Revelation 11:2

leave out the court which is outside the temple
Τὴν αὐλὴν τὴν ἔζωθεν τοῦ ναοῦ ἔκβαλε ἔζωθεν [Tēn aulēn tēn ezōthen tou naou ekbale ezōthen] , a play on words: the courtyard outside the temple you throw outside. The phrase throw outside (ἔκβαλε ἔζωθεν [ekbale ezōthen] , expel outside, cast out1 ) emphasizes the rejection of the outer court, probably due to God’s disfavor. Court is αὐλὴν [aulēn] : “An enclosed space, open to the sky, near a house, or surrounded by buildings.”2 The LXX uses the identical term to describe God’s courts (αὐλὴν [aulēn] ) which are trampled (πατεῖν [patein] ) by those who are godless in behavior, yet come offering sacrifice at the temple (Isa. Isa. 1:12, also Ex. Ex. 27:9).

In the Temple which had been built by Herod, in which Jesus walked when He was here upon earth, the outer court was marked off from the inner one where Israel was permitted to go and it was separated by “the middle wall of partition” (Eph. Eph. 2:14). Beyond this no Gentile could go. Paul, accused of breaking this rule, and bringing Gentiles into the holy place, was almost destroyed by angry Jews (Acts Acts 21:28).3

In the time of the Second Temple [the Jews] had erected a boundary fence, the Soreg , between the Court of the Gentiles and the Court of the Israelites, with a warning inscription promising death to any non-Israelite who passed beyond it into the Court of the Israelites. The New Testament (Acts Acts 21:27-28) records a Jewish crowd’s violent reaction to Paul when they mistakenly believed that he had taken a Gentile proselyte (Titus) into the Temple to offer sacrifice.4

it has been given
The portion of the temple which is not under the control of the Jews has been given to the nations to tread. Once again, we see the sovereign purpose of God in the events surrounding the temple during the Tribulation. It is He who has ultimately given control of the outer court to the Gentiles. See commentary on Revelation 6:2. When Asaph contemplated the apparent success of the wicked, he lamented how God’s “enemies roar in the midst of Your meeting place; they set up their banners for signs . . . They have defiled the dwelling place of Your name to the ground” (Ps. Ps. 74:1-7). Elsewhere, he decries, “the nations have come into Your inheritance; Your holy temple they have defiled” (Ps. Ps. 79:1). In the setting of Asaph, the temple had been completely destroyed (cf. Isa. Isa. 63:18). Here, only a portion of the temple is in the hands of the nations.

the Gentiles
Gentiles is ἔθνεσιν [ethnesin] , often translated as nations in Revelation (Rev. Rev. 2:26+; Rev. 5:9+; Rev. 7:9+; Rev. 10:11+; Rev. 12:5+; Rev. 13:7+; Rev. 14:6+; Rev. 15:4+; Rev. 16:19+; Rev. 17:15+; Rev. 18:3+; Rev. 19:15+; Rev. 20:3+; Rev. 21:24+; Rev. 22:2+). These are the nations which John was just told to prophesy about (Rev. Rev. 10:11+). Hence, he is already beginning to fulfill that command. The emphasis on a portion of the temple precincts being given to the Gentiles (or nations) supposes that the main part of the temple proper is under the jurisdiction of non-Gentiles, that is, the Jews.

This casting out of the court of the Gentiles because it is the court of the Gentiles, proves the present dispensation at an end. Now Gentiles and Jews stand on the same level. The one has no prerogatives or rights above the other. In the Church there is neither Greek nor Jew, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free; but all nationalities and conditions in life yield to one common brotherhood and heirship. The text, therefore, tells of a new order of things. . . . the Jew is again in the foreground for the fathers’ sakes, and the Gentiles are thrust back.5

they will tread the holy city underfoot
There is only one holy city within Scripture: Jerusalem (Ne. Ne. 11:1, Ne. 11:18; Isa. Isa. 48:2; Isa. 52:1-2; Dan. Dan. 9:24; Mtt. Mat. 4:5; Mat. 27:53). In some cases, the phrase refers to the New Jerusalem which comes down from heaven (Rev. Rev. 21:2+; Rev. 22:19+), but here it is clearly the earthly Jerusalem because a portion of it has been given to the nations to tread . . . underfoot. The treading of the holy city is typified by the similar occupation and desecration of the sanctuary by Antiochus Epiphanes in the days of the Maccabees:6

