Matthew 24:1-2 — And Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way; and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. But he answered and said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
Mark 13:1-2 — And as he went forth out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Teacher, behold, what manner of stones and what manner of buildings! And Jesus said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left here one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down.
Luke 21:5-7 — And as some spake of the temple, how it was adorned with goodly stones and offerings, he said, As for these things which ye behold, the days will come, in which there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. And they asked him, saying, Teacher, when therefore shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when these things are about to come to pass?
All three gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke speak of Jesus prophesying the destruction of the temple.
We know that Jesus had avoided Jerusalem many times during His earthly ministry;[] yet, at the very heart of the Temple there remained the fact that the LORD had commanded to rebuild it in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, as a place of worship to the LORD.
In 20-19 BCE, in the eighteenth or the seventeenth year of his reign, Herod announced that he planned to renovate the Temple. [] In fact, it seems that what he intended was to break it down and complete its reconstruction, so that one could call it a new Temple. Some people feared that Herod would pull down the old structures but would not be able to rebuild them.
Herod gave a speech to the multitude before rebuilding the temple, as he thought they would not agree with his plans for this vast design to be rebuilt and this is what he said:
“I think I need not speak to you, my countrymen, about such other works as I have done since I came to the kingdom, although I may say they have been performed in such a manner as to bring more security to you than glory to myself; for I have neither been negligent in the most difficult times about what tended to ease your necessities, nor have the buildings.
I have made been so proper to preserve me as yourselves from injuries; and I imagine that, with God’s assistance, I have advanced the nation of the Jews to a degree of happiness which they never had before; and for the particular edifices belonging to your own country, and your own cities, as also to those cities that we have lately acquired, which we have erected and greatly adorned, and thereby augmented the dignity of your nation, it seems to me a needless task to enumerate them to you, since you well know them yourselves; but as to that undertaking which I have a mind to set about at present, and which will be a work of the greatest piety and excellence that can possibly be undertaken by us, I will now declare it to you.
Our fathers, indeed, when they were returned from Babylon, built this temple to God Almighty, yet does it want sixty cubits of its largeness in altitude; for so much did that first temple which Solomon built exceed this temple; nor let anyone condemn our fathers for their negligence or want of piety herein, for it was not their fault that the temple was no higher; for they were Cyrus, and Darius the son of Hystaspes, who determined the measures for its rebuilding; and it hath been by reason of the subjection of those fathers of ours to them and to their posterity, and after them to the Macedonians, that they had not the opportunity to follow the original model of this pious edifice, nor could raise it to its ancient altitude; but since I am now, by God’s will, your governor, and I have had peace a long time, and have gained great riches and large revenues, and, what is the principal filing of all, I am at amity with and well regarded by the Romans, who, if I may so say, are the rulers of the whole world, I will do my endeavor to correct that imperfection, which hath arisen from the necessity of our affairs, and the slavery we have been under formerly, and to make a thankful return, after the most pious manner, to God, for what blessings I have received from him, by giving me this kingdom, and that by rendering his temple as complete as I am able.”[]
When Herod was on his deathbed, Josephus says that some youths, at the instigation of their teachers Judas and Matthias pulled down a golden eagle that Herod had erected over the great gate of the temple as a dedicatory offering.[] The Temple gate referred to, is probably the eastern gate leading into the inner courts of the Temple, called the Gate “Beautiful.” In their view, they justified their actions using the Old Testament prohibition against images. The youths responsible climbed onto the roof, lowered themselves and cut the image down with axes.
After declaring the woes and lamenting over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37-39, Jesus goes out of the Temple courtyard beginning with Matthew 24:1. Let us take a quick look at Herod’s Temple. Flavius Josephus the Jewish historian widely known to be an authentic and credible source says in the “Wars of the Jews,” speaks of stones almost forty-plus cubits long[]and says the pillars supporting the porches were twenty-five cubits high, all of one stone, and that of the whitest marble. []
John Wesley writes:
“Goodly Stones— Such as no engines now in use could have brought, or even set upon each other. Some of them (as an eye witness who lately measured them writes) were forty – five cubits long, five high, and six broad; yet brought thither from another country. And gifts – Which persons delivered from imminent dangers, had in the accomplishment of their vows, hung on the walls and pillars. The marble of the temple was so white, that it appeared like a mountain of snow at a distance. And the gilding of many parts made it, especially when the sun shone, a most splendid and beautiful spectacle” []
The Temple was built by King Herod. During the time of Jesus’ ministry, it had already been forty-six years under construction.
The temple was the place where the high priests and the Levites offered animal sacrifices in order to satisfy the Law of Moses. Herod’s Temple was truly one of the wonders of the ancient world. Its architectural beauty was beyond compare. However, it did not possess the glorious presence of almighty God or the spiritual atmosphere that had infused the Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple. Many of the sacred objects from the original Tabernacle were not present in this temple.
