1 Corinthians Chapter 3

There is an interesting induction down a chain in this chapter towards God, concerning the respect the believers gave to whom preached them the gospel. Paul admonishes them and reminds them by then inducing back up the chain that they should be minded on Christ, and not from whom their belief had seemingly originated physically.

The Corinthian believers are renowned as carnally minded, and Paul would not speak to them as he would those perfect in truth and knowledge. (v1) He has fed them with the simplicity of the gospel, not with manna from heaven that would ground them further to recognise deceit in all its forms. They are too carnally minded now for such spiritual truth. (v2) The believers were divided on simple matters still, and not minded towards the unity of the faith as it is preached to others. (v3) They are still arguing over who they had heard the gospel from - alike to the twelve disciples arguing over who should be the greatest.(v4)

Even those concerning whom they argued are those who were given as they are given; the gospel. (v5,v6) Such a one may have set the words of the gospel among them, another may have confirmed it; but one is taking the increase in numbers here, and that is God Himself.(v6) Even Paul and Apollos are themselves a result of this increase from others, as is every servant of the Lord. Traversing the chain back, we travel down to Christ and His Father also.(v7) Both Christ and His Father are one and the same in this work - they are in complete agreement in the gospel and know all of the mysteries concerning it, having instituted it equally. (v8) Theirs is the due praise of the work, and to whom the profit of labour is fully due. The whole body of all believers everywhere is profit for the Lord's work, as would be a building laid by His own hands, to His own purpose. (v9)

Paul may be a principal minister to the gentiles (v10) and others may continue his work, but such must be confident that they are the work of the Lord before they build upon the work of the Lord's own doing. They must be sure they are building to the same design, (foundation) as to the Lord's purpose in Christ, giving Him the due increase.(v11) (For the Corinthians are in effect building without knowing the plans to the ground floor.)

When further spread of the gospel is then possible according to the design of God's purpose, (v12) any increase occurred by the work of any man will be tested for strength according to purpose, as if by a building tested by fire: If the foundation is strong and the work added upon it is strong the work will stand, if not then it will collapse.(v13) If any man's increase for the Lord's work remains then He has done well since his converts have withstood testing. He shall be rewarded with increase.(v14) But if it collapses, he himself as once another man's work (from further down the chain) will still be saved in the same episode of testing although he will suffer the loss of expense for his work. (v15) So then we should all know that we are another man's work wherever we are in the chain, as down to Christ; whose work we all are. (To the end of the chain that lastly remains) The whole that is the finished work is Christ's by the Spirit.(v16)

In this way the temple of God is a tested remnant of His people that has withstood the fire of refinement and stands solely on His own foundation of the true gospel. The whole temple then being by the design and work of God by His election over the believing vessels, (lively stones) of His increase.

If any man make the work of God imperfect and unholy, God will cut him out of the temple's fabrication through its refinement. (v17) Only those that can withstand testing do in truth stand, whether or not they are tested with the full severity of God. A remnant of His design will stand until the work is finished and complete. Paul exhorts them to pay attention to this simple analogy, it may seem foolish but in fact is a clear representation of an induction argument that refutes the idea that they follow Paul, or any other (or even another gospel) to their own credit.(v18,v19,v20) Paul also exhorts here that if the believers are to be led spiritually, they must have shepherds grounded in spiritual truth, and not as would be by worldly wisdom. He kills two birds with one stone with that statement, taking the wise in their own craftiness indeed!

So, as all are the Lord's work, they must be mindful that the further work of the Lord and the increase of His profit is put completely into their hands - their responsibility. (v21) To whatever testing, to whomsoever is tested, to whatever is preached, all work is their responsibility. (v22) They are Christ's work, and Christ preached is God's intent of the work.(v23) They must be mindful to drink the milk before they are weaned on to the meat.

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