What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
1 Corinthians 6:19 (KJV)
Your – In English, the word “your” can be singular or plural. It’s difficult to know which is implied unless there’s something in context that can help one distinguish between the implication of many or one. This is where the King James Version excels because it uses Biblical English which has the appropriate words to distinguish between plural and singular. So let’s investigate this word.
Hymōn is the Greek equivalent. When digging in, we notice that the word means “of yours” which is still not quite sufficient. Is it plural or singular? So we go back one step to its root word – hymeis. Ah, here we see the answer. Hymeis is the plural form of you which is often translated in the King James Version as “ye”. The KJV Bible is a great benefit here. It uses “ye” or “you” to refer to plural and “thou” to refer to singular. So whenever you read “ye” in the KJV Bible, it’s referring to the plural.
Now we can understand that the word in question is a descendant of the plural form of “you”. Why is this important? This causes us to reexamine our theology on the body being the temple. The common theology is that each of us individually is a temple for the Holy Spirit. My body alone is that temple and I need to keep it clean so that the Holy Spirit can live within me. But this isn’t what Paul is writing. His meaning is lost in translation.
With this newfound understanding of this single word, we realize that Paul is referring to “your body” in the plural form – the entire group of believers. If he intended to imply our individual bodies, then he wouldn’t have used the plural form of “your”… or if he did, then the word “body” would also have to be pluralized to reference each person’s own body. But he doesn’t do this. He writes that all of you together – the whole body of believers – is the temple.
This aligns better with Paul’s Hebraic worldview. The Hebrews know that there can only ever be ONE temple – not many individual temples. There is only ONE God and ONE temple. So as he spiritualizes this understanding, he makes reference to the body of Yeshua as this temple for the Holy Spirit. It’s not me individually. It’s not my own body that is this temple. But rather it’s about community. It’s about the body comprised of all the believers together that make up this temple.
Does this make sense? Does this cause your focus to change? It’s not about you, or me individually. It’s about us. Our body is the community. Our community is that spiritualized temple of the Holy Spirit. And our community is not our own, it belongs to God.