3:1 And 1 I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto
spiritual, but as unto a carnal, [even] as unto babes in
(1) Having declared the worthiness of heavenly wisdom, and of
the Gospel, and having generally condemned the blindness of
man's mind, now at length he applies it particularly to the
Corinthians, calling them carnal, that is, those in whom
the flesh still prevails against the Spirit. And he brings
a twofold testimony of it: first, because he had proved them
to be such, in so much that he dealt with them as he would
with ignorant men, and those who are almost babes in the
doctrine of godliness, and second, because they showed
indeed by these dissensions, which sprang up by reason of
the ignorance of the power of the Spirit, and heavenly
wisdom, that they had profited very little or nothing.
(a) He calls them carnal, who are as yet ignorant, and
therefore to express it better, he calls them "babes".
3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with b meat: for
hitherto ye were not c able [to bear it], neither yet now
are ye able.
(b) Substantial meat, or strong meat.
(c) To be fed by me with substantial meat: therefore as the
Corinthians grew up in age, so the apostle nourished
them by teaching, first with milk, then with strong
meat. The difference was only in the manner of
3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas [there is] among you
envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and
walk as d men?
(d) Using the tools of man's intellect and judgment.
3:52 Who then is Paul, and who [is] Apollos, but ministers by
whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
(2) After he has sufficiently reprehended ambitious teachers,
and those who foolishly esteemed them, now he shows how the
true ministers are to be esteemed, that we do not attribute
to them more or less than we ought to do. Therefore he
teaches us that they are those by whom we are brought to
faith and salvation, but yet as the ministers of God, and
such as do nothing of themselves, but God so working by
them as it pleases him to furnish them with his gifts.
Therefore we do not have to regard or consider what
minister it is that speaks, but what is spoken: and we must
depend only upon him who speaks by his servants.
3:63 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the
(3) He beautifies the former sentence, with two similarities:
first comparing the company of the faithful to a field
which God makes fruitful, when it is sown and watered
through the labour of his servants. Second, be comparing
it to a house, which indeed the Lord builds, but by the
hands of his workmen, some of whom he uses in laying the
foundation, others in building it up. Now, both these
similarities are for this purpose, to show that all things
are wholly accomplished only by God's authority and might,
so that we must only have an eye to him. Moreover,
although God uses some in the better part of the work, we
must not therefore condemn others, in respect of them, and
much less may we divide or set them apart (as these
factious men did) seeing that all of them labour in God's
business. They work in such a way, that they serve to
finish the very same work, although by a different manner
of working, in so much that they all need one another's
3:9 For we are e labourers together with God: ye are God's
husbandry, [ye are] God's building.
(e) Serving under him: now they who serve under another do
nothing by their own strength, but as it is given them
of grace, which grace makes them fit for that service.
See (1Co 15:10, 2Co 3:6). All the increase that
comes by their labour proceeds from God in such a way
that no part of the praise of it may be given to the
3:10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a
wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another
buildeth thereon. 4 But let every man take heed how he
(4) Now he speaks to the teachers themselves, who succeeded him
in the church of Corinth, and in this regard to all that
were after or will be pastors of congregations, seeing that
they succeed into the labour of the apostles, who were
planters and chief builders. Therefore he warns them first
that they do not persuade themselves that they may build
after their own fantasy, that is, that they may propound
and set forth anything in the Church, either in matter, or
in type of teaching, different from the apostles who were
the chief builders.
3:115 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid,
which is Jesus Christ.
(5) Moreover, he shows what this foundation is, that is, Christ
Jesus, from whom they may not turn away in the least amount
in the building up of this building.
3:126 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver,
precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
(6) Thirdly he shows that they must take heed that the upper
part of the building is answerable to the foundation. That
is that admonitions, exhortations, and whatever pertains to
the edifying of the flock, is answerable to the doctrine of
Christ, in the matter as well as in form. This doctrine is
compared to gold, silver, and precious stones: of which
material Isaiah also and John in the Revelation build the
heavenly city. And to these are the opposites, wood, hay,
stubble, that is to say, curious and vain questions or
decrees: and to be short, all the type of teaching which
serves to vain show. For false doctrines, of which he does
not speak here, are not correctly said to be built upon
this foundation, unless perhaps in show only.
3:137 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day
shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and
the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
(7) He testifies, as indeed it truly is, that all are not good
builders, not even all of those who stand upon this one and
only foundation. However, this work of evil builders, he
says, stands for a season, yet it will not always deceive,
because the light of the truth appearing at length, as day,
will dissolve this darkness, and show what it is. And as
that stuff is tried by the fire, whether it is good or not,
so will God in his time, by the touch of his Spirit and
word, try all buildings, and so will it come to pass, that
those which are found pure and sound, will still continue
so, to the praise of the workmen. But they that are
otherwise will be consumed and vanish away, and so will
the workman be frustrated of the hope of his labour, who
pleased himself in a thing of nothing.
3:15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss:
but 8 he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
(8) He does not take away the hope of salvation from the
unskilful and foolish builders, who hold fast the
foundation, of which sort were those rhetoricians, rather
than the pastors of Corinth. However, he adds an
exception, that they must nonetheless suffer this trial of
their work, and also abide the loss of their vain labours.
3:169 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that]
the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
(9) Continuing still in the metaphor of building, he teaches us
that this ambition is not only vain, but also sacrilegious:
for he says that the Church is as it were the Temple of
God, which God has as it were consecrated to himself by his
Spirit. Then turning himself to these ambitious men, he
shows that they profane the Temple of God, because those
vain arts in which they please themselves so much are, as
he teaches, many pollutions of the holy doctrine of God,
and the purity of the Church. This wickedness will not
3:17 If any man f defile the temple of God, him shall God
destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which [temple] ye
(f) Defiles it and makes it unclean, being holy: and surely
they do defile it, by Paul's judgment, who by fleshly
eloquence defile the purity of the Gospel.
3:1810 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you
seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool,
that he may be wise.
(10) He concludes by the opposite, that they profess pure
wisdom in the Church of God, who refuse and cast away all
those vanities of men. Further, if they are mocked by the
world, it is sufficient for them that they are wise
according to the wisdom of God, and as he will have them
to be wise.
3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For
it is written, He g taketh the wise in their own
(g) Be they ever so crafty, yet the Lord will take them
when he will discover their treachery.
3:2111 Therefore let no man h glory in men. For all things
are i yours;
(11) He returns to the proposition of the second verse, first
warning the hearers, that from now on they do not esteem
as lords those whom God has appointed to be ministers and
not lords of their salvation. This is done by those that
depend upon men, and not upon God that speaks by them.
(h) Please himself.
(i) Helps, appointed for your benefit.
3:22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the 12 world, or
life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all
(12) He passes from the persons to the things themselves, that
his argument may be more forcible. Indeed, he ascends from
Christ to the Father, to show that we rest ourselves not
in Christ himself, in that he is man, but because he
carries us up even to the Father, as Christ witnesses of
himself everywhere that he was sent by his Father, that by
this band we may be all united with God himself.