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Noon Day Bible Study
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Rev. Dr. Howard L. Woods, Jr.
Tuesday, June 14, 2022

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Demonstrate A Fully Obedient Faith 

Develop a Mature Faith

1 Corinthians 3:2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;

Paul had taught them only the elementary truths concerning Christ, which he speaks of as milk. They were not able to take solid food because of their immaturity.

In the same vein, the Lord Jesus said to His disciples, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12).

With regard to the Corinthians, the tragic thing was that they still had not improved sufficiently to receive deeper truth from the apostle.

1 Corinthians 3:3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

The believers were still in a carnal or fleshly state of soul. This was evidenced by the fact that there was envy and strife among them. Such behavior is characteristic of the men of this world, but not of those who are led by the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 3:4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? 

In forming parties around human leaders, such as Paul and Apollos, they were acting on a purely human level. That is what Paul means when he asks, “Are you not … behaving like mere men?”

Up to this point, the Apostle Paul has been showing the folly of exalting men by a consideration of the true nature of the gospel message. 

He now turns to the subject of the Christian ministry and shows from this standpoint also, it is sheer foolishness to exalt religious leaders by building parties around them.

1 Corinthians 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?

Apollos and Paul were servants (minister is Latin for “servant”) through whom the Corinthians had come to believe in the Lord Jesus. 

They were simply agents and not the heads of rival schools. 

How unwise then of the Corinthians to raise servants to the rank of master. Ironside quaintly comments at this point, “Imagine a household divided over servants!”

1 Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.

Using a figure from agriculture, Paul shows that the servant is after all very limited in what he can do. Paul himself could plant and Apollos could water, but only God could give the increase. So today, some of us can preach the word and all of us can pray for unsaved relatives and friends, but the actual work of salvation can only be done by the Lord.

1 Corinthians 3:7 So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

Looking at it from this point, we can readily see that the planter and the waterer are really not very important, relatively speaking. They have not the power in themselves to bring forth life. 

Why then should there be any envy or rivalry among Christian workers? Each should do the work that has been allotted to him, and rejoice when the Lord shows His hand in blessing.

1 Corinthians 3:8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

He who plants and he who waters are one in the sense that they both have the same object and aim. There should be no jealousy between them. 

As far as service is concerned, they are on the same level. In a coming day, each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. That day is the Judgment Seat of Christ. 

1 Corinthians 3:9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 

God is the One to whom all are responsible.

All His servants are fellow workers, laboring together in God’s tilled harvest field, or, to change the picture, working together on the same building

Erdman renders the thought as follows: “We are fellow-workers who belong to God and are working with one another.”

1 Corinthians 3:10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 

Continuing with the idea of building, the apostle first of all acknowledges that anything he has been able to accomplish has been due to the grace of God.

Then he goes on to describe his part in the beginning of this assembly at Corinth: “As a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation.” He came to Corinth preaching Christ and Him crucified. Souls were saved and a local church was planted. 

Then he adds: “And another builds on it.” By this, he doubtless refers to other teachers who subsequently visited Corinth and built on the foundation which had already been established there.

However, the apostle cautions: “But let each one take heed how he builds on it.” He means that it is a solemn thing to exercise a teaching ministry in the local church. 

Some had come to Corinth with divisive doctrines and with teachings contrary to the word of God. Paul was doubtless conscious of these teachers as he penned the words.

1 Corinthians 3:11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Only one foundation is required for a building. Once it is laid, it never needs to be repeated. The Apostle Paul had laid the foundation of the church at Corinth. That foundation was Jesus Christ, His Person and Work. What other foundations can be found?

1 Corinthians 3:12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,

Subsequent teaching in a local church may be of varying degrees of value. For instance, some teaching is of lasting worth, and might be likened to gold, silver, or precious stones.

Here precious stones probably do not refer to diamonds, rubies, or other gems but rather to the granite, marble, or alabaster used in the construction of costly temples.

On the other hand, teaching in the local church might be of passing value or of no value at all. Such teaching is likened to wood, hay, and straw.

This passage does not refer primarily to all believers but rather to preachers and teachers. What can we learn from this?

1 Corinthians 3:13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.

In a coming day, each one’s work will become clear. Day refers to the Judgment Seat of Christ when all service for the Lord will be reviewed. 

Macdonald, Farstad Grady Scott, Hindson, E. MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006).