The Mystical Temple
1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Know you not that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?…

There was, under the law —

1. The outward court, where the people did stand, and the inner temple, into which none but the priests did enter. So with a Christian; there is the outward temple of his body (1 Corinthians 6:19), and the holy of holies, his soul, where none but Christ our High Priest must come.


1. All the materials were fitted for the building of the temple: the timber was to be sawn, the stones to be hewn and polished. So by nature we are not qualified for a temple, we are unhewn and unpolished. So far from preparing ourselves for a temple, we indispose ourselves; but God hews us by His prophets (Hosea 2:5), and cuts and carves us by afflictions, and so makes us meet for a spiritual temple.

2. The temple was very magnificent (1 Kings 6:32). So the soul of a believer is an illustrious temple. God Himself brings His glory into it (Psalm 45:13). Christ never admired the goodly stones of the visible, but admired the glory of the spiritual temple (1 Peter 3:4).

3. The temple was a place set apart for God's peculiar worship; it was separated from all other places. So a believer's heart is consecrated ground, and set apart for God's service (Psalm 4:3; Psalm 119:38).

4. The temple was a place of God's special presence: He did there command His blessings. So in a spiritual heart God wonderfully manifests His presence: there He gives forth the influences of His grace, the communications of His love.

5. The temple was adorned with curious pictures; so the temple of the heart hath God's image in it (Colossians 3:10); is drawn by the pencil of the Holy Ghost.

6. The temple had a fire burning on the altar; so a believer's heart is the altar on which there is a sacred fire still burning (Romans 12:13; Psalm 119:97).

7. The temple, being an hallowed place, was to be kept clean (2 Chronicles 29:15; 2 Chronicles 23:3). So must this (2 Chronicles 7:1).


1. Other material temples, though of a beautiful structure, yet have no life in them; but a believer is a living temple (1 Peter 2:5). Hypocrites who have only a name to live (Revelation 3:1), are not temples, but tombs.

2. This is an heavenly temple; other temples are constituted of earthly materials. The believer's soul was breathed from heaven, and that which is in heaven is to be found in Him. In heaven there is —

(1) Light (Colossians 1:12), so in a saint there is the light of knowledge (Ephesians 5:8).

(2) Love (1 John 4:7), so a saint's heart is a temple of love (John 21:15).

(3) Joy (Matthew 25:23), so a saint hath joy in believing (Romans 15:13).

3. He is an everlasting temple; other temples are of a perishable nature. God will not demolish His own temple. Christ's blood cements all the stones together, and as long as the foundation and cement hold, so long this temple shall last, and that is for ever.

III. Uses.

1. Of information.

(1) See the difference between the godly and the wicked: the heart of the godly is a temple; the heart of the wicked is a cage of unclean birds (Revelation 18:2).

(2) See wherein a great part of the nation's safety lies; namely, in having store of these spiritual temples. In ancient times temples were places of safety. The saints are England's sanctuaries.

(3) If the saints are the temples of God, then how dangerous is it for any to abuse and injure them!

2. Of examination. All God's temples are made in some measure like Him.

(1) God is a spirit. Are we spiritual?

(2) God is pure. Have we holy and chaste affections?

(3) God is merciful. What shall we say to them who have no mercy?

3. Of exhortation. You who are the temples of God.

(1) Do not defile God's temple (ver. 17).

(a)  By intermixing with the wicked. Bad company is defiling (1 Corinthians 5:9).

(b)  By uncleanness. This sin defiles both the outward temple and the inner.

(c)  By error. Heresies are as the leprosy, which defiled the house in which it was (Leviticus 14:39).

(2) Be as temples.

(a)  Do temple work. Offer up spiritual sacrifices (1 Peter 2:5) — of prayer; of a broken heart (Psalm 51:17); of praise (Psalm 50:23).

(b)  Study temple purity. The temple was very holy. So Christians. Holiness beautifies God's temples, and is the cherisher of a Christian's peace.

4. Of consolation.

(1) Such as are God's spiritual temples shall have much of God's company (2 Corinthians 6:16).

(2) Such as are gracious temples shall one day be glorious temples.

(T. Watson.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

WEB: Don't you know that you are a temple of God, and that God's Spirit lives in you?

The Indwelling of the Spirit
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