The Church: The Indwelling of God
Ephesians Lesson #076
July 26, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Our Father, we’re thankful so much for all that You have done for us, for all that You have provided for us: for this new identity that we have as members of the body of Christ, members of the bride of Christ.
“Such language just elevates us in significance beyond anything that we can imagine—as Paul will conclude in this section, beyond anything that we could ask or think. You have so richly blessed us and these blessings that Paul describes in this part of Ephesians just barely scratch the surface of all that You have given us.
“Father, so often we forget who we are in Christ, we forget our identity, we forget our connections to Your royal family. Father, we pray that we might continually be reminded, as God the Holy Spirit prods us and pokes us and gets our attention, Father, that we might always be responsive, always pushing ahead, pushing ourselves to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and to not just settle for whatever stage at which we’ve arrived, but we might push on to spiritual maturity.
“As we study today, challenge us with the significance that we learn this morning on being made as a body into the temple of the Holy Spirit and the Father as well as the Son. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Turn to Ephesians 2. Last time we looked at the church becoming a temple of God, which is the focal point. What Paul’s been driving to since we got into Ephesians 2 is this climactic revelation that the body of Christ is not only distinctive in that it is based on a joining together of Jew and Gentile, but that the purpose of this joining together is to build one new man, one new body, which is now identified as we come to the end of this section as the household of God, as we studied last time in Ephesians 2:19, which is then described with the metaphor of a building and that this building is a holy temple for the Lord.
It is not talking about us individually here. That’s one of the things we will get to when we end, is when you examine the passages in Scripture that talk about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, that He makes the body a dwelling place for God the Father, God the Son, and Himself. He sanctifies us so that we can be a temple. It is both as individuals, but it is corporately as the body of Christ. This is the central passage for that in this section.
As we review just briefly, we go back to Ephesians 2:11–12 where the focus is on the fact that we have been brought together, Jew and Gentile. The Gentile in the Old Testament had two different positions before God historically. The first was in the Age of the Gentiles where there were only Gentiles on the earth.
Then in Genesis 12 God calls out Abram, and He is going to create a new people for Himself through Abram and Sarah. And through the line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob— the Jewish line, God is going to bless them in special ways and give them special privileges.
The Gentiles, all the other people on the earth, are just excluded from that, and unfortunately, this led to a lot of arrogance and pride on the part of some Jews, and they looked with disdain upon the Gentiles. There’s this separation due to God’s covenant with Abraham.
But the contrast in Ephesians 2:13 is that “now in Christ Jesus you who were once far off—the Gentiles—are now brought near by the blood of Christ.” It’s the death of Christ. One of the things that is accomplished is Jew and Gentile are brought together.
He goes on to describe in Ephesians 2:14–16 that He is our peace. He is the One who makes both one and He’s broken down the middle wall of separation. Which we saw is not a wall of separation between us and God, but here it is a wall of separation between Jew and Gentile.
That wall is really a metaphorical description of the impact of the Mosaic Law, which set Israel apart to be a kingdom of priests. But at the Cross, Christ abolishes the Law.
This is the strongest and clearest passage that the Law has ended, that the law of commandments has been abolished in His flesh, so that He can “create—look at the language—"in Himself—we keep coming back to who we are in Christ—one new man from the two.”
We now have one new man, “that He might reconcile them both—that is, Jew and Gentile—in one body through the cross.”
First, it’s through the blood of Christ, the death of Christ, then the Cross, which also stands for the death of Christ, for that which was accomplished on the Cross, and He puts to death that enmity which is the Law.
Ephesians 2:17, “He came and preached …” This refers historically to Christ proclaiming peace to those who are far off. During His incarnation, He went to the Syrophoenician woman, the centurion, other Gentiles. He is proclaiming one form of peace to those who are far off and those who are near. That’s not the same peace what we have now.
Ephesians 2:18 “through Him we both now have access by one Spirit to the Father.”
This chart is familiar:
In the Age of the Gentiles, the Gentiles are the only ones.
Let me remind you while we have this chart up that in Eden, where is God? He dwells in Eden. He comes and spends time. Eden is a temple, a place for the dwelling of God. When Adam and Eve sin, they are kicked out of the Garden, but nowhere does it tell us that God leaves.
