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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 3:17

 

 

If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

Adam Clarke Commentary

If any man defile the temple - This clause is not consistently translated. Ει τις τον ναον του Θεου φθειρει, φθερει τουτον ὁ Θεος If any man destroy the temple of God, him will God destroy. The verb is the same in both clauses. If any man injure, corrupt, or destroy the Church of God by false doctrine, God will destroy him - will take away his part out of the book of life. This refers to him who wilfully opposes the truth; the erring, mistaken man shall barely escape; but the obstinate opposer shall be destroyed. The former shall be treated leniently; the latter shall have judgment without mercy.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

If any man defile … - Or, “destroy, corrupt” ( φθείρει phtheirei). The Greek word is the same in both parts of the sentence. “If any man ‹destroy‘ the temple of God, God shall ‹destroy‘ him.” This is presented in the form of an adage or proverb. And the truth here stated is based on the fact that the temple of God was inviolable. That temple was holy; and if any man subsequently destroyed it, it might be presumed that God would destroy him. The figurative sense is, “If any man by his doctrines or precepts shall pursue such a course as tends to destroy the church, God shall severely punish him.

For the temple of God is holy - The temple of God is to be regarded as sacred and inviolable. This was unquestionably the common opinion among the Jews respecting the temple at Jerusalem; and it was the common doctrine of the Gentiles respecting their temples. Sacred places were regarded as inviolable; and this general truth Paul applies to the Christian church in general - Locke supposes that Paul had particular reference here to the false teachers in Corinth. But the expression, “if any man,” is equally applicable to all other false teachers as to him.

Which temple ye are - This proves that though Paul regarded them as lamentably corrupt in some respects, he still regarded them as a true church - as a part of the holy temple of God.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-corinthians-3.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye.

The conduct of the Corinthians was such that the Spirit of God would be grieved and denied of any place in their hearts, thus destroying God's true temple; and just as any defilement of the ancient tabernacle had been punishable by death, there would be fearful retribution against all who defile the church. In context, this was a terrible warning to the Corinthians, but it applies to all who ever became a part of God's church. As Grosheide declared: "It is clear that the judgment of God is meant; it may refer to suffering loss (1 Corinthians 3:15), but also to eternal life."[27]

ENDNOTE:

[27] F. W. Grosheide, op. cit., p. 89.


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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/1-corinthians-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

If any man defile the temple of God,.... By the wisdom of the world, through philosophy, and vain deceit; by bringing in false doctrines, errors, and heresies, and hereby corrupt their minds from the simplicity that is in Christ; and make rents, factions, and divisions among them:

him shall God destroy; body and soul in hell; for as their wicked principles and heretical notions are pernicious to others, they are damnable to themselves, and will bring upon them that judgment which lingereth not, and that damnation which slumbereth not. The false prophet, as well as the beast, and the devil, shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone. God is not only an avenger of all immoralities committed against his righteous law, but of all false doctrine and false worship, and of everything that is contrary to the Gospel, and to the order and ordinances of it. The reason of this is,

for the temple of God is holy; alluding to the holiness of Solomon's temple,

"into which a man might not go with his staff, nor with his shoes on, nor with his purse, nor with dust upon his feet, nor might he make it a thoroughfare, and much less spit in itF15Misn. Beracot, c. 9. sect. 5. .'

And yet, how was it polluted in our Lord's time by the Jews, who made it a den of thieves, instead of an house of prayer?

which temple ye are. This is added for further confirmation, and to assert their holiness in doctrine, worship, and conversation, and to deter the false teachers from making use of any means to corrupt them in either.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-corinthians-3.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

If any man f defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye are.

(f) Defiles it and makes it unclean, being holy: and surely they do defile it, by Paul's judgment, who by fleshly eloquence defile the purity of the Gospel.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/1-corinthians-3.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

defile … destroy — rather as the Greek verb is the same in both cases, “destroy … destroy.” God repays in kind by a righteous retaliation. The destroyer shall himself be destroyed. As temporal death was the penalty of marring the material temple (Leviticus 16:2; Daniel 5:2, Daniel 5:3, Daniel 5:30), so eternal death is the penalty of marring the spiritual temple - the Church. The destroyers here (1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Corinthians 3:17), are distinct from the unwise or unskillful builders (1 Corinthians 3:12, 1 Corinthians 3:15); the latter held fast the “foundation” (1 Corinthians 3:11), and, therefore, though they lose their work of superstructure and the special reward, yet they are themselves saved; the destroyers, on the contrary, assailed with false teaching the foundation, and so subvert the temple itself, and shall therefore be destroyed. (See on 1 Corinthians 3:10), [Estius and Neander]. I think Paul passes here from the teachers to all the members of the Church, who, by profession, are “priests unto God” (Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6). As the Aaronic priests were doomed to die if they violated the old temple (Exodus 28:43), so any Christian who violates the sanctity of the spiritual temple, shall perish eternally (Hebrews 12:14; Hebrews 10:26, Hebrews 10:31).

