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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 3 - Verse 16

Verse 16. Know ye not, etc. The apostle here carries forward and completes the figure which he had commenced in regard to Christians. His illustrations had been drawn from architecture; and he here proceeds to say that Christians are that building, 1 Co 3:9; that they were the sacred temple which God had reared; and that, therefore, they should be pure and holy. This is a practical application of what he had been before saying.

Ye are the temple of God. This is to be understood of the community of Christians, or of the church, as being the place where God dwells on the earth. The idea is derived from the mode of speaking among the Jews, where they are said often in the Old Testament to be the temple and the habitation of God. And the allusion is probably to the fact that God dwelt by a visible symbol—the Shechinah—-in the temple, and that his abode was there. As he dwelt there among the Jews—-as he had there a temple, a dwelling place—so he dwells among Christians. They are his temple, the place of his abode. His residence is with them; and he is in their midst. This figure the apostle Paul several times uses, 1 Co 6:19; 2 Co 6:16; Eph 2:20-22.

A great many passages have been quoted by Elsner and Wetstein, in which a virtuous mind is represented as the temple of God, and in which the obligation to preserve that inviolate and unpolluted is enforced. The figure is a beautiful one, and very impressive. A temple was an edifice erected to the service of God. The temple at Jerusalem was not only most magnificent, but was regarded as most sacred,

(1.) from the fact that it was devoted to his service; and,

(2.) from the fact that it was the peculiar residence of JEHOVAH. Among the heathen, also, temples were regarded as sacred. They were supposed to be inhabited by the divinity to whom they were dedicated. They were regarded as inviolable. Those who took refuge there were safe. It was a crime of the highest degree to violate a temple, or to tear a fugitive who had sought protection there from the altar. So the apostle says of the Christian community. They were regarded as his temple —God dwelt among them—and they should regard themselves as holy, and as consecrated to his service. And so it is regarded as a species of sacrilege to violate the temple, and to devote it to other uses, 1 Co 6:19. 1 Co 3:17.

And that the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity. This is conclusively proved by 1 Co 6:19, where he is called "the Holy Ghost."

Dwelleth in you. As God dwelt formerly in the tabernacle, and afterwards in the temple, so his Spirit now dwells among Christians. This cannot mean

(1.) that the Holy Spirit is personally united to Christians, so as to form a personal union; or

(2.) that there is to Christians any communication of his nature or personal qualities; or

(3.) that there is any union of essence or nature with them, for God is present in all places, and can, as God, be no more present at one place than at another. The only sense in which he can be peculiarly present in any place is by his influence, or agency. And the idea is one which denotes agency, influence, favour, peculiar regard; and in that sense only can he be present with his church, The expression must mean,

(1.) that the church is the seat of his operations, the field or abode on which he acts on earth;

(2.) that his influences are there, producing the appropriate effects of his agency, "love, joy, peace, longsuffering," etc., Ga 5:22,23;

(3.) that he produces there consolations, that he sustains and guides his people;

(4.) that they are regarded as dedicated or consecrated to him;

(5.) that they are especially dear to him—that he loves them, and thus makes his abode with them. See Barnes "Joh 14:23".

 

{a} "ye are" 2 Co 6:16 {*} "in" "among"

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