Saturday, December 13, 2014


                John was commanded to measure the Temple, the altar, and the worshipers at the Temple.  The Temple consisted of the Temple proper, the court of the priests (which contained the altar), the court of the men, the court of the women, and the court of the Gentiles. (Ladd, 151)  This outer court was not to be measured.  It “is given over to the nations [Gentiles].”  The “nations” or “Gentiles” would trample the Holy City for 42 months.
                These two verses raise a number of issues.  First, is the Temple that is being measured a literal Hebrew temple?  If that is so, then was Revelation written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70?  Second, what is the significance of the trampling by the Gentiles?  Finally, what is the significance of the period of 42 months? 
 I shall attempt to interpret these first two verses by
·         Considering an outline of Revelation  
·         Discussing the context of chapter 11
·         Observing the role of the people of God in Revelation
·         Considering various interpretations of verses 11:1-2
·         Discussing the Preterist views of J. S. Russell
·         Discussing the Greek words for “Temple”
·         Considering the meaning of “altar”
·         Discussing the role of “city” in the book of Revelation
·         Considering the use of “nations”
·         Considering the significance of the 42 months
                ESV:  English Standard Version
                KJV:  King James Version
                NIV:  New International Version
                ESVSB:  ESV Study Bible
                NIVSB:  NIV Study Bible
                Scripture quotations are from ESV unless otherwise indicated.  
                I shall begin this article by presenting a tentative outline of Revelation.  This outline is based partly on Pentecost’s suggestion that we should understand Revelation to present the Tribulation period (seven years) twice.  The first presentation describes the Seals as the first half and the Trumpets as the second half.  Then, beginning in chapter 12, the Tribulation is described by focusing on certain characters or entities (such as the Beast and Babylon).  (See Pentecost, 187-188.)  I do not agree entirely with his analysis, since I believe that at least part of the Seals include developments throughout the church age.  However, I do think that his suggestion in general is helpful.  The following is my outline (chapters are in parentheses):
  1. Introduction (1)
  2. Letters to seven Christian churches (2-3): THE PEOPLE OF GOD IN THE PRESENT
  3. The beginning of the heavenly vision (4-5):  UNSEEN HEAVENLY ACTIVITY
  4. The completion of the mystery of God through the seven seals and seven trumpets:  EVENTS ON EARTH INITIATED IN HEAVEN
    1. The seven seals
                                                               i.      Seals 1-6 (6)
                                                             ii.      Descriptions of principles that characterize the period of the seals (7):  THE PEOPLE OF GOD IN THE TRIBULATION
1.       The 144,000 are sealed
2.       The vast multitude of Christians during the period
                                                            iii.      Seal 7, which includes the following (8:1-5)
    1. The seventh seal:  the seven trumpets that lead to the end
                                                               i.      Trumpets 1-6 (8:6-9:21)
                                                             ii.      Description of principles holding during the trumpets (10-11:14)
1.       The seven thunders (10:1-4)
2.       The anticipation of the fulfillment of the MYSTERY OF GOD (10:5-11)
3.       The measured temple:  PEOPLE OF GOD IN THE TRIBULATION AS WORSHIPERS (11:1-2)
4.       The two witnesses: PEOPLE OF GOD IN THE TRIBULATION AS WITNESSES (11:3-14)
                                                          iii.      The seventh trumpet:  THE COMPLETION OF THE MYSTERY OF GOD AND THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN OF GOD (11:15-19)
  1. A description of events from another viewpoint
    1. The attack of Satan, Christ’s archenemy, on the offspring of the woman
                                                               i.      The archenemy, Satan (12)
                                                             ii.      Satan’s chief representative, the Beast (13)
                                                            iii.      Interlude of various descriptions and warnings (14)
    1. The seven last plagues (God’s response):  including the Battle of Armageddon and the Fall of Babylon (15-19)
                                                               i.      Justification for the plagues (15)
                                                             ii.      Plagues 1-5 (16:1-11)
                                                            iii.      Plague 6:  preparation for the Battle of Armageddon (16:12-16)
                                                           iv.      Plague 7:  THE COMPLETION OF THE MYSTERY OF GOD
1.       The seventh bowl is poured out (16:17-21)
2.       Description of Babylon (flashback) (17)
3.       The fall of Babylon (18-19:10)
4.       The Battle of Armageddon (19:11-21)
  1. The preparation for eternity (20)
  2. The New Jerusalem of eternity (21-22:6):  THE PEOPLE OF GOD IN ETERNITY
  3. Final words
                Note that I have put the material of chapter 11 in bold face as it relates to its context within the book.  That context is as follows:
·         We continue with an interlude that is between the sixth and seventh trumpet. 
·         The events of the trumpets are probably during the Tribulation.  So the interlude is describing principles especially pertinent to the Tribulation period.  (The Tribulation period is the 70th Week of Daniel—the last seven years before the Second Coming.)
·         I shall defend and develop below my idea that the measurement of the Temple and its worshipers is a reference to the people of God during the period.
·         The fact that the Beast is mentioned in chapter 11 is revealing.  It is characteristic of Revelation to have flash backs and flash forwards.  But it also significant that the time frame of the two witnesses is when the Beast is reigning.
·         The seventh trumpet describes itself as heralding the beginning of the reign of God on earth.  This can be understood as anticipatory, or it can simply be understood as the completion of the mystery of God (anticipated in 10:7). 
