Instrumental Music in the Old Testament, Part 5 (Temple Typology, continued)

Let’s consider the passages Alexander cites.

(1Co 3:16-17 ESV) 16 Do you not know that you [plural] 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 [plural] are that temple.

Here the emphasis is on unity. Under the old covenant, there was but one Temple and God dwelled specially in but one place. The Temple was indivisible. The church — in its local presence — is to be like the Temple — God’s special presence in a community, indivisible because there is but one God who dwells but in one place: his singular, unique church.

To divide the church in a community, therefore, would be a sin comparable to tearing down the walls of the Temple or shredding the fabric of the Tabernacle.

We therefore worship God most truly in our unity and in showing the world a presence of God as singular and as unique as the Temple. Of course, in a Southern town of hundreds of thousands, we can’t all meet in a single building, but we can all be one. And it’s the being that declares the essential unity of God’s temple, the church. We don’t have to be assembled as one to be one.

Of course, the church is far, far removed from the lesson and the command! And so it’s incumbent on us all to seek unity in our hometowns, presenting the world with God’s presence in a single Temple.

(2Co 6:16-1 ESV) 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

Paul quotes from the Law and the Prophets, arguing that because the church is the temple of God, the members of the church must be separate from the pagan world that surrounds them. Hence, being God’s temple requires separation from the world and from all forms of idolatry. The church is uniquely where God is to be worshiped, and God is the unique God to be worshiped. One God. One church.

(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.

Paul is addressing the inclusion of the Gentiles into the church, founded among the Jews. The church is a temple for God (in a fully Trinitarian sense, you’ll notice), being built by Jesus himself. The point is that the Gentiles are a part of the same building as the Jews. God himself is assembling them into a single building in which God will dwell by his Spirit.

Again, the emphasis is on unity but also a common purpose, that is, being a place for God to dwell. Now, God’s dwelling means more than that this is a place to worship — although it does mean that. But the “place to worship” is not the church building or even the Sunday assembly, but the church itself, for the church is always God’s temple, not just on Sunday morning.

(1Pe 2:4-12 ESV) 4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Peter makes use of the same comparison. Christians are “living stones being built up as a spiritual house” — surely a temple! — where spiritual sacrifices are to be offered. So what are these “spiritual sacrifices”? (Sounds a lot like Romans 12:1, doesn’t it?)

7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” 8 and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

One spiritual sacrifice is the proclamation of the excellencies of Jesus — but not so much by hiring a preacher to proclaim to the congregation by rather by the Living Stones proclaiming to “those who do not believe.”

10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

Another sacrifice is abstaining from fleshly passions and living as sojourners, strangers on this earth who are citizens of heaven living on mission in a strange land.

12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

Another is engaging in honorable conduct among those of the world. And yet another is doing “good deeds” that bring such glory to God that the pagans are converted!

So what are “spiritual sacrifices”? Well, it’s righteous living, care for those in need, and proclaiming Jesus to the lost.

And so, yes, yes, yes! God’s people are his temple on earth today! To worship God one must come to where he is worshipped — his congregation, his church. There is no other place of worship on this planet! Only in the church — as a part of the body of Christ — may God be worshiped. For apart from Christ, there is no way to come into God’s presence.

God is present in and through his church, as the body of Christ continues his ministry on earth, caring for those in need and preaching the good news of the kingdom.

The church is like the Temple in that the church is where God receives sacrifices — not atonement sacrifices (Jesus handled that for us a long time ago) — but peace (or fellowship) offerings, where we make voluntary sacrifices to thank God for his blessings. These are offerings given out of love for God in which the person making the sacrifice shares a meal with God. The Lord’s Supper has roots in this practice, as do the other forms of worship just described — because living as God would have us live places us in closer fellowship with God and brings us joy. Life becomes a meal shared with God.

