Pentecostal Sermons & Bible Studies by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.

Which Temple Will the Antichrist Sit in?

Summary:  Antichrist will sit in the temple of God in the end times. The Bible says so. Where and what is that temple? The Bible answers that very clearly. Come see.


2 Thessalonians 2:3-4  Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

ESV:  …so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

NLT
:  …He will even sit in the temple of God

The context of these verses is Christ’s Second Coming: (vs. 1 - “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered unto Him…”). Some Thessalonian Christians (vs. 2) were falsely thinking that the day of the Lord had already come. The apostle was correcting that error.

Paul told them that Jesus’ second coming would not take place before two things happened:

1) an apostasy would occur. The Greek word is variously translated as “rebellion … a falling away … the apostasy … the abandonment of the faith … turning away from God … great rebellion against God.” Many Bible expositors teach (and I agree) that we will see a great harvest of souls to Jesus in the last days. But Paul is telling us that also in the last days there will be a great apostasy by many already in the faith. He confirms this elsewhere (1 Timothy 4:1, NLT): “Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from the true faith.”

2) Paul tells us further that before the Lord’s second coming the “man of lawlessness” will be revealed, widely believed to be the end-time Antichrist, the “beast” of Revelation chapter 13. And he will “sit in the temple of God.”

And that brings us to our main question from our opening verses: Which temple will the Antichrist sit in? Some of the prevailing divisions and arguments over end-time doctrine today relate to whether the Bible does teach or does not teach that there must be a literal, rebuilt, last-days temple in Jerusalem, and that the Antichrist will sit in that temple and proclaim himself to be God.

I will attempt to answer that from a number of clear New Testament scriptures. It is very important to interpret often-times difficult Old Testament prophecies in the clear light of New Testament revelation. For example, the widely-debated “70-week prophecy” of Daniel 9:24-27 becomes clearer when examined in the light of Matthew through Revelation. With that in mind, let’s address the nature of “the temple” as it relates after Christ’s cross to New Testament believers.

Matthew 27:50-51a And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

At the very moment when Jesus expired on the cross, the curtain of Jerusalem’s temple was torn in two from top to bottom, apparently by God. Bible scholars offer various theories of the meaning of that, and a few of those seem to fit the New Testament context well.

1) “Christ our Passover” had just died on the cross as the once-for-all sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 7:27; 9:26, 28; 10:10). That rendered the Old Covenant animal sacrifices obsolete, never to be needed again or repeated.

2) The crucified Savior rose again from the dead and ascended back to heaven, where He sits to this day at the Father’s right hand. And every born-again believer can now enter spiritually into the very presence of God in heaven because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 4:14-16). No longer is an earthly high priest (and only him) needed to enter an earthly temple’s Holy Place once a year on behalf of the people. Now, since the cross of Christ, every believer whose sins are washed by Jesus’ shed blood can in prayer and worship come boldly into God’s presence on His heavenly throne. Christ’s death made the earthly temple and its intercessory priesthood irrelevant.

3) I’ll mention one more interpretation of the torn temple curtain that, I think, has merit. It is this: the sacrificial system of Judaism was fulfilled by Christ our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7). That made the temple sacrifices and its Aaronic priesthood obsolete. So the torn curtain signified the departure of God’s presence from the temple, which represented the Old Covenant. We now live in the New Covenant and are spiritually already sitting “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6, KJV). We are to fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) and “set [our] hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). Earthly temples no longer have any relevance to the Christian worshiper.

1 Corinthians 6:19  Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you…

1 Corinthians 3:16-17, NLT  Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you? … [17] God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Vs. 16, Amplified translation:  Do you not know and understand that you [the church] are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells [permanently] in you [collectively and individually]?

In Old Covenant Judaism, the temple building was a place for the Name and the Presence of God. No longer! Now in the New Covenant, instituted by Christ’s shed blood, the believer's body individually and all Christians corporately are the temple of God, the temple of the Holy Spirit. As the Amplified Bible says of born-again Christians, “You [the church] are the temple of God.”