·         This means that chapter 12 takes a step back and begins to look at all that has been quickly run through (in the seven seals and seven trumpets) from another viewpoint.  We return to the completion of the mystery of God with the return of Christ in chapter 19. 
                It is my contention that the measurement of the Temple of God in 11:1-2 is symbolic of God’s preservation of the people of God during the Tribulation period.  As part of my reasoning, I need to note the importance of the people of God as a theme in Revelation.
                Throughout the outline, I have noted descriptions of the people of God.  For the moment, I shall use that term without making decisions about whether these people are in the church or in Israel or Tribulation saints or whatever.  Note that the book begins with seven letters to seven churches, the people of God when John was writing the Book of Revelation.  The scene then shifts to heaven and the throne of God.  In a sense, this is God’s response to the people of God.  God is on the throne.  The Lamb is worthy to open the scroll of God’s future.  The seals are broken and the future unfolds.  After six seals, as the wrath of God becomes very heavy, the focus shifts again to the people of God—the 144.000 and the vast multitude.  After the six trumpets, again we glimpse the people of God—worshiping in the Temple.  Two representatives of the people of God (whether symbolic of a group or two individuals) also are spotlighted.  They become martyrs because of the cruelty of the Beast.  In the following section (chapters 12-19) as well as in the “preparation for eternity” there are also references to the people of God, which I shall not detail at this time.  Finally, in chapters 21-22, in the glorious eternal future, we see the people of God enjoying the presence of God forever. 
                It seems to me that the book opens (after its introductory chapter) with Jesus in “dialogue” with the church, the people of God.  The book ends with the people of God in fellowship with God and the Lamb on a new earth and in the New Jerusalem.  The description of that city includes references both to the apostles of the church and the twelve tribes of Israel.  The people of God are unified and with God.  This does not appear to me to be a book about Israel.  It is a book about the people of God. 
                This analysis does not establish my thesis that the Temple in 11:1-2 is a picture of the people of God.  It does, however, give the background of the importance of the people of God in Revelation.
                The command to John to measure the Temple seems to be a prediction of protection of the Temple, although interpreters give various meanings.  The court outside and the Holy City are going to be trampled, but the measured area seems to be protected from that trampling.

                Ladd has summarized four interpretations of these verses (Ladd, 149-151):
1.       They are a prediction that the Temple will be preserved even when the Romans destroy the city.  Ladd is adamant that Revelation was written in the 90’s and so assumes that this would be a “prophecy” from before AD 70 that John inserted.  He regards this as highly unlikely.  However, those who insist that Revelation was written before AD 70 understand this as a prophecy without the complication of a late date for Revelation.  In either case, it would be an inaccurate prophecy.  (See also Morris, 144)  However, this is not the view of some.  See the Preterist views of Russell below.
2.       Dispensationalists understand these verses to indicate that the Temple will be built in the last days.  Ladd argues that the Dispensationalists are forced to admit that parts of chapter 11 are symbolic and that this dictates that verses 11:1-2 are also symbolic.  He quotes Walvoord as conceding this.  (I believe this is a misreading of Walvoord.  See my comments on Pentecost and Walvoord below.)  I am not clear why the symbolism of later parts of the chapter create the problem for the first two verses.  I argue below that there are other considerations that bring me to regard these verses as not having a strictly literal interpretation.
3.       Others regard the “Temple” of 11:1-2 to refer to the church (See ESVSB.).  I argue this below.  Ladd rejects this interpretation, as I indicate in the next paragraph.  Metzger bases his interpretation on the date of Revelation, which he places in the 90’s (Metzger, 68).  He also considers measuring to be preparation for building and repairing.  So, “John is given a measuring rod so that he can restore and revive the church.”  (Metzger, 69)  Morris also believes that the Temple represents the church.  He asserts that John’s act of measurement is a statement of God’s protection.  “This does not mean that none will perish.  There will be martyrs.  But the church will not be destroyed.”  (Morris, 146)  Rist similarly understands that 11:1-2 refers to the church, especially the martyrs.  They will experience persecution (as the later verses of the chapter indicate) and die, but will live forever in the New Jerusalem (see chapter 21).  The measuring of them is a protection from “all spiritual and supernatural dangers.”  (Rist, 444)
4.       Ladd and others believe that these verses (and other parts of the chapter) are a statement of the preservation of a believing remnant of Israel (i.e. a group that accepts Christ).  In his argument, Ladd refers to Romans 9-11.  He contends that Paul in those chapters predicts that eventually Israel will return to Christ and “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).  I certainly agree with that assessment.  By “all Israel” I understand Paul to mean that ultimately the majority of the nation will accept Jesus as Messiah, Lord, and Savior.  Ladd then says:  “It is difficult to interpret these three chapters [Romans 9-11] symbolically of the church—the spiritual Israel.” (Ladd, 150)  I agree, but I cannot see how that necessarily relates to Revelation 11:1-2.  Somehow, Ladd considers that Romans 9-11 is a justification for considering that Revelation 11:1-2 is referring to the ultimate salvation if Israel.  He then says that “Revelation 11 is John’s way of predicting the preservation of the Jewish people and their final salvation.”  (Ladd, 151)  It seems to me that he does not establish his conclusion very well.
