‘By this stage, the “House of God” has entered a new phase, whereby the symbol has realised its fullness. Looking back, it is envisaged that ever since the dismissal from Paradise, God has prepared man by every conceivable way, to accept His existence among people. Ultimately, the divine incarnation fulfilled such an aim, not only as God’s residence among the people, but also establishing His unity with them, for “the Word became man”.
In view of this new position that we have been granted by the divine incarnation, we no longer evaluate the church by its size, building materials or icons. Instead, the Incarnated Lord is transfigured in front of our eyes, so that we recognise the church as “Christ’s Body”. Extending in the life of the human race, it includes all temple corners, widens to embody the heavens, and transfers us above the limits of time.
This is the new temple that to which the Lord drew our attention when He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again…. But the temple He was speaking of, was His own Body”. (Jn. 2: 19, 20).
As a result, God’s dwelling among His people in the past has been replaced by His Incarnation. His Body and Blood are offered to them so that they may abide in Him and unite with Him as branches in the One Vine. They become “members of His Body”. A temple of God, as the Apostle says, “Whereas the man who unites Himself to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him… Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God!” (1 Cor. 6: 17- 19).
Through such a concept of faith, the “Church of the New Testament” holds a distinctive sanctity in the believers’ eyes, for the Church Building is correlated with the holy Body of Christ as well as with the members of the Congregation. For this reason, on entering the church they kiss its steps, doors, icons and kneel before the sanctuary as if before God Himself.’
– Fr Tadros Y. Malaty – The Church the House of God
In brief, the idea of building the “House of God”, has evolved throughout sacred history, in accordance with man’s ability to comprehend the essence of “Meeting with God and attaining unity with Him”, coupled with its application in his daily life.
It began with elementary, mobile forms of altars underlining that Sacrifice is the reconciliation with God.
Then Bethel was introduced, to announce the openness of heaven towards the earth as an unshakeable evidence of God’s eagerness to be present with His children, particularly during hard times.
Later on, divine instructions were given to prepare the tabernacle so as to meet with this people and lead them through the wilderness on the way to Jerusalem.
Next the temple was built in Jerusalem, as a symbol of God’s kingdom in the lives of His people.
Finally, came the church of the New Testament, founded not on visions and symbols, but upon the divine act i.e. the Word was incarnated. Here, our relation with God commenced a new phase in which we became qualified to enjoy the new life and to be transferred to heaven to participate in His glories.
This is the new church that, within its building, gathers the holy Body of Christ the Head together with its members. The Head leads the various members through the Holy Spirit, and the members attain their right to unite with one another through their belonging to the same Head.