The Temple of God
1 Corinthians 3:16, 17
Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?…

Paul again takes up the idea of a building and gives it a new direction. The noblest of all edifices is a temple in which architecture finds its highest and worthiest employment. Under this figure the apostle sets forth sometimes the collective Church of Christ, sometimes the individual believer (1 Corinthians 6:19; Ephesians 2:21). Man was created to be a sanctuary of God, but this sanctuary was overturned by sin. It lay in ruins till the Lord Jesus came as the Restorer, whose work it is to rebuild the ruined walls; and now the temple is seen rising in its fair proportions in the hearts of the regenerated, and in the spiritual house built of these living stones (1 Peter 2:5).


1. God dwells in them. The temple at Jerusalem was Jehovah's dwelling place. There he had his Shechinah in the cloud above the mercy seat and between the cherubim, and there he was worshipped. Even so "the Spirit of God dwelleth in you." The Father and the Son make their abode with the man who loves and obeys the Son (John 14:23), and this is effected by the Spirit. This indwelling is the culmination of the work of grace within us. The heart must first be quickened, renewed, purified, ere the Holy Spirit can dwell in it. How wonderful a truth is this! God in me] It is not the dream of the pantheist, who calls me a spark from the eternal fire - God dwelling in me because I am only a mode of the one universal existence. It is not the raving of the mystic, whose imagination has betrayed him into a hazy confusion of ideas regarding his relation to God. It is the utterance of sober truth. In me the creature - the new creature - God the Creator makes his abode; not, indeed, in the infinity of his being, as if our tiny vessels could contain the ocean, yet really. The little flower cup has the sun dwelling in it all the day, though he dwells in thousands besides; and his presence is made known by the colour and fragrance and growth of the flower. The same Spirit of God who abides in the Church abides in every true member of it; and this abiding is revealed in the love shed abroad in the heart, in the odour that breathes through the life, and in the gracious bending of the nature to all that is righteous.

2. They are holy. As the place where Jehovah dwelt, the Jewish temple was holy - consecrated to him, and to him alone. None but an Israelite could tread the outer court; none but the priests could serve in the holy place; none but the high priest could enter the holy of holies. Believers are holy, set apart for God and his service. They are not a public street or common, which the world may use as it likes; they are a sacred enclosure, marked off and devoted to holy uses. They are God's temple - body, soul, and spirit corresponding to the three divisions of the ancient tabernacle. This applies also to the Church, which is holy because dwelt in by God.

II. GOD'S TEMPLE MUST NOT BE MARRIED. This follows from what has been said. If God dwells in believers, an injury done to them is done to his sanctuary. Consider:

1. How the temple may be marred. Sin in every form pollutes and injures the soul. It is an outrage on God's temple. The Holy Spirit cannot dwell with unholiness. More particularly:

(1) By setting up idols. To place any person or thing beside God is to be guilty of idolatry. He will not dwell in the temple where other gods are worshipped; it is polluted (Isaiah 42:8; 1 John 5:21).

(2) By throwing it open to all. The temple was holy ground, which none but consecrated feet might tread. The heart of the believer is not to be flung open to the world or to unholy thoughts and desires; the Church is not to act on worldly principles, or employ carnal means, or seek secular ends. All such intruders defile God's temple (John 2:14-17).

2. The penalty threatened against those that mar God's temple. He who defiled God's sanctuary was punished by death (Leviticus 15:31; comp. Numbers 19:20). He who destroys God's spiritual temple shall himself be destroyed. The grieved Spirit will depart and spiritual death will ensue. A warning to Christians against espousing error, or practising sin, or cherishing party spirit. A warning to teachers lest, by preaching false doctrine or fomenting strife, they incur this awful punishment. How watchful should we be over our own hearts! How careful should we be in our treatment of fellow Christians! - B.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

WEB: Don't you know that you are a temple of God, and that God's Spirit lives in you?

The Spirit's Dwelling
Top of Page
Top of Page