If the God that made the world and everything in it, doesn’t dwell in temples made with hands, then who dwelt in the tabernacle? What God dwelt in Solomon’s temple? Paul’s statement sounds like a contradiction.

Acts 17:24 (KJV)

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

  • 2
    Cf. Isaiah 66.1, which is cited in Acts 7.48-49.
    – user2910
    Mar 14, 2018 at 15:53
  • Wow, that makes it even more confusing for me, especially verse 47, ‘but Solomon built him a house’. But God didn’t dwell in the house? Strange.
    – brewpixels
    Mar 14, 2018 at 16:05
  • The tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple in Jerusalem represented something. The something is where God dwells, not the representation of the something. I don't live in the architect's model of my house. I live in the real house. God dwells in and among his people, which the artefacts of old represented.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 14, 2018 at 16:13
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    God did indeed grace the Temple, and Jerusalem, and all of Israel with His presence, but, unlike the statues of pagan idols, His being is not and cannot be contained in or restricted to a single place or specific location (Isaiah 48:13, 66:1; Matthew 5:34-35).
    – Lucian
    Mar 28, 2018 at 9:02
  • Paul immediately explains that the reason is that "Heaven is His throne and earth His footstool", that is to say He "dwells" in the entire universe, but even the entire universe is perfectly unable to contain Him, for how stupid it is to suppose that Creator can be entirely contained by His creature! Thus, Paul can be understood to say that handmade temples cannot boast of being God's dwelling places, but they are simply places where a believer more conveniently meets the infinite God, so as to open up to the divine infinity, for without this, self-contained life is so boring (cf Psalm 142:3). Apr 1, 2019 at 14:37

5 Answers 5


General Survey

The statement of Act 17:24 specifically states:

does not dwell in temples made with hands

To "dwell" (κατοικέω) means (from BDAG):

  1. to live in a locality for any length of time, live, dwell, reside, settle (down)
  2. to make something a habitation or dwelling by being there, inhabit

Regarding the second definition, the idea of both habitation and dwelling is that of "to live as a resident."

So the statement is saying God does not live as a resident in temples made by people. This fits many descriptions of God's dwelling (all quotes from NKJV unless otherwise noted):

  • Exodus 15:17 indicates God creates His dwelling place

    You [LORD, v.16] will bring them in and plant them In the mountain of Your inheritance, In the place, O LORD, which You have made For Your own dwelling [ישׁב], The sanctuary, O LORD, which Your hands have established.

  • Exodus 23:19 is one of many passages that reference "the house [בַּיִת] of the LORD," but the term need not imply a place for living (i.e. dwelling), but simply a reference to a place (see BDB or HALOT lexicons).
  • Exodus 29:45-46 only states the LORD's locality in relation to people (and indeed, the tabernacle in v.42 is simply the "meeting" place for God to speak with His people).

    will dwell [שׁכן] among the children of Israel and will be their God ... that I may dwell [שׁכן] among them

  • Numbers 35:34 indicates a location as in the land given to Israel, but again with respect to the fact the people are inhabiting it and He dwells among them:

    Therefore do not defile the land which you inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell [שׁכן]; for I the LORD dwell [שׁכן] among the children of Israel.

  • Deuteronomy 12:5 puts the context of God's dwelling more localized to a specific tribe:

    But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place [שׁכן]; and there you shall go.

  • 1 Samuel 4:4 is translated "dwell" at times in reference to the ark of the covenant, but the term ישׁב can simply mean "sits" as well, for again, the tabernacle/ark was the place of meeting:

    the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who dwells [ישׁב] between the cherubim This locates the exact place, on the ark, where God meets, but it can be stated as well from other passages that this represents the heavenly reality of God's living in creation being surrounded by cherubim (Ezekiel 10:1-20)

  • 2 Samuel 7:2 David states the ark of God has a dwelling in the tent, of which he wants to make a house, but God declares(v.5) He has not desired a house, but simply "moved" in a tent, yet even then, He also has been with David wherever he has gone (v.9), so even in David's travels away from the tabernacle while running from Saul. Instead, God will (v.12-13):

    When your [David's] days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

    So the decedent of David who has the eternal throne is the one who builds God's house.

  • 1 Kings 8:12-13, Solomon (David's son) believes (incorrectly) he has fulfilled making that eternal dwelling:

    Then Solomon spoke: “The LORD said He would dwell in the dark cloud. I have surely built You an exalted house, And a place for You to dwell in forever.”

    Yet even so, Solomon seems to also understand (or immediately come to such an understanding) that this place was never really for God to dwell in, but a place to exalt God's name (v.17, 20), and so he goes on to say (v.27-30, bold added):

    But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this temple which I have built! 28 Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O LORD my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today: 29 that Your eyes may be open toward this temple night and day, toward the place of which You said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that You may hear the prayer which Your servant makes toward this place. 30 And may You hear the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. Hear in heaven Your dwelling place; and when You hear, forgive.

So far, evidence suggests that God never claimed to dwell in a particular structure made by people, but only among His people. That He had a "house" to meet with those people at is evident.