holy — inviolable (Habakkuk 2:20).

which temple ye are — rather, “the which (that is, holy) are ye” [Alford], and, therefore, want of holiness on the part of any of you (or, as Estius, “to tamper with the foundation in teaching you”) is a violation of the temple, which cannot be let to pass with impunity. Grotius supports English Version.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/1-corinthians-3.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Destroyeth (πτειρειphtheirei). The outward temple is merely the symbol of God‘s presence, the Shechinah (the Glory). God makes his home in the hearts of his people or the church in any given place like Corinth. It is a terrible thing to tear down ruthlessly a church or temple of God like an earthquake that shatters a building in ruins. This old verb πτειρωphtheirō means to corrupt, to deprave, to destroy. It is a gross sin to be a church-wrecker. There are actually a few preachers who leave behind them ruin like a tornado in their path.

Him shall God destroy (πτερει τουτον ο τεοςphtherei touton ho theos). There is a solemn repetition of the same verb in the future active indicative. The condition is the first class and is assumed to be true. Then the punishment is certain and equally effective. The church-wrecker God will wreck. What does Paul mean by “will destroy”? Does he mean punishment here or hereafter? May it not be both? Certainly he does not mean annihilation of the man‘s soul, though it may well include eternal punishment. There is warning enough here to make every pastor pause before he tears a church to pieces in order to vindicate himself.

Holy (αγιοςhagios). Hence deserves reverential treatment. It is not the building or house of which Paul speaks as “the sanctuary of God” (τον ναον του τεουton naon tou theou), but the spiritual organization or organism of God‘s people in whom God dwells, “which temple ye are” (οιτινες εστε υμειςhoitines este humeis). The qualitative relative pronoun οιτινεςhoitines is plural to agree with υμειςhumeis (ye) and refers to the holy temple just mentioned. The Corinthians themselves in their angry disputes had forgotten their holy heritage and calling, though this failing was no excuse for the ringleaders who had led them on. In 1 Corinthians 6:19 Paul reminds the Corinthians again that the body is the temple (ναοςnaos sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit, which fact they had forgotten in their immoralities.


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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/1-corinthians-3.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Defile ( φθείρει )

Rev., more correctly, destroy. This is the primary and almost universal meaning in classical Greek. In a fragment of Euripides it occurs of dishonoring a female. Sophocles uses it of women pining away in barrenness, and Plutarch of mixing pure colors. The phrase seems to be used here according to the Jewish idea that the temple was destroyed or corrupted by the slightest defilement or damage, or by neglect on the part of its guardians. Ignatius says: “ οἱ οἰκοφθόροι ; violators of the house (of God) shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (To the Ephesians, 16).

Which temple ( οἵτινες )

Temple is not in the Greek. The double relative which refers to the epithet holy; “of which holy character or class ye are.”


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Bibliography
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/vnt/1-corinthians-3.html. Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

If any man destroy the temple of God — Destroy a real Christian, by schisms, or doctrines fundamentally wrong.

Him shall God destroy — He shall not be saved at all; not even as through the fire."


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/1-corinthians-3.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

17.If any man corrupts the temple of God. He subjoins a dreadful threatening — that, as the temple of God ought to be inviolably sacred, that man, whoever he may be, that corrupts it, will not pass with impunity. The kind of profanation of which he now speaks, is, when men intrude themselves, so as to bear rule in the Church in the place of God. For as that faith, which is devoted to the pure doctrine of Christ, is called elsewhere spiritual chastity, (2 Corinthians 11:2,) so it also sanctifies our souls for the right and pure worship of God. For as soon as we are tinctured with the contrivances of men, the temple of God is polluted, as it were, with filth, because the sacrifice of faith, which he claims for himself alone, is in that case offered to creatures.


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Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/1-corinthians-3.html. 1840-57.

