By Richard Snell

1 Cor. 6:18-20 says that the Holy Spirit is in our body.

We quote the passage from both the NKJV and the NIV, in parallel columns:

18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 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? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.  

18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

     It is clear, as one starts his reading in verse 13 and concludes it at the end of the chapter, that keeping our body sexually pure is the focus of this portion of God’s word.   “The body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body” (v. 13).   God raised the Lord from the dead and He will raise us from the dead (v. 14).   Paul necessarily uses the plural--”bodies”--in v. 15 to correspond in number with “members” (plural).   Otherwise in this context he employs the singular, “body.”   This body of ours is not to be joined to a prostitute (v. 16).   Some of the Corinthian believers had been involved in fornication and adultery and homosexual unions (v. 9)--one of them was dealt with in chapter  five--and the temptation to continue in this sin was strong.   7:2;  10:8;  2 Cor. 12:21.

     So the full force and focus of the Spirit’s argument, in verses 18-20, is that the Corinthian saints were to keep their body sexually pure.

“YOUR” AND “YOU” ARE PLURAL, AND “BODY” IS SINGULAR, IN VERSE NINETEEN

     The body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit (v. 19) is the same body mentioned in verses 18 and 20.   To try to make the body in v. 19 the congregation would tear apart the context and disrupt the flow of thought.   But to this obvious fact it has been argued that “your” and “you” are plural in the Greek, and “body” is singular, and that therefore the “body” mentioned in v. 19 is the church.   Let’s examine that.

     Notice first that the context strongly shows that only one meaning is to be assigned to “body” in vv. 16-20.   Yes, “your” and “you” in v. 19 are plural, and “body” is singular.   But even though Paul refers to the body of each individual believer in this passage (and therefore must use the singular for body), the fact that he addressed the group required him to use the plural (“your” and “you”) when he addressed them, the assembly, about the believer’s body which must not be used for fornication.   This is the common rule throughout the Greek New Testament, as we shall show from numerous examples.

     Even though a great many examples of this usage could be cited, we will give only a comparative few to illustrate this rule.   We will present the examples in parallel columns from the NKJV and the NIV, and after each will make a comment.

ROM. 6:12,  “YOUR MORTAL BODY”

12 Therefore do not let sin  reign in your mortal body,  that you should obey it in  its lusts.   

12 Therefore do not let sin  reign in your mortal body so  that you obey its evil desires.  

     "Your” is plural because Paul addressed the whole church in Rome (1:7).   “Mortal body” is singular because the body of each Christian in Rome was to be kept free from the reign of sin.   It is the same in 1 Cor. 6:19-20:  “Your” is plural because Paul addressed the whole church in Corinth (1:2).   “Body” is singular because the body of each Christian in Corinth was to be kept free of sexual sin.

COL. 2:13,  “YOUR FLESH”             

13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,   

13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins,  

     “Your” is plural because Paul was writing to all “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ in Colosse” (v. 2).   “Flesh” is singular because, being Gentile and not Jew in background, each man in Colosse had never been circumcised (compare Eph. 2:11).   In the same way, 1 Cor. 6:19 has “your” in the plural because Paul addressed his epistle to all in the church of God in Corinth, and “body” is singular because the body of each one was a temple of the Holy Spirit and must not be corrupted by sexual immorality.

MATT. 6:25,  “YOUR LIFE, YOUR BODY”

25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?”   

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”  

     Because Jesus was addressing the multitudes (5:1) in His Sermon on the Mount, He used the plural, “your.”   But He was and is teaching that each disciple must not worry about his life (therefore singular), what he will eat or drink, and must not worry about his body (singular), what he will wear.   This is another example of the rule that when addressing two or more, “your” must be plural, even through the subject is singular.

MATT. 9:29,  “YOUR FAITH”

29 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.”   

