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1 Corinthians 3

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-4

The Carnality of Strife and Divisions Paul begins his efforts in 1 Corinthians 3:1-4 to being sanctification of the mind to the believers in Corinth by indicting them of the error of bringing strife and divisions among themselves, which is an indication of immaturity. He called this behavior a sign of their carnality.

1 Corinthians 3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:1 Comments - The phrase “babes in Christ” refers to the development that every child of God must go through. What aspect of our development is this referring to? We know that we have been created as a three-part creature. We are a spirit, we live in a body and we have a soul. We know that our bodies can be full-grown as an adult while still being babes in Christ. So this phrase does not refer to our physical development. We know that our spirits are fully recreated by God by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. What God creates, He does perfectly so that our spirits were fully developed the moment we were born again. For Paul said, “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power,” (Colossians 2:10). So, a babe in Christ is not a reference to the need for a man’s spirit or body to grow. Thus, a babe in Christ is one who is underdeveloped in the soulish realm, the realm of the mind, the will, the intellect and the emotions. This is why the author of Hebrews says that a babe needs to be taught, and why Peter says that they need to study the Word of God, which is a way of developing the mental realm by renewing the mind.

Scripture References - Note similar verses that refer to babes in Christ:

1 Corinthians 14:20, “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”

Hebrews 5:12-14, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

1 Peter 2:2, “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”

1 Corinthians 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

1 Corinthians 3:2 Comments - The church at Corinth was about three years old. Paul established this church in A.D. 50-51, and he wrote his first epistle to them around A.D. 54. After three years of discipleship under Paul and Apollos, they should have been further along in the Christian growth, but they were still carnal in behaviour. Paul explains their carnal behavior by using the analogy of an infant that has to drink milk because its digestive system is too undeveloped for solid foods. An infant is not ready for its first solid foods until its fifth month. [109] These believers should be on solid food by now, but the issues of internal strife, fornication, offending weaker brothers with foods, and abuses of the Lord’s Supper that Paul deals with in this epistle reveal their carnal mindedness. The author of Hebrews makes a similar statement (Hebrews 5:12).

[109] Arlene Eisenberg, Heidi E. Murkoff, and Sandee E. Hathaway, What to Expect the First Year (London: Simon and Schuster Ltd, 1989), 210.

Hebrews 5:12, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.”

1 Corinthians 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

1 Corinthians 3:3 “for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men” - Comments - Note that these same two words έρις and ζηλος are used in Galatians 5:20, “Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance , emulations , wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,”

1 Corinthians 3:3 Comments - Andrew Murray says, “‘This life of ‘the flesh’ manifests itself in many different ways. It appears in the hastiness of spirit, or the anger which so unexpectedly arises in you, in the lack of love for which you have so often blamed yourself; in the pleasure found in eating and drinking, about which at times your conscience has children you; in that seeking for your own will and honor, that confidence in your own wisdom and power, that pleasure in the world, of which you are sometimes ashamed before God. All this is life ‘after the flesh’. ‘Ye are yet carnal’.” [110]

[110] Andrew Murray, The Prayer Life (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, no date), 21-22.

1 Corinthians 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

1 Corinthians 3:4 Comments - In 1 Corinthians 3:4 Paul gives an example of the carnal mindedness of the Corinthians by showing how they have caused divisions among themselves.

Verses 1-23

Sanctification by the Holy Spirit In 1 Corinthians 3:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40 Paul takes the greater part of this epistle to teach them about the process of sanctification by the Holy Spirit. However, the ways in which these issues are presented reflect the sanctification of man’s mind, body, and spirit, in that order. For example, Paul’s discussion on church divisions (1 Corinthians 3:1 to 1 Corinthians 4:21) emphasizes the sanctification of our minds so that we learn not to prefer one church member, or church leader, above another. His discussion on fornication (1 Corinthians 5:1 to 1 Corinthians 7:40) emphasizes the sanctification of our bodies, as we offer them as holy vessels to the Lord. His discussion on meats offered until idols (1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:1) emphasizes the sanctification of our spirits as we learn to walk and conduct our lifestyles with a clean conscience, which is the voice of the spirit. Paul then turns his attention to issues regarding public worship (1 Corinthians 11:2 to 1 Corinthians 14:40). Remember in the Old Testament how the priests and Levites had to sanctify themselves before entering into the service of the Tabernacle and Temple. Therefore, Paul uses this same approach for the New Testament Church. As we allow our minds, bodies and spirits to yield to the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit, we become vessels in which the gifts and manifestations of the Holy Spirit can operate.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Divisions in the Church 1 Corinthians 3:1 to 1 Corinthians 4:21