                J. S. Russell is adamant that verses 11:1-2 fit well into his scheme of interpretation.  These verses, he writes, are evidence that Revelation is describing events “in the days of John.” (423) The verses describe the literal Temple and literal city of Jerusalem and predict their destruction. (423) He believes the act of measuring is a symbol of that destruction. (424)       
               Russell rejects the idea that the “court outside the temple” refers to the court of the Gentiles, since it was already given to the Gentiles, in his understanding (426).  Thus, he believes that the outer court would be the court (or courts) immediately adjacent to the Temple proper.  He then explains what is meant that this court was given to the Gentiles.  He tells of how a group of outlaw Edomites (Idumeans) was allowed into the city before the Roman siege and how they occupied the precincts of the Temple.  It was they, he said, who trampled the city for 42 months.  He relates this directly to Jesus’ prediction of Luke 21:24b.  Revelation 11:2b and Luke 21:24b both refer to the trampling of Jerusalem by the Edomites, in his view.  The period of 42 months is equal to the approximate time from when Vespasian was first ordered by Nero to subdue the Jewish rebellion (January, AD 67) until Jerusalem fell (September, AD 70). (Russell, 426-429)    
               I believe that Russell has not read Josephus correctly.  First, the Idumean forces are not described by Josephus as outlaws.  Second, the Idumeans were not present throughout the period that Russell indicates.  They did enter Jerusalem and joined forces with the zealots for a period of time.  Then they left.  They were gone before Vespasian heard of Nero’s death.  This means they were absent from Jerusalem almost two years before its collapse in September, 70.  Thus, Russell’s equation of the bloody presence of the Idumeans in Jerusalem with the “trampling of Jerusalem” for 42 months is not true.  It appears that the Idumeans may have been present for few months at most. (Whiston, 669-688)
               Russell engages briefly the issue of whether 11:1-2 imply a contrast in the fate of the “Temple” and Jerusalem.  Then, he does not come back to that issue, which I believe is essential in understanding these verses.  His contention, as I have mentioned, is that the act of measurement is a prediction of destruction.  He cites a number of Scriptures to prove his point (424-426).  However, some of these do not necessarily support his point.  (In the following survey, I have included both those Scriptures that Russell cites as well as additional references.)  In some cases, it is true that the use of a measuring line represented God’s precision in judgment (see NIVSB on Lamentations 2:7-8):  see Isaiah 34:11, Lamentations 2:7-8, and Amos 7:17.  In one case, the role of the measuring line is to provide a standard of judgment—one might say it is unbiased as to the outcome:  see II Kings 21:12-13.  In one case the measuring line is a standard that promises the just reign of God:  see Isaiah 28:17.  In one case the “plumb line” is the metaphor and the measuring line is not mentioned:  see Amos 7:6-9.  In some cases the measuring line is used to predict restoration or new construction of the city or Temple:  see Jeremiah 31:39, Ezekiel 40, Zechariah 1:16 and 2:1ff, and Revelation 21:15-16.  From this survey it appears that the use of the measuring rod does not give us a certain clue as to the meaning of the verses without some context.  When, however, we note that there is an implied contrast between what is measured and what is omitted, the meaning seems to be clear.  What is omitted is given to the Gentiles.  Since the Gentiles will trample the Holy City, it seems to follow that the court that is omitted will also be trampled.  Jesus warned us not to throw our pearls before pigs, for they might trample them. (Matthew 7:6)  Why?  They are beasts that do not appreciate the value of the pearl.  He was referring to unspiritual people who do not value spiritual truth because their spiritual deadness renders them insensitive.  (See also I Corinthians 2:14.)  So, the Gentiles will trample on what is holy—Jerusalem.  The outer court, which is omitted from the measurement, is also the province of the Gentiles.  It follows that it will be trampled along with the Holy City.  Thus, there is a contrast between that which is measured off and kept separate and that which is trampled.  It is not measured in preparation for judgment, but is measured off in protection from the trampling of the Gentiles. 
               If my analysis is correct, then Russell’s contention that these verses fit well with the AD 70 destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple is incorrect.  These verses indicate that the Temple will be preserved in the midst of the trampling of the Holy City.  That was not true in AD 70.  But I believe it will be true of the Temple of God in the last days.  This Temple will not be a building but rather the people of God.  I develop this idea in the next section.  This preservation does not necessarily mean that all Christians will escape death and suffering.  That has not been true throughout history and will not be true in the last days.  But the people of God will not be utterly overthrown.  Even today, faithful Christians are being slaughtered, displaced, and otherwise terribly persecuted in the Middle East, China, and elsewhere.  Yet they stand strong for God.  Let us constantly pray for them.     
               Pentecost and Walvoord are two prominent Dispensationalists.  Oddly, Pentecost has very little to say concerning Revelation 11:1-2.  His comments regarding these verses are in relation to two areas of focus.  First, he discusses the verses in relation to the Mid-Tribulation Rapture Theory, which is a Dispensationalist theory that believes the Rapture of the church will take place at the midpoint of the Tribulation period.  Pentecost rejects this theory (Pentecost, 179-188).  I shall not go into his arguments.  In the course of those arguments, he discusses his own understanding of the chronology of Revelation.  His understanding of chapter 11 is especially important for his chronology.  I have used his theory as a basis for my own outline of Revelation (see above).  Pentecost also discusses the verses in relation to the “times of the Gentiles,” (Pentecost, 314ff) which I have discussed elsewhere in this article.  He does not comment on the temple during the Tribulation period.
