Sunday, January 20, 2013

1 Corinthians 3:1-23

Maturity and Divisions 3:1-23

The Field

Paul addresses allegations of false prophets (2 Cor. 11:12-15), or teachers, attempting to present Paul's simplistic teachings as shallow. Agronomically, the Law of the Minimum explains that the least proportionally available nutrient restricts the yield benefits of additional crop-inputs. Paul informs the Corinthians that their deprived spiritual maturity prohibits benefits of advanced instruction. Paul uses the analogy of babies ability to digest only milk. Biology teaches that digestive tracks require advanced development before the consumption of whole food. Additionally, calves and human babies require colostrum from the mother's milk, which contains enriched levels of proteins, antibodies and carbohydrates, in first few days of their life. Paul instructs the Corinthian church that some of them lack the spiritual maturity needed for digesting the solid food of the gospel. This solid food understands the prudence of focusing on Christ instead of causing divisions among his servants. Additionally, some in the church should have matured enough for solid food, yet their spiritual complacency keeps them on milk. Ultimately, Paul reminds the Corinthian believers that while they remain eternally saved, it is time for spiritual growth—disposing of their spiritually complacent lifestyle. Spiritual maturity results from intentional effort of seeking Godly wisdom, along with the necessary experience to develop perception and understanding.

Paul continues explaining that while he plants and Apollos waters, growth originates in God. God causes the soil to hold the water, and the seed to absorb the soil-water. God created phototropism causing germinating plants' upward growth toward the sun and soil surface, resulting in emergence. Paul's analogy correlates relatable physical truths for the Corinthians with spiritual truths they struggled to grasp. People can plant churches, share the gospel and preach the word, yet God causes seed absorption of soil-water, emergence, and growth. Shatter cane and velvet leaf seed often germinates quickly, yet their seed may lay in the soil for up to fifty-years without germinating, yet a flash of sunlight striking the seed for 1/1,000 may induce germination with proper soil-moisture. While God causes growth, the timing varies for each seed and person. He expects us to faithfully serve as farmers, planting and watering, amidst his people—leaving the concern of germination and resulting growth to God. Because of Paul's founding of the church at Corinth, the church should focus their efforts on serving God only in this one, as opposed to someone placing another foundation adjacent to this foundation.

The Foundation

The building materials separate into combustible and non-combustible types. This scripture illuminates the spiritual division from actions towards physical and emotional pleasure, along with the resulting effects on eternal rewards. Paul encourages the Corinthian church members to invest their physical, emotional and spiritual effort in the enduring materials pleasing to God. Wood, hay, and straw represent the flammable yields of false doctrines and believers in the church who neglect spiritual reproduction. Foundations comprising of gold, silver, and costly stones correlate with eternal yields produced from preaching the sound doctrine of the gospel—Jesus Christ—and the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-25), all of which results from doing the Father's will (Jn. 4:34). Some in the Corinthian church intentionally straddled the fence demarcating Christianity and secularism, saved by Christ yet focusing actions producing yields of wood, hay and straw. Jesus will judge us, and allocate eternal rewards for the incombustible foundations produced in this life, while the consequence of the combustible foundations only results in receiving no rewards. Additionally, selfish motives in building otherwise proper foundations create unrewarded, combustible foundations. This reminds the Corinthian church to check their motives, along with putting them at ease in regards to seeking credit. Because, when they (and we) understand that God knows and rewards any and all, who cares if others give them credit.


The divisions in the Corinthian church damage the church—God dwells in the temple. Paul instructs the Corinthians of the seriousness of the quarreling in the church, specifically squabbling over whom to follow—Paul, Cephas or Apollos—and choosing human wisdom over wisdom from the Spirit of God. Because their serious errant actions of damaging the church, Paul clearly spells out that God will destroy those whom damage or destroy His temple. The temple in this passage refers specifically to the local church. Consequently, the local church should stand guard against divisions, selfishness and false doctrine.

See Christ, Believe Christ, Achieve with Christ!

Rick E. Meyer
See, Believe, Achieve Inc.

(Coffman 1984, 39)
2 (MacAurthur 1984, 69)
3 (D. S. Toussaint n.d., 4)
4 (D. S. Toussaint 2012, Class Notes)
5 (MacAurthur 1984, 77)
6 (Lowery 1983, 511-512)
7 (D. S. Toussaint 2012, Class Notes)

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