Trophimus - Did Paul Mislead A Man To Abominate the Temple?
And Did Paul Do So On A Trip That God Told Paul Not To Make?
Paul unwittingly erased an important prophetic command affecting uncircumcised Gentiles entering the Temple when he uttered 1 Corinthians 7:19 that "circumcision is nothing." Based upon that principle, Paul said (erroneously, as we shall see): "Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised." (1 Cor. 7:18.)
Paul was elsewhere correct when in Acts he contends that the command of circumcision does not generally apply to Gentiles. For Leviticus 12:2-3 on its face never applied to Gentiles -- it is only upon "sons of Israel." However, there were two legal limits upon Gentiles that Paul could not disregard where circumcision was necessary. Gentiles -- referred in the Mosaic law to as "foreigners" or "sojourners" -- had to be circumcised first if they voluntarily wish to participate in the passover dinner (Exodus 12:48) and second if they entered the Temple at Jerusalem. (Ezekiel 44:9.)
It is this latter command regarding the Temple we are discussing here. Paul effectively erased Prophet Ezekiel's words with devastating effect when Paul's traveling companion Trophimus obviously took seriously Paul's words to the Corinthians: “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing....” (1 Cor. 7:19) and if you are not circumcised now, "let him not be circumcised" ever (1 Cor. 7:18.)
For consider how Paul's message impacts the ongoing validity of the words of the Prophet Ezekiel who declared if one “uncircumcised in flesh [is caused] to be in my sanctuary, to profane it,” then it is an “abomination.” (Ezekiel 44:9.)
But if uncircumcision became nothing after the Cross, as Paul said, and if you aren't circumcised, "let him not be circumcised," then an uncircumcised Gentile was free to ignore this command to be circumcised from the Prophet and enter the Temple in an uncircumcised state.
Paul even told the Ephesians in a letter this was true. Paul taught the Ephesians that God “has broken down the middle wall of partition” at the Temple, “having abolished in his flesh... the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances....” (Eph. 2:14-15.)
Did Paul's friend from Ephesus -- Trophimus -- ever trust Paul's new principle to the point of violating the middle wall of the Temple, which kept the uncircumcised Gentiles outside the holy ground at the Temple? We will see that this is precisely what took place in 58 A.D. We will also see how God responded, proving God’s legal principles on what abominates had not evaporated at the Cross in 33 A.D. We will also see that prior to this trip to Jerusalem by Paul and Trophimus that God told Paul, according to Luke, not to make this journey to Jerusalem (Acts 21:4) but that, as Luke records, Paul deliberately disobeyed God. (Acts 21:17.)
Furthermore, if Trophimus heard Paul's words that the "God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands," (Acts 17:24), Trophimus could conclude God does not truly live at the Jerusalem Temple. Trophimus could believe there was no risk of sacrilege by Trophimus's presence in an uncircumcised state inside the Temple.
In believing Paul, Trophimus would be misled away from following the Savior's words which endorsed the OT designation of the Temple in Jerusalem as the very House of the LORD God (Mt 23:21 ("swears by the Temple and the one who dwells in it"); Lk 2:49 ("my father's house")/19:45-46). Jesus even taught that Daniel prophecy's of a coming abomination standing in the Temple was in the future. (Matt. 24:15-16.)
HISTORICAL NOTE--- see below: "Miscellaneous Notes: Shekinah Presence Leaves Temple in 70 AD" - where we recount the Roman historian Tacitus -- confirmed by similar statements by Josephus and other Jewish sources -- that a Shekinah-like glory visibly left just circa 70 AD as a "supernatural voice: audibly spoke that it was "departing" -- all immediately preceding the entry of the Roman soldiers into the Temple.
But Paul could not be clearer, telling the Athenians that God "does not live in temples built by hands." Acts 17:24. If Trophimus heard this from Paul, Trophimus predictably would show no concern for the sanctity of the Temple as God's dwelling place upon his arrival with Paul in 58 A.D. at Jerusalem.
What Happened In 58 AD At Jerusalem?
What happened is that in 58 A.D., Trophimus, an uncircumcised Gentile from Ephesus, entered the prohibited area of the Temple. (Acts 21:28-29.) The Jews charged Paul with bringing in a Gentile who "defiled" the Temple. Eckhard Schnabel in "Acts" Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Zondervan 2016) explains the seriousness of the charge:
"The verb means to...defile. The perfect tense denotes a state of affairs that affects the status of the Temple....[B]ringing an unclean [sic: uncircumcised] Gentile into the temple courts... was even more serious than a charge of heretical teaching: defiling the Temple carried a death sentence. Such defilement would necessitate purification rights and rededication of the Temple, perhaps similar to the rededication of the Temple by Judas Maccabeus in 164 BC, after Antiochus IV had defiled the Temple by offering pagan sacrifices." (See link.)
