The Temple and the Church’s Mission

I was so impressed by this lecture by G. K. Beale on his book The Temple and the Church’s Mission, I felt compelled to listen to it three times, take notes, and type them
up as an outline. The outline is pretty rough, but fleshing it out would make it even longer, so I figured I’d just paste it in as-is, and if anybody is intrigued or confused, we could discuss it in the comments. (Or if you are intrigued or confused, listen to the lecture yourself! And then come back here to the comments and let me know what you think.)

  • Rev 21:1-3; 9-12; 22:1-3: City in the shape of a temple, that’s garden-like

    • Garden-like:

      • fruit, leaves, tree

      • 22:1 River, water of life, Ez 47:1, deeper wider

      • 22:2 leaves for the healing of the nations: Ez 47

    • City:

      • 21:2 It is a city!
    • Temple:

      • Shape of Temple: Allusions to Ez 40-48

      • 21:10 High Mountain

      • :11 Having glory of God Ez 43:2

      • :12 12 gates Ez 48:31

      • :16 Cube: 1 Ki 6:20 Holy of Holies

    • Does John see a city IN the new heavens and new earth (21:1)? No, New Creation IS a city in the shape of a temple, that’s garden-like

      • 21:27: Nothing unclean can enter into the city

      • 22:14-15: Outside are the dogs, immoral…

      • 21:8: Cowardly, unbelieving, … in lake of fire

      • In the New Heavens and New Earth, is there a stronghold for believers, surrounded by lake of fire full of unbelievers?

      • No, hell is not part of the New Heavens/Earth. City/temple/garden IS the New Heavens and New Earth

      • (Star Wars: Death Star; Star Trek: Borg!) but figurative depiction

      • Pattern in Revelation: See a Vision, Hear an Interpretation.

        • (Sometimes vice versa, like Rev 5:5 Hear Lion–> 5:6 See Lamb)

        • 2: See New Heavens & New Earth IS New Jerusalem

        • 3: Hear (interp. decl) IS Tabernacle

      • New “Heavens&Earth”? Don’t see any geography, see city/temple/garden

  • Genesis: Eden was 1st (arboreal) temple / sacred place (explains why Rev 21-22 is garden-like)

    • Unique place of God’s presence (like Holy of Holies)

      • Gen 3:8 “Walking” in cool of the day = same expression as God walking back and forth in his tabernacle (Lev 26:12, Deut 23:14, 2 Sam 7:6-7)

    • Place of 1st priest (Adam)

      • Gen 2:15 “cultivate and keep” are Hebrew abad and shamar: together always mean “serve and guard”

      • abad+shamar together = worship: 10x Israelites, priests serving/guarding in temple

      • Gardening term? Note that ancient near-east temples always were gardens / had garden imagery: reflects common grace universal memory that the garden of Eden was God’s first temple

      • Gen 3:23: Adam sent to “abad” outside the garden

      • Gen 3:24: Cherubim set to “shamar” the entrance to the garden

    • Gen 2:15 God “placed” (Heb. yanach) Adam in the Garden

      • Not the usual verb for “place”

      • Same root as Noah (“rest”)

      • Used for installing temple furniture

    • Gen 3:24 Cherubim to “guard” entrance

      • Why guard? Keep out unclean: No snakes!

      • Priests (shamar) guard temple against the unclean (Neh 11:19, 2 Chr 23:19)

    • Tree of Life

      • (Ex 25) Lampstand outside Holy of Holies

      • Almond tree

      • Flames = light of God

    • Eden is 1st Sanctuary

      • Temple had garden imagery (1 Ki 6: cedar, palm, flowers, pomegranates…)

    • Source of water, facing east

      • Temples always on a mountain, facing east, flowing water

      • Ezek 28: Eden on a mountain

      • Gen 3:24: Eden facing east

    • 1st place where wisdom is found

      • Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil

      • Ark of Covenant = Law = Wisdom

      • To touch either is death (Gen 2:17, 1 Sam 6)

    • 3 sections (like Tabernacle, Temple)

      • Eden (source of waters)

      • Garden is adjacent to Eden

      • Uninhabitable lands outside

      • Ez 28: Eden (mountain), priestly
        garments: Satan? No: Adam! Ez 28:18 “profaned your
        sanctuaries” plural!

    • Apocryphal Jubilees 8:19 “the Garden of Eden is the holy of holies”

    • Gen 1:28 “fill the earth…”

      • Man is the image of God

      • What do you do with the image of a God? Put it in a temple

      • Fill the earth = fill the temple with images of God

      • John Walton: Adamic commission intended for Adam to extend Eden (sacred space/divine presence) to
        fill whole earth

  • Noah’s Ark was a temple

    • Failed building of temple prior to flood?

