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Temples in early Christianity
Baptism for the dead
The temple endowment
Temples in early Christianity
Question: Was the temple obsolete after Christ?
There is no evidence that the early Christian apostles abandoned the use of the temple. Indeed, they embraced it, and continued to use it for the appearance of the Risen Lord
Some Christians charge that Jesus' sacrifice and resurrection meant that the temple was to be removed from Christian worship—the Atonement made the temple superfluous. Therefore, they criticize the LDS for persisting with temple worship. Some claim that the veil in the temple becoming rent in twain after the crucifixion of Christ indicates that the temple was no longer to be used.
There is no evidence that the early Christian apostles abandoned the use of the temple. Indeed, they embraced it, and continued to use it for the appearance of the Risen Lord, and the receipt of prophetic calls.
It is not surprising that Christians have since down-played the importance of the temple, since most do not have one. No one would want to admit they are missing an important part of the gospel. But, if Paul and other apostles valued and honored the temple, why do critics attack the Latter-day Saints for doing the same?
BYU Professor William J. Hamblin wrote:
Unfortunately for [critics] it is quite clear that the New Testament apostles continued to worship in the Jerusalem temple after Christ's ascension (Acts 2:46, 3:1-10, 5:20-42). Even Paul worshipped there (Acts 21:26-30, 22:17, 24:6-18, 25:8, 26:21). Paul is explicitly said to have performed purification rituals (Acts 21:26, 24:18), and prayed in the temple (22:17, cf. 3:1); he claims that he has not offended "against the temple," implying he accepts its sanctity (25:8). Indeed, Paul also offered sacrifice (prosfora) in the temple (21:26, cf. Numbers 6:14-18), a very odd thing for him to do if the temple had been completely superceded after Christ's ascension. Finally, and most importantly, Paul had a vision of Christ ("The Just One" ton dikaion) in the temple (Acts 22:14-21), paralleling Old Testament temple theophanies, and strongly implying a special sanctity in the temple, where God still appears to men even after Christ's ascension.
Hamblin elaborated further on Paul's vision of Christ in the temple during which he received his prophetic call:
- Ananias says Paul will "see the Just One." (Acts 22:14)
- Paul then goes to Jerusalem (Acts 22:17)
- "When I [Paul] was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance" (Acts 22:17)
- Then he sees Christ/The Just One (Acts 22:18)
- Christ tells him to leave Jerusalem (Acts 22:18) and go preach to the Gentiles (Acts 22:21).
Hamblin then illustrates that Paul continued to offer "sin offerings" in the temple after his conversion to Christanity:
Paul’s prosfora was participation in the fulfillment of a Nazarite vow taken by four men (Acts 21:21-26). The sacrifices required to fulfill this vow are described in Numbers 6:13-18. They include making a “sin offering” (Numbers 6:14). Therefore, Paul’s prosfora included a sin offering. (See Bruce, Acts of the Apostles, 3rd ed, p. 443-8.) Furthermore, Christ’s sacrifice is called a prosfora in Hebrews 10:10,14,18, and is directly correlated to the temple sin offerings (Acts 10:3-9). Given all this, it is rather blatant special pleading to claim that Paul’s prosfora in the temple did not include a sin offering.
One respected non-LDS scholar notes the connection between certain biblical language and the temple concept:
- In general, any cultic activity to which the biblical text applies the formula 'before the Lord' can be considered an indication of the existence of a temple at the site, since this expression ... belongs to the temple's technical terminology.
The phrase “Before the Lord” can be found in 2 Timothy 2:14 and 2 Peter 2:11.
- Bill Hamblin, "Veil of Temple Rent in Twain," post to fairbords.org (30 September 2006 15h03), last accessed 3 October 2006. FairMormon link (All quotes have been edited to insert hotlinks to scripture references.)
- Bill Hamblin, "Veil of Temple Rent in Twain," post to fairbords.org (30 September 2006 12h47), last accessed 3 October 2006. FairMormon link
- Bill Hamblin, "Veil of Temple Rent in Twain," post to fairboards.org (30 September 2006 15h52), last accessed 3 October 2006. FairMormon link
- Menahem Haran, Temples and Temple-Service in Ancient Israel: An Inquiry into Biblical Cult Phenomena and the Historical Setting of the Priestly School (Eisenbrauns; Reprint edition, 1985), 26.
Question: Does Acts 17:24-25 teach that the idea of temple worship is foreign to Christianity?
Christians continued to honor, revere, and worship at the Jerusalem temple
God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things.
Christians continued to honor, revere, and worship at the Jerusalem temple. Paul's remarks about temples "made with hands" were designed to counter the pagan idea that god(s) could only be worshiped in temples, and that they were confined to such man-made structures.
In the scripture cited above, Paul is addressing Greeks (the Athenians) and their temple "to an unknown god". Paul's point is that God does not swell solely in a physical object, like the temple of Athena at Athens (see Acts 7:48). This is not to say that there is no temple where the true God can be worshiped—Paul respected the temple and even underwent ritual purification after one of his missionary journeys (REF). The early Christians also continued to show great reverence to the Jerusalem temple. Rather, Paul argued that God is the God of the whole world and can be worshiped at all times and at all places.
An analysis of the Greek text also supports this view, since the term, "made with hands" likely refers to idolatrous worship.
The expression "made with hands" is defined as follows: in
- 4654 χειροποίητος
- “made by hands,” in the [Septuagint] applied only to idols, but in the NT used of material temples (Acts 7:48, 17:24): cf. Orac. Sib. xiv. 62 ναῶν ἱδρύματα χειροποιήτων. In the travel-letter, P Lond 8544 (i/ii A.D.) (=111. p. 205, Selections, p. 70), the writer remarks that many go by ship ἵνα τὰς χει]ropοι]ήτους τέ]χνας ἱστορήσωσι, “in order that they may visit works of art made by hands,” on the banks of the Nile. 
The term appears, in the same form, in Acts 7:48:
- ἀλλ᾽ οὐχ ὁ ὕψιστος ἐν χειροποιήτοις κατοικεῖ, καθὼς ὁ προφήτης λέγει· (BGT)
The NRSV reads:
- Yet the Most High does not dwell in houses made with human hands; as the prophet says, (Act 7:48 NRS)
- "Dr." James White, "Temples Made With Hands," e-tract. off-site
- G. Milligan and J.H. Moulton, Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament (Baker Academic, 1995), 687. ISBN 978-0801047206.