Mark 13:1-2  As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”  “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

Jesus and His disciples were leaving the temple. One of His disciples began to marvel at the temple’s magnificence. Jesus replied prophetically that not one of its stones would be left intact. All would be thrown down. This happened in A.D. 70, when the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. And, please note, neither Jesus nor the apostles ever prophesied a rebuilding of that temple in Jerusalem or even a hint of return to the sacrifices of the Old Covenant or its priestly ministry. Absolutely not! The New Covenant purchased by Jesus’ blood is a far better covenant than the Old one — a better hope (Hebrews 7:19), a better covenant established on better promises (Hebrews 8:6), built upon a better sacrifice [Jesus’ blood] (Hebrews 9:22-28).

Acts 17:24  “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands.”

The apostle Paul, preaching to unconverted listeners in Athens, put “temples” clearly into their New Testament context: God “does not live in temples built by human hands.” We have just seen above, and more below, that the New Testament temple of God is His people, His Church. Let’s see that some more:

Ephesians 2:19-22  Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

The apostle was telling the Ephesian Christians that they were being constructed as a building. They (and we today) were being “built” on an apostolic and prophetic foundation, with Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone. And that “whole building” was and is still rising to become “a holy temple in the Lord … a dwelling which which God lives by His Spirit.” Never will God abandon His people as His dwelling by the Spirit to reoccupy a literal temple building.

1 Timothy 3:15, NKJV  But if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

“House” here is the same Greek word used by Jesus when He went into the temple and drove out the moneychangers and said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’.” (Matthew 21:12f) Likewise in John 2:16, where Jesus called the temple “My Father’s house.”

Paul clearly told born-again Christians that the “house of God is the church of the living God.” Do you see the pattern? Scripture after Scripture (more to come) is saying that physical temples are old, obsolete, gone from God’s worship patterns. His New Covenant “house/temple” is His people the Church.

1 Peter 2:4-5  As you come to him, the living Stone … [5] you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Vs. 5a, NLT  And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.

If any doubt remains, let another Spirit-inspired apostle (Peter) remove that. He said that we believers in Jesus are a holy priesthood. We are living stones being built into a spiritual house, a spiritual temple. Who is/are the “spiritual house/temple”? You are! says God’s Word.

1 Corinthians 15:46  The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.

The context is the resurrection of believers at the Lord’s coming. The principle applies broadly: first the natural, after that the spiritual. Old Covenant Israel had a natural, very limited line of kings; New Covenant believers are all “kings and priests” (Revelation 1:6; 5:10). Under the Old Covenant, only sons of the natural line of Aaron could be priests; but all New Covenant believers are a “holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices” (1 Peter 2:5). Under the Old Covenant many animals were sacrificed to God daily; under the New Covenant Jesus, the man from heaven (1 Corinthians 15:47), made the once-for-all, never-to-be-repeated sacrifice for our sins.

The principle, common in the Bible, is that of “first the natural, after that the spiritual.” And that applies precisely to our temple discussion. The Old Testament temple was a physical building where God recorded His name and dwelt among His people behind the veil in the Holiest Place. On the Cross Christ rendered that obsolete. Now the believer’s body individually and all believers corporately are God’s temple, God’s spiritual house, the dwelling of God by His Holy Spirit. Never will God abandon this better hope, this better covenant established upon better promises and a better, perfect sacrifice to go back to a physical temple.

John 4:20-24  [A Samaritan woman said to Jesus] “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”  “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem… [23] Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”

While on earth Jesus met a Samaritan woman. She mentioned to Jesus that the Jews worshiped “in Jerusalem” and the Samaritans worshiped “on this mountain” (presumably, Mt. Gerizim). Jesus’ answer is of supreme importance. He spoke to her of a change in worship that had now come—likely referring to His personal presence on earth to bring in the New Covenant by His sacrificial death and resurrection.