    • 3 parts to ark (like three sections of temple)

    • Detailed architectural plans in the Bible elsewhere always mean temple

    • First distinction between clean/unclean animals

    • Noah acted as a priest after flood (“aroma of rest”)

    • Greek “ark” = “ark” of the covenant

  • Adamic commission repeated with patriarchal building of small sanctuaries/localized temples

    • Gen 1:28, 9:1–, Abram (12,17,22), Isaac, Jacob

    • 6 common features indicate little temples:

      1. God appears

      2. Pitch a tent (like tent of testimony: Heb “skenae?”)

      3. On a mountain

      4. Build altar/worship

      5. Bethel (“House of God”)

      6. Presence of a tree

    • For Adam/Noah, the commission is purely command. Starting with Abra(ha)m, it is a promise

    • Jacob (Gen 28) 6 things:

      • “spread out” (like tent?)

      • “I am with you” (God in this place)

      • House of God/gate of heaven/Bethel

      • Stone/oil (altar/worship)

      • tithe

      • Thus points forward to Jerusalem temple, and further forward to New Heavens/Earth

    • David (1 Chr 21)

      • Mount Moriah (2 Chr 3:1)

      • Theophany (Angel)

      • Altar

      • House of God (future site of Temple)

  • The Temple

    • Re-establish/recall Eden, realize Patriarchal inchoate Temples

    • Eden: little earthly model of God’s temple in Heaven, came down, meant to fill Earth

    • Ps 78:69 “He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever”

    • Sanctuary is model of Heavens and Earth (H&E)

    • Moses saw heavenly pattern, made tabernacle just like it (Ex 25:8-9,40)

    • Is 66:1 Heaven=throne, Earth=footstool

    • Israel/Eden Temples only small temporary models; models not only of current H&E, but also coming H&E

    • Temple is model of Creation

      • Holy of Holies (HoH) = Invisible Creation

        • Cherubim guard God’s throne in heaven (also Rev 4 living beings)

        • Cherubim statues guard Ark of Covenant (AoC), cherubim in HoH curtains

        • No images in HoH (empty): unseen heaven

        • HoH: Heavenly dimension extends to earthly: AoC = ottoman = part of throne room (1 Chr 28:2)

        • Separating curtain: HoH separate from Holy place = Invisible separate from physical

        • High Priest couldn’t see in HoH (incense=obscured vision)

      • Holy Place (HP) = Physical Heavens

        • Curtains are sky colors: blue, purple, scarlet

        • Curtains have winged creatures

        • Lights on lamps: Heb “maore” = lights from Gen 1:14

          • 70 in Temple HP = starry sky

          • 7 in Tabernacle HP = 7 naked-eye visible lights: Sun/Moon/5 planets (Josephus/Phyllo)

        • Is 40: Heavens = curtain/tent

        • Ps 19:4-5 Heavens = tent for sun

        • Floor/ceiling/walls covered with gold = sunlight/God’s light

      • Courtyard = Visible Sea & Earth

        • Brazen sea = oceans: huge, high, not for washing (waist-high washbowls are for washing)

        • Altar:

          • “Of earth”, uncut stone (Ex 20:24-25)

          • “Horns” of the altar = same Heb. word for tips of mountains (Is 5:1?)

        • Entire population of Israelites (male/female) all allowed in courtyard

      • Illustration of architect who made model of church he was going to build: Nobody said of architect, “What a great model builder he is!” All understood that the model pointed to something greater!

  • Garden of Eden = Israel

    • Joel 2:3, Is 51:3, Ez 36:35

    • Golden calf occurred at a mountain (Adam/Eve/snake in Eden=on mountain)

    • Exile = kicked out of garden

  • Christ & followers are temple

    • All temples point to Christ (2 Sam 7, Zech 4, 6: Messiah = temple builder)

    • Presence of God on earth

      • John 1 “tabernacled among us”

    • Resurrection = rebuilding of temple

      • John 2 “tear down this temple, raise body up in 3 days”

      • 2 Cor 5:14-17: resurrection = new creation

    • Rebuild physical temple? NO!

      • Heb 9:9 “figure” = “parable” temple

      • Heb 11: type

      • Heb 8: resurrection = true temple

      • Never go from substance back to shadow (can’t reverse redemptive history)

    • Church = Temple

      • 2 Cor 6, 1 Cor 3

      • Identified with Christ, indwelt by Holy Spirit

  • Back to Rev 21-22:

    • Recall 21:1-3: New Heavens&Earth (NH&E) IS New Jerusalem IS City/Temple/Garden (C/T/G)

    • 21:22: No more temple – whole new creation IS Temple

    • We already saw how NH&E is a Garden

    • So how is it a City?

      • Jer 3, Zeh 1,2: HoH points to Jerusalem (City), points to whole earth (new creation)

      • 21:18: city covered with gold: fulfillment of gold-plated HoH

      • Gen 2: Adam was to extend garden/sacred presence to whole earth: FAIL

      • Foreshadows 2nd Adam’s success (Rom 5)

    • NH&E no longer 3 parts

      • It’s all HoH

      • All square (unity of dimension)

  • The Temple and the Church’s Mission

    • Extend boundaries of Temple (us) to fill earth

    • Extension = adding believers

    • We are Priests:

      • Mediators betw God/unbelievers

      • Pray

      • Teach

      • Sacrifice (Rom 12:1): (for Paul, “sacrifice” always in context of expansion to Gentiles)

    • Hymn: written (by unknown) in response to this material as sermon:

By grace God makes a people, claims them for his own,

Lifts them up through Christ the savior, Christ the cornerstone.

