Southern Christian University

A Study of I Corinthians #1

James A. Turner


Chapters One, Two and Three

Please read all of the references. They will help you to gain a better understanding.

We read about the establishment of the Corinthian church in Acts 18:1-17.  Paul went there from Athens, and when he got to Corinth, it looks like he was without any funds, and he found it convenient to stay with Aquila and Priscilla and with them made tents, and preached in the synagogue on the Sabbath day until Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia with funds. Then he, as we have already talked about, became a full‑time preacher when they came down with support.  It looks like that for sometime; he had been persuading Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ.  But reading from Acts 18:5-6, "But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, (they came with support II Corinthians 11:7-9) Paul was constrained by the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ.  And when they opposed themselves and blasphemed, he shook out his raiment and said unto them, your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: (Ezekiel 3:16-21) from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles."  


Acts 18:4-5 in The New American Standard Version reads, “And he was reasoning in the synagogue every Sabbath and trying to persuade Jews and Greeks. But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ”. It was Paul's pattern, to preach in a Jewish synagogue as long as he received a good hearing.  But like here, when they opposed themselves and blasphemed, “he shook out his raiment and said unto them, I am clean from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles”.  He had done his part.  He had preached to them the gospel, but they were rejecting it, and the responsibility was upon them (Ezekiel 3:16-21).  "And he departed thence, and went into the house of a certain man, named Titus Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue."  But notice that he did meet with pretty good success with his preaching in the synagogue. 


Acts 18:7 reads, "And Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all of his house."  That must have been unusual for a ruler of the synagogue to believe, but Crispus did.  "Believed in the Lord with all of his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized."  Notice what follows when people really believe.  "Many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. And the Lord said unto Paul in the night by a vision, be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:  For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to harm thee:  For I have much people in this city."


 Now, verse ten does not mean that there were already a lot of converts in the city, but it means that the Lord knew there were a lot of sincere people in the city of Corinth, and he wanted the gospel preached to them.  You know that was wonderful assurance when the Lord told that to Paul in that night vision?  “Be not afraid but speak.  And hold not your peace, for no man is going to harm thee.  For I have much people in this city."  Do you remember how he was run out of Thessalonica, out of Berea, and how many mocked him at Athens?  But do not be afraid here. “I have much people in this city.”  “And he dwelt there a year and six months teaching the word of God among them.”  So the first seventeen verses of Acts eighteen is the account that Luke gives of the establishment of the church at Corinth. When Paul went from Athens to Corinth, it was somewhat like leaving one of the primary educational centers of that day for one of the primary commercial centers.    Corinth was a seaport city with harbors on two seas, the Aegean Sea and the Adriatic Sea. Please look at the map in your Bible.


We know from verse ten that there were a lot of sincere people in that city, but Corinth was a city that was really noted for immorality, dishonesty and drunkenness. Several writers call attention to the fact that the temple of Venus was not only a very beautiful temple, but there were a thousand temple prostitutes who were dedicated to the upkeep of their religion. Adam Clark in his comments said, “Public prostitution formed a considerable part of their religion; and they were accustomed in their public prayers, to request the gods to multiply their prostitutes!”


Paul went there alone and started preaching, and the word of God had power over those Corinthians.  But with people turning from such immoral conditions, as they were accustomed to, before they became Christians, you would expect the church to have many problems.  And the church at Corinth did have many problems, in fact so many problems that I am afraid if we did not have the I Corinthian letter that we might be ready to give up on a lot of congregations today and say, why they have so many problems, there is just nothing we can do about it, we will forget about them.  But notice that Paul addressed two epistles to “the church of God, which is at Corinth”.  And we learn from the reading of these books that although there was an unrighteous and ungodly element in the church at Corinth, yet predominantly there were a lot of good people making spiritual progress in the Corinthian church.  The church has always had problems, and we will always have problems, but these epistles give solutions, if they are applied to like conditions today, then they will solve the problems in churches today.  And my, of all churches that had problems, the church at Corinth did. 


