There are several possible views to this passage. 1. Preterists see this as being the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem that happened in John’s day. This would be King Herod’s temple where the outer court would actually be the Court of the Gentiles. 2. Idealists see this as on going persecution throughout the church age. The inner court refers to the church belonging to God and the outer court refers to the church being persecuted. 3. The dispensationalists see this passage as an actual rebuilt temple in the tribulation period where converted Jewish worshipers (144,000) are persecuted by the followers of the Antichrist. 4. A modified futurist view see this as either spiritually protecting the believers/church or the remnant of believing Jews. Osborne*** (Pgs. 408-409.
We might consider that this conversation seems to take place on earth. The angel in the preceding chapter stood on land and sea. God once tabernacled with Israel in the desert, and was present in the Holy of Holies. Both the tabernacle and the temple were built according to God’s specifications, but were earthly manifestations that were but shadows of heaven and its purposes.
1 And a reed was given to me similar to a staff1, and I was told2, “Go3 and measure4 the temple5 of God, and the alter6, and count the worshipers in it. 2 And leave out the outer courtyard7 of the temple8 and don’t measure it, because it was given to the gentiles9, and they will trample on the holy city10 for forty-two months11.
1 ῥάβδῳ (staff)
or a “rod”. In this case, a measuring rod. According to Osborne***, it would have been around ten feet, four inches. This is an allusion to Ezekiel 40-42. In the Ezekiel passage, the measuring signifies the ownership of God as well as his protection. Here, John may be referring to spiritually protection. (Pgs. 409-410). Mounce** points out that the protection goes hand in hand with the “sealing” of the saints in Chapter 7 and is spiritual protection and not physical protection from persecution. (Pgs. 219-220) and Beale* (Pg. 559).
It is with a rod He will rule, a symbol of His power and authority. With His staff we find security and protection. In the 23rd Psalm both provide comfort. Moses held the rod of God in his hand before Israel and Pharaoh. Jesus comes as the good Shepherd.
The reed used as a measuring rod was also used for a surface for writing. God’s written word serves as a rod and staff for His people.
From the house of David, from the tribe of Judea, will rise a branch holding the rod, or scepter of God. He will take His place as King and Priest.
2 λέγων (and I was told)
Greek: “saying”. The problem here is that there is no one presented in the text who is speaking. The only noun that matches this participles case is κάλαμος (reed), but we know the reed is not speaking. This problem lead to the addition in the TR of καὶ ὁ ἄγγελος εἱστήκει, λέγων, (and the angel stood, saying). This rendering can be found in the KJV.
With all of that said, it probably is the same angel that spoke this that spoke in 10:9-10. Beale* (Pg. 557).
3 ἔγειρε (Go)
This Greek word has the sense of awakening, as from sleep. It can remind us of Israel’s slumber, of ever seeing but not perceiving.
4 μέτρησον (Measure)
Remember that earlier the tribes of Israel were numbered, or measured. This may allude to the restoration of God’s presence in Jerusalem, and the restoration of a remnant of His chosen people.
5 τὸν ναὸν (the temple)
or “the shrine of the temple”. Here, τὸν ναὸν is referring to the actual temple building and not the entire temple area. Osborne*** also reminds us that throughout the book of Revelation, the temple is always a “heavenly” temple. Since it is a “heavenly” temple, then it is very hard to understand how the outer courtyard can be literally “trampled”. Thus, Osborne says it refers to believers/church being persecuted. (Pg. 410).
If one applies this prophesy to earth, it is easier to understand. Remember John is told to speak concerning nations, kings, and tongues. All these reside on earth. It is held by many that the temple will be physically rebuilt and then desecrated by the world leader. Some believe this desecration to have already taken place, and the temple is merely figurative.
These symbols and concepts are taken from things that have happened in the past. They give us the language and understanding to frame and decode this message of the future. Scripture is written for our benefit, that we would know. Jesus used many parables to speak of spiritual things.
The apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3:16:
Κορινθίους α 3·16 Οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ναὸς θεοῦ ἐστε καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν;
16 Don’t you know that you are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you?
Also 2 Corinthians 6:16b:
Κορινθίους β 6·16 ...ἡμεῖς γὰρ ναὸς θεοῦ ἐσμεν ζῶντος...
16b ...for we are the temple of the living God...
6 θυσιαστήριον (alter)
We see the alter included here. The new temple that is in Christ does not need an alter, for Christ made the last sacrifice once and for all. The cleansing of sin that required continual sacrifices has been has been replaced by the one and perfect sacrifice of the Son, our redeemer.
