In this study, we shall see how the Scriptural meaning of words is not always the same as we understand them today, but that we can look up words the same way we would in a dictionary to get closer to the truth.
In the Old Testament of the Scriptures, it is recorded that God did not always have a place of worship on earth, with Mankind. Old Testament Scripture speaks of God's "Temple," His "house" (place of dwelling) as being in the Heavens. When David prays to God in the Book of 2 Samuel, he refers to this Temple:
"I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
"When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;
"The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
"In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears." 2 Sam. 22:4-7
But David also was of Israel, under Law. The Law of Israel, as recorded in Exodus, gave as God's "dwelling on earth" a tent, called in Scripture a "tabernacle."
"And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
"According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it." Ex. 25:8-10
It was a huge tent, to be sure, but only a tent. David sorrowed in his heart because he dwelt in a fine palace of fine cedars and precious stones and metals, but God the Creator "dwelt" in a tent.
Out of love for David and to honor him, God allowed him to plan a building to replace the tabernacle that his son Solomon would build.
"And the house which king Solomon built for the LORD, the length thereof was threescore cubits, and the breadth thereof twenty cubits, and the height thereof thirty cubits.
"And the porch before the temple of the house, twenty cubits was the length thereof, according to the breadth of the house; and ten cubits was the breadth thereof before the house." 1 Kings 6:2-3
This Temple, the sanctuary itself, was approximately a hundred and five by thirty-five feet, not huge by today's standards, but only the priests were allowed in, and the eventual compound was actually quite massive. Estimates place the surronding courts and buildings as occupying over thirty times the area covered by the sanctuary itself.
Nevertheless, while God allowed for this honor, what saith the scriptures?
"But Solomon built him an house.
"Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet,
"Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest?" Acts 7:47-49
Heaven is God's throne, the whole of earth but a footstool. How can the Creator be boxed into a structure made by tiny human hands?
Indeed, God had His own idea for a dwelling suitable for Himself: The Christian Church, also known as "The Body of Christ" and "The Church of God." Look at 1 Corinthians chapter three:
"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
"So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
"Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
"For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." 1 Cor.3:6-9
"Ye are God's building." Not a cold dead stone Temple, but a living building. Paul is speaking of our relationship, our ministry, to the others in this "building of God." We think too highly of ourselves if we think our meager efforts save people, or keep them standing.
We think too little of God if we think He isn't thrilled by our honest efforts at "maintaining" His building, the fellow believers.
"And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people." 2 Cor. 6:16
"I will dwell in them, and walk in themů" God said this.
Notice "them" is plural. "Their" and "they" is plural. God dwells in the plurality of believers, the whole Church is His building.
So is the Middle English pronoun "ye" plural.
Whenever in the New Testament you see in the King James Version Bibles the words "ye," "you," "your," etc., it is always referring to the plural, and is always translated from the Greek word "sous" or a form thereof.
In contrast, the words "thee," "thou," "thine etc. are all singular.
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Rom. 10:9
As an individual, "thou" can confess and believe and be saved.
"Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
"For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." Phil. 2:12-13
In Romans, the individual confessed and believed and shall be saved. In Phillipians, the Church, the body of believers, is to "work out" ("katergezesthe," utilize) our common salvation. I.E., we're saved, use that. Work it into concretion.
As an individual, can we contain God? As an individual, no. People can come to us and we can preach Christ unto them, but we are but little tents, little tabernacles. Speaking of this "tabernacle we inhabit while we live in this mortal shell, Paul writes:
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
"For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven:
"If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked.
"For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.
"Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.
"Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord:" 2 Cor. 5:1-6
Not only do we "groan" in this mortal shell, we are "absent" from the Lord. When he returns, when with the trump of God Jesus gathers us together, we shall ever be with him. That will be our next awareness when we fall asleep before the gathering. But at that time, with the Church of God, the Church of the Body of Christ called together, mortality will be swallowed up by life. We will have a new set of clothes.
But even now, we are God's building, we are God's Temple.
He dwells in us.
"According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 3:10-11
This salvation we find in Romans 10:9 is by grace. It is based on the foundation laid by Jesus Christ. Even if I "lead" someone to Jesus, and they "lead" another, it is Christ's work, and God's work in Christ, upon which they are "founded." "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
Christ, who endured temptations that our succumbing might be overlooked, who died for a payment for our sins, who was resurrected for our justification, who ascended for our glory is our Rock, our foundation.
"Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
"Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
"If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
"If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." 1 Cor. 3:12-15
We all do things with our lives. We eat, we drink, we work, we waste time, and maybe, just maybe, we spend some of our time ministering to others according to the dictates of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Eating, drinking, working are all necessary, but do you really think rewards are laid up for us for making ourselves a nice pasta dish and washing it down with a latte? Wood and hay.
We all need down time, but is there a reward for reading "Gone With the Wind" or watching Maximum Overdrive? Or for getting drunk, using drugs, amassing a fortune so that we can relax? Stubble.
But sharing the gospel of salvation, caring for the brokenhearted, helping other believers because God helped you, loving for Christ's sake, all gold, silver, precious stones, just like the Temple Solomon built.
The "fire" of the day of our salvation will try our works. Yes, what we do will be questioned and tested, and who among us can say there is no wood, hay or stubble?
Will the loss of any of what little time we had be easy? No. It is referred to as a fire. The fire will try our works. Not so easy. But do you really want to carry that baggage into eternity anyway?
So we will suffer loss, suffer "zemiothesetai." We will, it says, "be marred" or "defiled."
By losing so much of what we could carry into eternity.
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
"If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." 1 Cor. 3:17-17
"Ye," the plurality, are the Temple of God.
God dwells in us, in the plurality of believers.
At best this body I wear is a tent, a temporary tabernacle. It is not, as many erroneously believe and teach, the Temple of the Most High. Virginia, your body is not a temple.
The Temple is the Church, God's called in Christ in the current age.
In our ministry, in planting and watering, if we build wood, hay and stubble, we will be marred. If we defile ("phtheirei," rooted same as "zemiothesetai" in verse fifteen) the Temple, the Body of believers, by needless error or neglect in planting and watering (ministering,) we will be destroyed ("phtherei," the root."
If we defile or mar the Temple by being neglectful or needlessly in error regarding our ministry to the Church, we will likewise be defiled, we will likewise be "marred."
But the only reason this fits so wonderfully together is because collectively we are indeed the Temple of God.
It is not my body or your body that is a temple, it is the Church in whom God dwells and walks.
"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Cor. 6:19-20
Know ye? As a Church, don't we know this? Is this teaching not part of our watering?
"Your body." Our Body is the Body of Christ. Not so obvious in the modern English, it is very clear both in King James English and in the Greek texts.
Our Body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit, and collectively we should act on this salvation, which we have of God.
We are not our own, we are God's through the foundation lain by Christ.
Together, we are indeed the Temple of God, the vehicle in which God has chosen to dwell and to walk.