Then I heard a holy one speaking; and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, “How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled under foot?” And he said to me, “For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.” (Dan. Dan. 8:13-14) [emphasis added]

As in Daniel Dan. 11:1, treading underfoot speaks of having authority over the city, just as when the mighty angel stands on the sea and land indicating his authority over the globe (Rev. Rev. 10:2+, Rev. 10:5+). Here, the Gentiles, or nations, exert authority over the holy city while the Jews have authority over the temple of God and the altar. The trampling of the holy city also speaks of occupation without appreciation —the occupiers treat that which is holy as a common thing, failing to understand its significance in the eyes of God (Heb. Heb. 10:29). God has promised to make the earthly Jerusalem “a praise in all the earth” (Isa. Isa. 62:7), but the nations steadfastly refuse to acknowledge God’s plan for Jerusalem which includes her ownership by Israel. In some settings, treading or trampling may also denote destruction (Isa. Isa. 63:18). When Jesus responded to his disciples’ question concerning when Herod’s temple would be destroyed (Luke Luke 21:7), he indicated that following the destruction of Jerusalem, the Jews would “be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke Luke 21:24). Thus, this trampling is an indication that during the time period which John sees in his vision the “times of the Gentiles” have still not come to a close. “John indicates that Jerusalem is still in Gentile power and that from the beginning of the series of judgments, which this parenthesis interrupts, until the end of the Gentile dominion is three and one-half years.”7 Jesus indicated that the trampling would take place after the destruction of A.D. 70—which supports the futurist interpretation that takes this temple to be a tribulation temple yet to be built. The preterist interpretation holds that the trampling described here occurs before the temple is destroyed—for if this is Herod’s temple, as they maintain, then the nations are trampling while it still stands. Yet the sequence indicated by Jesus (Luke Luke 21:24) is just the opposite: first Jerusalem is destroyed and the Jews dispersed among the nations, then the trampling begins. The trampling only ends when the “times of the Gentiles” are fulfilled and jurisdiction of Jerusalem returns fully and permanently to the Jews.8

The Times of the Gentiles can best be defined as that long period of time from the Babylonian Empire to the Second Coming of the Messiah during which time the Gentiles have dominion over the City of Jerusalem. This does not rule out temporary Jewish control of the city, but all such Jewish control will be temporary until the Second Coming. Such temporary control was exercised during the Maccabbean Period (164-63 B.C.), the First Jewish Revolt against Rome (A.D. 66-70), the Second Jewish Revolt (the Bar Cochba Revolt) against Rome (A.D. 132-135), and since 1967 as a result of the Six Day War. This too, is temporary, as Gentiles will yet trod Jerusalem down for at least another 3 1/2 years (Rev. Rev. 11:1-2+). Any Jewish takeover of the City of Jerusalem before the Second Coming must therefore be viewed as a temporary one and does not mean that the Times of the Gentiles have ended. The Times of the Gentiles can only end when the Gentiles can no longer tread down the City of Jerusalem.9

It is our belief that at the liberation of Jerusalem in the Six-Day War, the bizarre circumstance where the Jews gave control of the Temple Mount back into the hands of Muslims rather than retaining control of the Mount and removing the Dome of the Rock is a modern-example of the hand of God which has determined that the time has not yet been fulfilled for Israel to obtain exclusive and lasting control over all of Jerusalem. How significant it is today that most nations of the world refuse to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel while pressuring the Jews to continue to subject this historic site of Judaism to support an Islamic religious site while at the same time restricting the religious access of their own people. One would think this situation sufficiently strange to obtain the attention of the atheist who denies the divine hand in history! It is interesting that the same root word (πατεω [pateō] ) which denotes the trampling of the courts in Isaiah (LXX) appears in this chapter to describe the treading underfoot of the holy city by the nations. Even though the nations occupy the holy city, it would seem that God’s response to their activities may be akin to how he responded to the Jews when they offered sacrifices which appeared righteous externally, but when in fact their hearts were far from him:

