From the Comments: More Holy Spirit Questions (“Temple of the Holy Spirit”)

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“Temple of the Holy Spirit” is from several passages,

(1 Cor. 3:16-17 ESV) 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

(1 Cor. 6:19-7:1 ESV) 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

(Eph. 2:19-22 ESV) 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

1 Cor 6 speaks of the Christian’s body as a temple of the Spirit. The other two speak of the Christian congregation. Obviously, Paul sees the Spirit present in both.

The reference is surely to the Jerusalem Temple, where God dwelled in the Holy of Holies. This was about to be destroyed. The church would become the new, only temple.

What is a temple?

It’s where the deity (the Spirit, in this case) had a special presence. Even the pagans understood that deities were not the statues and weren’t limited to their temples, but they had a special, intense, purposeful presence in their temples.

It’s where worship is offered.

It’s where instruction about the deity may be received.

It’s where the deity is honored.

It’s where the deity’s priests do their duties.

It’s a special place of prayer. The prophets called the Temple a “house of prayer.”

It’s where the temple tax was paid and the poor were cared for.

To the Jews, the temple was especially a place a prayer. They prayed toward the Temple when out of town. Their synagogues were usually built to face toward the Temple, for that reason.

So God is present in his church/congregation through the Spirit. This is where he is worshiped (Jews could only “worship” at the temple), prayed to, served, etc. The church, as the body of Jesus, is Jesus’ special presence on earth, and it’s empowered and shaped into a Christ-like form by the Spirit.

There are countless lessons to be drawn from Paul’s language. For example, when the Temple was built, the stones were specially shaped to fit in place without mortar or a hammer. No hammer was needed to build the Temple because the stones were so carefully shaped.

Just so, those whom God adds to his church — his temple — are specially formed by God to be just the people the church needs to be the temple of the Spirit.

On the other hand, study of God’s word could take place at the synagogue or home. Certainly at the Temple, too, but not just as the Temple. But God’s special presence was found only in the Temple, and so he could only be worshiped there.

Hence, the word only theory just doesn’t fit the beautiful image of the church as temple. The temple is a temple only because of the presence of a person — a deity, not a book or a message, even a very holy book or message.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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3 Responses to From the Comments: More Holy Spirit Questions (“Temple of the Holy Spirit”)

  1. Ray Downen says:

    Each congregation of Christians is a temple because each CHRISTIAN is a temple. Worship is not confined to any building or gathering. EACH Christian is a temple and should worship God daily wherever the Christian is. Christian assemblies are taught to be a place for mutual edification, NEVER a place for worship. Totally different from our practice. We are asked to “go to church” to worship. There’s no example of Christians ever doing so during the apostolic age.

  2. JES says:

    How did we get this so wrong? From my earliest years through 68 years of life, I have never seen an assembly emphasis edification or fellowship at a Sunday service. Also, Sunday service was extolled as the ONLY time worship could occur. I, like you have indicated, do not find this in
    Scripture.

  3. Dwight says:

    Yes, Ray, we rea Heb.10:25 and don’t rea what it says and we aren’t capable of separating from what we want it to say. We make a division between corporate worship and worship, when the scriptures don’t.

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