Christ is the Real Temple
Many Old Testament laws, prophecies, and promises foreshadow and point to Christ. The temple is one of them. When Jesus said, “in three days I will raise it up”, He in a way was referring to His resurrection in which His body will be raised up in three days,
“Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ The Jews then said, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this temple,and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body.
(John 2:19-21 ESV)
In AD 70, 40 years after His resurrection, ascension, and the beginning of the Church age, the physical temple was also destroyed.
In the Old Testament, the temple had always been the place where God and sinners met. Now, we no longer need to go to a physical temple nor do we have to head to Jerusalem to worship God,
“Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. . . . But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.’” (John 4:21-23).
Now we can worship the Lord in spirit and truth! Who is the Spirit but Christ? Who is the Truth but Christ? We worship in Christ, and the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are now the temple.
“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (Revelation 21:22).
Wait…We Are Also God’s Temple
The believers are also called God’s temple,
“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.” (1 Cor 3:16-17).
Note that the verses say we together are the temple (using NIV and NLT here). The Church is the temple of God. When we gather together in His name as the Church, we worship in the Lord as the corporate temple with the Lord being among us. Does it not speak of the mysterious union of Christ and the Church?
What an incredible dual reality. Jesus was on one hand speaking of His physical body which was resurrected in three days, yet on the other hand, we who believe in Him are His body. We are the body of Christ. As we are joined to the Lord as one spirit (1 Cor 6:17), and that the Spirit dwells inside each of us (1 Cor 3:16), we are together God’s temple. The Lord God Almighty and the Lamb (whom the Church is married to) are also the temple. This is one temple. Again, this speaks powerfully of the mysterious union of Christ and the Church.