13 February 2015

1 Corinthians 3:1-15

"Only God ... gives the growth" (v. 7)

Psalm: Psalm 107:17-32


The church in Corinth comprised of new Christians, Paul was aware of this and tempered his words and teaching accordingly (v. 2). Despite his role as an evangelist and proclaimer of the good news of Jesus Christ, he was (first and foremost) the founder and pastor of the church in that city. Today's passage shows his care and devotion to its members.

It is no great surprise that the new Christians would have had a loyalty to the person through whom they came to believe (verse 5): this is human nature (verse 4). Paul has already mentioned Apollos (1 Corinthians 1:12), whom he considers considers to be his colleague (verse 9). What grieves Paul, however, is that their loyalty to these people appears greater than their loyalty to God (1 Corinthians 1:12-17).

Rather than criticise the Corinthians again (as he did in chapter 1), Paul takes a softer approach and encourages the Corinthians to reflect on their spiritual formation. He uses the two images of a gardener and a builder to try and get his message across. Is Paul perhaps alluding to the parable of the two housebuilders in Matthew's Gospel (Matthew 7:24-27) or drawing upon Jesus' words in John 15 about the vine and the vinegrower?

The message is the same - Paul and Apollos are agents in a process, but it is "God who gives the growth" (v. 7) or Jesus who is the foundation (verse 11).

To Ponder

  • Who has helped form your faith? Give thanks to God for them.
  • As you nurture people in faith, either formally or by mutual support, how can you ensure that the focus is God and not yourself?
  • How would you describe the foundation of your faith?

Bible notes author

Ken Kingston

Ken Kingston worked in the Connexional Team for over 25 years in a variety of roles and has been involved in 'Called by Name', 'Time to Talk of God' and 'Talking of God Together'. From September 2018 he will be a probationer presbyter in Harrow and Hillingdon Circuit.

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