Neither Luke nor Paul ever deny Trophimus defiled the Temple. Instead, both Luke and Paul merely try to deny there was proof that Paul had brought Trophimus into the prohibited area. (Acts 21:29, 24:6, 13, 18; 25:7-8.) Luke says the Jews "supposed" Paul had done so because they earlier saw Paul together with Trophimus in Jerusalem. (Acts 21:28-29.) Trophimus was indeed a close companion of Paul. (Acts 20:4; 2 Tim.4:20.) Yet, Paul said his accusers merely found him (Paul) purifying himself in the temple. (Acts 24:18.) This was the only inadequacy Paul cited to the charge that he (Paul) was responsible for Trophimus’ profaning the Temple. (See Acts 21:28, Paul "brought Greeks also into the temple, and .... defiled this holy place.") Paul did not make any stronger refutation such as that Trophimus had not breached the middle wall of the Temple, evidently because Paul knew that charge was true.
Obscuring These Events In Christian Commentary
Often forgotten is that Paul was accused by the Jews of being the cause of Trophimus' breach, and it was this charge (Acts 24:6, "profane the temple") which Paul appealed to Caesar. This is why Paul was being taken to Rome by Roman authorities. (Acts 25:8-11.) Paul acknowledges this is the issue when he disclaims his innocence in Acts 25:8 (NIV):
Then Paul made his defense: "I have done nothing wrong against the law of the Jews or against the temple or against Caesar."
Each of those three statements refer to the same thing: the temple law was both a law of the Jews and of Rome, and Rome was upholding the Law of the Jews to protect the sanctity of the temple from offense - evidently to keep peace. The only Christian resource that says plainly what Paul was charged with is Bible History online in The Court of the Gentiles:
The [uncircumcised Gentiles] could walk within it [i.e., the court of the Gentiles] but they were forbidden to go any further than the outer court. They were excluded from entering any of the inner courts [of the Temple], and warning signs were placed that the penalty for such trespass was death....It was for this alleged crime that Paul was attacked and nearly beaten to death by an angry crowd during his last visit to Jerusalem (Acts 21:27-32.)
Yet, for obvious reasons, this aspect of what Paul was being put on trial for is rarely openly discussed in Christian churches / histories. Research "Trophimus" online to verify this yourself.
There is a reason for this obscuring of the issue for which Paul was on trial. Some are hesitant to acknowledge Trophimus, a friend of Paul, defiled the Temple. This would raise even the most hardened Paulinist to start wondering about Paul because everyone knows Paul told Ephesians like Trophimus that the middle wall at the Temple was no longer a barrier to an uncircumcised Christian Gentile.
In apparent recognition of this strain on Paul's validity, when this event is discussed, it is typically misdescribed in ways to whitewash Trophimus. A major encyclopedia with absolutely no basis insists, for example, that Trophimus was "innocent." (See "Trophimus," International Bible Enclyclopedia.) Then when the reader hears what the Jews "supposed" Paul did, one easily leaps to the conclusion that Luke says more than he did say. But what Luke says is
They had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with Paul and assumed that Paul had brought him into the temple area (Acts 21:29, NIV.)
To repeat, Luke never says the Jews merely supposed Trophimus defiled the Temple. Rather the Jews supposed that Paul "brought him into the Temple area," and thus was responsible for Trophimus's defilement of the Temple. Hence, one can see what terrible angst is suffered by those Paulinists reading this passage. To save Paul they dogmatically insist that Trophimus was innocent, and thus our attention is misdirected away from the fact (a) that Trophimus caused an abomination of the Temple and (b) while Paul did not bring Trophimus into the Temple, Paul arguably was ethically responsible for teaching Trophimus in Eph. 2:14-15 that he could pass through the middle wall at the Temple which warned uncircumcised Gentiles not to enter the sacred area.
