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1 Corinthians 3

3
Laying a true foundation
1And yet, I myself, brethren, did not speak to you as spiritually minded beings, possessing the mind of Christ, but I spoke to you as to carnal men, still entangled in the mind of the flesh, and in Christ the merest babes, 2needing milk, not real meat. That was your condition. You were not able to receive what I might have told you. And that is still your state. 3The mind of the flesh works in you still. You are not spiritual, you are the human being, the human rent by division and strife, 4one of you saying that he is Paul's disciple, another that he is Apollos'. 5-6That is not the divine unity, wherein Paul planted and Apollos watered, and wherein all life and growth is of God. What is Paul or Apollos? Servants of your faith, each one according to the task assigned by God. 7-9In this great oneness each receives the fulfilment and reward of his own function, sower and tiller all belong to one unity which is God's field and harvest, or God's building. In ourselves we are nothing. 10What if I, resembling a good and skilful architect, laid a foundation on which another is building? My function was an expression of God's own grace imparted to me, and all the building similarly is of God, its parts expressing the grace which He confers. 11If a man misapply his own mission, and attempt to lay a foundation other than that already laid which is Christ Jesus, let him be sure he will receive the appropriate reward for such a corruption and reversal of the grace God gave him. 12Or if, instead of building on this foundation gold and silver and costly marble and stone, he build wood, thatch, straw, 13he shall certainly receive the appropriate reward of this faithlessness. The fire will burn up his work. 14-15The great day of truth will dawn, and reveal his faithless evil work, and the havoc he has made of the Church. It will all be destroyed, all pass away, yet shall he himself thereby be saved. 16For this is God's temple, God's building, the Spirit of God dwells here, 17and you yourselves are the one building of God, and therefore not one shall perish though the evil doer reap his own destruction.
Self-deception to be guarded against
18Cleverness and the wisdom of the world are not sufficient for these things. Thereby you may become self-deceived. 19And if one must become a fool in order to be wise, this is the wisest course, for the world's wisest is a species of folly. “He taketh the wise in their own craftiness” (Job v. 13.). 20“The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man that they are vanity” (Ps. xciv. 11.). 21There is nothing in merely human wisdom, and why? because you already have the wisdom that includes all, 22that includes Paul, Apollos and Cephas, yes, and the world, life, death, the present and the future; 23it is yours because it and you are Christ's, who is of God, and who therefore includes it all.
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1-4But for right now, friends, I’m completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God. You’re acting like infants in relation to Christ, capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast. Well, then, I’ll nurse you since you don’t seem capable of anything more. As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way? When one of you says, “I’m on Paul’s side,” and another says, “I’m for Apollos,” aren’t you being totally infantile?
5-9Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working.
9-15Or, to put it another way, you are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive—but just barely.
16-17You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred—and you, remember, are the temple.
18-20Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture,
He exposes the chicanery of the chic.
The Master sees through the smoke screens
of the know-it-alls.
21-23I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift—Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future—all of it is yours, and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God.