2 Corinthians 6:16-18 ~ 20190512 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
05/12_2 Corinthians 6:16-18; Sanctuary, Separation, Adoption; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20190512_2cor6_16-18.mp3
Paul in chapter 6 is addressing the Corinthians head on in their lack of affections for him, and ultimately for the Lord. In chapter 5 he implored them on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God (5:20). In chapter 6 he appeals to them not to receive the grace of God in vain (6:1).
He continues by directly addressing the problem; they were constricted in their affections because of their partnership with false teachers, who at root are unbelievers. They are to sever their connection with these unbelievers.
Then he asks five rhetorical questions, the obvious answer to each being an emphatic 'nothing!'
And then he makes this bold assertion at the end of verse 16:
We are counted righteous in Christ. We are the children of light. We are new creation in Christ. We are believers, trusting in Jesus; dependent on Jesus. We are the temple of the living God.
This is not the first time the Corinthians have heard this stunning affirmation. Back in 1 Corinthians 3 he said:
This is stunning language. You are God's temple. God's Spirit dwells in you! It is even more staggering when you understand that there are two different Greek words for 'temple' in the New Testament. The more common word [ἱερόν] is the word that is used when we read that Jesus overturned tables, healed, and taught in the temple. ἱερόν refers to the whole temple grounds, including the courtyard. But this word [ναὸς] is more specific; it is the word for the sanctuary itself. This is the word where Zechariah was confronted by the angel while offering incense in the temple, where the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom, when Jesus, referring to his own body, said:
You are the temple sanctuary! Where none but set apart and properly purified priests could enter; you are now the temple sanctuary.
In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul said
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul uses the temple imagery to argue against divisions in the church; in 1 Corinthians 6, he urges personal moral purity, because God dwells in each believer individually. Here in 2 Corinthians 6 Paul points to the church as the end-times fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies, an identity which demands holiness.
For: Identity Transforms Association
Paul says 'for,' because. Separation is demanded because of what we are. This is the foundation for not being unequally yoked. Notice, the foundation for what we do is who we are in Christ. It is not the other way around; we do not become the temple because we live holy lives. We live separated lives because we are the temple.
We are the temple of the living God. This is no false God of the pagans; this is the living God of the Bible! He is the one who has never not existed. He is the author and origin of all life, the life giver, the living one.
Notice also, Paul says 'we.' He places himself alongside us, his readers, and says 'we'. This is not 'I' have it all figured out and 'you' need to get your act together. Paul and the believers in Corinth are together, they are on the same side of the equation. They are fundamentally the same. They are righteousness, they are light, they are in Christ. They are believers – those who are trusting in the finished work of Jesus. Paul is pursuing reconciliation, both reconciliation of the Corinthians to God, and to himself as apostle. They need to live out the truth of the gospel; they are one in Christ. They together are the temple of God. They need to act like it!
As God Said: Leviticus 26 and Ezekiel 37
Paul stitches together a patchwork of Old Testament promises to paint a composite of who we are, intermixed with the appropriate response of separation.
This is a mashup of verses from as diverse places as Leviticus, Ezekiel, Isaiah, 2 Samuel together with some other Scriptural echoes. Some are exact quotations from the Greek Old Testament, some are paraphrases, reworded to fit the context here.
Indwelling and Covenant Identity
This is an overlay of Leviticus 26:11-12 with Ezekiel 37:27. Rather than following the Greek translation, it seems Paul made his own translation of the Hebrew. Literally, we could translate Paul's Greek as 'I will indwell in them'. He is emphatic, duplicating the prefix 'in' with the preposition 'in'.
God says 'I will indwell in them, and walk among them.' This echoes Eden where God walked with man in the garden, but so much better! The Lord told his disciples that the Holy Spirit is with you and will be in you. He walks with us, among us, but he lives in us! He will never leave us! Stop for a moment and just let this soak in. We, you and I, the church, we are the temple of the living God.
'I will be their God and they shall be my people.' This is the language of the covenant. God redeemed his people out of Egypt to be in relationship with him. He literally would pitch his tent in the middle of their camp and live with them. He entered into covenant relationship with them. He would be to them their God, and he would take them to be his people.
Leviticus 26 begins by reiterating the prohibition against idolatry and promises blessings on those who walk in his ways. God says
In a passage where he commands that they be not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, he quotes a passage which reminds them that God has shattered their yoke of slavery.