29Then he touched their eyes and said, "According to your faith will it be done to you"  

     Jesus was talking to two blind men (v. 27), hence the plural, “your.”   But each of them had to have his own faith, singular.   (The faith couldn’t be shared in the way of one borrowing from the other’s faith.)   When the Lord addressed two or more He used humôn (Greek plural, “your”) with the singular pistis, “faith.”   But when He was speaking to just one about his or her faith, He of course used sou, singular for “your.”   Examples of this can be found in Mark 5:34;  10:52;  Luke 7:50;  8:48;  17:19;  18:42;  22:32.   

LUKE 6:38,  “YOUR LAP”

38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”   

38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you."  

     Luke supplies some more of what our Lord spoke in His Sermon on the Mount.   Because He was speaking to a large group of people He used the plural, “your” lap or bosom.   But because the lesson was for every individual in His audience, He of course used the singular, “bosom” or “lap.”   Each one of us today must heed the lesson of Luke 6:38.   Similarly, each one of us today must heed the lesson that our body must be used at all times to glorify God in sexual purity.   1 Cor. 6:19-20.

LUKE 12:7,  “YOUR HEAD”

7 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.   

7 Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

    Jesus was addressing His disciples, His friends (12:1, 4).  Because His hearers were in the plural, He necessarily used the plural “your.”   But because he lesson was for each disciple as an individual, he chose to use the singular “head.”   One may ask, “Could He have said heads instead of head?”   Of course He could have (see, e.g., Luke 21:28 and Acts 18:6).   The point is, He didn’t, in Luke 12:7.   Could Paul have used bodies in 1 Cor. 6:19-20 instead of body?   Yes, he could have (see, e.g., Rom. 12:1).   But he didn’t.   Each Corinthian saint had a body, and Paul chose to write “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God. . . . You were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

LUKE 12:34,  “YOUR TREASURE,  YOUR HEART”

34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.   

34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  

     Because Christ was addressing His disciples, His little flock (12:22, 32), He used the plural, “your” treasure and “your” heart.   But the great truth He has for each of us is that, as stand-alone individuals who hope to gain eternal life, we each one must provide for ourselves a treasure in heaven rather than some carnal treasure on earth--”for where your treasure [singular] is, there your [plural] heart [singular] will be also.”   Paul to the Corinthians, in 1 Cor.18-20, taught that your [plural]  body [singular] must be kept sexually pure to the glory of God.   It is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

  

LUKE 21:18,  “YOUR HEAD”

18 But not a hair of your head shall be lost.   

18 But not a hair of your head will perish.  

     Some spoke and they asked Jesus a question (21:5, 7), and in His reply to them He assured them that even though they would be hated for His name’s sake, “not a hair of your [plural]  head [singular] will perish.”   1 Cor. 6:19-20 has the same construction of speech.

JOHN 9:41,  “YOUR SIN”

41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.”   

41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”  

     Christ spoke to some Pharisees and told them, “your [plural] sin/guilt [singular] remains.”   In the sight of God, we stand guilty of sin as individuals.   While more than one person can be guilty of the same type of sin, we are guilty as individuals and stand condemned as individuals, even as we are saved as individuals.   This further establishes the rule followed by Paul in 1 Cor. 6:19-20, “your [plural] body [singular]” must not be involved in fornication.

ROM. 12:1,  “YOUR REASONABLE SERVICE”  or  “YOUR SPIRITUAL ACT OF WORSHIP”

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.   

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.  

     The inspired apostles addressed his famous appeal in 12:1 to the whole church:  thus “your,” plural.   But since each believer has his own responsibility to present his body as a living sacrifice, Paul used the singular when he wrote tan logikan latreian, translated above as “reasonable service” or “spiritual act of worship.”   Paul followed the same grammatical rule in 1 Cor. 6:19-20.

