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Synonyms of the New Testament :: Richard C. Trench

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iii. ἱερόν, ναός.

We have in our Version only the one word ‘temple’ for both of these; nor is it easy to perceive in what manner we could have marked the distinction between them; which is yet a very real one, and one the marking of which would often add much to the clearness and precision of the sacred narrative. (See Fuller, A Pisgah Sight of Palestine, p. 427.) Ἱερόν (== templum) is the whole compass of the sacred enclosure, the τέμενος, including the outer courts, the porches, porticoes, and other buildings subordinated to the temple itself; αἱ οἰκοδομαὶ τοῦ ἱεροῦ (Matt. 24:1.) But ναός (==‘aedes’), from ναίω, ‘habito,’ as the proper habitation of God (Acts 7:48; 17:24; 1 Cor. 6:19); the οἶκος τοῦ Θεοῦ (Matt. 12:4; cf. Exod. 23:19), the German ‘duom’ or ‘domus,’Etym. Note. 1 is the temple itself, that by especial right so called, being the heart and centre of the whole; the Holy, and the Holy of Holies, called often ἁγίασμα (1 Mace. 1:37; 3:45). This distinction, one that existed and was acknowledged in profane Greek and with reference to heathen temples, quite as much as in sacred Greek and with relation to the temple of the true God (see Herodotus, i. 181, 183; Thucydides, iv. 90 [τάφρον μὲν κύκλῳ περὶ τὸ ἱερὸν καὶ τὸν νεὼν ἔσκαπτον]; 5:18; Acts 29:24, 27), is, I believe, always assumed in all passages relating to the temple at Jerusalem, alike by Josephus, by Philo, by the Septuagint translators, and in the N. T. Often indeed it is explicitly recognized, as by Josephus (Antt. viii. 3. 9), who, having described the building of the ναός by Solomon, goes on to say: ναοὺ δ᾽ ἔξωθεν ἰερὸν ᾠκοδόμησεν ἐν τετραγώνῳ σχήματι. In another passage (Antt. xi 4. 3), he describes the Samaritans as seeking permission of the Jews to be allowed to share in the rebuilding of God’s house (συγκατασκευάσαι τὸν ναόν). This is refused them (of. Ezra 4:2); but, according to his account, it was permitted to them ἀφικνουμένοις εἰς τὸ ἰερὸν σέβειν τὸν Θεόν—a privilege denied to mere Gentiles, who might not, under penalty of death, pass beyond their own exterior court (Acts 21:29, 30; Philo, Leg. ad Cai. 31).

The distinction may be brought to bear with advantage on several passages in the N. T. When Zacharias entered into “the temple of the Lord” to burn incense, the people who waited his return, and who are described as standing “without” (Luke 1:10), were in one sense in the temple too, that is, in the ἱερόν, while he alone entered into the ναός, the ‘temple’ in its more limited and auguster sense. We read continually of Christ teaching “in the temple” (Matt. 26:55; Luke 21:37; John 8:20); and we sometimes fail to understand how long conversations could there have been maintained, without interrupting the service of God. But this ‘temple’ is ever the ἱερόν, the porches and porticoes of which were excellently adapted to such purposes, as they were intended for them. Into the ναός the Lord never entered during his ministry on earth; nor indeed, being ‘made under the law,’ could He have so done, the right of such entry being reserved for the priests alone. It need hardly be said that the money-changers, the buyers and sellers, with the sheep and oxen, whom the Lord drives out, He repels from the ἱερόν, and not from the ναός. Profane as was their intrusion, they yet had not dared to establish themselves in the temple more strictly so called (Matt. 21:12; John 2:14). On the other hand, when we read of another Zacharias slain “between the temple and the altar” (Matt. 23:35), we have only to remember that ‘temple’ is ναός here, at once to get rid of a difficulty, which may perhaps have presented itself to many—this namely, Was not the altar in the temple? how then could any locality be described as between these two? In the ἰερόν, doubtless, was the brazen altar to which allusion is here made, but not in the ναός: “in the court of the house of the Lord” (cf. Josephus, Antt. viii. 4. 1), where the sacred historian (2 Chron. 24:21) lays the scene of this murder, but not in the ναός itself. Again, how vividly does it set forth to us the despair and defiance of Judas, that he presses even into the ναός itself (Matt. 27:5), into the ‘adytum’ which was set apart for the priests alone, and there casts clown before them the accursed price of blood! Those expositors who affirm that here ναός stands for ἰερόν, should adduce some other passage in which the one is put for the other.

[The following Strong's numbers apply to this section:G2411,G3485.]

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