1 Corinthians Chapter 3

October 27, 2011

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on 1 Corinthians. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

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In 1 Corinthians Paul deals with a series of problems that existed in the young church in Corinth. Near the end of his second missionary journey, while he is in Ephesus, Paul writes this letter which was apparently sparked by a verbal report from people from Chloe’s household as well as a delegation arriving from Corinth asking Paul to address certain issues in the church. Noted for its lax morals and scandalous lifestyle, Corinth was a completely pagan society, a society that created many difficulties for the believers who lived there. Even though the members of the believing community were richly gifted, they were not maturing in the faith the way that they should have been. Part of the problem is that they had mistaken their giftedness, which comes from God, as somehow validating their sinfulness.

The Corinthians needed to understand that they could not live their Christian lives based on their own self-seeking, self-preserving thought processes which had not yet been renewed. They were looking at their Christian lives from a worldly viewpoint.

The message of the cross cuts to the heart of self-centeredness. It is not all about me, what I can do, what gifts I have. It is all about Him, what He can do, and how He can empower and use me for His purposes. The message of the cross is one of self-renunciation, which may lead as it did in Jesus’ case to humiliation and death, but which ultimately leads not to self-destruction but to life, real life, everlasting life. This message of the cross demonstrates that man could not bridge the chasm of our sin with our own intelligence or good works, but that God did it at the cross.

The blessings of salvation involved Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They were prepared by the Father, carried out by the Son, and applied by the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 3:1-23 (NIV)
1 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? 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. 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. 16 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. 18 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.

1 Corinthians 3:1-4

What Paul describes as milk is most likely the teaching about all of the blessings that people come into as Christians. But, as new believers mature, they need to understand that there does need to be a response to God’s revelation. That response is one of becoming less selfish and more selfless. As we have said many times, the Christian walk is about loving God and loving others extravagantly. The solid food, or the meat of God is found as we step out of our own narrow perspectives and begin to see things from the throne room of God. We learn more about the heart of God as we start to live the naturally supernatural life He has called us to. The deeper things of God are learned as we move into the life of service He has created us for, as we lay down our own selfish ways and walk in His ways.

Unfortunately, the Corinthians were not demonstrating this maturity of character. They were still worldly and self centered.

1 Corinthians 3:5-9

The Corinthians lack of maturity was causing them to focus on men instead of God. Rather than realizing that the various people who had come to teach them were all sent from God, they tried to align themselves with the teachers instead of God. Paul and Apollos were fellow workers who belonged to God and worked for Him in His field, which is the church.

1 Corinthians 3:10-17

Paul’s metaphor shifts from the church being a field to the church being a building. Paul says that he was used by God to lay the foundation (the foundation was the message of cross, Jesus). and that others would build upon it. He then says that the Corinthians needed to be aware that there was different types of builders, expert, the unwise, and the destructive. There were also different types of building materials (teaching) those which were from God that would last, and those that were not from God which would be burnt up.

1 Corinthians 3:18-23

Paul gives a warning to the ministers and the congregation in Corinth not to evaluate their ministries by the wisdom of this world, which was a reflection of the mind of the evil one, and is foolishness in God’s sight.

Paul wanted the Corinthians to see that their boasting about different ministers was worldly foolishness and that instead they should be boasting in the Lord who is the source of every blessing.

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