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1 Corinthians 3:23

King James Version (KJV)
Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

And ye are Christ's - You are called by his name; you have embraced his doctrine; you depend on him for your salvation; he is your foundation stone; he has gathered you out of the world, and acknowledges you as his people and followers. Ὑμεις δε Χριστου, ye are of Christ; all the light and life which ye enjoy ye have received through and from him, and he has bought you with his blood.

And Christ is God's - Χριστος δε Θεου, And Christ is of God. Christ, the Messiah, is the gift of God's eternal love and mercy to mankind; for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that they who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Christ in his human nature is as much the property of God as any other human being. And as mediator between God and man, he must be considered, in a certain way, inferior to God, but in his own essential, eternal nature, there is no inequality - he is God over all. Ye, therefore, do not belong to men. Why then take Paul, Apollos, Kephas, or any other man for your head? All these are your servants; ye are not their property, ye are Christ's property: and as he has taken the human nature into heaven, so will he take yours; because he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified are all of one: ye are his brethren; and as his human nature is eternally safe at the throne of God, so shall your bodies and souls be, if ye cleave to him and be faithful unto death.

  1. A Finer and more conclusive argument, to correct what was wrong among this people, could not have been used than that with which the apostle closes this chapter. It appears to stand thus: "If you continue in these divisions, and arrange yourselves under different teachers, you will meet with nothing but disappointment, and lose much good. If ye will have Paul, Apollos, etc., on your present plan, you will have them and nothing else; nor can they do you any good, for they are only instruments in God's hand, at best, to communicate good, and he will not use them to help you while you act in this unchristian way. On the contrary, if you take God as your portion, you shall get these and every good besides. Act as you now do, and you get nothing and lose all! Act as I advise you to do, and you shall not only lose nothing of the good which you now possess, but shall have every possible advantage: the men whom you now wish to make your heads, and who, in that capacity, cannot profit you, shall become God's instruments of doing you endless good. Leave your dissensions, by which you offend God, and grieve his Christ; and then God, and Christ, and all will be yours." How agitated, convinced, and humbled must they have been when they read the masterly conclusion of this chapter!
  • A want of spirituality seems to have been the grand fault of the Corinthians. They regarded outward things chiefly, and were carried away with sound and show. They lost the Treasure while they eagerly held fast the earthen vessel that contained it. It is a true saying, that he who lends only the ear of his body to the word of God, will follow that man most who pleases the ear; and these are the persons who generally profit the soul least.
  • All the ministers of God should consider themselves as jointly employed by Christ for the salvation of mankind. It is their interest to serve God and be faithful to his calling; but shall they dare to make his Church their interest. This is generally the origin of religious disputes and schisms. Men will have the Church of Christ for their own property, and Jesus Christ will not trust it with any man.
  • Every man employed in the work of God should take that part only upon himself that God has assigned him. The Church and the soul, says pious Quesnel, are a building, of which God is the master and chief architect; Jesus Christ the main foundation; the Apostles the subordinate architects; the Bishops the workmen; the Priests their helpers; Good Works the main body of the building; Faith a sort of second foundation; and Charity the top and perfection. Happy is that man who is a living stone in this building.
  • He who expects any good out of God is confounded and disappointed in all things. God alone can content, as he alone can satisfy the soul. All our restlessness and uneasiness are only proofs that we are endeavoring to live without God in the world. A contented mind is a continual feast; but none can have such a mind who has not taken God for his portion. How is it that Christians are continually forgetting this most plain and obvious truth, and yet wonder how it is that they cannot attain true peace of mind?
  • Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible

    And ye are Christ‘s - You belong to him; and should not, therefore, feel that you are devoted to any earthly leader, whether Paul, Apollos, or Peter. As you belong to Christ by redemption, and by solemn dedication to his service, so you should feel that you are his alone. You are his property - his people - his friends. You should regard yourselves as such, and feel that you all belong to the same family, and should not, therefore, be split up into contending factions and parties.

    Christ is God‘s - Christ is the Mediator between God and man. He came to do the will of God. He was and is still devoted to the service of his Father. God has a proprietorship in all that he does, since Christ lived, and acted, and reigns to promote the glory of his Father. The argument here seems to be this, “You belong to Christ; and he to God. You are bound therefore, not to devote yourselves to a man, whoever he may be, but to Christ, and to the service of that one true God, in whose service even Christ was employed. And as Christ sought to promote the glory of his Father, so should you in all things.” This implies no inferiority of nature of Christ to God. It means only that he was employed in the service of his Father, and sought his glory - a doctrine everywhere taught in the New Testament. But this does not imply that he was inferior in his nature. A son may be employed in the service of his father, and may seek to advance his father‘s interests. But this does not prove that the son is inferior in nature to his father. It proves only that he is inferior in some respects - in office. So the Son of God consented to take an inferior office or rank; to become a mediator, to assume the form of a servant, and to be a man of sorrows; but this proves nothing in regard to his original rank or dignity. That is to be learned from the numerous passages which affirm that in nature he was equal with God. See the note at John 1:1.

