2 Corinthians 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
The comparison moves on to the religious context. The Corinthians should already be familiar with temple imagery since Paul used this twice in his first canonical letter, in 1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19. There were temples and idols all over Corinth. Many of the believers in this church likely came from this pagan context. The Jewish believers had the Old Testament scriptural context in the their background and would have easily understood the threat of idolatry. The Gentile believers were learning through Christian teaching that idols were bad and could separate them from Christ (see 1 Corinthians 10). Both groups should know the answer to this question. There is no agreement between the true temple where the one and only God is worshipped and the many idols in this world (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). Idols are human attempts to find spiritual meaning by attaching value to things that people can make and control. It is a futile effort.
The temple in Jerusalem was still standing when Paul wrote this letter. It would not be destroyed until 70 AD, another 10-15 years. Paul connects the human person to the temple of God. We are the temple because the Holy Spirit dwells in us. The living God, creator of the universe, dwells within us. Since the presence of the one and only Holy God dwells within us, we are made holy. In the Jewish temple and the earlier tabernacle, nothing impure, unclean, or sinful could go into the inner temple, especially into the Holy of Holies, but only that which is holy can be in the presence of the Holy God.
Paul quotes an idea found in different parts of the Old Testament (Lev. 26:12; Jer. 32:38; Ezek. 37:27). There is a promise in this quotation. God will dwell among his people. Christians are the people of God. The Corinthians are God’s people. God walks among them and dwells within them, not just as a collective but as individuals. This is a powerful statement of relationship, especially in coming just a few verses after the idea of reconciliation. Since we are reconciled with God, God makes us holy by the blood of Christ and then makes his dwelling within us through the Holy Spirit. This is the hope of the new covenant. The old covenant, represented in ch. 3, could not bring this reconciliation, and its glory was fading. The new covenant brings transformation, renewal, reconciliation, and relationship.
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