You will do well to think of I Corinthians in just two broad divisions.  In the first six chapters, Paul is instructing them about the problems that they had not told him about in the letter that they had sent him.  They had not told him anything about the division that existed in the church that he talks about in chapter one and chapter three.  They had not told him in that letter about that notorious case of fornication that was in the church that he deals with in chapter five.  They had not told him about how they were going to law with one another before the civil courts as given in chapter six.  


Paul had learned from the house of Chloe about the division that existed in the church. Apollos had recently come from Corinth and was with Paul at Ephesus and he could have learned from Apollos about some of the problems.  They had sent three of their members to Paul, with a letter asking a number of questions on a number of different subjects.  I Corinthians 16:17 reads, "I rejoice at the coming of Stephanus, Fortunates, and Acacus for that which was lacking on your part they supplied.  For they refresh my spirit and yours.  Acknowledge ye therefore them that are such."  So Paul had a number of sources by which he could learn about these other conditions that existed in the church. 


Now, notice chapter seven, "Now concerning the things where of you wrote."  And we learn from what he has to say that they had asked him a number of questions about marriage, and Paul answered their questions. Chapter eight, shows that some were insisting that they had the right to go to the feasts of the idolaters and eat with them when they had their feasts, that they had a right to just go and enjoy a good meal!  They knew that the idol wasn't anything!  And notice how chapter eight begins; "Now concerning things sacrificed to idols."  And so they had asked him some questions about did not they have the right to go and eat in the idol's temple, and Paul answered their questions in part in chapter eight, and then more in detail in the latter part of chapter ten.  They had to ask him questions about his apostleship in chapter nine.  "Am I not free?  Am I not an apostle?  Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord and not ye my work in the Lord."  So some were examining him about his apostleship and that must have been included in that letter. Chapter eleven, implies that they asked him some questions about the relationship of men and women and their attire in worship, and it also looks like they asked him some questions about the Lord's supper as recorded in the latter part of chapter eleven. 


Chapter twelve shows very definitely they had asked him questions about spiritual gifts.  "And now concerning spiritual gifts brethren."  We have chapters twelve, thirteen, and fourteen on the subject of spiritual gifts.  If you have not read these chapters with that understanding, please do so, and recognize that you have here in one place a lot of instruction about spiritual gifts.  Chapter fifteen shows that there were those that were saying that there is no resurrection of the dead.  Verse twelve, "Now Christ is preached that he has been raised from the dead.,  how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead."  Some were evidently saying that the resurrection had passed already.  In chapter sixteen, they had asked him questions about the collection, “Now concerning the collection for the saints”.  Please keep in mind these two broad divisions of the book. 


Paul was at Ephesus when he wrote this epistle, I Corinthians 16:8, "But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.  For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries."  Paul had planned to tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.  Now, Paul is on his third missionary journey when he goes to Ephesus a second time. Please remember that he had gone to the synagogue at Ephesus on the return part of the second journey, and they wanted him to stay longer.  It was not his will to do so, but he told them if it was the Lord's will he would return to them (Acts 18:18-21).   


On the second journey Paul in company with Silas and Timothy revisited the churches of Galatia that he and Barnabas had established on that first journey, and after that Paul received a vision, instructing them to go into Macedonia (Acts 15:36-16:10) In Acts 16:10 Luke says, “And when he had seen the vision strait way we sought to go forth into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel unto them.”   Notice that the pronouns we and us show that Luke, the writer of Acts, joined Paul’s company at Troas. 


On the third journey, he revisited those churches and then he goes back to Ephesus as he had promised (Acts 18:18-21, 18:22-23 and 19:1).  According to Acts 19:20, he had been at Ephesus two years and three months and had plans to stay longer.  He had plans to stay until Pentecost (I Corinthians 16:8), but the riot caused by the silversmiths, may have caused Paul to leave earlier (Acts 19:23-20:1). So Paul was at Ephesus (I Corinthians 16:8) on his third journey, in Gentile territory, when he wrote I Corinthians and the time would be about 56 to 57 A.D.                      


Okay, we will let this suffice for an introduction to I Corinthians, and we will now begin the reading and study of the Epistle. "And Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes, our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in every place their Lord and ours:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."  Have you ever heard a person say, “Well I'm a Christian, but I am not a saint”.  Something is wrong with that kind of speech.  If a person is a Christian, he is supposed to be a sanctified and holy person, one who is set apart to live as Christ wants him to live.  So Paul is not speaking of separate groups here when he says,.  "The church of God, which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus (set apart to serve the Lord) called to be saints (to be a holy and righteous people) with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place." 


