Doesn't the word "temple" in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 11:1 indicate that the Third Temple will stand on the Temple Mount for the last 42 months of the final seven years?

Email Received:

At your website, it seems you are not convinced that the Third Temple must stand during the last 42 months or second half of of the final seven years. Don't 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 11:1 indicate that there will be a temple standing during this time?

Ted’s Response:

First of all, you need to know that I am convinced there are some things about the second half of the 70th Week that we will not understand or recognize, merely from reading Scripture, until they actually happen. It is futile for us to attempt to figure out certain specifics, because God always reserves the right to toss in some surprises that will completely astonish everyone.

As such, I do not spend too much time scratching my head and wondering about things that baffle me or don't seem to make sense to me, wishing that I could understand them. Knowing whether or not the Third Temple actually will be rebuilt is one of those things. I am very content to let God be in charge of fulfilling prophecy, since He is the one Who spoke it. There doesn't seem to be much time left, and I am more than willing to wait patiently to see how it unfolds.

Sacrificial Altar ModelIt is true that I believe a temple does not have to be present for sacrifice and offering to be presented on a sacrificial altar. There already is a precedent, before the Second Temple stood, for sacrifices and offerings to take place:

Then Jeshua son of Jozadak and his fellow priests and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and his associates began to build the altar of the God of Israel to sacrifice burnt offerings on it, in accordance with what is written in the Law of Moses the man of God.  Despite their fear of the peoples around them, they built the altar on its foundation and sacrificed burnt offerings on it to the LORD, both the morning and evening sacrifices.  Then in accordance with what is written, they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles with the required number of burnt offerings prescribed for each day.  After that, they presented the regular burnt offerings, the New Moon sacrifices and the sacrifices for all the appointed sacred feasts of the LORD, as well as those brought as freewill offerings to the LORD.  On the first day of the seventh month they began to offer burnt offerings to the LORD, though the foundation of the LORD's temple had not yet been laid. (Ezra 3:2-6)
Thus, sacrifices and burnt offerings were presented on an altar before the foundation of the Second Temple had been laid. In fact, a new altar in Jerusalem was dedicated, by the Jewish Sanhedrin, in December 2018:

Sanhedrin "Third Temple"
Ritual in Jerusalem (R$E)

Passover sacrificial lambAlso, in April 2019, a Passover sacrifice service took place in Jerusalem, where a lamb was sacrificed and burned:

Passover Sacrifice Service for Third Temple

In the past, I always thought that, at some point, the Third Temple would stand on the Temple Mount, although I could not imagine how it could be there along with the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Presently, I see no shovel-ready plans, nor a politically conducive environment (since those of the Islamic faith presently are in charge of what takes place on the Temple Mount), to enable construction of a Jewish temple to begin.

Therefore, I feel that I need to be open-minded enough to consider other possibilities. As such, three things come to mind. I am not suggesting that any of these is probable or even possible; I'm only saying that they have crossed my mind. Here are my three thoughts:

1) Maybe only the Holy of holies section of the temple will stand, in which the "abomination that causes desolation" will be set up. Both the NIV and KJV record, in Matthew 24:15, that Jesus said this would be in the "holy place." Virtually everyone seems to have assumed that this would be the full and completed Third Temple. But maybe this will not be the case.

It certainly would take much less time to construct the Holy of holies than it would the entire temple, even though it would be the largest section of the temple. If, somehow, the orthodox Jews (probably in the Temple Institute) were able to build anything on the Temple Mount, I expect that they would be considering other solutions, even though they believe that the Holy of holies of the temple should stand where the Dome of the Rock does now. Assuming that the Dome of the Rock is going nowhere, maybe they would be willing to compromise and build their structure at another location on the mount, if given permission to do so.