               Walvoord gives more explicit commentary on 11:1-2.  He believes that the measuring of the temple and its environs implies that “they are measured and found short.”  The temple, he says, has been desecrated by the Antichrist/Beast and has become the center of worship of him.  “Measuring the temple will indicate the apostasy of the nation of Israel and their need for revival and restoration.”  He states that Israel has not been able to control the “holy places” since the time of the Babylonian captivity “except by Gentile tolerance and permission.”  “The forty-two months, however, refer to the great tribulation as a time when the holy place in the temple will be desecrated especially, and the great tribulation will run its course, climaxing in the second coming of Christ (13:5).”  He states that the “holy place… will never be permanently theirs [Israel’s] until the second coming of Christ.”
               Walvoord’s comments rest on some assumptions, as follows:
·         The temple will be rebuilt before or during the Tribulation period.
·         It will be the location of the revelation of the Antichrist/Beast when he declares himself to be God.  (II Thessalonians 2:4)
·         It will be the location of worship during the Millennium (see Pentecost, 512ff, in which he argues that temple worship, including animal sacrifices will take place during the Millennium).
I do not necessarily share all of these assumptions.  I believe it is possible that the Jews will build a temple in the last days.  However, I do not believe that temple worship, especially animal sacrifices, will be valid worship.  Pentecost claims that such worship would serve as a memorial to Christ’s sacrifice.  This means that communion would not be a valid form of worship.  This reasoning is based partly on the Dispensationalist framework of an abrupt and complete separation between the church and the program of God for Israel and the Millennium.  I believe this is faulty reasoning and that it ignores much New Testament teaching concerning the people of God. 
               With these considerations in mind, I believe that Walvoord’s depiction of the temple and the “holy place” is a misunderstanding.  The “holy place” of the temple is obsolete since a new and living way into intimacy with God has been established through the cross of Jesus (see Hebrews 10:19-22).  Therefore, I think that II Thessalonians 2:4 must be thought through with these considerations in mind (I hope to do that in another article). 
               Moreover, it seems to me that Walvoord makes the same exegetical mistake that Russell makes (see above).  Both commentators fail to see a contrast between the things that are measured off, on the one hand, and the things that are trampled, on the other.  Walvoord indicates that 11:1-2 is describing a desecration and trampling of the temple by the Gentiles.  The wording of the passage seems to me to say just the opposite:  the Temple, altar, and the worshipers will be separated from the outer court and the Holy City, which will be trampled.  By ignoring this contrast, Walvoord interprets the measuring to imply that the temple comes up short.  Because this exegetical mistake reinforces the assumptions that I have outlined above, Walvoord is able to make these verses “fit” his Dispensational scheme.  If one recognizes the contrast, however, then one has to account for why the temple is not trampled.  I believe that my conclusion—that the “Temple” is really a symbol for the people of God—accounts for the protection of the Temple while the city is trampled.  (See my further comments.)
                In arguing that “Temple” in 11:1-2 refers to the people of God, I shall begin by considering the words that are translated “temple.”  In the New Testament, two words are used for “temple”—hieron and naos.  There are several meanings, generally clear from the context.  The “temple” could refer to the entire temple complex, which was composed of many buildings, or it could refer to the temple proper or inner sanctuary, composed of the holy place and the most holy place.  In addition, the word “temple” could refer to the general use of a place of worship that would include the Jewish Temple and pagan shrines.  “Temple” also is used to refer to the temple of heaven, to the church as the dwelling place of God’s Spirit, and to the individual Christian’s body as a dwelling place of the Spirit.  The uses of hieron and naos in these applications are as follows:



Note also the following observations:
·         Hieron is used only once after the gospels and Acts (in I Corinthians 9:13).  It almost always refers to the entire Temple complex.
·         All the uses of naos in the epistles (with the possible exception of II Thessalonians 2:4) are referring to the church or the body as the temple of God.
·         In Revelation, naos is used to refer to the “heavenly sanctuary” 10 times.  It is used to refer to the idea of a building to be used as a temple once (Revelation 21:22:  no temple will be found in eternity because the Lord and the Lamb will be the Temple).  That leaves the present verses, Revelation 11:1-2.
Thus, outside the epistles and Acts, “temple” (naos) is used in a way that we might term the “spiritual reality” of a temple and not a building.  It is used to describe the church as God’s dwelling because the Holy Spirit is present in the congregation of God’s people.  (See Metzger, 69.)  It is also used to describe an individual Christian’s body:  the person walks around with the Holy Spirit present within him.  It is also used to signify the presence of God in heaven, in the company of angels and the souls of the righteous dead.  In each of these cases, the reality of God’s presence is real.  This is not to say that God’s presence was not in the Jewish Temple in the Old Testament order, but the message of the New Testament is that God’s Spirit is experienced through our faith in Jesus Christ.  Jesus described this era in John 4:23-24:
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit , and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
There are three ambiguous exceptions to this use of naos outside the gospels and Acts:  II Thessalonians 2:4 and Revelation 11:1-2.  Both of them refer to the end times (at least for futurists).  I shall discuss, I hope, the II Thessalonians passage in another article. 
