1 Corinthians 3:16,17

(1 Corinthians 3:16,17) Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

Christians comprise the "temple of God." The Catholic Church uses this passage to support their idea that the church is a divinely-sanctioned institution, but I see no evidence that Paul had this in mind.

The Jewish and Christian concept of temple includes these elements:

There are various temples referred to in the Bible:

Some think of the image of Christians as the temple as figurative, but it seems literal to me. Just as the Holy Spirit literally resides within each believer, so also the set of all believers is a literal temple. Just as the Old Testament temple was composed of individual stones, so also the church is composed of individual Christians.

(1 Corinthians 3:11) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Christianity is built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. Christians are part of this structure which Paul refers to as the "temple."

(1 Corinthians 3:12-15) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Each Christian's faith life is judged based on the faithfulness to God's commands and laws.

(1 Corinthians 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?

In this verse Paul claims that the body of each Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Presumably those who defile their bodies through sin defile God's temple.

(2 Thessalonians 2:4) Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

The word "temple" refers to the Jewish temple which was still standing when this book was written. Read more here.

(Ephesians 2:21) In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord.

The body of Christ is a temple of God.

(2 Corinthians 6:16) And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Each Christian is a temple because the Holy Spirit resides within.

(Revelation 3:12) Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

Each Christian is a part of the temple.