A temple is literally a house of the Lord, a holy sanctuary in which sacred ceremonies and ordinances of the gospel are performed by and for the living and also in behalf of the dead. A place where the Lord may come, it is the most holy of any place of worship on the earth. Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.
Whenever the Lord has had a people on the earth who will obey His word, they have been commanded to build temples in which the ordinances of the gospel and other spiritual manifestations that pertain to exaltation and eternal life may be administered. In cases of extreme poverty or emergency, these ordinances may sometimes be done on a mountaintop (see D&C 124:37–55). This may be the case with Mount Sinai and the Mount of Transfiguration. The tabernacle erected by Moses was a type of portable temple, since the Israelites were traveling in the wilderness.
From Adam to the time of Jesus, ordinances were performed in temples for the living only. After Jesus opened the way for the gospel to be preached in the world of spirits, ceremonial work for the dead, as well as for the living, has been done in temples on the earth by faithful members of the Church. Building and properly using a temple is one of the marks of the true Church in any dispensation, and is especially so in the present day.
The best known temple mentioned in the Bible is that which was built in Jerusalem in the days of Solomon. This was destroyed in 587 B.C. and rebuilt by Zerubbabel about 70 years later. The restored structure was partially burned in 37 B.C. and was partially rebuilt by Herod the Great, although the rebuilding continued until A.D. 64. It was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. See also Tabernacle.