And the church is God’s temple because, like the Temple of Solomon, it displays to the world the glories of God, by presenting a unique, special place, undivided and indivisible, where God and God alone is worshipped. (Well, that’s the theory, anyway.)

Does this impact the assembly? Absolutely, but not in the way often imagined. We don’t design our assemblies to be like or unlike the Temple service. Rather, we assemble for the reasons given in scripture — mutual edification (1 Cor 14; Heb 10:24-25) and to share a common meal with Jesus present (the Lord’s Supper). The assembly therefore strengthens and builds us up to better offer sacrifices and to continue our worship to God with our bodies the rest of the week.

And this is how we worship in Spirit and in truth — by worshiping in the Spirit who dwells among us always — not just at 10:00 a.m. Sunday morning — in the gospel of Jesus Christ, which teaches us to proclaim the good news of the kingdom and to work with God in honoring Jesus’ prayer that his will be done on earth as it is heaven.

Does this mean the assembly isn’t worship? Of course, not. It just means that it’s not uniquely worship. It’s worship, but so are other things. And the Temple typology applies to it all.

Therefore, the rules don’t change on Sunday. Every day is a holy day because every day belongs to God. Every place is a holy place because God made it all. And every act of devotion is a fellowship offering, because it’s all done out of thanksgiving to God, who shares his bounty with us.

Hence, the notion that there’s this vast body of semi-hidden rules buried in the New Testament, telling what to do and not do during the Sunday worship because God wants to be worshiped in only a special way on penalty of damnation is utterly foreign to the New Testament. That’s not what it’s about, and it’s a huge misunderstanding of the new covenant to imagine that the soundness or faithfulness of a church is to be tested by its obedience to rules regulating the assembly, divined through an obscure hermeneutic of silences. That’s not what God wants from us at all.

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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11 Responses to Instrumental Music in the Old Testament, Part 5 (Temple Typology, continued)

  1. Scott Walton says:

    AMEN!!! & AMEN!!!!

  2. Laymond says:

    1Co 3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

    If Christians could only recognize that Paul is speaking to a congregation here, and not to individuals, the indwelled spirit would become clear. as to where it dwells.

  3. Laymond says:

    "The church is a temple for God (in a fully Trinitarian sense, you’ll notice), being built by Jesus himself."

    Jay, I don't see how you arrive at this point, In my view, It said God laid the "cornerstone" . Jesus did not lay the cornerstone, He was the cornerstone, the foundation upon which the church was built. (please explain the trinitarian sense)

  4. guy says:

    If i recall, "worship" in Romans 12 is not the same word, nor does it mean the same thing as the word for "worship" in John 4.


  5. Dennis Smith says:

    Good article, but why apply the "community" or "hometown" restriction on the defination of church? Is not the universal church as applicable, and maybe more so, than the local congregation. As Solomon's temple glorified God, so should the Church. Divisions that man creates diminishes the impact and is contrairy to God's will.

  6. aBasnar says:

    Does this impact the assembly? Absolutely, but not in the way often imagined. We don’t design our assemblies to be like or unlike the Temple service. Rather, we assemble for the reasons given in scripture — mutual edification (1 Cor 14; Heb 10:24-25) and to share a common meal with Jesus present (the Lord’s Supper).

    Two remarks:
    a) Heb 10:24-25 follows Heb 10:19-23 which is full of temple-typology
    b) The common meal is shaped after the “Table of the Lord”, called this way in 1Co 10:21. This is referring to Mal 1:7 where the alter is called “Table of the Lord”. Paul is comparing our Lord’s Supper with eating from the sacrificed animals on the temple’s altar. If you go back to Leviticus you’ll notice that not everyone in any state of fellowship could have “communion“ with the altar. Paul draws a parallel to the Lord’s Supper and urges us to examine ourselves.

    So in the end, we have to understand the temple and its items, types and rituals in order to get an accurate understanding of Christ’s Church and her assemblies.

    So what are “spiritual sacrifices”? Well, it’s righteous living, care for those in need, and proclaiming Jesus to the lost.