       We could go on and on, citing many additional examples where the plural your is used with a singular noun, all of which prove the rule followed by Paul in 1 Cor. 6:19-20.   For any who may still question the validity of the rule, we refer such doubters to these examples:   Rom. 14:16;  1 Cor. 7:5;  15:58;  2 Cor. 1:6, 24;  9:13;  Eph. 1:13;  4:23, 26, 29;  5:19;  Phil. 2:12;  4:5;  Col. 2:5;  4:6;  1Thess. 4:3;  5:23;  Phile. 25;  Heb. 6:10;  9:14;  10:35;  Jas. 4:14;  1 Pet. 1:21;  2 Pet. 1:5, 10.   These are but some, and by no means all, of additional places where the same rule is followed.

“BUT  1 COR. 6:19-20  IS  ONE  OF  THE  ‘TEMPLE’  PASSAGES”

       Part of the objection to the Spirit’s word in 1 Cor. 6:19-20 seems to be as follows:  The “temple” passages all have to do with the body of Christ the church, and therefore 1 Cor. 6:19-20 is in reference to this body, the body of Christ the church.   In objection to the concept that the Holy Spirit literally dwells in the believer's body, it is pointed out that "the temple passages" in both Old Testament (about the tabernacle and the temple) and New Testament (about God's church) do not require a literal dwelling in said temple.   The Old Testament tabernacle and temple had God dwelling in it (e.g., Ex. 25:8;  2 Sam. 7:5-6 --where the emphasis is on a "house" in contrast to the "tent" where He had been as they moved the tabernacle from place to place; 1 Kgs. 8:12-13;  2 Kgs. 19:15;  2 Chron. 6:1-2; 36:15;  Psa. 68:16-17; 76:2; 80:1; 132:13-14;  Isa. 37:16;  Ezek. 43:5-7;  Joel 3:17, 21).  Heaven is His real dwelling place (e.g., 1 Kgs. 8:27, 30, 39, 43, 49;  2 Chron. 6:18, 21, 30, 33, 39; 30:27;  Matt. 5:16; 6:9).   So the argument is well made that in the temple the church, God dwells in it in the person of His Spirit only representatively or in some sense figuratively.   Further, it is argued that 1 Cor. 6:15 says our bodies are members of Christ, and that therefore the mention of body in verses 18, 19 and 20 is in reference to the body of Christ the church.   But 6:15 doesn't say that.   It says our bodies are members of CHRIST, not members of the body of Christ.   This is a different figure.   Our bodies are not said here to be members of the body but members of the Head.   Further, the context shows that the body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit is the body that could be joined to a prostitute in sexual immorality, but must not be so joined.   He therefore was not talking about Christ’s body the church.   This by itself shoots down the objection implied immediately above.   This having been said, we are quick to agree that 1 Cor. 6:19-20 is “one of the temple passages,” the same as the temple passage inJohn 2:19-22:  

19 Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?”   21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

19 Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."  20 The Jews replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.

     In the passage above, the temple was Jesus’ body that was “destroyed” (crucified) and raised from the dead.   The temple was His physical body.   1 Cor. 6:19-20 has the same type of connotation.   There the body which is the temple of the Holy Spirit is the physical body of each of the Christians in Corinth.   It is the same as the body of the believer in Rom. 8:11:

11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.   

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.  

     God raised Jesus from the dead.   The Spirit (of Him who raised Jesus from the dead) dwells in us.   And since His Spirit dwells in us, He (God, who raised Christ from the dead) will give life to our mortal bodies through (dia) His Spirit who lives in us.   The Spirit of God is in the body of the living Christian, we have learned from 1 Cor. 6:9, and because He is there as we serve Christ while living here on earth, at the resurrection God will raise our “mortal bodies dia His Spirit who dwells in” us.

