John’s Gospel Theme of the Lord Christ as God’s New Temple

In the Gospel record Jesus’ overt teaching and his subtle conduct prepare us for the temple’s removal as both liturgically no longer necessary and spiritually corrupted. John’s Gospel is especially interesting in this regard:  In John 1:14  John presents Christ as God’s true ‘tabernacle.”

‘The Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’

This theme of Jesus replacing  Israel’s religious features recurs repeatedly in his ministry.

1.) John 1:51 —  He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.”

Here it is the Lord Christ, rather than the Jewish temple or High Priest, who is the nexus between heaven and earth as seen in the fact that “the angels of God (are) ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.’

2.) John 2:19-21 —  Jesus answered, and said unto them, Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up again. 20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this Temple a building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? 21 But he spake of the temple of his body.

Here the Lord Christ declares His body to be the true temple.

3.) John 4:21-23 — 21 Jesus said unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor at Jerusalem worship the Father. 22 Ye worship that which ye know not: we worship that which we know: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in [j]Spirit and Truth: for the Father requireth even such to worship him.

Here the Lord Christ tells the Samaritan woman that the physical temple will soon be unnecessary.

4.) John 7:37 Now in the last and great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying,If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth in me, as saith the Scripture, out of his belly shall flow rivers of water of life.

Here the Lord Christ is attending the festival of Tabernacles (cf. John 7:2ff), and he presents himself as the living water. This festival reminds Israel of Moses’ producing  water from the rock (Ex. 17:1-7, Nu. 20:8-13). This event also reflects the promise of the Temple (Zec. 14:8, Eze. 47:1-11).  In John 8:12 the Lord Christ calls Himself the “light of the World,” which reflects the festival ceremony.

5.) In the “I am” debate in John 8:13-59 the Lord Christ appropriates to himself the whole essence of the temple as being the dwelling place of the divine name.  Here we see the Lord Christ, immediately after declaring Himself as the “I am” (8:58) departing from the temple (8:59) which in John’s Gospel serves as his sign that God has departed the temple much as God’s s presences departed the Temple in Ezekiel 10. This departure scene here in John 8 may explain why John does not chronicle the 2nd temple confrontation at the close of Christ’s ministry as is recorded in the Synoptics. For John, when the Lord Christ departs the temple in 8:59 the presence of God has left the Temple.

6.) John 10:22-39

While the Jews are celebrating the Feast of Lights which recalls the re-consecration of the temple under the Macabees, the Lord Christ presents himself as the one who is “sanctified and sent.” Here the Lord Christ comes to the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, which celebrates the Maccabean victory in reclaiming the temple and re-consecrating the altar and temple. The Lord Christ does not enter the temple at this time, but comes only to Solomon’s portico (John 10:23, cp. John 11:56). During this temple celebration the Lord Christ declares Himself to be the one “whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world.”  The Lord Christ shifts the emphasis from the temple to Himself as the one consecrated by God. (John 10:36) The true temple has come. All preoccupations with the old temple are past.

7.) John 12:41 — “These things said Isaiah when he saw his glory, and spake of him.”

Here the Lord Christ quotes Isaiah 6:5 but now we know that it is the Lord Christ who is the Shekinah glory of the temple that Isaiah witnessed.

Peter Walker argues, in his “Jesus and the Holy City,” that the upper room teaching session in John 13-17 reflects a “temple experience” beginning with foot-washing as an initiation ritual (John 13:33f) and ending with “the high priestly prayer” (John 17). Thus it appears “John’s over-riding message is that the Temple has been replaced by Jesus.”

The necessity of a new temple is seen in the fact that the profanation of the place of Gods’ dwelling. So bad is this profanation that the Lord Christ cleanses the Temple both at the beginning and the ending of His ministry. These temple cleansings are not so much an effort at reform as they are a testimony against the present temple cultus. The true temple is testifying against the corrupt temple.

These thoughts taken from Ken Gentry’s
Navigating the Book of Revelation — pg. 99 – 100


Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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