Summary: a study of chapter 3 verses 1 through 23
1 Corinthians 3: 1 – 23
Hey, Who You Looking At
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? 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. 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. 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. 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.
In case you have never been to the City of Brotherly Shove, I mean ‘Brotherly Love’, let me give you some pointers. For one thing when you approach someone and want to give a greeting, just nod you head and say, ‘How U Doin.’ In response you say, ‘how U [emphasis on the U] doin’. Under no circumstances do you try to tell the Philly person how you are really doing. They will know that you are an out of Towner. In addition, if you look at someone and they respond, ‘Who you looking at?’ Do not say ‘nothing’. Them are fighting words. Just nod your head, smile and say ‘how U doin’ and move along your business.
In today’s study we are going to learn from the apostle Paul of his observation of the Corinthians in their Christian walk. Unfortunately, their present behavior shows a sign of their immaturity. For the objects of their devotion, the leaders and teachers are but instruments of God. Their eyes are fixed in the wrong place. So, a Philly way for Paul to comment to these Corinthians is to say, ‘Hey, who you looking at?’
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?
As we have learned in the previous chapters, Paul has stressed the spiritual nature of the Gospel and the men who truly preached it, and of those who are united with Christ. So now he now turns to the Corinthians themselves and presents his diagnosis of their condition. They probably boasted that they were ‘spiritual’ because of their manifestations of ‘spiritual gifts’ as we glean from chapter 14. He informs them that they are not in fact revealing themselves to be spiritual at all, but to be ‘fleshly’. This latter is not quite the same as the ‘natural man’, but only one step from it. We are taught from Paul’s letter in Galatians chapter 5.16-17 that the fleshly man has the Spirit but yields to the flesh, rather than being devoid of the Spirit, “say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish.”