1 Corinthians 3

1Paul sheweth that he could not instruct the Corinthians in the higher doctrines of Christianity because of their carnal mind; 3this state of mind revealed itself in their factions. 5The most eminent preachers of the gospel are but instruments employed by God in building his church. 10Paul hath laid the only true foundation, Christ Jesus; and others must take heed what they build thereon. 16Christians are God's temple, not to be defiled. 18Worldly wisdom is foolishness with God. 21They that are Christ's must not glory in men.

1AND I, brethren, could not speak unto you 1as unto spiritual, but 2as unto carnal, even 3as unto babes in Christ.

1 That is, as to such who are extraordinarily enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have made great progress in knowledge, see Gal. 6:1.

2 That is, as to such in whom the flesh or human inclinations do yet manifest themselves too much, as usually occurs in children, who follow their inclinations more than reason.

3 That is, who are yet very tender and ignorant in the doctrine of Christ, and hereby he expounds the word carnal, that it might not be taken for persons who are totally strangers from the Spirit of Christ, as it is often used in the Holy Scriptures, see Rom. 8:8.

2 Ia have fed you with 4milk, and not with 5meat: for hithertob ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

a Heb. 5:12; 1 Peter 2:2.

4 That is, with the first principles and foundations of christian doctrine, which are set forth with simple and bare words, Gr. steeped in milk.

5 That is, the superior declarations of Christian doctrine, which are set forth with superior words, and profound reasons, see more at large, Heb. 5:12, etc.

b until now, before*

3For ye are yet carnal: forc whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk 6as men?

c 1 Cor. 1:11; Gal. 5:19; James 3:16.

6 That is, as natural men commonly do, which is unseemly for you.

4For while one saith, Id am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not 7carnal?

d 1 Cor. 1:12.

7 That is, yet driven by carnal or childish inclinations in distinguishing your teachers.

5Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos,e but ministers 8by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to 9every man?

e Acts 18:24; 1 Cor. 1:12; 16:12.

8 That is, by whose ministry and preaching, Rom. 10:17.

9 Namely, of His ministers, to whom He diversely distributes His gifts. See 1 Cor. 12:4, etc.

610I have planted, Apollosf11watered; but God gave the 12increase.

10 That is, laid the first foundation of the congregation by my preaching, as is declared hereafter in verse 10.

f Acts 18:26; 19:1.

11 That is, what I had begun, he, by his teaching, has furthered and strengthened.

12 That is, made the word, that was outwardly preached by us, effectual in the hearts of the hearers for their conversion. See John 6:44, 65; Acts 11:21 and 16:14, etc.

7So then neither is he that planteth 13any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

13 To esteem or to glory; which is not so to be understood as if Paul would have the ministers to be despised (for in 1 Cor. 4:1 he will say the contrary) but because no man must so gaze upon the gifts of the ministers, whosoever they be, as to give them the honor, which belongs to the Supreme Author of this work; seeing it is God Who appoints them, Who gives them appropriate gifts, and is powerful by their labor in the hearts of men, 1 Cor. 3:5 and 12:6; Gal. 3:5.

8Now he that planteth and he that watereth 14are one: andg every man shall receive his own reward 15according to his own labour.

14 That is, labor in one and the same thing, and for one and the same end, namely, to spread abroad one and the same doctrine of the Gospel, and to edify the congregation of Christ, although with different gifts. For he speaks here yet of the office of faithful teachers, such as he and Apollos were.

g Psalm 62:13; Jer. 17:10; 32:19; Mat. 16:27; Rom. 2:6; 14:12; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:5; Rev. 2:23; 22:12.

15 Namely, according as he shall have acquitted himself well, and been diligent in this his office. Mat. 25:20, etc.

9For 16we are 17labourersh together with God: ye are 18God’s husbandry, ye are 19God’s building.i

16 Namely, who are the ministers of God’s Word.

17 Namely, who, under God, labor together on the building of the congregation as instruments which it has pleased God to make use of for this purpose, although the principal work comes from Him, and also the ability of those instruments comes even from Him, 2 Cor. 3:5, 6.

h 2 Cor. 6:1.

18 That is, ye, as members of the congregation of God, are they on whom this labor is bestowed, as it were on a great piece of husbandry.

19 Another similitude taken from a large edifice, whereof a great master has the management, and for which he employs his servants, which similitude he afterwards explains and appropriates more largely.

i Eph. 2:20; Col. 2:7; 1 Peter 2:5.

1020According to the grace of God which is given unto me, 21as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid 22the foundation, and 23another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed 24how he buildeth thereupon.

20 Namely, by which I am called to be an apostle of Christ, and with which He has thus far assisted and accompanied me in my ministry. By which he ascribes all that he is and does, not to himself, but to God.

21 That is, as becomes a right, prudent and faithful master builder.

22 Namely, in the establishment, together with the other apostles, of the congregation of Christ throughout the entire world; and I as the first who has erected your congregation; Rom. 15:20; Eph. 2:20; Rev. 21:14.

23 This he speaks of the ordinary ministers, who, after the apostles, were called and settled in the congregations which were founded, and went forward on the apostles’ work, Rom. 15:20.

24 Some understand this of the persons, who are built upon the foundation by the teachers, as the word work is so taken, 1 Cor. 9:1. But seeing the apostle here says, let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon, and not: whom he buildeth thereupon, this is commonly and more suitably understood that the apostle would here admonish the teachers, that they take heed what doctrine they propose upon the foundation which the apostles have laid, for the strengthening and enlarging of the congregations already founded.

