1 Corinthians 3:23


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. 1 Corinthians 3:23

To finish out his current thoughts concerning our allegiances and also to close chapter 3, Paul notes that “you are Christ’s.” We don’t belong to Paul or Peter, nor to any other individual, sect, or denomination. We don’t belong to a pope, pastor, or priest. Instead, we belong to Christ. He died for us, was resurrected proving that His work was accepted by God, and we have called on Him for salvation. We are His and to Him alone belongs our allegiance.

Understanding this, Paul finishes with “and Christ is God’s.” Christ is a member of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because we belong to Him, we belong to God. Jesus is our Mediator to God; no one else can satisfy that role. If we belong to Christ, and He to God, then we are accountable to God and owe Him our allegiance through Christ.

Paul’s order of argument and his logic have been exactingly laid out to keep us from misguided allegiances and distractions. And yet, we in the church have continuously failed to heed his words. We throw our trust behind a given pastor as if he were the ultimate authority over us in all matters. Some, like Jim Jones, have even taken their flock to their deaths. All of this tragically occurs because we fail to simply heed the words of the Bible.

Life application: Fix your eyes on Jesus.

Lord God, thank you for those pastors and teachers who have instructed me in my walk. But Lord, help me to remember that they are just men doing their job and not the objects of my allegiance. In Christ alone will I trust. I know that any person can falter or let me down, but Jesus never will. Thank You for my ever-faithful Lord! Amen.


1 Corinthians 3:22


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.



1 Corinthians 3:21


Sunday, 11 May 2014

Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: 1 Corinthians 3:21

“Therefore” is now stated for consideration of what he has been considering throughout the entire chapter. Paul is moving from his argument into an exhortation to those in Corinth (and thus to us who read this epistle). However, his following words are some of the most disregarded in the entire letter – “let no one boast in men.”

It is with the greatest note of sadness that this simple sentence has gone almost completely unheeded in Christianity. Catholics boast in the pope; Lutherans boast in Luther; Calvinists boast in Calvin; modern followers of prophecy boast in individual analysts; people cling to TV evangelists and preachers as if they possessed the source of wisdom and knowledge. And yet… they are just people serving in a limited capacity for a limited time and their analyses are merely attempts to explain what has already been given.

Paul exhorts each of us to not boast in any man. Instead, let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. Anything other than this merely diminishes what should be the sole and complete focus of our attention, Jesus Christ. In order to explain this, he follows up with an argument for his exhortation by stating “For all things are yours.” This will be expanded upon in the verses ahead; it is not a stand alone thought that we can run with and claim all-knowledge or all authority in and of ourselves. Instead, it is a precursor to what he will next explain.

Life application: It is commendable to recognize a sound theologian, commentator, preacher, evangelist, etc. But Paul warns us that we are not to boast in that individual. Be careful to heed these words lest your eyes be misdirected away from the Lord.


I will fix my eyes on You, O Lord. My heart will be steadfast in my devotion to You, my God. Throughout my days, I will think on You, meditate on Your word, and speak of Your goodness to others. And when I get misdirected, please nudge me back onto the right way once again. You are my All in all and I wish to proclaim You – only You! Amen.



1 Corinthians 3:20


Saturday, 10 May 2014

…and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 1 Corinthians 3:20

Again, Paul returns to Scripture to confirm the point he has been making. This is a citation from Psalm 94:11. Directly quoted, it says this –

“The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
That they are futile.”

The substitution of “wise” instead of “men” is intended for those he has been speaking of who hold to the wisdom of the world without including God in their thoughts. The word he uses for “thoughts” is comparable to “reasonings.” In other words, the search for the knowledge of things is futile when people do it apart from understanding that God is the ultimate Cause of all things.

A perfect example of this in the 21st century is the scientific study going on at CERN – the Large Hadron Collider which is on the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva. At this immense facility is a 27 kilometer long ring of superconducting magnets with accelerating structures to boost energy. These are used to bring matter close to the speed of light and smash it into other matter going in the opposite direction. In their research, they are attempting to find “the God-particle.”

They believe that by finding a particular particle which results from this type of collision, they will be able to answer all of the questions concerning the creation of the universe. On their website, they begin by asking this –

“What is the universe made of? How did it start? Physicists at CERN are seeking answers, using some of the world’s most powerful particle accelerators.”

Rather than approaching their studies from the presupposition that there is a God and their research will help us to understand how God does things, they leave Him out of the equation. The ultimate answer, therefore, will always elude them and they will be kept from what they desire most. Someday, at the judgment of man unless they call on Christ first, they will be eternally separated from Him, but they will know that He exists. Thus, they will spend eternity lacking contact with what they now realize to be the truth. It is a sad thought, but it is the state of unregenerate man.

Life application: Without God, the smartest person is just a dolt, but with God, the least intelligent chap is a true genius. Be really smart; call on Christ!

I would rather be shunned by the brightest and best of this world than to be without Jesus. Thank You, O God, for Jesus. Hallelujah and Amen.



1 Corinthians 3:19


Friday, 9 May 2014

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;1 Corinthians 3:19

As has been noted time and again in this epistle, care needs to be taken to ensure context is maintained. Without considering the surrounding thoughts, incorrect ideas about what is being discussed will naturally arise. The verse begins with “for” which asks us to consider what has been said in order to make the connection with the rest of the initial thought. Paul has been speaking about building upon the foundation, which is Christ, and that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit.

“For” then asks us to consider that in context with “the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” This has nothing to do with appropriate studies of science, medicine, astronomy, geology, or any other discipline which God gave us the intelligence to pursue. For example, because of botany, we have grafts of hearty fruits which can withstand drought-like conditions and attacks by insects or other pests. We have flowers that bloom in a wild array of colors and durations that are not found in the natural world.

God is not asking believers to set aside their brains in this world. Cults and misguided sects ignorantly don’t use medicine which has been developed by man and thus they bring on themselves prolonged sicknesses and even premature death. This type of bad analysis is inevitable when context isn’t considered. But it is not what Paul is speaking of.

The “wisdom of the world” is speaking of that wisdom which excludes Christ in any of its considerations. If a scientist looks for natural explanations to the ultimate questions of life, science, or philosophy, then he will never find the correct answers to his questions, because God is the Source of all such wisdom. Johannes Kepler wisely said, “Science is thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” This then is wisdom. Without such an attitude, any pursuit of wisdom “is foolishness with God.”

To build upon and validate this notion, Paul turns to Scripture and cites a portion of Job 5:13. “For it is written, ‘He catches the wise in their own craftiness.'”

The word “catches” conveys the idea of grabbing with the fist. It is intended to express the notion that no matter what they pursue, apart from including God in the equation, they will never truly get away from the bonds which shackle them. They are pursuing ultimate knowledge, but they are bound by limitations which hinder their ability to discern it.

Life application: When contemplating anything of substance, include God in your thoughts. He is the purpose, hope, goal, and end-point of all we could ever consider. Keep Jesus Christ in the equation and the numbers will always add up as they should!

Daily I rise and go about my life
But without including the Lord, no true purpose exists
Instead of peace, my soul only finds strife
As I attempt to accomplish my scholarly lists

And so, Lord God, help me never to do a thing in this life without including You in the process. Help me never to forget that the wisdom of the world is mere foolishness to You. But in Christ, all things make sense – pleasure time or while at work; study time or simply thinking about the beauty around me – all of it has no purpose unless it includes the One who gave it all to me. Help me always to consider You, O God. Amen.