One Reputable Source Gets Closer To The Truth
However, there is one reputable source within modern Christianity which mentions it was the Jews who "believed" it was Paul who had brought Trophimus into the sacred part of the Temple. This book source does not proclaim Trophimus's innocence. These authors acknowledge instead that the action of Trophimus would be the kind of abomination that desolates which Daniel spoke about. (Whether it was the abomination which Daniel prophesied is beyond the scope of this study.) This source is Tim La Haye's and Ed Hinson's The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy (Harvest House, 2004) where we read:
The Jews were extremely careful to prevent such acts and even built a protective fence around the Second Temple. It included a warning inscription promising death to any [uncircumcised] non-Israelite who passed beyond it into the court of the Israelites. The New Testament (Acts 21:27-28) records the violent opposition of a Jewish crowd who believed Paul had taken a Gentile proselyte (Trophimus) into the Temple to offer sacrifice. They accused Paul of “defiling the holy place” (the Temple). With this background, we can understand why the future act of desecration by the abomination of desolation is the climax of Daniel’s seventieth week and signals the intensification of God’s wrath in the second half of the Tribulation (Matthew 24:15-21; Mark 13:14-19). 1
Hence, finally some authority is identifying it is the Jewish crowd who made a supposition about Paul's responsibility. The guilt of Trophimus was never in doubt. The crowd was trying to blame Paul for Trophimus's action, and that is a different issue. The way Luke gives the account Paul defends himself not by declaiming Trophimus was innocent, but rather by the fact Paul had an alibi. Paul insisted he himself was busy ceremonially washing himself at the temple at the time of Trophimus's defiling action.
Paul's Message To Ephesians Like Trophimus About The Middle Wall
Now why did Trophimus breach the middle wall that had warning signs declaring that no uncircumcised Gentile could pass into the Temple without facing a death penalty? Trophimus must have been convinced of a new principle that was superior to the principle God gave the prophet Ezekiel. Where did Trophimus learn such new principle that could give him such liberty?
There is little doubt that Trophimus, a travelling companion of Paul, must have relied upon Paul’s doctrine. First, Paul said that “circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing.” (1 Cor. 7:19.) Lastly and most important, Trophimus, an Ephesian, must have been convinced he could pass this middle barrier because of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. In it, Paul taught God “has broken down the middle wall of partition” at the Temple, “having abolished in his flesh... the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances....” (Eph. 2:14-15.) The true “habitation of God” is now the church, built upon the “apostles and prophets.” (Eph.2:20-22.)
Jesus Says Paul Is Wrong: Daniel's Prophecy Depends Upon Ezekiel's Principle Continuing
Yet, was this middle wall abolished in God’s eyes? Or were the Prophetic words of Ezekiel still in place after the Cross of 33 A.D.? In other words, would an uncircumcised Gentile inside the temple still be an abomination standing in the Holy Place? The answer is yes.
First, Jesus spoke precisely of an "abomination that causes desolation" standing in the holy place, as a sign of the coming destruction of the Temple as "prophesied by Daniel." (Matt. 24:15-16.) Jesus hence recognized that Ezekiel's principle would be operative after Jesus' ascension. The abomination would be a precursor of the destruction of the Temple.
(Jesus had in mind Daniel's identification of a person who is responsible for a "sacrilegious object" entering in the Temple, etc. It is this person who "causes" an abomination spoken by Daniel. See Dan. 9:27. Whether Trophimus' abomination is the subject of Daniel's prophecy is beyond the scope of our analysis here.)
Second, and consistent with this view that Ezekiel's words were still valid post 33 AD, Jesus said that He did not come to do away with the “Law or the Prophets” (Matt. 5:17). This would include Ezekiel's words on what causes an abomination of God's Temple, i.e., the presence of an uncircumcised Gentile. Also, Jesus said not until “heavens and earth pass away will one little jot or tittle of the Law pass away....” (Matt. 5:18.) In the Law, we read God promises that if we “walk contrary to Me,” then “I will bring your sanctuaries unto desolation.” (Lev. 26:27,31.)
Did God Respond To Trophimus' Act Consistent With Leviticus?
Thus, if the Law and Prophets were still in effect after the Cross, then one would expect God would respond by desolating His own Temple for Trophimus’ act. God’s word appears to require He desolate it in response to such a crime.
Indeed, a gentile, Trophimus, in reliance on Paul, came to abominate the temple in 58 AD. And God in response did desolate His temple in 70 A.D.
Of course, in the bigger moral picture, God destroyed the Temple "because you did not know the time of your visitation" (Luke 19:41-44). However, in the micro-picture of immediate causes, it was because of Trophimus' violation of the Temple. As a result, God saw to it that every stone of the Temple was torn down. Thus, the Law and Prophets did not expire at the Cross. Instead, thirty-seven years after the cross, the Law of Moses was vigorously enforced by the Almighty.
If Paul’s teachings misled Trophimus, look then at the horrible consequences of trusting Paul’s views that the Law was defunct and no longer to be performed. Let’s learn from Trophimus’ mistake and only trust Jesus’ view on the Law and Prophets continuing validity until heaven and earth pass away. (Matt. 5:18.)