Inclusion of the alter seems to bring the old temple worship into
7 The major debate is whether this outer courtyard is based on Ezekiel (King Solomon's temple) or is based on King Herod’s temple. The immediate context with the allusions to Ezekiel 40-42 points to this temple being based on Solomon’s temple. Solomon’s temple had an inner courtyard for the priests and an outer courtyard for worshipers. Herod’s temple had three inner courtyards (one for priests, one for Israelites (men), and one for women) and an outer courtyard for gentiles. Osborne*** (Pgs. 412-413) points out that regardless of the view, both the inner and outer courtyards were holy ground that belonged to God. He concludes that the outer courtyard represents believers that will be “conquered”/”martyred” by the Antichrist for a short period of time.
8 καὶ τὴν αὐλὴν τὴν ἔξωθεν τοῦ ναοῦ ἔκβαλε ἔξωθεν (And leave out the outer courtyard of the temple)
It was given to Solomon to build a temple for God. I’m not sure it can be said the same unction can be applied to Herod. It is noteworthy that in Solomon’s temple the outer courtyard was for worshippers, and differs from Herod’s.
Greek: “and throw out the courtyard which is from the outside of the temple from the outside”. John’s Greek is very clunky here. Basically, he is to not leave out the outer court of the temple.
9 τοῖς ἔθνεσιν (to the gentiles)
This can also be translated: “to the nations”.
It is from the nations, the gentiles, that the unnumbered heavenly host of saints arise. Jesus died for the world, but the world did not recognize him. Israel was chosen to reveal God. Through Israel, the light of world shown on every man. Those that receive Him are redeemed and are gathered to that light. Those that choose to remain and seek darkness will join the herd that rushes to destruction.
10 Paul refers to believers as being the “Jerusalem above” in Galatians 4:26. Mounce** (Pg. 221) sees the Holy City as being believers as well as does Beale* (Pg. 568).
Later in this book we see the Jerusalem above descend from heaven.
11 Allusions to Daniel’s three and a half years (Daniel 7:25; 9:27; 12:7). Most scholars see this as the “great tribulation” where the evil forces of the Antichrist rule for a short time.
The repetition and the different metrics used to speak of this time underscores the importance that we understand this. This time of rebellion and suffering will come to an end. It is needed for God’s purpose and His will is sovereign.
Beale* points out that this could also be allusions to some historical events such as the initial fulfillment of the “abomination of desolation” that happened under the Antiochus Epiphanes oppression in 167 to 164 B.C. (1 Maccabees 1-3; 2 Maccabees 5; Josephus, War) During that time, pigs were actually scarified on the alter in the temple. Josephus says that the period was around three and a half years. Another allusion may be to the siege of Jerusalem by the Romans (70 A.D.) with also took around 3 and a half years. (Pg. 566).
NT = New Testament
OT = Old Testament
ESV = English Standard Version
NASB = New American Standard Bible
NIV = New International Version
KJV = King James Version
TR = Textus Receptus (A late Byzantine Greek text of the NT. A
predecessor of the TR was used in the translation of the KJV)
LXX = Septuagint (Greek translation of the OT)
The Greek New Testament with Greek-English Dictionary B. Aland (Editor), K. Aland (Editor), J. Karavidopoulos (Editor), B. M. Metzger (Editor), C. M. Martini (Editor)
(BDAG) A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition Walter Bauer (Author), Frederick William Danker (Editor)
A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament Bruce M. Metzger
(Kittel) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (VOLUMES 1-10) Gerhard Kittel (Editor), Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Translator)
*The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.).) G. K. Beale
**The Book of Revelation (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) Robert H. Mounce
***Revelation (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) Grant R. Osborne
+Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics Daniel B. Wallace
++An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek C. F. D. Moule
+++Biblical Greek (Scripta Pontificii Instituti Biblici) Maximilian Zerwick
A Grammatical Analysis of the Greek New Testament Max Zerwick (Author), Mary Grosvenor (Author)
Ἀποκάλυψις 11·1 Καὶ ἐδόθη μοι κάλαμος ὅμοιος ῥάβδῳ, λέγων· ἔγειρε καὶ μέτρησον τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τὸ θυσιαστήριον καὶ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας ἐν αὐτῷ. 2 καὶ τὴν αὐλὴν τὴν ἔξωθεν τοῦ ναοῦ ἔκβαλε ἔξωθεν καὶ μὴ αὐτὴν μετρήσῃς, ὅτι ἐδόθη τοῖς ἔθνεσιν, καὶ τὴν πόλιν τὴν ἁγίαν πατήσουσιν μῆνας τεσσεράκοντα [καὶ] δύο.