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1 Corinthians 3:17

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

If any man defile the temple - This clause is not consistently translated. Ει τις τον ναον του Θεου φθειρει, φθερει τουτον ὁ Θεος If any man destroy the temple of God, him will God destroy. The verb is the same in both clauses. If any man injure, corrupt, or destroy the Church of God by false doctrine, God will destroy him - will take away his part out of the book of life. This refers to him who wilfully opposes the truth; the erring, mistaken man shall barely escape; but the obstinate opposer shall be destroyed. The former shall be treated leniently; the latter shall have judgment without mercy.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

If any man defile … - Or, “destroy, corrupt” ( φθείρει phtheirei). The Greek word is the same in both parts of the sentence. “If any man ‹destroy‘ the temple of God, God shall ‹destroy‘ him.” This is presented in the form of an adage or proverb. And the truth here stated is based on the fact that the temple of God was inviolable. That temple was holy; and if any man subsequently destroyed it, it might be presumed that God would destroy him. The figurative sense is, “If any man by his doctrines or precepts shall pursue such a course as tends to destroy the church, God shall severely punish him.

For the temple of God is holy - The temple of God is to be regarded as sacred and inviolable. This was unquestionably the common opinion among the Jews respecting the temple at Jerusalem; and it was the common doctrine of the Gentiles respecting their temples. Sacred places were regarded as inviolable; and this general truth Paul applies to the Christian church in general - Locke supposes that Paul had particular reference here to the false teachers in Corinth. But the expression, “if any man,” is equally applicable to all other false teachers as to him.

Which temple ye are - This proves that though Paul regarded them as lamentably corrupt in some respects, he still regarded them as a true church - as a part of the holy temple of God.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
From other parts of the epistle, it appears that the false teachers among the Corinthians taught unholy doctrines. Such teaching tended to corrupt, to pollute, and destroy the building, which should be kept pure and holy for God. Those who spread loose principles, which render the church of God unholy, bring destruction upon themselves. Christ by his Spirit dwells in all true believers. Christians are holy by profession, and should be pure and clean, both in heart and conversation. He is deceived who deems himself the temple of the Holy Ghost, yet is unconcerned about personal holiness, or the peace and purity of the church.
Ellen G. White
Lift Him Up, 272.1

If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. 1 Corinthians 3:17. LHU 272.1

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Ellen G. White
Lift Him Up, 48.2

The life of Christ is to be revealed in humanity. Man was the crowning act of the creation of God, made in the image of God, and designed to be a counterpart of God; but Satan has labored to obliterate the image of God in man, and to imprint upon him his own image. Man is very dear to God, because he was formed in His own image. This fact should impress us with the importance of teaching by precept and example the sin of defiling, by the indulgence of appetite, or by any other sinful practice, the body which is designed to represent God to the world.... LHU 48.2

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Ellen G. White
In Heavenly Places, 59.5

Here is the consistency of true religion. We are to be “labourers together with God,” working in harmony with Him. “Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). This figure represents human character, which is to be wrought upon point by point. Each day God works on His building to perfect the structure, that it may become a holy temple for Him. Man is to cooperate with God, striving in His strength to make himself what God designs him to be, building his life with pure, noble deeds.... HP 59.5

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