Vv. 17. Again an asyndeton. 1 Corinthians 3:16 was the minor of the syllogism of which 1 Corinthians 3:17 is the major: "Ye are a temple...; he is destroyed who destroys a temple..., therefore..." The conclusion which is self-evident is understood.

The future φθερεῖ, shall destroy, is no doubt the true reading, though the present φθείρει might also be defended as the present of the idea, and consequently of certain realization. In 1 Corinthians 3:15, notwithstanding the loss of the reward (the ζημιοῦσθαι), the salvation of the workman was reserved; here, it is excluded. The punishment increases with the guilt: "As thou has treated the house of God, thou shalt be treated." The Greco-Lat. reading, αὐτόν, him, emphasizes the identity of the man who has destroyed and who is destroyed. But the Alex. and Byz. reading, τοῦτον, him, this man, is at once better supported and more forcible.

The following proposition gives us to know the wherefore of this severe treatment; the dignity of the building to which this sacrilegious workman does violence. The force of the proof rests on the attribute ἅγιος, holy. What is holy, that is to say, consecrated to God, partakes of the inviolability of God Himself.

The apostle finding it superfluous to enunciate the conclusion in full, contents himself with suggesting it by the last words: "a holy temple, which ye are." The plural pronoun οἵτινες is a case of attraction from the following ὑμεῖς. This relative pronoun of quality is to be connected not with ναός only, nor with ἅγιος only, but with the entire phrase, ναὸς ἅγιος, holy temple.

To what persons did this warning and threatening apply? Evidently to those who had laboured at Corinth in such a way that they had ended with disorganizing the Church, poisoning its religious and moral life, and compromising the Divine work so happily begun and carried forward in that great city. Here it is, as it seems to me, that we find the full explanation of the end of chap. 2 , where Paul spoke of the psychical or natural man, distinguishing him from the yet carnal Christian (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). The majority of the Church of Corinth belonged to the second category; but there was certainly a minority in it whom the apostle ranked in the first. It was they whom he had in view in the last two so severe verses of chap. 2: the man who has only his natural understanding; and it is to them he returns in the verses immediately following, where he again, as in chap. 1 , puts worldly wisdom on its trial. We have already said: these various passages, as it seems to us, can only concern those of Christ, as they are unmasked in the Second Epistle. But why does the apostle address this warning not to the guilty themselves, but to the Church: "Know ye not that ye are a temple of God," and all that follows? It is because he wishes to excite the whole Church to a holy indignation, and to call forth within it a vigorous reaction against the authors of these troubles; comp. the appeal to the vigilance of believers, Philippians 3:2 : "Beware of evil workers." In the following verses, Paul shows the source of the evil, as he had already pointed it out in chap. 1 , in order to open the eyes of both.


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Bibliography
Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsc/1-corinthians-3.html.

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

‘WHICH TEMPLE YE ARE’

‘For the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.’

1 Corinthians 3:17

That each one of you is a ‘temple,’ we have St. Paul’s own authority. ‘Know ye not that your body’—each body in itself individually—‘your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?’ The thought seems to be too wonderful to be true. ‘What! my poor, vile body “a temple”?’ God has said it. And when you die, that body will still be the ruin of a temple. Treat it sacredly!

I. If you ask when you were made a temple, I say, at your baptism. But this consecration is not once only; it is often repeated. By your birth you were God’s. By your baptism you were sealed to be God’s. And by your spiritual birth—whenever that birth was, whether at baptism, or subsequently—whenever the Holy Ghost worked in you consciously, and you, by your own act, made yourself His, and you felt His power and grace in you—then you became, on your part, what you were before on His part, God’s very own. You are His special dwelling-place, ‘His temple.’ So that the date of the process with most of us is fivefold—Birth, Baptism, Conversion, Confirmation, Holy Communion. Thus consecrated, not by man, nor for man, but for the Holy Ghost, you became ‘a temple’; and your ‘body’ is the holy place, and your soul is ‘the holy of holies.’

II. Now carry out this thought to some of its legitimate and necessary conclusions, and see its grand, its awful, its blessed results.

(a) I see one of you mingling with common men, as a common man, in common intercourse. Is ‘the temple of God’ to be such a common thing as that?

(b) I see another demeaning and debasing his body and his mind for sheer worldliness—given to pleasure, to appetite, to money; and I hear the voice of Him Who walks in the temple say, ‘Take those things hence! Make not My Father’s house a house of merchandise!’