By grace God builds a people, his own temple pure

Standing firm on one redeemer, one foundation sure.

By grace God sends his spirit, his spirit and his word,

To fill and fortify this temple, built on Christ the Lord.

By grace, Lord let your people stand, stand firm and sing

Praises to our rock, our savior, Christ our coming King.

By grace, Lord let your temple stretch from shore to shore,

Built on Christ who comes to claim her, his forevermore.


10 Responses

  1. I don’t have time to listen to the lecture yet however I will say I am very pleased with the outline.

    Many of the progressions I have taught myself just not as extensively.

    One thing I think would be welcome is to integrate more of Zechariah 14 (Source of water, facing east) and how that prophecy connects with the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.

    Outlines like this do well to help people with their confusing eschatology’s fall into line.

    I can’t tell from the outline if the death star reference is meant metaphorically or literally (even though you say “figurative” that doesn’t clarify the intent of the reference to me)

    I also take exception to the “Brazen Sea”(Rev 4:6) being depicted as it is. I don’t think there is anything concrete to say this “sea” is not similar to the temple article used for washing. Of course both references have tremendous truths connected with them- (i.e. a reference to temple articles indicates that what John is seeing is indeed the greatest manifestation of God’s presence and if it’s an ocean it indicates the greatness of God’s sovereignty and largeness). But the fact that in your outline it comes under temple and courtyard makes it seem inappropriate to define it as something foreign to the temple and the courtyard. (Of course I may just be confused by the outline).

  2. Ha! Of all my readers, I wouldn’t have guessed dbalc would be the first commenter on this thread!

    Thanks for reading anyways, I’m glad you found it stimulating. I have some thoughts in response, but will have to come back later…

  3. I didn’t comment because I’ve already told you my thoughts on G.K.B in email exchange! In case any one wonders what I said, I heaped laudatory comments on him.

  4. I think I recall the word “stud” was used…

  5. Yeah, so maybe he said Zech 14 and I missed it. He goes really fast some times.

    I can’t tell from the outline if the death star reference is meant metaphorically or literally

    What he’s saying is, if you want to picture what this vision looked like to John, picture the Death Star, but not round. He probably wasn’t aware of what a Borg Cube is. But his point about figurative is that, just because that’s what the vision looked like, that’s not what the New Heavens and Earth will look like.

    Another helpful movie analogy; when he was talking about the church architect that had a model of what he was going to build, he could have just referred to Zoolander: “What is this, a school for ants?!”

    I also take exception to the “Brazen Sea”(Rev 4:6) being depicted as it is. I don’t think there is anything concrete to say this “sea” is not similar to the temple article used for washing.

    OK, from Rev 4:6, that’s a crystal sea, and Beale didn’t mention anything about that (unless I missed it). What he was talking about was the elements of the Temple courtyard, which included a giant bronze “sea”, as well as numerous smaller basins; see 2 Chr 4. In the Tabernacle, the bronze basin was not quite so big it appears (Ex 30:17-21). The whole point being that the outer courtyard of the O.T. Tabernacle/Temple represented the terrestrial creation: earthen, horned (mountain-topped) altar for the earth, and Giant “bronze sea” for the real seas. I suppose also the dirt on the ground and the smaller washbasins also for the earth and sea.

  6. Outlines like this do well to help people with their confusing eschatology’s fall into line.

    Beale is also co-editor of Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, which Kim Riddlebarger has described as the kind of thing that will totally confound Dispensationalism.

  7. […] The Temple and the Church’s Mission […]

  8. I haven’t had much time to comment (let alone read) hardly anything in the blogosphere lately. However the title caught my eye so I took an interest.

    As I said previously this is one of my favorite subjects to bring out and expound upon because it demonstrates the beauty of a certain message running throughout the pages of the scriptures over the course of thousands of years.

    Anyway thanks for clarifying that A) the death star reference was not to be taken literally. I’ve used similar illustrations when teach Revelation to demonstrate the strangeness of a “satellite city”. If you get the opportunity make a little cube to scale on a globe (it’s not very difficult since most globes have a scale) Then stick that cube onto the globe. It’s very funny.

    Also thanks for clarifying regarding the “Brazen Sea” however your bullet still seems to imply to me a distinction from the temple article while I understand it to be an indication of th temple article.

  9. […] in conflict with astronomers, who claimed in particular that the “star of Saturn” (Beale notes that, biblically, the 5 visible planets are lumped with the sun and moon as the 7 great lights of […]

  10. […] a place of worship, a temple, which concept was later picked up and exhaustively expanded up on by Greg Beale. Most of the rest of this discussion brings in other passages that illustrate the sacramental […]

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