Lesson 11

Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

3:16 Don't you know that you are a temple of God, and that God's Spirit lives in you? 3:17 If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him; for God's temple is holy, which you are. 3:18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone thinks that he is wise among you in this world, let him become a fool, that he may become wise. 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "He has taken the wise in their craftiness." 3:20 And again, "The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is worthless." 3:21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 3:22 whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come. All are yours, 3:23 and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.  

Today's Lesson 

In order to counteract the divisiveness that was at work in Corinth, Paul reminded them that God was at work in them. He reminded them of the Holy Spirit that God had put in their hearts. He gave them two metaphors for God's work. They were God's farm. God's helpers had plowed and planted in the name of God, but the farm and everything in it belonged to the owner, not to the workers. In the same way, they were like a house that God was building. Paul had laid the foundation. Others would build on it. But the house belonged to God and not to the workers.


Now the house or the building that Paul has in mind is a temple. In these Christians, God is building a temple in which He will live. We are the temple of God because the Holy Spirit of God has come to live in us. That was the significance of the temple in Jerusalem. The Jews thought that in a very real and special way the presence of God was greater in the temple than in any other place on earth. God is omnipresent, which is to say that God is everywhere. He cannot be contained in any one place. But God had promised to make His home in the temple, to reside there.


Under the New Covenant that God has established through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the new temple of God is within the hearts and the lives of those that follow the Son through faith. The Spirit of God comes to live within us and we become the temple of God, the place on earth where God's presence is manifest in a unique way.


Paul admits that this may seem like a foolish notion to some, but God does not follow our standard of foolishness and wisdom. He returns to the theme that the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God. In Corinth, Greek culture worshipped wisdom. The goal of every Greek citizen was to be educated and cultured. No one would knowingly desire to appear foolish in public. But Paul was attempting to get these Corinthians to see that their obsession to worldly wisdom was blinding them to the wisdom that God was wanting to give them through Jesus Christ.


It did not appear wise for God to work through a carpenter in an insignificant place like Israel. Nor was it wise for Christianity to take in slaves and sinners, to declare that we are all one in Christ regardless of social rank or position. The message of the gospel was one of equality and respect for all people, men or women, slave or free. This was not a message that seemed wise or even reasonable during Paul's day or ours.


But this message was communicated through the power of the Holy Spirit and that made all the difference. People listened because God had prepared their hearts to hear. The Spirit of God was active and working in the rapid spread of the gospel and He is still active and working. The gospel is heard all around the world through the active work of God.


All that we have that is of value comes to us through Jesus Christ. It is all a gift of God given to us through the Holy Spirit. God does these things in order to reveal Himself to the world through us. God's grace and His mercy are evidenced in our salvation. The sustaining power of God's love is seen in our continued acceptance.


These things are foolish to the world. Those that are not of God do not value these things. The question that those of us that are in Christ must continually ask ourselves is, "Do we value them?" Do we live our lives as though God's mercy and grace are valuable and real? Do we express God's amazing love to the world around us? If we believe, we will. If the Spirit of God rules in us, we will. If Christ is alive and in our hearts, we will.


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