Summary: Message 7 in our exposition of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians. This message affirms the necessity of encouraging one another in our desire to live lives pleasing to the Lord.

Chico Alliance Church

Pastor David Welch

“Serving in Partnership with Each other” I Corinthians 3:1-8a


Address and Introduction (Greeting and Thanksgiving) 1:1-9

I. Reproof for fleshly behavior 1-6

A. Reproof concerning divisions 1-4

1. Opening appeal for unity 1:10-17

2. The Biblical foundation for Unity 1:18-4:5

a) The priority of Christ and the cross 1:18-31

b) The Power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit 2:1-3:4

c) Faithfully serve as partners for the Kingdom of God

If we serve in partnership (cooperation not competition) with the other members of the family we will avoid conflict. Paul calls the Corinthians to adopt the right perspective on Kingdom service. We must not form cliques around personalities but form camaraderie around the purposes of God. Stop saying I am of Paul, or Apollos or Peter. Stop saying this or that method or ministry is more important. The ultimate mission is the point not the missionaries or methods. Paul argued that people have their place in the plan but it is God who produces the growth. Thus, God must be given ALL the credit. Someone once commented on the wonder of how much could be accomplished if no one cared who got the credit. Individuals are not to be seen as points of attention but only vital parts of a team designed and directed by God.

The points of Paul’s argument in this third and last foundation stone unpack as follows.

• We are all servants of the same God.

• God brings the growth so He must be the focus not the servants.

• All servants function as one unit to accomplish the mission.

• Each servant will be individually accountable for faithful service

? Be careful how you build

? Humbly focus on Christ

? Stop judging God’s servants

(1) We are all servants of the same God. 3:5

What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.

Paul fires another missile of truth into the divisions among the Corinthian believers.

Stop focusing on people. As loyal as you may feel to those who introduced you to faith in Christ, they are only servants of Lord who initiated your faith. Sometimes we forget we are the servant and not the master. When we do, we invite conflict. We must cultivate a servant mentality. Paul describes both he and Apollos as servants not fellow apostles or pastors or leaders but fellow servants of God. Servants belonging to and directed by God

Servants of the body of Christ

The early use of this term referred to those who waited tables. It described the menial task of doing the household tasks on behalf of another which at times could feel demeaning. In general it described the action of serving another. Paul described their role as a waiter or busboy. They didn’t provide the food or cook it, they only served it. The Greeks ascribed little value to this virtue because their whole drive was the development of one’s own personality. Mostly in the New Testament it is translated servant or minister or deacon. The emphasis is on the task of serving another.

Paul later focused on the one essential requirement of a servant: faithfulness. It is important here to note Jesus’ use of the term.

Regarding Himself and those desiring significance:

Calling them to Himself, Jesus said to them, "You know that those who are recognized as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them; and their great men exercise authority over them. "But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." Mark 10:42-45

NOTE concerning evangelism.

We don’t make opportunities for people to believe.

“even as the Lord gave to each one”

This phrase could be interpreted two ways. It could refer to Paul and Apollos. It could refer to those who believed.

The first interpretation would read, “even as the Lord gave to each one to serve”

The second would read, “even as the Lord gave to each one to believe.”

Either interpretation has merit and support from other New Testament passages. I lean toward the second in this case. God not only causes the growth but also brings the opportunities to plant and water. We are servants who serve those God has prepared to hear the good news. Paul asked the Colossians to pray that God would open doors of opportunity for sharing. God orchestrates the opportunities to plant by preparing the soil.

We plant and water by God’s gifting and enabling. God causes the growth.

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