Jesus isn’t the only person who is/was a temple. When he was a baby, he was in his mother’s womb. In a very real sense, Mary was a Temple, with the real physical presence of God inside her! This is certainly a unique thing throughout the history of creation which will never be repeated, and thus merits a certain degree of reverence, awe, and wonder at this mysterious work of God.
But what was true for Mary in the literal physical sense is also true for Christians in a spiritual sense. I Corinthians 6:19 says that our bodies are Temples of the Holy Spirit. The fact that Paul mentions this in the context of Christian ethics – living holy lives that don’t defile our bodies – is very telling indeed. After all, we have seen from previous temple models that the presence of God requires a degree of holiness, so it is unsurprising to see this new sort of temple described with the same sort of requirement. This is, of course, complicated by the fact that this presence of the Holy Spirit within the heart of each believer is also what sanctifies us – makes us more holy over time. The factor of human effort remains, we are called to walk “in step with the Spirit,” but the old problem of the presence of God being prohibited due to human sinfulness is now being reversed: God has made provision for his presence while we’re still being purified from sin!
We typically speak of the Spirit indwelling our hearts, in accordance with Paul’s words in II Corinthians 1:22. This must be read alongside I Corinthians 6:19, wherein our bodies are said to be temples. What’s important to remember is that the presence of God is manifest in our entire person; spirit, soul and body; there is no division of the self between sacred and profane. Furthermore, God is not alone, living within us. Peter describes his body as his σχήνωμα (tabernacle), reminding us that our bodies are also our own homes; the Holy Spirit is our roommate. When you add in the fact that those who are married are “of one flesh” with their spouse, that’s as many as three persons living within one body. For sure, we’d better be practicing holy living with our entire selves if we’re going to keep peace with our cohabitors!
Outer layer: our physical bodies
Middle layer: our souls (hearts & minds)
Inner layer: our spirits