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1 Corinthians 3:16 by Robert Dean
Series:1st Corinthians (2002)
Duration:56 mins 57 secs

Jesus Christ as Shekinah Glory; 1 Corinthians 3:16


In chapter three following Paul's discourse on the judgment seat of Christ earlier in the chapter he reminds the believers in Corinth of the fact that they are the temple of God. 1 Corinthians 3:16 NASB "Do you not know that you are a temple of God and {that} the Spirit of God dwells in you?" One of the major problems that is run into in this verse has to do with the second person plural pronoun here which should be translated "you all," or "do you all not know that you all are the temple of God." That has led a number of translators to think that it is the body of Christ to think that it is the body of Christ that is the temple of the Holy Spirit, that it is the corporate body of the local church rather than each individual, because Paul is using a second person plural pronoun here. However, having done extensive research into Paul's use of the second person plural pronoun he generally uses that because he is addressing a group of people, yet he always uses that second person plural to emphasize individual realities and individual responsibilities. Therefore it is not appropriate to think of this as a corporate temple or a corporate indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The second area that is frequently misunderstood in this verse is that the temple has to do with the indwelling of the Lord Jesus Christ in the believer as well as God the Holy Spirit. One of the reasons that is poorly understood is because of the various passages that talk about the Spirit of God dwelling in us and many people teach that well, the Holy Spirit dwells in you but the passages that talk about Christ in you is that Christ's presence in you is simply mediated through the presence of God the Holy Spirit. That creates some problems and it is poor understanding of the Scriptures.

It is crucial to unpack this concept of the temple of God because a) it is rarely done, and b) it is a crucial factor in the spiritual advance of the believer to understand the provisions that God has given us, and c) because it is so often treated rather superficially and not actually understood in terms of the way it fits into the entire panorama of biblical revelation from Genesis all the way through Revelation. God always dwells within His people. In the Old Testament it was in different manifestations. The was one dwelling of God on the earth before the fall of Adam in the garden of Eden. There was a different presence of God between the fall and the flood of Noah—Genesis 6:3. After the flood He left and delegated judicial responsibility to man, and that is another reason to indicate that there must have been some presence of God on the earth for the execution of justice because there was no judicial system delegated to man. After the flood He manifested Himself in different ways to Abraham up to Mount Sinai. Then on Mount Sinai there is a new revelation or manifestation of God and He appears in a glory cloud, and in the Old Testament God's presence is almost always referred to in terms of the glory of the Lord. The rabbis, during the inter-testamental period between the Old and the New Testaments coined the phrase the Shekinah which comes from the Hebrew word meaning to dwell, so this has to do with the dwelling of God with His people Israel. The dwelling place, the location where the infinite, omnipresent God localized Himself was above the cherubim who stood on top of the ark of the covenant.

Now we come to the point where we need to identify which member of the Godhead is present in that Shekinah cloud. Jesus Christ is the Shekinah glory of the Old Testament. The person of the Godhead represented in the glory cloud was not God the Father and it was not God the Holy Spirit, it was the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ whose role and responsibility within the Godhead is to reveal the Godhead.

1)  We need to recognize that Jesus Christ pre-existed the virgin conception and birth. This is the clear testimony of the Scriptures. E.g. John 6:38 NASB "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me." John 17:5 NASB "Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was." [24] "Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." John 1:15 NASB "John testified about Him and cried out, saying, "This was He of whom I said, 'He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.'" [18] "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained {Him.}" Then who was it that Adam and Eve spent time with in the garden of Eden? Who was it that Noah talked with? Who was it that Enoch walked with? Who was it that Abraham had dinner with? Who was it that Moses spoke with on Mount Sinai? Who was it that appeared in the Old Testament? It wasn't God the Father because this clearly states that no man has seen God the Father at any time. By looking at Jesus Christ we are able to know and understand God the Father, but that is only true if Jesus is eternal as the Father is eternal and has been with Him prior to the virgin conception and birth. Colossians 1:16 NASB "For by Him all things were created, {both} in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him." 

2)  We know that in the Old Testament in Isaiah's vision that he is before God, but it is not God the Father because we know from the Gospel of John that Isaiah's vision was a vision of the pre-incarnate Christ. John 12:37-41 NASB "But though He had performed so many signs before them, {yet} they were not believing in Him. [38] {This was} to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: "LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT? AND TO WHOM HAS THE ARM OF THE LORD BEEN REVEALED?" [39] For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, [40] "HE HAS BLINDED THEIR EYES AND HE HARDENED THEIR HEART, SO THAT THEY WOULD NOT SEE WITH THEIR EYES AND PERCEIVE WITH THEIR HEART, AND BE CONVERTED AND I HEAL THEM." [41] These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him."

