Thursday, May 15, 2014

Jesus' Claim to be the Temple of God Proves His Full Deity

(posted 9/29/14)

This blog is basically a rephrasing and reworking of a previous blog.

19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up."20 The Jews then said, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?"21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.- John 2:19-22
[cf.   ]
 Here we have Jesus referring to His physical body as a temple. In Mark 14:58 and Matt. 26:61 Jesus' accusers seem to be lying and/or confused about what Jesus claimed. Some accusers may have misquoted Jesus out of malice, while others misquoted Him because they misunderstood what Jesus was saying. Obviously, Jesus was comparing His physical body with the physical building of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. Jesus may have made such claims multiple times. In John 2:19-22 the Jews clearly interpreted Jesus' statement as referring to the Jewish temple. They didn't understand He was comparing His physical body with the physical Jewish Temple/building in Jerusalem. They thought Jesus was referring only to the physical building of the Temple. In this comparison that Jesus makes we have a clear instance of Jesus claiming to be Almighty God incarnated. Otherwise, it would have been inappropriate for Jesus to compare Himself to the Jewish temple. If He weren't Almighty God incarnated, it would have been blasphemous for Jesus to compare Himself to the Jewish Temple since the Jews understood that even though God is omnipresent, God nevertheless dwells in the temple in Jerusalem in a special sense over and above His normal omnipresence.

Earlier in the Gospel of John the author says concerning Jesus, " the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." (John 1:14). The word "dwelt" can be translated "tabernacled." The Logos, who was God (John 1:1), "pitched His tent" in a physical body by incarnation. That's why Matthew applied the term "Immanuel" to Jesus and properly interpreted the meaning of the name "(which means, God with us)." (Matt. 1:23).

The same idea of Jesus being God is implied by what Matthew records about Jesus' other comparison between Himself and the temple of Jerusalem.

 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.- Matt. 12:6

Jesus was clearly saying He's greater than the temple because elsewhere in the same chapter He says He's greater than Jonah and Solomon.

41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.- Matt. 12:41-42
The only way Jesus could claim to be greater than the Jewish temple is if He's claiming to be God in the flesh (i.e. incarnate), since in Matt. 23:21 Jesus says, "...whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it." This is in agreement with the apostle Paul's theology in Col. 1:19; 2:9; Phil. 2:6-11.

Adam Clarke in his commentary writes this regarding Matt. 12:6:

Does not our Lord refer here to Mal. 3:1? Compare this with Heb. 3:3. The Jews esteemed nothing greater than the temple, except that God who was worshipped in it. Christ, by asserting he was greater than the temple, asserts that he was God; and this he does, in still more direct terms, Matt. 12:8, The Son of man is Lord of the Sabbath - is Institutor and Governor of it. Compare this with Gen. 2:3 (note), and see the notes there.
Clarke citations include Mal. 3:1 and Heb. 3:3:

"Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.- Mal. 3:1

For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses---as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself.- Heb. 3:3

 "Where two sit together to study the Torah, the Shekinah glory [i.e. the Divine Presence] rests between them." (Mishnah, Pirke Aboth 3:2)

The above was a common saying among rabbis during the first century according to some scholars (e.g. David Instone-Brewer in his dialogue with rabbi David Lister HERE at 57 min.). The Jewish Annotated New Testament confirms this on page 34, "rabbinic teachings stated that the Divine (Heb “shekhinah”) is present when people study Torah (m. Avot 3.2,6)." Therefore, it makes much sense that when the Gospel of Matthew records the statement of Jesus in Matt. 18:20, that the author of Matthew intended for us to identify Jesus with God. The author was affirming the divinity of Jesus in some sense.

"For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."- Matt. 18:20 (NASB)
"For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."- Matt. 18:20 (ESV)
"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."- Matt. 18:20 (NKJV)
 This passage also implies the omnipresence of Jesus. An attribute that God alone possesses.

23 "Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away? 24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD.- Jer. 23:23-24 (ESV)

"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built!"- 1 Kings 8:27 (ESV)

 Regarding Jesus' omnipresence the New Testament states:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."- Matt. 28:18-20

22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.- Eph. 1:22-23

15    He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities---all things were created through him and for him.17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.- Col. 1:15-20

9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily,10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority.- Col. 2:9-10
Unitarians who reject the full deity of Jesus have to argue around these evidences of Jesus' full deity. Unitarians have to ask themselves how they can account for the New Testament's repeated claims of Jesus being the temple of God or God in the flesh. If Jesus wasn't fully God, it would have been blasphemous for Jesus to refer to Himself as the true temple of God.

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