WHERE GOD IS AT HOME
Week of March 9, 2008
Bible Verses:† 1 Corinthians 3:9-17; 6:12-13,18-20.
Biblical Truth: Collectively and individually, believers have the Holy Spirit living in them: thus they are to honor God in all their actions.
Stand on One Foundation: 1 Cor. 3:9-11.
† For we are Godís fellow workers; you are Godís field, Godís building. † According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. † For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. †††††[NASU]
† Note the threefold use of Godís to convey the idea of possession. Paulís point is that he and Apollos work under God as jointly commissioned by God. The Corinthians are Godís field, but the word suggests a field under cultivation rather than simply land suitable for cultivation. The image of the people of God as Godís planting has many biblical echoes [Exodus 15:17; Isaiah 5:1-2,7; 61:3; Jer. 2:21; Amos 9:15]. Building was a term widely used for the process of construction on a building site, and Paul also uses the image of building up the church in 14:3,5,12,26. Both images are passive indicating that the Corinthians are the objects of Godís work. The images of planting, watering, producing steady growth [3:6], and laying the foundation and building up [3:10] contrast with ideas of instantaneous puffing up [4:19]. The images convey that the Corinthians are still a work in progress.
[10-11]† Paul continues to develop the image of the community as Godís building. Paul asserts that he laid a foundation which is the gospel and which is anchored firmly in the message of Christ crucified. That foundational work is completed, and another builds upon it. Paul does not complain about this development, because he expects others to build up the church. Builds on refers to preaching and instruction. The warning but each man must be careful how he builds on it expresses the main point of this unit. They can only add what the foundation will bear. They must use fit materials and follow the plans of the architect (who is God) and the building code. And Paul insists that this one foundation is Jesus Christ. Therefore whoever seeks to build upon this one foundation must do so in a way that is consistent with the gospel.
Build with Lasting Works: 1 Cor. 3:12-17.
† Now if any man builds on the foundation with
gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, † each manís work will become evident; for the
day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself
will test the quality of each manís work. †
If any manís work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a
reward. † If any manís work is burned
up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
† Do you not know that you are a
† The list of construction materials emphasize the wide variety of building materials that builders can use to build on the foundation. Some are excellent builders, using materials of exceptional quality; others are less so, using materials of inferior quality. Some materials will endure; others will not. What makes for imperishable building materials for building the church? The wise master-builder laid a solid foundation, and his message of Christ crucified is the standard by which to evaluate all other builders and their materials. Those attempting to build with human wisdom construct a flimsy house of straw.
[13-15] †Paul takes advantage of the Corinthiansí aspirations for reward, status, and praise by reorienting their attention to the future judgment of God, who knows all things and judges according to divine, not human, standards. Each oneís workmanship will become evident on that day which refers to the end time judgment. The purpose of the fire in this context is not to punish, or to destroy, or to refine, but to disclose the quality of the work of Christians. Each individual bears responsibility for their contribution to the building and will receive a reward or a loss on the basis of the quality of the workmanship. If the building goes up in smoke, the builders discover they have labored in vain. If the building stands, the builders will be rewarded for faithful service. The phrase ďto receive a rewardĒ means to receive wages for work done. Paul is not referring to salvation, as if it were a reward proportional to the work. The loss suffered is not the loss of salvation but the loss of a reward, which, in the context, is simply defined as praise from God [4:5]. The idea of receiving special recognition or reward from God in the judgment [cf. 2 Cor. 5:10] should be read in light of Paulís comments in 1 Thess. 2:19-20. He names the Thessalonians as his hope, joy, and crown of boasting, and his glory and joy [cf. Phil. 2:16; 4:1]. The crown that Paul looks forward to receiving is the blamelessness of the Thessalonian Christians in Christ at His parousia. He links his reward at the judgment to their fidelity to the gospel. His reward will be that his churches will be saved with him. This idea lies behind his comments in 2 Cor. 1:12-14. On the day of the Lord Jesus, when they pass through the judgment together, they will know that his work with them has been accomplished with frankness and godly sincerity, by the grace of God, and that we are your reason to be proud as you also are ours [2 Cor. 1:14]. The one whose work is incinerated by the blaze will be saved through fire. The laborer who used cheap materials and took shortcuts will be pulled out of the flames and the rubble heap in the nick of time. But they will still be saved. Paulís main point is found in the explicit command each man must be careful how he builds on the one foundation [3:10].
