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1 Corinthians 3 Reading Guide

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Chapter Summary

  • v1-4 - Remember, we're reading a letter that was written "to the church of God (1:2)." Notice the first word of this chapter: 'Brothers.' Even though this letter is clearly written to Christians, these people "who do not live by the Spirit but are still worldly - mere infants in Christ (v1)." Once again, God's Word reminds us that there's a huge difference between simply loosely affiliating with a church and truly living in the Spirit.

  • v5-16 - This passage uses a couple of metaphors we can easily identify with. First, Paul compares growing the church to the growing cycle of crops. Having just finished planting, you know how good it feels to see those first sprouts of green poking up in the appropriate places throughout the field. But unlike our 90-100 day growing cycle, it takes decades for the church to grow and mature, and there the work of planting and cultivating goes on side by side with harvest. Even though it takes so much hard work to successfully grow a crop, most farmers would be the first to acknowledge that their hard work was merely incidental to the miracle God brings forth in calling the crops to grow. Next, Paul compares building the church (although this same metaphor applies to building our individual lives) to a construction project. Of course, the most important aspect of any building is the foundation, and the Christian's foundation is Christ. But the quality of the building that rises up from that foundation is largely dependent upon the quality of materials that were used in construction. Poor materials (which stand for our Spiritual Disciplines) result in a shoddy building that will be burned up. Such a person will be saved, but only because of the strength of their foundation. Be reminded as you read this chapter that you are God's temple and that God Himself dwells in you (v16). Isn't it fascinating to see that although your life has been given an unshakable foundation, the quality of your life is very dependent up the quality of materials (Spiritual Disciplines) you build with.

  • v17-23 - Once again, Paul calls his readers to notice how easy it is to be 'deceived' by the 'wisdom of this world.' The world encourages you to take shortcuts at every corner as you build up your life, but those shortcuts quickly result in a subpar construction. Be strengthened against the temptation to follow those shortcuts with the mind blowing statement that closes this chapter:

All things are yours... and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God (v21-23)


Paul quotes Psalm 94:11 in v20 which is the middle verse of the Psalm. You may remember that quite often in Hebrew poetry it's the middle verse that carries the main point of the poem, and such is the case here. Taken as a whole (which is the meaning Paul incorporates even though he only quoted one verse), this Psalm shows the result of poorly constructed lives and what will happen to those who build on foundations other than Christ.


Use the comment box below to discuss one or more of these questions:

  1. EYE FOR DETAIL—From what you recall seeing in this chapter, try answering the following question without looking at your Bible: As he talks about how we can build on the foundation of Jesus Christ, Paul mentions six types of “building materials.” What are they? (See verse 12.)

  2. Of the several metaphors in this chapter, which one do you resonate with the most?

  3. Verse 3 speaks of the difference between milk and solid food. How would you describe what the difference is?

Question 1 taken from The Complete Bible Discussion Guide: New Testament.

Follow the AAA Prayer Pattern:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: God is the one who makes all things grow (v6-7)

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Become a fool in this word so that you may become wise for God's kingdom (v18).



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