In fact, most people are under the impression that God went back to Heaven and just sort of let everything go to hell in a hand basket. Because by Genesis 6, you’ve got the invasion of the fallen angels and attempts to destroy the genetic purity of the human race. God looks on the earth and says they’re just evil continually.
But the standard translation there going back to the 17th century King James translation: God said, “My Spirit will not strive with men anymore.” The word that’s translated “strive” is only used one time in the Scripture, so it’s hard to define it. But when we look at related cognate languages in the ancient Near East, we discover that in all of them you have a word with the same root, the same consonants.
But it means “to abide”, it doesn’t mean “to strive.” If you look in the margin of your Bible, you will probably see a note there that it could mean “to abide.” That really opens things up because we realize God continues to stay on the earth.
I think that because He hasn’t created government yet, He’s still providing a source of adjudication for crime. We see the way He handles Cain and Abel. We don’t see a lot of other evidence, but there’s a tremendous amount that’s not mentioned in those first five chapters of Genesis.
God continues on the Earth, then with the Flood He leaves. He comes back in the Age of Israel when the Law is given, and He gives Israel the description of the tabernacle that they are going to construct. After they finish it and sanctify it, God takes up His residence again on the Earth in the tabernacle. It is a dwelling place for God.
The tabernacle, from approximately 1445 BC until about 950 BC is a temporary dwelling place of God. Then Solomon constructs the first Temple. During the Old Testament period, we have the first Temple and the second Temple—that would be here (chart) during this period of the Law. You have the first and second Temple, and God is dwelling with His people.
That’s all background because when we come to the New Testament, we’re going to see similar language. When we come to the Gospel of John we’re told that Jesus became flesh, and He dwelt among us. The Greek is SKENE which is really borrowed from the Hebrew.
The Hebrew name for the tabernacle was mishkan: shkn are the consonants. In the Greek it’s SKENE. In Hebrew SKN, which means the dwelling place, and that was where God tabernacled. You’ve heard some pastors quote that verse, “the word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” But it’s “to dwell.”
So the dwelling of Christ is on the Earth during His incarnation, then He ascends to Heaven. Then He sends the Holy Spirit, and the church is created on the Day of Pentecost. We will see from this passage that we become the new dwelling place corporately for the presence of God on the earth.
During the Tribulation there will not be a presence of God on the Earth. There is no indwelling by the Holy Spirit. There’s no indwelling of God the Father and God the Son in the believers during the Tribulation. He will make His home on the Earth again during the Millennial Kingdom. That gives us the panorama of God’s presence upon the Earth.
To bring this section to a close here, the Law is the barrier between Gentile and Jew.
The Cross wipes out that enmity, abolishes the Law; Jew and Gentile have peace and come together.
Secondly is the sin barrier between God and man.
The Cross takes care of the sin barrier. The new entity will be called the church, the body of Christ.
God is reconciling us to Himself through the Cross.
That brings us back to where we are in this lengthy sentence of Ephesians 2:19–22. Paul begins making this strong conclusion in Ephesians 2:19,
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners—because earlier in Ephesians 2:11–12, he had identified that they were strangers and foreigners—but fellow citizens with the saints—first of all, those are Church Age saints not Old Testament saints—and members of the household of God,”
Ephesians 2:20, “having been built—or because you have been built—on the foundation of the apostles and prophets—that distinguishes it as the Church Age. That’s not talking about the Old Testament prophets, but New Testament prophets—Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone.”
I pointed out last time that in the ancient world at that time that when you laid a cornerstone that became the orientation point for all of the building. All the measurements, the layout of the lines of the building, everything came off of the cornerstone. The building itself gets its meaning, purpose, orientation, everything from the cornerstone. Christ is our cornerstone.
Today we’re looking at Ephesians 2:21–22, “in whom the whole building, being fitted together …” This is a keyword to look at, a compound word in the Greek, which we’ve seen before. It’s important, it is talking about the togetherness that we have in Christ, Jew and Gentile brought together.
“… in whom the whole building—the corporate entity of the church—being fitted together, grows—it’s continuing, present tense, still actively developing—grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.”