“BUT  en,  USED  IN  1 COR. 6:19,  CAN  BE  TRANSLATED  AMONG”

     It is true that the word “among” in our English translations is more often than not a translation of the very common Greek word en , from which we derive our word “in.”  En is translated “among” more than 100 times.   It is translated “in” many times that number.   So, how can we know whether to use “in” or “among” where the Greek en  is used?   The answer is that even where we have en humin (en with the dative plural "you"), we can know by the context and by its most ready fit in the sentence where it appears.   Examples of cases where en should obviously be translated “among” are these:    Matt. 2:6;  11:11;  13:22;  16:7-8;  20:26-27;  23:11;  27:56;   Mark 6:4, 41;  10:43;  15:40;   Luke 1:1, 42;  2:44;  7:16, 28;  9:46, 48;  16:15;  22:26;   John 1:14;  6:9, 43, 52;  7:12, 35;  8:7;  9:16;  11:54;  15:24;   Acts 4:34;  5:12;  6:8;  12:18;  15:7, 12;  17:34;  20:25;  21:19;  24:21;  25:6;   Rom. 1:6, 13;  8:29;  11:17;  12:3;  15:9;  16:7;   1 Cor. 1:10, 11;  2:2, 6;  3:3, 18;  5:1;  6:5;  11:18, 19, 30;  15:12;         2 Cor. 1:19;  10:1;  11:26;  12:12;   Gal. 1:16;  2:2;  3:5;   Eph. 2:3;  5:3;   Phil. 2:15;   Col. 1:27;   1 Thess. 5:12, 13;   2 Thess. 3:7, 11;   Jas. 3:6, 13;  4:1;  5:13, 14;   1 Pet. 2:12;  5:1, 2;   2 Pet. 2:1, 8.    In other cases, en is better translated “in.”   The word that en modifies, and those to which it is applied in the total immediate context, help determine whether en should be translated by “in” or by “among” or by some other English word.   In the case of 1 Cor. 6:19, en is in reference to the nouns body and temple, and both are singular, and both contextually refer to the same body mentioned in 6:13, 15, 18 and 20.   IF “temple” was not identified by this context to be the body of the Christian, and IF there was something in the context making reference to the body of Christ the church (but there isn't),  then we might cautiously assume it meant the assembly or the body of Christ the church, and in that situation en could be translated “among.”    But that is not the case.   It is for this reason that not one Bible translates 1 Cor. 6:19 with the word “among.”   To say “among your body” (when body is singular, as is the case here) would not make sense.  Holy Spirit is singular, body is singular, and temple is singular.   "The temple that the Holy Spirit is IN is the body of (each of) you (dative plural)."     You as an individual have a brain in you, as do all, so we would say the brain is IN you, not AMONG you, even if we were addressing a group.   So the Holy Spirit is IN the body (of each of) the believers, not AMONG their body.   Yes, Paul's question ["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?"] employs the dative plural with en (en humin) which in most instances could be translated "among you";  but since that which the Spirit is IN refers directly to "your body the temple," it has been understood by the translators of all Bibles to be better translated "your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is IN you" or "...is WITHIN you."   That which the Holy Spirit is in is the body of each of the individual Christians;  that is the identified temple which His is in, and it must not be defiled through fornication.   Since the lesson applied equally to all the believers in Corinth, Paul used the dative plural.   Not one of them was excluded.   Each Christian constituted a unit in the "you" (dative plural) and as such they must keep their bodies pure sexually, since each had been bought with a price.

“BUT  EVEN  THOUGH  en  IS  ALWAYS TRANSLATED  “IN”  IN  1 COR. 6:19, IT  MAY  BE  UNDERSTOOD  IN  A  FIGURATIVE  SENSE”

     The burden of proof for this assertion is on the one making it.   We do know that the Holy Spirit is IN the human body of the believer, the temple of the Holy Spirit.   The verse says so!   What have we gained to take a sentence (or in the case of 1 Cor. 6:18-20, to take all those sentences) in which all of the rest of the language is apparently to be understood in the normal sense (there seems to be figurative language in 6:15, but not in the rest of the paragraph) and in the midst of these words give “in” a figurative meaning?    What danger do we face if the Holy Spirit is, with our own spirit, literally IN our body?  (Compare 1 Cor. 2:11, the spirit of the man is in him.)   Whether “in” would be better taken literally or in some sense figuratively, what we do know is that the Holy Spirit is IN the temple of the Christian’s body, and that therefore we are to glorify God IN our body and IN our spirit which belong to God by right of purchase.