In 2 Corinthians Paul is "preaching" that the saints should separate themselves from wicked persons ("Beliar"). He seems to perhaps have in mind the Corinthians who seem to be flippant about idols because of their knowledge that idols are "nothings" and wax bold to participate in idol feasts:

ESV 1 Corinthians 8:

10 For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged,d if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? 11 And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.

So he appeals to Ezekiel 37, which he quotes:

ESV 2 Corinthians 6:

16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

However, he doesn't quote all of it. He leaves out the bits about Israel and the Promised Land:

ESV Ezekiel 37:

24“My servant David shall be king over them [the Jews], and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall walk in my rules and be careful to obey my statutes [IE: observe Torah]. 25They shall dwell in the land that I gave to my servant Jacob, where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children’s children shall dwell there forever, and David my servant shall be their prince forever. 26I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land(g) and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. 27My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28Then the nations will know that I am the LORD who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.”

g 26 Hebrew lacks in their land

Paul's "spiritualized" usage of this passage and the omission of the promise to bring the Jews back to their land and be their God forever with Messiah as their ruler is used by some to suggest a "spiritual fulfillment (ie: metaphoric)" rather than a literal one.

But then are the other verses just chaff? Is Paul playing fast and loose with the prophesy? Or is he perhaps addressing Jewish believers in Corinth and informing or reminding them of their destiny in the same way that Revelation does:

KJV Rev 21:

2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. ... 10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

  • So he appeals to Ezekiel 37 - Does he ? And what does Jews-dwelling-in-the-Promised-Land have to do with God-dwelling-in-His-people ?
    – Lucian
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 14:05
  • @Lucian My concern is that Paul appeals to a Jewish-specific prophecy regarding Jews unmolested in their own land to argue that his audience, usually presumed to be gentiles to see themselves presently as the temple of God. I'm seeking justification for such an application which smacks of proof texting. By "proof texting" I don't refer to students using their phones to exchange answers to a math test. I mean pulling a verse out of context to prove that which it was never intended to address.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 14:28
  • I'm pretty sure the Corinthians were not tourists vacationing there. Corinth was their home, and the Jewish Diaspora started centuries before Paul, so they were not exactly newly-arrived in those places.
    – Lucian
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 14:40
  • Paul is writing to those in Corinth. On this trip he preached to the Jewish people in Thessalonica, Berea, and Corinth...all locations outside the Promised Land. Doesn't his "spiritualized" message simply reflects the reality of the times? Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 16:23
  • Is Paul properly faithful to the prophet's meaning or is he simply cherry-picking?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 1, 2018 at 16:54

2 Answers 2


NIV splits these verses into three separate quotes, and a number of possible references are listed in the notes for each. But these appear to be a mash-up of a couple of verses, rather than a direct quote.

The first verse, while attributed in the question to Ezekiel 37, is also closely aligned to Leviticus:

I will make my dwelling among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. Leviticus 26:11-12

In context, these two verses form part of a promise made by God through Moses to the people of Israel: a set of blessings for obedience, specifically in reference to idolatry, that begin with:

You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the Lord your God. You shall keep my Sabbaths and reverence my sanctuary: I am the Lord. If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them... Leviticus 26:1-3

As Paul concludes:

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body[a] and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. 2 Corinthians 8:1

  • Sorry, @Possibility, I somehow overlooked this good answer! +1
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 9:43

What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (2 Corinthians 6:16) [ESV]

τίς δὲ συγκατάθεσις ναῷ θεοῦ μετὰ εἰδώλων ἡμεῖς γὰρ ναὸς θεοῦ ἐσμεν ζῶντος καθὼς εἶπεν ὁ θεὸς ὅτι ἐνοικήσω ἐν αὐτοῖς καὶ ἐμπεριπατήσω καὶ ἔσομαι αὐτῶν θεός καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔσονταί μου λαός

The passage Paul appears to be citing is found in Leviticus:

I will make my dwelling[a] among you, and my soul shall not abhor you. And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people. (Leviticus 26:11-12)
[a] Hebrew tabernacle

And I will place my tent among you, and my soul will not abhor you. And I will walk about among you and will be your God, and you shall be for me a nation.

καὶ θήσω τὴν διαθήκην μου ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ οὐ βδελύξεται ἡ ψυχή μου ὑμᾶς καὶ ἐμπεριπατήσω ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ ἔσομαι ὑμῶν θεός καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔσεσθέ μου λαός

Paul has omitted "...and my soul shall not abhor you...". If the LXX is in mind, Paul replaced tent, διαθήκην, with dwelling, ναὸς (the same word used for Temple earlier), a change which follows the Gospel:

19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then 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 about the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (John 2)

The promise in Leviticus was to dwell and to walk with His people. It was made while the people were in the wilderness and on the way to the Promised Land. The emphasis is not on the destination; it is on being in the presence of God, both dwelling and traveling. In both letters to the Corinthians, Paul is following the analogy. "...we are the temple of the living God..." and:

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 (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Paul has preserved the original emphasis that God will dwell and travel with His people, in the wilderness (immediately) and the Promised Land (in the future).

  • This is very helpful and look forward to meditating on it. Thanks! +1
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 20:20
  • Isn't διαθήκην the "covenant" rather than "tent"? Is this a textual issue with variant LXXs?
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 14:14
  • @Ruminator The OT shows either word conveys the idea of the presence of the LORD among His people. Whether there is a covenant or a tent the LORD is present with His people. There is a natural order, covenant then tent but the LORD was always present. The NT understanding is a continued application. If the Word became flesh then the covenant and the sanctuary are His body; the two have become one. The promise of a geographic place with boundaries is secondary (irrelevant/unnecessary) if your body is the Temple of God who is (already) dwelling and walking with you. Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 15:38
  • I think that διαθήκην may be a metonym for the tabernacle/"tent of meeting" (not the temple). I think you should fix the factual error in your post, small as it may seem, rather than defending it as it muddies the water. Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 16:54

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