Ezekiel 37 comes in the context of the new covenant promises of Ezekiel 36 where God says:
Ezekiel 37 is the vision of the valley of dry bones, where God's Spirit is able to give life to the dead and make their dry bones live. The second half of Ezekiel 37 points to the re-uniting of the divided kingdom of Israel and Judah under one King. God will cleanse them of their idolatry (v.23), and
Paul takes this text from Leviticus 26, immediately after leaving Egypt, promising blessing to those who walk in his ways, and stitches it together with Ezekiel 37, written from the despair of Babylonian captivity after centuries of disobedience, but pointing to a future hope of God again dwelling with his people. Paul addresses the Gentile church in Corinth and uses these texts to support his assertion 'we are the temple of the living God.'
Therefore: Response of Separation; Isaiah 52
Paul adds an introductory 'therefore' to Isaiah 52:11. This added 'therefore' is critical to understanding what Paul is doing here.
Notice, everything in the quotations in verse 16 consists of promises of what God will do.
This is extremely one-sided. God indwells in us. God walks among us. God will be our God and take us to be his people. This is all God. That's where Paul starts. Then he connects it to an exhortation to us with 'therefore.' Because this is true. Because you are already the temple of the living God. Because God has made his dwelling in you, because God walks among you, because God is your God and has taken you as his own people, because all this is already true, therefore. There is an appropriate response on our side. We must respond to what God has done. God is the initiator. We are always only the responders. Because of what God has done, therefore, we must reciprocate.
Isaiah 52 looks forward to the exiles at the end of the Babylonian captivity. God demonstrates that he is present, he reigns, he returns, he has comforted, he has redeemed, he alone saves. He says in verse 2 'loose the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion'; This is God who sets his people free from an oppressive yoke of bondage.
In this context it is clear that this is not a pride thing, as if we are above others, better than others. God's people were in captivity to a foreign nation because of their sin, their idolatry, their disobedience. It is in spite of their rebellion, in order to display the glory of his own glorious name, that he saves, at great personal cost to himself (see Isaiah 52-53).
We also see that this is not a burdensome command, as if we reluctantly have to deny ourselves and part with our treasured pleasures. Think of a slave finally freed from oppressive bondage. They are eager to take a bath, to wash away any residue of their slavery and be finally rid of it all. This is the absurdity of Lot and his wife; they are being rescued from a wicked place and from the Lord's judgment, and they don't really want to leave.
Adopted by the Almighty; Ezekiel 20; 2 Samuel 7 and Isaiah 43
Paul goes on,
This phrase seems to be lifted from Ezekiel 20:34
Gather in the Greek is this word welcome; literally 'receive into'. This too comes from a context of God's people rescued from their enemies, brought in, brought home.
This is simply stunning! Paul takes the Eden and temple metaphor, that God walks with us and dwells in us, and turns it to a family metaphor; adoption. We are welcomed, not only as created beings, not only as servants, but as loved children.
This comes from 2 Samuel 7, where David desires to build God a permanent house in Jerusalem, and God reverses this and promises that he will build David a house.
This points beyond Solomon to David's greater Son, whose throne will be established forever, who is indeed the Son of God. Because we are in Christ, we are sons of God through faith (Gal.3:26). Paul changes this to plural and even adds daughters, likely an echo of Isaiah 43:6 where both sons and daughters appear together.
His closing phrase, the third different way he states that this is what God said, likely comes from the context of 2 Samuel 7:8
This is the typical LXX translation of 'the Lord of hosts' or 'Lord of armies'; YHWH Tsabaoth' (Rom.9:28, Jam.5:4)
This is a staggering passage. Paul calls us, Gentiles, the church 'the temple of the living God.' And he backs this up with God's word; God's promises to 'indwell in us' to walk among us, to be our God and take us in covenant relationship to be his people.
Because of these staggering promises he exhorts us to throw off the yoke and walk in freedom; go out from their midst, be separate from them, touch no unclean thing.
And he sandwiches this exhortation with more astounding promises; And I will welcome you, I will be a Father to you, You shall be sons and daughters to me.
Stand in awe of God's promises. Look at who you are, who he has called you to be. And be who you are. Live free. Don't be entangled again in a yoke of bondage.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org