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I am currently doing research into the correct understanding between the two Greek words that seem to always be somewhat confused when it comes to translating the words - Temple and Sancruary.

My current research from multiple sources so far state that when Paul talks about the temple (people as a temple) in his letters he actually doesn't mean temple, but inner sanctuary, or in other words the inner holy place of a temple building.

But any other Greek person that I have asked about this state that it is infact the other way around - Hieron is the inner holy part of the temple and Naos is the actual temple building.

Which translation is correct?


The bible verses in question -

  • 1 Corinthians 3:16 - 'Naos' - Inner Sanctuary
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19 - 'Naos' - Inner Sanctuary
  • Matthew 4:5 - 'Hieron' - building as temple
  • Mark - 11:11 - 'Hieron' - building as temple
  • Luke 1:9 - 'Naos' - building as temple
  • John 2:14 - 'Hieron' - building as temple
  • Acts 2:46 - 'Hieron' - building as temple
  • Ephesians 2:21 - 'Naos' - Poeple as Inner Sanctuary
  • And the rest of the letters following use - 'Naos'

Strong's number 2411 - 'Hieron'

2411 hierón (from 2413 /hierós, "sacred") – the entire Temple complex, i.e. all its enclosures (precincts, courtyards) and the central sanctuary.

Strong's number 3485 - 'Naos'

3485 naós (from naiō, "to dwell") – properly, a sanctuary (divine dwelling-place); a temple (sacred abode), the place of divine manifestation. 3485 (naós) refers to the sanctuary (the Jewish Temple proper), i.e. with just its two inner compartments (rooms). These consisted of

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  • Does this answer your question? hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/66145/…
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 22:06
  • Luke 1:9 'Naos' is the inner sanctuary, including both the Holy of Holies and the adjoining room with the menorah, show bread, etc. Zechariah was serving as a priest. Only priests could go into that area. So, Jesus' teachings would be in the outer courtyard areas included in the 'Hieron'.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 22:17

2 Answers 2

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Here is a summary of extensive entry from BDAG:

ναός (naos) Temple/Shrine

a place of structure specifically associated with or set apart for a deity, who is frequently perceived to be using it as a dwelling, temple.

(a) of temples generally, Acts 17:24, 19:24, etc

(b) of the temple in Jerusalem, (see also LXX 3 Km 6:5, 17; Josephus Ant. 8, 62, etc) The entire temple precinct: Matt 23:17, 35, 27:5, 40, Mark 14:48, 15:29, Luke 1:2, John 2:20, Acts 7:48, Rev 11:2; the Holy of Holies: Matt 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luk 23:45, etc

(c) of the heavenly sanctuary, Rev 14:15, 15:6, 8ab, 16:1, 17, 7:15, 11:19b, 14:17, etc

(d) of the human body or part thereof, 1 Cor 6:19, 3:16, 17, 2 Cor 6:1, Eph 2:21, etc

(e) of Jesus' body, John 2:19-21

ἱερόν (hieron) Sanctuary/Temple

[Note: ἱερόν is from the root word meaning "holy" or "priestly"]

(a) of Greeko-Roman temples, Acts 19:27

(b) of the temple in Jerusalem, Matt 12:6, 21:23, 24:1b, Mark 11:27, 12:35, 13:3, Luke 2:46, 20:1, 21:5, John 8:20, 11:56, 18:20, etc

(c) in a general sense, whether polytheistic or monotheistic, 1 Cor 9:13.

Thus, in Koine Greek, the meanings of ναός (naos) and ἱερόν (hieron) overlap but are not identical:

  • ναός (naos) means either a temple generally or the Host Holy Place specifically
  • ἱερόν (hieron) means either a temple generally or a shrine but never refers to the Most Holy Place of the Jerusalem temple.
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  • Thank you, much appreciated :) Commented Feb 1, 2022 at 22:03
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Luke 1:9 'Naos' is the inner sanctuary, including both the Holy of Holies and the adjoining room with the menorah, show bread, etc. Zechariah was serving as a priest. Only priests could go into that area. So, Jesus' teachings would be in the outer courtyard areas included in the 'Hieron'.

See What's the difference between ἱεροῦ hieron & ναὸν naos?

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