3:1 And 1 I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto a carnal, [even] as unto babes in Christ.
(1) Having declared the worthiness of heavenly
wisdom, and of the Gospel, and having generally condemned the blindness of
man's mind, now at length he applies it particularly to the Corinthians,
calling them carnal, that is, those in whom the flesh still prevails against
the Spirit. And he brings a twofold testimony of it: first, because he had
proved them to be such, in so much that he dealt with them as he would with
ignorant men, and those who are almost babes in the doctrine of godliness, and
second, because they showed indeed by these dissensions, which sprang up by
reason of the ignorance of the power of the Spirit, and heavenly wisdom, that
they had profited very little or nothing.
(a) He calls them carnal, who are as yet
ignorant, and therefore to express it better, he calls them "babes".
3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with b
meat: for hitherto ye were not c able
[to bear it], neither yet now are ye able.
(b) Substantial meat, or strong meat.
(c) To be fed by me with substantial meat:
therefore as the Corinthians grew up in age, so the apostle nourished them by
teaching, first with milk, then with strong meat. The difference was only in
the manner of teaching.
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
(d) Using the tools of man's intellect and
Who then is Paul, and who [is] Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even
as the Lord gave to every man?
(2) After he has sufficiently reprehended
ambitious teachers, and those who foolishly esteemed them, now he shows how
the true ministers are to be esteemed, that we do not attribute to them more
or less than we ought to do. Therefore he teaches us that they are those by
whom we are brought to faith and salvation, but yet as the ministers of God,
and such as do nothing of themselves, but God so working by them as it pleases
him to furnish them with his gifts. Therefore we do not have to regard or
consider what minister it is that speaks, but what is spoken: and we must
depend only upon him who speaks by his servants.
3:6 3 I
have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
(3) He beautifies the former sentence, with two
similarities: first comparing the company of the faithful to a field which God
makes fruitful, when it is sown and watered through the labour of his
servants. Second, be comparing it to a house, which indeed the Lord builds,
but by the hands of his workmen, some of whom he uses in laying the
foundation, others in building it up. Now, both these similarities are for
this purpose, to show that all things are wholly accomplished only by God's
authority and might, so that we must only have an eye to him. Moreover,
although God uses some in the better part of the work, we must not therefore
condemn others, in respect of them, and much less may we divide or set them
apart (as these factious men did) seeing that all of them labour in God's
business. They work in such a way, that they serve to finish the very same
work, although by a different manner of working, in so much that they all need
one another's help.
For we are e labourers together with
God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.
(e) Serving under him: now they who serve under
another do nothing by their own strength, but as it is given them of grace,
which grace makes them fit for that service. See (1 Corinthians
15:10; 2 Corinthians
3:6). All the increase that comes by their labour proceeds from God in such
a way that no part of the praise of it may be given to the servant.
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. 4 But let every man
take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
(4) Now he speaks to the teachers themselves, who
succeeded him in the church of Corinth, and in this regard to all that were
after or will be pastors of congregations, seeing that they succeed into the
labour of the apostles, who were planters and chief builders. Therefore he
warns them first that they do not persuade themselves that they may build
after their own fantasy, that is, that they may propound and set forth
anything in the Church, either in matter, or in type of teaching, different
from the apostles who were the chief builders.
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
(5) Moreover, he shows what this foundation is,
that is, Christ Jesus, from whom they may not turn away in the least amount in
the building up of this building.
Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood,
(6) Thirdly he shows that they must take heed
that the upper part of the building is answerable to the foundation. That is
that admonitions, exhortations, and whatever pertains to the edifying of the
flock, is answerable to the doctrine of Christ, in the matter as well as in
form. This doctrine is compared to gold, silver, and precious stones: of which
material Isaiah also and John in the Revelation build the heavenly city. And
to these are the opposites, wood, hay, stubble, that is to say, curious and
vain questions or decrees: and to be short, all the type of teaching which
serves to vain show. For false doctrines, of which he does not speak here, are
not correctly said to be built upon this foundation, unless perhaps in show
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.
(7) He testifies, as indeed it truly is, that all
are not good builders, not even all of those who stand upon this one and only
foundation. However, this work of evil builders, he says, stands for a season,
yet it will not always deceive, because the light of the truth appearing at
length, as day, will dissolve this darkness, and show what it is. And as that
stuff is tried by the fire, whether it is good or not, so will God in his
time, by the touch of his Spirit and word, try all buildings, and so will it
come to pass, that those which are found pure and sound, will still continue
so, to the praise of the workmen. But they that are otherwise will be consumed
and vanish away, and so will the workman be frustrated of the hope of his
labour, who pleased himself in a thing of nothing.
3:15 If any man's
work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but 8
he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
(8) He does not take away the hope of salvation
from the unskilful and foolish builders, who hold fast the foundation, of
which sort were those rhetoricians, rather than the pastors of Corinth.
However, he adds an exception, that they must nonetheless suffer this trial of
their work, and also abide the loss of their vain labours.
Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth
(9) Continuing still in the metaphor of building,
he teaches us that this ambition is not only vain, but also sacrilegious: for
he says that the Church is as it were the Temple of God, which God has as it
were consecrated to himself by his Spirit. Then turning himself to these
ambitious men, he shows that they profane the Temple of God, because those
vain arts in which they please themselves so much are, as he teaches, many
pollutions of the holy doctrine of God, and the purity of the Church. This
wickedness will not go unpunished.
3:17 If any man f
defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy,
which [temple] ye are.
(f) Defiles it and makes it unclean, being holy:
and surely they do defile it, by Paul's judgment, who by fleshly eloquence
defile the purity of the Gospel.
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.
(10) He concludes by the opposite, that they
profess pure wisdom in the Church of God, who refuse and cast away all those
vanities of men. Further, if they are mocked by the world, it is sufficient
for them that they are wise according to the wisdom of God, and as he will
have them to be wise.
3:19 For the wisdom of this world is
foolishness with God. For it is written, He g
taketh the wise in their own craftiness.
(g) Be they ever so crafty, yet the Lord will
take them when he will discover their treachery.
Therefore let no man h glory in men. For
all things are i yours;
(11) He returns to the proposition of the second
verse, first warning the hearers, that from now on they do not esteem as lords
those whom God has appointed to be ministers and not lords of their salvation.
This is done by those that depend upon men, and not upon God that speaks by
(h) Please himself.
(i) Helps, appointed for your benefit.
3:22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or
the 12 world, or life, or death, or
things present, or things to come; all are yours;
(12) He passes from the persons to the things
themselves, that his argument may be more forcible. Indeed, he ascends from
Christ to the Father, to show that we rest ourselves not in Christ himself, in
that he is man, but because he carries us up even to the Father, as Christ
witnesses of himself everywhere that he was sent by his Father, that by this
band we may be all united with God himself.