Chapters 2:8 to end of chapter 3
though Paul says that he did not come to Corinth
with words of great worldly wisdom, we must realize that he himself was a
very educated man. He could
stand side by side with any of the educated men or the philosophers
in the city. It was his
choice to only discuss things of the Lord Jesus, the cross and His
resurrection. Once again, this
is what he meant when he said, “I resolved to know nothing … but Jesus
verse 6 Paul balances what he has said concerning wisdom.
Though he did not get into great discussions with the educated in Corinth, he did “speak a message of wisdom among the mature”.
When in mature Christian circles Paul did not leave his sanctified
intelligence at home. Paul
used great wisdom in the things he said, which is quite evident in this
Paul did speak intellectually “but not with the wisdom of this age…”
(ch. 2:6) It is quite clear
that Paul distinguished between the wisdom of the world and the wisdom
is important to note at this stage how wisdom and intellect go together.
Godly wisdom with a sanctified intellect go a long way in teaching
the truths of God. We need to
know how, why, and when to share what we know.
verse 7 Paul defines a little bit of this heavenly wisdom that he is
talking about. Paul calls this
wisdom a “secret wisdom that has been hidden”.
This wisdom was in the mind of God “before time began”, and was
hidden from past rulers, for if they had of understood this wisdom “they
would not have crucified the Lord of glory”.
It is clear that the term "past rulers" refers to the
Jewish rulers, as well as the Roman rulers.
this wisdom was a secret from worldly man, this secret was reserved to be
revealed to us and “to our glory”.
Paul quotes from Isa. 64:4 where the prophet says that “eye has
not seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared
for those who love Him”. You
can clearly see that God has hidden certain truth from the general
population of this world. Yet
Paul does not stop here. He says in verse 10 that “God has revealed it
to us by His Spirit”. The
great wisdom of salvation is now available to those who accept this
salvation, and it comes through the Holy Spirit.
This wisdom cannot be attained by human reasoning.
It comes only by the Spirit of God.
In actuality the Holy Spirit deposits His truth into our hearts and
into our minds. He transforms
our thinking processes. This
is why Paul can speak with great wisdom using the intellect that God has
continues by saying that “the Spirit searches all things, even the deep
things of God”. Paul
explains his point by saying that only the spirit of a man knows what is
in the mind of a man. The same
with God. Only the Spirit of
God knows what is in the mind
of God. The fortunate thing is
that we have the Spirit of God within us.
As a result we can know the deep things of God, the secret things
of God, as He decides to tell them to us.
I say, “as He decides to tell us” because many crazy thoughts
and ideas have come to Christians that they claim are from the Spirit of
God and clearly aren’t. Many
people have used this verse to support all sorts of weird teaching.
This should not be the case.
verse 12 Paul says that we have received the Spirit of God “so that we
can understand what God has freely given to us”.
This qualifies somewhat what kind of wisdom that Paul is speaking
about in these verses. Paul is
not suggesting, since we have the Holy Spirit that we can know everything
there is to know about God.
The things that the Spirit shows us are the things that “God has
freely given us”. What has
He freely given us? He has
freely given us salvation. So
the secret truths that God is now revealing to us concerns our salvation.
This narrows things down considerably.
So if someone comes to you saying that God told them that there are
living creatures on Jupiter, then you might not accept that is the truth,
because such knowledge has nothing to do with our salvation.
Holy Spirit teaches us these truths, “expressing spiritual truths in
spiritual words” (ch. 2:13). Paul goes on to say, “the man without the
Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for
they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they
are spiritually discerned”. (ch. 2:14)
How true this is. The
world simply does not understand the things of the Christian life.
They do not properly understand what the Bible is all about.
They can’t understand because they do not have the Holy Spirit
within them to shed light on these things.
Greek word “anakrino” is translated as “judgement” in verse 15.
This word means, “examine, investigate, or question”.
The verse says, “the spiritual man makes judgments about all
things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment”.
What Paul is saying is that the spiritual man, because he has the
Holy Spirit is capable of investigating, questioning, or examining all
things. We as Christians are
capable of Godly discernment when we are in tune with the Holy Spirit.
At the same time, no man can properly discern or examine us,
because he does not understand anything concerning the Holy Spirit.
This is what Paul is saying. It
sounds pretty exclusive and not politically correct in our day, but this
is what he tells us.
closes this chapter by saying, “who has known the mind of the Lord that
he may instruct him? But we
have the mind of Christ.” Paul
asks, “who knows the mind of the Lord?”
He answers by saying that we can know the mind of the Lord because
we have His Spirit. The world
cannot know God’s mind because they do not have His Spirit.