Jesus said that the “true worshiper” would no longer worship either on Mount Gerizim or in Jerusalem. Rather, the true worshipers would worship the Father “in the Spirit and in truth.” Why? Because “God is Spirit.” And His worshipers would worship Him most properly on the spiritual level. Not in Jerusalem! said Jesus. That shoots a big hole in the thought of worship returning in the last days to a rebuilt physical temple in Jerusalem. Neither Jesus nor His apostles or prophets spoke of any such return to Old Covenant temple practices, which would be an abominable insult to Christ’s perfect, once-for-all sacrifice for our salvation.

Revelation 21:22  I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

Just to further cement the truth of the permanent departure from physical temples since the cross of Christ, look at the eternal state described in Revelation 21-22, the Bible’s closing chapters. In the holy city “New Jerusalem” that had descended from heaven to earth (21:2), there was no physical temple. Instead, we see the glorious scenario of eternity unfold, where “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb [Jesus] are its temple.” And all the redeemed “shall reign for ever and ever” with them (Revelation 22:5).

First the natural temple of Old Testament Judaism. It was abandoned by God when Jesus died on the cross and the veil of the temple was ripped in two. Then the spiritual: The believer’s body and all believers together (the Church) become God’s temple, His spiritual house, a dwelling for His Holy Spirit. No more natural temples. And finally, in the eternal state for the redeemed described in Revelation 21-22, God Himself and Jesus His Son “are [the] temple.” And Rev. 21:3 paints this spectacular picture: “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” What a blessed hope!

And that brings us back to our opening question: Which temple will the Antichrist sit in? The New Testament Scriptures have made it clear that God will not insult the sacrifice of Calvary by returning to physical temple worship. I might add that it’s possible that people in Israel might choose to rebuild a temple there. But that will have nothing to do with biblical truth, which speaks correctly of God’s plan that His Church be the New Testament temple of God.

So where or what will be this “temple” in which the end-time Antichrist sits? I believe the Scriptures declare that it will be the Church! Please read and ponder the next verse carefully.

1 John 2:18-19a  …you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come… [19] They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us.

This confirms where the Antichrist "will sit" — in the Church. The tendency of antichristal persons, even in John’s day, is to go out from us,” from the Church. So with “the Antichrist” of the last days. He will be like a Judas, known among the believers and even among the leaders. But He will eventually turn against Christ. Judas “went out from” the Lord’s disciples. But his wicked actions showed that he “did not really belong to” the Lord’s true followers. So it will be with the Antichrist.

I foresee the last-days Antichrist as a man well known in the Christian Church, perhaps even an end-time apostle. We see a precedent for this in Judas, one of the first 12 apostles. There’s an even earlier precedent in the fall of Lucifer/Satan from the very presence of God in heaven in prehistoric times. Like Lucifer, like Judas, it’s possible for the Antichrist to walk for a while in the favor of the Lord before turning in rebellion against Him. And sadly, according to the Book of Revelation, multitudes will follow him.

In sum, the Bible does not prophesy or teach a rebuilt temple in end-time Jerusalem. The Bible does not teach a returning to the ordinances associated with physical temple worship. The Church is now and continues to be the Lord’s “spiritual house.” I expect the Antichrist to be well known, and probably highly influential, in the Lord’s Church before he eventually (like Satan of old) rises up with the desire to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Jesus Christ will dispose of the Antichrist and his false prophet at His Second Coming, casting them into the lake of fire for all eternity (Revelation 19:20).

What is one final takeaway from our Bible study today? Be alert. As Jesus said, watch and pray! He warned of false Christs and false prophets. Don’t be dazzled by magnetic personalities or cleverness of those claiming to be the Lord’s ministers. There are millions of true ministers out there, who love Jesus, love God's Word the Bible, love the Church, and love people. Find and relate to a pastor and church that are undeniably Jesus-centered, Bible-honoring, pursuing the fullness of God’s Holy Spirit, and in great humility are trying to bring the Gospel of salvation to a lost and dying world. Follow those principles and you will not be deceived by the Antichrist’s siren song if we happen to be the last-days generation.

May the Lord bless you as you continue to honor Jesus the Son even as you honor God the Father (John 5:23).


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Pentecostal Sermons &
Bible Studies by
Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.