    That’s not all, Jay:

    Heb 13:15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
    Heb 13:16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

    In short:
    When we assemble as a church, we are a local expression of the universal church, and thus strive to make God’s Temple and His presence therein visible. Therefore we have to know how to conduct in this “House of God”, as it is written:

    1Ti 3:14 I write these things to you, hoping to come to you shortly.
    1Ti 3:15 But if I should delay, that you may know how you ought to behave in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.

    When we come together as a church we don’t meet in our building or living room, but we enter into the presence of the heavenly realities, where we worship together with the angels and the perfected saints in unison:

    Heb 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,
    Heb 10:20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,
    Heb 10:21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
    Heb 10:22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

    Heb 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering,
    Heb 12:23 and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
    Heb 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

    Imagine, Jay, what we are talking about! This is the original! This is the heavenly temple after which the tabernacle in the desert was shaped. And the church is designed after he same reality, and we have been given the privilege to enter the reality through the blood of Christ! These are no superficial theories, but in fact, all pieces of the puzzle fall into their correct places as soon as you understand the types and antitypes.

    The temple is not only what it means to the world, Jay. I think there you have a too narrow view of it. The tabernacle in the desert was not there to impress the world or to teach the world a lesson. It was a means of fellowship between God and His chosen people. It reflected God’s Holiness and God’s Grace in a very striking language and vivid colors. The temple or tabernacle is at the heart of the relationship between God and His people – the church has the same function. It is there where we assemble in His presence, as His priesthood to offer sacrifices to Him.

    Now, all of this seems sooooo strange and alien to our Gentile, Western and 21st century ears, that I doubt that all will at once shout “Amen, Amen!” But I’d like you to consider this simple question: Is the church something that has its origin in Heaven, shaped after a divine design? If so, can we ignore all the other expressions and types of the same Divine thoughts?

    When I read your post, Jay, I sensed a reluctance to let go of our Gentile, western 21st century mindset. But this is necessary in order to get the idea. While the Restoration movement was great in many of her insights, I think it was to limited by its rational, deductive and enlightened approach to God’s revelation. And this might be a hindrance to come closer to the reality I tried to describe …


  7. Theophilus Dr says:

    Somehow, Alexander seems to make points that make me think of something akin; so, just one more post.

    "Is the church something that has its origin in Heaven, shaped after a divine design?"

    Jesus referred many of time to the "kingdom of God." Traditional CoC interpretation has been the kingdom of God came on the day of Pentecost and is the church. This was partly to define away the 1000 year reign and all that so we wouldn't have to deal with it, dismiss it like what was done with spiritual gifts.

    But Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world. So what is that? Two kingdoms? I think the answer is "yes." The kingdom of God on earth and the kingdom of God in heaven. The earthly kingdom is to be a reflection of the heavenly kingdom. How can the world see and understand the kingdom of God in heaven? They are supposed to be able to see it in action and to be so amazed at how the kingdom of God on earth operates in the unity, peace, and love of Jesus with results to superior to the worldly methods that the world wants what Christians have. How's that been working for us?

    "Let your will on earth be done as it is in heaven."

    Paul says that we are to be ambassadors for Christ. An embassy in a foreign country is a small extension of the mother country. That little plot of land may be in Japan (or country ABC), but the laws of the USA apply inside those gates. It is sovereign territory with sovereign jurisdiction under USA law. The USA laws of liberty and civil behavior and conduct apply inside that jurisdiction even if laws are different on the outside. Citizens of country ABC can be destroying each other in violence and starving and killing and look inside the gates to see USA citizens living in peace and liberty and respect. Why? Because that embassy is a miniature representation of the mother country, but in a foreign land.

    So it is with the kingdom of God on earth. Because of the love of God through Jesus, the attributes of Jesus Christ, the exact image of the invisible God, love, unity, and peace, can be seen to reign. People have a different law, a different standard, a higher code in the kingdom of God on earth than the world has.