Paul Violated God's Command Not To Go To Jerusalem
Just prior to this incident, God commanded Paul through Holy Spirit messages to believers and a prophet, per Luke, NOT to go to Jerusalem. Thus, Luke depicts that Paul in disobedience to God went anyway to Jerusalem. (See Acts 21:4.) It reads:
We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week. These believers prophesied through the Holy Spirit that Paul should not go on to Jerusalem. NLT
And finding disciples, we tarried there seven days: who said to Paul through the Spirit, that he should not go up to Jerusalem. ASV
Then Paul's disobedience led to the abomination episode mentioned above.
This is agreed upon by conservative Christian scholar James Montgomery Boice in his book entitled Acts (Baker Books, 1997). Dr. Leon Combs in 2006 wrote about this, using Paul's example to prove how disobeying God sometimes works out just fine ("God uses our failures for His glory"). Dr. Combs explains:
in this chapter we will see how Paul did not obey God in going to Jerusalem. I would not present this interpretation if it were not also backed up by one of my favorite theologians, James Montgomery Boice. 2
Frederick Watson, D.D., in Inspiration (London: 1906) similarly notes:
St. Paul did not follow the guidance of the true prophet Agabus, not to go up to Jerusalem, though other disciples speaking in the Spirit had said the same. Id., at 137. See Acts 21:10-11.
Dr. Combs extrapolates a wrong reading from this fact but with a wholesome conclusion: "even when we desire to do good deeds [i.e., Paul's desire to worship at the Temple] we can be in violation of God’s desire for our lives. We must carefully listen to God’s Word and desire only to do what He wants us to do."
No, the correct reading is when we violate God's command, something bad will happen. Nothing good came from this, for Paul's violation of the command of the Holy Spirit which God had to use a prophet and several believers to get through to Paul, but to no avail, led to the abomination of the Temple.
For in Acts 21:4, Luke records that spiritual Christians shared with Paul the message of the Holy Spirit not to go to Jerusalem:
And after looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they
kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. NASB
Luke tells you that God knew better; Paul heard the Spirit's message through others, but defied it anyway.
Interestingly, Dr. Combs recognizes that when Paul in Acts 21 is confronted by the apostolic leadership at Jerusalem (this is years after the decision that Gentiles did not have to be circumcised to become Christians), the duty that Jews had to be circumcised was still maintained by the mother church. To this, Dr. Combs realizes a chasm existed between the apostolic church and Paul. Dr. Combs writes, utterly sympathetic of Paul and judgmental of the apostolic church of the true twelve:
This issue is very disturbing to me for it shows that the mother church was still involved in strong Jewish practices. They viewed Paul as someone who many in the church thought was taking the church too far away from their core beliefs. (Combs, God Uses Our Failures for His Glory (2006) at 3.)
This underscores two things in the very same chapter of Acts -- that Paul disobeyed God going to Jerusalem and was not obeying the Apostolic practices of the true 12, but Combs does not see this. Let's explore.
Paul's Disobedience in Acts 21 Conjoined With Disobeying 12 Apostles' Practices
First, at the very same time Paul disobeys God in Acts 21:4, Paul was out-of-sync with the true 12 apostles on other issues, as recorded in Acts 21 -- about 3 years after Acts 15.
In Acts 15, the Jerusalem Conference did not require Gentiles to be circumcised to become Christians but held Gentile-Christians could not eat meat sacrificed to idols. Why was Paul out-of-sync? We know independently of Acts 21 that Paul taught Gentiles that they could eat such meats sacrificed to idols. See 1 Corinthians 8:4-13, and 1 Corinthians 10:19-29.
Furthermore, in Acts 21, we learn Paul is viewed to be out-of-sync for a second reason. Paul is thought by James to be teaching Jews too did not have to be circumcised, which James disapproves anyone to teach. James heard rumours that Paul teaches Jews do not have to follow the Law any more, and that Paul was thus guilty of "apostasia" -- Greek for apostasy. Of course, Paul indeed taught this apostasy-principle in many letters. See Romans 7:1-6 (Jews "loosed" from the Law)(discussed in our link); 2 Cor. 3:14 (“old covenant”); Gal. 5:1 (“yoke of bondage”); Rom. 10:4 (“Christ is end of the law”); 2 Cor. 3:7 (“law of death”); Gal. 5:1 (“entangles”); Col. 2:14-17 (“a shadow”); Rom. 3:27 (“law of works”); Rom. 4:15 (“works wrath”); 2 Cor. 3:9 (ministration of condemnation); Gal. 2:16 (“cannot justify”); Gal. 3:21 (cannot give life); Col.2:14 (“wiped out” exaleipsas); Gal. 3:19, 4:8-9 (“given by angels...who are no gods [and are] weak and beggarly celestial beings/elements”).