    Remarks On 1 Corinthians 3:1. They are in a new world. They just open their eyes on truth. They see new objects; and have new objects of attachment. They are feeble, weak, helpless. And though they often have high joy, and even great self-confidence, yet they are in themselves ignorant and weak, and in need of constant teaching. Christians should not only possess the spirit, but they should feel that they are like children. They are like them not only in their temper, but in their ignorance, and weakness, and helplessness.

    2. The instructions which are imparted to Christians should be adapted to their capacity, 1 Corinthians 3:2. Skill and care should be exercised to adapt that instruction to the needs of tender consciences, and to those who are feeble in the faith. It would be no more absurd to furnish strong food to the new born babe than it is to present some of the higher doctrines of religion to the tender minds of converts. The elements of knowledge must be first learned; the tenderest and most delicate food must first nourish the body - And perhaps in nothing is there more frequent error than in presenting the higher, and more difficult doctrines of Christianity to young converts, and because they have a difficulty in regard to them, or because they even reject them, pronouncing them destitute of piety. Is the infant destitute of life because it cannot digest the solid food which nourishes the man of fifty years? Paul adapted his instructions to the delicacy and feebleness of infant piety; and those who are like Paul will feed with great care the lambs of the flock. All young converts should be placed under a course of instruction adapted to their condition, and should secure the careful attention of the ministers of the churches.

    3. Strife and contention in the church is proof that people are under the influence of carnal feelings. No matter what is the cause of the contention, the very fact of the existence of such strife is a proof of the existence of such feelings somewhere, 1 Corinthians 3:3-4. On what side soever the original fault of the contention may be, yet its existence in the church is always proof that some - if not all - of those who are engaged in it are under the influence of carnal feelings. Christ‘s kingdom is designed to be a kingdom of peace and love; and divisions and contentions are always attended with evils, and with injury to the spirit of true religion.

    4. We have here a rebuke to that spirit which has produced the existence of sects and parties, 1 Corinthians 3:4. The practice of naming sects after certain people, we see, began early, and was as early rebuked by apostolic authority. Would not the same apostolic authority rebuke the spirit which now calls one division of the church after the name of Calvin, another after the name of Luther, another after the name of Arminius! Should not, and will not all these divisions yet be merged in the high and holy name of Christian? Our Saviour evidently supposed it possible that his church should be one John 17:21-23; and Paul certainly supposed that the church at Corinth might be so united. So the early churches were; and is it too much to hope that some way may yet be discovered which shall break down the divisions into sects, and unite Christians both in feeling and in name in spreading the gospel of the Redeemer everywhere? Does not every Christian sincerely desire it? And may there not yet await the church such a union as shall concentrate all its energies in saving the world? How much effort, how much talent, how much wealth and learning are now wasted in contending with other denominations of the great Christian family! How much would this wasted - and worse than wasted wealth, and learning, and talent, and zeal do in diffusing the gospel around the world! Whose heart is not sickened at these contentions and strifes; and whose soul will not breathe forth a pure desire to Heaven that the time may soon come when all these contentions shall die away, and when the voice of strife shall be hushed; and when the united host of God‘s elect shall go forth to subdue the world to the gospel of the Saviour?

    5. The proper honor should be paid to the ministers of the gospel 1 Corinthians 3:5-7. They should not be put in the place of God; nor should their services, however important, prevent the supreme recognition of God in the conversion of souls. God is to be all and in all - It is proper that the ministers of religion should be treated with respect 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; and ministers have a right to expect and to desire the affectionate regards of those who are blessed by their instrumentality. But Paul - eminent and successful as he was - would do nothing that would diminish or obscure the singleness of view with which the agency of God should be regarded in the work of salvation. He regarded himself as nothing compared with God; and his highest desire was that God in all things might be honored.