Now, notice that Paul was not writing just to the Corinthian church but saints everywhere, and those New Testament epistles were to circulate.  "Their Lord and ours, grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  I thank my God always concerning you."  Again we see how characteristic it was of Paul to be praying for his brethren.  "For the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus." The grace of God is the kindness of God, the unmerited favor of God.  Apart from the grace of God, no one can be saved. Salvation is absolutely a gift of God (Romans 5:15, 6:23; Ephesians 2:7-10), but it is a gift given on conditions that we hear and obey Christ (Hebrews 5:8-9).  "Which was given you in Christ Jesus that in everything you were enriched in him in all utterances and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you." Notice that God’s grace or his unmerited favor had been given to them in Christ. They had done what was necessary to put them into Christ and into his church (Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-7; I Corinthians 12:13).


They had met the conditions necessary to receive the gift of salvation. God on several occasions gave gifts to the Israelites on conditions (Joshua 6:2-27, 8:1-2, 10:7-14 Deut. 28:1-14). Remember that Paul had stayed at Corinth a year and a half, and he had time to give them much instruction, and he says they were enriched in “all utterances and all knowledge, even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you. So that you come behind in no gift waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ."  The apostles could give miraculous gifts to Christians by the laying on of their hands (Acts 8:14-20; II Timothy 1:6-7).  In chapter twelve of this book, there were nine miraculous gifts they could give by the laying on of their hands.  And when he says that they came behind in no gift, evidently that is what he is referring to.  "Waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ who shall also confirm you unto the end."  We read in II Thessalonians 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful, who shall establish you and guard you from the evil one.”  Here he says he will confirm you until the end, and that would mean essentially the same thing.  The Lord wants you to stand, and if you will do your part you can.  "That ye be unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God is faithful through whom ye were called into the fellowship of his son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  “The day of our Lord Jesus” refers to the second advent of Christ and eternal judgment. And of course, as we read in II Thessalonians 2:14-15, they were called by the gospel.  Paul had preached the facts of the gospel to them.  They had believed and obeyed those facts in a form (Romans 6:17-18).


Paul gets immediately to one of the problems in the church, beginning with verse ten.  They had not told him in the letter about the division that existed in the church, and this is the nearest thing to denominationalism that we read about in all the New Testament.  The church at Corinth was divided, and they were divided over preachers.  One group was saying I am of Paul, and another, I of Apollos, and another; I of Cephas or Peter, and I of Christ (1:12).  So there was a Paulite party, and a Apollosite party and a Cephasite party.  And Paul plainly tells them that such division is wrong.  "Now, I beseech you brethren through the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, (by the authority of Christ) that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you.  But that you be perfected together in the same mind and in the same judgment”.  From time to time there may be questions that we may have different conclusions about, but still there should be no divisions among us. We should all agree to study all the references on a given subject, and thereby have Bible authority for our conclusions, and not  “I think” unless “I think” is based on what the scriptures teach.


Paul further reproves them by saying, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized into the name of Paul?” The three questions are rhetorical questions. Of course Christ is not divided and his spiritual body the church  (Ephesians 1:22-23, 4:4; Colossians 1:18) should not be divided! They well knew that Paul had not been crucified for them, and that they had not been baptized into the name of Paul. The real substance of Paul’s questions is, Christ was crucified for you, and you were baptized into Christ, and you should wear his name; and it is wrong for you to be divided and one group saying, “I am of Paul; and I of Appollos; and I of Cephas.”


Many preachers have used verses fourteen through seventeen to try to convince people that baptism is not essential to salvation. To the contrary verses twelve and thirteen show that baptism is essential to salvation. No accountable person has a scriptural right to wear the name of Christ unless he first believes that Christ was crucified for his salvation, and then acting on that belief he repents of his sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30; Acts 2:38), and confesses the name of Christ (Matthew 10:32-33; I Timothy 6:11-14) and then is baptized into Christ (Acts 2:38; Galatians 3:26-27; Romans 6:3-7; I Corinthians 12:13).