                John was measuring the people of God as they were marked off by God in the face of the trampling of the Gentiles.  The term “nations” (ESV) or “Gentiles” (NIV) (ethne) is used in the New Testament in some places to refer to unregenerate Gentiles (I Corinthians 12:2, Ephesians 4:17 ((“other” [KJV] is not in the Greek)), I Peter 2:12, 4:3, 3 John 7).  Hence, the term “Gentiles” need not be contrasted with Jews, but rather with all the people of God. 
                This portion of chapter 11 (11:1-13) is somewhat parallel to chapter 7.  In that chapter, the people of God are depicted in two scenes, the sealing of the 144,000 and the great multitude before the throne.  These pictures of the people of God are an interlude in the description of the seven seals—between seals 6 and 7.  The material of 10:1-11:13 is also an interlude—between trumpets 6 and 7.  There is considerable material in chapter 10 that does not relate directly to the people of God, but the material in 11:1-13 certainly seems to depict the people of God in the tribulation.  Thus, the two sets of material regarding the people of God in chapters 7 and 11 seem to be in parallel.  This strengthens the case that we should understand the measuring of the temple, the altar, and the worshipers as a statement of God’s special attention to the people of God.
                 The message of the New Testament is quite clear:  Temple worship and the offering of sacrifices are obsolete because of the one and only sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for our sins.  This is made clear in Hebrews 9 and 10.  Therefore, when we find reference to the Temple and the altar in Revelation, we need to be cautious and ask exactly what is meant.  Although the Dispensationalists, in some cases, believe that animal sacrifices will be offered during the Millennium, I cannot accept that this would be a valid form of worship.  In Hebrews 13:10, the author says:  “We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat.”  The context is false teaching which seemed to be coming either from Judaizers (Jewish Christians who pressured Gentiles to observe Jewish customs, including circumcision) or Jews who were pressuring Jewish Christians to come back to Judaism.  The “tent” refers to the tabernacle.  The writer of Hebrews does not use “Temple” in the book, but rather refers to the tabernacle, the tent that served as a model for the Temple.  The priests who served in the “tent” could eat parts of some the animal sacrifices as well as the bread that was offered to God.  But the author of Hebrews says that they, because they have rejected Christ, have missed out on the only real sacrifice that ever took place—the death of Jesus on the cross.  Jesus said:
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.  (John 6:54-55)
Although some sacramentalists would say that this refers to communion or the mass, I believe that it refers to deep union with Christ through faith.  Communion is a sacramental statement of that union.  Paul in I Corinthians 10:18-22 deals with these issues from a different standpoint.  He refers to the Hebrew priests who ate of the sacrifices (as well as lay persons in some of the rituals).  These persons were “participants” in the altar.  The Greek word is “kononoi” (related to the word “kononia”) which can be “partners.”  He was warning that to eat animals sacrificed to demonic idols could, in some cases, be a partnership with demons. Thus, the Christian, through faith and in the communion, shares deeply with
Christ—similar to Paul’s “knowing” Christ as he describes it in Philippians 3:10.  So, for the Christian, the altar that we identify with is the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It seems to me that the New Testament is built around that altar.  In Revelation 11:1-2, John is measuring the Temple, the altar, and the worshipers.  They are the people of God who are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, built around the cross of Jesus Christ.  Though the Gentiles will trample the Holy City, God has measured off a people, a temple, and an altar that will not be utterly defeated. 
                The Holy City, it is said, is “given over” to the “nations,” who will trample it for 42 months.  I shall consider the three subjects that are brought up in this statement:  the Holy City, the nations—or Gentiles, and the 42 months.   
                To begin to fathom what is involved in the mention of the city, one must notice the prominence of “city” in Revelation.  It is used 26 times.  In 3:12, the “city of my God” is identified as the “New Jerusalem.”  The conqueror in the church at Philadelphia will have that name written upon him or her.  The New Jerusalem is described in chapter 21 and 22.  It represents the paradise of the redeemed.  It bears the names of both the apostles and the tribes of Israel (21:12-14).  I take that to mean it represents the eternal unity of the people of God.  It is also described as the bride of Christ (21:9-10).  I take that to mean that the people of God will be forever in union with their Savior, Jesus Christ.  It bears the name of “Jerusalem,” the ancient capital of the Israel, where the Temple was, where David reigned.  It was to Jerusalem that the Israelites went up for the feasts to worship God.  A whole set of Psalms are written to celebrate those pilgrimages, to capture the anticipation of the pilgrims as they approached the Holy City.
