The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Corinthians

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

1 Corinthians 3

1Co 3:1

1Co 3: "The important labour of the Truth is the spiritual building of Faith. But the Corinthian ecclesia was so affected by schisms and factions that they were unable to display the important elements of godliness and to build the ecclesia in a way beneficial to each member. The apostle appealed to their consideration of the need for spiritual development, and in this ch, to reveal the benefits of faithful service. Notice the way in which the apostle uses important phrases: 'Every man' (vv 4,8,10,13), then 'any man' (vv 14,15,17,18), and 'no man' (vv 18,21). So the apostle sets out the means to build the temple of faith, by ensuring that every individual is strengthened in understanding. He shows that leaders in the ecclesia are but fellow-workers with God, and should not exercise undue influence that might destroy the work being accomplished. It is, after all, God's work (vv 7-9). Each labourer has his own activity to undertake. There is only one foundation: that of Christ (v 11), but we have the responsibility to build wisely thereupon. The approaching judgment will reveal the results of our efforts, whether of value or not" (GEM).

1Co 3:3

QUARRELING: Or "strife" (AV). "TruIy the word strife appears here in a terrible list of evils with a terribIe penalty threatened. We do well to make a very critical examination of our own conduct to make sure that any variance, wrath and strife existing in the ecclesias now, shall not be aggravated by any wrong action or wrong words of ours" (PrPr).

1Co 3:9

GOD'S FELLOW WORKERS: "Be thankful that God has guaranteed you a job. For an able-bodied, able-minded person, there is no affliction worse than unemployment. There is never unemployment for the true children of God. They always have full time employment: plenty to do. They are spiritually-minded, and they perceive the vast amount of spiritual labor crying to be done, and the laborers few. And they lovingly rejoice at the God-provided opportunity to be laborers together with Him. And they cheerfully set to work at the huge pile, from dawn to dusk, in total, exhilarating satisfaction and enjoyment. They retire at night to sweet repose, serene in the consciousness of a good day's work done for the eternal, triumphant, ever-advancing divine purpose. Very little result can be seen with the natural eye, but the mighty edifice progresses steadily, stone by stone. What a wonderful blessing that God's spiritually-minded, spiritually-aware children have an abundance of wholesome, useful, enjoyable work. What a tragedy is slothfulness and unemployment. How sad the poor blind earthly creatures who 'don't know what to do with their time'!" (GVG).

"What a privilege it is to be called fellow workers with our Father. Like a child who gets to take on a grand task beside his father, watching and learning all the time. Hoping for an opportunity to do some little part. Then doing that part with great respect and looking to the father for reassurance that he is doing it as the father would have it done. Giving his best effort and talent to please him and not to tarnish his great work. And in the mean time receiving such wonderful growth and learning from the experience. Thank you, Father, for adopting us as sons into Your loving arms" (CPv).

1Co 3:10

"Therefore, when we build, let us think that we build forever -- and let us think as we lay stone upon stone that a time will come when men will say, as they look upon the labor wrought, 'See, this our fathers did for us' " (J Ruskin).

"I saw a group of men in my home town,
A group of men tearing a building down.
With a heave and a ho and a mighty yell,
They swung a beam and the side wall fell.
I said to the foreman, 'Are these men skilled,
The kind you'd hire if you wanted to build?'
He laughed and said, 'Why, no indeed,
Common labor is all I need,
For I can tear down in a day or two
What it took a builder 10 years to do.'
I thought to myself as I walked away:
Which of these roles am I going to play?"

"Anybody can find fault, criticize, or tear down. But it takes a rare individual to build something... because they have to do it day after day after day" (Lou Holtz).

1Co 3:13

HIS WORK: Those whom Paul taught: 1Co 1:10; 3:3-8; 1Th 2:19.

1Co 3:14

REWARD: "Crown" of rejoicing: 1Th 2:19, at acceptance of his converts.

1Co 3:15

Figure of speech: Fires sweeping through Corinth's slums.

1Co 3:16

"Every true son and daughter of the Lord God Almighty is a miniature tabernacle or temple, as saith Paul. Our minds should be a holy place lined with the gold of a tried faith, in which the one Christ-sacrifice for sins is continually offered, and the smoke of grateful incense, kindled by the fire of the altar, continually ascending, while deeply secreted in the innermost ark of the heart is the law of God in its remembrance, the scriptures in their affectionate study, the institutions of divine appointment in continual reverence, and the bread of God in its continual eating. Thus shall we be the sons of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, misunderstood by all, hated by many, despised and rejected of men, persevering in a bitter probation that will end at last in life and light and joy everlasting" (LM 98).

1Co 3:17

Some "build" well, and their work survives (v 14). Others "build" not so well, yet they survive even when their work perishes (v 15). Others yet "tear down" instead of build, and will suffer the same fate themselves (v 17).

1Co 3:23

YOU ARE OF CHRIST: Cp 1Co 6:19,20. "You belong to Christ. You are his by donation, for the Father gave you to the Son; his by purchase, for he paid the price of his blood for your redemption; his by dedication, for you have consecrated yourself to him; his by relation, for you are named by his name, and made one of his brethren and joint-heirs. Labor practically to show the world that you are the servant, the friend, the bride of Christ. When tempted to sin, reply, 'I cannot do this great wickedness, for I belong to Christ.' Righteous principles forbid the friend of Jesus to sin. When wealth is before you to be won by sin, say that you belong to Christ, and touch it not. Are you exposed to difficulties and dangers? Stand fast in the evil day, remembering that you belong to Christ. Are you placed where others are sitting down idly, doing nothing? Rise to the work with all your powers; and when the sweat stands upon your brow, and you are tempted to slack off, cry, 'No, I cannot stop, for I belong to Christ.' When the siren song of pleasure would tempt you from the path of right, reply, 'Your music cannot charm me; I belong to Christ.' When the cause of God invites you, give your goods and yourself away, for you belong to Christ. Always be one of those whose manners are Christian, whose speech is like the Nazarene, whose conduct is mindful of the Kingdom of God, so that all who see you may know that you are the Savior's, recognizing in you his features of love and his countenance of holiness. Once upon a time 'I am a Roman!' was a reason for integrity; far more, then, let it be your argument for holiness, that 'I belong to Christ!' " (CHS, adapted).

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