"The Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands"?


Acts 7:48-50 “The Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands” does this scripture show that our Churches are not houses of God. I was taught that Churches are houses of God. In this scripture Jesus quotes Isaiah 66:1-2. Could I find an explanation for this. I know the Church I correct I am just in need of an explanation. Thank you! God bless!


A short answer may be that we pray that God does dwell in the universal Catholic Church, created by Christ, not men.

For a fuller understanding, read the whole chapter of Acts 7. It concludes with a very dramatic account of St. Stephen rebuking the Sanhedrin for rejecting Christ. St. Stephen has a vision of Heaven and is stoned to death, begging that God forgive his murderers. The stoning is witnessed by the Apostle Paul.


Lenny, it goes back to when God took the Israelites out from Egipt and Moses received the law at mount Sinai. After that God commanded Moses to build the Tabernacle and God dwelled with the Israelites ever since, first in the Holy of Holies inside the Tabernacle made of tents and when King Salomon finished the first temple God dwelled in the Holy of Holies there.
If you read carefully you will note that the Holy of Holies was shut not with a door, but with a veil, a thick fabric material I believe made with linen.

Now if you read the account of the Passion of our Lord Jesus it says:

Matthew 27:50 Then Jesus, crying out again with a loud voice, gave up his life.
27:51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn into two parts, from top to bottom. And the earth was shaken, and the rocks were split apart.

You see that at the precise instant Jesus died, GOD left definetively the Temple of Jerusalem never to dwell again in a building of stones. But as the Prophecy foretold HE would dwell in our hearts when the Holy Spirit descended to the Apostles at Pentecostes AND when He comes to dwell in us everytime we partake of the Sacraments instituted by Jesus.

Hope this helps.


Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary offers the following for Acts 7:48:
Ver. 48. But the most High dwelleth not in houses made by hands. God is every where, nor is his presence confined to the temple, which was already once destroyed; and what if it be destroyed again, as Christ foretold? God must still be adored, worshipped and served, as he was before the temple was first built, which was only by Solomon. (Witham) — Dwelleth not in houses. That is, so as to stand in need of earthly dwellings, or to be contained or circumscribed by them. Though otherwise, by his immense divinity, he is in our houses, and every where else; and Christ in his humanity dwelt in houses: and is now on our altars. (Challoner) —It is not so much for God, as for ourselves, that we build temples, and it is a pure effect of his goodness and mercy, that he permits us to build them to him. Places consecrated in a particular manner to his service, where he gives the most sensible marks of his presence, are of assistance to us, when we render our homage, address our vows, and offer our prayers to the Deity. St. Stephen’s design in this part of his discourse, is to prove that the true religion may subsist without the temple; therefore, that he could not be guilty of blasphemy, supposing he had even used the words which the malice of the Jews put into his mouth, that Jesus of Nazareth would destroy this place. (Chap. vi. 14.) (Source)


If I understand your question right, you are wondering how we can call a church building “God’s house” if he doesn’t “dwell in houses made of human hands”?

In pagan religions (including those around in NT times) it was thought that the idol you worshiped was actually more or less that god. If you placed that idol in a constructed shrine or temple, it was said that it was a dwelling place for that “god”. Paul’s point is that the True God cannot be limited in this way. While he may be present in a very real way in a particular place (i.e., the Jewish temple or the tabernacle in Catholic churches) he cannot be said to “dwell” or be confined there.

The Navarre Bible Commentary has this to say about Acts 17:24 where a similar statement is made:

  1. Paul’s language is in line with the way God is described in the Old Testament as being Lord of heaven and earth (cf. Is 42:5; Ex 20:21). The Apostle speaks of God’s infinite majesty: God is greater than the universe, of which he is the creator. However, Paul does not mean to imply that it is not desirable for God to be worshipped in sacred places designed for that purpose.

His words seem to echo those of Solomon at the dedication of the first Temple: “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27).

Any worship rendered to God should be “in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:24). But the Lord has desired to dwell in a special way and to receive homage in temples built by men. “The worship of God”, St Thomas Aquinas writes, “regards both God who is worshipped and men who perform the worship. God is not confined to any place, and therefore it is not on his account that a tabernacle or temple has to be made. Worshippers, as corporeal beings, need a special tabernacle or temple set up for the worship of God; and this for two reasons. First, that the thought of its being appointed to the worship of God might instill a greater sense of reverence; second, that the way it is arranged and furnished might signify in various respects the excellence of Christ’s divine or human nature. …] From this it is clear that the house of the sanctuary was not set up to receive God as if dwelling there, but that his name might dwell there, that is, in order that the knowledge of God might be exhibited there” (“Summa Theologiae”, I-II, q. 102, a. 4. ad 1).

Does that help?


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