1 Corinthians 3
SUMMARY.--The Proofs that the Corinthians were Yet Carnal.
Not Able to Endure Strong Meat.
The Work of Paul and Apollos.
The Increase of God.
The Church God's Building.
The One Foundation.
Perishable Materials Built on This.
The Sin of Defiling God's Temple.
The Glorious Estate of the Christians.
1-4. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto
of the preceding chapter; also verse 14.
The brethren at Corinth had not reached the state of "spiritual men."
carnal, undeveloped like
2. I have fed you with milk. When he was at Corinth he treated
them as babes, teaching them the simple, rudimentary principles.
Milk. Simple teaching.
Meat. Stronger and deeper doctrines. In the school of Christ,
like all others, the teaching must be adapted to the advancement of the
3. Ye are yet carnal. Hence, still not spiritual enough to
receive the higher teaching, the "hidden wisdom,"
the meat. The proof that they were yet carnal was the existence of
divisions in the church.
Walk as men. Exhibit the jealous and discordant spirit
characteristic of men of the world.
4. When one saith, I am of Paul, etc. The fact that they are
divided by following different human leaders, instead of all following
Christ, demonstrated that they were yet carnal.
5-9. Who then is Paul and Apollos? Their carnal-mindedness shows
itself in choosing and following these human leaders. One said he was a
Paulite, etc. Hence he asks, Who is Paul, or Apollos? Only
ministers, servants, subordinates, agents through whom they
believed on Christ.
As the Lord gave to every man. Gave to Paul and Apollos power to
lead you to faith.
6. I have planted, etc. It was Paul's work given him to
plant the seed of the kingdom; it was the work of Apollos to
afterwards water or cultivate the Christian plants which had come
forth, but God gave the growth; gave the seed its vitality and the
plant its life.
7. So then neither is he that planteth, etc. The parts of Paul
and Apollos were as nothing; the power was all of God, who gave growth
to the seed and plant.
8. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one. They have
kindred work, as servants, and each will be rewarded as a servant,
according to his own labor.
9. For we are laborers together with God. The Revision gives the
true meaning: "For we are God's fellow-workers." They, he and Apollos,
were fellow-laborers belonging to God (of God, not with God). They were
fellow-laborers with each other, of God. The Corinthian church was
God's field in which they labored. The Greek word
means "tilled land." Husbandry is obscure.
Ye are God's building. The figure is now changed. Paul and
Apollos are God's builders, and the church is the building they build.
The leading idea is that they are only God's employees. How can Paul
have a party, then, and Apollos another, when they are only employees
10-15. According to the grace given to me. Given when? When he
was called to be an
I have laid the foundation. The figure of the building is
retained. Paul is a discreet master-builder. He had laid the
foundation at Corinth, when he was preaching Christ, and working
through faith in him
Notice it is not a foundation, but the foundation,
because God's spiritual temple
can have only one.
Another buildeth thereon. After Paul left Corinth, Apollos and
other teachers continued to build upon the foundation that Paul had
Let every man take heed how, etc. Since there is only one
foundation of the temple, viz: Jesus Christ, there should be most
careful and conscientious building upon it
11. Other foundation can no man lay, etc. There is only one
foundation of the church
This foundation-stone was laid by God
Paul's work under God was to point to this foundation, to induce them
to believe, and thus to build them upon it. His preaching laid it in
their hearts. To preach Christ is to preach the fundamental or
foundation truth of the church.
12. If any man buildeth upon this foundation. There is only one
foundation for all builders to build upon. The church or temple will be
of the character of the material built upon it. If this material be
precious and imperishable, if apostolic doctrines and men moulded into
the image of Christ be this material, it is well. If erroneous
doctrines and unstable men, wood, hay, stubble, this will all be
revealed in due time.
13. Every man's work shall be made manifest. The kind of work
that every builder does will be manifested.
The day shall declare it. Probably the day of Christ's coming.
As fire destroys wood, hay, stubble, but leaves gold, silver, precious
so the work of some builders, when tested, will vanish. They do not do
14. If any man's work shall abide. Shall stand the test of
trial. Such a builder will be rewarded. There shall be stars in his
15. If any man's work shall be burned. Shall perish as
worthless. Such an one will forfeit his reward.
So as by fire. He is saved, because he intended well, but is
barely saved, like one who escapes from a burning house where all his
property is consumed.
16, 17. If any man defile the temple of God. In
the apostle had said, "Ye are God's building." Now he returns to that
figure, and denounces the judgment of God upon all who would defile his
house by their carnal divisions. In that temple the Spirit dwelt, as
the Shekinah had dwelt in the temple of God at Jerusalem; it was
therefore a holy temple, and an awful sin to defile it. Under the old
dispensation, death was the penalty of polluting the temple.
18-23. Let no man deceive himself. A caution against the
philosophical tendencies of the Apolloite party.
If any man thinketh that he is wise. If he is wise in his own
that of the world, let him choose what the world calls "foolishness,"
in order that he may became "wise unto salvation."
19. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. See
For it is written.
20. And again, the Lord knoweth, etc.
21. Wherefore, let no man glory in men. In preachers like Paul,
and Apollos, and Cephas. Above all, let them not form parties around
For all things are yours. All, the preachers as well as all
beside, are ordained to prepare you for eternal glory.
22. Whether Paul, etc. See
Or the world. The world is not to be the master, but the servant
of God's children.
Or life. Life is given to do God's work and to insure life
Or death. To the saint "death is gain."
Or things present. These, whatsoever they are, "shall work
together for good to them that love God."
Or things to come. The things to come to the Christian are the
presence of Christ, and the joys of the New Jerusalem.
All are yours. What a climax!
23. And ye are Christ's. He had procured for us all things, but
has bought us with a price.
Christ is God's. God's Son, and belonging to the Father. All
things are ours, but we are not our own! We own all else, but we do not
own ourselves! Hence our duty to be consecrated to the service of