Sunday, 6 September 2015
And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will dwell in them
And walk among them.
I will be their God,
And they shall be My people.”
2 Corinthians 6:16
Paul asks his fifth rhetorical question here with the words, “And what agreement has the temple of God with idols.” The word for “agreement” is sugkatathesis, and is only used here in the New Testament. It has a kindred verb which is found in Luke 23:51 and it literally means “…a putting down or depositing along with one. Hence of voting the same way with another, and so agreeing” (Vincent’s Word Studies).
Throughout the chapter, Paul has demonstrated a mastery over the Greek language with his use of special words to convey his thoughts clearly, accurately, and unambiguously. In this, his question is basically asking, “Why would you throw your lot in with idols?” In chapter 8, he will speak of conscience and how our actions towards idols, and things offered to idols, are to be handled. Now in order to avoid any misperceptions or abuses of what he said, he shows them the folly of being joined to idols. And the reason is explicitly stated, “For you are the temple of the living God.”
We are indwelt with the Holy Spirit. Because of this, it would be contrary to unite with idols. It would show a divided loyalty and Jesus Himself said that a man can only serve one master. Even the Old Testament shows us this clearly. Time and again, the true God is set in contrast to the false gods of the surrounding people. A classic example of this is found in 1 Kings 18 –
“And Elijah came to all the people, and said, “How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” 1 Kings 18:21
This is not the first time Paul has told them that they are the temple of God. In his first letter to them, he mentioned it also –
“Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16
He repeated the thought in 1 Corinthians 6:19 as well. It is certain that he wanted them to know this and not forget it. Therefore, in his letters to those in Corinth, and throughout his other writings, he warns against mixing with the powers of darkness, with worldly things, and etc.
And in order to show that this was something that had been prophesied about before the coming of Christ, he returns to the Old Testament. The words he selects show that his analogy of us being the temple of God was anticipated long before and that it would apply not only to Jews, but to Gentile believers as well.
His words are a composite of various verses from the Old Testament and convey the idea without being exact quotes. Three of the passages that were surely on his mind were Exodus 29:45, Leviticus 26:12, and Ezekiel 37:27. These are speaking to Israel about the Jewish nation. However, the book of Hosea shows that Gentiles being “My people” also applies. He deals with that concept more fully in Romans 9, citing Hosea at that time.
Life application: Because of Jesus, God has come to live within the people of the world. His Holy Spirit indwells us and has sealed us for the day of redemption. As this is true, why would we again join ourselves to forms of wickedness which are prohibited in Scripture? Paul’s five questions beg us to think on who we are as the redeemed of the Lord and to act in a manner appropriate to that state.
O God, there was a time when I walked in this world without You. I was lost and separate from You. But then I heard the message of peace and reconciliation which told me that Jesus had come to die for me that I might live for You. In receiving Him, I received You – a new birth and a new hope. Now please help me to live for You, honoring that great Name above all names – Jesus! Help me to live out my days in holiness and righteousness, putting away the ways of the world. Amen.