The Temple and the Bible

“We have thought of thy loving-kindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple.” (Ps. 48:9)

“One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.” (Ps. 27:4)

You can’t read the Bible without repeatedly encountering the Temple as a focal point for worship. Many Christians are taught that it only mattered in Old Testament times and that we don’t need it now that Christ has come, but this is surely a nonbiblical doctrine. The Temple was lost was important to Christ and to the early saints long after Christ had ascended to heaven. Consider these passages:

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” (Matt. 21:12-13)

“And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.” (Matt. 23:21)

“And they [the early Christians], continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, . . .” (Acts 2:46)

“And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ. ” (Acts 5:42)

“Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.” (Acts. 21:20-26)

Further, prophecies in the Bible show that the Temple would play an important role art of the Lord’s work in the “last days” before the Second Coming of the Lord and would still be important after His return during the great Millennium:

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” (Isaiah 2:2)

“Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap. . . .” (Malachi 3:1-2)

“Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Ezek. 37:26-27)

“Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” (Rev. 7:15 – a description of the Millennium)

After the loss of prophetic leadership and the loss of many covenants and sacred teachings in the Church through the process that we call the Apostasy, the mainstream Christian world found themselves without a temple and without a knowledge of the “mysteries” and sacred covenants and rituals from earliest Christianity whose details were not written down for the consumption of non-believers. Many have sought to justify the loss of a temple or to make it a metaphorical or spiritual entity, but the scriptures seem to call for the real thing in the last days. The covenant people will have the house of covenants, the Temple, and it will serve as a focal point for the gathering of people around the world, a source of wisdom and learning, a place to which the Messiah will return, and a place where the saints will serve God night and day in the Millennium. Where is the Temple of God? It has been restored through divine revelation and the ministry of angels through the prophet Joseph Smith. To those of you outside the Church, I hope you will recognize the significance of the ancient Temple concept that has been restored in these latter days: you are seeing Biblical prophecy fulfilled as part of God’s great and marvelous work in these last days, when He is bringing about the promised “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21). Where else can you find the Lord’s Temple?

(I provide some additional information and answer some common anti-Mormon allegations about the Temple on my Mormon Answers (LDSFAQ) page about the LDS Temple and Masonry.)


Author: Jeff Lindsay

55 thoughts on “The Temple and the Bible

  1. Why does it cost 10% to access God’s Temple? Well, you also can’t kill and access God’s temple, either–why should murderer’s not be allowed in?

    While that’s an extreme example, and certainly I’m not implying that non-tithepayers are murderers, the fact remains–the Temple is a blessing. You have to live a standard to go there. This has always been true–Look at Christ cleansing the temple. He certainly didn’t think they should be there (the moneychangers, etc.)

    Also remember, that in the Old Testament, you had to bring your own animals to sacrifice. The Temple was all about sacrifice. Today, we don’t give up our goat, for instance. We do give up our time, talents, and money, if we wish to go. Besides, in ancient days, you gave up the firstling of the flock–or, most likely, about 10% of your net increase (or even more, assuming that all sheep didn’t have 10 lambs). Tithing is just a modern day equivalent to the ancient concept of sacrifice.

  2. So Christ throwing out the moneychangers is an example of why worshippers should give 10% of gross or net(?) to access the Lord’s temple?

    And murderer’s aren’t allowed in either, but you’re not implying that non-tithepayers are murderers…my head hurts.

  3. Excellent question, Sarah. God could justly require 100%, yet asks only a tenth of that. The apostle Paul said (at Romans 12:1) that it would be a “reasonable service” on our part to “present [our] bodies” as “a living sacrifice . . . unto God.”

    Why, then, are God’s actual demands of us so strikingly low?

    The obvious answer, I suppose, is that he’s loving, gracious, and merciful, seeking from us only the barest tangible tokens of minimally committed discipleship. And, in exchange, he promises us everything. It’s breathtaking, really.

  4. It doesn’t cost 10%; it costs everything. It costs all you have and all you are; that’s the price that Christ asks of you to be his disciple. In return for this pittance, He offers you Eternal Life. His sacrifice is infinitely greater than the ones he asks of us, and the blessing he offers is infinitely greater than the price of obedience to his laws–including tithing.

  5. “So Christ throwing out the moneychangers is an example of why worshippers should give 10% of gross or net(?) to access the Lord’s temple?

    No, I see I failed to explain that properly. I took your question to be something along the lines of “Why would God require things of people before He would let them enter His Temple–shouldn’t everyone be allowed to go in?” My apologies if that is not what you were asking, but that is what I assumed you were. My point was that the Temple has always had requirements that people must meet before you can go in. Whether it be offering your firstling of the flock, or others, there have been requirements. Christ chasing out the moneychangers was an example of how Christ clearly did not approve of those people being there; i.e. not just anyone was allowed to enter. I hope that makes sense.

