient of the blessings implied in the context of many temple passages.
One example of this nondispensational treatment of temple language can be found in Knox Seminary’s Open Letter to Evangelicals.1 Proposition VII says the following:
Jesus taught that his resurrection was the raising of the True Temple of Israel. He has replaced the priesthood, sacrifices, and sanctuary of Israel by fulfilling them in his own glorious priestly ministry and by offering, once and for all, his sacrifice for the world, that is, for both Jew and Gentile. Believers from all nations are now being built up
CTJ 9:28 (December 2005) p. 371
through him into this Third Temple, the church that Jesus promised to build.
This rather interpretive statement goes well beyond the exegetical facts. Certainly, Jesus made the following statement to the Jews within the temple precincts: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). The Apostle John adds the explanatory note in the text, “But he was speaking of the temple of His body.” Thus, Jesus does use the language of the temple to teach his own resurrection.
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