Contemporary Christian “Zionists” have written on the rebuilding of the Jewish temple in Israel that would usher the second coming of Christ. These include Thomas Ice, Randall Price, Grant Jeffrey, Hal Lindsey, Tim LaHaye, Dave Hunt, and John Hagee. Also many Evangelical, Charismatic, Pentecostal, and fundamentalist Christians worldwide endorse this view.
Most of the speculation for a rebuilt temple is based on one reference in the New Testament dealing with the antichrist power “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4).
Since the Romans destroyed the last Jewish temple in AD 70, many assume that in order for the antichrist to sit in the temple, the temple will have to be rebuilt.
But is their view Biblical? Let’s allow the Bible to clarify:
The Lord told David, “Solomon thy son, he shall build my house and my courts” (1 Chronicles 28:6). And Solomon, the son of David did build a physical temple. But in the New Testament, Jesus became the true “Son of David,” who was to build a temple and His kingdom was to last forever. Jesus clearly taught that something greater than the temple is now here: His body, the church. “Jesus answered and said unto them, destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body” (John 2:19-21).
When the Jews rejected Jesus and sought to kill Him, He said to them, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate” (Matthew 23:38). And He prophesied of the temple’s destruction “And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, see ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:1,2).
And even as Jesus hung on the cross, His mockers reminded Him of His teachings “Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross” (Matthew 27:40). But Jesus was not speaking of rebuilding the physical temple. He meant to build a spiritual one.
After Jesus was crucified, “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom” (Matthew 27:51) signifying the end of the ceremonial system of the temple. The early believers understood that the church became the temple of God on earth “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (1 Corinthians 3:17, 16).
Paul continued “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-22). Peter also added, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5).
Even after God provided a clear biblical evidence that His temple today is a spiritual one- which is the church- many Christians are still waiting for the Jews to rebuild a physical temple on the site where the mosque of Omar (Dome of the Rock) now sits—also known as the Temple Mount. Yet, there is no prophecy in the Bible that says the temple would be rebuilt again after the Romans destroyed it.
So, what does the verse in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 really mean?
It simply means that the antichrist power would seat itself over the church of God claiming the worship that belongs only to Jesus Christ. Historically, Protestant scholars have consistently understood this verse to be the papal power.