Ecclesiological Metaphors: The Church as a Temple.

In the New Testament, the Church is described as God’s Temple. 1 Corinthians 3:16 says, “Do you not know that you (plural in the Greek i.e. the whole Church) are the TEMPLE of God and that the Spirit of God DWELLS IN YOU?” This means that God dwells in our midst.

Paul says similiarly, in Ephesians 2, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, HAVING BEEN BUILT on the FOUNDATION of the apostles and prophets (referring to their doctrine), Jesus Christ Himself being the CHIEF CORNERSTONE” (vv. 19-20). This building or establishment has happened ALREADY. It says “having been built” (past tense). However, there’s a continuous building after that initial establishment.

Vv. 21-22 of Ephesians 2 say, “In whom THE WHOLE BUILDING, being fitted together, GROWS into a HOLY TEMPLE in the Lord, in whom you also are BEING BUILT together for a DWELLING PLACE of God in the Spirit.” This building involves the GROWTH of the Church; Christ has built His Church, and is YET BUILDING His Church. As more men (Jews and Gentiles) are added day by day, Christ is BUILDING His Temple. The imagery here is brick by brick being laid in God’s house, as more men are saved. Each new convert forms a “brick” in this spiritual architecture.

Peter calls the Church “a spiritual house” which is continually growing in 1 Peter 2:5, “You also, as LIVING STONES (stones that are alive, referring to each man being born again), are BEING BUILT UP a SPIRITUAL HOUSE, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the chief cornerstone of this building, as prophecized by Isaiah in Isaiah 28:16, “Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, A PRECIOUS CORNERSTONE, a SURE FOUNDATION; whoever believes will not act hastily.

Peter applies this text to Jesus in 1 Peter 2.

1 Peter 2:4-8 (NKJV)

4 Coming to HIM as to a LIVING STONE, rejected indeed by MEN (i.e. the Jews), but chosen by God and precious, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, “Behold, I lay in Zion achief cornerstone, elect, precious, and he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” (alluding to Isaiah 28:16) 7 Therefore, to you who believe, He (Jesus) is precious; but to those who are disobedient (who reject Jesus), “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,” (quoting from Psalm 118:22) 8 and “A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” (a reference to Isaiah 8:14) They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed.

By calling Jesus the “chief cornerstone” here (vs. 7), it is CLEAR that Peter did not believe that HE was the Rock upon which the Church would be built (Matthew 16:18)—Peter knew that Christ was the Rock (for more on this, click here: “On This Rock, I Will Build My Church”—Matthew 16:18).

So Christ established His Church, and is CONTINUALLY BUILDING it as His Temple. Each Christian is a living stone in His Temple. We come together to form the house of God in the Spirit (Eph 2:22).


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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