It is written:
“Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12)
What exactly is the “temple” that Paul speaks of in this passage?
Is it a third Jewish temple?
The word “temple” that Paul uses here is from the Greek word naos. One way to understand the meaning of a word is to see how that same word is used by the same author. It just so happens that Paul uses the word naos throughout his writings. Let’s notice what it means:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17-Do you not know that you are the temple (naos) of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple (naos) of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
1 Corinthians 6:19-Or do you not know that your body is the temple (naos) of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?
2 Corinthians 6:16-And what agreement has the temple (naos) of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM. I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.”
Ephesians 2:21-in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord,
2 Thessalonians 2:4-who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple (naos) of God, showing himself that he is God.
EVERY time that Paul uses the Greek word naos, he has reference to one entity: the church of Christ.
Whatever the man of sin is, he will rise up in the CHURCH.
Now, could there be a secondary reference to a Jewish temple?
After all, it is fair to point out, the study of prophecy in the Bible reveals that many passages may have a secondary application or understanding (such as in types and antitypes).
Further, it is also true that the Greek word naos outside of Paul’s writings did have reference to the Jewish temple (cf. Matthew 23:16-17, 21, 35; 26:61; 27:5, 40, 1; Mark 14:58; 15:29, 38; Luke 1:9, 1-22; 23:5; John 2:19-21).
While nothing in the passage suggests that the temple of God is anything except the church, it is worth noting that at least two of the early “church fathers” believed this to be a reference to a third rebuilt Jewish temple.
“Once this Antichrist has devastated everything in this world, he will reign for three years and six months, and sit in the temple at Jerusalem. And then the Lord will come from heaven in the clouds.” (Irenaeus (c. 180, E/W), 1.560)
“The Savior raised up and showed His holy flesh like a temple, and he (antichrist, M.T.) will raise a temple of stone in Jerusalem.” (Hippolytus (c. 200, W), 5.206.)
Regardless, when we follow the way that the Apostle Paul used the Greek word naos (temple), he clearly had primary reference to the church of Christ.