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.