This is talking about the body, the household of God. This whole building is the context, is the place that is being set apart as a temple. The idea of temple is the dwelling place of a god. This is the temple, the dwelling place, so it’s the church as a whole.
These verses remind us of how togetherness has been a major theme all through Ephesians 2.
In Ephesians 2:1–10 the focus is what we have together in Christ in salvation.
Ephesians 2:5–6, “when we were dead in trespasses—God—made us alive together with Christ and raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
That’s our new identity: we are together, Jew and Gentile. We are one united body.
At the conclusion of this section, he will talk about the fact that we are “being;” this is active, this is in process. We are being fitted together, and we are being built together for a dwelling place of God by means of the Spirit.
Paul doubles up his conjunctions in Ephesians 2:19 to get our attention. He’s drawing a conclusion, using two different inferential conjunctions. ARA OUN means he’s drawing to conclusion the consequences of everything that he has said before, that “we are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens.”
We could understand that also in the sense of emphasizing togetherness, just as in several places he says we are both, and that emphasizes that togetherness.
Here he is simply emphasizing that we’re “no longer strangers and foreigners, BUT fellow citizens …”
We’re “members of the household of God.” OIKEIOS is a term that indicates a close family connection. Interestingly, we have several words here that are built on the root of this word, having to do with household. OIKONOMOS in Ephesians 3 is house law, translated as administration or dispensation and is where we get our word for dispensationalism.
Ephesians 2:21–22, “the whole building …” “… in whom we are being built …” All of those are built off the root of this word, so he is really tying this whole thing together.
Go back to Ephesians 2:13, you find the phrase “we both.” That’s then identified as “one new man.” It’s then identified as “one body,” and now it’s identified as “the household of God.” All this refers to the corporate universal church, the body of Christ.
Ephesians 2:21–22, “in whom.” Of course, if you look at the context, it has just mentioned Jesus Himself being the chief cornerstone, so “whom” refers back to Jesus.
“In whom.” We are in Christ, noted again and again going through Ephesians 1–2. That is our new legal position as believers at the instant of salvation in the Church Age. One of the ministries of God the Holy Spirit is He unites us with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection.
This places us in Christ in Romans 6:3–6, where Paul lays this down and describes it as the baptism by the Holy Spirit. Baptism has the connotation of identification, so we are identified with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit places us in Him.
This is part of the dynamic: we are placed in Christ by the Holy Spirit, and in Him “the whole building …” There’s something that is taking place. It’s not just a matter being statically put in Christ, but this is foundational to the way in which we fit together in the body of Christ.
“… in whom the whole building …” You recognize the OIK at the beginning of OIKODOME, based on the root for house OIKOS. Here it’s translated as the whole building as if it’s a completed entity, but it is really talking about this new organism.
An organism is not static, it’s continually growing. That’s why we refer to the church as the new organism in this age. OIKODOME can refer to a building, or it frequently describes the building up of something.
In that sense, it has often been translated as edification. So, you lose that sense by translating it as being edified. Being edified means to be built up. There are several times this word is used in Ephesians, and it always relates to the edifying of the body, the building up of the body, its constant spiritual growth and maturity.
Ephesians 4:12 the gifts of pastor-teacher and evangelists are given “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edified edifying—or for the building up—of the body of Christ.”
This is talking about spiritual growth and maturation for each believer.
Ephesians 4:16 talks about the edifying of itself in love, the building up of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:29, “… what is good for necessary building up …”
All of the other uses in Ephesians talk about something being built up, the whole building or the whole building up. It’s a dynamic thing that’s in process; it is not completed.
Next is SUNARMOLOGEO. SUN at the beginning: something is being together. It’s emphasizing together, about being fitted together. This is a good carpentry term.
In our world when we are building with stones or bricks or anything of that nature, we smooth things out and fit things together by using mortar; we use mortar or cement in order to put everything together. But that’s not how they did it in the ancient world.
In the ancient world they would take these enormous blocks of stone, and would sand and work them until they would fit perfectly one on top of the other without any gap.
Those of you who have been to Israel with me before, one of the most impressive things that we do is to go down in what is called the Western Wall Tunnels, pictured here. It is this mammoth stone. I think we were given different numbers when I first went, but it is estimated to be about 430 tons.
