1 Corinthians 3:16-23

1 Corinthians 3:16
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
Temple - the inner sanctuary of the temple.
In this verse Paul is calling them the temple of God. The word “temple” is referring to the place where the Holy of Holies and the Holy place were. During the time of ancient Israel, God met with His people in the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant resided. When the Lord Jesus went to the cross and the moment God’s salvation plan was completed, the veil of the Temple was rent in two, from top to bottom. This now signified that the way to God was open for His people, through the Lord Jesus Christ. His people being those that the Lord Jesus redeemed by His sacrifice on Calvary.
This verse is pointing out that just as holy as the Holy of Holies was, the body of believers are compared to being that holy. This verse also points out the corporate nature of the body of Christ. The term “corporate” simply means a united group or entity with the same fixed goals. So any church or ministry which sends the true Gospel, is a corporate entity. Here we are taught that the Spirit of God dwells in that body. Now the Holy Spirit does not indwell a building or even a large gathering. He indwells each true believer individually and when there is a meeting or congregation of many true believers, the Bible refers to that as the Spirit of God dwelling in them. The Spirit of God does not dwell in the unbeliever. The reason that the unbelievers in the church are considered part of that group is because they are partaking of the benefits of the Holy Spirit but not salvation, unless they become saved. (Heb 6:4-5 KJV) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, {5} And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, This is why the gathered visible church, even with unbelievers in attendance, is considered holy.
1 Corinthians 3:17
If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Defile - Corrupt
What is the primary way that a church or individual Christian is defiled? It is by someone bringing in unholy teachings. Whenever false teachings are introduced into a church and accepted, then the one who has brought those teachings in, along with those who accept them are defiling the temple of God. Those who bring in false teachings and Gospels are normally the unbelievers which God is going to eventually destroy in hell on Judgment Day. (Jude 1:4 KJV) For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. One of the problems the modern Church faces is that with the advent of the media ministries, many false teachings are pumped through the airwaves and non-discerning people are clinging to them, and once that happens, they go to church and tell others to listen to that teacher and soon, if those teachings are error, the church will have been invaded by a false teaching. The problem is that Christians do not even know the solemnity of bringing in false teachings to a church. Whenever anyone introduces a false teaching which goes opposite of Scripture, they are defiling that body which God calls holy. Any time a person hears something and is not sure, they need to go and compare it with the Scriptures and then seek the counsel of a godly Christian. If the teaching is error, then it should be scrapped immediately. If it is truth, then it is to be accepted.
1 Corinthians 3:18
Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
Paul here says that a man or anyone should not deceive themselves. If there is anyone in the church who seems to be a wise man according to the dictates of this world, they will never know Christ. The wisdom of this world is foolish and is earthly which is against the spiritual nature of the Christian and Christianity. (Mat 11:25 KJV) At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. Even the Lord Jesus was thanking His Father that these great spiritual truths were hidden from the wise of this world. In other words, these truths are too great for a worldly Ph.D. to handle, instead they are more readily accepted by the simple in this world who accept God’s truth by faith, and not dissection. (1 Cor 1:19 KJV) For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
Then the verse goes on to say that those who are wise in this world, which would be the over-educated or the cynical, need to become fools, so they may become wise in the things of God. The world sees Christians as fools, yet in God’s sight we are the wise. (Dan 12:10 KJV) Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
1 Corinthians 3:19
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
Foolishness - Moronic or Stupid
Taketh - Entraps
Craftiness - Evil subtlety or Sophism
This verse openly tells it like it is. The world looks at the wisdom of God and deems it to be foolishness, which is the same word for moronic. The world makes this assumption from a point of ignorance. Now God turns the table on them and says their wisdom is foolish, but, God is telling them from the point of total knowledge. God adds one more dimension to this in that God is so wise above these people, that He says that He will entrap them in their own evilness. The world thinks their wisdom is so high and lofty, but God will bring them down. (Oba 1:4 KJV) Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD. As God brought down the nation of Edom because of their arrogance toward Israel, He will bring down the wisdom of the wise of this world. Basically, the world’s wisdom is its own snare.
Let me give you an analogy which demonstrates the difference between worldly wisdom and the wisdom of God. I am in contact with some prisoners and one of them told a friend of mine that he was speaking to another inmate. The other inmate told him that he was caught doing what he was doing because he was trying to live a better life. The Christian inmate said to him, “You could have gotten a job at McDonalds for $6.50 an hour but instead you come here for 90 a day.” Do you see the difference between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom of God?
1 Corinthians 3:20
And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
Thoughts - Reasoning or disputing
Vain - Useless, empty, foolish
Here again God is repeating His thesis on the wisdom of man. He has already told us that it is nothing more than foolishness to think that a mortal can have wisdom that supercedes the wisdom of God. God tells us here that their wisdom is empty and lacks any viable substance. The wisdom of man may fix a car or a TV, but how many cars and TV’s are going to be in Hell or Heaven? Man’s arguments will cease when he does and the only wisdom that goes on into eternity will be the wisdom of God, which is disregarded by the world and categorized as foolishness.
1 Corinthians 3:21
Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
The first part of this verse is not only a warning to the world but it is also a warning to the Christian. Many Christians follow certain Bible teachers and preachers and when they adopt their belief systems, they seem to glory in it. No human being is ever to glory in man, because when you glory in a man, you are worshipping the creature instead of the creator. The only reason that Bible teacher may have much good wisdom is because God gives it to them. The source, not the vessel is the one we glory in. (Gal 6:14 KJV) But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
(Psa 118:8-9 KJV) It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man. {9} It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in princes.
The reason that we are not to find our glory in man is because they can never give us what God has given us. God has given us salvation and Paul warns us in Galatians 6:14 that we are to glory in the cross of Christ, and part of crucifying the world unto us is the crucifying of the temptation to exalt man. Our verse tells us that all things are ours and this is a great promise stated in just five words.
(Eph 1:3 KJV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
The Ephesians verse tells us that God has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. This means that every Christian has been given everything needed for life here and eternal life. This idea that the Charismatics promote of them having the Full Gospel because they speak in tongues and believe in lying visions is a blasphemy. Every Christian receives the Full Gospel because they receive the Holy Spirit who lives in them. How much fuller can you get with God living inside you?
1 Corinthians 3:22
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
The Christian is going to inherit everything God has. (Rom 8:17 KJV) And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. We are going to be heirs of Heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ. One of the great truths that this verse is telling us, is that we also have the benefit of the ministry of other Christians. Whether we are just receiving the benefits from them ministering to us or we are partaking of their ministry, all of this belongs to the child of God. When Paul mentions the world, he is also telling us that we have benefits from the world as God’s creation. Let me quickly illustrate. In the world we have the ionosphere which blankets the world like a canopy and has the ability to bounce radio signals back to earth to cover long distances. This is the principle on which Shortwave radio works. If I had a shortwave station, I could send a signal from New Jersey, and with the right conditions, I can be heard thousands of miles away. This is one of the benefits we may partake of. God designed these things for the purpose of sending forth the Gospel over thousands of miles. This is why Paul is telling us that everything belongs to the Christian, yes, even adversity, but it does strengthen us.
1 Corinthians 3:23
And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.
We belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God. This does not mean that Christ is less than God but refers to His mission and office. (John 17:6 KJV) I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. We may have all the worldly benefits to send forth the Gospel, but the greatest gift of the Father to us, is that we belong to Christ, which means we have eternal life, far beyond the scope of this present world. No Christian can ever belong to a teacher or preacher, for it is Christ who died for His Elect. A true teacher or preacher will gain a following for Christ, and not for themselves.