Monday, 12 May 2014
…whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours.1 Corinthians 3:22
This verse is dependent on, and explains, the preceding verse which said, “Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours…” Included in “all things” is the list he now gives beginning with, “whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas.” Interestingly, Cephas (Peter) hasn’t been mentioned since 1 Corinthians 1:12, 13 when Paul said –
“Now I say this, that each of you says, ‘I am of Paul,’ or ‘I am of Apollos,’ or ‘I am of Cephas,’ or ‘I am of Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
In the interim verses, he speaks about the work of Apollos and himself, but not Cephas. The reason why is clear when one understands that the Corinthian church is a predominantly gentile church. Whatever effect Cephas had on it was directed to the Jews as he is the “Apostle to the Jews.” However, Paul laid the foundation of the church at Corinth as a gentile entity and Apollos then continued on in that respect.
Cephas did his part, Apollos, did his part, and Paul did his part, but those in the church are the recipients of all of their labors which were united on the proclamation of Christ. The division of these into differing factions is pointless. And as the work of these three all belong to those at Corinth, so do –
1) the world, meaning all the created order that we can experience and search out in our attempts to know our Creator better;
2) life, which is speaking of the fullness of life in Christ rather than the vain and empty pursuits of life separate from Christ. Solomon, long before Paul, noted that “all is vanity” apart from God. Life ultimately has no meaning or purpose without Christ, but in Him there is the richness of knowing that we are but pilgrims on a journey to a far better place. It is a place which transcends even….
3) death, the termination of this earthly existence is not a foe to the believer, but rather it is a part of assuming our inheritance. As Paul says in Philippians 1:21 – “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Peter explains it as “a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:3, 4);
4) things present, is the life we have been given. This is parallel to “life” noted above. Parallelism is used to reinforce a thought and asks the reader to reflect on it a second time. We are living in our present reality, but we have a hope in this reality which is beyond what we can fully grasp. And that will be revealed in the…
5) things to come, which is our heavenly inheritance and the fullness of eternal life granted by God through His Son, Jesus Christ. Without this hope, all life is futile and factions are the norm. But in Christ, there should be no such divisions. All these things are united in Him for our benefit and in anticipation of that great Day.
Paul says that “all are yours” and as we are also the recipients of his letter to the Corinthians, we also are included in the promises found in Christ. This is the wonder of our state and it shows the absurdity of clinging to single teachers or dividing the fellowship in unnatural ways. Our eyes and thoughts are to be focused on the goal; on the prize; on Christ.
Life application: We have a heavenly inheritance, but we also have to work out our earthly existence. Let us therefore do the latter with the former firmly entrenched in our duties and attitudes, to the glory of God.
Lord, how good it is to arise and see the world unfold anew each day. As I see the little animals going about their lives, the birds flittering through the skies, and the plants and trees reaching toward the sunshine, I know that Your gracious hand has given these things for our enjoyment and care. Help me to be responsible as a part of this world, but ever-living with the notion that You have something even more wonderful in store for me as I wait upon that Day when Jesus takes me to my true home. Amen.