What Does 2 Corinthians 6:16 Mean?

Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.

2 Corinthians 6:16(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

In the previous chapter, Paul not only reminds us that everything is from God, Who graciously reconciled us to Himself through Christ, but that we have been given the 'ministry of reconciliation'. As the Body of Christ, we are His representatives on earth. We are to be 'ministers of reconciliation', in a world that is lost in trespasses and sins.

Just as Christ was the Channel through Whom God worked to reconcile the world back to Himself, during His earthly ministry - the Body of Christ, which is the Church, is called to carry out the same, responsible task. We are to plead with lost sinners, on Christ’s behalf, "Be reconciled to God."

However, Paul had found it necessary to chasten the very people who were called to be partners in this stupendous task. Because of their inattention to the truth, willingness to embrace false teachers, internal bickering and sexual impurities.. the carnal attitude and worldly behaviour of the Corinthians had sullied their testimony and caused them to be tossed about by every wind of doctrine. Sadly, they had reverted to spiritual infancy and were defiling their bodies.

Although they were born-again believers, they were weak in the faith and being influenced by unbelieving pagans, to revert to certain idolatrous practices from which they had been delivered. They had also become so resistant to Paul and his message, that he found it necessary to appeal to them to be reconciled with him. - to be reconciled to Paul. He wanted them to fulfil God's plan for them and not to become unproductive in their Christian lives.

They could hardly carry out the important work that God had prepared for them to do if they were imbibing false teaching, rejecting the truth and being influenced by unbelievers to participate in pagan customs. "For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness?" was Paul's challenge to them, "or what fellowship does light have with darkness? What agreement does Christ have with Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement does God’s sanctuary have with idols?

Paul presented a series of important, rhetorical questions.. all of which demanded to be answered with a resounding "NO - NONE". There is no partnership between good and evil. There can be no union between Satan and God. We have nothing in common with unbelievers for they are dead in their sin and we are alive in Christ, and the holy sanctuary of God can have no association with idols or any form of pagan worship.

When we were justified by faith, the Holy Spirit came to indwell our mortal frame permanently. God Himself chose to make the individual bodies of Christians, and the collective body of Christ, (which is the Church) His sacred residence. "WE are the sanctuary of the living God," Paul reminded these believers at Corinth. "WE are the temple of the living God.."  for as God said: "I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people".

Paul found it necessary to use strong and expressive language to call his fellow believers to act as true ambassadors of Christ.. to be a testimony to the world and to evangelise the lost. He even made reference to the Biblical books of Moses, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, to prove that we are indeed the Temple of the living God.

We may not be under the Mosaic Law, but we are called to be holy as He is holy. And when Paul quoted from the New Covenant, which God made with Israel when He said, "I will dwell among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people,"  Paul was not placing Christians back under the Law, for we are not under the Law but under grace. Paul was calling all of us to live godly lives in Christ. He was encouraging us to behave as ambassadors of Christ and to shun any relationship that could draw us into spiritual defilement or tarnish our testimony.

In the same way, Paul was not calling Christians to be isolationists when rebuking the Corinthians for their worldly ways, and asked.."what agreement has the temple of God with idols?" He was warning us against worldly alliances that have a negative impact on our Christian walk and engaging in friendships that drag us away from God, into spiritual impurity.

The Corinthian Church is a good example of saints of God, who neglected the truth, opened their heart to false teaching and were not diligent in their spiritual growth or maturity in the faith. They demonstrated how well-taught Christians can quickly fall from grace when they do not heed the Word of truth or begin to make compromises with the world.

May we be diligent to remember that we belong to Christ. May we never forget that we were bought with a price and have been brought into a binding relationship with our heavenly Father.. through Christ Jesus our Lord.

May we seek to be pure and holy unto the Lord.. for God is holy and we are His blood-bought children. And may we present our bodies as a living sacrifice to Him, that is holy and acceptable to HIM knowing that the Holy Spirit dwells within our body and that individually and collectively WE are that Temple of the living God.

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, what an incredible privilege to be Your child and to have the Holy Spirit living within my human frame. Thank You, Lord, that You have chosen to take up residence in the heart of all believers and that we have been given the 'ministry of reconciliation'. Thank You, Father, that in Your grace I have become New Creation in Christ, and am a member of His mystic body - and thank You that the Church is His representative on earth. Fulfil now O Lord the work that you have for me to do, and may I live for Your glory and consecrate my life to Your service - this I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.

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