2) Maybe a replica of the Holy of holies, or potentially of the full temple, will be built at the school for priests in Mitzpe Yericho. Everyone assumes that the "holy place" (Matthew 24:15) must be somewhere on the Temple Mount. Although I've always leaned toward the latter, if indeed one is to be built, I have to consider the possibility that sacrifice and offering could start and be put to a stop in the temple replica, and also that the "abomination that causes desolation" will stand in the temple replica as well. More about this school, and the temple replica, can be found in "Preparing for Service in the Rebuilt Temple."

3) There is yet another possibility. A prominent Turkish Muslim leader, Adnan Oktar (aka Harun Yahya), along with Jewish rabbis Abrahamson and Hollander, have suggested that "the Dome of the Rock that sits so prominently on the Temple Mount be used as 'a place of prayer for all nations.'" Rabbi Hollander has stated, "It is said that the structure of the Dome in Haram E-Sharrif (the Temple Mount) was originally meant by (Caliph) Omar to be a House of Prayer for Jews, and the Al-Aqsa for Muslims."

Essentially, what these Islamic and Jewish leaders have proposed is that the Dome of the Rock be used by the Jews as their next "temple." See more in "Muslim leader wants Temple rebuilt" by Joel Richardson. Jews presently can walk onto the Temple Mount (although it is managed by the Islamic Waqf), but they are not supposed to pray on it, nor bring religious symbols onto it. Also, there is so much friction between Muslims and Jews that violence can break out over something very minor. But, perhaps, some type of mutual arrangement or deal could change that.

"Temple" vs. "Shrine"
Matthew 24:1 (Greek)

John 18:20 (Greek)

2 Thessalonians 2:4 (Greek)

Revelation 11:1,2 (Greek)
Now, let's look at what Scripture says. (I will be referring to the Zondervan Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, ninth printing 1986.) In Matthew 24:1, spoken by Jesus, the Greek word "" is translated as "temple." In John 18:20, also spoken by Jesus, the Greek word "" is similar to "," and this also is rendered "temple." In both the NIV and the KVJ, the translations of both of these Greek words is "temple."

However, in the Greek text of 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 11:1,2, there is a completely different word. The Greek word is "" (or "" in Revelation 11:2). In both the NIV and the KJV, this word is mistranslated as "temple." A more accurate translation of that word is "shrine." Click here to see photographs that I took of those verses in the Greek New Testament.

The question is, could "shrine" indicate something other than the Third Temple that everybody has been expecting? Look at the description of the Islamic Dome of the Rock shrine on these pages:

At these and other places, that structure is described as an Islamic "shrine." That is the most accurate translation of the same word used in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 and in Revelation 11:1,2, in the original Greek. Accordingly, as implausible and unlikely as it might seem that the Dome of the Rock could be used by orthodox Jews as their next "temple," I believe that anything is possible.  Also, see the Third Temple subsection in the Third Temple, Rapture & Gog Magog commentary.

Next, let's examine one of these passages more closely:

I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, "Go and measure the temple [or shrine] of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months." (Revelation 11:1,2)
In the ancient First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, only the high priest could enter the Holy of holies; everyone else had to remain outside. In Revelation 11:1, though, it says to "count the worshipers there," and it seems to be referring specifically to those within the "temple" or "shrine." As difficult as it may be to fathom such a thing, perhaps these are Jewish worshipers inside of a structure or shrine that has been offered or provided to them as their "substitute temple."

Furthermore, in Revelation 11:2, there is a directive that the "outer court" not be measured. Now, most orthodox Jews believe that the Holy of holies, of the First and Second Temples, was located where the Dome of the Rock stands now (see the diagram below). Thus, the outer court of each of those temples would have extended (approximately) eastward from that location. If the Jews were to consent to accepting the Dome of the Rock as their "temple," then there would be no outer court. Therefore, according to the prophecy, it would not be measured. That area would be "excluded," because the outer court would not exist.

In addition, the entire Temple Mount has been under Islamic control for decades. During the Six-Day War in June 1967, Israeli forces took control of the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount. However, the Israeli prime minister at the time, Levi Eshkol, gave control of access to the Temple Mount to the Jerusalem Islamic Waqf. Non-Jews, including Muslims, are considered to be Gentiles. So the area that used to be the outer court of the First and Second Temples already has been "given to the Gentiles," since it is managed by Muslims.

