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Is the Great Crowd on Earth or in Heaven? (Rev 7:15)

The Greek word rendered “temple” (naos) in the phrase “worship him day and night in his temple” in Rev. 7:15 primarily refers to the Holy of Holies and not to the entire temple complex as the JW’s have mistakenly tried to prove.  (See Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon at bottom of this article) Even the New World Translation Reference Bible (1985 Edition) has a footnote rendering the word temple as “divine habitation”.  And, as we know, Jehovah’s “divine habitation” is in heaven and not on the earth.  This same Greek word “naos” is also used in the Septuagint at Psalm 45:15 where we are told that the virgins and her companions are brought into the king’s “palace” for the wedding ceremony.  Once again proving that the Great Crowd is in heaven and not on earth.  Interestingly enough, the Society still holds to the interpretation that the companions refer to the Great Crowd not realizing that they’ve got a contradiction on their hands. [See the Watchtower publication “Revelation: It’s Grand Climax at Hand!”, pg. 277 where we read: “Then the marriage is performed, the heavenly bride being attended on earth by her virgin companions, the great crowd.” (?!)]

The Greek word “naos” refers to the temple building itself although in some contexts it refers more specifically and restrictively to the “Most Holy” as shown in the Greek lexical sources that cited.  Rev. 7:15 is referring to a spiritual class in heaven and not to a fleshly class on earth as the Witnesses teach since entering the “Most Holy” in the antitype implies a change of nature (fleshly to spiritual). Neither the context nor the Greek allow for the JW’s interpretation of an earthly class, especially in light of Psalm 45 where it plainly states that the virgins’ companions (typical of the Great Crowd) follow her into the palace (naos, in the Septuagint).

The Witnesses try to explain away the use of the word “naos” in Rev. 7:15 by saying that it was a synonym of “hieron” which not only refers to the building but also to the courtyard, that is to say, the entire temple complex. They need to try to convince people of this because they teach that the Great Crowd is essentially in the court of the Gentiles which would be outside of the temple. However, the Greek of Rev. 7:15 clearly shows that the Great Crowd is inside the building not in the courtyard because “naos” is more restrictive than “hieron”.

In bringing these lexical points out, we do not mean to imply that in the type the Levites served in the “Most Holy.”  Only the High Priest was allowed to enter there, especially on the Day of Atonement.  We are simply showing that the Great Crowd is a heavenly class instead of an earthly one which is driven home with the translation “divine habitation” (as found in the NWT’s footnotes) since Jehovah’s temple as shown in the Book of Revelation is in heaven and not on earth. One only need to consult all of the occurrences of the word “temple” in the Revelation to see that it is the Greek word “naos” that is used.  Incidentally, the Greek word “hieron” does not occur even once in the entire book of Revelation which is telling in and of itself.

We verified this unique distinction in the meaning of the two Greek words with some Greek brethren.  They both said that they would use the word “naos” when referring to the building itself with the Most Holy and they would “hieron” if they were referring to the entire temple complex (temple, courtyard, etc.).

This same discovery 30 years ago is what caused several JWs to leave Bethel including the Governing Body’s secretary.

Here is the citation from Liddell & Scott.  (Note citation number II which would correspond to the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and explains why the Greek translators chose to use this particular word in the Septuagint):

νᾱός, ὁ, Dor., Thess., etc. form, Leg.Gort.1.42, IG9(2).517.45 (Larissa, iii B.C.), etc., used also in Trag. (even dialogue) to the exclusion of νεώς, S.El.8, E.Hipp.31, al., exc. A.Pers.810, rare in Att. Prose and Com., Pl.R.394a, Lg.738c, 814b, Arist.EN1174a24, Posidipp. 29.1, more freq. in X., HG2.3.20, An.5.3.9, al., found in Att. Inscrr.from iii B.C., IG22.1314.18, 1315.28, etc., and in Hellenistic and later Gr. (along with νεώς), SIG277 (Priene, iv B.C.), 214 (Phanagoria, iv B.C.), 494.3 (Delph., iii B.C.), LXX 1 Ki.1.9, al. (νεώς only in