2. Fornication in the Church 1 Corinthians 5:1 to 1 Corinthians 6:20

3. Idolatry and foods offered to idols 1 Corinthians 8:1 to 1 Corinthians 11:34

4. Public Worship 1 Corinthians 11:2 to 1 Corinthians 14:40

The Two Issues of Fornication and Foods Offered Unto Idols Reflect Heathen Worship Note that the two major topics that are covered in this epistle of 1 Corinthians, fornication and meat offered to idols, are two of the four issues that those the Jerusalem council decided to ask of the Gentiles. Note:

Acts 15:20, “But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.”

Acts 15:29, “That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.”

Acts 21:25, “As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.”

In submission to the church apostles and elders a Jerusalem, Paul delivered these ordinances to the Corinthian church earlier while he lived there. In this epistle, Paul expands upon them:

1 Corinthians 11:2, “Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.”

Note also that Jesus told the church in Pergamos in the book of Revelation that these were the two doctrines of Balaam.

Revelation 2:14, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication .”

Therefore, the practice of feasting in idolatry and fornication appears to have been a common practice in Asia Minor among the temple worship of the Greeks. We also see in Romans 1:18-32 how idolatry was followed by fornication as God turned mankind over to a reprobate mind. Thus, these two sins are associated with one another throughout the Scriptures. However, first Paul deals with church divisions.

Verses 5-17

The Unity of Christian Ministry The Corinthians believers had been viewing their spiritual leaders from an earthly perspective, which had caused divisions. In 1 Corinthians 3:5-17 Paul gives the Corinthians a spiritual perspective of the ministry of himself and Apollos using the analogy of farmers working together to produce a harvest (1 Corinthians 3:5-9). He then gives them a spiritual perspective of the believers collectively using the analogy of a house being fitted together with many parts (1 Corinthians 3:10-15). He then gives them spiritual insight into the individual believers using the analogy of the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Analogy of Husbandry 1 Corinthians 3:5-9

2. The Analogy of a House 1 Corinthians 3:10-17

3. The Analogy of the Temple 1 Corinthians 3:16-17

1 Corinthians 3:5-9 The Analogy of Husbandry Paul uses the analogy of farming to explain how he and Apollos were working together to produce a spiritual harvest of souls in the Kingdom of Heaven.

1 Corinthians 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

1 Corinthians 3:5 “but ministers by whom ye believed” Comments - That is, they were “servants through whom the Corinthians believed.” God uses us to bring the saving message of Jesus Christ, His Son, and our Savior in Glory. Amen and Amen! Praise the Lord.

1 Corinthians 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

1 Corinthians 3:6 Comments - Paul first visited the city of Corinth in Acts 18:1-18 and established a church there. We read in Acts 18:24 to Acts 19:1 that Apollos ministers in Ephesus, then he travels into Achaia (Acts 18:27) and on to Corinth (Acts 19:1). This passage in Acts most likely refers to the time when “Apollos watered” the church at Corinth.

1 Corinthians 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

1 Corinthians 3:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are labourers together with God” - Comments - John G. Lake, in his sermon Moses Rebuked, gives a deep insight into the revelation of how the believer is a co-laborer with the Lord Jesus Christ by using the analogy of Moses’ rod as God’s instrument to be used by His servants. How closely we are made laborers together with Him.

The Lord Jesus has equipped His Church by giving every believer His Name. We can use His Name to do the works of God.

Luke 9:1, “Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases.”

The Scriptures say that the disciples were doing the healing. The disciples were using the authority invested in the Name of Jesus. Over and over in the New Testament, the Scriptures say that the disciples healed the people. They were doing the works of God.

Luke 9:6, “And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.”

God gave Moses a rod to do the works of God. In Exodus 14:15-16, it was not a time was not a time to pray for God to do the work, it was a time for Moses to do the works of God.

Exodus 14:15-16, “And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.”

