This article was first published on the Revive Israel website
here on April 18th 2018 and on the Kehila News website
here on April 25th 2018.
Imagine my shock on the elliptical
machine, sweat running down my cheeks, meditating on 1 Corinthians 3, when
it hit me - Paul is not talking about exercise!
Ron Cantor Revive Israel
In the passage, the apostle speaks of rewards in heaven, and then suddenly
he starts talking about our bodies being the Temple of God. I wondered, how
did he get there? It doesn't seem to connect. I went back and reread
the verses, before and after, and noticed a word I had never seen there:
Together. And, boom, it hit me!
And how ironic that I was exercising - taking care of the "temple," so to
speak - when I realized that eating right, not smoking and exercising had
NOTHING to do with what Paul was talking about when he said:
"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that
God's Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God's
temple, God will destroy that person; for God's temple is sacred, and
you together are that temple" (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
Now to be clear, in 1 Corinthians 6, he does refer to our bodies being
temples of the Holy Spirit, in regards to sexual immortality. This is why
sexual sins are especially perverse, because the presence of Jesus is
inside our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:18-20).
This is different than his meaning in chapter three. In chapter six, he
says "temples" - plural, meaning that the presence of God dwells in every
"individual" believer. But in chapter three, he says, that we together are
the Temple (singular) of God. He is speaking of the entire body of Messiah.
Why is this Important!?
Paul is very concerned about the Corinthians, who are rife with divisions
(1 Corinthians 1:12). He then rebukes them in chapter three for this
We think "worldly" means listening to secular music, but worldly in the New
Testament sense, means living life in the fleshly carnality of anger,
strife, division, pride, jealously, etc. The Spirit-empowered believer is
called to live on a higher level. Now, in verse 16 and 17, we see that Paul
was far more concerned about their unity than he was about their diet.
The word for you in Greek is plural in these verses, hence the NIV adds the
word "together" at the end of v. 17 to emphasize that we, the body of
Messiah, together, are the Temple of God, not as individuals. This actually
highlights something that is unique, and dangerous, about the English
language: we have no 2nd person, plural pronoun! "You" can be speaking of
an individual or a group. (Albeit in some dialects there is "y'all.")
Sadly, there are hundreds - maybe thousands - of places in both Old
Covenant and New when the Scripture is speaking to us as a people, as a
congregation, as a collective "you", but only in the English language can
it sound like He is speaking to just one, individual "you", So when he says
that God will destroy the person who destroys God's temple, he is not
talking about individuals smoking cigarettes or over-eating (things I do
not recommend) - he is talking about those who cause division!
The New Testament speaks regarding the sin of schism or division in the
strongest language, "If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy
that person." In the midst of division, people fall away from the faith.
Division and splits break God's heart because they rip apart the body
Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to separate: gross sin, false
teaching or a leader who is abusing the flock. But most splits are rooted
in pride and hurt feelings.
Unity does not mean Uniformity
In Paul's letter, he refers to some being loyal to Apollos, others to
himself and some to Cephas (Peter). We could take this too far and say
loyalty to a group or subdivision of the body of believers is wrong. That
is not what Paul is saying here. There was nothing wrong with the fact that
Apollos had a group of disciples that were loyal to him as their leader.
The issue is not the groupings, but the pride that enters in. Once you
start thinking that your team is the best, you have entered a dangerous
place. Paul was thrilled that Apollos was bearing fruit - he was not
thrilled that some of these disciples were overly loyal to a man and
standing in judgment of other leaders or movements. My connection with
Tikkun International doesn't cause me to judge other movements.
Rather, I celebrate each one's unique gifting and calling. We can
have unity without uniformity, and we can celebrate the work of God in
to support the vision of Revive Israel.
There have been comments to this article ...
9:20am 29May18, Ron and Darla Ellyson: This is profound & encouraging to our hearts -- thank you, Ron.
12:27pm 29May18, Denise Russell: Thank you for the insight into what brother Paul meant.
1:09pm 30May18, Dorothy Smith: Thank you for making that so clear! I had never seen the
difference before but now I will never forget it and what it
2:16pm 31May18, Dr I Crowmell: I perfectly agree with you; well done and thank you. This goes
in the face of TRUE MEMBERSHIP of our G-d's church. We are all
members in His one body church and should help each other. The
problem with churches today is that if you are not a written down
member, you are totally excluded from anything within that church
UNTIL YOU CONFORM!!! SORRY, BUT THAT is not biblical or
6:17pm 31May18, Wayne Fleming: Praise God!!!
4:28pm 15Jun18, Scott Stanger: This is a simple yet profound insight. Psalm 133 shows us that
God is provoked to command a blessing where there is unity. John
17 shows Jesus praying for our unity because we are made perfect
there and make our most convincing witness to the world. And
Ephesians 4 shows us a vitally important role of the Ascension
Gifts is to train us into unity unto fullness.
4:53am 16Jun18, Pamela Rhoten: Thank you for the insight!
6:21pm 16Jun18, Martha Mc.: Glory to G-d for your insight into this scripture. I too will not
forget your teaching of 1 Cor. 3. And I appreciate you
referencing we Texans in your article.
Let us know what you think - why not comment to this
The authors of these articles are often involved
in intense ministry and are thus unable to respond to all
comments. As is normal with print and online magazines,
Tikkun reserves the right to publish only those comments we
feel are edifying in tone and content.
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