    That's why Paul tells the Corinthians to shape up and stop having conduct that even their worldly culture would have and why to solve their own conflicts without going to the secular world to do it for them. It is supposed to be the other way around !!!

    There is to be so much of the love of Jesus flow in the kingdom of God on earth through acts of service, exercise of gifts, building up of the body that the world asks how that is done. They are told of the relationship with the Father. People see the love of the Father when they see the love of the citizens of the kingdom for one another.

    There is to be so much peace in the kingdom of God on earth that conflicts are snuffed out by love, forgiveness, conciliation — people acting like the example of Jesus. The world says, "Wow. Things sure turn out better when you have a conflict in the kingdom than when we have a conflict in the world. How do you do that?" Glad you asked. We have a different Lord. Jesus left His peace, not the peace of the world.

    There is to be so much unity (the Father and I are one) among the citizens of the kingdom of God on earth that the world says, "You guys work together. You get so much done. You respect each other and think the highest of one another. You don't judge one another or squabble over interpretations or disputable matters. You have it all together and you all point to one thing. What is that?" Jesus prayed that His followers would be in unity so that the world could see the love of God.

    We point to the kingdom of God in heaven. Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, but we act as though we are there now. Does God intend there to be a "heaven on earth?" I think so, but it our mindset that determines whether the church will be a living kingdom in heaven or a living hell on earth.

    The world looks through the "gate" and sees the kingdom of God on earth, the church, the body of Christ, and they see what ???? Surely not arguments about doctrine like instruments or water baptism or how the Lord's supper is taken or other things that make some superior (in their minds) to other Christians. "Well, what about those people over there? They claim that you have to ……." You tell me, what difference does that make? Tell that to God, because one day we will answer to Him.

    Have we shown the kingdom of God in heaven to the world? Does the world so love in the church? Unity among Christians? Peace for conflict? Or do we go to the world for our solutions?

    God even reveals a representation of the kingdom of God in heaven. A representation of perfection. Read Revelation 21-22. It is the New Jerusalem. It has the tree of life and the tree of life and there is no darkness there. That is our standard. How are we doing with that one?

    Now, in light of this, what could a "careless word mean? (Matt 12:36) Heard any lately? Said any lately? Why does Paul in Ephesians expose the deeds of darkness and say to live as children of light? Why say only what builds another up in accordance with their need?

    How much difference is there between the kingdom of God on earth and the worldly standards? Which one infiltrates the other? Which one holds a standard for the other. The church HOLDS UP the standard, and not claim to hold it while they argue about it.

    What did God do when the people of Israel allowed themselves to be infiltrated with foreign gods so that the purity of their obedience to God was diluted out?

    Now we have the grace of God to abuse while we exercise our freedom to argue about water and guitars. The world is watching. When someone with a totally different agenda shows up with a sword to start decapitating Christians, I think it safe to think that the nature of that disputable matter conversation will change dramatically.

    Think that's being melodramatic? I pray that you are right and that I am wrong. It could be that there is enough time remaining for us to change the ending of that story, but there will have to be mass repentance by the competitive groups, each of which call themselves, "Christian."

    Thank and God bless each of you. I can show myself out the door.


  8. HistoryGuy says:

    Gentlemen [ladies?],
    Whether appropriate or not, I realize that there were some concerns raised about the understanding of Temple analogies within a gentile context. Gentile’s certainly understood Temple language, but would probably need some instruction on OC/NC typology. We know gentiles were introduced and taught to sing Psalms, which included OT history, so Biblical inference and explicit history evidence reveals that pagans/gentiles were indeed taught OT Israelite history.

    However, given the Jewish-Christian audience in the Book of Hebrews, and its being the clearest and most concentrated letter on OC/NC typology and contrast, there should be no doubt that they fully understood what the author was saying about worship and OC/NC. That said, Temple typology is a more specific topic within the generalized OC/NC typology and contrast and some elements have no typological meaning, but they have been repealed under the NC.