  6. Vanceone

    I’m no biblical scholar but my interpretation of the moneychangers incident is that Christ did not approve of the commercialization of a house of worship…

    …and as such I apply the same principle to those who would make a specific requirement of money to enter a house of worship.

    And if it costs “all you have and all you are” why does one have to write a check?

    Money is a necessity for religion to operate in today’s world – granted – but exclusion of worship and receipt of special knowledge based upon a financial commitment strikes me at best as misguided, and at worst, manipulative.

    Add to that the lack of transparency in the LDS church’s finances and I tend toward the latter interpretation.

  7. If you really believe that there are special blessings and important knowledge to be had by attending the temple, then material possessions mean little. If not, then I don’t write “the check” and I don’t go, and I continue on my merry way. If you’re not prepared to sacrifice the 10%, then you’re not prepared to make and keep sacred covenants given in the temple. And I hardly consider it a sacrifice–I get much more in return by going to the temple than what I give in my meager little tithing check.

    I fail to see the manipulation factor. I CHOOSE to pay tithing, and I CHOOSE to go to the temple. There was a time when I CHOSE not to do those things, but I decided that I preferred the former.

    I’m beginning to wonder if anybody outside the church have a solid concept of agency? I’m tired of all this “you’re oppressed and you don’t even know it nonsense.” Sheesh!

  8. Sarah, you talk of “exclusion of worship and receipt of special knowledge based upon a financial commitment.” You put a special emphasis on the financial. But the financial commitment is only one of a number of commitments that a member must make to be spiritually prepared for the temple. The member who is unwilling to atttend his meetings regularly lacks the commitment he needs to be ready for temple ordinances. The member who is unwilling to sustain the Prophet’s priesthood authority lacks that commitment. The member who is failing to be honest in his dealings with others lacks that commitment. The member who is unwilling to obey the law of tithing lacks that commitment, too.

  9. Back on the original topic of Jeff’s post, Hugh Nibley wrote a terrific article on this subject nearly 50 years ago: “Christian Envy of the Temple.”

    It’s been reprinted in Mormonism and Early Christianity (vol. 4 in The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), and it’s also available online.

  10. And additional to Sarah:

    The Hebrew tabernacle and temples also required financial contributions from worshipers: Each worshiper was to bring his own sacrificial animal to the temple. This was typically from his own flock, but sacrifices could also be purchased. There were provisions given for the poor, who could, for example, bring two doves or pigeons instead of a lamb ( Lev. 5:7).

    This is not far removed from today’s temple, where financial sacrifice — in addition to the aforementioned spiritual and temporal sacrifice — is required of all Latter-day Saints. Ten percent is a fair amount because it allows people of all means to enter — the man who pays ten percent of $100 is allowed in right beside the one who pays ten percent of $100,000.

    Now about those moneychangers: They gathered in the outer courts of the temple where patrons entered. In order to purchase a sacrifice, patrons had to use Hewbrew money that didn’t have graven images on it (in accordance with the second commandment), but such money wasn’t useful outside the temple where Roman currency (with Caesar’s face engraven on it) was the standard. Patrons would exchange their Roman currency for Hebrew currency at the moneychangers’ tables. The moneychangers would take advantage of the temple patrons, knowing that this was the only convenient place to swap currencies, and charge exorbitant exchange rates (like the difference between exchanging your foreign currency at the airport vs in town). Jesus tossed out the moneychangers because they were attempting to make gross profits in what was a holy thing — temple worship.

    The incident with the moneychangers doesn’t have any connection with LDS tithepaying.

  11. The original post here tried to draw the connection between biblical verses about worship at a temple and how the modern LDS temple is a manifestation of its restoration.

    And those who have responded to my question reinforce that this is a members-only temple, subject to 10% tithe, meeting attendance, sustaining a prophet, etc. And these tithes and requirements are necessary to receive the signs & tokens for exaltation. Understood, and it is the right for all to worship as they see fit.

    But is there not a parallel between passing a worthiness test to receive special knowledge for salvation (including writing a check) and say, the selling of indulgences in pre-Reformation times? Both are represented as a sacrifice, or a test of commitment to God, but it smacks of man-made quid pro quo for salvation.

  12. It seems to me a vast, vast stretch to try to equate a worthiness requirement for salvation with the sale of indulgences (which were, as an ironic matter of fact, specifically designed to nullify worthiness requirements for salvation).