3)  The New Testament presents Jesus Christ as the God of creation. John 1:1-3 NASB "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2]  He was in the beginning with God. [3] All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." When he uses the phrase "In the beginning," he is specifically alluding back to Genesis 1:1, using an imperfect tense in the Greek which implies continuous existence in past time. What John is saying is that at that point in time Jesus Christ, the LOGOS [Logoj] was, i.e. He continuously existed in past time. Paul restates this in Colossians 1:16, "For by Him all things were created, {both} in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him."  Twice in this verse is the English phrase, "by him." Though they are the same in English they are distinct in Greek. The first phrase is the preposition EN [e)n] plus the dative third person pronoun AUTOS [a)utoj] meaning that it is done by the agency or instrumentality of Jesus Christ. Yet the last phrase uses a different preposition, DIA [dia], and DIA indicates intermediate agency. This is more clearly indicated in 1 Corinthians 8:6 NASB "yet for us there is {but} one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we {exist} for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we {exist} through Him."

4)  Jesus Christ's glory is presented in the same way as the Shekinah glory is presented in the Old Testament. His glory is identical to the glory of God as presented in the Old Testament. Hebrews 1:1-3 NASB "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, [2] in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. [3] And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." "Glory" is the Greek word APAUGASMA [a)paugasma] and it has to do with almost like an explosion, a brilliant flash. In that sense it would be a visible flashing forth, a visible expression of radiance. It is a powerful image that the writer of Hebrews uses here, that Jesus Christ is the flashing forth, the radiance of His glory. So He is the visible expression of the glory of God. "Exact representation" is HUPOSTASIS [u(postasij], from which we get the word "hypostatic." It has to do with individual existence. He is identical to God in "His nature," the Greek word CHARAKTER [xarakthr], having to do with His essence. Cf. Jesus' statement to Philip: "He who has seen me has seen the Father."

5)  Isaiah ties these concepts together in the Old Testament and then this is alluded to in the New Testament when Jesus Christ's glory is manifested. Isaiah 37:16 NASB "O LORD of hosts [Yahweh Sabaoth], the God of Israel, who is enthroned {above} the cherubim, You are the God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth." He is enthroned above the ark of the covenant; "You have made" [asah]. Here we see a connection. He is addressing the God of Israel, Yahweh, as the one who made heaven and earth. Cf. Colossians 1 and John 1—it is Jesus Christ who was the actual agent of creation. The first phrase, Yahweh of hosts…enthroned above the cherubim," reminds us of Psalm 99:1, "The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble; He is enthroned {above} the cherubim, let the earth shake!" So these are talking about the same personality in the Godhead. This idea is picked up and tied together in a couple of fascinating statements surrounding the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 1:68, the statement of the father of John the Baptist regarding the role of his son. Remember, his father was Zecharias, a priest whose lot came to take care of the sacrifices in the temple. When he goes in he is going to have an angel announce to him that his wife is going to be pregnant. Both he and his wife were aged and she is beyond the age where a woman would give birth, and so Zecharias doesn't believe the angel. As a result he is struck mute and he can't speak until the baby is born. Finally John the Baptist is born in verse 68 and Zecharias speaks. NASB "Blessed {be} the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people…" So he is connecting the birth here, that he is going to announce the savior, Jesus Christ, back to the Lord God of Israel. [69] "And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of David His servant—" That is an allusion to 2 Samuel 7:11ff. that is the Davidic covenant. [70] "As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old— [71] Salvation FROM OUR ENEMIES, And FROM THE HAND OF ALL WHO HATE US; [72] To show mercy toward our fathers, And to remember His holy covenant, [73] The oath which He swore to Abraham our father, [74] To grant us that we, being rescued from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear, [75] In holiness and righteousness before Him all our days." Now he ties this in to the birth of his own son. [76] "And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on BEFORE THE LORD TO PREPARE HIS WAYS; [77] To give to His people {the} knowledge of salvation By the forgiveness of their sins." When he says this he is alluding to a prophecy in Isaiah. In Isaiah 40:3 we have the prophecy of John the Baptist. NASB "A voice is calling, "Clear the way for the LORD [Yahweh] in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God." Notice that when this verse is stated in the Old Testament it used the Tetragrammaton. Yet when that is picked up and applied in the New Testament Yahweh is applied in that passage not to the Father but to God the Son, Jesus Christ. He is the one whose way in the wilderness John the Baptist is preparing. [4] "Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low; And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley; [5] Then the glory of the LORD [Yahweh] will be revealed, And all flesh will see {it} together; For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." It is after John the Baptist whose role is to make straight the path, to pronounce and announce the coming of the Messiah, and when he comes, what are we told: 'Then the glory of the LORD [Yahweh] will be revealed.' In the Old Testament the term "glory of the Lord" referred to what? The glory cloud in the tabernacle and in the temple. So here there is a direct connection between the glory of the Lord as Isaiah announces it and as it is realized and understood in the New Testament with the manifestation and incarnation of Jesus Christ. This same kind of thing is reiterated again just a chapter later in Luke, in 2:32, when the infant Jesus is being presented after eight days, according to the law of Moses. They run into this old saint, Simeon. [25] "And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. [26] And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ [Messiah]." So he was moved by the Spirit to go to the temple that day. Then he saw the baby [27] "And he came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to carry out for Him the custom of the Law, [28] then he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, [29] Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, According to Your word; [30] For my eyes have seen Your salvation, [31] Which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, [32] A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, And the glory of Your people Israel." So there he is tying Jesus back to the glory of Israel in the Old Testament. Furthermore, this is an allusion to such passages as Psalm 41:13 NASB "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting to everlasting." Psalm 106:48 NASB "Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting." Psalm 72:18, and then there is the connection to Jesus as the light and glory of Israel, through him the promise would be fulfilled, and this seen in Such passages as Isaiah 46:13 NASB "I bring near My righteousness, it is not far off; And My salvation will not delay. And I will grant salvation in Zion, {And} My glory for Israel." Then in Isaiah 60:1-3 NASB ""Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the LORD will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising." In these verses we see that it is God's glory that is related to His light, and it is that light that attracts the nations, and that, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ.