(c) I see another: he drinks, he profligates, he gives himself to unclean things. And I go to that unhappy man, and I say, ‘Do you know, do you remember, what you are? You are “a temple,” the temple of the living God! Is that public-house, is that wicked place a fit spot for you? Are these things fit for you? It is sacrilege! You are mixing God with devils! It is sacrilege! And hear what God says to you—who are drunken, who are profane, who are profligate—‘If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy!’

(d) I go to a darkened chamber, where a child of God lies sick and ill and sorrowing, longing, with earnest breast, for the courts of God’s house again, and all those sweet services which once it loved so well. ‘Oh! that I had wings like a dove, for then would I flee away, and be at rest’; and I say to that ‘prisoner of hope,’ ‘You are yourself the sanctuary. You sanctify the very couch you lie upon. For God is in you. You carry Him wherever you are. The services which go up from that dark sick room of yours will be to God as true and as acceptable (for God has placed you there) as if you were worshipping in the holiest fane. You are the temple.’

III. To every believer and every temple of God, what is the message?—You are named by a holy name. You are sanctified by the Holy Church—and by the Holy One. Be holy! Look well to it that the temple of your heart has all its parts: the porch of faith; the base of truth; the pillars of sound doctrine; the nave of love; the chancel of holiness; the pinnacles of heaven.

Illustration

‘Every Church has three parts—the outer, which is all the baptized, and which make the general congregation; the inner, the communicants; the innermost, the spiritual, the real spiritually-minded, which is the invisible Church—called “invisible” because only God can see its boundaries, and no human eye can detect who do belong to it and who do not. But the strength of the Church, the real proof of the Church, is the last. We should all be travelling from the font to the holy table; and from the holy table to heaven.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE CALL TO SEPARATION

The idea of a temple would be perfectly easy and simple to the Corinthians. But St. Paul puts it in a new way; he says, ‘The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.’

I. What we mean, he seems to say, by a temple is this: A temple has in it that Holy of Holies, that altar of incense and sacrifice; the Greek temple had its Holy of Holies, and he says now the Holy of Holies is a Christian soul, that is the dwelling-place of the Spirit of God; and he says the altar of incense is the Christian life, offered and dedicated to God; that instead of that architecture of Solomon or of Herod, instead of all the wood and stones that built up those old temples, now he says the temple of God is a spirit made conscious of its magnificent destiny as the dwelling-place of the Eternal, living out a life of high endeavour and lofty aspiration; striving, feebly enough it may be, but at least trying to reach in some sort of way the purity and holiness of which Jesus is the perfect pattern.

II. Another thought is that of standing apart from all that is low and mean and frivolous, all that is merely of the world worldly, and emphatically what is of sin, just as a great church towers in its magnificence above the meaner and obscurer buildings around. He tells us that if we are to be the temple of God we must be impressive as a temple of God is, as your temple of God is. There can be no one whose soul is so dim as not to be impressed by a great church. And as the great churches are impressive, so if we are the temples of God we are to be impressive too; impressive for God, impressive for truth, impressive for the honour of His name, reflecting some of the light that we trust we have received. And if we do reflect it we may be quite sure we are helping other people; because as it is true that you cannot touch pitch without being defiled, so it is equally true that goodness is contagious. You cannot live in a house with what we call Christian people, people of prayer, people of deep holiness, without being strengthened by the power of their goodness and devotion.

—Rev. H. Baron Dickinson.

Illustration

‘A temple is a place where God manifests Himself to man, and where man dedicates himself to God. And so it was that in that holy temple upon the hill of Sion there were two objects round which every rite and ceremony revolved, the Holy of Holies and the altar of incense and sacrifice. The Holy of Holies in which are the Shekinah, the mercy seat, God revealing Himself to man; the altar of incense and sacrifice on which man gave himself to God, in prayers which ascended like the burning fumes of incense, and with the blood of bulls and goats at God’s command.’


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Bibliography
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1876.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Ver. 17. Which temple ye are] Man is God’s temple; God man’s altar. Demosthenes (contra Aristog.) could say, that man’s heart was God’s best and most stately temple, Iustitia, verecundia, et observantia legum communitum. Justice, respected and heeded, reinforces the law.


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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1865-1868.

