First Corinthians – Part 9
Last time we looked at the passages below (Welch). This structure allows us to see the scope of the verses. A couple of points pop right out as we compare and contrast words and phrases in the structure. This process brings to our attention useful insights which remind us and augment what we have learnt.
- b: Man’s wisdom equates to the spirit of the world while in c the spirit of God is the Holy Spirit
- a: Things of God revealed corresponds with explained by by spiritual means.
- C: Revelation — Discernment — God reveals through spiritual discernment
- B: None knew — they had the spirit of the world BUT “we” have the mind of Christ.
- A: Wisdom can only be spoken to the mature — the reason Paul could not speak this wisdom to the Corinthians was that they were Babes.
This time we shall comment on what the Holy Spirit says next as He speaks through the human instrument of Paul.
1 Corinthians 3:1-23 (Wrong Division)
We shall begin where we left off last time — 3:1,2. These passages give us the reason why Paul could not speak the hidden wisdom to the Corinthians. Their lack of spiritual growth meant that truths and treasures of the meat of the word had to be withheld.
3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.
3:1 Καὶ ἐγώ, ἀδελφοί, οὐκ ἠδυνήθην λαλῆσαι ὑμῖν ὡς πνευματικοῖς, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς σαρκικοῖς, ὡς νηπίοις ἐν Χριστῷ.
2 γάλα ὑμᾶς ἐπότισα, καὶ οὐ βρῶμα· οὔπω γὰρ ἠδύνασθε, ἀλλ᾽ οὔτε ἔτι νῦν δύνασθε· (1Co 3:1-2 TBT)
The word translated “spiritual” is the adjective πνευματικοῖς here in the dative, the word is a derivative of the greek word for “spirit”. How did Paul speak to them? ὡς σαρκικοῖς, ὡς νηπίοις ἐν Χριστῷ (1Co 3:1 TBT) as those of flesh and babes in Christ — he did not deny their relation to Christ.
3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
What made them to receive such adjectives as σαρκικοῖς and νηπίοις? The answer comes here in verse three and is expounded futher in verses 4-7. Envying, strife and divisions what a field day we Christians supply to the devil by not keeping our attention on the spiritual! Paul gives us more light and further detail on the aspects of division — wrong division:
4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
Apollos was a great speaker and no doubt would impress many especially of the Jews. In Acts 18:24 we find him eloquent and influential but not yet perfected until Priscilla and Aquilla taught him more perfectly (the Bayesian update).
|Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.
26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
27 And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace:
28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ. (Act 18:24-28 KJG)
5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
It is not that Paul or Apollos were wrong in using their God given gifts and abilities to bring the truths of the gospel of Christ, the fault lay in the decisions made by the Corinthians to create divisions when there were none. To magnify a person above his God given ministry was a mistake guided and inspired of the flesh not the Spirit. Do you think it is of the Spirit of God to make a distinction in the fundamental messages of the apostles and teach that Paul was offering a different hope and dispensation to Peter or Apollos? The mid-Acts position says that Paul was teaching the “mystery” of Eph 3 and Col 1 in the latter half of the Acts period which would include the time when 1 Corinthians was written. This cannot be, for PAul was the recipient of this good news only after the end of the book of Acts when the salvation of God was finally sent to the Gentiles Acts 28:28.
7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
7 ὥστε οὔτε ὁ φυτεύων ἐστί τι, οὔτε ὁ ποτίζων, ἀλλ᾽ ὁ αὐξάνων Θεός.
8 ὁ φυτεύων δὲ καὶ ὁ ποτίζων ἕν εἰσιν· ἕκαστος δὲ τὸν ἴδιον μισθὸν λήψεται κατὰ τὸν ἴδιον κόπον.
Verse 7 reveals the actions of two ministers working at different aspects of ministry with God giving the increase, verse 8 joins these two together revealing their one-ness in purpose.
Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one
ὁ φυτεύων δὲ καὶ ὁ ποτίζων ἕν εἰσιν·
If Paul and Peter were teaching gospels of different substances — that is gospels of two different “kinds” how could they be “one”? See my study on the book of Galatians for further commentary on this. If Peter was teaching a different species of Gospel to Paul would he not rightly be “accursed”?
