48 The Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands.
KJV  Acts 7:48

13 I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in for ever.
KJV  1 Kings 8:13

12 And the LORD appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer, and have chosen this place to myself for an house of sacrifice.
KJV  2 Chronicles 7:12

SAB Contradiction 1242 (by book)

The Problem

Stephen and Paul have stated in clear words that God doesn’t dwell in manmade temples (Acts 7:48, 17:24). How is that possible? In the Old and New Testament it is said that the temple in Jerusalem is the house of God. Is this a so-called Bible

First answer

The answer is pretty short. Paul and Stephen say that God doesn’t dwell in a temple house. That is putting God into a box, not appropriate for God Almighty. They probably formulated a general opinion of their time among Jews and non-Jews. Stephen could use this argument successfully before his Jewish listeners and Paul to his Greek listeners.


In both the Old and New Testaments there is always a sharp distinction between the temple house and the entire complex of the temple buildings. Strictly speaking, the Lord didn’t dwell only in the temple house, but in the entire place, the Makom. That is the place with the temple house and the courts.

Strictly speaking God did not dwell between stones and gold, but in the sacrifices and prayers of priests and common men outside the temple house as well as in the holy rituals inside the temple house. In short, God dwelled at the place where the temple stood with the surrounding courts and with an open contact to the sky.


We read that Jesus went into the temple to teach and to heal the people. Here the Greek word ieron, (sanctuary), is used, referring to the entire temple complex as it was not permitted for ordinary people to enter into the temple house (Greek: naos). Certainly Jesus worked in the great court where all Jews were permitted to be.

We also read Jesus saying: ‘And whoever swears by the temple (naos, temple house) swears by it and by Him who dwells on that place.’ (Matthew 23:21) The verb used here (katoikeõ) always refers to a place of living, never to a building. So we see that in both Old and New Testaments one avoids saying that God lives in the temple house. That is too limited for God’s presence; the entire Makom is God’s dwelling place.

KJV  1 Kings 8:13 

‘I have surely built thee [God] an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide forever.’

Modern translations don’t follow the KJV here: a lofty house (NASBu), a magnificent temple (NIV). According to the dictionary of Köhler-Baumgartner (1953) it should be: a building for your reign/dominion.
Here: (1) a mighty house for God’s reign is spoken of, and (2) the place where God will dwell forever.

KJV  2 Chronicles 7:12,16  

‘I [God] … have chosen this place to myself for a house. That my name may be there forever: and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.’

There is no mentioning here of God living in a temple house, but that God had chosen a place for it. There his name will be forever.


It all started with Solomon . When he consecrated the temple, the priests, inside the house and outside near the altar, could not stand to minister anymore, due to a thick cloud. Solomon remembered how Moses entered the dark cloud of God’s dwelling (Exodus 20:21). That was the confirmation that God would dwell at the temple place in the future and Salomon said: ‘I have surely built you a lofty house [inside], a place for your dwelling forever [outside].’ (1 Kings 8:13)


1. According to the general opinion of their time Stephen and Paul referred to God as not dwelling in manmade temples.
2. It is recognised in both the Old and New Testaments that God’s dwelling place is on mount Zion; where the temple house was situated together with the courts in front of the temple house.   
3. In both the Old and New Testaments there is a careful distinction between temple (house) and sanctuary (place, makom). God doesn’t dwell in the temple house, but at the place of which the temple is a part.  
4. Careful consideration of the relevant Bible texts makes a supposed Bible Contradiction absolutely unacceptable. (KJV has a mistranslation which has been restored in nearly all modern versions.)


No Bible Contradiction