Re: NAOS (Rev 11:1,2)

From: Wes Williams (
Date: Fri Mar 06 1998 - 00:48:42 EST

Dear Edgar,

Thank you for your comments and including citations from others. Since I do
not the references that you cite, I need to interact for further
clarification of my thoughts. I cite two of your previous comments and then
follow with some of my own.

You mentioned in a response to Jonathan:
>There are some important points to keep in mind here. THN AULHN THN EXWQEN
TOU NAOU is translated: "the court outside the temple" (RSV) or simply
"outer court" (NIV) which I think is curious. If we accept the former
translation, then we have to find out which NAOU is under discussion. That
is the crux of the issue, Jonathan. Some understand TOU NAOU to refer to
the "temple proper." By this they mean, the Holy and Most Holy. If TOU NAOU
does indeed have as its referent the "temple proper," then there would be no
problem in viewing AULHN as the court of the Gentiles. This interpretation
would also harmonize with the fact that the Gentiles are "given" this outer
court. Further points supporting this exegesis is the fact that Revelation
DOES utilize NAOS in this manner (to refer to the Most Holy only). Note Rev.
11:19; 14:15; 15:5-8; 16:17. Of course, in these Scriptures a heavenly "Most
Holy" seems to be in view which would therefore makes such utilizations of
NAOS metonymic. The temple in Rev. 11:2 would also be symbolic as would the
AULHN. This would thereby negate the view that NAOS per Revelation 11:2 has
reference to the temple in Jerusalem.

And in an earlier response to me, you cited Ralph Earle:
>Ralph Earle of the NIV Translation Committee says that NAOS (in Rev. 11:2)
"refers particularly to the sanctuary [proper] itself." He then notes that
John was specifically instructed not to measure the "outer court" (which
Earle says is the courtyard of the Gentiles). Earle's reasoning seems to be
that the NAOS of Rev. 11:2 is distinct from the "courtyard outside." Yes, he
applies NAOS to the temple of Jerusalem as well (Word Meanings In the NT, p.
464). Elsewhere, Earle says that NAOS only app;lies to the temple proper,
not to the courtyards or entire temple area. This seems to be mistaken, in
view of Matt. 27:5 and the LXX's employment of NAOS (Cf. Isa. 66:6ff).

These explanations are helpful in distinguishing the Holy/ Most Holy from
the outer courtyard. However, neither of these explanations deal with the
implied inner courtyard where the "altar" and "people worshipping" are Rev
11:1. This is important for determining the reference of NAOS. Here is the
text of the verses from the KJV:

11:1 And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood,
saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that
worship therein. 2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and
measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall
they tread under foot forty and two months.

The verse 1 "altar" was not in the Holy, it was in an inner courtyard where
only the priests served. This is true of the temples of Herod, Solomon and
Ezekiel's vision. It does not appear that this implied inner courtyard
containing the "altar" was the "courtyard outside" referred to in verse 2.
Thus the question: "was this inner courtyard part of the NAOS or not?" I can
think of two plausible options: (1) No, because the "altar" and the "people
worshipping" are mentioned separately. Or, (2) Yes, because the "people
worshipping" are said to be worshipping "EN AUTWi," i.e. in the NAOS. Were
"the ones worshipping" only the priests in the Holy? Perhaps. I find option
(2) more compelling because of the reference of the v. 2 "courtyard outside"
the NAOS that does not include the implied inner courtyard where the altar
was. This is what I find left out of the explanations and citations and so I
have difficulty following the conclusions as more than speculative.

Reading it at face value, I am inclining towards the conclusion that the
term NAOS simply shifts reference in Revelation according to the context and
we cannot presume that the reference in one place in Revelation necessarily
has the exact same reference as that of another (e.g. to the sanctuary
"proper" [Holy/ Most Holy], as in 11:19). If this is so, then we can lay a
certain weight, but not with doctrinal finality, on statements like "since
it means this over here in this verse then it must mean the same here." You
did not do this, but I find this reasoning at times.

Is this plausible?

Wes Williams

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