Bible words explained: The temple – Old Testament vs. New Testament

VIDEO: Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit …? How does this work?

“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” 1 Corinthians 6:19.

“If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” 1 Corinthians 3:17.

In the Old Testament, the temple was a physical building. Now, in the New Testament, instead of having a physical building as a temple, the Holy Spirit dwells in us people, that is, in Jesus’ disciples. That means the we have become that holy place – now in the New Testament, our bodies are the temple for the Holy Spirit, instead of a physical building like in the Old Testament. How can we become that holy place, where the Holy Spirit can dwell? In this concept study we take a closer look at what the temple was like in the Old Testament, which can be directly related to us now, in the New Testament.

Audio Transcript: The temple – Old Testament vs. New Testament

In the Old Covenant, the temple was a physical building. It was a holy place, the dwelling place for God on earth. In the temple people could worship God, and God could speak to them. Because God is holy and good and pure, everything that entered the temple also had to be clean and pure.

Now, in the New Covenant, instead of having a physical building as a temple, the Holy Spirit dwells in us people; that is, in Jesus’ disciples. When we repent and are cleansed from our sins and start living for God, following Jesus, the Holy Spirit comes to us. From then on it becomes like it says in 1 Corinthians 6:19: “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” In this verse we are told that we are now the dwelling place for the Holy Spirit here on earth. That means the we have become that holy place, and from that point our body is not our own to do with what we will, but we are to be led and guided by the Holy Spirit to do God’s will, so we do not fulfill our lusts and desires. Then the Spirit helps us, by first showing us what needs to be cleansed out from the flesh, and then giving us the power we need to overcome those lusts in the flesh.

The Holy Spirit should be totally in charge of our lives. We have to commit ourselves to 100% obedience to His leading. He isn’t just a guest who comes and goes according to our own whims and will. This is serious, because Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 3:17: “If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.” The temple is defiled, or becomes impure, if we deliberately let in sin by giving in to our lusts. Then we also quench the Spirit. He won’t stay where there is disobedience – where He is ignored and impurity is allowed to live. He can’t live with impurity. No, when we have the Holy Spirit, then we must walk in the Spirit, so we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. As long as we are doing this, the Spirit will always remain with us and dwell in us as our comforter, guide and help!


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Explore some more of our “Bible words explained” series in the Bible animation videos below.

Bible words explained: “Keep your heart with all diligence”

Bible words explained: “Put off the old man” and “Put on the new man”

Bible words explained: “Many are called, but few are chosen”