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|New American Bible|
2002 11 11
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1 2 Brothers, I could not
talk to you as spiritual people, but as fleshly people, as infants in Christ.
I fed you milk, not solid food, because you
were unable to take it. Indeed, you are still not able, even now,
for you are still of the flesh. While there is
jealousy and rivalry among you, 3 are you not of the flesh,
and behaving in an ordinary human way?
Whenever someone says, "I belong to
Paul," and another, "I belong to Apollos," are you not merely
4 5 What is Apollos, after
all, and what is Paul? Ministers through whom you became believers, just as the
Lord assigned each one.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused the
Therefore, neither the one who plants nor the
one who waters is anything, but only God, who causes the growth.
The one who plants and the one who waters are
equal, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor.
For we are God's co-workers; you are God's
field, God's building.
6 According to the grace of God given to me,
like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon
it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it,
for no one can lay a foundation other than the one
that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.
If anyone builds on this foundation with gold,
silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw,
the work of each will come to light, for the
Day 7 will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and
the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one's work.
If the work stands that someone built upon the
foundation, that person will receive a wage.
But if someone's work is burned up, that one
will suffer loss; the person will be saved, 8 but only as
Do you not know that you are the temple of God,
and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?
If anyone destroys God's temple, God will
destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy. 9
Let no one deceive himself. If any one among
you considers himself wise in this age, let him become a fool so as to become
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in
the eyes of God, for it is written: "He catches the wise in their own
and again: "The Lord knows the thoughts of
the wise, that they are vain."
10 So let no one boast about human beings, for
everything belongs to you,
Paul or Apollos or Kephas, or the world or life
or death, or the present or the future: all belong to you,
and you to Christ, and Christ to God.
1 [1-4] The Corinthians desire a sort
of wisdom dialogue or colloquy with Paul; they are looking for solid, adult
food, and he appears to disappoint their expectations. Paul counters: if such a
dialogue has not yet taken place, the reason is that they are still at an
immature stage of development (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 2:6).
2  Spiritual people . . . fleshly
people: Paul employs two clusters of concepts and terms to distinguish what
later theology will call the "natural" and the
"supernatural." (1) The natural person (⇒ 1 Cor
2:14) is one whose existence, perceptions, and behavior are
determined by purely natural principles, the psyche (1 Cor 2,14) and the sarx
(flesh, a biblical term that connotes creatureliness, ⇒ 1 Cor
3:1, 3). Such persons are only infants
(⇒ 1 Cor 3:1); they remain on a purely human level
(anthropoi, ⇒ 1 Cor 3:4). (2) On the other hand,
they are called to be animated by a higher principle, the pneuma, God's spirit.
They are to become spiritual (pneumatikoi, ⇒ 1 Cor
3:1) and mature (⇒ 1 Cor 2:6) in their
perceptions and behavior (cf ⇒ Gal 5:16-26). The
culmination of existence in the Spirit is described in ⇒ 1
3 [3-4] Jealousy, rivalry, and
divisions in the community are symptoms of their arrested development; they
reveal the immaturity both of their self-understanding (⇒ 1
Cor 3:4) and of the judgments about their apostles
(⇒ 1 Cor 3:21).
[⇒ 3:5-⇒ 4:5] The Corinthians
tend to evaluate their leaders by the criteria of human wisdom and to
exaggerate their importance. Paul views the role of the apostles in the light
of his theology of spiritual gifts (cf 1 Cor 12-14, where the charism of the
apostle heads the lists). The essential aspects of all spiritual gifts
(⇒ 1 Cor 12:4-6 presents them as gifts of grace, as
services, and as modes of activity) are exemplified by the apostolate, which is
a gift of grace (⇒ 1 Cor 3:10) through which God
works (⇒ 1 Cor 3:9) and a form of service
(⇒ 1 Cor 3:5) for the common good (elsewhere
expressed by the verb "build up," suggested here by the image of the
building, ⇒ 1 Cor 3:9). The apostles serve the
church, but their accountability is to God and to Christ (⇒ 1
5  Ministers: for other
expressions of Paul's understanding of himself as minister or steward to the
church, cf ⇒ 1 Cor 4:1;
⇒ 9:17, ⇒ 19-27;
⇒ 2 Cor 3:6-9; ⇒ 4:1;
⇒ 5:18; ⇒ 6:3-4; and
⇒ 2 Cor 11:23 (the climax of Paul's defense).
6 [10-11] There are diverse functions
in the service of the community, but each individual's task is serious, and
each will stand accountable for the quality of his contribution.
7  The Day: the great day of
Yahweh, the day of judgment, which can be a time of either gloom or joy. Fire
both destroys and purifies.
8  Will be saved: although Paul
can envision very harsh divine punishment (cf ⇒ 1 Cor
3:17), he appears optimistic about the success of divine corrective
means both here and elsewhere (cf ⇒ 1 Cor 5:5;
⇒ 11:32 [discipline]). The text of
⇒ 1 Cor 3:15 has sometimes been used to support the
notion of purgatory, though it does not envisage this.
9  Holy: i.e., "belonging to
God." The cultic sanctity of the community is a fundamental theological
reality to which Paul frequently alludes (cf ⇒ 1 Cor
1:2, ⇒ 30;
⇒ 6:11; ⇒ 7:14).
10 [21-23] These verses pick up the
line of thought of ⇒ 1 Cor 1:10-13. If the
Corinthians were genuinely wise (⇒ 1 Cor 3:18-20),
their perceptions would be reversed, and they would see everything in the world
and all those with whom they exist in the church in their true relations with
one another. Paul assigns all the persons involved in the theological universe
a position on a scale: God, Christ, church members, church leaders. Read from
top to bottom, the scale expresses ownership; read from bottom to top, the
obligation to serve. This picture should be complemented by similar statements
such as those in ⇒ 1 Cor 8:6 and
⇒ 1 Cor 15:20-28.
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