Re:Verse reading–1 Corinthians 3:1-17 (day seven)
I must confess this text confounded me all week. The text is distinctly corporate, yet true for the individual as well. As you work through the scholarship it is clear that throughout this text Paul is talking about the church as a whole and only the church. This is not about you as an individual, but about you as a member of the larger body of the church.
Even the temple text, verses 16-17: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are” is not about the individual, it’s about the church. All the “you”s in there are plural. The text about you (singular) being the temple is found later in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Which brings me back to my initial dilemma, everything in our text, 1 Corinthians 3, is true for the individual, but that is not what Paul is writing about. 1 Corinthians 3 is about the church.
This week we can talk about the church or we can do what Alexander Maclaren, one of my favorite preachers, did. In his sermon on 1 Corinthians 3 he begins by essentially saying that I know this text is about the church, but I’m going to talk about individuals.
This text is “not about the Christian life in general…and though I may be slightly deflecting the text from its original direction, I’m not doing violence to it, if I take it as declaring some very plain and solemn truths applicable to all Christian people.” – Alexander Maclaren