No church in the New Testament is more like our modern churches than the Corinthian church.
1Corinthians 3:10-17 is frequently cited as one of the places that Scripture teaches believers will receive various rewards or crowns in heaven. The context indicates otherwise. Paul is issuing a warning to leaders in the church.
Paul explains how the Corinthians should view Apollos and himself – as fellow-servants of God. His explanation has far-reaching implications for the American church today.
1Corinthians 3:1-4 have been at the center of a theological debate over whether we can have victory of sin in our lives now. One side argues that Paul believes “carnal Christians” will be saved but not sanctified because they have not learned to appropriate the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The other side says there is no such thing as “carnal Christians.” I will attempt to you show you from context which side is right and which side is wrong.
Paul argues that the message he preaches is in fact wisdom because it is revelation from God. The gospel is not something we would figure out on our own.
Paul argues that when he was in Corinth he didn’t seek to impress them with flashy rhetoric and charisma, rather he taught them wisdom from God, so that their confidence would rest in the power of God.
As he discusses this issue of changing the gospel message to make it more attractive to the world, Paul says let’s consider what happened when I first preached the gospel in Corinth. Let’s consider your calling. What we can learn from it? Our boast is that we belong to God — not because we were smart enough to find Him; but because He was merciful enough to find us.
Paul argues that those who live in rebellion to God will see the cross as foolishness. There’s no way to spin the gospel to change that. If you re-package the gospel to make it attractive to rebels, it is no longer the gospel.
As part of the deeper issues of why factions are developing in the Corinthian church, Paul tells us he’s grateful that he baptized few people in Corinth. His discussion gives us a window into the place of baptism.
1Corinthians 1-4 are one of the best examples of why it’s necessary to study an entire letter rather than sets of verses here and there. We won’t accurately understand Paul unless we understand the situation into which he was writing.