These ideas are confirmed in other passages:

  • Psalm 68:16 indicates there is a mountain that will be His eternal dwelling (from ESV, which I think does a better job in this passage of conveying the point; also cf. Psalm 132:13-14, Isaiah 8:18, Joel 3:17, 21):

    Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain, at the mount that God desired for his abode, yes, where the LORD will dwell forever?

    And then in v.18, it mentions some activity that must happen before God can dwell where He desires:

    You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts among men, Even from the rebellious, That the LORD God might dwell there.

    The New Testament attributes the fulfillment of that work to Christ (Eph 4:8) in the relation of the building of "the body of Christ" (Eph 4:12, i.e. the church, Col 1:24).

  • Psalm 113:4-6 notes how God's dwelling is higher than the heavens and earth to which He comes low to interact with (cf. Isaiah 33:5):

    The LORD is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in the heavens and in the earth?

  • Zechariah 2:10-11 again place a location in relation to people for God's future dwelling:

    "Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the LORD. 11 “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you."

So there is much evidence that God does not dwell (i.e. live in) in human made structures.

Key Set of Passages

But a key set of passage to understand Acts 17:24 are these:

Isaiah 66:1-2a discusses that God has made where he dwells in creation generally (i.e., heaven and earth)

Thus says the LORD: “Heaven is My throne, And earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, And all those things exist,” Says the LORD.

This passage from Isaiah is directly noted in v.49-50 of the discussion of God's dwelling place in Acts 7, but notice the words of Stephen in his sermon, which is the lead in to the Isaiah quote, so Acts 7:48 (emphasis added):

the Most High does not dwell in temples made with hands, as the prophet says:

Recall that Paul (then Saul) was present to hear that sermon (v.58). So Paul's reference in Acts 17:24 is either:

  1. Borrowing from Stephen's "summary" statement about Isaiah, or
  2. Stemming from a common understanding of the Jewish people that both Stephen and Paul are drawing from.

Paul's Expansion

Paul expands on the dwelling of God, in relation to people (as some OT passages noted) and the work of Christ (Ps 68:18 and Eph 4:8, 12), in many passages—two are Romans 8:9, Eph 2:22. But the more direct statement is in 1 Cor 3:16

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

And again in 2 Cor 6:16 (which seems to be a compilation from various verses: Exo 29:45; Lev 26:12; Jer 31:33; 32:38; Ezek 37:26, 27; Zech 8:8):

And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”

John's Expansion

Paul was not the only one to speak of this dwelling of God, for John references God's dwelling among people in Revelation 7:15, but specifically in 21:2-3 God is dwelling with them...

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold,the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people.

... but with no temple built by men's hands present (v.22):

But I saw no temple in it [New Jerusalem], for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

(And for what it is worth, I believe the New Jerusalem itself, with its three equal dimensions in 21:16, is a pyramid mountain that is Zion, fulfilling the OT prophecies of the mountain God has chosen to dwell in.)


So Paul is not contradicting what is revealed elsewhere in Scripture. God does not live in structures made by the hands of humanity, but rather dwells both above creation, but also in/among humanity as part of creation, all created by His own hands.

  • "Behold, the Heaven of Heavens can't contain you! How much less this Temple which I have built!" Yet he asks God to inhabit the Temple and the "glory fills the Temple, so much so that none can enter". An amazing attribute, that He is over all His creation, yet can dwell among it!
    – Tau
    Mar 20, 2018 at 3:04
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    @Tau Yes, that God can "localize" His presence within creation, while still dwelling throughout all/above all creation, is a fascinating aspect.
    – ScottS
    Mar 20, 2018 at 16:34
  • I think ancient Israel believed that their deity was actually living with them in the temple. Remember there was a fear of The High Priest being struck dead by God himself if he made a mistake in the Holy of Holies.
    – brewpixels
    Oct 7, 2018 at 10:55
  • 1
    @brewpixels I agree, and I would add that I think their belief was true is so far as God lived "localized" among them in the tabernacle/temple, even while living beyond merely that man-made structure.
    – ScottS
    Oct 8, 2018 at 22:06

One possible answer that deals with the supposed difficulty is centered on two ideas:

  1. The verb that Paul used (κατοικεῖ), "dwelleth" in the KJV is in the present active indicative, meaning that Paul's statement only makes reference to the present. It doesn't say anything about the fact that God dwelt in the tabernacle first and then in the temple later.

  2. In Ezekiel 10 there is a description of the Shekinah glory of God departing Solomon's temple. Unlike the earlier tabernacle and Solomon's temple, there is not description of the Shekinah glory entering into the temple built in the days of Zerubbabel and then later remodeled in the days of Herod. While it is an argument from silence, Paul may have been aware of the fact that the Shekinah had not dwelt in the midst of the Holy of Holies in the temple of his day, leading him to make his present tense statement. Of course the glory of God in the person of Jesus Christ did enter into the outer courts of the temple, but not into the innermost courts because he was not Levite.