    And, of course, to suggest that the standards for entrance into the temple are purely man-made is, precisely, to beg the fundamental question at issue.

  13. Very valid questions, Sarah. Normally, I wouldn’t make such a point of the validity of one’s questions (as it should normally be a given), but sometimes the questions on this post smack of dull-headedness.

    I would submit that most people’s concept of salvation leaves something to be desired. Being in the presence of God, I suggest, is salvation only in the geographical sense of the word. For example, provided that an unrepentant killer even could stand in the presence of God, would he want to? Probably not, as his value system and God’s are fundamentally opposed to one another. Hence, he/she would not pay tithing as he/she does not want to be in place that tithing would take him.

    On the other hand, those who obey God obviously like him and want to be like him. Hence, obedience to tithing, in Apostle Dallin Oaks’ words, is not a “deposit in a heavenly account.” Rather, it is the means by which we become like Heavenly Father. Simply knowing what happens in the temple is insufficient–I can point to a number of people who know that. Sacrifice, rather, is the key to the knowledge of salvation. And one will only sacrifice if one wants what the Church has to offer.

  14. Tithing is a commandment. The Temple is a blessing only obtained by following those commandments which have been given.

    The idea is that in order to receive blessings of a spiritual nature, you have to have faith to give up things of a temporal nature.

  15. Exactly, so get out your checkbook and hand over 10% of your temporal nature.
    Get blessings for handing over money.
    Got it.

  16. I have never posted here before, but I lurk often.

    Something that is being overlooked- it is not writing the check that allows you to enter the temple. While unemployed, our household income was zero, yet we were granted our first recommends and were deemed worthy to enter the Temple. We paid NO tithing. We were following the commandments, and living well, with good intentions. A person who pays a full tithing but does not follow the other commandments is NOT granted a recommend.

    Twist that however you like. It’s not the tithing that gets you a recommend, it’s the whole package.

  17. Anon@2:47–

    And that accounts for the church’s massive humanitarian program, doesn’t it? I’m afraid you have failed to take into account all the overwhelmingly positive elements of the Church’s tithing/welfare program.

    One’s commitment to a cause equates a financial commitment to some degree. No need to dance around the issue. Finances make things go. If you want to show a commitment to a cause, you put up the dough. If you aren’t committed, you don’t and consequently, don’t receive the benefits from the organization. Of course, I speak in crass economic terms. But some people accept those terms better than scriptural ones.

  18. How’s this for a demonstration of discipleship?

    “Lord, I really believe in you and in your church. And I realize that the work of your church, including the building and maintenance of temples, requires money. But I believe that others should sacrifice to pay for such things. I prefer to keep my money for myself. Still, as I say, I consider myself an avid disciple, worthy of all the blessings you bestow on those other suckers. It’s not just a matter of the money. It’s a matter of principle. I’m not inclined to contribute financial support to the Kingdom whether it involves a million pounds sterling or a single American cent. Now let me in.”

    Why shouldn’t somebody like that gain entrance to the temple?

  19. Mr. Peterson:

    Religious houses of worship the world round allow people in to receive the blessings of the deity without a returned check stub. It’s the concept of privileged knowledge in a religious institution, accessible only to those deemed worthy, that drives my questions.


    “Massive humanitarian program?” How much does the LDS church give to humanitarian efforts? I would hazard to guess that you can’t answer that, because the LDS church insists on non-transparency of its finances.

    This is a red-flag to those like me trying to understand the institution.

  20. Sarah: I don’t much see the big deal about having to be a tithe payer to get into the temple. It’s an act of obediance; Lord’s house, Lord’s rules. Simple as that.

  21. Sarah: “Religious houses of worship the world round allow people in to receive the blessings of the deity without a returned check stub.”

    So do Latter-day Saint chapels. For that matter, so do our temples. It isn’t necessary to have contributed a single cent to enter the house of the Lord. No income, no tithe. It’s not the money that matters. It’s the discipleship, expressed in tangible action.

    Sarah: It’s the concept of privileged knowledge in a religious institution, accessible only to those deemed worthy, that drives my questions.

    Or, it seems more precise to say, your objections.

    Apparently you disagree with the doctrine of the Latter-day Saints on this issue. That’s fine. I disagree with one or more doctrines of every other religious faith (and non-faith) on the surface of the globe. It’s never occurred to me, though, to suggest that Shi‘i Muslims or Mahayana Buddhists or even Roman Catholics ought to reformulate their creeds so as to make them more compatible with my particular opinions.