Yet so often you see the world talking about Christian things as if
they are experts. The world
often talks about God these days as though they were experts.
Once again, the things we can learn from the mind of God relate to
our salvation. This should end
much of the weird things that people often come up with that they claim
are from God.
begins this chapter by telling his readers that he could not address these
people as “spiritual but as worldly”.
Now this is interesting. Paul
has just told these people that Christians are spiritual because they have
God’s Spirit living in them and that they are capable to judge and
discern. Yet now he tells the
Corinthians that he can‘t talk to them as if they are spiritual.
He has to “feed them milk”, not solid food.
They are still babies in Christ.
tells these people, that though they are Christians, they are worldly,
“because there is jealousy and quarrelling among them”.
This means then that they are not capable of properly discerning
the Lord’s will as they should be. This
means that even though they are saved, they are not much different than
the sinner in respect to knowing God’s will for their lives and for
continues to say that these people are “mere men” because they have
factions, because some follow Paul, some follow Peter and so on.
Does this not sound a little like the modern church?
Would Paul call us worldly today?
Would this be why it is so hard for us as individuals and as
churches to really know and understand God’s will.
It is clear to me from this passage, that most church groups today
aren't really in the will of God. I'm
not saying that God doesn't use them.
I'm sure He does despite of us, yet if Paul says that factions
hinder us from doing God's will, then our factions today will do just
appears that we can be saved, we can be Christians, yet act like worldly
sinners at the same time. Of
course, we do not reap the Godly benefits from the lifestyle that we have
chosen. This results in not
understanding God’s ways for us and being a very poor witness to those
we need to share Jesus with. In
my thinking, this is one reason why the church does not see the power of
God as it did in the first generation church.
opening paragraph of chapter 3 does not speak well of the Corinthian
church. Paul calls the church
worldly. He says they are baby
Christians. He calls them
“mere men”, when in fact they should have been “spiritual men”.
The reason for these negative comments is because of the quarreling
based on factions. We will see
other problems in later chapters, but for now Paul is quite unhappy with
the church being divided, but he still calls this group a church.
again, as Paul did in the last chapter he asks a couple of questions.
“What, after all, is Apollos?
What is Paul?” (ch.
3:5) Paul answers his question
by saying that they were only “servants through whom you came to
believe”. This says
something about Paul’s thinking concerning church leadership.
Paul believes that church leaders should be servants, not
“superstars”. Paul looked
for loyalty in his churches, but he did not want an over emphasis on the
importance of the church leader. That
is to say, church leaders lead as servants.
They themselves are subject to the Lord and His Word.
The proper role of leadership is a big subject and we will not
discuss it in this context.
verse 6 Paul explains how being a servant works.
He says that some plant the seed, while others water the seed, but
it is the Lord Himself that makes the seed grow into a full grown plant.
So give credit to where credit is due, and in this case credit
should go to Jesus who performs the miraculous.
Planting and watering is not miraculous.
It is simple manual labour, and many of us don't even do that.
If that is the case, how can the Lord provide the miracle when we
haven't done our part. I often
remember the last verse of the book of Mark.
My paraphrase to this Scripture is, “we as Christians go out
and do the manual labour by preaching the gospel, but the Lord
Jesus confirms our words by miraculous works”.
We do the manual labour and the Lord provides the spiritual ability
needed. Like Paul says here.
Some water and some plant, while the Lord causes growth.
We must realize our place in the process, and not elevate our place
above where it should be.
verse 8 Paul tells his readers that both those who plant and those who
water “have one purpose”. They
are working in harmony with each other to see the plant grow.
They are planting and watering for no other reason than to see a
healthy plant. His tells me
that no one is higher than the other.
No one's job is more important.
Our jobs are equal, all part of a total effort for Jesus' sake.
person will be rewarded for what they do, Paul says.
This tells you something. We
are saved by God's grace alone, not by anything we do.
Yet we are rewarded for the good works that we do that are a true
result of our trust in Jesus. Works
that we perform for any other reason are not rewarded for.
They will be burned with fire, as we will see later.
says in verse 9 that the Corinthians “are God’s field, and we are
God’s co-workers”. Paul,
Apollos, and Peter were just simple farm hands working in the field.
Remember Paul is saying these things to put church leaders in
proper perspective. They
should not be elevated to a height beyond where they should be.
This does not mean that we should not honour our leaders.
Paul speaks to this issue in some of his other letters.
Yet these people were making “superstars” of the particular
leader they liked and quarreling over this, causing major divisions.
This sounds a little like today’s church to me.
I have used the term “simple farm hand”.
In one sense Paul, Peter and Apollos were simple farm hands, at
least when you compare them to the Farm Owner.