Verses fourteen through seventeen read, “I thank God that I baptized none of you save Crispas and Gaius; lest any man should say that ye were baptized into my name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I known not whether I baptized any other. For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not in wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made void.” Again, some say that Paul was glad that he did not baptize many of the Corinthians. True, but why did he say that? He gives the answer, “lest any man should say that ye were baptized into my name.” He is further rebuking them for calling themselves after the names of men rather than the name of Christ. How may we account for Paul’s statement that he baptized only a few at Corinth when he stayed there eighteen months, and Acts 18:8 reads “And Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed and were baptized”? Luke 4:1-3 reads, “When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples that John (although Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples), He left Judea and departed again into Galilee.” When Silas and Timothy joined Paul in the work at Corinth (Acts 18:5) don’t you think that he turned the baptizing over to them, or possibly them and other disciples?


Does verse seventeen mean that Paul is saying that baptism is not essential to salvation? Certainly not! Such reasoning would have him contradicting himself in Galatians 3:26-27, and in Romans 6:3-7 and I Corinthians 12:13, and in Titus 3:6. It would also violate the command that Christ gave his apostles after his resurrection as given in Mark 16:15-16 which reads, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.” The preaching of the gospel must come first, before men can be baptized in order to be saved. Suppose a preacher should say to an audience, “ I will give every one who is willing to be baptized right now a thousand dollars.” Would there be many who would refuse his offer? But, would they be saved by such a baptism? You know the answer! When the gospel is faithfully preached to an audience of sincere unsaved people the results will be like the results at Corinth (Acts 18:8).


“For the word of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.” It is the power of God for what? For salvation to all who truly believe. (Romans1: 16)  “For it is written, I will destroy the wise, and discernment of the discerning will I bring to naught” (1:19). Have you developed the habit of giving careful attention to all quotations? Do you have a Bible that easily shows when the writer is quoting? Does your Bible give the quotation as being from (Isaiah 29:14)?


“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this world? Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom knew not God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” Verses nineteen through twenty-one show that God has deliberately chosen some things that look foolish to the worldly minded people who claim that they have so much wisdom that they can decide everything on the basis of their own great intelligence and wisdom. Proverbs 3:7 reads, “Be not wise in thine own eyes; Fear Jehovah, and depart from evil.” “Seeing that Jews ask for signs, and Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and weakness of God is stronger than men” (1:22-25). Amen, and amen!


“For behold your calling, brethren, that not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.” People in these three categories usually feel powerful and self sufficient with the attitude that they do not need God’s help, that they can pull themselves up by their own boot straps! There may be some few exceptions, but the overall rule holds in every generation. But, God still wants the gospel preached to all men, but the preaching will always meet with more success among the humble and down trodden people of the earth.


“But God chose the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong, and the things that are despised, did God choose, yea and the things that are not, that he might bring to naught the things that are: that no flesh should glory before God” (1: 27-29). The way of God and Christ has never been, and according to the reading of this passage, never will in this world be a popular way. Jesus said, “Enter ye in by the narrow gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14). I have heard a few of our brethren reason that if all Christians were as interested in teaching our friends and neighbors as we ought to be that we would soon convert about every person in every community. Now, we surely need to be doing much more than we are doing, and the more we do the more the kingdom of God will be enlarged, but such references as these and the Parable of The Sower (Matthew 13:18-23) show to the contrary. We surely need to be diligent always in trying to save the lost, but it is wrong when we have done our very best, to put ourselves on a gilt trip when a person understands and refuses to obey!


“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1:30-31). Any time a New Testament writer uses the words “as it is written” we need to recognize that in nearly every case the writer will be quoting an Old Testament reference, and here Paul is quoting a part of Jeremiah 9:23.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 reads, “Thus saith Jehovah, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him that gloryieth glory in this, that he hath understanding, and knoweth me, that I am Jehovah who exerciseth loving kindness, justice, and righteousness in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith Jehovah.” Although these Corinthian brethren had been reared in a very wicked, idolatrous environment they chose the way of true wisdom by humbling themselves before God and obeying the gospel. Note again the first part of verse thirty, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who was made unto us wisdom from God ----.”  In Christ, into Christ, in whom, and other like expressions are used frequently in the epistles of Paul. I believe I have read forty six times. Surely that ought to tell us the importance of how every person needs to take those steps necessary to get into Christ and into His church.