Finally, God tells Paul through inspired messages to others (according to Luke) not to go to Jerusalem (Acts 21:24), but Paul goes anyway.
It is therefore not surprising that someone not following apostolic leadership and not obeying God (Acts 21:24), as Luke depicts Paul simultaneously in Acts 21, would arrive in Jerusalem and mislead Trophimus to abominate the Temple - the worst possible act of disobedience known in the Torah and Prophets. Luke obviously wants us to realize God tried getting through to Paul through true Christians who, unlike Paul, were capable of hearing God's words. Yet even then Paul went anyway. God failed to persuade Paul through others, obviously as a clue to Bereans among us that Paul was never in true communication with the true God or the true Jesus.
The Tacit Message About Paul God Gives Us From Luke
Why do people then think Paul is depicted as a hero in Acts? Because they do not take time to read the final chapters of Acts. They do not take time to understand what is being said about Trophimus. They do not understand the legal implications of Trophimus's conduct. They stop and think it is only important to know Paul did not escort Trophimus into the holy area. They do not connect up the fact that Paul knew Trophimus in Ephesus, and wrote a letter to the Ephesians that God tore away the ordinances that prevented uncircumcised Gentiles from passing the middle wall of the Temple at Jerusalem.
Hence, they do not realize that by the end of Acts, Luke's account in light of Paul's epistles truly depicts Paul in a very ugly light. Of course, it is a fair and balanced description of the events so Paul's misdeeds are not exaggerated. Yet, in Luke's account, Paul is certainly a disobedient man to God Almighty and out-of-sync with Jesus' true 12 apostles.
It may also be that Luke did not know how badly Paul would look in the light of Paul's epistles. The best explanation for that is that Luke did not know of Paul's epistles which make what Luke records so embarrassing to Paul. Scholars now concur on this explanation.
This is not the only significant problem with Paul's validity in the Book of Acts at odds with Paul's epistles. It cannot go unnoticed that Luke in Acts in the three appearance accounts between Paul and one calling himself Jesus never once depicts Jesus saying Paul was appointed an apostle of Jesus Christ. That Jesus only said Paul was to be a MARTUS -- a witness. This completely undermines Paul in his claim to be an "apostle of Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1:1) because Jesus taught us that a self-serving statement of one's special status with God as an Apostle is invalid/untrue; instead two witnesses must confirm it. (John 5:31; Rev. 2:2.) Paul had zero confirmation other than his self-serving claims. By contrast, Jesus had the voice of God the Father ("this is my Son") and the Spirit in the Dove confirm Jesus's identity at His baptism with numerous persons as witnesses. Also, at the transfiguration, Jesus had the voice of the Father again as well as Moses and Elijah to confirm His identity before two witnesses. (Matt. 17:1-9.)
Thus, because of negative facts running throughout the book of Acts, which modern pastors spend a lot of time ignoring or downplaying, some modern scholars believe Luke had an objective to bring Paul down as a means of counteracting the influence of Marcion. (See Knox, Marcion and the New Testament: An Essay in the Early History of the Canon (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1942) at 114-39.)
I prefer to believe it was Luke's objectivity, especially due to unawareness of Paul's epistles which make what Luke records so much worse for Paul's validity.
Thus, God has left us Luke as a key witness AGAINST Paul when you read thoroughly to the END of Acts.
Post-Script: Doesn't This Prove Paul Never Met Jesus?
Incidentally, does this story reveal very telling evidence that proves Paul never met the true Christ on the Road to Damascus but instead met an imposter? If Paul met the true Jesus, then why did God have to speak through Agabus and other believers to try to persuade Paul to not go to Jerusalem? Wouldn’t the Christ of Paul’s ‘revelation’ have told Paul not to do so? And that would have sealed the issue for the true God of Heaven?
But if Paul was unwittingly following the enemy of Christ, then that ‘other Christ’ would keep silence. That ‘other Christ’ would let happen the Trophimus-Paul journey to Jerusalem, with disastrous results—the abomination that desolates stood in the Temple.
Shekinah Leaves The Temple Just Prior To Its Fall
A single abomination does not drive God from the Temple. In Ezekiel 8:6 we read: "Son of Man, do you see what they are doing? the great abominations that the house of Israel is committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary?"
Thus, Trophimus' sacrilege was just one event in a series like happened with the First Temple that required God to destroy the Second Temple by means of directing the events leading to 70 AD.
However, some believe when Jesus died and the Temple veil according to Luke's account was rent supposedly means that God left His temple in 33 AD, and that Jesus's prophecy of the abomination requires the Temple to be rebuilt and then later will be abominated preceding the second coming, leading to fulfillment of Jesus' words. (James D.G. Dunn, et al., The Holy Spirit and Cristian Origins (Eerdman's 2004) at 98.) However, this is reading alot into the Temple veil's being rent when many other interpretations are more plausible.
