Clowney: Jesus is the Greater Temple

[The view that Israel’s temple or one rebuilt by human hands is not the fulfillment of Old Testament temple prophesies] is not spiritualization in our usual sense of the word, but the very opposite.

In Christ is realization. It is not so much that Christ fulfils what the temple means; rather Christ is the meaning for which the temple existed. Our reflection on the claims of Christ has already shown us that his use of the Old Testament is far from figurative. The situation is completely reversed. In the wisdom of God’s purpose the earlier revelation points forward to the climax, when,in the fullness of time, God sent his own Son into the world.

Christ is the true temple, the true light, the true manna, the true vine. The coming of the true supersedes the figurative. The veil of the temple made with hands is destroyed, for its symbolism is fulfilled.

At the cross the actualization of the symbolism of sacrifice is particularly clear. It is not a figurative use of Old Testament language to say that Christ is the Lamb of God offered to make atonement for sin. The sin-offering at the temple altar is not being ‘spiritualized’ when we say it is fulfilled in Christ.

Neither is the temple being ‘spiritualized’ when we say that in the resurrection the true temple was raised up. No earthly temple made with hands can ever again become the place of God’s dwelling.”

-Edmund Clowney, The Final Temple, Westminster Theological Journal, 35, (1972) 177,182-183)

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