Sermon Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 3:17

I. The human soul God's truest temple. This truth expresses one of the great changes introduced by Christianity. The question to be answered, in order to illustrate its meaning, is this: Why has Christianity abolished the one local house, broken down the holy place, and consecrated man himself as the dwelling-place of the Most High? To show why this must be—why only man can be the true temple—we must trace it from two of the great principles of Christianity; for unless we see how this truth arises from the foundation facts of Christianity, we shall not see clearly into its meaning and power. (1) The first principle is—God equally present everywhere. I call that a great Christian fact: though recognised in Judaism and uttered by the prophets, it never broke forth into its wonderful glory until Christ appeared. And as you look at the whole tendency of Christ's teaching and life, you will find that Christianity is emphatically the revelation of the near and all-surrounding God. Christ showed that nature was no dead machine, but the living work of an ever-present Father. (2) God is most clearly manifested in humanity. This is obviously embodied in the incarnation of Christ. There in Christ was the holy of holies. There was the altar which made every other altar fire grow pale and expire. The Man, the Divine Man, sorrowful and sacrificed, became the temple of Jehovah. Bring, now, these two principles together: God equally present everywhere—the old Temple vanished; God most highly manifested in humanity—the Christian soul the temple of God—therefore temples of God ye are!

II. The manner of realising it. Of course it can be attained only through the indwelling of the Divine Spirit in man. In man there is a trinity of power—thought, emotion, action. In order to become a temple, all these must be consecrated. (1) Intellect to realise God's presence. (2) Emotion—the fire of impassioned devotion. (3) Action. Thought and feeling are both vain without this.

III. The results of the realisation. (1) God manifested to the world. (2) Elevation of life above the sinful, trifling, earthly. Realise the Divine within you, and you will not defile the temple of God. Let immortal hope glorify your work. His is no vain life who has, through the Spirit, become a temple of Jehovah.

E. L. Hull, Sermons, 1st series, p. 286.


References: 1 Corinthians 3:17.—Preacher's Monthly, vol. ii., p. 258; E. L. Hull, Sermons, 1st series, p. 246. 1 Corinthians 3:18.—H. Hird, Church of England Pulpit, vol. x., p. 426; A. D. Davidson, Lectures and Sermons, p. 415.


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Bibliography
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Sermon Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/sbc/1-corinthians-3.html.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

1 Corinthians 3:17. If any man It is not unreasonable to think, that, by any man, St. Paul designs one particular man;—namely, the false Apostle, who, it is probable, by the strength of his party, supporting and retaining the fornicator mentioned, ch. 5 in the church, had defiled it. We may look upon most of the disorders in this church as owing to the false Apostle; which is the reason why St. Paul sets himself so much against him in both these Epistles, and makes it a principal business of them to draw the Corinthians off from this leader; judging, as is probable, that the church could not be reformed, so long as that person was in credit and had a party among them. See Locke.


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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1801-1803.

Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

17.] φθείρει, [destroys, or] mars, whether as regards its unity and beauty, or its purity and sanctity: here, the meaning is left indefinite, but the latter particulars are certainly hinted at,—by ἅγιος below.

φθερεῖ, either by temporal death (Mey.), as in ch. 1 Corinthians 11:30; or by spiritual death, which is more probable, seeing that the figurative temple is spoken of, not (as Mey.) the material temple:—and as temporal death was the punishment for defiling the material temple (Exodus 28:43. Leviticus 16:2 al. fr.), so spiritual death for marring or defiling of God’s spiritual temple.

ἅγιος, the constant epithet of ναός in the O. T., see Psalms 5:7; Psalms 10:5 (LXX). Habakkuk 2:20, and passim.

οἵτινες, i.e. ἅγιοι, not, ‘which temple are ye,’ which would be tautological after 1 Corinthians 3:16, and would hardly be expressed by οἵτινες, ‘ut qui,’ or ‘quales.’ Meyer well remarks, that οἵτινές ἐστε ὑμεῖς is the minor proposition of a syllogism:—‘Whoever mars the temple of God, him will God destroy, because His temple is holy; but ye also, as His ideal temple, are holy:—therefore, whoever mars you, shall be destroyed by God.’


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Bibliography
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hac/1-corinthians-3.html. 1863-1878.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3:17. εἴ τιςἅγιός ἐστιν] This is spoken of the real temple; the application to the church as the ideal one is not made until the οἵτινές ἐστε ὑμεῖς which follows. It is an anticipation of the course of the argument to understand, as here already meant, the latter New Testament place of the divine presence (Hofmann).

Every Levitical defilement was considered a destroying of the temple, as was every injury to the buildings, and even every act of carelessness in the watching and superintendence of it. See Maimonides, de domo electa, i. 10, vii. 7. Deyling, Obss. II. p. 505 ff.