When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies-I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting. Your New Moons and your appointed feasts My soul hates; they are a trouble to Me, I am weary of bearing them. When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. (Isa. Isa. 1:12-15)

for forty-two months
The “holy city” which is to be tread underfoot is none other than the “holy city” upon which the seventy weeks of Daniel are determined (Dan. Dan. 9:24), of which one-half of the final week is mentioned here as “forty-two months” and as “one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (Rev. Rev. 11:3+). The treading of the holy city is said to last forty-two months. This corresponds to half of the final week of the 70 weeks of Daniel (Dan. Dan. 9:24-27). But which half? John is told not to measure the outer court because it “has been given” (aorist tense, typically an event occurring prior to the time of the writer) to the Gentiles. Then John is told “They will tread” (future tense) the holy city for forty-two months. If the treading of the holy city by the Gentiles is taken to be simultaneous with their authority over the outer court, then it occurs while the Jews are allowed to worship in the temple and sacrifice on the altar. This would be the first half of the final week—before sacrifices are brought to an end (Dan. Dan. 9:27) and the two witnesses are overcome by the beast (Rev. Rev. 11:3+). If the treading is taken to follow the possession of the outer court by the Gentiles, then the forty-two months could denote the last half of the week: after the Antichrist has violated his covenant (Dan. Dan. 9:27), the Abomination of Desolation occurs (Mtt. Mat. 24:15 cf. Dan. Dan. 11:31; Dan. Dan. 12:11),10 the Antichrist exerts his global authority (Dan. Dan. 7:25; Dan. 12:7, Dan. 12:11-12; Rev. Rev. 13:5-8+), and the Jews flee to the wilderness where they are protected by God (Mtt. Mat. 24:16-20; Rev. Rev. 12:6+, Rev. 12:14+). See Events of the 70th Week of Daniel. The last half of the week is probably in view so that the termination of the forty-two months corresponds to the end of the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke Luke 21:24) with the arrival of Christ and the introduction of the Millennial Kingdom. Jeremiah prophesied the restoration which would follow Jacob’s Trouble and the Great Tribulation:

‘Ask now, and see, whether a man is ever in labor with child? So why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labor, and all faces turned pale? Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day,’ Says the LORD of hosts, ‘That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.’ (Jer. Jer. 30:6-9) [emphasis added]

Jeremiah explains the reason the times of the Gentiles will come to an end is so that the nation of Israel will be free to serve God under the Messianic economy of the Millennial Kingdom. It is God’s jealousy over His chosen nation which will bring this about. Woe to the nations who will fail to appreciate God’s zeal for Israel!

‘Therefore do not fear, O My servant Jacob,’ says the LORD, ‘Nor be dismayed, O Israel; for behold, I will save you from afar, and your seed from the land of their captivity. Jacob shall return, have rest and be quiet, and no one shall make him afraid. For I am with you,’ says the LORD, ‘to save you; Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, and will not let you go altogether unpunished.’ (Jer. Jer. 30:10-11) [emphasis added]

The forty-two months correspond to 3 1/2 years of 360-days each. See Prophetic Year.

Notes

1 Jerome Smith, The New Treasury of Scripture Knowledge (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1992), Rev. 11:2.

2 Frederick William Danker and Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 121.

3 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), Rev. 1:2.

4 Randall Price, The Coming Last Days Temple (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1999), 484.

5 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), Rev. 11:2.

6 “The best conclusion is that the twenty-three hundred days of Daniel are fulfilled in the period from 171 B.C. and culminated in the death of Antiochus Epiphanes in 164 B.C. The period when the sacrifices ceased was the latter part of this longer period. Although the evidence available today does not offer fulfillment to the precise day, the twenty-three hundred days, obviously a round number, is relatively accurate in defining the period when the Jewish religion began to erode under the persecution of Antiochus, and the period as a whole concluded with his death. The alternate theories produce more problems than they solve.”—John F. Walvoord, Daniel: The Key to Prophetic Revelation (Chicago, IL: Moody Bible Institute, 1971), Dan. 8:14.

7 J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 213.

8 “The period termed by our Lord the ‘Times of the Gentiles’, commences with the capture of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. It is a period coincident from its beginning to its close, with the treading down of Jerusalem.”—Arthur Walkington Pink, The Antichrist (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1999, 1923), s.v. “Israel and the Antichrist.”

9 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 21.

10 Although Daniel Dan. 11:31 was fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanes, it stands as an example of a future desecration which Jesus spoke of (Mtt. Mat. 24:15).

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