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Yesterday I was asked if 2 Thessalonians 2:4 suggests that the Antichrist will sit on God’s throne in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem. Speaking prophetically about “the man of sin, the son of perdition” the King James Version translates 2 Thessalonians 2:4 this way:

Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

The KJV was published (1611) before pre-millennial dispensationalism became popular in the 1830’s as promoted by J.N. Darby and Plymouth Brethren.

The New International Version speaks of “the man of lawlessness, the man doomed to destruction” who will set himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. The NIV comment says God’s temple “apparently refers to a physical building (Mark 13:14) from which he makes his blasphemous pronouncements.”

The English Standard Version also says “the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction... takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” The ESV makes this comment:

The temple of God has been variously interpreted as the church, the heavenly temple, the Jerusalem temple, and for supreme blasphemous arrogance modelled on the activities of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Daniel 11:31-35). Whatever the meaning, the context seems to indicate a concrete and observable act of defiance against God.

Is there any suggestion from the Greek in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 that the temple in Jerusalem will be rebuilt?

Indeed, is there any biblical basis for thinking that at some point during the Great Tribulation the Antichrist (man of lawlessness) will enter a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (from which he will proclaim himself to be God and demand worship)?

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    I think (for the sake of this particular site) you need to define 'the Great Tribulation'. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 4, 2022 at 12:38
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    By Great Tribulation I mean a future time which starts with the identification of the Antichrist/Man of Lawlessness, and ends with the return of the Son of Man to destroy the enemies of God.
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 4, 2022 at 12:50
  • Noted and understood. Thank you.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Mar 4, 2022 at 13:07
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    This question may fare better on Christianity Stack Exchange than on BHSE. Commented Mar 4, 2022 at 20:45
  • @HoldToTheRod - My question is focused on 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and that is why I asked in Biblical Hermeneutics. I observe there are two votes to close this question on the basis it is opinion based but I am looking for answers based on Scripture. How would this question fare better on Christianity SE?
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 8:25

4 Answers 4

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As I understand the Dispensationalist view, they see the plans for a Third Temple in Ezekiel 40 that has not yet been fulfilled. So they expect it to be built in the future.

However, the third and final Temple was built, or is being built, by Jesus as a spiritual house composed of living stones (people):

[1Pe 2:5 NLT] (5) And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple. What's more, you are his holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.

The book of Revelation is about the judgment and destruction of earthly Jerusalem, the Temple made with human hands, the Sinai covenant, the sacrificial system and the Jewish theocracy, and the arrival of the New Jerusalem aka the living Temple aka the New Covenant People aka the Bride/Body of Christ aka the Israel of God, etc.

God is through with earthly temples which were a shadow of the heavenly Temple.

As evidence I point to this excellent analysis that shows that Ezekiel’s Temple is the Temple that the elders wept over, which was never built and never to be built:

https://rayliu1.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/ezekiels-temple-4/

The Temple Not Made With Hands is Christ and his Bride/Body.

Related:

https://www.quora.com/In-the-Bible-what-is-the-significance-of-Jacobs-Ladder/answer/Bill-Ross-22

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    Ah, yes, the shadow and the reality. Thank you.
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 17:37
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    A belated up-vote -better late than never!
    – Lesley
    Commented Oct 9, 2022 at 14:46
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There are a variety of views about how "Paul's Apocalypse" (2 Thess 2) and the abomination of desolation should be understood and they can be classified as follows:

1. Preterist

The abomination of desolation and the man of lawlessness should be understood as the capture of Jerusalem and the second temple by Rome in AD 70.

2. Historicist

There are actually two historicist view about this:

(a) Paul's apocalypse and the abomination of desolation applies to the activities of the medieval state church

(b) Paul's apocalypse and the abomination of desolation applies to a still future anti-Christ who will usurp ecclesiastical authority. This does not involve the Jerusalem temple being rebuilt

3. Futurist

In the futurist scenario a still future anti-Christ will usurp ecclesiastical authority and rebuild the Jerusalem temple and make blasphemous claims about being God, etc. (The futurist view is not uniform and several variations exist.)

It is also possible that more than on of these interpretations is correct.

I have attempted to summarize the Biblical data in the appendix below under the general idea of the Abomination of desolation.

APPENDIX - Abomination of Desolation and the Man of Sin

In the Greek NT, the phrase βδέλυγμα τῆς ἐρημώσεως (= “abomination of desolation”) has a pivotal occurrence in both first century events and apocalyptic events that overlap. The word ἐρημώσεως (eremoseos) is from the root word ἐρήμωσις (erémósis) which BDAG defines as, the “state of being made uninhabitable, devastation, destruction, depopulation”. This word only occurs in the following places in the NT:

  • Matt 24:15, “abomination of desolation which was spoken by Daniel the prophet …”
  • Mark 13:14, “abomination of desolation standing where it ought not to be …”
  • Luke 21:20, “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.”

