The Expository Files


A Pillar in the Temple of God
 “...and I will write upon him the name of My God"

Revelation 3:12

(Fifth of Seven in Series)

“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.“  
(Revelation 3:12).

When it comes to pleasing God with our lives, those who failed did so for a reason. Those that succeeded did so for a reason. Success or failure do not happen in a vacuum. Neither “just happens.” The problems are often caused by a lack of dedication or love as some try to simply do as little as possible. Others simply put off needful changes or obligations. Sometimes it is a matter of ego. Some have failed because they have allowed themselves to be deceived by others into believing something false. Some have simply not taken the time to prepare for a successful life of true faith.

Jesus makes seven promises, beginning each with the words: “To him who overcomes I will…”. We seek to understand what Jesus is picturing for us as He uses various descriptions of the blessings for those who overcome. We have good reason to have confidence in Jesus' promises about overcoming (John 16:33). We will now look at the sixth of seven such statements.

A Pillar in the Temple of My God

First, to understand this promise, we must learn what is meant by the phrase “temple of My God”. The word “temple” signifies “dwelling place” and is usually used with reference to Deity. Christians familiar with the Bible immediately think of the church (God's people) being the temple (or dwelling place) of God. (1 Corinthians 3:16; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:21). If the “temple” in this verse means the same thing, then it would say that as Christians overcome, their faith gives the church stability and they therefore become as pillars in God's temple, or church. This is a good lesson, and it is true, but it may not be Jesus' point in this particular place.

Interestingly, of the sixteen times the word “temple” is used in the Book of Revelation, only once does it refer to the church - Rev 11:1,2. The rest of the time, the word “temple” refers to the heavenly dwelling place, or sanctuary, of God. Heaven is His heavenly temple. Heaven does not contain a temple within it because the whole of heaven is God's temple, or dwelling place, containing His presence (Revelation 21:22).

So, it the “temple” here is heaven, what does it mean to be made a “pillar” there? It would not be for support. Rather, it would signify permanence. When one overcomes, he or she gains a permanent place in heaven (like a physical pillar would be a permanent part of a physical temple). Heaven becomes home eternally. (Note, this would not fit the church. In the church, I can overcome today but tomorrow I can leave the temple and forfeit my crown (See verse 11!)
So, Heaven does fit the context. Note text: (REV 3:12 - “I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore.” Jesus tells us that if we overcome now, for a little while, we will find a permanent place of joy, filled with wonderful experiences and great beauty and absolute confidence and security. In fact, this also fits with what the rest of the Bible says about heaven (John 3:36; 5:24; 14:1-3; Hebrews 5:9; 9:15; 11:10; 13-16; 1 Peter 1:4; Revelation 21:1-6; 22:5). Our hope of eternal life, of being forever with the Lord, motivates us to grow and endure and overcome so we may greet Jesus when He comes.. (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17).

The Name of My God
Jesus also said, “...and I will write upon him the name of my God”. The connotation of this is to show relationship and possession. We belong to God as His children. The writing of the name suggests a permanent relationship that is now fixed. It is here, now, that we are children of God, members of His family. Our status becomes permanent in His eternal household if we overcome (1 John 4:4).

At this time, we still wait in hope to receive our inheritance as His children (Colossians 1:12,13; Romans 8:14-17). Jesus is describing the moment of eternal victory for God's people by using the illustration of God's name being written on individuals who have overcome (see also Romans 8:18-21; 23).

The Name of the City of My God
The Christian who has overcome is a citizen of Heaven. Those who have overcome have the right to enter the gates of the eternal city (Revelation 22:14). There is no such city in this world but there is one waiting for us (Hebrews 13:14; 2 Corinthians 4:17-5:1). We are citizens of heaven, and but pilgrims here. Our hearts are with that city (Matthew 6:19-21). Our citizenship is there and we act and speak in this world as pilgrims, our residence is there. (Philippians 3:20,21). Overcoming involves acting as heaven's citizens (1 Peter 1:13-17; 2:11-12).

Jesus' Own New Name
This certainly suggests that Jesus will share His glory with those who overcome. His “new name” signifies sharing all His glory; everything about Him which we cannot now fully comprehend. We have to wait until then to know this new name. This we will learn following His final victory over evil and death (Revelation 19:11-13; Colossians 3:1-4; 1 John 3:1-3). Before that, we, too, must be changed into spiritual forms that are like His (1 Corinthians 15:42-44; 50-53).

Paul said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Jesus has shown us the way. But this is not something to be casual about. Overcoming by faith means being steadfast, diligent and dedicated. Faithful Christians today live in hope. What a privilege it is to wear that name today, so that one day we might also wear His new name; share His glory; wear the name of God; live in the city who's maker is God, and be a pillar in the temple. It is to those who overcome that Jesus promises access to the tree of life and that the second death will not hurt them. He also promises hidden manna and a white stone. And He promises authority over the nations, and the morning star. He promises white garments to those who's names remain in the book of life and that He will speak for us in that final hour when no other friend will do.

By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 18.5; May 2011