                However, there are two other cities mentioned in Revelation.  One of them is Babylon (chapters 17 and 18).  There are a number of interpretations of what Babylon is, but I shall delay a detailed consideration of them.  It sufficient to say that Babylon is evil and is opposed to the people of God.  In the letters to three of the seven churches, the churches are described by the context of the cities that surrounded them.  The church at Smyrna was slandered by the Jews, imprisoned, and anticipated further persecution (2:8-11).  The church at Pergamum lived where Satan had his throne.  One of their members was killed in Pergamum, dying as a martyr to the faith (2:12-17).  The church at Philadelphia was harassed and lied about by the Jews who worshiped at the “synagogue of Satan” (3:7-13).  Moreover, another city dominated the scene of the first century Mediterranean world—Rome.  In 17:18, Babylon is described as “the great city that has dominion over the kings of the earth.”  Obviously that city was Rome.  However, Rome also is a symbol for that which has dominion over all nations in all generations.  Rome was not simply a city in Italy.  It was an empire that dominated the Mediterranean basin.  Its power and influence came about through military strength, through organizational genius, through the pervasion of Greco-Roman culture, through the exaltation of human strength and ability without regard for the God of the Bible.  Therefore it was the enemy and persecutor of the church.  Morris interprets Babylon as follows:  “She stands for civilized man apart from God, man in organized but godless community…”  (Morris, 202-203)
                The other city is Jerusalem, which is described in 11:8.  Its name is not mentioned, but it is identified as the city “where their [the two witnesses’] Lord was crucified.”  It is “symbolically called Sodom and Egypt.”  Sodom was an evil city that harassed righteous Lot and was condemned to destruction by God (Genesis 18 and 19, II Peter 2:7).  Egypt was the pagan nation that enslaved the Hebrew people.  In 11:8 ESV translates “spiritually” as “symbolically.”  That could be considered an accurate rendering of the word, yet I think it loses some of the impact of what is being said.  This city had a spiritual nature that was equivalent to the spiritual nature of Sodom and Egypt.  It is also called a “great” city.  Although this might refer to its size (which would be of no great importance), it is likely to refer to its importance.  Jerusalem was the center of Hebrew life until its destruction (see below).  Eventually, it would rebound as an important center not only of Hebrew life, but of Muslim worship and of Christian interest.  Today, it stands at the center of Middle Eastern turmoil and once more can be called a “great” city. 
                So, we have the following uses of “city” in the book of Revelation:
·         Cities were the evil context in which the seven churches struggled to maintain their loyalty to Jesus.
·         “Babylon” is the city—an entire civilization—that opposes itself to God and the people of God.
·         Jerusalem is described both as the “Holy City” and the city with the spiritual nature of Sodom and Egypt.
·         The New Jerusalem is God’s great future for His people.  It is huge, beautiful, and full of the light of God. 
                The fact that Jerusalem is mentioned provides fuel for the fire of Preterism.  Since it was destroyed in AD 70, one could infer that Revelation had to be written before that date.  There are three possible considerations of date:
1.       The conservative Preterist view would be that the book was written before AD 70.  The problem this creates is that chapter 11 includes inaccurate prophecy:  Verse 11:2 implies that the Temple will be preserved when the Gentiles trample it.  This did not occur. 
2.       The liberal Preterist view is that the book was written as though it had been written before AD 70 and had predicted the destruction of Jerusalem.  However, this again would include an inaccurate prophecy as I described in number 1.
3.       The futurist view is that the book was written in the late first century with full knowledge of the destruction of Jerusalem.  It is predicting a later rebuilding of Jerusalem and (perhaps) of the Temple.
I subscribe to view number 3, with some question as to the rebuilding of the Temple.  I do believe that 11:2 and 11:8 indicates a future role of Jerusalem during the last days.  By “future role” I mean future to the time of John’s writing Revelation.  This would be on the basis that Jerusalem was destroyed in AD 70 and that John very likely wrote Revelation around AD 95.  Morris has summarized arguments for an early and a late date of writing (Morris, 34-40).  His conclusion (he has no ax to grind) is that a late date is more likely, and this conforms to the ancient tradition:  Irenaeus dates the writing to the time of Domitian (in the 90’s) (Morris, 34).  Note that the two Preterist views create logical traps (see 1 and 2 above), whereas a futurist view does not tie the events of chapter 11 to the events of AD 70. 
                I do have to face a logical trap of my own.  That goes as follows.  If I advocate a spiritual or symbolical interpretation of “Temple” in verses 11:1-2, why must I advocate a literal interpretation of “Holy City” in verse 11:2 and 11:8?  Note that the expression in Revelation 11:2 is very similar to Luke 21:24b:
…Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot [underfoot is not in accepted original] by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. (Luke 21:24b)
…but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. (Revelation 11:2)
The quotation from Luke is part of the Olivet Discourse.  I have discussed this passage previously.  There is one viewpoint that the statement of Luke 21:24 (entire verse) is referring to the events of AD 70 and the aftermath of those events throughout history.  I shall discuss the use of 42 months below.  It seems that the “trampling” by the Gentiles is common to these two verses and refers to the same or similar sets of circumstances.  The fate of the city is that it is to be trampled.  Note that Jerusalem is referred to both as “holy” in 11:2 and as spiritually Sodom and Egypt.  The spiritual condition is related to the crucifixion of Jesus.  Because the city and the nation that it led rejected and crucified Jesus and persecuted His followers, it was Sodom and Egypt.  However, because it represented, and still represents, the people of God, it is the Holy City.  I reject the notion that it is only the capital of Israel, a people utterly separate from the church in God’s plans.  The fact that the New Jerusalem obviously will be the home of the united people of God—Old Testament saint, Gentile Christian, and Hebrew Christian—means that the Holy City is the capital of all the people of God.   
                On the other hand, Revelation 11:1-2 indicates that there is a demarcation between the “Temple” and the city.  We can take this as a literal building, but I have already developed the idea that the congregation of the people of God is in mind.  That group is demarcated from the city and the fate of that group is different from the fate of the city.  It should also be emphasized that the trampling of the Holy City is a temporary fate, not the ultimate fate.  The ultimate fate of the Holy City is for the New Jerusalem to take its place when God makes all things new (Revelation 21:1-5). 
