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  • JAMIESON-FAUSSET-BROWN - 1CORINTHIANS 3
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    CHAPTER 3

    1Co 3:1-23. PAUL COULD NOT SPEAK TO THEM OF DEEP SPIRITUAL TRUTHS, AS THEY WERE CARNAL, CONTENDING FOR THEIR SEVERAL TEACHERS; THESE ARE NOTHING BUT WORKERS FOR GOD, TO WHOM THEY MUST GIVE ACCOUNT IN THE DAY OF FIERY JUDGMENT. THE HEARERS ARE GOD'S TEMPLE, WHICH THEY MUST NOT DEFILE BY CONTENTIONS FOR TEACHERS, WHO, AS WELL AS ALL THINGS, ARE THEIRS, BEING CHRIST'S.

    1. And I--that is, as the natural (animal) man cannot receive, so I also could not speak unto you the deep things of God, as I would to the spiritual; but I was compelled to speak to you as I would to MEN OF FLESH. The oldest manuscripts read this for "carnal." The former (literally, "fleshy") implies men wholly of flesh, or natural. Carnal, or fleshly, implies not they were wholly natural or unregenerate (1Co 2:14), but that they had much of a carnal tendency; for example their divisions. Paul had to speak to them as he would to men wholly natural, inasmuch as they are still carnal (1Co 3:3) in many respects, notwithstanding their conversion (1Co 1:4-9).
    - babes--contrasted with the perfect (fully matured) in Christ (Col 1:28; compare Heb 5:13, 14). This implies they were not men wholly of flesh, though carnal in tendencies. They had life in Christ, but it was weak. He blames them for being still in a degree (not altogether, compare 1Co 1:5, 7; therefore he says as) babes in Christ, when by this time they ought to have "come unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" (Eph 4:13). In Ro 7:14, also the oldest manuscripts read, "I am a man of flesh."

    2. (Heb 5:12).
    - milk--the elementary "principles of the doctrine of Christ."

    3. envying--jealousy, rivalry. As this refers to their feelings, "strife" refers to their words, and "divisions" to their actions [BENGEL]. There is a gradation, or ascending climax: envying had produced strife, and strife divisions (factious parties) [GROTIUS]. His language becomes severer now as He proceeds; in 1Co 1:11 he had only said "contentions," he now multiplies the words (compare the stronger term, 1Co 4:6, than in 1Co 3:21).
    - carnal--For "strife" is a "work of the flesh" (Ga 5:20). The "flesh" includes all feelings that aim not at the glory of God, and the good of our neighbor, but at gratifying self.
    - walk as men--as unregenerate men (compare Mt 16:23). "After the flesh, not after the Spirit" of God, as becomes you as regenerate by the Spirit (Ro 8:4; Ga 5:25, 26).

    4. (1Co 1:12).
    - are ye not carnal--The oldest manuscripts read, "Are ye not men?" that is, "walking as men" unregenerate (1Co 3:3).

    5. Who then--Seeing then that ye severally strive so for your favorite teachers, "Who is (of what intrinsic power and dignity) Paul?" If so great an apostle reasons so of himself, how much more does humility, rather than self-seeking, become ordinary ministers!
    - Paul . . . Apollos--The oldest manuscripts read in the reverse order, "Apollos," &c. Paul." He puts Apollos before himself in humility.
    - but ministers, &c.--The oldest manuscripts have no "but." "Who is Apollos . . . Paul? (mere) ministers (a lowly word appropriate here, servants), by whom (not "in whom"; by whose ministrations) ye believed."
    - as . . . Lord gave to every man--that is, to the several hearers, for it was GOD that "gave the increase" (1Co 3:6).

    6. I . . . planted, Apollos watered-- (Ac 18:1; 19:1). Apollos at his own desire (Ac 18:27) was sent by the brethren to Corinth, and there followed up the work which Paul had begun.
    - God gave the increase--that is, the growth (1Co 3:10; Ac 18:27). "Believed through grace." Though ministers are nothing, and God all in all, yet God works by instruments, and promises the Holy Spirit in the faithful use of means. This is the dispensation of the Spirit, and ours is the ministry of the Spirit.

    7. neither is he that . . . anything . . . but God--namely, is all in all. "God" is emphatically last in the Greek, "He that giveth the increase (namely), GOD." Here follows a parenthesis, 1Co 3:8-21, where "Let no man glory in men" stands in antithetic contrast to "God" here.

    8. one--essentially in their aim they are one, engaged in one and the same ministry; therefore they ought not to be made by you the occasion of forming separate parties.
    - and every man--rather "but every man." Though in their service or ministry, they are essentially "one," yet every minister is separately responsible in "his own" work, and "shall receive his own (emphatically repeated) reward, according to his own labor." The reward is something over and above personal salvation (1Co 3:14, 15; 2Jo 8). He shall be rewarded according to, not his success or the amount of work done, but "according to his own labor." It shall be said to him, "Well done, thou good and (not successful, but) faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Mt 25:23).

