Heroes of the Bible

Building the Temple—Paul

Paul rejected the physical Temple built by Herod the Great with the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World. Instead, Paul taught all people to love the spiritual Temple built with the teachings of Moses, David, Isaiah, and Jesus.

Emperor Nero beheaded the Apostle Paul in Rome about five years before the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem. (Since Paul was a Roman citizen, he could not be crucified as Jesus was.)

The Temple in Jerusalem during Paul’s lifetime was the Temple of Herod the Great. Herod built it using the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World.

As a young man, Paul grew up in Jerusalem. He studied there under the highly respected rabbi Gamaliel. He was thoroughly trained in the law of his Jewish ancestors—the Law of Moses. Paul loved God, Jerusalem, and the Temple zealously. (Acts 22:3).

Decades later, as a follower of the Way of Jesus, Paul wanted to show that he continued to be a Jew who followed the Law of Moses. After returning to Jerusalem, he went to the Temple to worship, to purify himself, and to make offerings in accordance with the Law of Moses. (Acts 21:20-26).

Unfortunately, while Paul was in the Temple, his enemies recognized him.

Paul was ceremonially clean. He had not (as his enemies mistakenly believed) brought a non-Jew into the Temple. Nevertheless, his enemies “stirred up the whole crowd”. (Acts 21:27-29; 24:11-12,17-18).

His enemies “seized him, shouting, ‘Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought a Greek into the temple and defiled this holy place.’” (Acts 21:27-29).

“[P]eople came running from all directions. Seizing Paul, they dragged him from the temple.” While they were beating Paul, trying to kill him, Roman troops arrived. (Acts 21:30-32).

The Romans rescued Paul by arresting him. (Acts 21:33).

Paul remained in prison for two years while the Romans tried to decide what to do about him. (Acts 24:27). Eventually, Paul appealed to the Roman Emperor himself. (Acts 25:10-12). After surviving a shipwreck, Paul arrived in Rome where he remained under house arrest for two years. (Acts 28:30).

Paul’s final memory of the physical Temple of Herod the Great was of being dragged outside to be killed while the doors were shutting to keep him out. 

Why?

Because his enemies mistakenly believed that he had brought a non-Jew into the Temple, and mistakenly believed that he was teaching “everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place.” (Acts 21:28).

In reality, Paul was in the Temple for the very purpose of proving that there was no truth in such reports and that he himself “was living in obedience to the law [of Moses].“ (Acts 21:24).

In reality, Paul was immensely proud of being a Jew. Why? Because the Jews “have been entrusted with the very words of God.” (Romans 3:2).

Despite his final memory of being beaten and cast out of the physical Temple of Herod the Great (or perhaps because of this final memory of the physical Temple!), Paul drew upon his love for the Temple to teach both Jews and non-Jews what it means to love the LORD our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:36-38).

Paul rejected the physical Temple built by Herod the Great with the Power of Money, the Power of Religion, and the Power of the Kingdoms of the World.

Instead, Paul taught all people to love the spiritual Temple built with the teachings of Moses, David, Isaiah, and Jesus.

The church that Paul planted in Corinth contained both Jews and non-Jew.  Paul wrote to them, commanding:

“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).

Individually, each of us is God’s Temple.

Why?

Because God’s Spirit dwells in each of us. (1 Corinthians 6:19).

Collectively, we are God’s Temple.

Why?

Because God’s Spirit dwells in our midst. (1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16-17).

Years later, while under house arrest in Rome, Paul was still urging Jews and non-Jews to build this new, spiritual Temple.

The church in Ephesus contained both Jews and non-Jews. Paul was the first one to teach them about receiving the Spirit of God. (Acts 19:1-10).

When Paul wrote to “God’s holy people in Ephesus”, he commanded them to end the hostility between Jews and non-Jews (Ephesians 1:1).

Why?

Because Jesus “himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility [between Jews and non-Jews].” (Ephesians 2:14).

Jesus himself is “the chief cornerstone” of the household of Jews and non-Jews that God’s people are building. (Ephesians 2:19-20).

In the Way of Jesus that fulfills the Law of Moses and the Prophets, this “whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy Temple” (Matthew 5:17; Ephesians 2:21).

In the Way of Jesus that fulfills the Law of Moses and the Prophets, we “are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Matthew 5:17; Ephesians 2:22).

God’s Spirit lives in each of us (individually) and in all of us (collectively) who love the LORD our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength.

God’s Spirit grows fruit that destroys barriers and breaks down hostility between Jews and non-Jews, rich and poor, males and females. (Galatians 3:28).

What are these fruit of God’s Spirit that overcome all kinds of barriers and hostilities?

Love.

Joy.

Peace.

Forbearance.

Kindness.

Goodness.

Faithfulness.

Gentleness.

Self-control.

What kind of love from God’s Spirit overcomes all kinds of barriers and hostilities?

What kind of love from God’s Spirit builds spiritual temples by dwelling in the midst of each of us (individually) and in all of us (collectively) who love the LORD our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength?

Love that is patient.

Love that is kind.

Love that does not envy.

Love that does not boast.

Love that is not proud.

Love that does not dishonor others.

Love that is not self-seeking.

Love that is not easily angered.

Love that keeps no record of wrongs.

Love that does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Love that always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love that never fails!

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To learn more about building the Temple, please read my blogs “Building the Temple—Moses”, “Building the Temple—David”, “Building the Temple—Isaiah”, “Building the Temple—Herod the Great”, and “Building the Temple—Jesus”.