1 Corinthians, # 4, chapter three

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8/17/2010 - pastorlorraine
    1 Corinthians Bible Study, #4– Chapter 3
    Verses 1-4:   Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2  I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4 For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?

     As we look at these verses we note that Paul uses the analogy of the diet of babies.  We all know that a baby is not able to eat what adults eat.  Its digestive system will not accept regular food.  Even when a baby begins to have solid food, a mother does not start out with meat and potatoes.  She will feed her baby soft, easy-to-digest foods for some time before anything more is introduced.

    Paul says that the Christians in Corinth are not ready for all spiritual teachings because their spiritual digestive system is not mature enough.  How did Paul determine that?  He writes that they are still behaving in worldly ways.  They are jealousy of each other and are always quarreling.
They act like other men and women who don’t even know Jesus.  He then goes back to the subject first introduced in chapter one.  They go around saying that they follow Apollos, or they follow Paul when they One they need to be following is Jesus Christ.

    Verses 5-9:    5  What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task.   6  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.   7  So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.  9  For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.
    Paul asks two good questions: “ What, after all, is Apollos?  And what is Paul?” Paul and Apollos were servants of God who were responsible for preaching the good news of Jesus.  Each of them had his own task, as did other preachers and missionaries like Peter, Silas, James, and Timothy.  Paul was the one who brought the message in the beginning, he planted the seed, as he says.  Apollos remained behind in Corinth in order to help the Word to grow.  He watered it, Paul says.  But the one who made it grow was God.  So, Paul humbly acknowledges that it is neither the planter nor the one who waters who makes things grow–It is God only.  Paul and Apollos are fellow-workers, they are not in some kind of competition.  The Corinthians are like a field which needs to be planted or a building that needs to be constructed.  That field needs watering and fertilizer and weeding.  The building needs good, strong building materials: cement blocks, boards, and nails.

    I wonder, too, if the parable Jesus told of the sower might be added to this discussion.  
    Matthew 13:18-23     18 "Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away. 22  The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23  But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

    Sometimes the word is preached but it falls on all kinds of people. For some people it is like the seed which falls along the path.  Others are like the rocky soil, and still others are like the thorns.  For those people the message does not take root and grow.  

    Verses 10-15:   10  By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12  If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14 If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15 If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

    These verses are important for successful Christian pastors and teachers to heed.  It is easy for some in positions of authority to get their heads swelled and begin to think it’s about them instead of the Lord.  When that happens, there is the danger of false teaching, of seeking to gain material things instead of the pleasure of God, and also the danger of falling into worldly behaviors.

    Jesus Christ is the foundation, the cornerstone of our faith and of the church.  The foundation of Jesus is worthy of only the very best– the gold, silver, and precious stones of building supplies.  If a person builds a house of hay or straw we know the outcome. (Kind of reminds me of the story of the three little pigs.)

    The word “day “ is capitalized in verse 13 because it is speaking of the Day of Judgment when God will judge the work and life of all Christians.  It seems that there will be rewards according to the life which was led.  These verses are speaking to Christians only.  They do not say that salvation will be taken away from those whose work is poor, they are just talking about the kind of rewards which will be given by God.

    Verses 16-17:     Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 17  If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

    There is a sense in these verses that Paul is speaking not only of a person’s body being a holy temple because we are created in God’s image, but also that it is holy since Christians have the very spirit of God living in them.  Paul is also saying that the church is a sacred place which must be nurtured and kept pure, just as individual Christians should be pure and holy.  Things were going on in Corinth which were polluting that temple of God.

    Verses 18-23:   Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. 19  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness;  20 and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile."  21  So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22  whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours,  23  and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

    Job 5:13 says, “He catches the wise in their craftiness, and the schemes of the wily are swept away.”  And Psalm 94:11 says, “The LORD knows the thoughts of man; he knows that they are futile.

    We should not try to fool ourselves because we sure can’t fool God. People of this modern age think that they are so smart and so superior in the knowledge they have attained, and yet to God all our knowledge and intelligence is as foolishness to God.  Scientists try to figure out the mysteries of the universe while God holds the answer to all questions.  

    So, Paul gets down to the nitty-gritty.  He says, no more boasting about men!  Everything belongs to the Christian, all things in life and death, in the present and in the future.  Everything is ours because of Jesus Christ who is truly God.  Thanks be to God!