The “abomination of desolation” (or similar phrase) occurs elsewhere only in Daniel 8:13, 9:27, 11:31, 12:11. The phrase might be more helpfully translated, “depopulating sacrilege”. It is also alluded to in several other places as we shall see. Let us list the characteristics of the abomination of desolation from these references.

  • It causes the cessation of the “daily” (Heb: Tamid) usually understood to be the daily (or continual) sacrifice (Dan 8:13). More correctly, (See Annex), it points to the ministry of Jesus our High Priest and His continual ministry in the heavenly sanctuary.
  • It occurs because of rebellion (presumably of those supposed to be God’s people. Non-Christians and non-Jews cannot rebel because they have not declared loyalty to God.) (Dan 8:13)
  • It ushers in a period (“times of Gentiles” according to Luke 21:20-24) where the sanctuary and God’s people will be trampled underfoot (Dan 8:13, Rev 11:2)
  • It is associated with a coming ruler (not Messiah), presumably, the antichrist (Dan 9:27); in 2 Thess 2:1-12 he is called the “man of lawlessness”, and, “son of destruction”.
  • Dan 11:31 appears to equate the King of the North with the one who would abolish the “continual” (Heb: “Tamid”) and desecrate the temple fortress and thus depopulate the temple of worshipers.
  • There are several time periods associated with the abomination of desolation: 2300 days until its end (Dan 8:13); 1290 days from its beginning (Dan 12:11); 42 months (Luke 21:20-24, Rev 11:2), 70 weeks (Dan 9:24-27).
  • The abomination of desolation is to stand in the holy place (Hebrew idiom for either the temple or Jerusalem, Matt 4:5, 27:53, 24:15, Acts 6:13, 21:28) and is where this ruler does not belong (Mark 13:14). This is the signal for those in Jerusalem to immediately flee and the immanent depopulation of Jerusalem of Christians.
  • The abomination of desolation was in Jesus’ time still future (Matt 24:15). (Therefore, this could not have been Antiochus Epiphanes.)

It is immediately obvious that Jesus applied this prophecy (at least in part) to the destruction of the temple (which occurred in 70 AD) that temporarily despoiled and depopulated Jerusalem, in his famous “Synoptic Apocalypse”. But it is also obvious that Jesus intended far more than this from the numerous references in this sermon to the end of the world. The question that prompted this sermon is a two-fold question (Matt 24:3) about both (a) the destruction of Jerusalem, and, (b) Jesus’ Second Advent. Jesus’ response was to answer both questions simultaneously by giving a dual prophecy. The advantage we have is to learn lessons from the destruction of Jerusalem and apply these to the remainder of Christian history since. Thus, while some parts of Jesus’ final sermon are clearly apocalyptic, much has a dual application as we shall soon see.

In Jesus’ time, the abomination of desolation was fulfilled when the pagan Roman government (by its army) stood in Jerusalem and soon destroyed it by desecrating the temple and temporarily depopulating the city . Apocalyptically and eschatalogically, Paul tells us what would happen in 2 Thess 2:3 & 4 -

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.

This uses the same language as Jesus’ sermon. The “man of lawlessness” would precipitate the abomination of desolation by blasphemously trying to usurp the rights and prerogatives of God Himself by removing Christ from the heavenly sanctuary and the continual (Heb: “Tamid”) intercession He offers for us (1 Tim 2:5, Heb 4:14-16, 7:23-28, 8:1, 2, 9:1-28, 10:1-18) as our High Priest.

Thus we find that the little horn of Daniel 7, the (latter part) of the little horn of Daniel 8, the (latter part) of the king of the north that causes the abomination of desolation, the “man of lawlessness” in 2 Thess 2, and the sea beast of Rev 13, are all prophecies about the same medieval power that is blasphemous and sets itself against Jesus and His faithful people and persecutes Christ’s followers.

This medieval political power is different from all other political powers in that it blasphemously claims to usurp Christ and His salvation and thus is a legalistic, works based pseudo-Christian power, different from any other political or civil power. Thus, the abomination of desolation is an alternate means of salvation that takes away Christ as our mediator and high priest and replaces Him with a man-made system.