  • 1
    Reference 1 Corinthians 6:19 for 1.
    – Perry Webb
    Mar 14, 2018 at 8:49

Our God does not dwell in temples made with hands My conclusion is this. Almighty God is Omnipresent and not restricted to any place in heaven or on earth. Consider this verse of scripture which is one of many that can confirm that His Spirit of life is everywhere.

Colossians 1:15-19 King James Version (KJV) 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

The Spirit of Life in Christ is present to birth any creature that our Heavenly Farther has purposed to bring to life and He is not restricted to any location in heaven and on earth. The Creators power is Omnipotent, whereby the cry of new born babies are brought to life whether they may be new born into the flesh or sinners that are regenerated by His Holy Spirit, as new born babes in Christ into God’s eternal kingdom. Only His created beings are restricted as we are and that also applies to the adversary Satan, who cannot be present everywhere at the same time, because he is only a cherub God created, that has been reduced to a defeated and fallen entity. It is for this reason that the he has deceived and continues to deceive many to be conformed to his lies and deception whereby he cunningly enslaves people through his suability. This is just one more of his evil crafty and cunning devices to enslave and conform many to his way of worldly and earthly thinking. He has successfully managed to seduce so many by this indoctrination making devout believers think that God Almighty may only be worshipped from the location and earthly structures, namely the churches, created for that purpose. This is what is meant by, seducing spirits with doctrines of devils which includes the one that still keeps many bound to his lies. The greatest deception is making the world believe that he does not exist, and he cleverly masquerades as the deformed archangel of light lurking in the shadows of church architecture and also has his followers holding the truth of God’s word in unrighteousness.

2 Corithians 11: 3, 4 and 13-15 3. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 4. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. 13. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

However, God is a Spirit and those who Him in spirit and truth are at liberty to worship where ever they may be. This distinctively eliminates that restrictive mind set of worshipping God only in the places built for that purpose. This is clearly described in the conversation between Christ and the woman from Samaria. Christ is specific that the place of worship is anywhere and not restricted to any place. John 4: 20- 24 20. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

It is only Satan that is restricted and who will soon be bound and imprisoned in the bottomless pit. However, it is already sealed that the wicked one will takes his place in the third temple in Jerusalem, Israel which is now cleared for construction. 2 Thessalonians 2: 3,4 and 8-10 3. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4. Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 8. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10. And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. https://youtu.be/ZEFCbhdQXpE https://youtu.be/aeIst2afGGY https://www.temple3.com/ The final statement should be a cause for the learned theologians and the religiously inclined to think deeply although it is so simple that even a child can understand it for such are they who shall enter the kingdom of heaven. We were not meant to go to church, but to be the church. Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

I pray that the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of all spirits may enlighten the eyes of your understanding to clearly see the truth and find out for yourself where the origins of ‘churches’ originated from. See the Two Babylons by Hislop, but the Word of God has all the truth we need, although it is really to no avail to all of us without the direction of the Author and God’s Holy Spirit of Truth to give us divine revelation. Sel’ah Think about it BY Luis Ferreira

  • Try to focus more on why God doesn't dwell in specific temples, and limit the amount you write on Satan. Feb 20, 2019 at 14:28

Bible is written by inspiration of God how it can be contradict?the temple which was built by Solomon was God's will, but Paul was talking about idol worship which gentiles used to worship.


It's speaking about living taking residence and not his spiritual essence, it's actually speaking about Yahweh becoming a human being and living in tents buildings or Homes.

It's not confusing if you understand what your reading, by not adding a Trinity and claiming God became Jesus and lived in his Mothers house.

Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it is the ... https://biblehub.com/acts/17-24.htm

Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn't live in man-made temples, ... in it, He being Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in hand-made temples,

Strong's Concordance katoikeó: to inhabit, to settle Original Word: κατοικέω Part of Speech: Verb Transliteration: katoikeó Phonetic Spelling: (kat-oy-keh'-o) Definition: to inhabit, to settle Usage: I dwell in, settle in, am established in (permanently), inhabit.

HELPS Word-studies

2730 katoikéō (from 2596 /katá, "down, according to," intensifying 3611 /oikéō, "dwell, reside") – properly, settle down as a permanent resident, i.e. in a fixed (permanent) dwelling place as one's personal residence; (figuratively) "to be exactly at home."


1 Kings 8:27 But will God indeed dwell upon the earth? Even heaven, the highest heaven, cannot contain You, much less this temple I have built.

It's like your wrongly claiming people have actually seen God in Jesus when the scriptures tell you God dwells in inapproachable light and cannot be seen, then your confused, because you believe a false teaching in the Trinity.

1 Timothy 6:16 He alone is immortal and dwells in unapproachable ... https://biblehub.com/1_timothy/6-16.htm

who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. ... No human has ever seen God or ever can see him.

Another example God dying when the scriptures say he's the only being that cannot and doesn't die, but your confused because of false teachings the Trinity and your belief that God can die and be seen.

Jesus isn't God because Yahweh doesn't change alter himself and cannot die and doesn't dwell and live in man made buildings by becoming human and living on earth.

Allah is telling you Trinity Christians through his scriptures, that he doesn't live on earth living in your buildings homes and tents.

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