11For other foundation can no man lay 25than that is laid,j26which is Jesus Christ.

25 Or, besides that. Namely, by me and the other apostles.

j Isa. 28:16; Mat. 16:18.

26Christ is called the foundation of the congregation, either in respect of Himself, upon Whom the salvation of the congregation depends, because He as true God and Man has procured salvation for us, and applies the same to us by His Spirit. Mat. 16:18; 1 Peter 2:6; or, in respect of the doctrine whereby we are directed and brought unto Him as the only Savior, and receive by faith in Him righteousness, holiness and eternal life. To this doctrine the apostle here has respect, and declares that, in the doctrine of the Gospel, we may not be directed to anyone else to find salvation, but to His person and merits. See John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Eph. 2:20.

12Now if any man build 27upon this foundation 28gold, silver, precious stones, 29wood, hay, stubble;

27 That is, on this doctrine of seeking salvation in Jesus Christ alone.

28 That is, edifying doctrines, not drawn from human wisdom, but from the right grounds of God’s Word. 2 Tim. 1:13.

29 Hereby are understood not some heresies or false doctrines which overthrow the foundation, whereby the congregation of Christ is deceived or rent, for such the Word of God condemns as works of the flesh which deprive men of salvation. Acts 20:30; Gal. 5:20; 1 Tim. 4:1, 2, 3, but some doctrines, errors or statutes of lesser weight, brought forth by human reason, which do not overthrow the foundation, or some curious and unnecessary disputes which do not edify, and the prancing manners of speaking outside the Word of God, which the apostle reproves everywhere in these four first chapters.

1330Every man’s 31work shall be made manifest: fork32the day shall 33declare it, because it shall be revealed 34by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.

30 Namely, teachers. For the apostle here speaks only of them and their work.

31 That is, doctrine which he holds forth.

k Isa. 8:20; 48:10; Jer. 23:29; 1 Peter 1:7; 4:12.

32 That is, time; or, the light of truth, Rom. 13:12, 13; Eph. 5:13; 2 Peter 1:19.

33 Namely, whether it be wood, hay, straw and stubble, or whether it be gold, silver, and precious stones.

34 By this fire here it cannot be understood the fire of purgatory, whereby after this life men would be purged or purified from their sins; forasmuch as by this fire whereof Paul speaks here, not only the work, which perishes or is burned, but also that which remains and is rewarded shall be tried; but it is to be understood either of the fire of the Holy Spirit, which by the light of God’s Word in time discovers in the congregation the firm labor and faithful doctrines of the teachers, and which discerns the unnecessary and curious doctrine and causes it to vanish, no different than gold is purified by fire from its impurities, Psalm 12:6; Jer. 23:29; or the fire of persecution, trouble and temptation, whereby the true doctrine is, as it were, tried, because it then gives us a firm consolation, which the other cannot do, James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6, 7.

14If any man’s work 35abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive 36a reward.

35 That is, his doctrine is judged firm and solid by God’s Word, 1 Thes. 5:21.

36 Namely, at the last day, of grace, and especially for this his work, Dan. 12:3; 1 Cor. 15:41, 42.

15If any man's work shall be 37burned, he shall suffer 38loss: but he himself 39shall be saved; yet so 40as by fire.

37 That is, if anyone’s doctrine, after by the examination from God’s Word, shall vanish and be esteemed vain.

38 Namely, of this his labor.

39 Namely, because in his doctrine he has still held fast the foundation.

40 That is, with difficulty, as when one saves himself out of the fire, leaving therein all what he has, Jude verse 23.

16Knowl ye not that 41ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

l 1 Cor. 6:19; 2 Cor. 6:16; Heb. 3:6; 1 Peter 2:5.

41 Namely, who believe in Christ, 1 Peter 2:5. See Eph. 2:21.

1742If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God 43destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

42 That is, if any man divide or rend the congregation of God by doctrines of human wisdom, or by special adhering to this or that teacher.

43 Gr. defile, that is, bring him to shame.

18Letm no man 44deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be 45wise in this world, 46let him become a fool, that he may be 47wise.

m Prov. 3:7; Isa. 5:21.

44 Or, tempt.

45 That is, endued with human wisdom.

46 Namely, according to the judgment of the worldly-wise, when he accounts the knowledge of Christ’s cross and humiliation for his highest wisdom, which the world accounts folly. See 1 Cor. 1:21, 22, 23, 24.

47 Namely, in God, and in the matters of his salvation.

19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, Hen48taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

n Job 5:13.

48 That is, He confounds their worldly and subtle consultations against God and against the upright, so that they perish themselves thereby.

20And again, Theo Lord knoweth the thoughts of the 49wise, 50that they are vain.

o Psalm 94:11.

49 That is, worldly-wise as before. The text in Psalm 94:11 has man, namely, who rely on his own wisdom.

50 That is, (they) employ in vain their wisdom against Gods wisdom.

21Therefore let no man 51glory in men. For all things are 52yours;

51 That is, let him not admire gape nor trust in any human wisdom.

52 That is, prepared and ordained by God unto the ministry of your salvation; even the most prominent among the teachers are not for themselves, but for the congregation. And therefore they must order all things not for their own honor, but for the honor of Christ and for your salvation.

22Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

23And ye 53are Christ’s; and Christ is 54God’s.

53 Namely, body or bride, as being your Head.

54 Namely, the Father’s wellbeloved Son, and Ambassador, to bring us to the eternal inheritance with Him. See 1 Cor. 11:3, and 15:27, 28.