Annex: תָּמִיד (tamid)

In the book of Daniel, the word תָּמִיד (tamid), meaning continual or regular, occurs just five times, Dan 8:11, 12, 13, 11:31, 12:11 as an adverb. It is always associated with the apostate power that removed this “continual” from the sanctuary. The same word occurs almost 100 times in the rest of the OT. It is often associated with various things in the sanctuary such as:

  • The shew bread which was to be on the table continually, Ex 25:30, Lev 24:8, Num 4:7, 16, 2 Chron 2:4
  • The menorah which was to burn continually, Ex 27:20, Lev 24:2-4
  • The High Priests’ breast plate as a continual memorial, Ex 28:29, 30
  • The High Priests’ blue ribbon attached to his turban as a continual reminder of the presence of God, Ex 28:37, 38
  • The morning and evening sacrifice of a burnt offering (a lamb) on the sanctuary altar, Ex 29:41, 42, Num 28:3-6, 10, 15, 23, 24, 31, 29:6, 11, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, 34, 1 Chron 16:37, 40, 2 Chron 24:14, Ezra 3:5, Neh 10:33, Ps 50:8, Eze 46:15
  • The burning wood in the altar of offering, continually, Ex 30:8, Lev 6:13
  • Offering of fine flour was to be continual, Lev 6:20, Neh 10:33, Eze 46:14
  • The continual presence of the cloud over the sanctuary, Num 9:16
  • The blowing continually of trumpets, 1 Chron 16:6
  • The ceremonies of the sanctuary, generally, that operated continually, 1 Chron 16:37, 23:31.

Note two important things about this survey:

  1. There is MUCH more than just the continual/regular (morning and evening) burnt offering of a lamb associated with the word תָּמִיד (tamid); however, that is the most common. תָּמִיד (tamid) is also associated with shew bread, the light (menorah), the High Priests’ breast plate, the blue ribbon, fire on the altar, grain offering, trumpeting, sanctuary services generally.
  2. All the features associated with the תָּמִיד (tamid), “continual” are taken up in the NT as symbols of the ministry of Jesus as our High Priest both here and in heaven, Heb 4:14-16, 7:23-28, 8:1, 2, 9:1-28, 10:1-18. Note the following:
  • Jesus was the fulfilment of what the sanctuary/temple typified, John 2:19-21, Heb 9:1-28, 10:1-18
  • Jesus represented the foundation of the temple as well, 1 Peter 2:4-8 (Compare Isa 28:16, Ps 118:22)
  • Jesus was the bread of life, John 6:35, 41, 48 (compare Ex 25:23-30, Lev 24:8).
  • Jesus was the light of life, John 8:12, 9:5 (compare the lampstand Ex 25:31-39, Lev 24:3, 4, Isa 53:11, Ps 56:13, etc)
  • Jesus was the Passover Lamb and thus the promised Messiah, John 1:29, 1 Cor 5:7, 1 Peter 1:19 (compare Ex 12:1-14).
  • Jesus is the High Priest of the New Covenant in fulfilment of the Levitical covenant, Heb 4:14-16, 7:23-28, because He was “pure, blameless, set apart” exactly as the Levites were. See also Heb 9:15, 12:24.
  • Even the blue cord signifying the presence of God was fulfilled in and of Jesus, John 14:10, 11, etc.
  • Jesus provided the blood of the new covenant of which the communion ceremony was to be a memorial, Matt 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor 11:25, Heb 13:20, 1 Peter 1:19 (compare Ex 24:5, 8).

Now back to Daniel and his תָּמִיד (tamid). Many of the English versions add “sacrifice” after “continual” - is this valid? Yes and no! “Yes” if we understand it refers to the sanctuary ceremonies generally; “no” of we understand it refers to the sacrifices exclusively. I believe that Daniel is alluding to all that pointed to Jesus and His perfect ministry as our intercessor (1 Tim 2:5, Heb 8:6, 12:24, etc).

