Thoughts On The People of God as Temple

I forget what exactly inspired this topic, but I was thinking about Paul’s use of ‘temple’ language in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 – broadly, Paul identifies God’s people as the temple. I dug a bit into the latter passage, which is a kind of mash-up of several Old Testament passages – Leviticus 26:12, Ezekiel 37:27 and 2 Samuel 7:14. A few rough and uninspired notes:

– Each of those three OT passages invoke either the ‘your God/my people’ or ‘your father/my son’ covenantal formulas – Paul grounds the identity of God’s people in this very covenant-focused passages.

– The purity/ethical aspects of both 2 Cor 6;14-18 and the OT texts it quotes are brought into sharper relief when considering the temple/covenant language. Impurity in the context of temple equals desecration.

– In a nutshell, Paul seems to be locating matters of purity/ethics within the context of the temple – the people of God being the temple, or being where God dwells, where forgiveness and the presence of God is. This sharpens the issue considerably.

– Related to this is the use of exclusionary language which Paul invokes. The temple is to be kept pure and undefiled.

– The three OT texts have some interesting themes – Leviticus is obviously a more ethical text, 2 Samuel has a more prophetic/eschtalogical dimension to it, and Ezekiel is soundly eschatalogical. I wonder if a trajectory could be argued here, pointing towards the eventual birth of the people of God as the temple. More work could stand to be done here.

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2 thoughts on “Thoughts On The People of God as Temple

  1. Alastair Roberts December 19, 2014 / 12:43 am

    One point that is worth reflecting upon is the fact that the significance given to the temple in the New Testament suggests that the Church is not just a jerry-rigged entity designed to plug the gaping hole left by a surprisingly unrealized eschatology, but is in fact integral to that eschatology and the Christian faith more generally.

    Liked by 2 people

    • whitefrozen December 19, 2014 / 8:45 am

      Thats roughly where I was heading with my point on ‘trajectory’. The Church is a ‘real thing’, to be crude about it. Thinking on it a bit more, I wonder if this line of thought might serve to rebut or at least challenge ‘flat church’ conceptions.

      Liked by 1 person

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