1 Corinthians 3

1 Corinthians 3

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Divisions in the Church

But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not being merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw—each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

(ESV)


1 Corinthians 3 Commentary

by Hank Workman

There’s a strange division among the church of Corinth.  Paul hits it head on.  Some are followers of Paul, looking to him as their leader as he established the church.  Others follow Apollos who built upon that foundation. Their allegiance is seemingly to a person rather than to the Person of Jesus.  Paul calls them out for such thinking.

Paul planted the seed of the Gospel in the people’s hearts on his missionary journey.  Apollos role was to water that seed and help it grow.  They are partners in ministry of the greater development of faith in the people.

This is about God’s glory and not man’s. We all have different roles in the calling God has placed upon us.  And truly these roles bring different results.  In the end it’s God who gets the work done in the heart.  From a farmer’s point of view, he plants the seed and waters it but he cannot nor does he have the ability to make it grow. 

The miracle of God, even within the seedling does the rest, bringing it to fruition.  All the farmer must do is make sure he provides the best environment for such growth. As with seasons, things change, but with each season come an important aspect of transition. Sometimes we are led into a person’s life for simply a season.  The role we have is critical as God ordained such a time.

We must be open to letting that season end if the Lord is moving that direction so another can come along and take the next step of leading.  Our role was critical for that time.  Another’s role is just as important. There is no ownership in ministry.  When we begin to think that way we harm the greater work God is doing. I remember when I was struggling with leaving Cyprus.  It was a wrestling match like none other as I was emotionally torn.

The most sound advice came from a friend back in the States whom I was talking to about the decision.  I’ve never forgotten it.  “If you stay when God has told you to move on,” he said, “you will harm the work God has for these of who He’s raising up next.  There are also people on the other side of your obedience, waiting for you.”

Everything was dependent upon my letting go of ‘my ministry’ at that moment and trusting God with another to continue the work.  What hammered me was others, whom I had no idea of where I would land when I arrived back in the states, were lined up and waiting on me.  It broadened my perspective to the greater work of God and my need for obedience, even when it was letting go.

Each of us are ministers and yes, each of us hold a ministry.  It’s important our obedience follows as seasons may change.  We plant and another waters all to the glory of God.


1 Corinthians 3 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

I want to focus on the beginning of this chapter where Paul addresses his brethren as being carnal. This term really just means someone who is dominated by the flesh. There is a hot debate in Christian circles as to if a carnal Christian even exists, or rather, if it’s a contradiction. My first response is to look at how Paul addresses them as brethren and also “babes in Christ.” Clearly, he is indicating they are indwelt of the Spirit but still, in many areas of their life, a slave to the flesh.

This does not mean that they don’t experience a changed heart and a fruitful life. It just means they struggle more greatly with the flesh than a mature believer. Oftentimes, when we progress in our walk, we tend to look back and expect people to be on our same level. There is definitely something to be said about accountability and the pursuit of holiness, but we all know that babies need milk.

At some point, babies grow into toddlers, and on and on into adulthood where they are expected to exhibit a maturity from their growth. It is no different with spiritual things. How did Paul respond to an immature believer? He fed them milk until the time they were ready for solid food. Is this how you respond to immature believers?

Likewise, if you are addicted to junk food, you know that when presented with real, nourishing healthy food, your taste buds are turned off. Spiritually speaking, this happens all the time. And for those who have had their taste buds transformed, you know that it takes time. Patience is such a key for seeing a babe in faith turn into a mature follower.

We need to remember that as believers we all were babies who could only handle milk at one time. Someone came along to nourish us, show us patience, and wait for the right opportunity to present us with healthy, solid food.  We need to be doing the same for others in their spiritual lives.

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