1 Corinthians 6:12-20 – The Body as a Temple


1 Corinthians 6:12-20


Paul’s ethical exhortations to the Corinthians are embedded in his conviction that their physical human bodies are (a) members of the body of Christ, (b) meant to be raised up, as Christ was raised from the dead, and (c) currently providing a temple for the Holy Spirit.


“All things are lawful for me” is probably a slogan used in the Corinthian church that Paul quotes in order to qualify. Paul encourages the Corinthians to reason, not from what is lawful, but from what is beneficial.

At some points in the letter “body” means the individual’s physical body. At other points, “body” means the corporate body of believers. This text shows how closely connected the two meanings are in Paul’s thought: to join one’s body to the body of a prostitute is to put the corporate body of Christ at risk.

The value Paul places on the physical body here and elsewhere in 1 Corinthians cannot be overstated. The Corinthians flirted with a hyper-spirituality that saw the physical body either as inconsequential to or negatively impacting their religious life. Paul rejects these options outright. The body–both the individual’s body and the corporate body–is a dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.