The Church as a Temple

The Church as a TempleText: 1 Corinthains 3:16

There are several ways that the church is described in the New Testament. One way is in our text – the church is “a temple of God.” What does this mean? Why did the Lord give this role to the church? How does it function as this?

What Does This Mean?

  • Temple – a place that has been set aside for the worship of God (or a “god”); used of the temple in Jerusalem (Luke 23:45) and the silver shrines in Ephesus (Acts 19:24)
  • You – in this passage, he was referring to the collective body of Christians in that local church; unlike the context of 1 Corinthians 6:19 which was about individuals
  • So what is the “temple of God“? – the congregation at Corinth functioned as this; every local church is to function as “a temple of God“; not about the physical structure in which we assemble, but the group of Christians who are joined together as a local congregation are this temple

What Is the Purpose of a Temple?

  • Worship – this may be the most obvious purpose; worship the deity for whom the temple was built; the local church comes together to worship God (Acts 2:42) in spirit and truth (John 4:24)
  • Honor – His name is placed there (Deuteronomy 12:5-7); named in His honor (cf. Romans 16:16); we do what we do in order to bring honor to Him (Ephesians 3:21) by doing things His way (Matthew 7:22-23)
  • Dwelling – “the Spirit of God dwells in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16); not the physical structure (Acts 17:24); this is about the Lord being with us / in our midst (Matthew 26:29; 1 Corinthians 14:24-25)

How Is This Temple Constructed?

  • Jesus is the corner stone (Ephesians 2:20) – everything is based upon Him; He has ALL authority (Matthew 28:18); the church belongs to Him (Acts 20:28); He is the chief shepherd (1 Peter 5:4)
  • The apostles and prophets make up the foundation (Ephesians 2:20) – remember their words (2 Peter 3:2); the apostles in particular were Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), guided by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13)
  • Christians as living stones (1 Peter 2:4-5) – we are part of “God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9); we are LIVING stones because we offer ourselves as LIVING sacrifices (Romans 12:1)
  • Love is what holds this structure together (Colossians 3:14) – it is the “perfect bond of unity“; show love for Christ through obedience (John 14:15); also show love for one another (John 13:34-35)

What Must Be Our Attitude Toward It?

  • Appreciate it – it was purchased with the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28); therefore, it is valuable; don’t forsake the assembly (Hebrews 10:25); don’t look for salvation elsewhere (Ephesians 5:23; Acts 4:12)
  • Use it – again, don’t forsake the assembly (Hebrews 10:25), but this is about more than that; find encouragement in the church (Hebrews 10:24; Ephesians 4:16); work together through the church (1 Timothy 3:15; 1 Thessalonians 1:8)
  • Preserve it – build it up for future generations (2 Timothy 2:2); do not destroy it (1 Corinthians 3:17) through division (1 Corinthians 11:17-22), strife (1 Corinthians 3:3), or error (2 Timothy 2:16-18)


  • As we come together as a church, we do so to worship God and honor Him – He dwells in/among us
  • Let us recognize this blessing and privilege – be actively involved in the work, worship, and preservation of the church

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