The Two Temples
1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?…

Two points comprehend the apostle's teaching in this chapter.

1. The foundation of Christian life and doctrine (ver. 11).

2. The form of Christian life and doctrine built thereon. It is to be worthy of the foundation (vers. 10, 12, &c.). Christian teachers have a covenant engagement — to erect a temple on a previously laid foundation. According to a specification, they are to use "gold," &c. Paul's complaint is, that they appear not to have known the terms of their contract (text), and hence had departed from the true foundation, and consequently had developed a form of Christian life contrary to the form and Spirit of Christ. Note —


1. The Christian heart under the figure of a "temple" points back to God's visible dwelling-place in Jerusalem.

(1) The former temple was the dwelling-place of Trinity. In the holy of holies the cloud was the memorial of the enduring mercy of the Father; in the outer courts the sacrifices typified the atonement of the Son, while the incense pointed to the sweet influence of the Spirit.

(2) The former temple was the treasury of sacred truth. All that symbolised the religious life of the Jews was kept in the ancient temple — Aaron's rod that budded, indicating the perpetual freshness of the gospel; the golden pot of manna, indicating the nourishing properties of the gospel; the original copy of the law of Moses, indicating that the gospel is our directory. The gospel rod of God's strength is treasured up in the Christian heart. The gospel food of God's providing for the wilderness is received into the soul. The gospel, the perfect law, is hidden in the secret places of the heart. "Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage," &c.

(3) The former temple was but a partial revelation of the Divine glory. Sin explains all that earlier worship; sin, too, explains all our later worship. And not till sin is destroyed will the Christian heart be a perfect temple, and full revelation of the glory of God.

2. Compare the Christian heart with the future, or heavenly temple.

(1) The central figure in the heavenly temple is Christ. The Lamb is in the midst of the throne, is the chief subject of their song, "Worthy is the Lamb." He is the object of their highest worship, "They cast their crowns at His feet." "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?" Jesus "in the midst" of the throne of your affections; Jesus the object of your worship.

(2) In that heavenly temple "there shall be no more curse" (Revelation 22:3); so in the Christian heart "there is now no condemnation" (Romans 8:1).

(3) In the heavenly temple there is no particular spot consecrated for worship (Revelation 21:22), no set times, but it is all temple; so also in the human heart (John 4:21). Every place, season, faculty consecrated to worship.

II. THE DIVINE INDWELLING. From the figure of the temple the apostle passes to the life of it, that which gives it its vitality. Observe the various methods of the Spirit's manifestations in the Christian heart.

1. He is the Spirit of the new birth (John 3:6).

2. To the worker in the Kingdom of God He is the Spirit of new strength (Ephesians 3:16; Ephesians 1:17, 18).

3. To the broken-hearted He is the Spirit, the Comforter. He is the Spirit to seal the covenant of the soul with its God (2 Corinthians 1:22).

4. He dwells in us —

(1) Through faith.

(2) By prayer. "The Spirit also helpeth our infirmities."(3) By obedience to the Divine will, "He makes us both to will and to do of His good pleasure."(4) By the assurance of faith, "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits, that we are the children of God."(5) By fruit-bearing, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace," &c.Conclusion:

1. The oneness of the Christian Church. Paul in the last chapter complained of divisions. In this he speaks of them all as built on one foundation, and growing up into one temple, having one source of life, &c.

2. Its sacredness (ver. 17).

(D. Y. Currie.)

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?

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