1 Corinthians 3: 1-23, factionalism, evangelism a team effort, the foolishness of worldly wisdom
Heavenly Father, we pray for the Godly wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Help us not to boast because we are not wise in Your sight. We surrender our lives to You. We give You all praise, glory, honour, power, and blessing, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-4, 1 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?
There are three kinds of people, spiritual, natural, and carnal. Spiritual people are mature Christians, carnal people are immature Christians, and natural people are non-Christians. Paul called the Corinthians Christians carnal Christians, spiritually immature, and baby Christians. They fed on spiritual milk because they could not handle spiritual meat. They only understood superficial truths of the gospel and not the deeper truths. They practice envy, strive, factionalism, sectarianism, and followed personality cults. These were carnal and immature behavioural traits. Concerning factionalism, Paul asked two rhetorical questions.
VV 5-8, 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.
Concerning factionalism, Paul asked one more rhetorical question. Paul and Apollos were ministers and co-workers in the gospel of God. Paul planted, Apollo’s watered, but God made the seed grow into a plant. God is the gardener who made the seed into a plant. Paul and Apollos were God’s servants in God’s garden. Evangelism is a team effort and God will reward everyone in the team.
VV 9-15, 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
Paul and his co-workers were God’s servants. Christians are God’s field, God’s building, and God’s spiritual temple. God is the gardener, the master builder, Christ is the cornerstone, and Christians are the living stones built upon each other, 1 Peter 2: 4-5. . If the chief cornerstone is Christ, the building will be stable. If the chief cornerstone is not Christ, the building will be destroyed by fire in Christ’s second coming. Anyone who builds his life on Christ as the foundation will not be burnt in the fire.
1 Peter 2:4-5, “As you come to him, the living Stone, rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him, 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
VV 16-17, 16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.
Christians are the spiritual temples of God where the Holy Spirit resides, John 1:14. Our bodies are the Holy temples of the Holy Spirit. We should take care of our bodies and not abuse them by taking illicit drugs or through reckless living.
John 1:14, “the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.”
VV 18-23, 18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 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 you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
Worldly wisdom is foolishness in God’s sight. Paul quoted Job 5:13 and Psalm 94:11. Because God is wiser than men, we should not idolise or boast about personalities in the church. Christians belonged to Christ, not Paul, Apollos, Cephas, or anyone else.
Job 5:13, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness, and the counsel of the cunning comes quickly upon them.”
Psalm 94:11, “The LORD knows the thoughts of man, That they are futile.”
We should avoid factionalism, sectarianism, and personality cults. In the church.
We should build the foundation of our spiritual life with Jesus Christ as our chief cornerstone.
Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. We must take good care of our bodies and not abuse them through drug addiction or reckless living.
We should pray for Godly wisdom, James 1:5.
James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.’’
Heavenly Father, help us not be carnal, and immature Christians. Help us grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Help us to rightly divide Your Word of truth as mature Christians. Help us not to idolise personalities in the church. Grant us spiritual wisdom and understanding, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 Corinthians, Chapter 2
1 Corinthians 2:1-16, Godly wisdom and earthly wisdom
Heavenly Father, we pray for the Holy Spirit to give us wisdom, discernment, understanding, and insight into spiritual truths. We pray for our spiritual eyes to be opened and our spiritual blindness to be removed, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-5, 1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. 4 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Paul acknowledged that he was not a great orator but he preached the gospel and declared his testimony through the wisdom of God. Paul’s priority was to preach the crucifixion of Christ. Paul acknowledged that he was trembling, fearful, and weak. He did not speak with human wisdom but through Godly wisdom and the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul relied on Godly wisdom and not human wisdom.
VV 6-8, 6 However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, 8 which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
There are two kinds of wisdom, Godly wisdom and human wisdom. Godly wisdom is contrary to human, earthly, or worldly wisdom. Paul spoke about a mystery concerning the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. The rulers of this age, who were ignorant of this mystery crucified the Lord of glory.
VV 9-12, 9 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 10 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. 11 For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.
The Holy Spirit revealed spiritual truths to born-again Christians but not to non-Christians because they do not have the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit searched the hearts and minds of Christians to reveal, teach, convict, correct, instruct, and train in righteous living.
VV 13-16, 13 These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. 14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 16 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
Godly wisdom comes from the Holy Spirit, human wisdom comes from men. Godly wisdom is spiritual, earthly wisdom is earthly. The “natural” men cannot understand spiritual truth because they did not have the Holy Spirit. Satan had blinded the eyes of non-Christians so that they are unable to understand the things of God. Spirit-filled Christians can rightly discern and judge the things of God. The Holy Spirit enabled Christians to know the mind of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:4, NIV, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God”.
We should seek Godly wisdom and not human wisdom. We receive Godly wisdom from the Holy Spirit who searched our hearts and minds.
Non-Christians cannot understand spiritual truths because they are blinded by Satan. Before we can share the gospel with them effectively, we should pray for God to remove their spiritual blindness.
Heavenly Father, thank You for revealing to us the deep things of God through the Holy Spirit. Thank You for revealing spiritual truth and wisdom to us through the Holy Spirit’s presence. Thank You for opening our spiritual eyes to see, know, understand and discern spiritual truths, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 Corinthians 1-31, Salutation, spiritual gifts, factionalism, power of the gospel, glory in Christ
Heavenly Father, may the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to You. We pray for the presence, anointing, and enlightenment of the Holy Spirit in our journey of faith, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-3, 1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The author identified himself as Paul. He spelled out his credentials, an apostle of Jesus Christ called by the will of God. He also acknowledged, Sosthenes, his co-worker. Acts 18:7 mentioned Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, who was beaten by the Greeks. Most scholars believed Sosthenes in Acts 18:7 and 1 Corinthians 1:1 is the same person.