Moreover, such an idea that the Shekinah presence of the Temple left in 33 AD appears contradicted by history of (a) Josephus; (b) Eusebius; (c) Tacitus and (d) Jewish sources of that era including 2 Baruch.
Starting 3.5 years prior to the Temple's destruction, a Jewish Rabbi named Jonathan said that at the Mount of Olives a "bat kol [or bet kol, a supernatural voice from heaven] issued forth, announcing, 'Return Oh backsliding children, Return unto me, and I will return unto you. [and] when they did not repent, it said, I will return to my place." (G.H. Eliason, The Generations of Antichrist (2010) at 291.) This voice speaking continued for 3.5 years prior to the destruction of the Temple. (John McClintock & James Strong, McClintock & Strong Cyclopedia (1877) at 356 col. 2.) Hence, this was ongoing right up to the Temple's destruction.
What took place at the Temple's fall is repeated in numerous places: a Voice in the Temple spoke that it was leaving.
According to Jewish apocalytpic sources from that era -- 2 Baruch aka II Apoc. Bar 8:1b-2, we read "a voice from the interior of the Temple was heard, after the wall had fallen [during the siege of 70 AD] saying, 'Enter ye enemies, come ye adversaries for he who kept the house has forsaken it.'" (David Garland, The Intention of Matthew 23 (Brill Archive, 1979) at 202.) See 2 Baruch [ca. post 70 AD] at 8:1b-2.
The Roman history of the event is similar. Tacitus records that when their soldiers were about to enter in 70 AD, a "superhuman voice" spoke and said that it was now leaving:
Contending hosts were seen meeting in the skies, arms flashed, and suddenly the temple was illumined with fire from the clouds. Of a sudden the doors of the shrine opened and a superhuman voice cried: “The gods are departing”: at the same moment the mighty stir of their going was heard. 2 Few interpreted these omens as fearful; the majority firmly believed that their ancient priestly writings contained the prophecy that this was the very time when the East should grow strong and that men starting from Judea should possess the world. This mysterious prophecy had in reality pointed to Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, as is the way of human ambition, interpreted these great destinies in their own favor, and could not be turned to the truth even by adversity. 3 We have heard that the total number of the besieged of every age and both sexes was six hundred thousand: there were arms for all who could use them, and the number ready to fight was larger than could have been anticipated from the total population. Both men and women showed the same determination; and if they were to be forced to change their home, they feared life more than death.
(From Tacitus (trans. C. H. Moore) Histories III 4-5 and Annals 1-3 (Loeb Classical Library; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1931) at 193-9 (excerpted online at this link.)
"[R]eports were related by Josephus, 2 Baruch, and Tacitus of the departure of God's presence just prior to its destruction by Titus." (John Kloppenborg, The Tenants in the Vineyard (Mohr Siebeck, 2006) at 95, citing Josephus, Bell. 6.299-300; cf. Bell 2.539; 5.19; 5.412; Tacitus, Hist. 5.13; and 2 Baruch 8:1-2.)
Josephus in War of the Jews 6:5.3 writes of a similar warning by a voice speaking 'let us remove hence,' as well as a prophet named Jesus four years prior to 70 AD who proclaimed about a similar voice:
Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, "Let us remove hence." But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple, (23) began on a sudden to cry aloud, "A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!" This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city.
Among the portents of destruction, an event which Josephus says was "before" the Temple's destruction involved a great light near the Temple. This event some Christians infer was the Shekinah presence departing. If so, we have no idea how long before the destruction it took place except it was before the siege. Moreover, this is not clearly the departure of the Holy Shekinah. Instead, it proves the Shekinah was still present up through a short while before the siege began. Regardless, here is the passage to consider:
Thus also before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus, (21) [Nisan,] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it. At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple. Id., at 6.5.3.
Also, "Josephus [said] during the Roman attack on the revolutionaries who had taken refuge in the Temple, the Nicanor Gate opened of its own accord after having been closed and bolted." [War 6.5.3; 293-94] ("Temple," Introduction to NT (Crandall Univeristy, 2011.)
Cf. Eusebius says Christians return to Jerusalem to worship "at the mount of Olives opposite the city wither the glory [i.e., the Shekinah glory] of the Lord [Yahweh] migrated when it left the former city." (Eliason, id., quoting Eusebius, Proof of the Gospel, 6:18:288.)