You’re asking important questions like, “Well, how did they cut that?” “How did they move it? “They weren’t as primitive as we think 2,000 years ago. They had different technology, but they could do phenomenal things.
This last year, of course, we went to Egypt. Looking at the Great Pyramids of Giza, they talk about how big some of those stones are, and how difficult it was to move them. And they moved them a much further distance, but they were nothing compared to this. You might have 20 tons there.
We’re talking about 420 or 430 tons for this rock. That’s this rock in the middle of the screen that goes all the way to approximately here. It is about as long as from here to the back of the room. We don’t know exactly how deep it is. They can guesstimate it on the basis of other things that they’ve been able to do. You can see the seams that run horizontally below it and above it. If you go there, you will see that one of these huge rocks fits perfectly on top of the one below it. That is a visual picture.
Here’s another look, has a little more light on it, but you can you can see up close where these rocks come together, and they fit perfectly. The thinnest piece of paper can’t slide between these stones at any point.
Another picture of the masonry, showing how smooth it is, and that’s the image that Paul is using here that we are fitted together. I think that an implication of this is that as God is working in our life sanctifying us and maturing us, He is sanding off those rough edges and fitting us together tightly within the body of Christ. This imagery helps us understand how God is working to fit us together.
In Ephesians 2:21 we have the main verb, which I think is more of a temporal since it is “being fitted together, grows into a holy temple.”
It is a dynamic concept of continual growth: new believers are added to the body of Christ, and they continue to grow and mature as they are built up in the faith. So we grow and mature. Then we read that they are growing into something. Corporately, this body that is continually growing is being built into a dwelling place for God.
Ephesians 2:21, it’s not just the individual believer that is indwelt by God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but it is also the church itself. We are being built into a holy temple. We’ve studied the word “holy” many times, and it has that idea of something that is being set apart for the service of God.
In the Old Testament we first see the word appear frequently in the layout of the construction of the tabernacle. The vessels that are set apart for the use of God in the tabernacle are not to be used for common everyday things; they’re set apart for the service of God. The bowls, candles and the various instruments and utensils, are all set apart.
But these are inanimate objects, so “holy” there doesn’t have moral significance. Often when people think of “holy,” they think of somebody who is morally pure. But instruments and inanimate objects can’t be moral or immoral; they are inanimate objects.
Another way in which a form of the word “holy” is used in the Old Testament is in relationship, describing the temple prostitutes in the fertility cults. They are not morally pure, but they are set apart to the service of their god.
This tells us, first of all, we have to think of this as something that is unique, something that’s distinct, and something that is set apart to the service of God. When we think about these verses that say that we are a temple for the Holy Spirit, it means that we are being set apart for the service of God.
The word for “temple,” NAOS, is important for us to understand. I’ve indicated in the meaning that it is one of two words that’s used to describe a temple in Greek. The other is HIEROS, which also means temple, but it would include the entire temple complex, as opposed to an inner sanctum.
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In Ephesus, you would think of the local temple, the Artemisium. It was the temple to Artemis of the Ephesians, which is just the Asian version of Diana the Huntress. The Artemisium was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. But it’s always described as a HIEROS, never as NAOS.
NAOS was used for certain things that related to this. For example, when we read in Acts when Paul is in Ephesus, and the silversmiths are losing their business because apparently so many were becoming Christians that they weren’t buying the little silver shrines of the temple. NAOS is used to describe the silver shrine as opposed to HIEROS, used to describe the actual building itself. It’s important to look at these distinctions.
NAOS was used of the Holy of Holies in the Holy Place in both the Tabernacle and the Temple.
HIEROS describes the outer courtyards of the Temple, just outside of the main complex, all within the walls of the main structure:
- a courtyard for the Gentiles
- a courtyard for the women
- a courtyard for the men
Inside the wall of the Temple proper (not the NAOS yet) was where the brazen altar and the laver were located and where the priests served. But only the high priest could go into the Holy of Holies, in the NAOS.
What we’re described as is extremely significant. We are an extremely special, distinctive holy temple, the dwelling place for God as the body of Christ. But NAOS is also used to describe each individual believer’s body as a temple, and this is not something that should be profaned. It is sacred and set apart, and that relates to our positional sanctification.