Acts 18:17, “Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. But Gallio took no notice of these things”.
VV 4-9, 4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul prayed and thanked God for showing grace and favour to the Corinthian Christians by enriching them in knowledge, testimonies, and spiritual gifts. Paul spoke on Christ’s second coming, the faithfulness of God, and the divine election of the Corinthians Christians into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ.
VV 10-13, 10 Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
Paul encouraged the Corinthian Christians to close ranks by unanimity in speech, action, and judgment. Chloe’s household had informed Paul regarding division, factionalism, sectarianism, and personality cult in the church. Some members gave allegiance to Paul, some to Apollos, some to Cephas, and some to Christ.
VV 14-17, 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.
Paul downplayed the role of baptism. He only remembered baptising Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas. Paul’s calling and priority were preaching the gospel and not baptising the believers.
VV 18-21, 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” 20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
The gospel message of the cross is the power and wisdom of God to save unbelievers. The gospel is foolishness to non-Christians, who do not understand the wisdom of God. Concerning the gospel message, Paul asked four rhetorical questions. The foolishness of the world is the wisdom of God. God used the foolish message of the gospel to save the “wise’’ people of the world.
VV 22-24, 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Jews sought after signs, Greeks sought after wisdom, but Christians preached Christ crucified. Christ is a stumbling block to the Jews, foolishness to the Greeks but to Christians, it is the power and wisdom of God to save lives. In God’s economy, there is wisdom in foolishness and power in weakness.
VV 26-31, 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”
The Corinthian Christians were not wise, strong, or noble. God chose the foolish to shame the wise, the weak to shame the strong, the dishonourable to shame the honourable, the ignoble to shame the noble, and the rejected to shame the accepted so that no one can boast in His presence. Let us glory in Christ, the wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption of God.
Paul was a prayer warrior who prayed for everyone. We should emulate the prayer life of Paul and pray for all our contacts.
We should avoid factionalism, sectarianism, and personality cult in the church. We owe our allegiance to Christ alone.
We should preach the gospel because it is the power and wisdom of God to save lives.
God chose weak and ordinary people to serve Him in the kingdom. We should not judge people by their outward appearance, 1 Samuel 16:7.
1 Samuel 16:7, But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Heavenly Father, thank You for the Pauline epistle of 1 Corinthians. Thank You for justification by grace through faith in Christ. Thank You for enriching us in the knowledge and revelation of Christ. Keep us blameless until the day of Christ’s second coming. Thank You for divine election into the fellowship of Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
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Chapter 1: Introduction:
Author, Date, Recipients, setting
The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian church in the spring of between A.D. 53-55 AD, during his third missionary journey, near the end of his three-year ministry in Ephesus, Acts 19: 21-22. Paul wrote four letters to the Corinthian church, but only 1 and 2 Corinthians had survived.
Acts 19: 21-22, When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” So he sent into Macedonia two of those who ministered to him, Timothy and Erastus, but he himself stayed in Asia for a time.
Ancient Corinth and Ephesus are influential cities notorious for pagan worship and philosophy. Corinth is located near the isthmus connecting the southern Greek peninsula to the mainland. It has two ports, on the east and west, across the four-mile wide isthmus. Cargo ships on either port uploaded their cargo and transported them across to the other port by land.
Ancient Corinth is notorious for sexual immorality. To be a Corinthians means to be an immoral person. It was home to the temple of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Every night, temple prostitutes offered their services on the streets of Corinth.
Paul encouraged the divided Corinthian church to close ranks, restore the faith of the weak, and work together in the ministry.
Paul was informed by an oral report and a letter from the Corinthian church regarding issues on church division, spiritual immaturity, sexual immorality, idolatry, controversies over eating foods offered to idols, disagreements on head covering for women, confusion over spiritual gifts, denial of the resurrection, doctrinal and theological other issues. Paul wrote this letter to encourage, admonish, instruct and address these issues.
1:1-31, Salutation, spiritual gifts, factionalism, power of the gospel, glory in Christ
2:1-16, Godly wisdom and earthly wisdom.
3:1-23, Evangelism a team effort, the foolishness of worldly wisdom
4:1-21, Servants and stewards, warning against pride
5:1-13. The cancer of sexual immorality
6:1-20, Lawsuits among Christians, glorifying God in body and spirit.
7: 1-40, Marital relationship, sexual purity, divorce, remarrying, instructions to the spouse with an unbelieving partner, celibacy
8: 1-13, Knowledge puffs up, love builds up, instructions on eating food offered to idols
9:1-27, The rights of an apostle, be all things to all people, run to receive the imperishable crown
10:1-33, Old Testament types, instructions on overcoming temptation and idolatry
1 Corinthians 11:1-34, Instructions on head covering, misconduct, instructions, and appropriate conduct at the Lord’s Supper
12:1-31, Spiritual gifts, one Body, diversity of members, one Holy Spirit, diversity of spiritual gifts and ministries.
13:1-13, tongue, prophesy, faith, hope, and love
14:1-40, Prophesy and tongue
15:1-28, Risen Christ, victory over death, resurrection body, final victory
16:1-24, Collection for the mother church, final encouragements, farewell