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Summary: The doctrine that the Holy Spirit comes to abide inside or indwell the person who obeys the Gospel is not new. The Early Church Fathers believed and taught this doctrine. Herein, we look at a sampling of their words.

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The belief that the Scriptures teach that the Holy Spirit personally comes to abide within the Christian is not new. Writings from the first three centuries of the Church indicate that it was an accepted doctrine of the Early Church.

The writings indicate the belief that the Spirit was given to the believer immediately after baptism. The new Christian’s body became the temple, the dwelling place, of the Spirit of God. The Indwelling Spirit was the seal of God’s ownership and the ‘down payment’ of the blessings to be received in Heaven. The Indwelling Spirit is stated as providing the power to the child of God to walk in newness of life, obedience to the Word of God. Lastly, it is stated that the Indwelling Spirit will be the Person Who will raise-us at the general resurrection.

Ignatius (AD 110) - Ignatius to the Romans

But the Spirit proclaimed these words: Do nothing without the bishop; keep your bodies as the temples of God; love unity; avoid divisions; be the followers of Jesus Christ, even as He is of His Father.

Keep thyself pure as the habitation of God. Thou art the temple of Christ. Thou art the instrument of the Spirit. Thou knowest in what way I have brought thee up. Though I am the least of men, do thou seek to follow me, be thou an imitator of my conduct. I do not glory in the world, but in the Lord. I exhort Hero, my son; “but let him that glorieth, glory in the Lord.”

Barnabas (AD 130) - Epistle of Barnabas, Chapter 16

Moreover, I will also tell you concerning the temple, how the wretched Jews, wandering in error, trusted not in God Himself, but in the temple, as being the house of God….[after talking about the destruction of the Jewish Temple, Barnabas continues] I find, therefore, that a temple does exist. Learn, then, how it shall be built in the name of the Lord. Before we believed in God, the habitation of our heart was corrupt and weak, as being indeed like a temple made with hands. For it was full of idolatry, and was a habitation of demons, through our doing such things as were opposed to the will of God. But it shall be built, observe ye, in the name of the Lord, in order that the temple of the Lord may be built in glory. How? Learn as follows. Having received the forgiveness of sins, and placed our trust in the name of the Lord, we have become new creatures, formed again from the beginning. Wherefore in our habitation God truly dwells in us. How? His word of faith; His calling of promise; the wisdom of the statutes; the commands of the doctrine; He himself prophesying in us; He Himself dwelling in us; opening to us who were enslaved by death the doors of the temple, that is, the mouth; and by giving us repentance introduced us into the incorruptible temple. He then, who wishes to be saved, looks not to man, but to Him who dwelleth in him, and speaketh in him, amazed at never having either heard him utter such words with his mouth, nor himself having ever desired to hear them. This is the spiritual temple built for the Lord.


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