John G. Lake says, “Man is a servant of God. Man is an instrument through which God works. The danger line is always around this, that weak men have taken to themselves the glory that belonged to God, and they have said, ‘We did it.’ They did not do it. God did it, but the man believed God that it would be done. How closely are we made co-laborers with Him.” [111] Lake calls this the “principle of acceptance of responsibility from God.” In other words, it is the responsibility of each believer to step out in faith and do the works that Jesus did during his earthly ministry.

[111] John G. Lake, John G. Lake: His Life, His Sermons, His Boldness of Faith (Fort Worth, Texas: Kenneth Copeland Publications, 1994), 413-418.

David prophesied of these days in:

Psalms 8:4-5, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet:”

Jesus addressed this issue:

John 6:28-29 says, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

Thru the name of Jesus, which is given to the Church, all authority in heaven and earth is subject to the spoken word of faith which proceeds out of the mouth of the believer, if he dares to speak and to believe it.

1 Corinthians 3:9 “ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building” Comments - 1 Corinthians 3:9 is a transitional verse. In the previous verses (1 Corinthians 3:6-8) Paul uses the analogy of a farmer to explain the role of Paul and Apollos as servants to the Corinthians. In the next passage Paul uses the analogy of a building (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) to explain how every servant of Christ is serving the same purpose of building God’s people. He then uses the analog of a temple (1 Corinthians 3:16-17) to explain the role of individual believers in working to build the kingdom of God.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 The Analogy of a House In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 Paul gives a second analogy in order to explain how the Church works together in unity as the body of Christ.

The Judgment of the Believers - In 1 Corinthians 3:10-17 Paul explains how God is going to judge the works of each believer. The underlying theme of 1 Corinthians is the sanctification of the believer. A person must go through this process of sanctification in order to serve the Lord in the Spirit and receive eternal rewards. If a believer does not allow himself to go through this process, he will stay carnal and not receive eternal rewards. This is the essence of Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 3:10-17.

Although every believer will be saved, each one will have a different degree of rewards, depending upon how he has served the Lord. We find two parallel passages in the Gospels regarding eternal rewards in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and the Parable of the Pounds (Luke 19:11-27). The phrase “outer darkness” is used three times in the Scriptures (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30) and is unique to the Gospel of Matthew. The identification of this place does not necessarily refer to Hell. The parable tells us that the Lord gave one talent unto one of his servant. This would represent a believer and not a sinner, but an unfaithful believer with the goods that God had given to this servant to use in the work of the kingdom.

In his book The Final Quest Rick Joyner likens the five foolish virgins to those Christians who get saved, but do not live for the Lord. They live for themselves and do know the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. When they appear before the judgment seat of Christ, they will suffer tremendous grief for not having known the Lord through the presence of the Holy Spirit. This is meant by the statement, “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” They will suffer the loss of all things, except their souls, according to 1 Corinthians 3:13-15. Rick Joyner met them on the way to the throne in a place distant from the throne called “outer darkness.” One witness to him called it the “lowest part of Heaven.” [112]

[112] Rick Joyner, The Final Quest (Charlotte, North Carolina: Morning Star Publications, 1977), 86-90.

The Analogy of the Burning of Ancient Corinth Paul may very well have drawn upon the history of this city in order to draw his analogy regarding the judgment of the believer. At one time in its history, the city of Corinth was burnt to the ground. In the fourth century B.C. the city was made subject to Philip II of Macedonia and his son, Alexander the Great. During Corinth’s later attempt to break free, it was eventually destroyed by the Romans under Lucius Mummius in 146 B.C. Its destruction was so complete that only a few columns and temples survived. This city lay unattended for one hundred years until it was reestablished in 46 B.C. by Julius Caesar and called by the name Colonia Laus Julia Corinthus and repopulated it with Roman veterans and freedmen. During the following years this city was rebuild based on the pattern of a Roman city and found importance again because of it strategic location. It quickly grew in size as the descendents of the Greek merchants who were driven out returned. ( Description of Greece 2.1.2) [113]

[113] Pausanias’s Description of Greece, vol. 1, trans. J. G. Frazer (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1898), 70; Geography 8.6.23. See The Geography of Strabo, vol. 2, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer, in Bohn’s Classical Library (London: George Bell and Sons, 1903), 64-65.

Thus, we see Paul’s observations of a wealthy city in which there were some ancient ruins that survived this fire. He imagined what would happen to the merchandise of this city if such a great fire were to consume it again. The Corinthians would clearly understand how to apply such an analogy to their personal lives.