6)  Paul uses several Old testament passages which use the Greek word KURIOS [kurioj], Lord, for Yahweh, in order to refer to Jesus as Yahweh. Romans 10:13 NASB "for "WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED." The term KURIOS is used there for Lord. But that is a quote from Joel 2:32, which reads in the Hebrew, "And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD [Yahweh] Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls." So Paul takes that term Yahweh and converts it to KURIOS and applies it to the Lord Jesus Christ. Again in Philippians 2:10 we are told, NASB "so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth [11] and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." And this is a reference to Isaiah 45:21 NASB "Declare and set forth {your case;} Indeed, let them consult together. Who has announced this from of old? Who has long since declared it? Is it not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, A righteous God and a Savior; There is none except Me. [22] Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. [23] I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear {allegiance.}" So the statement in Isaiah 45 is not from God the Father speaking but is the glory of Israel speaking who is then identified by Paul as the Lord Jesus Christ.

7)  Then we have a connection between key verses in the New Testament indicating that Jesus is this glory of the Old Testament. John 1:18 NASB "No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained {Him.}." 1 John 4:12 NASB "No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us." John 14:9 NASB "Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and {yet} you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father…" [10] "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works."

8)  Conclusion: Jesus Christ is equal to the Lord of glory in then Old Testament. In fact, in John 1:14 which says that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, the Greek word for "dwelling" there is not the word "abiding" which we are used to, it not the word OIKEO [o)ikew] or a form of it that we have with the Holy Spirit, it is the Greek word SKENE [skhnh] which is actually a transliteration from the Hebrew word Shekinah. So there is a direct statement there that Jesus Christ is the one who dwelt among us. He tabernacled among us. That is used in the same context where John refers to Jesus as light and glory in verse 9. This could also be compared with Philippians 2:6 and James 2:1. The conclusion is, then, that in the temple of the Old Testament the temple is a housing for the glory of the second person of the trinity. That house was constructed by man, the Jews, in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament we will see that God the Holy Spirit is going to construct by means of sanctification a dwelling place for Jesus Christ who is going to produce His glory in us. It is a glory that is not necessarily the brilliant radiance that was demonstrated either in the Old Testament or on the Mount of Transfiguration but is a glory that is manifested through character. That character is defined in Galatians chapter five as the fruit of the Spirit which is the character of Jesus Christ.