Ralph Earle (when discussing Matt. 24:1) says that NAOS finds it etymological roots in the verb NAIW ("dwell"). This Greek word was used in classical Greek to delineate the "dwelling place of the gods," and it was also used in the LXX to describe God's temple at Jerusalem (Earle 21). Earle then quotes Thayer, who writes that NAOS is "used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies" (Qt. in Earle 21). So this source seems to indicate that NAOS is confined to the sanctuary of the temple (the Holy and Most Holy place). But let's continue our examination before we come to any set conclusion.
About hIERON, Earle exclaims that it is the "substantive neuter of the adjective hIEROS, 'sacred.'" The adjective hIEROS is used of the temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Acts 19:27); twice in the LXX for the Temple at Jerusalem (Ezek. 45:19; 1 Chron. 29:4); "71 times in the NT--45 in the Gospels, 25 in Acts, and only once elsewhere" (1 Cor. 9:13). After this analysis, Earle concludes that "hIERON in the Gospels and Acts . . . refers to the whole Temple area" (Earle 21). He claims that "only the priests could go into the NAOS, the sanctuary itself."
In the interest of fairness, Earle cites Michel (TDNT 4:882) who believes that there is "no real distinction between the terms [NAOS and hIERON] in either meaning or range," although Michel appears to temper this comment somewhat on page 4:885. So Earle says, but I do not interpret Michel in the same way. Please read the TDNT entry and decide for yourself. At any rate, Michel appears to believe that Matt. 27:5 supports the view that NAOS can also be used of the whole temple area (i.e., it is not limited to the sanctuary).
BAGD has an extensive examination of NAOS that I'm not about to post in full here. Nevertheless, some of the observations found in this lexicon bear repeating. NAOS means, "temple," says BAGD. It refers to the temple at Jerusalem--to the "whole temple precinct" in Matt. 23:17, 35; 27:5, 40 (BAGD 533). But cf. Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45.
Some more important references to the "heavenly sanctuary" are Rev. 14:15; 15:6; 16:1, 17. BAGD also lists Rev. 7:15; 11:19b; 15:5 (cf. Rev. 3:12; 21:22, 23). There is more to be said in BAGD under figurative uses. I suggest that this information be read and analyzed by all interested parties.
Louw-Nida reads: "NAOS . . . a building in which a deity is worshiped (in the case of the Temple in Jerusalem, a place where God was also regarded as dwelling)--'temple, sanctuary.' " (See Mt 23:35; John 2:21).
"hIERON . . . a temple or sanctuary . . . and the surrounding consecrated area." See John 10:23; Mt 21:12; 1 Cor. 9:13. Note an apparent exception at Acts 19:27. "hIERON in the NT refers to the Temple in Jerusalem, including the entire temple precinct with its buildings, courts, and storerooms."
I'm going the leave the matter at this right now.
"A logic must work in some way, and it must be possible to show how it
operates and to characterize this operation" (John M. Ellis).