19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Notice the placement of the word “strangers” with “foreigners” separated by “and”. This shows us the definition of “strangers” in the Bible as “foreigners”, usually meaning foreign to the people of Israel. (see Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:19; Leviticus 24:22; Job 19:15 etc. etc.)
We Gentiles who have trusted Christ are no more aliens, strangers, or foreigners but are now joined as God’s people, fellowcitizens with the faithful Old Testament Jews and we are all of the household of God.
We, the people who have trusted Christ, are His body on earth, and His church. The building is not the church, the congregation is, if they are all in Christ. This spiritual building has its cornerstone Jesus Christ and its foundation God’s apostles and prophets. We are God’s temple, which He has built. Wherever we meet, Christ’s church, His body, is meeting whether it be in a private home, a business, the forest, or in a building we have set apart specifically for that purpose.
1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
In Biblical Christianity the individual believer is the temple of God, as our God lives inside of us once we believe.
1Corinthians 6:19 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?
God’s Spirit lives inside of each believer in Christ. If you do not have Christ’s Spirit in you, then you are none of His.
Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
This was promised by Christ Himself.
John 14:23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
Christ is the cornerstone of the building that is the church, the reason for its being, its justification, and its only value. This cornerstone, the head of the corner, was rejected by the Jews. Here is the Old Testament reference;
Psalm 118:22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. 23 This is the LORD’S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
Here is Christ referring to it in the New Testament;
Matthew 21:42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Imagine a fictional scene between a Roman magistrate and a Christian who is asked to explain his faith. The magistrate asks the Christian where his god dwells, which temple, as almost all of the ancient gods had some form of temple to dwell in where he received worship.
When the Christian said, we have no sacred space, no grove, no temple other than our own bodies in which our God lives, the magistrate would have probably not understood. I can envision him repeating his request and explaining that every god has a building in which he lives so that his devotees can come and offer sacrifices and worship.
I can picture the Christian shrugging his shoulders and saying that his God doesn’t dwell in houses made of stone and wood but in each and every believer and when we come together we are his body on earth with the head in heaven.
I should think the magistrate would have a hard time. Unfortunately, later Christians abandoned this purity of thought and tried to temporalize and make worldly God’s kingdom for the purpose of control and, like the Jews’, lining up their faith in keeping with the competing faiths throughout the world making church buildings holy and human government as God’s arm of control. Jesus had told his followers where His kingdom was.
Luke 17:20 ¶ And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
The kingdom of God is not a visible kingdom with castles and capitals.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
It is a kingdom not of this world of armies, universities, museums, banks, and human government.
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
Were you to believe that the kingdom of God is a noble, humanistic ideal without Christ as God in the flesh, as Tolstoy believed, you would be mistaken. Were you to believe that Jesus was a Republican or a Democrat you would be in error. Were you to believe that Jesus was a capitalist or a socialist you would be clueless. Nothing that God has ordained as righteous is fulfilled by war or violence or coercion by human means.
The fruit of the proof or the evidence that you are part of this kingdom has nothing to do with your church membership, your political affiliation, your gender, or your social status. It has nothing to do with how often you go to church, how much money you give, how many gospel tracts you have handed out, how you dress, what you drive, or where you live.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Are you truly a member of God’s household, His building, and His temple or do you serve another Jesus, another gospel, in the real one’s name ? Are you like Tolstoy or one of our Founding Fathers, believing that man brings in the kingdom of God with his highest motives and behaviors? Are you like the YMCA preacher during World War One who famously said that if Jesus were on earth at that time he’d be in the infantry with a German’s guts on his bayonet?
2Corinthians 11:4 For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.