[16-17]† Paul switches to direct address and a third
metaphor that now depicts the church as Godís temple. The you is plural, and Paul speaks of the community gathered in
Christís name, not individuals, as the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Paul cites
the Spirit as the epistemological key for understanding the wisdom of the cross
in 2:10-16 and now credits the indwelling Spirit as the key to their unity.
Since this community building is the
Live for Godís Glory: 1 Cor. 6:12-13,18-20.
† All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. † Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. † Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. † Of do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? † For you have been brought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. †[NASU]
† Many Corinthian Christians were looking in
the direction of sexual promiscuity for satisfaction of their needs under the
pretense of Christian liberty. So Paul was compelled to take them up on their
own presuppositions. Their major premise was All things are lawful for me. It is even conceivable that they were
mimicking Paul himself, because it could certainly have been one of his own
catch-phrases. Either way, whether a Corinthian password or a Pauline motto, it
needed reinterpretation in rather the same way as Augustineís off-quoted
dictum, ďLove God and do what you like.Ē Paulís dilemma was accentuated by the
presence in the church at
In dealing with this slogan, Paul sees the necessity of
qualifying what could look like blanket-approval for anything a Christian might
feel like doing. If we put together 6:12 and 10:23, we have three crucial
qualifications on this apparent freedom to do whatever one desires. In these
three statements Paul is enunciating principles for the whole of our daily
behavior in the world. First, he maintains, not all things are profitable. It is certainly true that the
Christian gospel is a message of freedom; but that does not mean that anything
and everything is helpful or advisable. Paul wants to ensure that what he does
is genuinely helpful for his daily witness to unbelievers, for his work in the
church and for his walk with Christ. Paulís second qualification on the all things are lawful slogan contains
an interesting play on words, best captured by the paraphrase: ĎAll things are
allowed me, but I will not allow anything to get control of me.í In chapters
8-10 we shall see Paul arguing passionately and persuasively that the essential
Christian freedom is the freedom not to be free, i.e. a deliberate choice to
restrain my freedom for the sake of the gospel. The man who has to express his
freedom is actually in bondage to the need to show he is a free man. The
genuinely free man has nothing to prove. It is, in fact, very likely that
Paulís word-play here pinpoints a major area of debate between the apostle and
the Corinthians. Between 6:12 and 11:10 there are sixteen uses of the
root-word, variously used in the Greek either as a verb or as a noun. It would
appear that Paul is having a head-on confrontation with the Corinthians on the
ageless question of a personís Ďrightsí. The Christians at
† Before giving his rich exposition of a truly
Christ-centered attitude to the body, Paul dismisses a diversionary tactic
about the stomach. This was probably presented in the form of another
catch-phrase bandied about by those who were attempting to justify each and
every physical indulgence. He deals abruptly with their slogan by making it
plain that he is not thinking about stomachs or bellies at all. There is all
the difference in the world between food, which is digested by the stomach and
passed out through the bowels, and sexual intercourse, which affects the whole
person and cannot be dismissed flippantly as a purely physiological phenomenon.
The stage is now set for Paul to unfold his view of the body, in contrast with
prevailing views held by both pagan philosophers and untaught Corinthian
Christians. When we pause to recall that the language of the body is
fundamental to several chapters in 1 Corinthians, each with a different
emphasis in application, we are in a better position to appreciate Paulís
theology. God has a purpose for our bodies, and it is certainly not for us to
indulge them with sexual immorality of any kind, let alone the special kind
rampant in the licensed prostitution of contemporary
[18-20]† Here Paulís plea for Christ-centered purity
is the habitation of our bodies by the Lord, by the Holy Spirit. Our bodies are
not simply physical shells of remarkable composition: they are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Earlier
[3:16-17] Paul affirmed that the whole
Paul forthrightly commands the Corinthians to flee
immorality. Christians today do not have to be citizens of
Questions for Discussion:
1.††††††††† How should your attitudes and actions be affected by the fact that your church is the temple of the Holy Spirit [3:16]? That your body is the temple of God [6:19]?
2.††††††††† In verses 3:9-17, Paul compares the church to a building with a foundation. Explain Paulís metaphor. What is the foundation? What are the best building materials to use? Why is it important that the building be true to the foundation?
3.††††††††† What three crucial qualifications does Paul make to the premise that all things are lawful for believers who have been set free by the blood of Christ?
4.††††††††† How can we use our bodies to glorify God?
1 Corinthians, David Garland, Baker.
The Message of 1 Corinthians, David Prior, Inter-Varsity.