Ephesians 4:4-6, One hope of your calling: Eternal Reward, 1Co 3:1-17, part 6.

Class Outline:

Sunday January 31,2021


1CO 3:1-5

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men? 4 For when one says, "I am of Paul," and another, "I am of Apollos," are you not mere men? 5 What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one.


The Lord gave “opportunity to each one,” but as he goes on to say, they work together in a corporate ministry.


Then Paul puts forth the image of the field and the fellow laborer (vv. 6-9).


Whether a minister is anything depends upon whether they play the subsidiary role assigned by God as agents to facilitate God’s work, not their own projects. The image is the people of God as a field and the agricultural laborers perform tasks that make for conditions of maximum growth, but they are not sources of growth.


1CO 3:6-9

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing [imperfect - continuous past, present, future] the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.


God alone causes growth in persons and churches; never the ministers who make for the conditions of growth.


It’s not that the ministers are unimportant. The calling upon their ministering is to create the optimum conditions for growth.


In contrast to the Corinthians placing each of their teachers in different categories and evaluating them, Paul says that they are one.


All of God’s ministers are one - all do the work of God’s will and purpose.


At the judgment seat of Christ, those who by faith and obedience lived the Christ-like life will discover that some of the work they did in their lifetime remained to have an established effect on the kingdom of God in terms of fruit of the Spirit, in accordance with their own labor.


Labor [Greek: kopos] is a favorite word of Paul to describe the effort and hardship which the Christian mission (the ministry of all believers) necessitates.


This emphasizes reward as internal to the idea of the work, meaning that the substance of the reward is within the work itself. We are rewarded with the fulfillment of what we are doing and the natural fruit that comes from completing that work. One image, helpful for understanding, is a musician who has slaved in many hours of practice for only the purpose of playing a piece well. He is rewarded with a hearing and understanding of the subtleties of his instrument as well the piece he has come to know so well. Someone who simply hears a recording of that same piece may enjoy it, but he will never experience what the musician does when he hears the same recording.


We all must become Christ’s scribes and become experts at one musical piece - the way of Christ.


MAT 13:52

"Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings forth out of his treasure things new and old."


We are all to be theologians, but not the kind that only remain academic - theologians who live and walk in all they know, and thus, they fully know (epignosis) the truth.


1CO 9:24-27

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.


PHI 3:14

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.


1CO 3:8-9

Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.


The Corinthians, and indeed the entire church, is God’s field and God’s building.


Next is the image of the building and the testing of the builder’s work. It is a corporate structure.


The image of a building applied to the church excludes individualism. It is not a single object but a corporate structure, a community.


Building up is a familiar image in the OT.


JER 1:9-10

Then the Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,


"Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.

10 "See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,

To pluck up and to break down,

To destroy and to overthrow,

To build and to plant."


Those who heard the prophet in faith grew and built. Those who rejected him would be plucked up (image of a dying plant no good for fruit) and broken down (image of a crumbling building).


Paul now expands the image of God’s building, 3:10-17.


1CO 3:10

According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.


“master builder” - architeĢkton = leading highly skilled worker.


Paul combines the thought of God’s undeserved sovereign generosity (grace) with the notion of honoring a master builder with a privileged commission to undertake a special task.


By grace God honored Paul with the position of ruling skilled worker at the task of building the church.


This position demanded faithfulness in Paul, and also included much sacrifice, heartache, and suffering.


2CO 6:10

as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.


1CO 4:1-2

Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.


1CO 9:16-18

For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily [I applied for the job], I have a reward; but if against my will [God called me to it], I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.


GAL 1:15-16

But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles


ACT 9:15-16

"Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; 16 for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name's sake."


The foundational work of Paul is the proclamation of Christ crucified.


1CO 2:1-2

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.


Paul’s foundation is entirely Christocentric.


The true doctrine of the death of Christ without the addition of various human opinions and evaluations is Paul’s laid foundation. It is entirely Christocentric.


1CO 3:10

According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.


Since the foundation that Paul laid is the work of Christ alone, those who pastor the church in the future do not have to tear up the foundation and start over. But the charge is that he must be careful how he builds upon it.


The chief reference that Paul draws on is the grave responsibility of those who labor for the building up of the church.


As for Paul’s own part in the work, the laying of the foundation, he says that was comparatively easy compared to the business of building. The foundation never changes. It is upon the cross of Christ that all Christian churches are built. A minister cannot make a mistake in creating a church when he knows that the foundation must be Christ.


Anyone who lays another foundation, it is not a Christian church, no matter what the sign reads.


Ministers of morality apart from Christ can do good work, but in governments or schools, not in the church.


The question, says Paul, is not what other institutions you may profitably found in the world, but how this institution of the church, already founded, is to be continued and completed.


And on this foundation, there are already (at the time of Paul writing this letter) those who are building on that foundation with questionable materials (false doctrines).


The theme of “taking care how he builds” is now expounded upon as the central motif of vv. 11-17 with a Christocentric frame.


1CO 3:11

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.


In the analogy of the field and the fellow laborers, it was God who gives the increase (3:7). Parallel in the analogy of the building is that the entire structure depends on Jesus Christ as the foundation.


And, like the analogy of the field, someone planted and watered, but they played a subservient part to God who caused the growth. So here, the building has need of the master builder and those who follow him to create an environment containing the circumstances conducive to building higher.


There is only one foundation. The Greek word, themelion, is connected with two Greek words, thithemi - to place; and lithos - a stone.


MAT 16:15-18

He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"  16 And Simon Peter answered and said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it.


“You are Petros, and upon this petra I will build my church.” Some think He means Himself as the rock, which is one of His titles, some think He means Peter who would be a pillar of the church, and some think He means what Peter said.


“Referring primarily to the Christological content of Peter’s confession as the foundation stone of the church.” [A. Thiselton, Commentary on 1Co]


No one can lay a foundation other than Christ Himself, His Person and work and call it a church. It is not a church if the work of Christ is not its foundation.