The temple in the Old Testament was a holy place set apart for worship, prayer, and God’s presence.

In the New Testament we are told that we have become God’s dwelling place.

In this expositional message, Nathan Johnson looks at six things the temple was for in the Old Testament and expounds upon Ephesians 2:21-22 as Paul declares that we are growing up into the temple of the Lord to be His dwelling place.

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Key Passage: Ephesians 2:19-22

Ephesians 2:19-22 – “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

A Simple Bible Study Resource

Growing Into a Temple

  • 2 main verbs in the sentence:
    • growing
      • Indicative: a simple statement of fact,
      • Active – the building is doing the growing
      • Present
    • being built together
      • Indicative
      • Passive – the building is being acted upon
      • Present
  • We as the building are actively growing into a temple and yet He is building us together into a dwelling place
  • Individually and Corporately –We are individual dwelling places of God yet one temple

Old Testament Understanding of the Temple … as a Picture of Us as His Temple

1. Set Apart & Holy
  • Temple was the most holy thing in the entire universe
    • Illustration (100-400 billion stars/solar systems in our galaxy … Milky Way)
    • Estimated to be 200 billion galaxies in the universe
  • Exodus 40:9 – And you shall take the anointing oil, and anoint the tabernacle and all that is in it; and you shall hallow it and all its utensils, and it shall be holy.
  • 1 Corinthians 3:16 – Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
  • 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 – Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.  
  • » Barnyard idea of Jesus entering in
    • Yes Jesus is willing to enter in … but refuses to leave you that way
  • Leviticus 11:44 – For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.
    • Consecrate: set apart, make holy, sanctify
    • Says the same thing over and over in Leviticus: 11.45, 19.2, 20.7, 20.26, 21.8
  • Levites had to cleanse themselves before working in the temple because they were handling the sacred – no impurities were allowed on or in the lives of the Levites
  • How much more must we be continually cleansed and set apart if we not only minister within but ARE the temple?
2. A Place for Prayer
  • Mark 11:17 – Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ” [taken from Isaiah 56.7]
  • Isaiah 56:7 – . . . For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.
  • » Are you known as a person “a house” of prayer to all around you?
3. Worship
  • Psalm 138:2 – I will worship before Your holy temple, And praise Your name For Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word above all Your name.
  • Revelation 11:1 – Then I was given a reed like a measuring rod. And the angel stood, saying, “Rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there.”
  • » Worship isn’t “singing” but a lifestyle of praise, glorifying, and magnifying God in all you do
    • 1 Corinthians 10:31 – So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
4. The Place of Sacrifice & Incense
  • Exodus 30:7-8 – “Aaron shall burn on it [the altar of incense in front of the veil] sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.”
  • Ephesians 5:1-2 – Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
    • Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and incense to God – which we are to be
  • We are to incense in this world
    • 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 – Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
  • We are to be living sacrifices
    • Romans 12:1-2 – 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. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
5. The Lord’s Treasury
  • 2 Kings 24:13 – And [the king of Babylon] carried out from there all the treasures of the house of the LORD and the treasures of the king’s house, and he cut in pieces all the articles of gold which Solomon king of Israel had made in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had said.
  • 2 Corinthians 4:6-10 – For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed– always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
    • The treasure we have is not monetary riches but Jesus Himself (His life and glory)
6. The Dwelling Place of God
  • The Temple (Holy of Holies) was understood as the place where the presence of God dwelt
    • The temple was a place of relationship (albeit distant)
    • Which is one of the reasons that Jesus was so angry with those within the temple buying/selling – opposite of what the purpose of the temple was for
  • Solomon’s Dedication of the Temple
    • 2 Chronicles 7:1-5 – When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’s house. When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying: “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever.” Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices before the LORD. King Solomon offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep. So the king and all the people dedicated the house of God.
    • Do you have that level of the presence of God in your life? Is your life marked by intimacy and oneness?
    • What things need to be driven out of our lives in order for intimacy to be had?
      • Impurity, fear, jealousy, greed, envy, hatred, selfish ambition, worry/anxiety, sexual immorality, pride
  • Romans 1:28-32 – And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.


  • Leviticus 11:44 – For I am the LORD your God. You shall therefore consecrate yourselves, and you shall be holy; for I am holy.
  • “Real gold fears no fire” – Randy Alcorn (Safely Home)
  • » The life and death of Jesus made it possible not only for us to enter into God’s presence but for His presence to enter us!
    • We have become the dwelling place of God
  • What if we as individuals and corporately were
    • Set apart and made holy
    • A Place of Prayer
    • A Place of Worship
    • A continual fragrance and sacrifice to God
    • A place of His treasury
    • The dwelling place … growing into a holy temple and being built as a dwelling place for God’s Spirit

In Our Next Study Together …

I invite you to join me on this journey from the book of Ephesians to discover God’s eternal purpose, His plan for your life, and learn how to practically live out an abundant and fruitful Christian life. 

  • The focus of our next study: Ephesians 3:1-13
  • We will look at a big picture overview of Ephesians 3:1-13.
  • I encourage you to read through Ephesians a couple of times this week and focus specifically on Ephesians 3:1-13.

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About The Deeper Christian Bible Study Series

The Deeper Christian Bible Study Series in Ephesians is a Christ-centered practical in-depth verse-by-verse study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Join NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) as he expositionally preaches from this incredible book – which will help you grow in your faith, gain greater intimacy with Jesus, and understand how to study God’s Word.

Many Christians feel frustrated because they don’t grow spiritually. Deeper Christian equips Christians to understand the Word of God and cultivate a passionate love for Jesus that turns the world upside down.

About NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson)

NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) is a Christian who has an overwhelming passion for Jesus, the Gospel, and Studying God’s Word. He is a writer, teacher, and communicator who helps Christians discover and experience a passionate love for God and His Word so that they can grow in their faith, live victorious lives, share the Gospel boldly, grow in their intimacy with Jesus, and transform the world through the indwelling life of Christ.
Read more about him here.

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