John Stott and N.T. Wright on the Temple
|July 21, 2012||Posted by Rick Hogaboam under Temple|
In my sermon preparation on Ephesians 2:19-22, I found the following two excerpts to succinctly represent the significance of the new temple that Jesus is building with his covenant people:
As Paul was dictating his letter, there stood in Ephesus the magnificent marble temple of Artemis (‘great is Diana of the Ephesians’), one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and in whose inner shrine there was a statue of the goddess. At the same time in Jerusalem there stood the Jewish temple built by Herod the Great, barricading itself against the Gentiles, and now also against God, whose shekinah glory it had housed in its inner sanctuary for centuries, but whose glory as revealed in its Messiah it had sought to extinguish. Two temples, one pagan and the other Jewish, each designed by its devotees as a divine residence, but both empty of the living God. For now there is a new temple, a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. It is his new society, his redeemed people scattered throughout the inhabited world. They are his home on earth. They will also be his home in heaven. For the building is not yet complete. It grows into a holy temple in the Lord. Only after the creation of the new heaven and the new earth will the voice from the throne declare with emphatic finality: ‘Behold, the dwelling of God is with men.’
The Temple in Jerusalem was not only the religious heart of the nation, and the place of pilgrimage of Jews throughout the world. It was also the political, social, musical and cultural heart of Jerusalem—as well as the place of celebration and feasting. The reason for all this was, of course, that Israel’s God, yhwh, had promised to live there. It was, many believed, the place where earth and heaven met.
But now Paul is declaring that the living God is constructing a new Temple. It consists, not of stones, arches, pillars and altars, but of human beings. Some Jews had already explored the idea that a community, rather than a building, might be the place where God would really and truly take up his residence. But until Paul nobody had said anything quite like this.
 Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: The message of Ephesians. The Bible Speaks Today (109–110). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Wright, T. (2004). Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon (29–30). London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge.
© 2012, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.