Instrumental Music in the Old Testament, Part 5 (Temple Typology)

Reader Alexander (a/k/a aBasnar) and I have been discussing the typology of the Temple in New Testament assembly theology. I think the discussion is important enough to include here in the posts. (And I’m not sure that Alexander will disagree with what follows. We’ll see.)

I wrote,

As I’ve said before, I don’t think the Christian assembly is built on the Temple, by being designed to be either like or unlike the Temple. It is its own thing, and closer to the Passover than the Tabernacle or Temple. We Protestants don’t “go to church” to offer a sacrifice. Therefore, the Temple is neither prototype nor antitype of the assembly.)

Alexander responded,

With this I STRONGLY disagree. Consider the following (well known) texts:

1Co 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
1Co 3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
(the context here is the church not the individual)

2Co 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Eph 2:19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
Eph 2:20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,
Eph 2:21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
Eph 2:22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

1Pe 2:4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious,
1Pe 2:5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Heb 3:6 but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.And not one single verse from this list can be understood without having understood the concept of the OT-Temple/tabernacle. Therefore grasping the types and antitypes is crucial for undetrstanding the church and – a s a side issue – for understanding the place of Instrumental music. So far you failed to see this.

I have great respect for Alexander, even though we disagree on a number of things. And in this case, he is certainly right that there is Temple typology in the New Testament, that is, the New Testament authors often refer to Solomon’s temple to teach lessons that apply to the new covenant church. But those references are not about the assembly; they are about the church.

There’s a classic Church of Christ sermon that emphasizes that the “church” is the people, not the building, and I betray my deep Church of Christ roots when I refer to the building as the “church building” rather than the “church.” It’s also true that the “church” is not the assembly. The church is the church whether or not assembled.

And it’s the individual Christian and the church that are compared to the Temple by the apostles, not the assembly. And this is very important consideration as we consider the New Testament doctrine of worship.

The Temple comparison (typology) is usually about the church as body, not the individual, but both comparisons are made —

(1Co 6:19-20 ESV) 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

The Christian’s body is a temple of the Spirit because the Spirit is “within” the Christian. The Old Testament reveals that God “dwelled” in the Temple, in the Holy of Holies. Indeed, New Testament references to the Spirit’s “dwelling” within the Christian or the church are references to such passages as —

(Exo 29:44-46 ESV) 44 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. 45 I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

(Exo 40:34-35 ESV) 34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

(1Ki 8:10-11 ESV) 10 And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.

Therefore, our bodies are like the Temple in that God, through his Spirit, lives within us in a way similar to God’s dwelling within the Tabernacle and the Temple. He had a special, perceptible presence there.

But, of course, the Tabernacle and Temple were not merely where God dwelled. They were also where God was worshipped. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised to read Paul say —

(Rom 12:1 ESV) I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

(Some translations translate latreia as “service,” but in the Septuagint, latreia is the word used of the Passover sacrifice.

(Exo 12:25-27 ESV) 25 And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.'” And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.

The reference to sacrifice in Rom 12:1 and the use of the word in the Old Testament argues very strongly for “worship” in this context. Compare Jos 22:26-27; 1 Chr 28:13; Rom 9:4; Heb 9:1,6.)

Our worship consists not merely of quiet meditations and elevated thoughts, but in what we do with our bodies. We could very profitably take this verse as the theme for Romans 12-15 and reflect on how those chapters teach us to worship. They, of course, address congregational life, loving one another, and serving one another with the gifts received from the Spirit that dwells within our bodies. They don’t say much about singing or whether announcements have to be made before the opening prayer to avoid having a prohibited sixth act of worship.

And it’s not surprising that Paul quickly transitions from individual worship by the offering of our bodies to congregational life. After all, he also teaches that the congregation is a temple of the Spirit. Thus, the Spirit dwells in the midst of the congregation in a way that’s comparable to God’s dwelling in the Temple. And that means that the congregation — the church — is where God is worshipped. That is, after all, where he has a special presence.

Now, God is everywhere, but just as he had a special presence in the Tabernacle and later the Temple, he has a special presence in the church. And just as that special presence created a special place of worship in the Old Testament, it does so as well under the new covenant. How does that happen?

[To be continued. The next post considers in detail the passages Alexander cites.]

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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5 Responses to Instrumental Music in the Old Testament, Part 5 (Temple Typology)

  1. Scott Walton says:

    Ahhh, cliffhangers!!!!

  2. Rich W says:

    I, too, heard the church sermons many years ago. They typically missed the full defintion(s) of the word church as used in the NT.