We are fitted together, we are growing—it’s dynamic—into this set-apart dwelling place in the Lord. This is comparable to the phrase we studied at the beginning of Ephesians 2:21, “in whom,” relating to our position in Christ. All these terms interconnect and interrelate.
The next verse brings us to an even more significant situation, Ephesians 2:22. It starts the same way as Ephesians 2:21:
“… in whom—that is, KURIOS ‘in the Lord.’—in whom the Lord—that is, Jesus Christ—you even …” It’s translated “you also,” but I think it’s more of ascensive. On the one hand we’re being built together as a holy temple, but not only that “you are even,” “you are also;” it is even more important. “… you even are being built together for a dwelling place of God by means of the Holy Spirit.”
Another important word, SUNOIKOD, we “are being built together …” There’s our root for a home, a dwelling, a building, something of that nature. SUNOIKODOMEO, we are built together. “Together” describes who? Jew and Gentile. God is breaking down all of these barriers related to ethnicity; these barriers related to race, and we are all one in the body of Christ.
We “are being built together for a dwelling place …” This is another word that has this same root. Paul coins several of these words; they are only found in his writings. He does this again and again to get our attention on the fact that this is a construction project, it’s ongoing. God is building it. We don’t build it ourselves. We can’t do anything about it.
It takes us back to Matthew where Jesus says to Peter, “Who do people say that I am?” Peter says, “Well, some think you’re Elijah, some think you’re John the Baptist.”
Jesus says, “Well, who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You’re the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus says, “Blessed are you because flesh and blood did not reveal it to you … on this rock ...” He’s not talking about what Peter said, He is referring to Himself. He’s the Rock, He’s the Cornerstone.
All through the Old Testament, God is referred to again and again and again as a rock. Jesus says, “On this rock—on Me—I will build My church.”
One of the problems today is that we have too many pastors that are trying to build the church. I just recently heard of a pastor of a rather large multi-campus church here in Houston that is resigning because he’s just overworked, he’s worn out and he’s depressed.
It just seems to me that when this happens, it’s because you’re trying to do God’s work instead of what God said to do. Christ said, “I’ll build the church. You feed the sheep.” Somebody asked me, “How many pastors do you know have run into this kind of a problem?”
I said, “Well, I know pastors who run into other problems, but they haven’t run into this problem because the pastors I know are focused on teaching the Word.”
There’s nothing more exciting in this life than to teach God’s Word and to study it day in and day out and to see all the things that God can teach you. We’re never going to run out of time in eternity, and we will always be learning more and more about God and more and more about His Word.
It is this dynamic thing; we’re being built into a dwelling place by God! If you look at these verbs all through here, they’re passive voice verbs. We’re not doing it ourselves; God is doing it. We are being built together as a dwelling place of God.
This should be a dwelling place for God. That’s the sense here. It’s a genitive, and so it’s translated correctly, but not precisely. It should be that we “are being built together for a dwelling place FOR God.”
Who is this? This is God the Father.
Interestingly—I spent about 1½ hours working on this last night, and I’m not going to be teaching it anytime soon—but trying to discern in various Old Testament passages who is being talked about here.
For example, we’ve talked about Isaiah’s vision where he is suddenly transported into the presence of God at the throne of God in Isaiah 6, before the Lord of Hosts. Some have said, and I may have said this at some point, that that is a title for Christ.
It is clear in passages in Isaiah where you have Yahweh and His Redeemer saying something. The Redeemer of course, refers the Second Person of the Trinity; the Redeemer is called the Lord of Hosts.
But if you look at this language as it’s used in Psalm 46 and 47, it’s identified with El Elyon Who goes back to Genesis 14. Melchizedek worshiped El Elyon, so that’s most likely God the Father. In Psalm 46–47 it’s connected to the sovereign God who is the King of the Earth.
If you look carefully at Isaiah, in places he’s identifying the Lord of Hosts with the king of the Earth—Who is not the Son—that’s always a term for the Father.
It is enough to turn your brains inside out trying to figure this out. Why? Because God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are one.
I understand there are nuances of difference, but if you just look at it first blush in John 1:18, “No one has seen the Father at any time …” then go to Jesus’ conversation with Philip in John 14, Jesus says, “Philip, if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.”