φθερεῖ] placed immediately after φθείρει at the head of the apodosis, to express with emphasis the adequacy of the recompense. See Kühner, II. p. 626. What φθερεῖ denotes is the temporal destruction, the punishment of death which God will bring upon the destroyer of His temple, as in the LXX. φθείρω is often used of God as inflicting such destruction. Comp Genesis 6:13; Micah 2:10; 1 Kings 2:27, al(553)

ἅγιος] as the dwelling of God, sacred therefore from all injury, and not to be destroyed without incurring heavy divine penalty.

οἵτινές ἐστε ὑμεῖς] of which character (namely, ἅγιοι) are ye. In this we have the minor proposition of the syllogism contained in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 : Him who destroys God’s temple God will destroy, because the temple is holy; but ye also are holy, as being the spiritual temple; consequently, he who destroys you will be destroyed of God. Paul leaves it to his readers themselves to infer, for their own behoof, that in this reasoning of his he means by the destruction of the (ideal) temple the deterioration of the church on the part of the sectarians, and by the penal destruction which awaits them, their ἀπώλεια at the Messianic judgment (the φθορά of Galatians 6:8). It is a mistake (with most commentators, including Luther) to regard οἵτινες as put for οἵ (see the passages where this seems to be the case in Struve, Quaest. Herod. I. p. 2 ff.), and to make it refer to ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ: which temple ye are. That would rather yield the inappropriate (see on 1 Corinthians 3:16) plural sense: cujusmodi templa vos estis. See Porson and Schaefer, a(554) Eurip. Or. 908. Matthiae, p. 977.


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Bibliography
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3:17. φθείρει, destroys] by schisms according to the wisdom of the world.— φθερεῖ, shall destroy) by a most righteous retaliation in kind [ φθερεῖ answering to φθείρει]. There are many punishments, which do not flow from sin by physical connection.— ἅγιος, holy) divine, inviolable.


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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/1-corinthians-3.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; the word which we translate defile and destroy (for the Greek word is the same for both) signifieth to violate, corrupt, or destroy. Our translators generally render it corrupt, 1 Corinthians 15:33 2 Corinthians 7:2 1 Corinthians 11:3 Ephesians 4:22 Jude 1:10 Revelation 19:2. The people of God, who are here called the temple of God, are defiled, either by imbibing false doctrine, or being tempted to any looseness of life and conversation. Now, (saith the apostle), if any one goes about to do this, which all preachers do who teach any false doctrine, or any principles that lead to a liberty for the flesh, or lead to an ill and scandalous life, God shall destroy those men.

For the temple of God is holy; for as the temple of God of old was a place built and set apart for holy uses, and therefore not without great peril to be abused and profaned; so those that are the people of God, are by God called and set apart in a more immediate, eminent manner for the honour and glory of God, and therefore cannot be debauched or defiled by any as instruments in that action, without exceeding great peril and hazard to them that endeavour and attempt any such thing.


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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1685.

Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

Defile-destroy; these two words are in the original the same. If by false doctrine or unholy practice any one should defile, and thus exert his influence to destroy the church or any of its members, he would incur great guilt, and expose himself to aggravated ruin.

Holy; set apart and devoted to the service of God.


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Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Family Bible New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/fam/1-corinthians-3.html. American Tract Society. 1851.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

17. φθείρει. The A.V. defile is inadmissible here, inasmuch as the same word is used in both members of the sentence. Render, with R.V., destroy. He who persists in a wrong course of action brings destruction upon himself.

οἵτινές ἐστε ὑμεῖς. And such (i. e. holy) are ye, or more freely ‘The temple of God is holy, and so are ye.’ The implied syllogism is, The temple is holy; ye are the temple, therefore ye are holy.


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"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cgt/1-corinthians-3.html. 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

17. Any man—Note on 1 Corinthians 3:12.

Defile—Or destroy, instead of building up, like a wise master builder, 1 Corinthians 3:10.


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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/1-corinthians-3.html. 1874-1909.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

17. If any one destroy the temple of God, him will God destroy, for the temple of God is holy, which ye are.” There are many ways to destroy soul and body, not only in case of yourself, but others. God claims every human being as his temple. His Son has redeemed every son and daughter of Adam’s race by His precious blood. Hence every word and act, having a sinward tendency, conduces to the destruction of soul and body in Hell. God’s eye is on everyone. He never forgets anything. Millions of people make their living by destroying others, like whales and sharks devouring the finny tribes of the deep. What awful reckonings in the Judgment Day!