Building an Eternal House - An elderly 91-year old man named John Laing from New Zealand said something to me to the effect that if we are building an eternal home, we have to build it out of eternal materials. (September 18, 2002)

1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

1 Corinthians 3:10 “masterbuilder” - This is the superintendent in the erection of a building. He is under the authority of the one who owns the business.

1 Corinthians 3:10 “But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” Comments - Keep in mind that this house that we are helping to build was designed and created by God. The only construction work that God will accept is that which is in accordance with His master plan. All other work will be counted loss. This means that God has a unique role for each believer to play in the building of this house. We must find each of our callings and serve the Lord within that calling. Thus, we will build with gold, silver and precious stones. All other work is considered wood, hay and stubble.

1 Corinthians 3:10 Illustration - In May 2002, I was given the opportunity to visit the Caribbean Island of Grenada, where Mike and Maureen Magnuson has founded Lighthouse Television ten years earlier. This Christian television ministry had resulted in the establishment of a second television station in Uganda. Although Mike Magnuson has passed away a year earlier, I was given the opportunity to see the word that he has done over the last 19 years as a missionary on this island. I saw the incredible word that had been done in order to build transmission towers on the highest peaks of Grenada. I saw how he had used much wisdom in building a television studio and a church. While sitting in the Sunday morning church service on May 12, 2002, the Lord quickened this verse to me about the foundation that Pastor Mike had laid. Now, as the station manager of Lighthouse Television Uganda, I felt a tremendous responsibility to build faithfully upon this foundation, one that he has worked so diligently and wisely to build.

1 Corinthians 3:11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11 Comments - Paul’s Calling to Lay Down the Doctrines of the New Testament Church - Paul was given the revelation of the doctrine of the Church of Jesus Christ. In his nine “church” epistles to seven churches (Romans thru 2 Thessalonians), Paul establishes the doctrines of the early Church. The Pastoral Epistles establish church order, while the Catholic Epistles emphasize the perseverance of the saints. But it is the Church epistles that lay the foundation of the doctrines of the Church. Even Peter acknowledged the deep insight and wisdom that God has given to him, and even elevates Paul’s epistles on an equal level with divine Scripture.

2 Peter 3:15-16, “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

In addition, Paul’s church doctrine builds upon the six-fold doctrine of Christ listed in Hebrews 6:1-2. This means that all of the Pauline church doctrine can be grouped within one of these six foundational doctrines of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. This is what Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians 3:10-11 when he said that he was laying the foundation of Church doctrine in which Jesus Christ Himself was the foundation.

1 Corinthians 3:10-11, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”


Ephesians 2:20, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;”

Paul used a three-fold grouping of his teachings: the foreknowledge, calling and glorification of God the Father, the justification by Jesus Christ His Son, and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:29). In fact, the six doctrines of Christ can also be placed under the three-fold office and ministry of God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit by placing two doctrines under each one. Therefore, we will find that the themes of each of the Pauline “Church” epistles finds itself grouped under Paul’s three-fold grouping of justification, sanctification and glorification, and this three-fold grouping is laid upon the six-fold foundation of:

1. Repentance from dead works Justification Jesus Christ

2. Faith toward God Justification Jesus Christ

3. The doctrine of baptisms Sanctification Holy Spirit

4. Laying on of hands Sanctification Holy Spirit

5. Resurrection of the dead Glorification God the Father

6. Eternal judgment Glorification God the Father

1 Corinthians 3:12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

1 Corinthians 3:12 Comments - The gold, silver and precious stones could represent the works that we do in faith, being led by the Spirit. It could represent the good, the acceptable and the perfect will of God. In contrast, the wood, hay and stubble could represent the works of the flesh, also as three levels of works. Note these comments from Frances J. Roberts, who refers to the works of the flesh as being symbolized by straw and stubble:

“My people shall obey Me (not a human leader) saith the Lord. My people shall not labor in vain in the straw and stubble of the works of the flesh. But My people shall walk in newness of life and they shall be energized and led by My Spirit, saith the Lord” [114]

[114] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 62.

We see the children of Israel building bricks out of straw and stubble while in Egyptian bondage.

Exodus 5:12, “So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.”

When they were delivered, they began to build the tabernacle out of gold, silver, brass and precious stones.