Chapter Two

Here in chapter two Paul talks about two primary things, first, how he preached to them, the kind of preaching he did while he was at Corinth.  And secondly, that God had revealed those things to him through the Holy Spirit, and it was only through this revelation by the Holy Spirit, that he could have taught the gospel like he did. 


All right, verse one, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming unto you the testimony of God."  Surely, with Paul's educational background and with his many travels and his many years of public speaking, he could have come to them with some excellency of speech if he had so desired.  But he wanted to make things plain and simple to the Corinthians where they could have very clear understanding.  Sometimes preachers get so sold on descriptive adjectives and all the technicalities of beautiful flowing speech to the point maybe they do not do enough plain teaching.  Paul seemingly was one, as the old farm expression goes, “was ready to shell the corn so the chickens could eat”.  I can remember the day when nearly all farm families had a few chickens, and it was customary to take ears of corn and hand shell them and all of the chickens would come running to get the corn. All of the other farm animals could eat the corn on the cob but it was very difficult for the chickens to get the corn off of the cob. Paul shelled the corn, he made his language very plain so that the people could have a clear understanding, and there is still a great need for such preaching today. He made his language very plain to the people.  So he said he didn't come with excellency of speech or wisdom but in verse six, he said, "We speak wisdom to them that are full grown."  In other words he did not come to them with worldly wisdom or excellency of speech.  Verse two, "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."  He was not ready to talk about all of his travel experiences or the financial and other problems of the day, but his goal was to preach Christ crucified.  "And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling."  Now remember, that the Lord appeared to him in the night and told him, “Be not afraid, but speak and hold not thy peace: for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to harm thee for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:9-19). And surely that was good news when Paul received that vision in the night. 


Verse four, "And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of the power."  That demonstration of the Spirit must mean that he performed some miraculous works while he was

among the Corinthians.  As an apostle, he had all the gifts of the Spirit, and he surely

could have done so,  and of course he demonstrated the way of Christ by his living, but it must mean more than that.  "But in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:  That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God".  If people stand only in the wisdom of men, their wisdom will be very limited, and worldly wisdom can not save a single soul from eternal damnation! "We speak wisdom, however, among them that are full grown, yet of wisdom not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world who are coming to naught.  But we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, even the wisdom that hath been hidden which God foreordained before the world unto our glory."  


The Bible very definitely teaches that God has foreordained and predestined some things, and here is another passage that states that.  And so Paul is saying we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, or that which had been a mystery, had been hidden until revealed to the apostles.  The apostles revealed those things that had been a mystery unto the first generation of Christians and now unto us.  Verse eight, "Which none of the rulers of this world hath known:  For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."  And so the wisdom of the world didn't know, the rulers of the world didn't know they would be standing before Christ in the Day of Judgment.  Paul affirms that if they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.  "But as it is written, things which eye saw not, nor ear heard not, which entereth not into the heart of man, whatsoever things which God prepared for them that love him."  Many have been ready to use this quotation from Isaiah 64:4 as pertaining to the things that are yet to come, but notice that verse ten shows otherwise.  "But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit:  For the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God."  Remember John 14:26, Jesus said, "But the Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, whom the Father shall send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” And in chapter sixteen Jesus said, "When the Spirit of truth is come, he shall guide you into all truth.  He shall not speak of himself, but he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you” (John 16:13).  So the Holy Spirit guided the apostles into all truth, and what the apostles have written is just as authoritative as what Jesus gave during his personal ministry. 


