A Temple of God

Brothers and sisters:
You are God’s building.
According to the grace of God given to me,
like a wise master builder I laid a foundation,
and another is building upon it.
But each one must be careful how he builds upon it,
for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there,
namely, Jesus Christ.

Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God’s temple,
God will destroy that person;
for the temple of God, which you are, is holy.
(1 Corinthians 3:9-11, 16-17)

Scripture Study

3:9 God’s building Presents a unified picture of the church community. In vv. 16–17, Paul describes the Corinthian believers as the temple of God.

3:10 the grace of God given to me Refers to God enabling the Apostle Paul to plant new churches, especially the one in Corinth. master builder Refers to the person who directs a construction project. a foundation Figuratively refers to Jesus Christ (2:2; 3:11), who is essential to the stability of the church community. another is building upon it Refers to instruction for the believers’ growth in being Christ like (see Acts 18:27–28).

3:16 temple of God Extending his metaphor from v. 9, Paul now calls the Corinthian congregation “God’s temple”—the location of His presence in the Spirit in that city. in you Paul uses the plural form of a Greek term to emphasize that the entire Church community is God’s temple (His dwelling place on earth), not just select individuals.

3:17 destroys A result of disputes and poor teaching. God will destroy that person God’s wrath will come upon those who attempt to destroy His metaphorical temple—the Corinthian church. Specifically, Paul is likely thinking of those who caused divisions within congregation (1:11–13; 3:4).

Scripture Reflection

Paul is not unique in his use of the images of field and building. Jesus uses them in his parables: he speaks of his disciples as a field and as a vineyard in the Gospel of Matthew; he also presents himself as the cornerstone of the new building, the Church. The agricultural images suggest the wonder of growth given by God, whereas the building image suggests the role of human endeavor in its construction.

An important element in both is the emphasis on the movement rather than the finished product. The growth and the building of the Church never stops. Christ empowers the Church to grow and its members to build in such a way that one can ever be satisfied that the job is finished.

– George T. Montague

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.