Exodus 31:1-5, “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.” (see also Exodus 35:30-33)

1 Corinthians 3:13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

1 Corinthians 3:13 “because it shall be revealed by fire” Comments - Fire represents judgment. All of our works will be judged by God's Word.

1 Corinthians 3:14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

1 Corinthians 3:14 “If any man's work abide” - Comments - A work that abides is a work that continues. In this context, the work continues into eternity. This implies that our works of righteousness will be a part of heaven itself. For example, the epistles of Paul the Apostle will be a part of Scripture for eternity. We will study his epistles in heaven. The things that you and I accomplish on earth through faith in Jesus Christ will not be just done away with and converted, or cashed in, for a reward. These works themselves will abide and continue for eternity. These works of righteousness will become a part of heaven itself for others to enjoy. For example, I am sure that in heaven, we will enjoy reading the writings of other great men of God, writings that were not in the canon of Holy Scriptures.

Later in this epistle, Paul, the apostle, will clearly show us the rule by which a work will abide. That rule is the law of love. If our works are motivated by love, then that work will abide. If it is not from a heart of love, the work will be burned.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that 1 Could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

Note these words from Frances J. Roberts:

“Behold, I say unto thee, there is a day coming when ye shall regret thy lethargy and ye shall say, ‘Why have we left the vineyard of the Lord uncared for?’ That with which ye have been occupied shall appear to thee in that day for what it is chaff and worthlessness. For there shall be nothing of lasting value, and no reward for the works of thine hands, which ye have done in your own strength, and which I have not commanded thee to do. Jesus Himself was directed by the Father in all that He said and did. Dare ye live according to the dictates of thine own carnal heart and puny human understanding? Lo, I have fashioned thee for better things. Fail Me not, but place thy life under My divine control, and learn to live in the full blessing of My highest will. I will strengthen thee and comfort thee and will lead thee by the hand.” [115]

[115] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King’s Farspan, Inc., 1973), 128.

1 Corinthians 3:15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

1 Corinthians 3:15 Illustration - One illustration of 1 Corinthians 3:15 is the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot was saved, but he lost everything. In contrast, Abraham inherited the Promised Land. Both had a choice in Genesis 13:0. Lot chose the pleasant things of this earth. Abraham chose to dwell in tents as a stranger in the Promised Land.

Both were declared righteous men. Note:


Romans 4:3, “For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness .”


2 Peter 2:7-9, “And delivered just Lot , vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the Day of Judgment to be punished:”

One gained an inheritance, the other lost everything.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 The Analogy of the Temple Paul uses the analogy of the Temple of God to explain how each child of God is a vessel for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

1 Corinthians 3:16 Comments - Jesus promised that if we would love Him, then He would come and dwell in us (John 13:23).

John 14:23, “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”

1 Corinthians 3:16 Scripture Reference - Note a similar verse:

2 Corinthians 6:16, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

1 Corinthians 3:17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

1 Corinthians 3:17 Comments - The wood, hay and stubble in 1 Corinthians 3:12 are figurative of things that defile the temple, and the gold, silver and precious stones are things that edify the temple.

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Comments The Temple of God in the New Covenant - In the Old Testament, God, in His Divine Holiness, dwelt only in the Tabernacle and the Temple made with hands. Under the New Covenant, He dwells in the believers, which are now called the temple of God:

Acts 9:4-5, “And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest : it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

1 Corinthians 6:19, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”

2 Corinthians 6:16, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

Ephesians 2:20, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;”

1 Timothy 3:15, “But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God , the pillar and ground of the truth.”

Hebrews 3:6, “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we , if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

1 Corinthians 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

1 Corinthians 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

1 Corinthians 3:19 “For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.” Comments - 1 Corinthians 3:19 is a quote from Job 5:13. Note that this is Job speaking; whom the Lord said was speaking truth, in contrast to the lies that the Lord said were spoken by his friends. Therefore, Paul can quote this verse in which Job is speaking.

Job 5:13, “He taketh the wise in their own craftiness: and the counsel of the froward is carried headlong.”

1 Corinthians 3:20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

1 Corinthians 3:21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;

1 Corinthians 3:22-23 Summary - 1 Corinthians 3:22-23 serve as summary verses.

1 Corinthians 3:22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

1 Corinthians 3:23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/1-corinthians-3.html. 2013.
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