Study Sheet for I Corinthians 3:1-9 (click here for Study Notes)
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when on says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?
What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only
servants, through whom you came to believe-as the Lord has assigned to each
his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who
makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose,
and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow
workers; you are God's field, God's building. (NIV)
2. What were the Corinthians doing that let Paul know they were still not functioning as spiritual people? How could they be saved but still unspiritual? Is following different spiritual leaders unspiritual? Why or why not?
3. Paul says he and the other leaders in the early church are "only servants-as the Lord assigned to each his task." (see I Cor. 4:1) How is this description different from the way the Corinthian members viewed them? Why do you think the people exalted them so highly in their own minds? Why do you think Paul emphasizes that he and his fellow preachers/ teachers are servants, not leaders to be followed? Were they leaders?
4. Paul uses two metaphors to describe the Corinthian church: God's field and God's building. What do each of these metaphors imply about the church? What similarities do they share? What unique qualities does each demonstrate? (see Isaiah 61:3; Eph. 2:20-22; I Peter 2:5)
5. Paul clarifies that the spiritual leaders of the church are called to specific and varied jobs. (verse 8) He also makes it clear that they are workers sent to nurture and build God's field and God's building. (see Mark 16:20; 2 Cor. 6:1; I Thess. 3:2) How does this image differ from the way most Christians picture church leadership and membership? What/who is the focus of attention in this paradigm? Where does the honor rest? Who actually does the most "grunt work" in this picture of the church? When (or does) one go from being a part of God's field or building to being one of the workers who cares for the field and building?
6. Are you drinking spiritual milk or eating solid food? Do powerful preachers/teachers influence your doctrinal beliefs? Do you have intense feelings toward people who have different doctrines or practices from the ones you've come to embrace?
7. Many of us grew up viewing spiritual leaders as especially blessed. We often aligned ourselves with them ideologically or politically, especially if we thought such alignment might help our own status in the community. Are you comfortable with the church being built up and glorified for Jesus' honor while your own contributions remain unrecognized? What habits do you have from the past that might make it difficult for you to see your role in the church as Paul describes it?
8. What understanding or attitudes do you have to give to Jesus in order
to embrace Paul's description of church membership and leadership? How would
your life change if you submitted to being a servant and to being responsible
only to Jesus, not to an admired leader or theologian, for your beliefs?
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Studio, Redlands, CA USA. All rights reserved. Revised April 23, 2000.