April 20, 2023

In What Way Are Our Bodies Temples of the Holy Spirit?

Nathan W. Bingham & Harry Reeder
In What Way Are Our Bodies Temples of the Holy Spirit?

The Bible is saturated with imagery of God dwelling with His people. Today, Harry Reeder expounds on what it means for our bodies to be a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.


NATHAN W. BINGHAM: Today on the Ask Ligonier podcast, I’m joined by Dr. Harry Reeder, the senior minister at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. Reeder, what does it mean that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?

DR. HARRY REEDER: Hey, great question. So, Nathan, thanks for assigning this one to me. This particular question I love. And if you don’t mind, let me do just a little bit of biblical theology.

The temple of God was the dwelling place of God. So, in the Old Testament, you had the Tent of Meeting, then the tabernacle, and then the temple. The Tent of Meeting then was placed in the tabernacle, and it traveled through the wilderness. And then once they’re in the promised land, under Solomon, the temple was built, the Solomonic Temple, which became the testimony of the holy of holies, where the shekinah glory of God dwelt in the midst of His people.

The Tent of Meeting, the tabernacle, and the temple were all pointing to Christ. The Bible says that “the Word, Christ, became flesh,” and literally “templed” or “tabernacled” among us, “and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). So, the fulfillment of the Tent of Meeting, and the tabernacle, and the temple in the Old Testament is Jesus. He is the Temple of God.

Now, you come to the New Testament, and Jesus sets up three temples in the New Testament. He sets up the local church as the temple of God. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul says to the church at Corinth, “Do you not know”—pardon me, this is the Southern American Standard translation— “Do you not know that y’all are a temple?” (see v. 3). He’s not talking about the individual Christian. He’s talking about that local church in Corinth. Y’all, all of you together, are a temple. If He’s talking about the individual Christian, then he would say, “Y’all are temples.” But he says, “Y’all are_ a_ temple.”

Then 1 Corinthians 6, which our listener has asked about, is speaking of the individual Christian: “Do you not know that your individual body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?” (see v. 19). And then in Ephesians 2, the church universal is said to be “the household of God, founded upon the apostles and the prophets, Christ, being the cornerstone, growing into a temple, the dwelling place of God” (see vv. 19–22).

So let’s go back to his question, which is focusing on the New Testament temple of God, the dwelling place of God—and that’s the individual Christian. This is also indicated in Romans chapter 12. After expounding the gospel, the Apostle Paul says this. He says, “I urge you therefore, brothers, present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service of worship” (see v. 2).

The temple was the place of God’s dwelling. It was marked by the Word, by intercessory prayer, and by outreach. It was marked by upreach (worship), marked by outreach (evangelism), marked by inreach (the enfolding of God’s people). That was the place they were enfolded. The dwelling place of God, that was the place that proclaimed the truth to all the nations. That was the house of prayer. That was the house of teaching and the Word.

So, the individual Christian is to be marked by the Word of God, is to be marked as a witness for Christ, and is to be marked as a man or a woman of prayer. Where God dwells, God is relied upon, and God is focused upon, and God is sought, and God is exalted. That’s why he says: “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? What fellowship can you possibly have with sin if God—the thrice holy God—dwells within you? What fellowship can you have with it?” Where God is, God is exalted, sin is killed, and Christ is preeminent.