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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Paul's FIRST letter to the Corinthians

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 FRAMEWORKS: 1 Corinthians 3

In this ‘Framework' we use our usual text PLUS comment style to enable you, as simply as possible, to catch the sense of his writing.

FRAMEWORKS: 1 Corinthians 3: Leadership Favouritism Banned


v.1-4 Worldly Believers
v.5-23 The Reality of Different Ministries



[Chapter Synopsis: Having just emphasised the work of the Spirit in the life of the Church, Paul now challenges this church to grow up (implied)and stop being like the world with their jealousies and arguing and the way they have favourite apostles. This completely fails to understand that each apostle has his ministry from God and God will hold them accountable for it, rewarding or disciplining as appropriate. The church is a temple of the Holy Spirit and is hallowed in God's sight and so He will discipline any who pull it down.]



v.1-4 Worldly Believers


v.1 (You clearly aren't people who live by the Spirit) Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly —mere infants in Christ.

v.2 (you haven't matured) I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.

v.3 (it's seen by your jealousy and arguing…) You are still worldly . For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly ? Are you not acting like mere humans?

v.4 (…and your partisanship) For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings?


[Passage Synopsis: Having just mentioned a Spirit-led people, it is clear they are not by their bickering and jealousies.]



v.5-23 The Reality of Different Ministries


v.5 (we apostles are merely servants with God-given tasks) 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.

v.6 (I do one bit, Apollos another) I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.

v.7 (we're not the important ones, God is) So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.

v.8 (we each have our different task and will be rewarded by God) The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour.

v.9 (we're go-workers in what God us doing) For we are co-workers in God's service; you are God's field, God's building.

v.10 (so, OK, I built a foundation and another comes and builds on it – fine!) By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care.

v.11 (the only foundation for the church can be Christ) For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

v.12,13 (the quality of our building will be seen at the end) If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their 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 person's work.

v.14 (endurance of fruit will be what brings reward) If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.

v.15 (if what was built is burned up, the builder will still be saved – just!) If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

v.16 (don't you the church realise you are God's temple and His Spirit dwells in you) Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst?

v.17 (you are sacred and if anyone destroys you they will be destroyed) If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy that person; for God's temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.

v.18 (don't pretend to be wise, God doesn't work like that) Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise.

v.19,20 (such human wisdom is folly in God's sight) For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” [Job 5:13] ; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” [Psa 94:11]

v.21-23 (so no more leadership favouritism, we're all one in Christ) So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas [That is, Peter] or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.


[Passage Synopsis: A further aspect of this divisiveness is leadership favouritism. All apostles are just servants, each doing what God calls them to do. If we do it well, God will reward us, if we build badly and the building comes down, we'll only just escape severe discipline. This building is God's temple in which He lives by His Spirit. If anyone brings this temple down they too will be brought down. So, no more of this favouritism!



Continue to Chapter 4