Some very much want a red letter New Testament that shows the words that were spoken by Jesus.  They seem to think, at least some of them do, that they are more authoritative than the other writings of the New Testament.  All of the New Testament writings are by inspired men and are just as authoritative as that which Jesus gave during his personal ministry.  The only way that Paul could have known the things to teach was by the Holy Spirit revealing them unto him, as shown by verses eleven and twelve.  "For who among man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man which is in him?" Now, we may think that we really know a man, but we may find out later that what we thought was true of him was not true of him.  But each man knows him self, he knows what his motives are.  He knows whether he has been sincere or not.  So the man, himself, is the only man who really knows himself.  "Even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God.  But we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is from God."  And I think spirit there should be capitalized, that second spirit, they received that revelation by the Holy Spirit. He says, "That we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.  Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Spirit teacheth."  Again, he is defining the kind of preaching that he did.  "Combining spiritual things with spiritual words.” 


Verse fourteen, “Now the natural man."  The footnote in my Bible says, "or the unspiritual man," And I think that is a better word there.  "Now the natural or unspiritual man,” is the man who is not interested in knowing.  There are those who are not interested in knowing.  Remember that Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount said, “Cast not your pearls before swine, unless they turn again and rend you and give not that which is holy unto the dogs" (Matthew 7:6).  There are those who have no respect for God's word of truth, and when we find a person like that, we are wasting our time if we try, and the Lord said, do not do it!  Now, the natural man is the man who is not concerned about his salvation.  "Receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God:  For they are foolishness unto him:  And he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged.  But he that is spiritual.”  The man who wants to know, the man who has a good attitude of heart can understand.  "But he that is spiritual judgeth all things and he himself is judged of no man.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct him?  But we have  (Notice that) we have the mind of Christ."  The Holy Spirit had revealed the mind of Christ to Paul and the other apostles.


Chapter Three

In chapter three he talks about the division again, and in such a context that it looks like there were those among the Corinthians that were being very critical of the apostle Paul, saying that he spent too much time speaking to them about the elementary principles of the gospel.  But notice that he says that it was necessary for him to do that.  "And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ.  I have fed you with milk, and not meat; for ye were not able to bear it, neither not even now are you able."  Paul was teaching on the level where they were, they were still babes in Christ!  He could not talk to them about those things that belonged to full‑grown Christians because they were not prepared to receive them.  "For ye are yet carnal:  For whereas there is among you jealousy, and strive, are ye not carnal, and do you not walk after the manner of men”? Anytime there is jealousy and strive and a little back biting and a little slandering going on in a church, it is real evidence that many in that church are very weak.  And the fact that they were divided into parties, one group saying I of Paul, and another group I am of Apollos and another I am of Cephas shows that they were yet very fleshly.  They had not made much spiritual growth. 


This passage is one of many passages of little things, which strongly indicate that Paul is the writer of the epistle to the Hebrews. Do you remember in Hebrews chapter five where he said, I believe, beginning with verse twelve, "For the time that you ought to be teachers you have need that someone teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and have need of milk, rather than strong meat.  And strong meat belongeth to them that are full grown, even to them who through reason of use have exercised their senses to discern good and evil."  So those Hebrew brethren were still babes when they should have been full-grown and some of the Corinthians here were in that condition.  "For when one sayeth, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos.  Are ye not men”?  Are you not behaving like fleshly men?  "What is Apollos, and what is Paul”? His answer, I hope you will notice as we study the epistles of Paul that one of the characteristics of his teaching is to raise questions that needed to be raised and then he answered those questions.  That is still a very effective way of teaching. Who are we to you?  We are ministers through whom ye believed, “ and each as the Lord gave to him I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." 


Notice the emphasis on the one who gave the increase.  God does not hold us accountable for the increase.  He holds us accountable to do the planting and the watering or the planting and the cultivating.  By "I planted" Paul means, of course, that he was the first one to preach the gospel and established the church at Corinth.  Remember that Apollos was, when he went to Ephesus, as recorded in the latter part of Acts eighteen, an eloquent man, mighty in the Old Testament scriptures, but he knew only to the baptism of John.  Aquilla and Priscilla took him aside and taught him more perfectly, and then he left Ephesus sometime later and went over to Corinth and was able to do a great work there.  And that's what Paul is talking about when he said Apollos watered.  "So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase." God is the most important one.  Let us do our work to the best of our ability and pray that God will give an increase.  "Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one.  (working together in the cause of Christ)  But each shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.  For we are fellow workers (Paul and Apollos) ye are God's husbandry, God's building."  The footnote in my Bible for husbandry says, that the Greek word means "tilled land."  In other words you are the field of labor.  But we are God's fellow workers, and you are the husbandry or the field where we labor, and you are God's building.  The church had been established, and it is the temple of God, the building of God. 


