By Charles H. Welch
It is important that we observe the distinction that the two Greek words translated ‘temple’ indicate.
Hieron, a sacred place associated with the office of a priest hiereus. ‘Hieron is used of the whole compass of the sacred enclosure, including the outer courts, porches, and all the other subordinate buildings appertaining to the Temple’ (Dr. Bullinger’s Lexicon).
Naos on the other hand, derived from naio ‘to dwell’, refers properly to the innermost shrine of the temple. The veil that was rent was before the naos (Matt. 27:51); it is this word which is used by Stephen (Acts 7:48) and Paul (Acts 17:24), and in Acts 19:24 naos is translated ‘shrine’. When Paul speaks in Ephesians 2:21 of the church under the figure of a temple, it is this, the innermost shrine, not the whole of the sacred building to which he refers. In one passage, namely Luke 11:51, the word translated ‘temple’ is oikos a house. The structure of Ephesians (see EPHESIANS), places the Temple ‘fitly framed together’ (Eph. 2:21) in structural correspondence with the Body ‘fitly joined together’ (Eph. 4:16). For sidelights on this theme, see the article entitled HOUSE which contains an exhibition in outline of the inter -relationship of Israel’s spiritual history with their attitude to the Temple as the house of God.