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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol IX:
Epistle to Gregory and Origen's Commentary on the Gospel of John.: Chapter XXIII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

23.  The Temple Spoken of by Christ is the Church.  Application to the Church of the Statements Regarding the Building of Solomon’s Temple, and the Numbers Stated in that Narrative.

“But He spake of the temple of His body. 5116   When, therefore, He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.”  This refers to the statement that the body of the Son is His temple.  It may be asked whether this is to be taken in its plain sense, or whether we should try to connect each statement that is recorded about the temple, with the view we take about the body of Jesus, whether the body which He received from the Virgin, or that body of Christ which the Church is said to be, as we are said by the Apostle 5117 to be all members of His body.  One may, on the one hand, suppose it to be hopeless to get everything that is said about the temple properly connected with the body, in whatever sense the body be taken, and one may have recourse to a simpler explanation, and say that the body (in either of these senses) is called the temple, because as the temple had the glory of God dwelling in it, so He who was the image and glory of God, the first-born of every creature, could rightly be called, in respect of His body or the Church, the temple containing the image.  We, for our part, see it to be a hard task to expound every particular of what is said about the temple in the third Book of Kings, and far beyond our powers of language, and we defer it in the meantime, as a thing beyond the scale of the present work.  We also p. 404 have a strong conviction that in such matters, which transcend human nature, it must be the work of divine wisdom to make plain the meaning of inspired Scripture, of that wisdom which is hidden in a mystery, which none of the rulers of this world knew.  We are well aware, too, that we need the assistance of that excellent Spirit of wisdom, in order to understand such matters, as they should be understood by ministers of sacred things; and in this connection we will attempt to describe, as shortly as we may, our view of what belongs to this subject.  The body is the Church, and we learn from Peter 5118 that it is a house of God, built of living stones, a spiritual house for a holy priesthood.  Thus the son of David, who builds this house, is a type of Christ.  He builds it when his wars are at an end, 5119 and a period of profound peace has arrived; he builds the temple for the glory of God in the Jerusalem on earth, so that worship may no longer be celebrated in a moveable erection like the tabernacle.  Let us seek to find in the Church the truth of each statement made about the temple.  If all Christ’s enemies are made the footstool of His feet, 5120 and Death, the last enemy, is destroyed, then there will be the most perfect peace.  Christ will be Solomon, which means “Peaceful,” 5121 and the prophecy will find its fulfilment in Him, which says, 5122 “With those who hated peace I was peaceful.”  And then each of the living stones will be, according to the work of his life here, a stone of that temple, one, at the foundation, an apostle or a prophet, bearing those placed upon him, and another, after those in the foundation, and supported by the Apostles, will himself, with the Apostles, help to bear those in more need.  One will be a stone of the inmost parts, where the ark is, and the cherubim, and the mercy-seat; another will be on the outer wall, and another even outside the outer wall of the levites and priests, a stone of the altar of whole burnt offerings.  And the management and service of these things will be entrusted to holy powers, angels of God, being, respectively, lordships, thrones, dominions, or powers; and there will be others subject to these, typified by three thousand six hundred 5123 chief officers, who were appointed over the works of Solomon, and the seventy thousand of those who bore burdens, and the eighty thousand stone-cutters in the mountain, who wrought in the work, and prepared the stones and the wood.  It is to be remarked that those reported as bearing burdens are related to the Hebdomad.  The quarrymen and stone-cutters, who make the stones fitted for the temple, have some kinship to the ogdoad.  And the officers, who are six hundred in number, are connected with the perfect number six multiplied into itself.  The preparation of the stones, as they are taken out and fitted for the building, extends over three years; this appears to me to point solely to the time of the eternal interval which is akin to the triad.  This will come to pass when peace is consummated after the number of years of the transaction of the matters connected with the exodus from Egypt, namely, three hundred and forty, and of what took place in Egypt four hundred and thirty years after the covenant made by God with Abraham.  Thus, from Abraham to the beginning of the building of the temple, there are two sabbatic numbers, the 700 and the 70; and at that time, too, our King Christ will command the seventy thousand burden-bearers not to take any chance stones for the foundation of the temple, but great stones, precious, unhewn, that they may be hewn, not by any chance workmen, but by the sons of Solomon; for so we find it written in the third Book of Kings.  Then, too, on account of the profound peace, Hiram, king of Tyre, cooperates in the building of the temple, and gives his own sons to the sons of Solomon, to hew, in company with them, the great and precious stones for the holy place, which, in the fourth year, are placed in the foundation of the house of the Lord.  But in an ogdoad of years the house is finished in the eighth month of the eighth year after its foundation.



John ii. 21.


1 Cor. xii. 27.


1 Pet. ii. 5.


1 Kings v. 3-5.


1 Cor. xv. 25.


1 Chron. xxii. 9.


Ps. cxx. 7.


1 Kings v. 15-18.

Next: Chapter XXIV

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