The Third Temple


By Dr. Ken Matto


12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: 13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. (Zechariah 6:12-13)


Another prophetic focus today especially among the pre-tribulationalists is that modern Israel is going to build a third temple in Jerusalem for the purpose of reinstating animal sacrifices.  This is taught as part of a package when in the millennium the temple will be the place that the Antichrist declares himself ruler of the world.  This belief is built on the following three premises:  1) That there is a millennium but the Bible knows nothing of a millennium therefore it is false, 2) That the Antichrist is going to be a physical man of which the Bible knows nothing about because only Satan fits the category of Antichrist, and 3) that there is going to be a physical third temple built in Jerusalem of which the Bible knows nothing about which means it is false.


It must be realized that the Jews in modern Israel are not ancestrally connected to ancient Israel because no one knows who they are since Rome killed many and took the living ones as slaves and dispersed them throughout the Roman Empire in 70 A.D.  The unsaved people in Israel are members of a false cult called Judaism which is not Bible based but based on the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds.  Therefore as a Christ-rejecting cult, anything they do has no spiritual significance whatsoever.  When Christ went to the cross, he fulfilled perfectly the demands of God’s law and became the final sacrifice for sin.  All the animal sacrifices, feasts, and ceremonies affiliated with the Temple in Jerusalem were looking forward to the Lord Jesus Christ.  In other words, they prefigured him.  If a third temple was built and animal sacrifices were reinstated, what would that accomplish in the lives of the partakers?  The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament did not stand alone but had spiritual significance as they looked forward to the coming Messiah.  What would the animal sacrifices in a third temple signify?  Nothing in the Old Testament stood alone as it all had meaning but now that Christ went to the cross and fulfilled all those sacrifices and ceremonies, what would those animal sacrifices accomplish when it states in Hebrews 10:4 states the following.  For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. (Hebrews 10:4) 


Those who would be partakers of those false sacrifices would be just as unsaved when they leave the temple as when they entered the temple.  Another horrendous aspect of the third temple focus is Christians who are willing to give credence to such a thing.  To accept and anticipate the reinstating of animal sacrifices is a slap in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ.  If you are a true Christian, then you have no business whatsoever endorsing or looking forward to a third temple.  It is nothing more than violating the Scriptures by going back under the law from which Christ freed you.


But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? (Galatians 4:9)


The Apostle Paul gave a grave warning to the Galatians that they were placing themselves back under the law and putting themselves back into bondage.  This is exactly what the Christian is doing, as they go from grace to law.  Even if modern Israel builds a temple and reinstates animal sacrifices, it is just showing their continued rank hatred for the Lord Jesus Christ by which you have been saved eternally.  To join with that type of cult is to do exactly what ancient Israel did, they forsook the true God and went after false gods.


Third Temple is being Built

According to the scriptures, the third temple has been under construction for the last two thousand years.


First Temple – Solomon’s Temple

Second Temple – Zerubbabel’s Temple (repaired and expanded during time of Herod calling it Herod’s temple.)

Third Temple – The body of believers according to the Scriptures:


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. (Ephesians 2:21-22)


Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)


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? (1 Corinthians 6:19)


In these four verses we can plainly see that the third temple is the body of believers.  In the Corinthians passages we see that both the individual body of the believer and the corporate body of believers are called the temple.  It is not going to be a physical temple like Solomon’s or Zerubbabel’s but is the temple which the Lord himself will build as it states plainly in Zechariah 6:12-13 above.


One of the passages of Scripture that many like to use for their third temple teaching is Ezekiel 40-48 but when one dissects some of the dimensions within those chapters, we would have to come to the conclusion that Ezekiel was describing the body of believers by the description of the temple.


2 Of this there shall be for the sanctuary five hundred in length, with five hundred in breadth, square round about; and fifty cubits round about for the suburbs thereof. 3 And of this measure shalt thou measure the length of five and twenty thousand, and the breadth of ten thousand: and in it shall be the sanctuary and the most holy place. (Ezekiel 45:2-3)


The reed is about 6 cubits which would be 9 feet.  This would mean that the sanctuary would be 4500 feet and 4500 feet would be .85 of a mile.  Then the suburbs where normally the priests live would be 25000 reeds or 42.6 miles (68.55 KM).  The breadth is 10000 reeds or 17 miles (27 KM).  That would be an extremely large sanctuary and holy place.  This means the sanctuary would extend to the west to the cities of Ekron and Timnah and to the east to the Dead Sea.  So as you can see just by these two passages that something else is in view other than a third physical temple.



So the idea of a physical third temple in Jerusalem is nothing more than poor understanding of the Scriptures mixed with false teachings.  As the scriptures so easily show us that that the third temple is the body of believers and not a physical edifice.  To seek anything else is to fall prey to false teaching and will lead you astray by placing your biblical understanding back under the law from which we were delivered by Christ.  Christian Zionism is an evil and dangerous teaching and must be avoided at all costs by believers.  It does not matter what happens in modern Israel, a false gospel is never a time clue for the return of Christ.


The Old Timers

Back before 1830 when Dispensationalism was introduced and took over most of the churches, there were many commentators who commented on Ezekiel 40-48 and none of them ever speak of a millennial temple


Albert Barnes – 1832-1872

The subject of the closing chapters of Ezekiel Ezek. 40-48 is the restitution of the kingdom of God. This is expressed by a vision, in which are displayed not only a rebuilt temple, but also a reformed priesthood, reorganized services, a restored monarchy, a reapportioned territory, a renewed people, and, as a consequence, the diffusion of fertility and plenty over the whole earth. The return from Babylon was indeed the beginning of this work, but only a beginning, introductory to the future kingdom of Christ, first upon earth, finally in heaven. The vision must therefore be viewed as strictly "symbolical;" the symbols employed being the Mosaic ordinances. These ordinances had indeed in themselves a hidden meaning.


Adam Clarke - 1826

And we, who live under the Gospel dispensation, have apostolical authority for the assertion that the temple and temple worship were emblematic of Christ's Church, frequently represented in the New Testament under the metaphor of a temple, in allusion to the symmetry, beauty, and firmness of that of Solomon; to its orderly worship; and to the manifestations it held of the Divine Presence.


Matthew Henry – 1706-1721

To direct them to look further than all this, and to expect the coming of the Messiah, who had before been prophesied of under the name of David because he was the man that projected the building of the temple and that should set up a spiritual temple, even the gospel-church, the glory of which should far exceed that of Solomon's temple, and which should continue to the end of time. The dimensions of these visionary buildings being so large (the new temple more spacious than all the old Jerusalem and the new Jerusalem of greater extent than all the land of Canaan) plainly intimates, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, that these things cannot be literally, but must spiritually, understood.


Joseph Sutcliffe - 1835

In the five and twentieth year of our captivity. When the pious Jews were dispirited, the Lord revived them with the hopes of a better temple than that which Solomon had built. This which Ezekiel now saw, in the visions of God, was of larger dimensions than the whole of old Jerusalem, and the city which he saw was larger than the whole land of Canaan. Consequently, it must be understood of the New Jerusalem, mentioned in the Revelation, a spiritual city and temple, which shall be the future abode of the church; and all the nations, washed and sanctified, shall enter her gates and her courts with songs. God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.


John Trapp - 1654

After the defeat of Gog and Magog cometh, in these last nine chapters, a new prophecy, aptly depending upon the former, concerning the Christian Church, and the spiritual state and constitution thereof; which is here prefigured by types of rebuilding the temple, restoring the Levitical rites, and repossessing the promised land.


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