Yet at the same time Paul says he was an “expert builder”.
He has just used an analogy of growing plants, and now he switches
to an analogy of building a building.
Many people are involved in building a building.
All have the same purpose, and that is to finish the job.
They are not competing for attention.
They just want to see the job finished, and finished right.
Paul says that the only way this can happen is by the “grace of
God”. (ch. 3:10) As a result
Paul gives a warning. He says
that “each one should be careful how
with the building theme, Paul speaks about the foundation of the building
as Jesus Himself and that there is to be no other foundation.
Paul is not the foundation. Peter
is not the foundation. For us
today, no Christian leader or non Christian leader is the foundation.
Paul is exclusive in his thinking.
Only Jesus is the foundation of this building that we are a part of
verses 12 to 16 Paul speaks of a coming day of judgment when all of our
works will be tried and tested by fire.
He says, “if any man build on this foundation…”, meaning the
foundation of Jesus, “using gold silver, costly stones, wood, hay or
straw, his works will be shown for what it is”.
He says that the fire will “test the quality” of the work done
by the builders. It is clear
then that those who work in the church, work to build the building use
different material in their work. The
gold, silver and costly stones represent work that is done from pure
motives. Such work will be
rewarded for in a positive way from Jesus in the next life.
Yet the work that is represented by wood, hay and straw are works
done with improper motives. These
works may indeed benefit the church, but they will not reap any good
result to the builder. Many
things are done in the name of the Lord, yet for the wrong reasons.
Many may teach, preach, sing, or serve in any capacity to be seen,
somewhat like the Pharisees. These
people’s works will be destroyed on the day of judgment, even though
they themselves will be saved. Then
for those who have served because they truly want to follow Jesus, their
works will stand the test of fire, resulting in a reward from the Lord.
Remember, this has nothing to do with your salvation.
This has all to do with good works after we are saved.
In verse 16 Paul says, “he himself will be saved, but only as one
escaping through the flames”.
verse 16 Paul asks, “don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s
temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you”?
I believe in this verse Paul is speaking of the temple as being the
church as a whole, not individuals in the church.
He will speak later as individuals being the
reason why the temple being spoken of here is the
of Christ in
anyone destroys the
Verse 17 is also interesting in light of how so many
have destroyed the true nature of the church throughout the last two
thousand years. There have
been many who have humanized and even paganized the church.
Paul said that God will destroy that person.
These should be serious words for any church leader today.
verse 18 Paul comes back to the idea of wisdom and foolishness.
If there are some in the church that claim worldly wisdom and
boasts of it, then they should become a fool, that is, adopt the Christian
way of thinking by relying totally on the cross of Christ, and not any
wisdom they think they have. Paul
quotes from Psa. 94:11 when he says, “the Lord knows that the thoughts
of the wise are futile". Any
earthly wisdom may have its place, but when compared to God’s wisdom, it
looks pretty foolish.
this is the case then, that is, if worldly wisdom is futile, Paul says
stop this “boasting about men”. (ch.3:21)
This is the problem that Paul has been addressing.
The Corinthians were divided because of unhealthy loyalty towards
certain individuals. They were
boasting about men. Most of us
might like to be boasted about a bit, but not Paul.
He was one of the men that they were boasting about. But Paul says,
“stop this boasting”. Its
worldly wisdom. It leads to
destruction. Anything built on
this premise will be destroyed and will not benefit anyone.
things are yours, whether Paul, Apollos, Cephus, 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”. Paul
seems to be saying here that when you devote yourself to one man, and
exclude others, you are missing out on many things.
If the Corinthians listened to Paul only and forsook what Peter had
to say, they’d be missing truth from a different perspective.
“All things are yours” means that we gain when we hear what
others in the body of Christ say. A
matter of fact all things are ours in the since of life in general,
whether in life or death or anything.
We can benefit from it all, as long as we stay connected to Christ,
who is connected to God Himself.
true this is for us today. When
we devote ourselves totally to one stream of thinking in Christendom, we
miss out on so much. When we
exclude others and what they have to say, we become narrow in our own
thinking. I once had a Bible
we close this chapter I cannot help but think what James might have to say
about some of these things. I
am sure that James would agree with Paul concerning not boasting about
following certain men to the exclusion of others.
I wonder though what he might have to say about Paul's view that
some of these Corinthian Christians were worldly Christians.
I wonder if James would view them as worldly or if he would view
them as having a “false faith”. You
can read my commentary on James concerning false faith. It
is hard to say for sure what James might have thought.
Yet we do know from chapters 1 through 3 of this letter that Paul
believed that a person can be saved, yet not spiritually orientated, but
worldly in their thinking and lifestyle.