Diagram of the Temple

Now, in Matthew 24:15 (in both the NIV and the KJV), Jesus referred to the location where the "abomination that causes desolation" would be set up as the "holy place," rather than as the "temple." Since Jesus made a point to add the phrase "let the reader understand" in the NIV (or "whoso readeth, let him understand" in the KJV), then perhaps He was stressing that there was something very remarkable or atypical about the "holy place" that we should be anticipating:

So when you see standing in the holy place "the abomination that causes desolation," spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. (Matthew 24:15,16—NIV)

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains. (Matthew 24:15,16—KJV)

Unlike what many people think, the Dome of the Rock is not a mosque. There already is an Islamic mosque on the Temple Mount: the Al Aqsa Mosque. The Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine or monument, and it is built over a "sacred stone." Furthermore, the location of this "sacred stone" was considered to be a holy place, even before Islam came onto the scene, as Jews always have believed that this is the very location where Abraham was about to sacrifice his son, Isaac, as commanded and then stopped by God (Genesis 22:1-14).

Furthermore, as noted before, this location also is believed to be where the Holy of holies of both the First Temple (Solomon's Temple) and the Second Temple (Herod's Temple) stood. Therefore, no matter what stands there now or in the future, it always will be considered to be a "holy place" to God—arguably, the holiest spot on earth.

What if Jesus, who would have known what is going to happen in the future, was giving us an enigmatic message by not saying "temple" but, rather, referring to this location as the "holy place"? Was He trying to tell us, as readers, not to skim over those words too quickly but, instead, to stop and give them a little more thought, after which we might gain an understanding of what He was telling us? I feel that this is quite possible.

For centuries, orthodox Jews and Christians have envisioned the Third Temple, standing on the Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock now stands. In fact, here is a conceptual depiction of the Third Temple, appearing to have "replaced" the Dome of the Rock, on the Temple Mount:

Third Temple on the Temple Mount

I am convinced that, in the endtimes, Islam will be the principal foe of Jews and Christians. Could it be that Islam, whose holy book the Qur´an teaches the destruction of Israel, will shrewdly "compromise" with Israel in some way? Rather than allow the orthodox Jews to build the Third Temple on the Temple Mount, which would seem to incite widespread protest and resistance, might they "dupe" Israel by offering them the Dome of the Rock shrine—"a place of prayer for all nations" and "a House of Prayer for Jews"—as their next "temple"? After all, what better place, in the minds of orthodox Jews, to present sacrifices and offerings to Yahweh than on the exact spot on which they were made, for many centuries, prior to 70 A.D., when the Second Temple was destroyed?

Of course, it is possible that an orthodox Jewish rabbi could sneak up onto the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, sacrifice a lamb (perhaps on Passover), and offer up some type of burnt offering to the Lord. Presumably, this would create an international firestorm of rage, a marked escalation of violence of Muslims against Jews, and a subsequent order to cease and desist any further sacrifices and offerings, thereby fulfilling that portion of Daniel 9:27.

The following article states, "This year in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin Initiative is calling upon the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the world to participate in the Korban Pesach": What Has Changed That Enables Us to Offer the Korban Pesach Now? Here is another article, in which Dr. Moshe Sharon is quoted as saying, "Jews and Muslims once worshiped together at the Dome of the Rock, and many Jews considered it to be the Third Temple": Jews and Muslims did worship together at Dome of the Rock. Could the Dome of the Rock become an "International temple in Jerusalem," as well as the "Temple of the new One World Universal Religion with the basic belief that all faiths lead to the same god"? Time will tell.

Return to Email Questions and Ted’s Responses

Go to Ted’s Bible Commentaries and Other Links

View the New International Version of the Bible

Go to Ted’s Homepage