1 Corinthians 3:17 (KJV 1900)
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
The context of verse 16 showed us that Paul was speaking of the entire Corinthian church as being “the temple of God” not the individual. Now, Paul adds, if any man defile the temple… He writes of a singular person; One who may come into the temple and defile it. The Greek word for defile is φθείρω [phtheiro /fthi·ro/], which means to mess up, or to corrupt or destroy.
Paul uses this same word in other passages. In 1 Corinthians 8:7, the one defiled is a weak Christian, in 1 Timothy 1:10 it is an unrighteous man. In Titus 1:15 one who is defiled is an unbeliever. Therefore, if any man defile the temple… Paul could mean an unbeliever comes in and messes up the church, or perhaps he is referring to a weak believer who causes dissension and brings worldly wisdom into the church.
What happens to that person? God is going to destroy him. The word destroy is the same Greek word as defile. In other words, if someone comes into the church and messes up the temple of God, God is going to mess that person up. Paul does not say how. But it’s a good warning to not bring worldly wisdom into the temple of God.
Why? Because the temple of God is holy, and ye are that temple.