    I hope everyone will add Heb. 13:10-11 to their consideration, which then flows into Heb. 13:15-16, which Alexander has rightly stressed.

    Heb. 13:10-11(NASB) … We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp

    The Hebrew writer specifically contrasts the OC Temple system, including its sacrifices offered according to the Law (2 Chron. 29:28-29; Heb. 8:4; 10:8; 13:10) with the NC Temple system, including its spiritual sacrifices stemming from the altar of Christ (Heb. 10:8-9; 13:10-13, 15-16). Both have regulations, though we can debate the specifics (Heb. 9:1, 10; 10:19-25; 12:8, 25; 13:13, 15-16). Of course instructions within Hebrews would harmonize with divine instruction elsewhere (Mt. 28:20, 1 Cor. 11:2, 34; 2 Thess. 2:15; 1 Cor. 14:37).

    By the date of Hebrew letter… Jewish-Christians were not worshiping at the OC Temple. God’s probationary period for the Jews was ending (Heb. 8:13; Acts 21:20-26). The OC Temple system and ALL of its sacrificial elements (animals, incense, instruments) were inferior to the rituals and didactic nature of the NC. Jews who continued to embrace the OC, in so doing rejected the NC brought by Christ (Heb. 9:15; 13:10, 12, 13, 15-16).

    Strictly from the Book of Hebrews, in the NC Christians: are God’s house/Temple, not OC structures (Heb. 3:6); must listen to Christ’s authority and teaching, not the OC (Heb 2:3, 4; 13:9, 10); have Christ as their high priest not priests of the OC (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:14-16; 5:1-10; 7:1-8:4; 10:19-23; 13:10-15); do not serve the OC altar with its sacrificial elements (Heb. 8:4; 10:5-8; 13:10); rely solely on Christ’s offering for sin, not the OC rituals (Heb. 9:24-28; 10:1-21); have access to the true mercy seat of grace through Christ’s blood and priesthood, not by OC rituals (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:16; 8:4); offer spiritual sacrifices in the NC Temple, through the Holy Spirit, in contrast to carnal sacrifices in the OC Temple (Heb. 13: 10-12; 8:3-4; 10:5-9; 13:13-17).

    We may struggle with typology, but they understood it.

  9. Randall says:

    @T Dr,
    Thanks and amen.

  10. Steve Wilson says:

    Gentlemen (and ladies?),

    I am again compelled to express my gratitude to Christ for all of you. I am currently listening to set to a Michael Card Station that is playing a lot of Keith Green and Rich Mullins. As I have been catching up on your dialogue I am reminded of the chapel services at a camp where I worked and the joy that was expressed on the faces of the young people who were enthusiastically worshiping with the worship team for that summer. The team was very talented both musically and in their ability to engage the entire assembly. They truly spoke to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Now, as I listen by myself, I am reminded of the enduring nature of the church as the body of Christ and I feel again that bond in the Spirit that was so real that summer and I feel it with you as well. Each seeking the likeness of Christ and finding expression in music that elevates the heart and engages the mind. "Oh God you are my God and I will ever praise you, I will seek you in the morning and I will learn to walk in Your ways. And step by step you lead me, and I will follow you all of my days." – Rich Mullins.

  11. Jay Guin says:


    Unity has to be at both levels, of course. But the unity the world sees is local unity. You can't have larger unity until you have local unity. That's where it starts.

    It's easy to get along with congregations in other states. But the one across the street is hard.

    We fail to gain unity in large part because we want to get there all at once through a unity meeting, a national council, something big and wonderful — when the only process that will actually work is to be united with the churches in your own hometown.

    If the churches in Tuscaloosa learn to treat each others as brothers in Christ, to cooperate, to share, and love each other in fact, then joining with congregations having the same heart in other cities will be simplicity.

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