In Revelation, John is told to “measure the Temple of God and the altar and those who worship there” (Rev 11:1). If the Apocalypse was written before 70 CE, then this verse may refer to the Second Temple. If John’s visions occurred after 70, then he may have seen a third Temple that would be built in the future. However, based on the context of Revelation, it is more likely that this Temple is a symbolic reference to the body of believers in Jesus.

Several factors support the notion that the “Temple of God” in Revelation denotes the assembled followers of Jesus, rather than a future architectural structure. First, Jesus himself refers to believers as part of a Temple, declaring, “The one who is victorious, I will make… a pillar in the Temple of my God” (Rev 3:12). According to Jesus, those who remain faithful will be foundational members of the eschatological messianic community. Since this initial reference to the “Temple of my God” (ναῷ τοῦ θεοῦ μου; nao tou theou mou) is a metaphor for the church, readers should interpret the “Temple of God” (ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ) in a similar way when it appears in Revelation 11. The immediate context of John’s Temple vision aligns with this symbolic reading insofar as the enigmatic witnesses are called “two lampstands (λυχνίαι; luchníai)” (11:4). Lampstands were part of the Temple furniture, but Revelation repurposes them as an ecclesial symbol: “the seven lampstands are the seven churches” (1:20). Thus, the narrative context clarifies that the Temple and its furnishings signify Jesus’ followers.

John’s role in his vision also suggests that the “Temple” indicates a group dedicated to Yeshua. John states, “I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, ‘Rise and measure the Temple of God’” (Rev 11:1). The measuring rod serves as a “staff” (ῥάβδος; rábdos), which is the same instrument that God uses to shepherd the faithful; as the psalmist says of the Lord, “Your rod and your staff (ῥάβδος) comfort me” (Ps 22:4 LXX [Ps 23:4 in Hebrew and English versions). Rather than sizing up the sanctuary, John’s staff takes stock of the flock. It may sound odd that John is told to “measure” (μετρέω; metréo) an assembly of people, but this kind of language appears elsewhere in the New Testament. For instance, Ephesians refers to “the measure (μέτρον; métron) of the stature of the fullness of Messiah… from whom the whole body… according to the proper measure (μέτρον) of every part, makes the body grow” (Eph 4:13, 16; cf. 2 Cor 10:12; also see 1 En 70:3-4). Revelation itself says that John is to measure both the “Temple of God” and the “worshipers” therein (11:1); that is, the contours of the assembly and the individuals who constitute it. When all of this textual evidence is taken together, it seems best to view Revelation’s “Temple of God” not as a building made of stone, but as the body of those who proclaim that Jesus is Lord.

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86 COMMENTS

  1. Dr Nicholas, Thanks for your great explanation. I am currently your student in IBC. I need to know who are the two witnesses of two lamp stands in Rev 11:4? Thanks. God bless you.
    • Thanks for your question, Mehari. The identities of the two witnesses are debatable, and the text is not explicit. In my view, there is no fully satisfactory exegetical option. Some have suggested Moses and Elijah (the two who appear with Jesus at the transfiguration) or Elijah and Enoch, since neither of them die; a more likely duo is the governor Zerubavel and the high priest Yeshua insofar as they are described amidst "lampstand" and "olive tree" imagery in Zechariah 4; alternatively, as with the "Temple of God," the two witnesses may represent the witness of Jesus assemblies, since Revelation equates "lampstand" and "church" earlier (1:20).

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    • Hello Mehari, Praise the Lord. In addition to the details given by Dr.Nicholas, you may refer below ref which will enlighten you about the 2 witnesses mentioned in Rev 11: 3 -13. Olive tree reprsent the Chosen people by God. Rom:11 chap represent Gentiles who believed Jesus represent Olive tree.
  2. I see what you mean, but God showed Moses the Tabernacle in heaven as a pattern to build on earth. That being said, there must be a Tabernacle, Temple, (whichever term you prefer) already in heaven. Could this be the one John saw just like Moses did?
    • Thanks for your comments, Steve. Yes, the "Temple of God" in Revelation could be a vision of a heavenly Temple. Yet, the writer of Revelation also uses "tabernacle" language to describe an assembly of worshipers in heaven (Rev 13:6); thus, the "Temple" vision--whether in heaven or on earth--should still be understood as a collective of people, rather than an architectural structure.
    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!
  3. Waaaaw. Indeed the Bible is like a forest or deep sea. Without a guide you get lost. Holy Spirit is he. This explanation is too deep .. I have heard preachers preach on this matter sevarally but it's today I have my inner eyes opened. Be blessed. It's worth.
  4. The two witnesses could mean the Prophets and the Apostles with Jesus being the main conerstone representing the lampstand. What do you think?
    • If one is inclined to identify the two witnesses, one needs textual data to support a given interpretation. Without textual data, interpretation becomes speculation. If a reader can produce text that would support an understanding of the witnesses as the prophets and apostles, then that would be another option.
    • Israel Bible Center equips you with the tools you need to enter into the Jewish world of Scripture. We provide first-rate teaching, and the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s top scholars. As a student, you will be able to interact personally with our teaching faculty, and gain access to hundreds of hours of Bible courses, including The Jewish Gospel of Matthew and The Hebrew Psalms: How To Worship God. Become a part of the community of teachers and students at Israel Bible Center today!
  5. I have not seen Jewish or Christian address Ezekiel 43:10-11 which appears description after verse 11 to be CONDITIONAL I think it could be a big deal. 43:11 And ***if***[BIG IF] they are ashamed of all that they have done,
    • The Hebrew for "if they are ashamed" is אִם נִכְלְמוּ. The particle אִם can mean "if," but it can also mean "when." Since in the preceding verse God says "let them be ashamed (יִכָּלְמוּ מֵעֲוֺנֽוֹתֵיהֶם) of their iniquities" (43:10), the context suggests that אִם נִכְלְמוּ in 43:11 should be translated "when they are ashamed..." (see CEB, NET, NJPS, NRSV; cf. MSG).
  6. Please Sir, If Moses, Enoch, Elijah Didn't Die, Where Did They Go To As Jesus Once To The Pharisees That NoOne Had Ascended To Heavens Before his Coming. That Has Been Giving Me Concern
    • Thanks for your question, Julius. Moses died (see Deut 34:5-7). Enoch is associated with the "son of man" in 1 Enoch, a text that Jesus knew and drew on, so his reference to the "son of man" ascending to heaven in John 3:13 may be doing double duty (for himself and Enoch). As for Elijah, Scripture states clearly that he "ascended to heaven" (2 Kgs 2:11), so how (or if) this aligns with John 3:13 is unclear.

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  7. I agree. Thank you. We are talking about peoples hearts and minds now, not laws and structures. The same may well be for the Mark of the Beast.
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