In 1 Corinthians 4:13 Paul says, “We have become as the offscouring of the world, as the scum of all things until now.” Offscouring and scum are synonymous. Offscouring denotes that which is thrown away in cleansing; hence, refuse, filth. Scum denotes that which is wiped off; hence, rubbish, refuse. Both synonyms are metaphorically used, especially of condemned criminals of the lowest class, who were cast into the sea or to the wild beasts in the amphitheater. Here Paul likens himself to the lowest criminals, to offscouring, scum, rubbish, refuse. This was Paul’s estimation of himself with respect to both the Jews and the Gentiles. In the eyes of certain worldly people our situation is the same. Compared to them, we are scum and offscouring. They may be extremely successful and wealthy, but we have become the offscouring of the world and the scum of all things. We are qualified only to become cast aside as waste.
The believers are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:16-20). In 1 Corinthians 3:16 Paul asks, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwells in you?” In 6:19 he inquires, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” The temple of God in 3:16 refers to the church corporately, not to the believers individually, whereas the temple of the Holy Spirit in 6:19 does refer to individual believers. In particular, 6:19 reveals that a believer’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:16 tells us that the Holy Spirit is with the believers’ spirit. According to 1 Corinthians 6:19, the Holy Spirit from God is also in the believers’ body as His dwelling. The Holy Spirit is in our spirit, and our spirit is within our body. Hence, our body becomes a temple, a dwelling, of the Holy Spirit.
The believers are not their own, for they were bought by God with a price. In 6:19b and 20a Paul indicates that the believers are not their own because they were bought with a price. This price is the precious blood of Christ (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 5:9).
In 1 Corinthians 6:20b Paul concludes his word concerning the believers being a temple of the Holy Spirit: “Therefore glorify God in your body.” As the dwelling of the Spirit, the believers should glorify, that is, express, God in their body. To glorify God in our body means to let God, who dwells in us (1 John 4:13), occupy and saturate our body and express Himself through our body as His temple, especially in the matters of eating and marriage, according to the context of the section of 1 Corinthians from 6:13 through 11:1. For this, we need to exercise a severe and strict control over our body, bringing it into subjection (1 Cor. 9:27) and presenting it to God as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).
In 1 Corinthians 6:15, 17, and 19 Paul covers three crucial matters: that our bodies are the members of Christ (v. 15), that we are joined to the Lord as one spirit (v. 17), and that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (v. 19). In actuality and practicality these three are one. The key to all three is in verse 17. Apart from being joined to the Lord in our spirit, it is impossible for our bodies, which are sinful and lustful, to become the members of Christ. Another crucial matter related to this is Paul’s word in verse 14 that the Lord “will raise up us through His power.” Even now the Spirit of the resurrected Christ who dwells in our spirit gives life to our body. This impartation of life makes our bodies the members of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. Hence, the key to our being the temple of the Holy Spirit is that the indwelling Spirit of the resurrected Christ imparts life to our mortal bodies. Because this is the key, we must exercise and practice to experience the Lord as the life-giving Spirit dwelling in our spirit. This is to practice being one spirit with the Lord. If we exercise ourselves to experience and enjoy this, we shall open the way for the Lord to impart life to our physical bodies. Then our bodies will be full of the resurrection life of Christ and will become the members of Christ. When our body becomes a member of the indwelling Christ, it automatically becomes the temple, the dwelling place, of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, in our experience the three matters of our bodies being members of Christ, of being one spirit with the Lord, and of our body being the temple of the Holy Spirit are three aspects of one reality.
(Conclusion of the New Testament, The (Msgs. 099-113), Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)