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1 COR 3: 1-23

March 11, 2011

Paul has already confronted the church at Corinth concerning the division which existed amongst the believers (1 Corinthians 1:10-17). This divisiveness existed because the Corinthian Christians had become loyal to men rather than the message of the crucified Christ (1:18-2:16), which Paul had preached to them when he first visited the city. Instead of writing to them as spiritually mature people, Paul addressed them as “carnal” and “babes in Christ,” meaning that they were not progressing in their faith (3:1). Paul had given them easy truths to understand (milk) when he first arrived in Corinth, but by the time of his writing they should have been able to digest the deeper truths of Scripture, which Paul termed “solid food” (3:2). Since their understanding and application of truth had been neglected, they had turned to envy, strife, and division within the church (3:3-4). Paul reminded them that human beings, such as himself and Apollos, merely carried out the work of the Lord but it was God alone who provided the powerful results (3:5-11). Having a proper understanding of this truth should eliminate all division because the foundation of the church rests on the finished work of Jesus Christ and the enabling of the Holy Spirit (3:11).
Followers of Christ have the potential to build on the foundation of Jesus by doing the work He has given to them, but there are two types of builders. Those who build with “gold, silver, and precious stones” are doing quality work which has eternal value, but those who use “wood, hay, and stubble” are doing inferior work with no lasting value (3:12). There will be a day when the works of believers will be judged (3:13) and those who have humbly built their life and ministry on things of importance will be rewarded (3:14); however, those whose work was built upon selfish motives will be meaningless, even though they will be spared from eternal destruction (3:15). Paul then gives a warning to anyone who seeks to destroy the work of God and invites them to receive the message of the cross, even though it may seem foolish (3:16-20). This message is God’s alone and no man should ever take credit for it or claim it as his own (3:21-23).
Dear God, thank You for allowing me to play a part in spreading the message of the crucified Christ and help me to remember that the message does not descend from the hands of men, but the heart of God.

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