Body - Temple of Holy Spirit?|
Check Your Study Bible
Q. Christian TV preachers often say that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit and because of this we should take care of the body through proper diet, exercise, and nutrition. Can you tell me where this is in the Bible and if this is what it means?
The Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17:
"Don't you know that you are God's sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? If anyone ruins God's sanctuary, God will ruin him. For God's sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are" (1 Cor. 3:16-17,HCSB).
Foundation on Christ's Person&Redemptive Work
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 follows a passage which emphasizes that the Christian must carefully build upon the foundation of Christ's person and redemptive work.
"If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, each one's work will become obvious, for the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire - the fire will test the quality of each one's work. If anyone's work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned up, it will be lost, but he will be saved - yet it will be like an escape through fire" (1 Cor. 3:12-15).
The Judgment Seat
"The day" referenced above refers to the time of the Judgment Seat of Christ where our behaviors, attitudes, and works are judged by the Lord.
Because of that 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 is "a severe warning to any who would try to interfere with or destroy the building of the church on the foundation of Christ" (MacArthur 1997, 1733).
Charles Ryrie warns, "Here the local church is viewed as a temple of God inhabited by the Spirit - in 6:19 the individual is a temple of God. If any man contributes to the collapse of a local church (whether a believer or a professing believer) he will be severely disciplined by God (1995, 1822).
The Body as a Temple
Paul's doctrine about the body being the temple of the Holy Spirit "introduces a powerful deterrent to sexual sins, for the Christian cannot use his own body or anyone else's body in a manner which dishonors it. The indwelling Spirit makes any sexual acts outside the marriage state totally unacceptable" (Guthrie 1983, 923).
As we read through the various interpretations from our best theologians, we find that the idea of an individual's body as the temple is a secondary issue (see the summary points). Individuals make up the church as a whole - the Holy Temple of God - against whom we must not sin or practice sexual immorality.
2nd. Passage - Body as Temple
1 Corinthians 6:19 is the second passage referring to the body as the Holy Temple of God. Let's read it in context by including verse 18 and verse 20, too:
"Flee from sexual immorality! Every sin a person can commit is outside the body, but the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body" (HCSB).
MacArthur notes that "there is a sense in which sexual sin destroys a person like no other, because it is so intimate and entangling, corrupting on the deepest human level. …A Christian's body belongs to the Lord, is a member of Christ, and is the Holy Spirit's temple. Every act of fornication, adultery, or any other sin is committed by the believer in the sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, where God dwells" (MacArthur 1997, 1737).
Life Application Study Bible Notes
The Life Application Study bible notes say,
"What did Paul mean when he said that our bodies belong to God? Many people say they have the right to do whatever they want with their own bodies. Although they think that this is freedom, they are really enslaved to their own desires. When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit fills and lives in us. Therefore, we no longer own our bodies. 'Bought at a price' refers to slaves purchased at auction. Christ's death freed us from sin, but also obligates us to his service. If you live in a building owned by someone else, you try not to violate the building's rules. Because your body belongs to God, you must not violate his standards for living."
Zondervan's KJV Notes
Zondervan's notes explain:
"The body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (v. 19). Thus, to use it in prostitution disgraces God's temple. Furthermore, the prostitutes of Corinth were dedicated to the service of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and sex."
"The Christian should value his body as a sacred place where God dwells and should realize that by the Spirit's presence and power he can be helped against such sins as sexual immorality."
Summary Points - Doctrine of Body as Temple:
Level 1 - The "Body" refers to the "Church," not to individual persons.
Level 2 - Do not bring sexual practices or immorality into the church, as found with the prostitutes of Corinth who were dedicated to the service of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and sex.
Level 3 - Keep the church (body) pure.
Level 4 - Do not engage in sexual immorality as an individual (a secondary meaning).
Level 5 - Keeping the body undefiled has nothing to do with exercise, taking health supplements, or engaging in activities which bring beauty and health to the physical body.
Guthrie, Donald. 1981. New Testament Theology. Downer's Grove, ILL: Inter-Varsity Press.
Holy Bible, Holman CSB giant print. 2005. Nashville, TN: Holman.
Life Application Study Bible, NIV large print edition. 1991. Wheaton, ILL: Tyndale.
Ryrie Study Bible, NASB. 1995. Chicago: Moody.
The MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997).
Zondervan KJV Study Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002).