Verse ten, "According to the grace of God which was given unto me."  The grace of God, that unmerited favor, of God revealing his will to him through the Holy Spirit.  "Which was given unto me as a wise master builder, I laid a foundation, and another buildeth thereon.  But let each man take heed how he buildeth there on.  For other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus."  Any church that is not built on Christ as the foundation is not worth anything. 


Paul laid the foundation that Christ is the head of the church and the chief cornerstone as the Old Testament prophets spoke of him (Isaiah28:16; Matthew 16: 18-19; Ephesians 2:19-22). The prophet, Zechariah, spoke of Christ as building the Temple of God.  Zechariah 6:12‑13, Zechariah said that, “a man whose name is the branch,” and that means Christ (Jeremiah 23: 5-6). Christ is the branch and the seed of David.  “A man whose name is the branch shall grow up out of his place and he shall build the Temple of Jehovah.  And he shall be a priest upon his throne and sit and rule upon his throne and the counsel of peace shall be between them (God and Christ) both.”  And so Christ built God's holy temple, the church. Paul said, "Let each man take heed how he buildeth there on.  For other foundation can no man lay and that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus. 


Verse twelve, “But if any man buildeth on the foundation gold, silver, costly stones.”  The gold, silver and costly stones represents enduring work of a preacher or teacher.  If a man who does his work well, his converts are more likely to be faithful.  Wood, hay, and stubble would represent those teachers and preachers who may do not present things as plainly as they should, and their work does not holdup.  "Each man's work shall be made manifest:  For the day."  And, of course, that means the judgment day.  "Shall declare it because it is revealed in fire."  The Day of Judgment will be testing time.  "And the fire itself shall prove each man's work of what sort it is.  (Whether a man's converts remain faithful or not.)  If any man's work shall abide which he built there on, he shall receive a reward." I believe we have already discussed this when we studied I and II Thessalonians.  And remember Paul was looking forward to the Thessalonians being his reward, being his joy and crown in the day of Christ, and likewise with the brethren at Philippi.  Now, there will be identity in heaven, and Paul wanted his converts to receive that eternal salvation.  And they would be that extra reward as set forth here in this passage.  "If any man's work shall be burned, (meaning his converts lost) he shall suffer loss:  But he himself shall be saved.  Yet so as through fire."  In other words if he has been faithful himself, he is tested and tried, and if he is faithful, he would be saved, but he would not receive that extra reward of knowing that his converts were in heaven.


Verse sixteen, "Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.  If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are."  Is he not referring in part back to their being carnal and there being among them jealousy and strife? That kind of conduct will just destroy a church if it is permitted to continue for very long.  And here he says, "If any man destroyeth the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye."  “Let no man deceive himself.  If any man thinketh that he is wise among you in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise."  Now, what does that mean?  “Let him become a fool that he may be wise.”  Let him just become a simple New Testament Christian and get rid of his arrogant know‑all spirit, the way that the world thinks foolishness, but he will be a wise man.  So get rid of your arrogance!  Don't think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.  If any man thinketh that he is wise among you in this world, let him become a fool.  Let him become truly wise by following the way of God, which worldly minded people regard as foolishness. 


Verse nineteen, "For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, for it is written he taketh the wise in their craftiness.  And again the Lord knoweth the reasoning of the wise that they are vain wherefore let no one glory in men."  Well, see they were glorying in men.  I am of Paul and I of Apollos and I of Cephas.  And Paul is saying you are not to glory in men.  We are just the servants of God bringing you the gospel.  "For all things are yours; whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death or things present, or things to come; all are yours, and ye are Christ's and Christ is God's."  Everything, you see, was for their benefit.  God wanted them to be saved, and these men had preached to that end that they might be saved.  And so do not glory in men, we are just the servants of God, doing what God wants us to do.  "And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.”  Let me emphasize again that what belongs to God belongs to Christ, and what belongs to Christ belongs to God.