WHY DID JOHN MEASURE THE TEMPLE?

PMW 2019-051 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

The measuring of the temple in Rev. 11:1–2 is an important episode in Revelation. Here we clearly see Revelation’s focus on Israel: this “holy city” with a “temple” must be Jerusalem (Neh. 11:1; Isa. 48:2; 52:1; 64:10; Matt. 4:5; 27:53). In verse 8 John unmasks this “holy city” for what she becomes: an Egypt, a Sodom, the slayer of Christ: “Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified.” Indeed, second century Christians call Jews “Christ-killers” and “murderers of the Lord” (e.g., Ignatius, Magnesians 11; Justin Martyr, First Apology 35; Irenaeus, i 3:12:2)

Significantly this passage strongly reflects Jesus’s prophecy in the Olivet Discourse (compare the italicized words):

Luke 21:24b: “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

Revelation 11:2: “But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months.”

These twin passages inform us that the “holy city/Jerusalem” will be “trampled” by the “gentiles” until the “times of the gentiles are fulfilled,” i.e., after “forty-two months.”

Blessed Is He SMALL (Larry Ball)


Blessed Is He Who Reads: A Primer on the Book of Revelation
By Larry E. Ball

A basic survey of Revelation from the preterist perspective.
It sees John as focusing on the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70.

For more Christian studies see: www.KennethGentry.com


Evidently Revelation 11:1-2 prophesies the impending destruction of the temple in A.D. 70, for its source Luke 21:24 (and its parallels in Matt. 24 and Mark 13) prophesies that very event. Note the context: (1) Jesus particularly speaks of the first century temple (Luke 21:5-7; cp. Matt. 23:38—24:3; Mark 13:1-4) and (2) he ties his prophecy to his own generation (Luke 21:32; cp. Matt. 24:34; Mark 13:30). And again, the events of Revelation are “soon” (Rev. 1:1) and “near” (Rev. 1:3).

What of “the times of the gentiles”? Daniel 2 prophesies that four successive gentile empires (Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Rome) will dominate God’s people: they are able to do so because they can strike at the material temple in the specifically defined land. Now after one final period of rage the gentiles will no longer be able to trample God’s kingdom, for it becomes universal and disassociated from a central temple (Eph. 2:19-21), localized city (Gal. 4:25-26), circumscribed land (Matt. 28:19; Acts 1:8), and distinguishable race (Gal. 3:9, 29). As Jesus puts it: “A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem,” but everywhere (John 4:21).

The trampling of the temple in A.D. 70 (Dan. 9:26-27) after its “abomination” (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15-16; Luke 21:20-21) ends the gentiles’s ability to stamp out the worship of God. In Daniel 9:24-27, Matthew 23:38—24:2, and Revelation 11:1-2 the “holy city” and its temple end in destruction.


The Early Date of Revelation and the End Times: An Amillennial Partial Preterist Perspective
By Robert Hillegonds

This book presents a strong, contemporary case in support of the early dating of Revelation. He builds on Before Jerusalem Fell and brings additional arguments to bear.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


But how do the “times of the gentiles” relate to the forty-two months (Rev. 11:2)? In late A.D. 66 Israel revolts against her oppressive Roman procurator Gessius Florus. By November the Roman governor of the Syrian province, Cestius Gallus, attempts to put down the uprising, but withdraws prematurely for reasons that are unclear (Josephus, Wars 2:17-22; Tacitus, Histories 5:10). A few months later Vespasian is “sent to Judea by Nero early in 67 to put down the revolt.” By August of A.D. 70 the Romans breach the inner wall of Jerusalem, transforming the temple and city into a raging inferno. From Spring of A.D. 67 to August of A.D. 70, the time of formal imperial engagement against Jerusalem, is a period right at forty-two months.

John “measures” for protection (Ezek. 22:26; Zech. 2:1-5) the inner temple (Gk., naos), altar, and worshipers (Rev. 11:1); the “outer court” is “cast out” for destruction (Rev. 11:2). The imagery here involves the protecting of the essence of the temple, its heart (appearing as the worshiping of God by his faithful people), while the externalities of the temple (the husk, the actual material property itself) perish. This mix of physical and spiritual is rooted in the very idea of the temple. For instance, in Hebrews 8:5a we read of an earthly “sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven.” The earthly, external is a copy/shadow of the heavenly spiritual reality. The “man-made sanctuary” is a “copy of the true one” (Heb. 9:24). In Revelation 11 God removes the shadow-copy so that the essential-real remains, which John here portrays as the worshipers in the heart of the temple.

This is much like Paul’s imagery in Galatians 4:22-26 where he contrasts “Jerusalem below” (literal, historical Jerusalem) with the “Jerusalem above” (the heavenly city of God). Or like the writer of Hebrews comparing historical Mt. Sinai that can be touched (Heb. 12:18-21) with spiritual Mt. Zion, the home of “the spirits of men” that “cannot be shaken” (Heb. 12:22-27). This mixture of literal and figurative should not alarm us, for all interpreters find such necessary from time to time. Literalist Robert Thomas, for instance, understands Revelation 19 to teach the return of Christ on a literal horse while urging that his sword and the rod are figurative (Thomas, Revelation 8-22, 387-389). And everyone sees a mixing of physical eating and spiritual eating in John 6:49-50 and physical resurrection and spiritual resurrection in John 5:25-29.

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2 thoughts on “WHY DID JOHN MEASURE THE TEMPLE?

  1. Joshua Smiley June 25, 2019 at 3:54 pm

    Excellent! Thank you, Dr. Gentry. Your ministry is a blessing to me.

  2. kristafal June 26, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    Great stuff. Amen!

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