    9. Translate, as the Greek collocation of words, and the emphasis on "God" thrice repeated, requires, "For (in proof that "each shall receive reward according to his own labor," namely, from God) it is of God that we are the fellow workers (laboring with, but under, and belonging to Him as His servants, 2Co 5:20; 6:1; compare Ac 15:4; see on 1Th 3:2) of God that ye are the field (or tillage), of God that ye are the building" [ALFORD]. "Building" is a new image introduced here, as suited better than that of husbandry, to set forth the different kinds of teaching and their results, which he is now about to discuss. "To edify" or "build up" the Church of Christ is similarly used (Eph 2:21, 22; 4:29).

    10. grace . . . given unto me--Paul puts this first, to guard against seeming to want humility, in pronouncing himself "a WISE master builder," in the clause following [CHRYSOSTOM]. The "grace" is that "given" to him in common with all Christians (1Co 3:5), only proportioned to the work which God had for him to do [ALFORD].
    - wise--that is, skilful. His skill is shown in his laying a foundation. The unskilful builder lays none (Lu 6:49). Christ is the foundation (1Co 3:11).
    - another--who ever comes after me. He does not name Apollos; for he speaks generally of all successors, whoever they be. His warning, "Let every man (every teacher) take heed how," &c., refers to other successors rather than Apollos, who doubtless did not, as they, build wood, hay, &c., on the foundation (compare 1Co 4:15). "I have done my part, let them who follow me see (so the Greek for 'take heed') to theirs" [BENGEL].
    - how--with what material [ALFORD]. How far wisely, and in builder-like style (1Pe 4:11).
    - buildeth thereupon--Here the building or superstructure raised on Christ the "foundation," laid by Paul (1Co 2:2) is not, as in Eph 2:20, 21, the Christian Church made up of believers, the "lively stones" (1Pe 2:5), but the doctrinal and practical teaching which the teachers who succeeded Paul, superadded to his first teaching; not that they taught what was false, but their teaching was subtle and speculative reasoning, rather than solid and simple truth.

    11. (Isa 28:16; Ac 4:12; Eph 2:20).
    - For--my warning ("take heed," &c. 1Co 3:10) is as to the superstructure ("buildeth thereupon"), not as to the foundation: "For other foundation can no man lay, than that which has (already) been laid (by God) Jesus Christ," the person, not the mere abstract doctrine about Him, though the latter also is included; Jesus, GOD-SAVIOUR; Christ, MESSIAH or ANOINTED.
    - can--A man can not lay any other, since the only one recognized by God has been already laid.

    12. Now--rather, "But." The image is that of a building on a solid foundation, and partly composed of durable and precious, partly of perishable, materials. The "gold, silver, precious stones," which all can withstand fire (Re 21:18, 19), are teachings that will stand the fiery test of judgment; "wood, hay, stubble," are those which cannot stand it; not positive heresy, for that would destroy the foundation, but teaching mixed up with human philosophy and Judaism, curious rather than useful. Besides the teachings, the superstructure represents also the persons cemented to the Church by them, the reality of whose conversion, through the teachers' instrumentality, will be tested at the last day. Where there is the least grain of real gold of faith, it shall never be lost (1Pe 1:7; compare 1Co 4:12). On the other hand, the lightest straw feeds the fire [BENGEL] (Mt 5:19).

    13. Every man's work--each teacher's superstructure on the foundation.
    - the day--of the Lord (1Co 1:8; Heb 10:25; 1Th 5:4). The article is emphatic, "The day," that is, the great day of days, the long expected day.
    - declare it--old English for "make it clear" (1Co 4:4).
    - it shall be revealed by fire--it, that is, "every man's work." Rather, "He," the Lord, whose day it is (2Th 1:7, 8). Translate literally, "is being revealed (the present in the Greek implies the certainty and nearness of the event, Re 22:10, 20) in fire" (Mal 3:3; 4:1). The fire (probably figurative here, as the gold, hay, &c.) is not purgatory (as Rome teaches, that is, purificatory and punitive), but probatory, not restricted to those dying in "venial sin"; the supposed intermediate class between those entering heaven at once, and those dying in mortal sin who go to hell, but universal, testing the godly and ungodly alike (2Co 5:10; compare Mr 9:49). This fire is not till the last day, the supposed fire of purgatory begins at death. The fire of Paul is to try the works, the fire of purgatory the persons, of men. Paul's fire causes "loss" to the sufferers; Rome's purgatory, great gain, namely, heaven at last to those purged by it, if only it were true. Thus this passage, quoted by Rome for, is altogether against, purgatory. "It was not this doctrine that gave rise to prayers for the dead; but the practice of praying for the dead [which crept in from the affectionate but mistaken solicitude of survivors] gave rise to the doctrine" [WHATELY].

    14. abide--abide the testing fire (Mt 3:11, 12).
    - which he hath built thereupon--which he built on the foundation.
    - reward--wages, as a builder, that is, teacher. His converts built on Christ the foundation, through his faithful teaching, shall be his "crown of rejoicing" (2Co 1:14; Php 2:16; 1Th 2:19).

    15. If . . . be burnt--if any teacher's work consist of such materials as the fire will destroy [ALFORD].
    - suffer loss--that is, forfeit the special "reward"; not that he shall lose GOTO NEXT CHAPTER - D. J-F-B INDEX & SEARCH

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