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1 Corinthians

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Chapter 3:16-23 (ESV)

Posted on July 18, 2021  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 3:16-23 (ESV) -  Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.

Question to consider: What does Paul mean by “you are God’s temple?”

So far in this letter, Paul has been emphasizing to the Corinthians that Christ is the one who is responsible for our faith as believers, and therefore we shouldn’t measure our faith by earthly things and divide over them. In yesterday’s passage, I think it is important to point out that the ones who built on the foundation of Christ were the teachers. The true value of the teachers over whom they were dividing would be made known by what they taught relative to Christ.

The “you” in today’s passage is in the plural. Paul was talking to the entire Corinthian church, and by extension the church universal. He will talk about individual “temples” of the Holy Spirit in chapter 6, but this passage is specifically talking about the church as the dwelling place of the Spirit (not the church building) and how we are to treat the church as holy and sacred and not cause unnecessary divisions in it. This is not an exhortation to eat organic foods. Remember that the Corinthians who read this letter would think of temples as a building in which different gods dwelled. In Corinth was a temple to Venus (which we’ll talk about in the coming weeks), and everyone would probably have knowledge of the temple in Jerusalem. The church, however, was unique in that God dwells in the midst of us as we unite around the cross of Christ.

So let no one boast in men - especially if that boasting was in relation to worldly wisdom. Notice that Paul included himself in the list of teachers, and that all three listed were sound teachers. It should be the goal of every teacher to avoid teaching anything that takes away from Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul’s words about belonging to Christ is reminiscent of Jesus’ prayer for the church for all time, “The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:22-23)


Dear heavenly Father, we thank You for making Your dwelling among Your church. May this knowledge help us to unite around Your word instead of worldly wisdom. We pray for our pastors to keep the cross of Christ central to their teaching that the church may produce abundant and abiding fruit. Amen.