The Individual vs. The Corporate

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

Author: Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson is Senior Pastor at FBCSA.

2 thoughts on “The Individual vs. The Corporate”

  1. Churches are made up of individuals so it makes perfect sense to think of churches in terms of individual Christians. If individual Christians fail God, the associated churches will fail as well.

    Christians are holy by profession and should be pure and clean both in heart and conversation. We, Christians, should carefully avoid, what will defile God’s temple. Our actions, attitudes and behaviors can help build or break God’s temple.

    As I think of a church, I think of the people who make up that church. So individual Christians are critical here! Churches rely on individual members who should work together as teams of God’s teams to execute God’s mission on earth!

    Thanks for the blog!

  2. Great text, if the individuals are not in a good shape how the church will be? The body of Christ is made up of people.

    Thanks for sharing it with us.

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