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    Most informative and I appreciate the overview of different schools of thought. "In the futurist scenario a still future anti-Christ will usurp ecclesiastical authority and rebuild the Jerusalem temple and make blasphemous claims about being God" but, as you point out, there are differing views within futurist interpretations. Am I right in thinking 2 Thessalonians 2:4 does not provide any basis for believing the temple of Jerusalem will be rebuilt prior to the second coming of the Son of Man?
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 8:16
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    @Lesley - the rebuilding of the temple is nowhere explicitly prophesied - it is a logical necessity because of the very literalist understanding of the futurist school of thought. Therefore it is "understood" in that school and simply posited without proof.
    – Dottard
    Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 9:16
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    Ah, that explains a lot.
    – Lesley
    Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 12:13
  • The answer can be harmonize with Ratzinger predictions, CCC675 to CCC677, and schismatic sacrifices/Holy Mass, and both Bl.Ab.Fulton Sheen and St.JP2 talk about the mergence of a counterfeit church. The Vatican II will be reduced to a small church, as if depopulated, but in God's Wisdom, its a way of purification. Satan wants to be worship too, and a schismatic mass will be rejected by God, but Satan gladly accept it as a worship to him, because pride, disobedience and schism belongs to Satan. Anti-christ simply means Anti-mercy. All people against Pope Francis are Antipope or Antichrist. Commented Mar 8, 2022 at 21:23
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Young's Literal translation of 2 Thessalonians 2:4 says the Greek word for temple 'naos' should be translated as 'sanctuary' not 'temple'. Daniel 9:27 in the Hebrew text says 'on the wing, abomination' and does not mention the word Temple. Whether 2 Thessalonians 2:4 refers to the body of Christ's new Temple of the Holy Spirit or not, what is clear is that the temple does need to be rebuilt before these scriptures can be fulfilled.

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  • Thank you for your input. Mark 13:14 where Jesus warns of "the abomination that causes desolation" standing where it does not belong" and the imperative for those who are in Judea to flee to the mountains?
    – Lesley
    Commented Apr 18 at 7:26
  • I am not denying that a leader makes a 7 year deal with Israel, re-commences the sacrifices and stops it half way through the 7 years. 2 Thess 2:4 maybe the same man sitting himself up in the sanctuary (just north to the dome of the rock) and setting himself up as God. This will be the start of the Great Tribulation I believe. I don't believe the Temple has to be re-built as that stage, maybe later in the Millennium. Commented Apr 18 at 15:15
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The letters to Thessalonians were written decades before the Jewish revolt and the destruction of the second temple. Since that temple wasn't already considered by Paul the true temple of God, it is very unlikely that he was talking about a physical building. Caligula's attempt to erect his statue in the Jerusalem's temple in 40 AD was probably the image that Paul was using while writing to Thessalonians. Probably with hyperlinks to Isaiah 14:3-21 and Daniel 3. But rather than talking about a building, he was referring to the body of believers.

1 Corynthians 3: 16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

1 Corynthians 6: 19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

2 Corynthians 6: 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

Ephesians 2: 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

However, the antichrist through the number 666 seems to have a strong connection with the builders of both Old Testament temples. The first one was built by an unholy alliance of Salomon and Hiram, the king of Tyre. Salomon's throne contains three sixes (steps and lions) and his annual income was 666 talents of gold. He is pictured as the wisest man, like the snake in the garden. He broke all laws regarding the king of Deuteronomy 17. The king of Tyre is always an archetype of satan (Ezekiel 26-28). Among the people that returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple were 666 sons of Adoniqam (my lord has risen). Finally, Herod, who is pictured as pharaoh of Jesus' times, finishes rebuilding the second temple. The only acceptable currency in that temple was the Tyrian shekel.

"Tyrian shekels, tetradrachms, or tetradrachmas were coins of Tyre, which in the Roman Empire took on an unusual role as the medium of payment for the Temple tax in Jerusalem, and subsequently gained notoriety as a likely mode of payment for Judas Iscariot. In the latest standard, which was also the one used for the temple tax, the coins bore the likeness of the Phoenician god Melqart or Baal, accepted as the Olympian Herakles by the Greeks and derided as Beelzebub by Jews in the time of the Seleucids, wearing the laurel reflecting his role in the Tyrian games and the ancient Olympic Games. They also bore the Greek inscription ΤΥΡΟΥ ΙΕΡΑΣ ΚΑΙ ΑΣΥΛΟΥ (Týrou hierâs kai asýlou, 'of Tyre the holy [city] and [city] of refuge'). The coins were the size of a modern Israeli half-shekel and were issued by Tyre, in that form, between 126 BC and AD 56. Earlier Tyrian coins with the value of a tetradrachm, bearing various inscriptions and images, had been issued from second half of the fifth century BC. After the Roman Empire closed down the mint in Tyre, the Roman authorities allowed the Jewish rabbanim to continue minting Tyrian shekels in Judaea, but with the requirement that the coins should continue to bear the same image and text to avoid objections that the Jews were given autonomy.[citation needed] They were replaced by First Jewish Revolt coinage in 66 AD."

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrian_shekel

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  • Yes, appreciate this more detailed outline than my previous. Although it doesn’t comfortably ‘fit’ the traditional ‘view’ - in my understanding, it will be the AntiChrist who wants [needs?] and will be motivated to build the third temple.
    – Dave
    Commented Mar 5, 2022 at 20:10

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