The Temple of God
1 Cor. 3:16-17
We talked about the foundation of the church which is Christ. Now we talk about the Temple of God.
Is there any difference between the temple of God and the church? What about our bodies? Does our
text today have something to say about what we put or do to our bodies? The phrase “know ye not”
were used by the Apostle Paul twelve time is the Book of Romans, and I and II Corinthians to tell the
believers who think they know much but in reality, knew only a little.
Illustration 1: Cost of the Step of Faith
An old, low-caste woman in India was once asked the cost of a temple being built. She turned to the
missionary in surprise and said, “Why, we do not know! It is for our god. We do not count the cost!”
She could certainly have put many followers of Christ to shame. Before we take the step of faith, we
want to know the cost. Illustrations of Bible Truths.
1. In the New Testament the word is used figuratively of Christ’s human body (Jn.
2. Believers are called “the temple of God” (1 Cor. 3:16-17).
3. The Church is designated “an holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21).
4. Heaven is also called a temple (Rev. 7:5).
5. “Temple” sometimes also refers to the Christian’s body, which is the temple of
the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20), and to the church (1 Cor. 3:16-17), which is the
house of God the living God. (1 Tim. 3:15).
B. The church is made up of individuals and collectively we are “the church” and
individually we are “the church”.
Illustration 2: Why Christianity Has No Temples
When Christianity came to be known among the heathen, they taunted the Christians for having no
temples or altars.
“The Christians assemble wherever it is convenient,” said Justin Martyr to the Roman prefect,
“because their God is not, like the gods of the heathens, enclosed in space, but is invisibly present
To a similar taunt from Celsus, Origen answered, “The humanity of Christ is the highest temple and
the most beautiful image of God, and true Christians are living statues of the Holy Ghost, with which
no Jupiter of Phidias can compare.”—True Stories Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations
II. Ye are the Temple of God
A. When Paul says “ye are the temple of God,” he is speaking of the church as a whole.
The English pronoun “ye” or “you” is always plural in the King James Bible, showing
us that the underlying Hebrew or Greek word is plural (whereas “thee,” “thou,” and
“thine” are always singular).
B. The New Testament church is the temple of God in this age. We know that God is
omnipresent, but the Bible also teaches that there is a place in which God dwells in a
special sense in this world. A temple is where God resides and exercises a special
ministration. It is His headquarters, the seat of His operation on earth. It is the place
from which He dispenses mercy, grace, and blessing. It is the place from which His
doctrine issues forth to a needy world.
1. In the Mosaic dispensation, the temple of God was the building in Jerusalem.
2. In the New Jerusalem, the temple will be God Himself (Rev. 21:22).
3. In this age, each individual believer is a temple of the Holy Spirit and the
congregation of believers is also a temple of the Spirit.
Illustration 3: Feast of Tabernacles’ Final Day
This was what happens, in ancient Israel, during the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. There was a
great procession, from the Temple through the streets of Jerusalem to the pool of Siloam.
It was led by the temple band, with the white-robed priests marching in front. It passed through
Jerusalem, out at the Water Gate, and down the hill of Zion to the pool of Siloam, where each of the
priests filled his golden vessel with water.
When the procession returned to the Temple, the priests gathered around the altar of sacrifice, where
each one emptied his vessel of water on the side of the altar. As they did so, the Levitic choir chanted
the words of Isaiah 12:3: “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.”
Seven-and-a-half centuries after Isaiah wrote those words, Jesus stood near the Temple watching the
procession, and listened to the music of the trumpets and the chanting of the Levites on the last great
day of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Lifting up his voice, he cried out, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” (John 7:37)
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
III. If any man defile the temple of God him shall God destroy (1 Cor. 3:17)
A. The words “defile” and “destroy” in 1 Corinthians 3:17 are from the same Greek word,
phtheiro. It means to pine or waste. to spoil (by any process) or (generally) to ruin
(especially figuratively, by moral influences, to deprave, corrupt (self), defile, destroy.
(Strong’s Greek Definitions)
B. In our text, we read of two dreadful likelihood or possibility.
a. One can be charged of “defiling” or “destroying” the temple of God
b. God will destroy those who do it.
C. How can one destroy the temple?
1. By the wisdom of the world, through philosophy, and vain deceit; by bringing in
false doctrines, errors, and heresies. False teachers and false prophets, will be
the one who can be very guilty of destroying the church.
2. A person can “defile the temple of God” by doing the things for which Paul
rebukes the Corinthians.
a. One can defile the temple by dividing it up through religious groups or
factions. By exalting one from the other e.g., I’m for Paul, I am for Apollos.
b. One can defile the temple by forsaking the simplicity of the gospel and
seeking wisdom outside the Bible.
c. He can defile the temple of God by sexual immorality (chapter 5) or by taking
a brother to the law court (chapter 6).
d. God ‘s temple can be defiled by divorce (chapter 7) or by causing a weaker
brother to sin through the insensitive use of your rights as a Christian
e. One can defile the temple of God by misconduct at the Lord ‘s Supper and
the meeting of the church (chapters 11-14).
D. Christian, you have a duty and responsibility to take care of God’s temple. Support
your church, support your Pastor, serve the Lord Jesus Christ faithfully for His glory
and praise. Be an asset not a liability.
E. How about those who defy their bodies?
1. As you have seen earlier, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit.
a. Don’t defile your bodies by drinking alcohol, taking drugs, smoking cigarettes,
b. I would not even allow tattooing and piercing the nose.
c. Again, I would mention about sexual immorality here. Men should avoid
IV. How will God destroy the offender?
A. The false teachers and false prophets who are from the beginning were an enemy of
Christ, will certainly go to hell.
B. For real Christians, saved persons who by their unrighteous way of living and conduct
defiles the church, they will be punished but they will not lose their salvation.
1. The punishment may be lost of rewards at the Judgement Seat of Christ.
2. Some will be punished with sickness, even physical death.
a. The immoral man in 1 Cor. 5. God delivered him to Satan “for the destruction
of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor.
b. In 1 Corinthians 11:29- 30, we see some of the members of the church had
been judged with sickness and even death for abusing the Lord’s Supper.
Christian, you are the temple of God. Don’t defile or destroy God’s temple for you will be
punished. We all have a choice. It is my prayer that you do what is right in the eyes of God
and in the eyes of man.