Wait a minute! Which is it? “No man has seen the Father at any time,” or “if you’ve seen me you’ve seen the Father?” The point is Jesus is the manifestation of the Trinity, so you see who God is in terms of His character by looking at Jesus.
In John 8, Jesus says, “I and the Father are one.” When He says, “I and the Father are one,” and “if you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father,” that means that there is unity in the Godhead that having seen one you’ve seen all three.
There are places where I believe that the Scripture is not distinguishing which member of the Trinity it is. We always want to say, “Is that the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit?” I think sometimes it’s just talking about the Triune God.
Sometimes it’s difficult to discern this. Ephesians 2:22 it’s clear, I think, within the context of some of the things that are said, “in whom you are being built together for a dwelling place of God—here it’s God the Father—by means of the Spirit.”
It’s another reference to the Trinity here, just as we noted earlier in this section dealing with the roles of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Here you have God the Father, you have Christ, and you have the Spirit.
Remember, Ephesians 4–6 relates to what’s built in the first three chapters. Ephesians 4:6, the statement “one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all,” is making it clear that God the Father dwells in every believer.
Also passages like Colossians 1:27, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
So, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit all take up residence inside the believer.
A lot of scholars say, “Well, it’s all done by the Spirit. You don’t have all Three there.” But we have to accept the fact that the Scriptures are precise in the language here. You have the Father in you, Christ in you, and the Holy Spirit in you. We are a temple.
I believe that in the Old Testament, it is the Triune God that is in the Holy of Holies. The Triune God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the Triune God is the God of Israel. It is not one or the other of the manifestations of the Trinity. It is God the Father.
You can’t say it is God the Son to the exclusion of the Father because there are too many places where it is the Mighty God Who is God the Father Who is the also called the God of Israel. I won’t go through all those passages because your eyes will glaze over after about five minutes; just the flyover version there.
What the Bible Teaches about the Indwelling of God the Holy Spirit
God the Holy Spirit is the one Who makes our body a temple for the indwelling of the Trinity. The two main passages are in Corinthians; we will look at a few others.
I Corinthians 3:16, Paul saying, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
I’ve always had a problem with this verse; the problem being, if you read most systematic theologies, they will say this is talking about the same thing that Ephesians is talking about, the body of Christ. I had a good friend who is now with the Lord, who was a pastor for many years and a theologian and wrote many articles and was a good scholar of the Word, and he and I would go around and around.
I remember the first time we hit this, he said, “This is the body of Christ.”
I said, “How do you get that?”
He said, “Well, because the ‘yous’ here are plural, so he is talking about the whole corporate church of Corinth.”
I was teaching Corinthians; had gotten to about Corinthians 5 at the time. I said, “Well, help me understand this; you can’t base that on the plural because every single time that a second person pronoun is used in the first five chapters of Corinthians it’s a plural, and they’re not all talking about the corporate body.”
The singular “you” can mean one person; or “you” in the singular can refer to a corporate group: “y’all,” or “all y’all.” I think that communicates.
Because if you say “all y’all,” you’re really talking about each one of you. If I say, “Y’all pray,” that could be misunderstood to mean I’m talking about the whole group to pray. But if I say “all y’all pray,” then I’m talking about each one of all of you pray. Does that communicate? You have to be a Southerner to get this.
“Y’all,” you in the plural, is used many times in the first 4 or 5 chapters of 1 Corinthians. It may go beyond that, but I have never taken the time to trace it all the way through the epistle.
1 Corinthians 1:10—is Paul’s first real expectation or command to the Corinthian congregation: “Now I plead with y’all, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all—y’all—speak the same thing …”
Is he talking to them as a corporate entity, or to each individual within the whole? He’s talking to each individual within the whole. Just because he says “y’all” doesn’t mean he’s talking about the corporate body. See, that’s what you’d have to have here.
To get the idea that this is talking about the corporate body—the church itself is the indwelling place of the Holy Spirit—you have to take the “y’all” here as a corporate sense. It never does that in the first five chapters of Corinthians. Everything up to this point is all about “y’all” in the plural, but that means each one of you. He’s talking about something that all y’all need to be doing.
Look at the context of 1 Corinthians 3:16, “Do you not know that y’all—every one of you—are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwells in you?”
