After separating between the believer and the non-believer in the second epistle to the Corinthians, Paul said the following: “You are the temple of the living God”, referring to the fact that God doesn’t dwell in temples built by hands and going beyond the Temple of Jerusalem. He establishes the living structure of Christians on a promise from the Old Testament: “I will live with them (i.e. the chosen people) and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people”. Here, he doesn’t say that every Christian is a temple of God but the Church, with its members connected through grace, is God’s temple.

Paul’s words are taken from Leviticus: “I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (26: 12). It is also based on Ezekiel: “My tabernacle also shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (37: 27). Paul concludes from this that they should “come out from them (i.e. from the Gentiles) and be separate”. The intention here is not a social isolation and composing an anti-Gentile sect, but to be separate from their impurity and if you reached this purity you “will be my sons and daughters”. The idea of God as a father is partially found in the Old Testament. Jesus confirmed it and it is clarified in the prayer that he taught us “Our Father who art in heaven”.

The promise to be sons and daughters to the Lord has a condition which is to “purify ourselves from everything that contaminates the body and spirit”. By “everything that contaminates the body”, he probably means rapacity, drunkenness, and sexual relationships outside marriage. While the things that contaminate the spirit include all harmful lusts that have no relationship with the body (lying, hatred, malice, viciousness, and everything issued from the soul and harms others).

And if you did this, this would be “holiness out of reverence for God”. The apostle asks us to be holy as God is holy, being pure from every evil or every evil-like things.

The word “holy” in the apostolic time didn’t refer to those who are in heaven and were beatified by the Church. It refers to all the baptized that Paul hoped for them not to sin after baptism because it is a covenant with God and a serious connection with Him.

You are characterized by the quality of the new life. Through your behavior you become in God’s likeness even if lapses are inevitable. The perfect purity before the coming of the Kingdom is what we hope and work for, however every human commit sins. Nevertheless, Paul insists that we have become a new creation and that we are with Christ, through baptism, from today and not tomorrow. For Paul, our heavenly life starts here, and there is no duality between earthly and heavenly behaviors. “The kingdom of God is within you”. We do not differentiate between the worldly life and the coming one after death. All our existence is filled with Christ starting from today. Our love for Christ lets his love for us descend on us. This way we become together “the temple of the living God”.

Translated by Mark Najjar

Original Text: “هيكل الله” –Raiati 05- 29.01.2012