                Morris has a somewhat different view.  The Holy City he takes to represent the church, but from a different aspect than when the Temple is used to refer to the church.  The Gentiles will oppress the church, but only under the oversight of God.  They are “given” the City.  This verb—“given”—is often used to refer obliquely to the sovereignty of God.  Moreover, the Gentiles have only a limited time to do their trampling—42 months. (Morris, 146) 
                However, it seems to me that the literal Jerusalem is being referred to.  I base this on the parallelism between Revelation 11:2 and Luke 21:24b.  I maintain that the literal Jerusalem and the symbolic Temple can be referred to in the same set of verses.  This emphasizes the fact that the people of God are tied inextricably to the ancient people of God whose capital was Jerusalem.  This issue is often a source of debate and confusion.  I believe that a careful reading of the New Testament helps us to understand that the church is not a separate entity from Israel, but has been joined to the historic people of God.    
                The term ethne may be translated as “nations,” “Gentiles” or “pagans.”  Generally, “kingdoms” (basileiai) is used to refer to nations in their political identity.  Although nations as political entities will trample the city, they will do so as anti-Christians, opposed to the people of God.
                Jesus referred to the “times of the Gentiles” in Luke 21:24b.  The word “times” is the plural of kairos.  This is “time” in which the emphasis is on significance.  So, the “times of the Gentiles” would be the eras that are marked by the roles of the Gentiles.  Pentecost discusses this period (Pentecost, 314ff).  He describes it as beginning with the Babylonian captivity.  That event marked the end of Judah/Israel as an independent kingdom.  The Hebrew people would live from that time on through the succession of world empires that is described in Daniel, especially in chapters 2-7.  Daniel’s central message is that those empires would ultimately fall and be destroyed and the Kingdom of God would fill the earth.  (See Daniel 2:44, 7:26-27.)  In the first century, one of those empires, Rome, was in ascendancy.  Jesus indicated in Luke 21:24b that the Gentile “times” would continue through the destruction of Jerusalem and for an indefinite time after that.  Those “times of the Gentiles” would be marked by the trampling of Jerusalem (which probably includes a trampling of the Hebrew people in general).  In Revelation 11:2, we also see that the “nations” or “Gentiles” are trampling over Jerusalem.
                The 42 months is a time period that comes up quite often in prophetic Scripture.  This period is one-half of seven years.  Seven years is the length of a “week” of years.  Daniel predicted a period of 70 weeks of years (Daniel 9:24-27).  The 70th week is generally considered to be a separate period from the first consecutive 69 weeks in that passage.  Thus, that 70th week of Daniel is found to be referred to numerous times.  Moreover, the seven-year period is understood to be divided into two 3 ½ year periods.  The dividing point, it is believed by many, will be marked by the revelation of the Beast/Antichrist when he reveals his true identity as the man of lawlessness (see Matthew 24:15, II Thessalonians 2:4, Revelation 13:5).  So, the 42 months in Revelation 11:2 is understood by many to be the second half of the seventieth week of Daniel or the Great Tribulation.  (See Metzger, 69, and Morris, 147.)  Rist ties the prediction of persecution to John’s own time:  “It is evident that for John the reign of the Antichrist, which will be the final period of persecution of the Christians by the Romans, is to last this traditional period of years [42 months], a belief that is stated explicitly in 13:5-6.”  (Rist, 444) 
                Although I have argued above for a parallelism between Luke 21:24b and Revelation 11:2, there is a difference.  In Luke, Jesus seems to indicate that the trampling will take place beginning in AD 70 and continuing throughout the “the time of the Gentiles.”  In Revelation 11:2, the trampling is limited to 42 months.  Some believe that Jesus was referring to the seventieth week in Luke 21:20-24.  However, the description in the Luke version of the Olivet Discourse differs from Matthew 24 and Mark 13.  The Luke passage describes armies surrounding Jerusalem and the fate of the people of Israel.  His words seem to describe the events of AD 70 and the aftermath.  On the other hand, the Matthew and Mark versions emphasize the Abomination of Desolation and the Great Tribulation and seem to fit better to the Tribulation Period.  Luke 24:25ff then seems to come back into a close parallel to Matthew 24:29ff Mark 13:24ff.  I propose the following: 

Introduction and
Beginning of Discourse

General course of


The future for the
Begins with “before this”:  Jesus comes back to what the future holds for the apostolic church

The future for the
Begins with “then”:  continues the overview of the church age but from the standpoint of the church

Events of AD 70
and the aftermath
Begins with armies
Surrounding Jerusalem; Jesus is continuing the history of the apostolic age into the period of the Roman-Jewish war; the “times of the Gentiles” can include AD 70 through to the Second Coming

The events of the
Tribulation period
Begins with the Abomination of Desolation, which is probably at the mid-point of the seven-year period before the Second Coming; the Tribulation period becomes much more intense in the second half and is designated the Great Tribulation
The Second Coming
Luke and Matthew/Mark now come back together; the “times of the Gentiles” of Luke 21:24 are ended by the Second Coming; this corresponds with the conclusion of the Great Tribulation, which is ended by the Second Coming

From this chart, one can see that the statement of Jerusalem’s being trampled is described by Jesus as a fate that plays out from AD 70 onward.  However, it is possible that there will be a brief respite from this trampling, during the first half of the seven-year Tribulation period.  The scenario is that the Beast/Antichrist will make a covenant with the Hebrew people.  This covenant may include access to Jerusalem.  Note that today Jerusalem remains a city in conflict between Jew and Arab.  That conflict may be ended some day.  In the middle of the seven years, Antichrist/Beast will break the covenant.  There will follow a three and a half year (42 month) trampling by the Gentiles.  Thus, we can harmonize Luke 21:24 and Revelation 11:2 as follows:
·         Luke 21:24 describes the fate of the Hebrew people from AD 70 through to the Second Coming.