    6. God is the source of all good influence, and of all that is holy in the church. Its only gives the increase. Whatever of humility, faith, love, joy, peace, or purity we may have, is all to be traced to him. No matter who plants, or who waters, God gives life to the seed; God rears the stalk; God expands the leaf; God opens the flower and gives it its fragrance; and God forms, preserves, and ripens the fruit. So in religion. No matter who the minister may be; no matter how faithful, learned, pious, or devoted, yet if any success attends his labors, it is all to be traced to God. This truth is never to be forgotten; nor should any talents, or zeal, however great, ever be allowed to dim or obscure its lustre in the minds of those who are converted.

    7. Ministers are on a level, 1 Corinthians 3:8-9. Whatever may be their qualifications or their success, yet they can claim no pre-eminence over one another. They are fellow laborers - engaged in one work, accomplishing the same object, though they may be in different parts of the same field. The man who plants is as necessary as he that waters; and both are inferior to God, and neither could do anything without him.

    8. Christians should regard themselves as a holy people, 1 Corinthians 3:9. They are the cultivation of God. All that they have is from him. His own agency has been employed in their conversion; his own Spirit operates to sanctify and save them. Whatever they have is to be traced to God; and they should remember that they are, therefore, consecrated to him.

    9. No other foundation can be laid in the church except that of Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11. Unless a church is founded on the true doctrine respecting the Messiah, it is a false church, and should not be recognized as belonging to him. There can be no other foundation, either for an individual sinner, or for a church. How important then to inquire whether we are building our hopes for eternity on this tried foundation! How faithfully should we examine this subject lest our hopes should all be swept away in the storms of divine wrath! Matthew 7:27-28. How deep and awful will be the disappointment of those who suppose they have been building on the true foundation, and who find in the great Day of Judgment that all has been delusion!

    10. We are to be tried at the Day of Judgment, 1 Corinthians 3:13-14. All are to be arraigned, not only in regard to the foundation of our hopes for eternal life, but in regard to the superstructure, the nature of our opinions and practices in religion. Everything shall come into judgment.

    11. The trial will be such as to test our character. All the trials through which we are to pass are designed to do this. Affliction, temptation, sickness, death, are all intended to produce this result, and all have a tendency to this end. But, pre-eminently is this the case with regard to the trial at the great Day of Judgment. Amidst the light of the burning world, and the terrors of the Judgment; under the blazing throne, and the eye of God, every man‘s character shall be seen, and a just judgment shall be pronounced.

    12. The trial shall remove all that is impure in Christians, 1 Corinthians 3:14. They shall then see the truth; and in that world of truth, all that was erroneous in their opinions shall be corrected. They shall be in a world where fanaticism cannot be mistaken for the love of truth, and where enthusiasm cannot be substituted for zeal. All true and real piety shall there abide; all which is false and erroneous shall be removed.

    13. What a change will then take place in regard to Christians. all probably cherish some opinions which are unsound; all indulge in some things now supposed to be piety, which will not then bear the test. The great change will then take place from impurity to purity; from imperfection to perfection. The very passage from this world to heaven will secure this change; and what a vast revolution will it be thus to be ushered into a world where all shall be pure in sentiment; all perfect in love.

    14. Many Christians may be much disappointed in that Day. Many who are now zealous for doctrines, and who pursue with vindictive spirit others who differ from them, shall then “suffer loss,” and find that the persecuted had more real love of truth than the persecutor. Many who are now filled with zeal, and who denounce the comparatively leaden and tardy pace of others; many whose bosoms glow with rapturous feeling, and burn, as they suppose, with a seraph‘s love, shall find that all this was not piety - that animal feeling was mistaken for the love of God; and that a zeal for sect, or for the triumph of a party, was mistaken for love to the Saviour; and that the kindlings of an ardent imagination had been often substituted for the elevated emotions of pure and disinterested love.

    15. Christians, teachers, and people should examine themselves, and see what is the building which they are rearing on the true foundation. Even where the foundation of a building is laid broad and deep, it is of much importance whether a stately and magnificent palace shall he reared on it, suited to the nature of the foundation, or whether a mud-walled and a thatched cottage shall be all. Between the foundation and the edifice in the one case there is the beauty of proportion and fitness; in the other there is incongruity and unfitness. Who would lay such a deep and broad foundation as the basis upon which to raise the hut of the savage or the mud cottage of the Hindu? So in religion. The foundation to all who truly believe in the Lord Jesus is broad, deep, firm, magnificent. But the superstructure - the piety, the advancement in knowledge, the life, is often like the cottage that is reared on the firm basis - that every wind shakes, and that the fire would soon consume. As the basis of the Christian hope is firm, so should the superstructure be large, magnificent, and grand,