  22. Before we complain too much about a 10% voluntary contribution asked by a Church, I would like to hear a little more screaming about the mandatory confiscation of over 40% of the wealth of this nation through taxes and taxes and taxes. If you don’t pay property taxes on your home, they take your house away. If you don’t pay income taxes, you go to jail. It’s the very thing our Founding Fathers were opposing in trying to protect life, liberty, and property rights.

  23. sarah: “It’s the concept of privileged knowledge in a religious institution, accessible only to those deemed worthy, that drives my questions.”

    Privileged knowledge, accessible only to those deemed worthy? Lemme see. It sounds vaguely familiar. Oh yes. There’s this:

    Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded in John 7:16-17: “My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

  24. Sarah,
    Here are a few recent statistics of LDS humanitarian efforts:

    Hurricane Stan
    Hurricane Stan was an Atlantic tropical storm that evolved into a category-1 hurricane coming ashore near Veracruz, Mexico, on Saturday, October 8. Many areas received over 25 inches of rain. In addition to flooding and landslides, Guatemala and El Salvador have experienced volcanic and earthquake activity. Many roads and bridges have been washed out, making it difficult to reach smaller communities. Continuing rainfall in the region is hampering relief efforts.

    Church meetinghouses in Guatemala and El Salvador are being used as emergency shelters for about 2,000 individuals.
    With the assistance of Guatemala Aero Club, a small airplane club, food has been airlifted to many isolated communities that include Church meetinghouses being used as shelters.
    Members in Mexico assembled 6,000 food boxes that have been delivered to those in need in southern Mexico.
    Local Church members are providing volunteer labor.
    150,000 pounds of food was air freighted by the Church to Guatemala City on Wednesday, October 12, 2005.
    South Asia Earthquake
    On October 8, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck the region bordering Pakistan, northern India, and Afghanistan. It is now estimated to have killed between 20,000 and 30,000 people, injured an additional 42,000, and left as many as 4 million homeless. Nearly 40 percent of the affected areas are inaccessible due to landslides. Relief efforts have been hampered by rain and hail.

    Representatives of the Church have met with Pakistani officials to determine needs and coordinate response efforts.
    The Church has collaborated with Islamic Relief Worldwide, a Muslim humanitarian organization, to ship 180,000 pounds of relief supplies (blankets, medical items, first aid kits, coats, tents, hygiene kits) by air and an additional twenty 40-foot containers by boat. The air shipment is scheduled for October 17, 2005.

    More information is available at:,19749,6208,00.html

  25. Curtis

    It’s clear from your response to the question “how much does the church give to humanitarian efforts” that you don’t know.

    Religious and humanitarian organizations routinely provide this information in a net dollar figure or percentage of donations/tithes/income.

  26. “I would like to hear a little more screaming about the mandatory confiscation of over 40% of the wealth of this nation through taxes and taxes and taxes. If you don’t pay property taxes on your home, they take your house away.”

    That’s why I call it “property rent” instead of property tax. And it is outrageous. We are nearing the level of taxation which was considered “grievous to be borne” in the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 7:15). And evil King Noah only charged his people with a tax of 20%. Income tax alone is usually about 27%.

  27. Sarah:

    Curtis did provide evidence of “massive humanitarian effort,” thus vindicating the use of tithes. To blast him for not citing facts and figures is irrelevant to the topic at hand. The point is that tithing is not a fee, it’s an indication of one’s willingness to help build the kingdom through welfare and temple building. A homeless man in West Virginia (where the Church ships a great deal of humanitarian aid) is probably not terribly concerned about transparency.

    It also seems quite apparent from your post that you ignored all of my previous argument save the phrase “massive humanitarian aid.” Will you please explain this?

  28. sarah: “It’s clear from your response to the question “how much does the church give to humanitarian efforts” that you don’t know.”

    That’s right. We don’t know exactly how much. There is certainly a great deal more than just those few examples. By the time one puts together all of the welfare farms and welfare canneries and the Deseret Industries stores and the bishops storehouses and the fast offerings and the humanitarian relief and the development assistance and the local initiatives and the quorum service and the Relief Society service and the service organized by students at the Church universities and the individual service prompted by Church teachings and so on and so forth, it’s a vast amount. And that’s bad . . . why?

    Incidentally, do you condemn Jesus for saying that those who decline do the will of God may not even be granted the knowledge of whether his doctrine is true or not? If you’re against worthiness requirements for divine knowledge, it seems that, in order to be consistent, you should be. Please advise.

  29. Mr. Peterson:

    Your paraphrase of the scripture quoted earlier is disingenuous. Jesus didn’t charge admission for his sermons. The message, and the will of God, weren’t hidden behind a curtain for a select few to view.


    I agree that finances are necessary to run churches, and that churches should have an expectation of tithing from its members.

