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1 Corinthians 3:16–4:1

1 Corinthians 3:16–4:1


Series: The Church
Sermon: The Temple of God
Bible Passage: 1 Corinthians 3:16–4:1

I. The temples claim to house gods and goddesses

1. Structure alone would not reveal the identity of the temple
2. It is the idol that is kept inside that reveals the identity of the temple

II. The Corinthian Christians are God’s Temple (verse 16)

1. They were formerly devotees of gods like Zeus, Athena, Dionysius, and Aphrodite
2. The preciousness of the Temple is not in the constituent member of the church, but it is in their sovereign election (cf. 1 Cor 1:1)
3. On their own, they don’t constitute the Temple of God—they will only remain as a “crowd”
4. The Spirit of God dwelling in them makes them the Temple of God (3:16b)

a. God does not dwell in the structure made by man (cf. Acts 7:48 and 17:24)
b. The Temple radiates the presence of God (cf. Rev 7:15, 11:19, 14:17, 21:10; 21:22)
c. Every local church is the Temple of God
d. The Temple is sacred—it is a divine call (verse 17; 1:1)
e. The presence of the Spirit of God provides the sacredness to the temple
f. In other words, the Corinthian Christians are sacred because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God

5. The question Paul asks in verse 16 shows that the Corinthians were not taking their sacredness seriously

a. “Don’t you know that you are the temple of God?”
b. “Don’t you know that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
c. Their lifestyle and conduct point to either their ignorance of this truth or gross violation of the revealed truth
d. Some Corinthian Christians were threatening the identity of the temple with their sinful behavior

i. Divisions
ii. Hero worship
iii. Knowledge with no behavior
iv. Incest …

III. The expression “if someone” in verse 17 may be hypothetical or real person

1. Those who play politics
2. Those who perpetuate class system
3. Those who remain sinful

a. The Greek word used here (φθείρω) refers to “inflict damage,” “injure,” “spoil,” or “damage”
b. It refers to anyone who does not take the sacredness of the temple seriously and causes injury to it by playing politics

4. God will reciprocate to the one inflict injury to the church a proportionate injury (verse 17)

a. Because the Church is sacred
b. The Spirit of God dwells in it
c. Irrespective of the social and economic status of the constituent members, the local church is sacred and extremely valuable to God
d. (It is not a place for people to play politics)
e. God is zealous about it

IV. “Let no one deceive himself” (verse 18)

1. Those who think mature and spiritual, but

a. With inflated self esteem
b. With style and rhetoric sophistication

2. But is not substantiated by conduct, it amounts to deception and immaturity

a. If they become wise in their own eyes, they lose out on God’s resources through the Holy Spirit of God
b. It diminishes the power of the Cross, which is the wisdom of God

3. No more boasting about mere mortals (3:21)—you belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God

a. Servants of Christ (4:1)
b. Stewards of the mysteries of God (4:1)

Take Away:

Contribute to the unity and growth of the local church, the Temple of God

Speaker: William J. Subash

Born and raised in south India, William J. Subash became a follower of Jesus Christ in 1983 at the age of nineteen. After a brief career in a tea and coffee plantation, Subash decided to spend rest of his life to preach about Jesus and his life-transforming message of God, which is popularly known as “the Gospel.” Subash teaches New Testament Studies at two institutions: SAIACS in India and Liberty University Online, VA, USA. Currently, Subash serves as the chief point person for GROW Gospel Initiatives and the Lead Pastor of the Crossroad Church, Bangalore. Write to him at