    16. Christians are to regard themselves as holy and pure, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. They are the temple of the Lord - the dwelling place of the Spirit. A temple is sacred and inviolable. So should Christians regard themselves. They are dedicated to God. He dwells among them. And they should deem themselves holy and pure; and should preserve their minds from impure thoughts, from unholy purposes, from selfish and sensual desires. They should be in all respects such as will be the fit abode for the Holy Spirit of God. How pure should people be in whom the Holy Spirit dwells! How single should be their aims! How constant their self-denials! How single their desire to devote all to his service, and to live always to his glory! How heavenly should they be in their feelings; and how should pride, sensuality:. vanity, ambition, covetousness, and the love of gaiety, be banished from their bosoms! Assuredly in God‘s world there should be one place where he will delight to dwell - one place that shall remind of heaven, and that place should be the church which has been purchased with the purest blood of the universe.

    17. We see what is necessary if a man would become a Christian, 1 Corinthians 3:18. He must be willing to be esteemed a feel; to be despised; to have his name cast out as evil; and to be regarded as even under delusion and deception. Whatever may be his rank, or his reputation for wisdom, and talent, and learning, he must be willing to be regarded as a fool by his former associates and companions; to cast off all reliance on his own wisdom; and to be associated with the poor, the persecuted, and the despised followers of Jesus. Christianity knows no distinctions of wealth, talent, learning. It points out no royal road to heaven. It describes but one way; and whatever contempt an effort to be saved may involve us in, it requires us to submit to that, and even to rejoice that our names are cast out as evil.

    18. This is a point on which people should be especially careful that they are not deceived, 1 Corinthians 3:18. There is nothing on which they are more likely to be than this. It is not an easy thing for a proud man to humble himself; it is not easy for people who boast of their wisdom to be willing that their names should be cast out as evil. And there is great danger of a man‘s flattering himself that he is willing to be a Christian, who would not be willing to be esteemed a fool by the great and the frivilous people of this world. He still intends to be a Christian and be saved; and yet to keep up his reputation for wisdom and prudence. Hence, everything in religion which is not consistent with such a reputation for prudence and wisdom he rejects. Hence, he takes sides with the world. As far as the world will admit that a man ought to attend to religion he will go. Where the world would pronounce anything to be foolish, fanatical, or enthusiastic, he pauses. And his religion is not shaped by the New Testament, but by the opinions of the world - Such a man should be cautious that he is not deceived. All his hopes of heaven are probably built on the sand,

    19. We should not overvalue the wisdom of this world, 1 Corinthians 3:18-19. It is folly in the sight of God. And we, therefore, should not over-estimate it, or desire it, or be influenced by it. True wisdom on any subject we should not despise; but we should especially value that which is connected with salvation.

    20. This admonition is of special applicability to ministers of the gospel. They are in special danger on the subject; and it has been by their yielding themselves so much to the power of speculative philosophy, that parties have been formed in the church, and that the gospel has been so much corrupted.

    21. These considerations should lead us to live above contention, and the fondness of party. Sect and party in the church are not formed by the love of the pure and simple gospel, but by the love of some philosophical opinion, or by an admiration of the wisdom, talents, learning, eloquence, or success of some Christian teacher. Against this the apostle would guard us; and the considerations presented in this chapter should elevate us above all the causes of contention and the love of sect, and teach us to love as brothers all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.

    22. Christians have an interest in all things that can go to promote their happiness. Life and death, things present and things to come - all shall tend to advance their happiness, and promote their salvation; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.

    23. Christians have nothing to fear in death. Death is theirs, and shall be a blessing to them. Its sting is taken away; and it shall introduce them to heaven. What have they to fear? Why should they be alarmed? Why afraid to die? Why unwilling to depart and to be with Christ?

