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1 Corinthians 3

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Immaturity and Self-deception

3:1 So, brothers and sisters, 1  I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but instead as people of the flesh, 2  as infants in Christ. 3:2 I fed you milk, 3  not solid food, for you were not yet ready. In fact, you are still not ready, 3:3 for you are still influenced by the flesh. 4  For since there is still jealousy and dissension among you, are you not influenced by the flesh and behaving like unregenerate people? 5  3:4 For whenever someone says, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” are you not merely human? 6 

3:5 What is Apollos, really? Or what is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, and each of us in the ministry the Lord gave us. 7  3:6 I planted, 8  Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow. 3:7 So neither the one who plants counts for anything, 9  nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth. 3:8 The one who plants and the one who waters work as one, 10  but each will receive his reward according to his work. 3:9 We are coworkers belonging to God. 11  You are God’s field, God’s building. 3:10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master-builder I laid a foundation, but someone else builds on it. And each one must be careful how he builds. 3:11 For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ. 3:12 If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 12  3:13 each builder’s 13  work will be plainly seen, for the Day 14  will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire 15  will test what kind of work each has done. 3:14 If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. 3:15 If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. 16  He himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple 17  and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 3:17 If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are.

3:18 Guard against self-deception, each of you. 18  If someone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become foolish so that he can become wise. 3:19 For the wisdom of this age is foolishness with God. As it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness.” 19  3:20 And again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” 20  3:21 So then, no more boasting about mere mortals! 21  For everything belongs to you, 3:22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future. Everything belongs to you, 3:23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

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1 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10.

2 tn Grk “fleshly [people]”; the Greek term here is σαρκινός (BDAG 914 s.v. 1).

3 sn Milk refers figuratively to basic or elementary Christian teaching. Paul’s point was that the Corinthian believers he was writing to here were not mature enough to receive more advanced teaching. This was not a problem at the time, when they were recent converts, but the problem now is that they are still not ready.

4 tn Or “are still merely human”; Grk “fleshly.” Cf. BDAG 914 s.v. σαρκικός 2, “pert. to being human at a disappointing level of behavior or characteristics, (merely) human.” The same phrase occurs again later in this verse.

5 tn Grk “and walking in accordance with man,” i.e., living like (fallen) humanity without the Spirit’s influence; hence, “unregenerate people.”

6 tn Grk “are you not men,” i.e., (fallen) humanity without the Spirit’s influence. Here Paul does not say “walking in accordance with” as in the previous verse; he actually states the Corinthians are this. However, this is almost certainly rhetorical hyperbole.

7 tn Grk “and to each as the Lord gave.”

8 sn The expression I planted is generally taken to mean that Paul founded the church at Corinth. Later Apollos had a significant ministry there (watered). See also v. 10.

9 tn Grk “is anything.”

10 tn Grk “are one.” The purpose of this phrase is to portray unified action on the part of ministers underneath God’s sovereign control. Although they are in fact individuals, they are used by God with a single purpose to accomplish his will in facilitating growth. This emphasis is brought out in the translation “work as one.”

11 tn Although 1 Cor 3:9 is frequently understood to mean, “we are coworkers with God,” such a view assumes that the genitive θεοῦ (qeou) is associative because of its relationship to συνεργοί (sunergoi). However, not only is a genitive of association not required by the syntax (cf. ExSyn 130), but the context is decidedly against it: Paul and Apollos are insignificant compared to the God whom they serve (vv. 5-8).

12 sn The various materials described here, both valuable (gold, silver, precious stones) and worthless (wood, hay, or straw) refer to the quality of work built on the foundation, or possibly to the motivation of those doing the building. The materials themselves have been understood (1) as deeds or (2) as people (since ultimately the passage is addressing those who minister to others).

13 tn Grk “each one’s.” Here “builder’s” is employed in the translation for clarity.

14 tn In an attempt to clarify the referent, some translations add “of Christ” after “Day” (so TEV); others specify this as “judgment day” (NLT) or “the day of judgment” (CEV).

sn The Day refers to the Day of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1:8; 5:5) when each Christian worker will appear before Christ for evaluation of his ministry. Paul’s constant motivation was to be pleasing to the Lord in that day (2 Cor 5:9-10) and receive his commendation (1 Cor 4:5).

15 tcαὐτό (auto) is found at this point in v. 13 in a number of significant witnesses, including A B C P 33 1739 al. But Ì46 א D Ψ 0289 1881 Ï latt lack it. The pronoun could be a motivated reading, designed to intensify Paul’s statement. On the other hand, it could have been deleted because the article alone made the reference already clear. In this instance, the possibility of scribal addition seems more likely than scribal deletion, although a decision is difficult. NA27 includes the word in brackets, indicating doubt as to its authenticity.

sn It is unclear whether the phrase it will be revealed by fire describes the Day (subject of the previous clause) or each one’s work (subject of the clause before that).

16 tn The translation “[will] be punished” is given here by BDAG 428 s.v. ζημιόω 2. But the next clause says “he will be delivered” and so “suffering loss” is more likely to refer to the destruction of the “work” by fire or the loss of the reward that could have been gained.

17 sn You are God’s temple refers here to the church, since the pronoun you is plural in the Greek text. (In 6:19 the same imagery is used in a different context to refer to the individual believer.)

18 tn Grk “let no one deceive himself.”

19 sn A quotation from Job 5:13.

20 sn A quotation from Ps 94:11.

21 tn Grk “so then, let no one boast in men.”



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