Ga 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Ga 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
The verses 3.9-4.16 reveal more detail concerning Paul’s apostolic commission with illustrations and applications alternating. Paul separates his audience using the pronouns “we” and “ye”
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
9 Θεοῦ γάρ ἐσμεν συνεργοί· Θεοῦ γεώργιον, Θεοῦ οἰκοδομή ἐστε. (1Co 3:9 TBT)
The Sosthenes and Paul were labourers together with God, but the Corinthians were God’s husbandry (cultivated field) and building Θεοῦ γεώργιον, Θεοῦ οἰκοδομή ἐστε.
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
The issue here is that Paul laid the foundation but they now must take heed how they build on it. Paul and Sosthenes were fellow labourers with God — the corinthians were to be cultivated by God and be His building. Paul was building as a wise master-builder! He built witht the spirit as someone who had the specialized knowledge to build. The foundations were and are important to the quality and resilience of the building. If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do? Notice that Paul says “I have laid the foundation”, θεμέλιον τέθεικα, the verb is in the perfect tense, it was laid by Paul in the past and it stood at the writing of the current epistle.
as a wise masterbuilder,
ὡς σοφὸς ἀρχιτέκτων
(1Co 3:10 TBT)
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Paul laid it, and no one can lay a different one.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
You cannot lay a different one — the issue for the believer is “how” you build on top of it. There are two classes of work that could be built — one that burns and the other that purifies. The one that abides qualifies the possessor to a reward and to the one who has nothing ledt after the testing — loss. But he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
The Corinthians (Ye) were the temple of God — they as an assembly of believers were the ναός (the holy place, not the outer temple) and the Spirit of God dwelt among them (as in a Temple). This does not refer to an individual person but the group as a whole.
17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
17 εἴ τις τὸν ναὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ φθείρει, φθερεῖ τοῦτον ὁ Θεός· ὁ γὰρ ναὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ ἅγιός ἐστιν, οἵτινές ἐστε ὑμεῖς. (1Co 3:17 TBT)
This portion of the larger temple was indeed Holy and if an individual brought into divisions from carnality it would “defile” the temple so God would defile him. The word translated defile and destroy here is φθείρει, and it appears first in Lk. 12:33 33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. (Luk 12:33 KJG)
In the AV it is translated -corrupt 4, corrupt (one’s) self 1, be corrupt 1, defile 1, destroy 1; — the idea is that the individual would be spoiled in some sense. This is how the assembly is seen — as a naos, the holiest of all and if an individual came into it with actions of carnality he/she would be appropriately punished. Severe punishments would ensue including death. Look at the inappropriate partaking of the Lord’s supper — “many sleep”
1Co 11:30 For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. You don’t mess with the purity of the church and its doctrines, to play the flesh in the Acts could mean DEATH.
18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.
Those who seek the praise of men by seeking the wisdom of this world may indeed attain to it — but if one wished to be approved of God that knowledge will be foolish to the world and in turn such a person would be a fool in the eyes of the world. These are sobering thoughts and we need each one to remember them as we seek to make our way in this life. If we wish to make a living and learn the things of this life that can be a great thing and necessary. But it will not be a wisdom that brings us closer to God.
19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
A quote from Job 5.13 where Eliphas the Temanite attempts to school Job. Interesting that God’s wisdom is foolish to the world and the world’s wisdom foolish to God.
20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
A quote from Psalm 94.11. Since the the thoughts of men are empty there is no point in boasting in them. Why? “For all things are yours” — you have everything that you really need — the knowledge of the universe and how it operates we can only scratch the surface in terms of our understanding — what we need however God has provided and what we have in Him is everything.
22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.
We need to make a living we need as humans who bear the image of God to understand — but what we have in Christ satisfies our inner need.
This chapter touches on a number of issues which are germain to our deportment today but there are others that cannot be divorced from the Acts economy that persisted up until Acts 28. Isuues that relate to us today include the need for all believers to look for spiritual solutions to spiritual problems. The flesh will drive us away from development into mature and perfect christians. We should not be at all surprized that those who are and have been bringing discord into the temple of believers are not today judged as they were in the Acts since that age ended and ours began with a fresh economy given to PAul the prisoner.
God’s wisdom is foolishness to the world but it can also be wrongly appreciated by believers when they do not rightly divide the word of truth. This is our challenge as Christians who have come to understand something of the mystery given to PAul — how can we most effectively convey these deep, life changing and liberating truths?