And are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;…
Temples have always excited feelings of the deepest interest in the human race. They generally contain within themselves, and in the materials with which they are constructed, much that is beautiful and grand. They form a kind of middle step between earth and heaven, where faith and sense meet and unite to indulge in contemplations suited to their varied powers and capacities. The Greeks and the Romans were perhaps the most superstitious people in the world, they covered their land with the most bewitching forms of their idolatry; their temples were of the most costly and splendid description. Among all the temples of antiquity, none were equal to the temple at Ephesus dedicated to Diana. It was the boast of ancient Greece, and one of the wonders of the world. Upwards of two hundred years elapsed during its construction, many sovereigns assisted in its progress with no small portion of their revenues. And it was considered peculiarly sacred in consequence of the figure of Diana which it possessed; and which popular report ascribed to Jupiter as his donation. To check the enthusiasm, and in some degree to extinguish the admiration which, notwithstanding the power of Christianity, still lingered in the minds of some members of the Ephesian Church, it is supposed that the apostle used the words of our text in his Epistle to that Church. He there places in contrast to the temple of Diana another fabric in every respect infinitely superior — the Church of God: while the former temple was built upon wooden piles driven into the earth, the latter rests upon the writings of the apostles and prophets; while the materials of the former were all earthly, the materials of the latter are, by the grace of God in the regeneration of the human mind, spiritual and Divine; while the former was devoted to the rites of idolatry and superstition, the latter is sacred to the service of the true and living God; while the former could only boast of the image of its goddess, the latter has the presence, the indwelling presence of its own Maker — the Creator of the world. Other persons, however, imagine that the allusion here made is not to the temple of Diana, but to that more sacred fabric erected by Solomon upon Mount Zion. This was heavenly in its design, gorgeous in its material; it was the residence of Jehovah, and the type of the Christian Church. The Church, then, in this passage is set forth under the figure of a temple; we shall consider —
I. ITS FOUNDATION. Prophets and apostles are here associated, Their theme was the same. The prophets predicted the Messiah who was to come, and the apostle recorded the history of the Messiah who had come; the one foretold the redemption to be accomplished, the other wrote of redemption finished and complete. And thus together they form a magnificent communication made from the invisible to the visible world; they resemble together the cherubim upon the ark of the covenant, turning their faces towards each other, and both together towards the mercy seat.
II. THE SUPERSTRUCTURE OF THIS TEMPLE. It often happens in the history of human affairs and transactions that men lay the foundation without being able to raise the superstructure; not so, however, with God. The building will rise and it will be equal to the basis.
1. We shall consider the nature of the material of which the superstructure is to be composed. The Apostle Peter has a very beautiful description of it in the second chapter of his first Epistle, at the fourth and fifth verses, "To whom coming as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God and precious." "Living stone." The superstructure resembling the foundation, the foundation equal to the superstructure.
2. We will notice the symmetry of the building: "fitly framed together"; not a heap of misshapen ruins huddled together into a mass of inextricable confusion; not a clumsy fabric raised by joiners and masons without skill; everything is arrayed in beautiful order, all the parts dove-tailed into each other, everything is fitly framed in its proper place, and rightly connected.
III. I come now, in the third place, TO THE DESIGN OF THE BUILDING. It was to be "an habitation of God through the Spirit." Now let us consider the presence of God in the Church — in this building. It is an invisible presence, there is no sound of thunder like that which indicated His dwelling upon Sinai; no cloud of glory like that which indicated His presence with Israel is here; He is spiritual. He is a Spirit and must have a spiritual house. But it is a real presence, and here is the real presence in the Church.
(J. A. James.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;