1 Corinthians 3:16 | July 12

1 Corinthians 3:16 (KJV 1900)

16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

Many have written off the King James Version as impossible to read, and they opt for simpler and easier modern translations. Maybe we should not be so quick to discard the tried and true KJV? The verse above is one where the King James wording helps us understand the passage more clearly than all of the modern versions. It has to do with the pronouns “you” and “ye.” A benefit of the KJV is it helps us identify who is the subject of the passage or sentence.

In modern English, we only have one pronoun for the 2nd person and the 2nd person plural, it is “you.” When a boss walks into the break room and says, “You are doing a good job,” we have to make sure we get the context correct. Does he mean one person in the room? Or, does he mean everyone collectively?

In the KJV, the identity of “you” is easily discovered because of the word “ye.” When the word “ye” is used, it always refers to the group, plural. If “Thou” is used, it is relating to one person. Therefore, “ye” in this verse is referring to all in the Corinthian church; “Ye are the temple of God.” It makes a difference.

Have we misapplied this verse to say each of us, singularly, is the temple of God or the Holy Spirit? This verse teaches (in its context) that it is the body of Christ (collectively, plural) which is the temple, not the individual. This argument can be strengthened by other passages in the New Testament (see a couple listed below).

Apparently, the Holy Spirit can indwell each believer, but to say our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit is not what this passage teaches. The temple Paul speaks of here is “ye” not “thou.” The KJV gives clarity; the newer versions have caused today’s confusion.

Is this the reason we worship as a local body? Paul is speaking to the local body of believers in Corinth, not a universal church, and not to an individual. Is this why the writer of Hebrews (maybe Paul?), states “Not forsaking assembling ourselves, as the manner of some is…”?

[For further study see, Ephesians 2:22; 2 Timothy 1:14]

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