This is similar to what Ezekiel witnessed regarding the prior Temple. During Judah's apostasy during the 6th century BC, the prophet Ezekiel saw the Glory Cloud depart from the Temple and travel east, to the Mount of Olives (Ezek. 10:18-19; 11:22-23); later, in his vision of the New Jerusalem, he sees the Glory-Cloud returning to dwell in the new Temple (Ezek. 43:1-5).
Thus, it appears more accurate to say God's Shekinah presence did not depart the Temple until about 70 AD.
2 Baruch on Temple Destruction
1 Now the angels did as he had commanded them, and when they had broken up the corners of the walls, a voice was heard from the interior of the temple, after the wall had fall saying: 2 'Enter, you enemies, And come, you adversaries; For he who kept the house has forsaken (it).'
Trophimus Topic In Jesus' Words Only - Original Version
I inserted this into JWO, but shortened it. Here is the longer and more detailed version:
This was a crucial statement, allowing Paul to side-step the issue of which he was previously accused. Jews from Asia accused Paul of committing the desecration of the Temple by bringing “Greeks into the temple, and [he] defiled this holy place.” (Acts 21:28.) This was a reference to Ezekiel 44:7 which says if an uncircumcised Gentile is permitted inside the sanctuary, this “profanes” it. If you read Luke’s account carefully, he does not deny this defilement took place. Rather, he tries to suggest Paul was not responsible for taking his associate Trophimus, an Ephesian, into the temple. “For they had before seen with him [Paul] in the city Trophimus the Ephesian, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.” Act 21:29. The supposition that Luke is implying is wrong is that it was Paul who brought his associate Trophimus into the temple. Luke is not implying “they [wrongly] supposed ... [Trophimus entered] the temple.” Luke merely claims the evidence was insufficient to prove Paul was responsible. Now we can see the importance of the hearing that followed. In it Paul affirms very crucially “I am a Pharisee....” and claims the real reason he is on trial is because he believes in the resurrection, as did the Pharisees. By misrepresenting the pending accusation, the issue never gets around to Trophimus. The council turns into an uproar of division over the dispute between the Pharisees and Sadducees over the doctrine regarding the resurrection. Yet, here is the New Testament evidence for the “abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place” of which Daniel prophesied, and Jesus repeats. (Matt. 24:15.) Jesus said this would be the sign of the coming destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. (Matt. 24:2,15-16.) This desecreation of the temple mentioned in Acts 21 is approximately 62 A.D., a scant eight years prior to the fall of Jerusalem. It is this profaning act which then brings the Roman armies into the Temple mount to fulfill God’s judgment. Christian scholars have this upside down, contending the Roman armies destroying the Temple were the same thing as the abomination. (Gill.) If so, then how could their entry at the very end of the siege be any kind of warning of the coming Temple destruction? The abomination of desolation must precede their entry to fulfill Jesus’ prophecy. The entry of Trophimus must have been it. Yet, how many Christians know the issue that Paul was on trial for, which caused Paul to be sent to Rome for trial, was whether he brought Trophimus into the temple? This is clear in Acts even though Paul tries constantly to confound the issue with doctrinal disputes. When the chief priests sent Tertullus to explain to the Romans the true nature of the dispute, Tertullus said Paul “has gone about to profane the temple....” Acts 24:6. For this violation, the chief priests wanted Paul “judged according to their law.” Acts 24:6. Paul in defense at that juncture never denies the charge, but only claims “Neither can they prove the things whereof they now accuse me.” Acts 24:13. Paul said the Jews from Asia “found me purified in the temple,” implying he did not have Trophimus in tow. Acts 24:18. Later, before Festus in Caesarea, the Jews from Jerusalem came but “could not prove” their accusations. Acts 25:7. Now Paul spoke up, saying “Neither... against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended anything at all.” Acts 25:8. Then Paul appealed to Caesar. Acts 25:11. This would force his accusers to travel to Rome if they wanted to prove the temple desecreation. A very clever tactic.
Will God Allow The Temple to Be Rebuilt?
Many believe that the Temple will be rebuilt prior to the second coming. I would not be too sure about that. Julian the Apostate -- a Roman Emperor from the late 300s -- tried to rebuild the temple. Here is what happened according to Wikipedia under "Julian":
Attempt to rebuild the Jewish Temple
In 363, not long before Julian left Antioch to launch his campaign against Persia, in keeping with his effort to foster religions other than Christianity, he ordered the Temple rebuilt. A personal friend of his, Ammianus Marcellinus, wrote this about the effort:
Julian thought to rebuild at an extravagant expense the proud Temple once at Jerusalem, and committed this task to Alypius of Antioch. Alypius set vigorously to work, and was seconded by the governor of the province; when fearful balls of fire, breaking out near the foundations, continued their attacks, till the workmen, after repeated scorchings, could approach no more: and he gave up the attempt.