    24. Christians should regard themselves as devoted to the Saviour. They are his, and he has the highest conceivable claim on their time, their talents, their influence, and their wealth. To him, therefore, let us be devoted, and to him let us consecrate all that we have.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    To have a high opinion of our own wisdom, is but to flatter ourselves; and self-flattery is the next step to self-deceit. The wisdom that wordly men esteem, is foolishness with God. How justly does he despise, and how easily can he baffle and confound it! The thoughts of the wisest men in the world, have vanity, weakness, and folly in them. All this should teach us to be humble, and make us willing to be taught of God, so as not to be led away, by pretences to human wisdom and skill, from the simple truths revealed by Christ. Mankind are very apt to oppose the design of the mercies of God. Observe the spiritual riches of a true believer; "All are yours," even ministers and ordinances. Nay, the world itself is yours. Saints have as much of it as Infinite Wisdom sees fit for them, and they have it with the Divine blessing. Life is yours, that you may have a season and opportunity to prepare for the life of heaven; and death is yours, that you may go to the possession of it. It is the kind messenger to take you from sin and sorrow, and to guide you to your Father's house. Things present are yours, for your support on the road; things to come are yours, to delight you for ever at your journey's end. If we belong to Christ, and are true to him, all good belongs to us, and is sure to us. Believers are the subjects of his kingdom. He is Lord over us, we must own his dominion, and cheerfully submit to his command. God in Christ, reconciling a sinful world to himself, and pouring the riches of his grace on a reconciled world, is the sum and substance of the gospel.
    Ellen G. White
    Selected Messages Book 3, 355.2

    We need to be refined, cleansed from all earthliness, till we reflect the image of our Saviour, and become “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” Then we shall delight to do the will of God, and Christ can own us before the Father and before the holy angels as those who abide in Him, and He will not be ashamed to call us brethren. 3SM 355.2

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    Ellen G. White
    The Acts of the Apostles, 306

    Lawsuits between brethren are a reproach to the cause of truth. Christians who go to law with one another expose the church to the ridicule of her enemies and cause the powers of darkness to triumph. They are wounding Christ afresh and putting Him to open shame. By ignoring the authority of the church, they show contempt for God, who gave to the church its authority. AA 306.1

    In this letter to the Corinthians Paul endeavored to show them Christ's power to keep them from evil. He knew that if they would comply with the conditions laid down, they would be strong in the strength of the Mighty One. As a means of helping them to break away from the thralldom of sin and to perfect holiness in the fear of the Lord, Paul urged upon them the claims of Him to whom they had dedicated their lives at the time of their conversion. “Ye are Christ's,” he declared. “Ye are not your own.... Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.” AA 306.2

    The apostle plainly outlined the result of turning from a life of purity and holiness to the corrupt practices of heathenism. “Be not deceived,” he wrote; “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, ... nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” He begged them to control the lower passions and appetites. “Know ye not,” he asked, “that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God?” AA 306.3

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    Ellen G. White
    The Desire of Ages, 288

    “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath,” Jesus said. The institutions that God has established are for the benefit of mankind. “All things are for your sakes.” “Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.” 2 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Corinthians 3:22, 23. The law of Ten Commandments, of which the Sabbath forms a part, God gave to His people as a blessing. “The Lord commanded us,” said Moses, “to do all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive.” Deuteronomy 6:24. And through the psalmist the message was given to Israel, “Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.” Psalm 100:2-4. And of all who keep “the Sabbath from polluting it,” the Lord declares, “Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer.” Isaiah 56:6, 7. DA 288.1

    “Wherefore the Son of man is Lord also of the Sabbath.” These words are full of instruction and comfort. Because the Sabbath was made for man, it is the Lord's day. It belongs to Christ. For “all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” John 1:3. Since He made all things, He made the Sabbath. By Him it was set apart as a memorial of the work of creation. It points to Him as both the Creator and the Sanctifier. It declares that He who created all things in heaven and in earth, and by whom all things hold together, is the head of the church, and that by His power we are reconciled to God. For, speaking of Israel, He said, “I gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between Me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them,”—make them holy. Ezekiel 20:12. Then the Sabbath is a sign of Christ's power to make us holy. And it is given to all whom Christ makes holy. As a sign of His sanctifying power, the Sabbath is given to all who through Christ become a part of the Israel of God. DA 288.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, 110

    The petition, “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven,” is a prayer that the reign of evil on this earth may be ended, that sin may be forever destroyed, and the kingdom of righteousness be established. Then in earth as in heaven will be fulfilled “all the good pleasure of His goodness.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11. MB 110.1

    The first half of the prayer Jesus has taught us is in regard to the name and kingdom and will of God—that His name may be honored, His kingdom established, His will performed. When you have thus made God's service your first interest, you may ask with confidence that your own needs may be supplied. If you have renounced self and given yourself to Christ you are a member of the family of God, and everything in the Father's house is for you. All the treasures of God are opened to you, both the world that now is and that which is to come. The ministry of angels, the gift of His Spirit, the labors of His servants—all are for you. The world, with everything in it, is yours so far as it can do you good. Even the enmity of the wicked will prove a blessing by disciplining you for heaven. If “ye are Christ's,” “all things are yours.” 1 Corinthians 3:23, 21. MB 110.2

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