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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/1-corinthians-3.html.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

If any servant of the Lord tears down the church instead of building it up, God will tear him or her down ( Acts 9:1-4). He usually does this by sending temporal discipline in one form or another (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:5). The Greek word translated "destroys" (phtheiro) also means "defiles." It is a very serious thing to destroy or defile a holy temple, and that is what the local church is (cf. Matthew 16:18). [Note: See James Sweeney, "Jesus, Paul, and the Temple: An Exploration of Some Patterns of Continuity," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society46:4 (December2003):605-31.] In the ancient world destroying a temple was a capital offense. The church is holy in that God has set it aside to glorify Himself even though it is not always as holy in its conduct as it is in its calling. 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 anticipate the discussion of church discipline in 1 Corinthians 5:1-13. [Note: Brian S. Rosner, "Temple and Holiness in1Corinthians5 ," Tyndale Bulletin42 (1991):137-45.]

"There are three types of builders-the wise man ( 1 Corinthians 3:12; 1 Corinthians 3:14), the unwise ( 1 Corinthians 3:15), and the foolish, who injures the building ( 1 Corinthians 3:17)." [Note: Johnson, pp1234-35. Cf. Lowery, p511.]

Paul ended his discussion of the local church ( 1 Corinthians 3:5-17) as he did to stress the importance of the work that all God"s servants were doing at Corinth. He also did so to stress the need for unity of viewpoint in the congregation.

". . . this is one of the few texts in the NT where we are exposed both to an understanding of the nature of the local church (God"s temple indwelt by his Spirit) and where the warning of 1 Corinthians 3:17 makes it clear how important the local church is to God himself." [Note: Fee, The First . . ., p149.]


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-corinthians-3.html. 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3:17. If any man shall destroy the temple of God, him shall God destroy. The sin and its punishment are in the original purposely expressed by the same word; but this cannot be represented in English.

for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye—not, as in the Authorised Version, “which temple ye are;” for that had just before been said, but ‘such holy persons ye are,’ inasmuch as ye are the temple of God.

What follows, to the close of this chapter, reiterates what had been said about the mischief which this false wisdom, and their disputes in connection with it, were doing at Corinth.


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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/1-corinthians-3.html. 1879-90.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 3:17 If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye.

"any man"-regardless of their status.

"destroyeth"-There are cases worst than the teacher who suffers the lost of those he converted (). There is the man who had a hand in destroying the church. There is the individual that personally contributed to the downfall of other Christians. (Matthew 18:6-9; Proverbs 6:19) "Signifies to corrupt morally, deprave, injure in character, as well as to waste, damage." (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 793)

"him shall God destroy"-The punishment is certain. "Those who are responsible for dismantling the church may expect judgement in kind." (Fee p. 17)

Points to Note:

1. The temple of God can be destroyed. God will not step in and prevent division from happening. God will not rescue us, against our will, from our self-destructive ways.

2. Many churches have been destroyed from within, rather than from without.

3. This verse tells me that all those examples in the O.T., like Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3); Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:1-7); and King Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:16-23); still accurately reflect God"s attitude towards how man views the things of God. The local congregation is just as "holy" as the worship that Nadab and Abihu were involved in, or the ark of the covenant, or the privileged work given to the priests, etc..God still takes a dim view of those that show a lack of respect for what He says is holy.

4. Hence the church is not a place to play the human games of "power, gossip, popularity contests, etc..", that people play in other organizations.


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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/1-corinthians-3.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

defile. Greek. phtheiro. Same word as "destroy" below. Occurs also in 1 Corinthians 15:33. 2 Corinthians 7:2; 2 Corinthians 11:3. Ephesians 4:22. Jude 1:10. Revelation 19:2 (corrupt). The word "mar" will suit both clauses. The man who mars God"s Temple by introducing divisions, and the wisdom that is not from above (James 3:15), will himself be marred (1 Corinthians 3:15).

him = this one. Greek. houtos. Emphatic.

holy. Greek. hagios.

which = and such, i.e. holy, or separated. Omit "temple" in the last clause.