— Ammianus Marcellinus
The failure to rebuild the Temple has been ascribed to the Galilee earthquake of 363, and to the Jews' ambivalence about the project. Sabotage is a possibility, as is an accidental fire. Divine intervention was the common view among Christian historians of the time. Julian's support of Jews, coming after the hostility of many earlier Emperors, caused Jews to call him "Julian the Hellene".
Is Paul The One Spoken About in Daniel 8 & 11?
There is a prophecy that scholars believe is a prophecy about Antiochus Epiphenes, but many prophecies in the Bible have a dual fulfillment, e.g., Cyrus and Jesus identically fulfill certain aspects of the Messianic prophecies in Isaiah. So consider these words in Daniel 8:11-12 (NIV) as having a second fulfillment in Paul:
11 It set itself up to be as great as the Prince of the host; it took away the daily sacrifice from him, and the place of his sanctuary was brought low. 12 Because of rebellion, the host [of the saints] and the daily sacrifice were given over to it. It prospered in everything it did, and truth was thrown to the ground.
Paul's self-promotion as the "spiritual" father of believers whom he converted set himself up as a Prince among God's people. By Paul's actions with Trophimus, Paul brought the sanctuary low, which had the effect of ending the sacrifices. There is no comment in the prophecy that this aspect of change was a bad one. We can still regard that Christ fulfilled these sacrifices, and they were no longer necessary, yet still the prophecy itself came true because Jews continued the sacrifices after Christ until the Temple at Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD. Hence, the traits importantly all fit Paul.
These common characteristics persist into an end-times figure depicted in Daniel 11. First, it talks of those who are exposing a fraud upon God's people. This figure is called a king. This "fraud" by a "king" could mean Paul because of the obedience given the voice of Paul as if he were the king of kings. In contrast against him are the good people of understanding who are seeking to expose the fraud ("instruct many") about what this king-figure represents. In response, many will try to hold onto the good people by flattering them, hence a warning to the good people that they should not be lulled into an alliance with them. Stick to the exposure of the fraudulent king - don't turn to the right or left. Thus we read in Daniel 11:33-37 (NIV):
33 And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering. 34 Now when they fall, they shall be aided with a little help; but many shall join with them by many flatteries. 35 And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.
36 “Then the king shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath has been accomplished; for what has been determined shall be done. 37 He shall regard neither the God of his fathers nor the desire of women, nor regard any god; for he shall exalt himself above them all.
As to verses 36-37, Paul magnified himself (see link). Paul blasphemed (see link). Paul made the "false Jesus" of Damascus a God (Titus 2:30) who replaced the husband of Israel (Yahweh) who supposedly died at the cross by a new Husband -- this Christ (see our link on Romans 7:1-7). Paul thereby had no regard for the God of his fathers - the one he ascribes as dead and gone in Romans 7:1-7. Yahweh.
Nor did Paul have desire for women, saying we should not touch women and we should be as he is - unattached to any woman. Also, his male-superiority claims have the effect of belittling women with principles found nowhere else in the Bible. Finally, Paul said that anyone who did not obey his gospel, even if it were an "angel from heaven" -- no exceptions - should be cursed. A pretty high vault. Finally, Paul even taught the Christ of His visions was a name "above any other name," when God Yahweh said no name is above His own.
Hence, the many prophecies of the end time figure depicted in Daniel 11 and 8 fit Paul very well.
Then we read in Daniel 11:37-38 NIV (21st Cent KJV):
38 He shall honor the god of fortresses instead of these. A god whom his fathers did not know he shall honor with gold and silver, with precious stones and costly gifts. 39 He shall deal with the strongest fortresses with the help of a foreign god. Those who acknowledge him he shall load with honor. He shall make them rulers over many and shall divide the land for a price.[a]
This sounds precisely like the churches Paul set up, and all who fit his pattern of church: hierachical. And honoring the false Jesus he met on the Road to Damascus. A foreign god his fathers did not know.
12 “At that time Michael shall stand up,
The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people;
And there shall be a time of trouble,
Such as never was since there was a nation,
Even to that time.
And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
3 Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.
4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”
For a similar analysis about Trophimus from Scott Nelson, see "Why Didn't James Come To Paul's Rescue," at http://www.judaismvschristianity.com/trophimus_incident.htm
Trophimus means "foster-child." ("Trophimus," Wikipedia.) Perhaps Luke is saying Trophimus's adopted father was Paul.
For a drama I wrote of the trial of Paul arising from the Trophimus incident, see this webpage.