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One Corinthians Three

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

carnal. There is thus a distinction between “spiritual” believers and “carnal” believers, the one controlled by the Spirit, the other still largely controlled by the flesh (note Romans 8:5-13; Galatians 5:16-25). Carnal Christians are not necessarily unsaved pseudo-Christians, although they need to examine themselves carefully to determine whether their profession of faith in Christ is genuine (2 Corinthians 13:5). Quite possibly they are just “babes in Christ” and need to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

1 Corinthians 3:2 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.

not with meat. Compare Hebrews 5:12-14. Baby Christians are wonderful to see, just like baby people; but if they remain babies indefinitely, they become tragic to behold. Spiritual growth requires, first, the milk of the word (1 Peter 2:2), but then soon they should begin to partake of the strength-building meat of the word (Jeremiah 15:16).

1 Corinthians 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

1 Corinthians 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

1 Corinthians 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

1 Corinthians 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

God gave the increase. The soul-winner should rejoice when someone accepts Christ, but not boast, for it is God the Holy Spirit who has actually saved him. Those who sow, or water, or reap may have a part, but the praise belongs only to God.

1 Corinthians 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

planteth. Although men are privileged to sow the gospel seed, it still remains the work of God, for “the seed is the word of God” (Luke 8:11). Similarly, men may water the ground, but the water also is the word of God, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, ... So shall my word be that goeth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void” (Isaiah 55:10-11).

1 Corinthians 3:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

are one. When God gives the increase, then “both he that soweth and he that reapeth [will] rejoice together” (John 4:36).

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

labourers together with God. Both the Father and the Son have been working together ever since the fall of man on their great work of reconciling man to God (note John 5:17), and we have the great privilege of sharing in this “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Our faithfulness in this “labour in the Lord” (Romans 16:12) will be evaluated when Christ comes again “to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).

1 Corinthians 3:10 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.

masterbuilder. “Masterbuilder” is the Greek architekton, meaning essentially “structural engineer.”

1 Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

foundation. No part of a structure should be built without a strong foundation if it is expected to stand. Similarly creation is the foundation of the life of the cosmos, and Jesus Christ was the Creator before He became the Savior. The record of His creation in Genesis is the foundation of all revelation. Jesus Christ, first as Creator, then as Redeemer, is the foundation of any true and lasting Christian life.

1 Corinthians 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

1 Corinthians 3:13 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.

what sort. The purifying fires of Christ's judgment seat (2 Corinthians 5:10) will try our works of what sort they are, not how numerous or how great they are. Quality and motivation count more with the Lord than quantity and reputation.

1 Corinthians 3:14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

1 Corinthians 3:15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

shall be saved. All who have made Christ the foundation of their lives are saved, and they will be saved even though their works are burned up at the judgment seat. This judgment, therefore, is of believers only, and will determine only rewards or loss of rewards. Note also 1 Peter 4:17 and 1 Corinthians 4:5. Judgment will “begin at the house of God,” when every man shall have “[his] praise of God” (1 Corinthians 4:5).

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

dwelleth in you. See 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. In light of the certainty of our eventual meeting with Christ at the judgment seat, it is vital to live in daily obedience to the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We must be especially respectful of our bodies and what we do with them, for He has made them individual temples to house His glory.

1 Corinthians 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

destroy. This destruction must be physical death, not spiritual, for the apostle has just assured us that all in whom the Spirit dwells are eternally saved (1 Corinthians 3:15). Note 1 Corinthians 5:5.

1 Corinthians 3:18 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.

1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

it is written. This passage is quoted from Job 5:13. The preaching of the cross may be foolishness to those who are unsaved, but their wisdom is foolishness with God.

1 Corinthians 3:20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

again. This quote is from Psalm 94:11.

1 Corinthians 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;

1 Corinthians 3:22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

1 Corinthians 3:23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.