Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Earth is the Temple of the Lord

One interesting claim that has been made with increased frequency the past few years in relation to Genesis 1 is that it is a temple text. When God is creating the earth he is creating his temple. His rest at the end of creation is his taking up residence in the temple. We as human beings are his images. Unlike the fake deities of the ancient world, the living God doesn't have dead images of gold and silver and stone, he has living images, human beings. We are God's representatives, or his representation. I believe that this approach to Genesis 1 is very sound (the most thorough defense of this approach is in The Temple and the Church's Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God by Greg Beale).

Last week in our small group we studied Acts 17:16-34. One thing that has always struck me is how different this speech felt from the rest of Paul's speeches in Acts. The difference is that it's not a straightforward exposition of Scripture in the same way Paul's speeches to Jewish audiences were. What I noticed this time around is that Paul is still expositing Scripture. Some commentators have noticed the connections to Genesis in verses 24-26, though none that I looked at dealt with the allusions at any length. Verse 24 makes the temple and creation tie crystal clear. I, though, wouldn't limit the echos of Genesis to verses 24-26. I think that they resume in verse 29. Paul there seems to be connecting creation and temple worship together and seems to understand the imago dei in the same manner as I outlined above. Thus I think that here Paul is affirming that Genesis 1 is about God's creation of his cosmic temple.

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