A 2 Ma.), UPZ6.22 (ii B.C.), Plb.9.30.2 (νεώς Plb. 10.4.4), etc.; Ion.νηός, always in Hom. and Hdt. (v. infr.), but gen. νε[ώ] IG12(7).1.4 (Amorgos, v B.C.); dat. νειῴ Michel832.38 (Samos, iv B.C.); Att. νεώς (Attic Inscrr. of v-iii B.C. (v. infr.), once in Trag. (v. supr.), freq. in Prose authors and found in Com. (v. infr.)); declension, nom. νεώς X.HG 1.6.1; gen. νεώ IG12.4.9,80.6, Ar.Pl.733, IG22.1524.45, SIG1219.32 (Gambreum, iii B.C.); dat. νεῴ IG12.6.122, 256.4, Antipho6.39, Alex.40.3, IG22.1504.7; acc. νεών ib.12.24.13, al., X.HG6.5.9, Ar. Nu.401, Pl.741, Philem.139, f.l. in E.HF340, later νεώ IG22.212.35 (iv B.C.), al., LXX 2 Ma.6.2, al., D.S.16.58 (v.l. νεών), SIG877A10 (ii/ iii A.D.), v.l. in D.H.4.26, but νεών Aristid.Or.27(16).19 (v.l. νεώ), Ach.Tat.3.6 (v.l. νεώ Bast Epist.Crit.p.176), etc.: pl. nom. νεῴ X. HG6.4.7; acc. νεώς A.Pers.810, Isoc.5.117, Plb.10.4.4; dat. νεῴς IG12.384; on the accent v. Hdn.Gr.1.8: Aeol. ναῦος Alc.9, IG12 (2).60.27 (Mytil.); Spartan ναϝός ib.5(1).1564 (pl., found at Delos, v/iv B.C.):—temple, Il.1.39, al., Pi.O.13.21 (pl.), etc.

II inmost part of a temple, shrine containing the image of the god, Hdt.1.183, 6.19, X.Ap.15, UPZl.c.; ἐν παντὶ ἱερῷ ὅπου ναός ἐστι PGnom.79 (ii A.D.).
III portable shrine carried in processions, Hdt.2.63, D.S.1.15, etc.
IV metaph., of Christians, ν. θεοῦ ἐστε 1 Ep.Cor. 3.16; of the body of Christ, Ev.Jo.2.19,21. [νᾰόν and νᾰῶ Orph.Fr. 32biv (Phaestus, ii B.C.); elsewh. ᾱ.] (Perh. fr. νᾰσ-ϝός, cf. ναίω.)”


Below, “naos” is defined by Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon

24 comments to Is the Great Crowd on Earth or in Heaven? (Rev 7:15)

  • Berean

    Yes, inside the building, but not necessarily in the sanctuary. For example, in the Bible account of where Jesus drove the money changers and merchants out of Herod’s temple, the original Greek “na·osʹ” is used there too. There it says… “Jesus answered, ‘Destroy this sanctuary [na·osʹ], and in three days I will raise it up’. The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary [na·osʹ]: are you going to raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the sanctuary [na·osʹ] that was his body.” (John 2:19-21) By “sanctuary,” what did those Jews mean? They meant the temple structure as a whole, including its courtyards, in one of which the money changers and merchants were conducting their commercial activities….so I think that exposes your theory as error. The great crowd are not in the Temple but within its structure. God kingdom with Christ and his bride are seen bringing its rulership to the earth. (Rev 21:1-4)

    • Peter K. (admin)

      Thanks Berean for some interesting thoughts to consider. Is there a different word for the Temple proper as opposed to the overall Temple sanctuary complex?

      In this particular passage below, the temple would apply specifically veil between the Holy and Most Holy in the temple.
      Mt 27:51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple <3485> was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split,

      It seems that Zacharias went into the Holy into the temple to offer incense on the incense alter. Would that be the incense alter in the Holy? Do you think there was some other incense alter referred to?
      Lu 1:9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple <3485> of the Lord.

      Exodus 30:6-7 (NKJV) “6 “And you shall put it before the veil that is before the ark of the Testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the Testimony, where I will meet with you. 7 “Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it.”

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