·         That period includes the final seven years before the Second Coming.
·         The first 3 ½ years of that period will be peaceful.
·         The final 3 ½ years will be a time trampling by the Gentiles.  This is described by Revelation 11:2.
I do not believe that the initial 3 ½ year period (first half of Tribulation period) is necessarily a respite from being trampled, in the spiritual sense.  I base that on the following considerations:
·         If the Hebrews make a compact with the Beast/Antichrist, they will be essentially in league with the devil and remain under the power of the godless Gentiles.
·         For this reason, Revelation 11:8 describes Jerusalem as “Sodom and Egypt.” It was Sodom and Egypt when it crucified Jesus and when it persecuted the church, and it will be when it is in league with the Beast/Antichrist.
·         Thus, the trampling of Jerusalem until the end of the times of the Gentiles will continue unabated throughout history and through the final seven years before the Second Coming.  The following charts may be helpful:

Of Israel
AD 30
The 4 gospels, etc.
AD 30-70
Jews in
Romans 11:7 and 11:25
AD 70
Of Jerusalem
And the
Of Christ
Luke 21:20-24a
AD 70 to and
Luke 21:24b

Of Israel
1st 3 ½ years
Of  70th
Israel in
Luke 21:24b, Daniel 9:27a

Middle of
70th Week

Matthew 24:15-20,
Mark 13:14-18, Daniel 9:27b
II Thessalonians 2:1-12, esp. 2:4,
Revelation 13:5-6
2nd 3 ½ years
Of 70th
Matthew 24:21-26,
Mark 13:19-23
Revelation 11:2b
Revelation 13:7-18
All Israel
Shall be
Romans 11:26,
Zechariah 12 and 13, esp. 12:10, 13:1
Matthew 24:27-31
Mark 13:24-27
Luke 21:25-27
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
Revelation 19:11-21
*The 70th Week is often referred to as the Tribulation period.  Others refer only to the 2nd half as the Tribulation period; others refer to the 2nd half as the Great Tribulation.
                Revelation 11:1-2 challenge various approaches to interpretation of the book.  The verses contain the command for John to measure the Temple, the altar, and the worshipers.  It states that the outer court is given to the Gentiles and that they will trample the Holy City for 42 months.
                The most pressing of all questions that this passage gives rise to is whether this is a literal Temple. 
·         Those with various Preterist approaches assume that this is the literal Temple of the first century.  I have argued that there is an implied contrast between the trampling of the City and the measured off Temple.  I believe this indicates the Temple will be spared from trampling.  This conclusion is evidence against the idea that the first century Temple is in view.
·         The Dispensationalist approach assumes that this is a literal last-day Temple.  I have argued that such a Temple would not be sanctioned by God because the New Testament redemption through the cross of Jesus has rendered the Temple and its altar obsolete.
·         Ladd and some others have considered that this Temple refers to a last-day Jewish believing remnant, which they believe is predicted in Romans 9-11.  I have argued that the Temple is symbolic of the unified people of God, which would include a Jewish remnant.  I cannot see that there is evidence that the material of chapter 11 refer to the final salvation of the Jews.
·         I agree with those who believe the Temple and its altar are symbols of the people of God.  This symbolism is used throughout the New Testament epistles.  The Temple is the residence of the Holy Spirit and the altar reminds us of the one effective sacrifice that Jesus has made on the cross.  These people are measured, but the area of the Holy City that is omitted from the measurement is to be trampled by the Gentiles—the pagan world of nations. 
                The “Holy City” is a reference to Jerusalem, which is potentially a holy place, but is subject to trampling by the Gentiles.  As the centerpiece of the Hebrew people, its fate is representative of the Hebrew people.  Their fate was pronounced by Jesus in Luke 21:24 to be trampled throughout the “times of the Gentiles” until the Second Coming.  The reference to Jerusalem is consistent with the theme of “city” throughout Revelation.  Other cities include the environment of the seven churches of chapters 2 and 3, Rome, Babylon—representative of the world organized against God and the people of God, and the New Jerusalem—the ultimate destiny of the redeemed people of God.
                The period of 42 months—3 ½ years--during which trampling will take place is consistent with one-half of the 70th Week of Daniel or Tribulation period. 
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Pentecost, J. Dwight.  Things to Come.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan Publ. House, 1958.
Rist, Martin.  “The Revelation of St. John the Divine” Exegesis.  The Interpreter’s Bible.  Vol. XII.
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Russell, J. S.  The Parousia, A Critical Inquiry into the New Testament Doctrine of Our
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                & Co., 1878.
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