John 2:18-22 says:

18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (ESV)

The temple is the place where God's presence dwelled, see Exodus 25:8:

8 “Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them.

If Jesus' body is the temple, in what sense does God dwell in the temple according to Biblical Unitarians?

  • Luke, you ask how God’s presence dwelt in Jesus physical body before he died and ascended into heaven but how does John 2:21 link with the physical structure of the sanctuary?
    – Lesley
    Commented May 2 at 16:36
  • Is the link between Exodus 25:8 and John 2:21 that the Son of God was to be called Immanuel, "God with us"?
    – Lesley
    Commented May 3 at 6:51

1 Answer 1


You ask Biblical Unitarians if God’s presence dwelled in the physical body of Jesus before his death and resurrection, and if so, how. This article lays out their fundamental beliefs about Jesus and God:

We believe that the Heavenly Father alone is God (John 17:3).

We believe that Jesus is the only begotten Son of “God” (the Father) (John 3:16).

We believe that God was literally Jesus’ father, in that God created Jesus’ life in Mary (Luke 1:35).

We believe that on the third day after he died, God honored His promise and raised Jesus from the dead and gave him a new body that was and remains incorruptible (Acts 10:39-41; 13:29-31).

This article is about Jesus as the only-begotten Son of God and the Son of Man:

He is the only man ever born by way of God putting a seed in the womb of a virgin (Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:35). God put a perfect seed in the womb of Mary so that Jesus would be born without the sin nature that every other human being inherited from the First Adam. Therefore, Jesus is the only-begotten Son of God (John 3:16) and the Son of Man (John 5:27).

Before answering your question, it is important to understand what Biblical Unitarians believe about the holy spirit. This article says, amongst other things, that before Jesus was glorified there was no holy spirit:

  1. “The Holy Spirit” is equivalent to “…the power of the Most High…,” as Luke 1:35 clearly indicates by the use of parallelism (cp. Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8, 10:38; Rom. 15:13, 18 and 19; 1 Cor. 2:4 and 5). The context is the conception of Jesus Christ. Matthew 1:18 also records that Mary “…was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” Yet all through the New Testament are references to the fact that God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The reason that “the Holy Spirit” is said to father the Lord, but God is the Father of the Lord, is that “the Holy Spirit” is the name used of God that emphasizes His active power.
  1. John 7:39 says that until Jesus was glorified, there was no holy spirit. [2] Furthermore, in Acts 1:4 and 5 Jesus tells his disciples to wait for “the gift my Father promised…,” which would come “in a few days.” If the Holy Spirit were a person, and present in the Old Testament, how then is it possible for “Him” to be spoken of as not yet being in existence? This problem is solved when we understand that the spirit of God that we receive is not a separate person, but rather the gift of God to empower His people, and that what we have today was not in existence during the Old Testament or Gospel periods.

I then found this article which may answer your question. Basically, hypocatastasis is a figure of speech that is more intense than metaphor and is a comparison by implication:

Hypocatastasis is important in the study of Sacred Secret. When a person gets born again, he is filled and sealed with holy spirit, the very nature of God. God could go into a lengthy discussion of the holy spirit in us, but in Colossians 1:27 He uses the figure hypocatastasis and simply says that we have “Christ” in us. Now we all know that Jesus is presently in heaven at the right hand of God, so “Christ” is not literally in us. Nevertheless, the holy spirit in us is so powerful, and so enables us to be like Jesus Christ, that God uses hypocatastasis and says that “Christ” is in us.

When we are studying hypocatastasis in the Bible, we must be careful because we are less familiar with the Hebrew or Greek language than the English language, and there is a chance we could confuse the implied meaning.

At this point I must confess that I am not a Biblical Unitarian, but I suspect that John 2:21 would be considered by them as an example of hypocatastasis. After all, they deny that Jesus pre-existed before Mary gave birth to him, they deny that the Holy Spirit is a distinct personage of the One Being of God, and they deny that Jesus was the incarnation, that he was “God with us”.

  • We do not dispute that Jesus existed before Mary or existed before Abraham, we do believe that he was in heaven when Satan fell like lightning according to the Gospel of Luke. He was there and he existed as an angel of the Lord before he was incarnated into the flesh Commented Jun 5 at 17:43
  • Jesus said am going to your God and my God, your Father and to my Father Commented Jun 5 at 17:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .