1 Corinthians 3
-Paul begins this chapter, still in the context of God’s wisdom over man’s supposed smarts, by telling his readers that he could not even address them as spiritual people, which they should have been in Christ (Romans 8). He has to speak to them in a corrective manner as people of flesh who need rebuke and admonishment as infants (babies) IN Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1). He must give them milk at this point rather than solid food because they are not spiritually ready for it (1 Corinthians 3:2). The jealousy and strife are the living proof of this fleshly (sarkikos in the Greek) and naturally human life style that the Corinthians are entrenched in. This is the spirit that has lead to their divisions and arguments (quarrels) over leadership and followship.
-Paul sets the record straight that it is neither him or Apollos that is anything of consequence other than what they do in Christ. The Lord is the one who causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6, 11). He and Apollos are together as one as servants (diakonos in Greek from which we get deacon). They are ministering in tandem for the sake of the foundation, which is Jesus Christ. They consider themselves nothing in this service and Paul on his part is giving full credit to the wisdom of God for all spiritual instruction and building up in the body of the church. This is gold, silver, and precious stones that stand the test of time and is valuable for the Kingdom and will be rewarded. On the other hand, if anyone builds on the foundation of Christ with wood, hay, or straw that work will become manifest on the Day of Judgment (this is the bema seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:10, not the Great White Throne Judgment, Revelation 20:11-15). These works will be burned up (of no eternal use in other words) even though the believers will be saved “as through fire,” which means they will get to Heaven for eternity (1 Corinthians 3:15). *Application* Here we see the evidence of what we often call carnal Christianity. This is a life that has believed in God and His message, yet stays in an infant like state and lives in the flesh with mind and practice all too often. This is a wasted life in so many respects as it does not give glory to the One who saved them, and this is the most miserable way to life if you are a believer. Believers have the Holy Spirit in them and conviction is always present if you are going wayward. If you are living a life without regret and consequences for the sinful things you are doing, you had better check yourself to see if you really are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). Work out your salvation with fear and trembling examining yourself constantly to make sure you are following the proper authority in Jesus Christ, the foundation and perfecter of our faith (Philippians 2:12-13, Hebrews 12:1-2).
-Paul talks about our body being the temple of God because of the fact that His Spirit dwells within us as believers. This is a holy temple that is fluid and mobile as living stones as opposed to the physical Temple in Jerusalem, where His presence had been manifested during the Kingdom of Israel (1 Peter 2:4-11). Paul says if anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him (1 Corinthians 3:17). *Application* These are obviously strong words of exhortation and admonition to the Corinthian church and to us today. We are to treat our bodily vessels in complete honor before our Lord. Don’t abuse your body with corruption. This has to do with many things physical and spiritual, even emotional and social. Paul has to deal with the many sins that were called to his attention in Corinth, but it has the same power for edification today with us if we will recognize what God is saying in His Word. Be holy and blameless before Him. Build on His foundation with gold, silver, and precious stones. In these materials the fires of life have a purifying quality and draw us closer to the Savior and Lord of our lives. Do what is right! We are Christ’s and Christ is God’s (1 Corinthians 3:23). Be wise in God, not yourself.
Verses to Memorize- 1 Corinthians 3:6, 11