    The word church has three related but different meanings in the NT:
    1. The universal church – Matt. 16:18
    2. The local congregation – 1. Cor 1:2
    and the one that is most often missed:
    3. The worship assembly – 1. Cor. 14:19,23,28,35

    Yes, the church is also the assembly.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Church in the wilderness was Qahal or synagogue: a Word of God Only time for education. That never changed and Jesus endorsed it. Ekklesia has the same meaning of synagogue: to hear a message from a higher authority.

    The Jerusalem Temple (not commanded) was like that of all Gentile temples: God had turned Israel over to worship the starry host.
    Temples were "houses" for the gods: It was never a place of worship for the citizens.

    Num 18:2 And thy brethren also of the tribe of Levi, the tribe of thy father, bring thou with thee,
    ……that they may be joined unto thee, and minister unto THEE:
    ….. but thou and thy sons with thee shall minister BEFORE the tabernacle of witness. [never IN]

    Num 18:3 And they shall keep thy charge, and the charge of all the tabernacle:
    ……only they shall not come nigh the vessels of the sanctuary and the altar,
    ……That neither they, nor ye also, die.
    "Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation,
    lest they bear sin, and die. Numbers 18:22

    Christ Who spoke through the prophets and never kings or priests said that God had not commanded, King, Kingdom, Temple (Ziggurat), sacrifices or instruments (See the Law of Moses and the Tabernacle)

    When national sacrifices were imposed because of Mount Sinai the animal sacrifices used no musical or noise-making instruments.

    Stephen agreed:

    Acts 7:44 Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness,
    … he had appointed, speaking unto Moses,
    …..that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen.

    Acts 7:45 Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles,
    …..whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David;

    Acts 7:46 Who found FAVOR [grace] before God,
    and desired to find a TABERNACLE for the God of Jacob.

    Acts 7:47 But Solomon built him an HOUSE.

    Acts 7:48 Howbeit the most High dwelleth NOT in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet.

    Acts 7:49 Heaven is my THRONE, and earth is my footstool: what HOUSE will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?


    Acts 7:50 Hath not my hand made all these things?
    Acts 7:51 Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears,
    … do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
    Acts 7:52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted?
    …..and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One;
    …..of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
    Acts 7:53 Who have , and have not kept it.
    Acts 7:54 When they heard these things,
    …..they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.

  4. Price says:

    Somebody has gotten into the catnip….just sayin.

  5. aBasnar says:

    And it’s the individual Christian and the church that are compared to the Temple by the apostles, not the assembly.

    But isn’t this distinction a bit artificial? When we assemble “as a church” (1Co 11:18 – lit. ??? ???????????) we don’t cease to be church for that time, but rather we become visible as a church. When I had fellowship with the Plymouth Brethren I learned that the local assembly is a reflection of the universal assembly, so that all we do in our meetings must be in harmony with the universal church. Thus the church becomes visible. The one bread is central in their understanding of the Lord’s Supper as it also shows the unity of the Body of Christ.

    Furthermore: ??????????? is best translated as “called out assembly”, so the distinction between church and assembly is not there at all. In fact: church is from ????????? (boy, what did the English do to that word!) not from ???????????.

    But this means that what we do in our assemblies has to be in line with temple typology. That’s why I insist on closed communion. Because we have an altar from which not everyone may eat (See Heb 13:10), esp. those who still serve the type. And not everyone may enter into God’s presence, but only those who have been washed and sprinkled (Heb 10:19-25) which also speaks of our assemblies. Here you see some very practical aspects of how to apply these types in church life.

    Now, God is everywhere, but just as he had a special presence in the Tabernacle and later the Temple, he has a special presence in the church. And just as that special presence created a special place of worship in the Old Testament, it does so as well under the new covenant.

    This special presence in the church is dependent on the goal of those who assemble. On of the key-verses for this is Mat 18:20. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. But this translation falls short of the meaning of the pharase “in my name”, rather ???? ??? ?????? ????? is describing a direction, we are assembled UNTO or even INTO His name, we come to Him, we move into His direction. We make Him the center of our meeting. We become ONE with Him.

    And this has to become visible:
    Peter writes (1Pe 2:4-5): As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
    This parallels Mat 18:20 and adds some more color to it. We come to Him to operate as a priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices. Here it is not about visiting orphans or widows, but about praise and honor. In our worship the center of our worship must become visible: Christ.

    And another parallel:
    Mutual edification through prophecy makes Christ visible among us, even to outsiders who sometimes may join as guests (this parallels the courtyard of the nations in the temple) (1Co 14:25)… the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

    So there is a real presence of God in the assembled church that should be the focus of our attention and it should be made visible. I fear that most of our church traditions tend to hide Christ rather than to reveal Him … Anyhow, understanding the temple, the priesthood and the sacrifices may help (and does help) to come to a more accurate practice of the NT church.


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