|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:16,17 From other parts of the epistle, it appears that the false teachers among the Corinthians taught unholy doctrines. Such teaching tended to corrupt, to pollute, and destroy the building, which should be kept pure and holy for God. Those who spread loose principles, which render the church of God unholy, bring destruction upon themselves. Christ by his Spirit dwells in all true believers. Christians are holy by profession, and should be pure and clean, both in heart and conversation. He is deceived who deems himself the temple of the Holy Ghost, yet is unconcerned about personal holiness, or the peace and purity of the church.
Verses 16-23. - The peril and folly of glorying in men. Verse 16. - Know ye not. The phrase is used by St. Paul in this Epistle to emphasize important truths, as in 1 Corinthians 5:6; 1 Corinthians 6:2,.9, 15; 9:13, 24. Out of this Epistle it only occurs in Romans 6:16; Romans 11:2. That ye are the temple of God. "Ye," both collectively (Ephesians 2:21) and individually; "God's shrine;" not built for men's glory. The word "temple" in the Old Testament always means the material temple; in the Gospels our Lord "spake of the temple of his body;" in the rest of the New Testament the body of every baptized Christian is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 6:16), because "God dwelleth in him" (1 John 4:16; comp. John 14:23). In another aspect Christians can be regarded as "living stones in one spiritual house" (1 Peter 2:5). The temple; rather, the shrine (uses) wherein God dwells (naiei), and which is the holiest part of the temple (hieron).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God,.... The apostle having spoken of the saints as God's building, of himself as a wise master builder, of Christ as the only foundation, and of various doctrines as the materials laid thereon, proceeds to observe to this church, and the members of it, that they being incorporated together in a Gospel church state, were the temple of God; and which was what they could not, or at least ought not, to be ignorant of: and they are so called, in allusion to Solomon's temple; which as it was a type of the natural, so of the mystical body of Christ. There is an agreement between that and the church of Christ, in its maker, matter, situation, magnificence, and holiness; and the church is said to be the temple of God, because it is of his building, and in which he dwells: what the apostle here says of the saints at Corinth, the Jewish doctors say of the Israelites (n), , "the temple of the Lord are ye"; and which being usually said of them in the apostle's time, he may refer unto; and much better apply to the persons he does, of which the indwelling of the Spirit was the evidence:
and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you: in particular members, as a spirit of regeneration, sanctification, faith, and adoption, and as the earnest and pledge of their future glory; in their ministers to fit and qualify them for their work, and carry them through it; and in the whole church, to bless the word and ordinances, for their growth, comfort, and establishment. This furnishes out a considerable proof of the deity and distinct personality of the Spirit, since this is mentioned as an evidence of the saints being the temple of God, which would not be one, if the Spirit was not God, who dwells therein; and since a temple is sacred to deity, and therefore if he dwells here as in a temple, he must dwell here as God; and since he is mentioned as distinct from God, whose Spirit he is, and dwelling, a personal action is ascribed to him, he must be a distinct divine person.
(n) R. Alshech in Hag. ii. 5.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
16. Know ye not—It is no new thing I tell you, in calling you "God's building"; ye know and ought to remember, ye are the noblest kind of building, "the temple of God."
ye—all Christians form together one vast temple. The expression is not, "ye are temples," but "ye are the temple" collectively, and "lively stones" (1Pe 2:5) individually.
God … Spirit—God's indwelling, and that of the Holy Spirit, are one; therefore the Holy Spirit is God. No literal "temple" is recognized by the New Testament in the Christian Church. The only one is the spiritual temple, the whole body of believing worshippers in which the Holy Spirit dwells (1Co 6:19; Joh 4:23, 24). The synagogue, not the temple, was the model of the Christian house of worship. The temple was the house of sacrifice, rather than of prayer. Prayers in the temple were silent and individual (Lu 1:10; 18:10-13), not joint and public, nor with reading of Scripture, as in the synagogue. The temple, as the name means (from a Greek root "to dwell"), was the earthly dwelling-place of God, where alone He put His name. The synagogue (as the name means an assembly) was the place for assembling men. God now too has His earthly temple, not one of wood and stone, but the congregation of believers, the "living stones" on the "spiritual house." Believers are all spiritual priests in it. Jesus Christ, our High Priest, has the only literal priesthood (Mal 1:11; Mt 18:20; 1Pe 2:5) [Vitringa].
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