Adam as the First Priest in Eden as the Garden Temple -- By: G. K. Beale

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 22:2 (Summer 2018)
Article: Adam as the First Priest in Eden as the Garden Temple
Author: G. K. Beale

Adam as the First Priest in Eden as the Garden Temple1

G. K. Beale

G. K. Beale is the J. Gresham Machen Chair and Research Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia). He earned his PhD from Cambridge University. He is author of such books as a commentary on The Book of Revelation (Eerdmans, 1999), The Temple and the Church’s Mission (IVP, 2004), We Become What We Worship (IVP, 2008), and a New Testament Biblical Theology (Baker, 2011). Dr. Beale is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a husband, and father of three.


At the beginning of my book on The Temple and the Church’s Mission, I discussed the problematic notion that Revelation 21:1–22:5 portrays the equation of the new creation in 21:1 with the following visions of a city that is temple-shaped and garden-like. Some might attribute the apparent oddness of equating the new cosmos to a garden-like city in the form of a temple to the irrational nature that apocalyptic visions and dreams can have, though this would be hard to accept for a vision that John claims has its origin in God (see, e.g., 21:9 with Rev 1:1 and 22:6). Also, how does this vision relate to Christians and their role in fulfilling the mission of the Church, which has been narrated earlier in the Apocalypse?

In order to solve the problem of this strange equation of the new creation and new Jerusalem with the temple and garden we need to look at the purpose of the temple in the Old Testament (OT) and how this purpose relates to the New Testament (NT) conception of the temple. It becomes evident in pursuing this task that the first tabernacle and temple existed long before Israel happened on the scene. Indeed, it is apparent that the first sanctuary is discernible from the very beginning of history.

The Garden of Eden Was a Temple in the First Creation

The first sanctuary was in Eden. But how could we possibly know this, since there was no architectural structure in Eden nor does the word “temple” or “sanctuary” occur as a description of Eden in Genesis 1–3? Such a claim may sound strange to the ears of many. A number of scholars recently have argued this from one angle or another.2 The fol...

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