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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/1-corinthians-3.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

If any ... defile ... destroy - rather, as the Greek is the same in both, 'destroy ... destroy;' or [ ftheirei (Greek #5351), ftherei (Greek #5351)], 'If any corrupt, God will give him to corruption.' God repays in kind by righteous retaliation. The destroyer shall be destroyed. The destroyers are distinct from the unwise builders (1 Corinthians 3:12; 1 Corinthians 3:15); these hold fast the "foundation" (1 Corinthians 3:11); therefore, though they lose their superstructure and the special reward, yet they are themselves saved, though by a narrow escape: those, on the contrary, assailed with corrupt teaching the foundation, and so the temple itself, and shall therefore be destroyed. All, whether teachers or laymen by profession, are "priests unto God" (Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6). As the Aaronic priests were doomed to die if they violated the old temple (Exodus 28:43; Leviticus 16:2), so any Christian who violates the spiritual temple shall perish eternally (Hebrews 10:26). All who build hay, etc., as a superstructure, are herein warned; for though, if they retain "the foundation," they shall be saved, however narrowly, yet they are in danger of corrupting this, which would entail their own destruction. Theophylact, from the parallelism between 1 Corinthians 3:15 and 1 Corinthians 3:17, takes 1 Corinthians 3:15, 'he shall be reserved (not annihilated as his work) so as to be burned in the fire' eternally; answering to 'him God shall destroy' (Mark 9:44). But this Greek of "saved" is not so used in the New Testament. 1 Corinthians 3:17 seems rather a further and more deadly stage of error.

Holy - inviolable (Habakkuk 2:20).

Which temple ye are - or 'the which [ hoitines (Greek #3748)] (i:e., holy) are ye;' therefore, to tamper with the foundation being a violation of the temple's inviolability entails ruin.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/1-corinthians-3.html. 1871-8.

The Bible Study New Testament

So if anyone destroys. Here Paul speaks of those who purposely distort the truth of God (Galatians 1:6-9), but also of those who destroy the messianic community by their "party spirit" (see 1 Corinthians 3:3-4). Compare 1 Timothy 6:3-5.


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Bibliography
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "The Bible Study New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ice/1-corinthians-3.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(17) If any man defile.—Better, If any man destroy—the opposite of “building up,” which should be the work of the Christian teacher; the architectural image being still in view.

Which temple ye are.—Literally, the which are ye, “which” referring rather to holy than to the temple; the argument being that as they are “holy” by the indwelling of God’s Spirit, therefore they are the temple of God. As God commanded the punishment of death to be inflicted on whoever defiled the actual Temple (see Exodus 28:43; Leviticus 16:2), because it was holy unto the Lord, and His presence dwelt there; so they, having the same Spirit in them, were a temple also holy unto the Lord, and God would not leave him unpunished who destroyed or marred this spiritual temple.


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Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/1-corinthians-3.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
any
6:18-20; Leviticus 15:31; 20:3; Numbers 19:20; Psalms 74:3; 79:1; Ezekiel 5:11; 7:22; Ezekiel 23:38,39; Zephaniah 3:4
defile
or. destroy. for.
Genesis 28:17; Exodus 3:5; 1 Chronicles 29:3; Psalms 93:5; 99:9; Isaiah 64:11; Ezekiel 43:12

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/1-corinthians-3.html.

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy: for the temple of God is holy, which (temple) ye are.

The word translated defile in the first clause of this verse, is the same as that rendered destroy in the second clause. It ( צטוי ́ סש) has the general meaning to bring into a worse state. In the lxx, as well as in the New Testament it means to mar. The passage may, therefore, be rendered, ‘If any man injure the temple of God, him will God injure.' The temple cannot be injured with impunity. Under the old dispensation the penalty for defiling the sanctuary was either death, Leviticus 15:31, or excision from the people, Numbers 19:20. God is not less jealous of his spiritual temple, than he was of the typical temple, built of wood and stone by the hands of men. Ministers injure the souls of men and injure the church when they preach false doctrine, and therefore they defile the temple of God, and will certainly be punished.

For the temple of God is holy, i.e. sacred; something which cannot be violated with impunity. In this sense every thing consecrated to God is holy, and especially any place or person in which he dwells. Which (temple) ye are. As the word for temple is not in the text (which reads ןי ̔́ פיםו ́ ע ו ̓ ףפו ץ ̔ לוי ͂ ע) the reference may be to the word holy. ‘The temple is holy, which ye also are.' The same reason exists why the church cannot be defiled or injured, that there is that the temple could not be profaned. Both are sacred. The view given in our version is commonly preferred.


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Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:17". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hdg/1-corinthians-3.html.

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