He treats them all as being saved; he’s writing to the church. They’re carnal; they’re disobedient, they’re rotten, they’re divisive, they’re arrogant, they’re got all kinds of sin problems, but they’re still saved.
I Corinthians 3:17, “If anyone defiles—or corrupts—the temple of God, God will—uses the same word again—corrupt him.—that’s talking about divine discipline—For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are—y’all are.”
It is talking about each of you as an individual temple, and this becomes clear if you go to the next verse. Interestingly most theologians say, “The first one is talking about the whole entity, and this one is talking about the individual.” But I don’t see an argument there at all. It doesn’t wash.
1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you.”
Because it uses the word “body” here, they are forced to say, “Okay, this is talking about each individual.” Each individual is a temple that is set apart by the Holy Spirit. He not only indwells, but He is setting us apart positionally in Christ.
“… the temple of the Holy Spirit—He makes the temple for the indwelling of the Father and the Son; and it is He also—who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” Which makes it clear that this is not corporate, it’s individual, and the Holy Spirit is in you.
But if this is corporate, and some people will take it that way, how would you prove that the Holy Spirit dwells in each believer?
Romans 8:9; It’s also plural here, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit …” When Paul is talking to a group, he uses the plural, but he’s really talking about each one of you, “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you …” This is the clearest un-debated passage: if you’re saved, the Spirit of God dwells in you. “Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”
This sets this Church Age apart from all other ages because the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit indwell every believer. That’s never happened before, not even one member of the Trinity. The Old Testament doesn’t use “indwelling” language; the Spirit comes upon, comes to, but you don’t have this distinctive sanctifying ministry of the Holy Spirit.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit to Saul, to David, to prophets was always for the purpose of leadership responsibilities in the theocracy. It wasn’t for their personal spiritual life. It had to do with giving them wisdom for leadership, skill for constructing the furniture in the tabernacle or the temple; but it wasn’t for their spiritual life.
For prophets it had to do with giving them revelation, communicating the revelation of God that they were carried along by the Spirit as in 2 Peter 1:20–21.
Jesus predicted this in John 14:16, “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—”
John 14:17, “the Spirit of truth—the Spirit who gives truth; the one in charge of revelation—whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you—future tense.”
This is talking about something that is unique, distinct for the Church Age believer and is related to anointing. John uses “anointing;” Paul uses “indwelling.” It’s the same thing.
Often you hear false prophets and false teachers and false whatever on TV, “Oh, we need to have a special anointing of the Holy Spirit.” Well, there’s no Bible verse that talks about that. You get one anointing. When you trust Christ as Savior, you’re indwelt or anointed by the Holy Spirit.
1 John 2:27, “But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught in you, you will abide in Him.”
This relates it to our fellowship with the Lord, which brings us to a different topic.
Next we will talk about the ministries of God the Holy Spirit to the believer at salvation and after salvation, because there’s a lot of confusion about these things. It’s been a while since I’ve gone through those for everybody. So, we will hit those before we move on with the understanding of this new mystery, this new revelation about the church that Paul has been given.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study this morning to reflect on Your Word, to be reminded of the distinctive position that we have as believers in Christ, that we are in this body together—in His body.
“The language is so elevated; we are so significant in Your plan. There is such an import to this that, Father, we hardly identify with this, because we are not well trained in the Scriptures. We have been given so much, and You are making us this dwelling place—as a body of believers and as individual believers—a dwelling place for the Triune God. That Your glory will be manifested in and through us as we walk with You.
“Father, we pray that if anyone listening to this lesson has never trusted in Christ as Savior, never understood the gospel, never understood that salvation is necessary because we are born spiritually dead, but there’s nothing we can do to make ourselves savable, there’s nothing we can do to save ourselves.
“We can’t be good enough, as we’ve studied in this very chapter of Ephesians 2, it’s not by works; it is by faith; it is through faith in Christ and that is not of ourselves. That salvation through faith is a gift. It’s a free gift given to us, and it’s on the basis of trusting in Christ as Savior.
“Thank You for all that You’ve done for us and all the blessings You’ve given us. Challenge us as we continue to learn about them that we might live for You and not for ourselves. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”