    But this doesn’t address 1) transparency of HOW the money is spent – a moral obligation on behalf of the church that it shouldn’t shirk, and 2) the requirement of an amount of money to receive special knowledge – again, money shouldn’t be the price of admission or of access.

  30. Matt. 23:23 – Christ did not reject the principle of tithing.

    There is no amount of money required to gain knowledge of the temple. Those with Temple recommends can go, whether they paid nothing or millions of dollars. For those with no income, tithing = 0. It’s not about cash flow!

  31. I’m usually a lurker here, but I want to comment on something…

    Sarah’s comments confuse me. On one hand she argues that a 10% tithe paying for access to God’s temple is wrong because money shouldn’t matter. On the other hand she wants a dollar value associated with the humanitarian contributions from the church – as if the dollar value is what’s important. In reality, the church probably can’t put a dollar figure on the combined contributions of the church as a whole, because it would be nearly impossible for the church to equate a dollar amount to the actions of every member. Just about every member I know contributes in some way – either through tithe, fast offerings, feeding the missionaries once a month or more, or just plain service.

    Sarah, either the money is important or it is not. You can’t have it both ways depending on the argument.

    Great debate going here! I enjoy reading the points of both sides.

  32. Sarah:

    1) transparency of HOW the money is spent – a moral obligation on behalf of the church that it shouldn’t shirk

    Would you please expound on how this is a moral obligation? Additionally, when I see “massive humanitarian aid” being dispersed throughout the world, that is a very effective form of transperancy, far more so than cold numbers.

    As to the “admission” requirement, your choice of words is unfortunate. The word reeks of capitalism, as if we were going to a sporting event. If indeed entrance into the temple was based solely on money, you might be on to something. But it’s based on far more than that. Tithing is simply a part of a larger picture of obedience. An inactive member who pays tithing, an active member who does not pay tithing, and an active member who pays tithing, who goes to church but does not have faith in Christ’s atonement are all equally ill-prepared to attend the temple. There have been individuals who pay a full tithing on a regular basis who are not allowed to the temple. This undue emphasis on tithing distorts the picture of temple worship.

  33. We had this exact same conversation/argument on another thread a while back. Same game, different day.

    When are we going to stop responding to the trolls? The tone of their questions indicates they are not interested in learning what we do and believe, and why. They have already made up their minds.

    They are going to take whatever we say and twist it into something that sounds bad, just like the pharisees made Jesus sound bad according to Mosaic law. (There’s a web page somewhere that uses the Old Testament to “prove” that Jesus was a heretic.)

    And if you judge the LDS church based on the traditions and standards of modern Protestant churches, we’re going to sound just as bad.

    There’s just no point in arguing with the mockers. Such goading doesn’t merit a response. The accusations have been addressed many times before, so if they merit anything, a link to where the answers are already online would seem sufficient.

  34. Anon at 1:23, Although individual voluntary efforts and personal spending on charity, missionary meals, etc, is not tracked, what comes into the church with the official donation slips in the grey envelopes that we give to our local bishoric is tracked to the penny.

    Also, every check that is written by the church is tracked to the penny, whether the end recipient is getting the money or receiving goods purchased with the money. We probably can’t put a dollar value on the can of green beans that the Widow Jones gets, due to all the donated hours that go into it, but all the monetary outlays that go into the church’s welfare system are tabulated in the aggregate. That would be demanded by sound accounting principles.

    True, if you add in the value of all the donated hours in disaster relief, welfare farm work, cannery work, bishop storehouse work, that actual final figure is unknown.

    But let’s not be disingenuous about there not being raw dollar figures floating around the Presiding Bishopric’s office and being reported to the Committee on the Disposition of the Tithes.

  35. Just one more nit for the members here.

    Making the temple covenants are not necessary for salvation in the Celestial kingdom. The Lord’s Atonement, plus keeping one’s baptismal covenants allows one entrance into the celestial kingdom. (And tithing could be considered a baptismal covenant since it is in the baptismal interview.)

    The temple covenants are specific to exaltation in the Celestial kingdom.

    I don’t say this to denigrate anything about the Temple, but many people seem to forget the three divisions within the Celestial Kingdom. The scriptures are quite clear that the Atonement, the Lord’s grace, and keeping one’s baptismal covenants opens the door to the Celestial kingdom for that person.

    Sometimes we forget that exaltation in the Celestial kingdom and salvation in the Celestial kingdom are not synonymous.

  36. Sarah is absolutely right. She has a very clear picture of the situation. It is a financial committment to tithe. 10% off the top. It must be important for it to be one of the top questions in the Temple recommend interview. I am sometimes saddened that they do not ask about gossip in the interview.