As in the Tabernacle, the Second Temple included:
- The Menorah (golden lamp) for the Hekhal (sanctuary)
- The Table of Showbread
- The golden altar of incense, with golden censers.
The Second Temple also included many of the original vessels of gold that had been taken by the Babylonians but restored by Cyrus the Great.[] However, according to Jewish tradition, the temple lacked the Shekinah, the dwelling or settling divine glory-presence of God, as was present in the first.
Since some of the original artefacts were, according to the biblical account, lost after the destruction of the First Temple, the Second Temple lacked the following holy articles: []
The Ark of the Covenant, containing the Tablets of Stone, the pot of Manna, and Aaron’s rod;
- The Urim and Thummim (parchment contained in the Hoshen – the priestly garment)
- The holy oil;
- The sacred fire.
Although these were missing from the sanctuary, we find it to be a place of revelation, as seen in the experience of Zechariah. The angel of the Lord brought a Word from God to Zechariah in this temple. []
Before the beginning of Jesus’ three and half year ministry, “…the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple,” [] There, satan made a vain effort to tempt him and during the course of three years that followed, Jesus was frequently in the Temple courts and in the Temple—that is, in various structures or colonnades of the inner Temple—though apparently not in the Holy Place itself, as given in the verses below:
Matthew 21:14-15 — The blind and lame came to him in the temple courts, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the experts in the law saw the wonderful things he did and heard the children crying out in the temple courts, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant
Luke 19:47 — Jesus was teaching daily in the temple courts. The chief priests and the experts in the law and the prominent leaders among the people were seeking to assassinate him,
Luke 21:38 — And all the people came to him early in the morning to listen to him in the temple courts.
John 7:14 — When the feast was half over, Jesus went up to the temple courts and began to teach.
John 8:2 — Early in the morning he came to the temple courts again. All the people came to him, and he sat down and began to teach them.
John 18:20 — Jesus replied, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues and in the temple courts, where all the Jewish people assembled together. I have said nothing in secret.
Yes, Jesus cleansed the temple twice and in doing this, He was defending the sacredness of His Father’s house. In the very early days of his ministry, he cleansed the Temple courts of the merchandisers and money changers.[] Then during His final week in the flesh, he again “went into the temple of God, cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers.”[]
After he cleansed the Temple courts for the first time, Jesus made figurative use of the Temple to foreshadow his death and resurrection:
“Destroy this temple,” he said, “and in three days I will raise it up.
“Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
“But he spake of the temple of his body.” []
At Jesus’ death, the veil in the Temple’s most hallowed room, the Holy of Holies, was “rent in twain from the top to the bottom.”[] For generations, only the high priest had been permitted to pass through the veil and enter the symbolic presence of God—and even he had that privilege only once a year. But through His death, Jesus rents that partition, signifying among other things, that all people could reach God’s presence.
Although the Temple had been built by a godless king and was in the hands of priests who had strayed from the true knowledge of (Yahweh) Jehovah, Jesus reverenced it and respected it. But He also acknowledged its position in relation to the true Lord of the Temple: “I say unto you,” he told the Pharisees, “that in this place is one greater than the temple.”[]
The dispensationalist teachers teach that there will again be a physical temple rebuilt in Jerusalem. However, there is no reference in scripture that lends credence to this claim that Jesus will come back to a reconstructed Temple. The new Temple is His body—the body of Christ, which is the individual believer and the corporate body of believers.
On the day of Pentecost, we find Christ coming to dwell in His new Temple—His body—the Church. The Church now is the temple of the Holy Spirit of God and will remain so till the literal bodily return of Jesus. []
1 Corinthians 12:27 — Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthians 6:19 — Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,
1 Corinthians 3:16-18 — Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool so that he may become wise.
The temple was always associated with a King and his kingship. In the Old Testament, we find many references showing a link between the temple and a King. Other than the Tabernacles, which represent symbolically the two covenants—the old and new; Moses and David, there was Solomon’s temple, Zerubabbel’s Temple and Herod’s Temple.
The two tabernacles represent:
- Moses—The old covenant (Religion)
- David—The new covenant (Relationship)
The Temple links with Kings:
- Solomon’s temple connected with King Solomon
- Zerubabbel’s temple connected with kingship []
- Herod’s temple connected with King Herod,
- The body of Christ is the temple of the Holy Spirit and is connected with King Jesus []
 Josephus, Antiquities, 15.11.1-2
 Josephus, Antiquities 15.11.1
 Josephus, Antiquities 17.6.1-3
 Josephus, Wars, 5.5.1.
 Josephus, Wars, 5.5.2
 ‘John Wesley’s explanatory notes’ on Luke 21:5
 Ezra 1:7-11
 The Jewish Encyclopedia: The Second Temple
 Luke 1:5
 John 2:16
Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46
 John 2:13–16
 Matthew 21:12
 Matthew 12:6
 Acts 1:11
 Haggai 2:23
 John 2:19-22