Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 26
I CORINTHIANS 2:6 – 3:9 – PART 2
Now let’s just look at a quick review as Paul has been comparing the wisdom of men with the wisdom of God, and yet these Corinthians are still so carnal that they are not cashing in on this fountain of wisdom that is theirs for the taking. It’s the same way for us today. Every believer can just simply get into the Book and feast on it, but most won’t, and what’s their excuse, “Oh, I can’t understand it.” Yes, you can, it’s not that difficult, and of course my first premise is, the first thing you do is separate that which was for the Jew or Israel, and that which was for the Gentiles. Now that doesn’t mean you throw aside that which was for the Jew or Israel, but rather compare Scripture with Scripture. In the light of the fact that God dealt with the Jew under the Law, and He’s dealing with us today under Grace. And they are two totally contrary principals. Law and Grace will not mix, but always be aware that the Apostle Paul is crying out against legalism in any shape or form because we’re not under the Law, we are under Grace.
Now then to these Corinthian believers, for the most part pagan Gentiles recently converted out of their mythology, and idolatry, but they aren’t growing. They are stagnated in their infancy, spiritually. Looking at the beginning of Chapter 3 again for a review.
I Corinthians 3:1-4a
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul;…”
Remember, Paul was the one who came into that idolatrous city and preached the Gospel, and had a nucleus of believers, and naturally they would stick to Paul. But after Paul had gotten these congregations off the ground, naturally God used other men. He didn’t leave it with Paul alone, and one of these other men that God had chosen was a man by the name of Apollos. And we pick Apollos up in Acts Chapter 18. Now Apollos doesn’t come to the Corinthian Church immediately, he comes first to Ephesus which is across the Aegean Sea on the western shore of Turkey.
“And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man (here was a guy who came with all the outward appearances of somebody who was magnetic, someone who could hold a crowd, he could literally spellbind people with his speech), and mighty in the scriptures (Old Testament), came to Ephesus.
This eloquent, well-mannered, gifted man comes to the Church at Ephesus. Now verse 25:
“This man (Apollos) was instructed (or had been taught by other people), in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.”
Now how much of Christianity did Apollos know? I’d say none! Because the Gospel of the Kingdom that was preached by Jesus and the Twelve was still basically Jewish. It was connected with Temple worship, connected to the Old Testament Covenants, connected to the promise of the coming Messiah. So here comes Apollos, and he knows nothing of Paul’s Gospel that had been revealed to Paul by the ascended Lord: that Jesus died for your sins, was buried, and rose again, and that’s what you believe in your heart for salvation. (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) Apollos only knows the Gospel of the Kingdom that had been preached by Jesus and the Twelve, and by John the Baptist. That gospel was repentance and water baptism, and believing that Jesus was the Christ. Now that’s all that Apollos knew, but remember God always has the right person at the right time available. So who takes Apollos aside, and says, “Now wait a minute, Apollos, you’re a great speaker, and we love to sit and listen to you as you open the Old Testament, but Apollos you’re missing something.” And I suppose Apollos thought of these lowly tentmakers, “What are you trying to tell me?.” But I admire Apollos because he listened. Great man that he was, he sat down, evidently, and listened to the two lowly tentmakers, Aquila and Priscilla. Now let’s see what they tell him.
“And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly(actually, or more completely.).”
In other words, Priscilla and Aquila were in a position to tell Apollos something that he did not know. Now let’s back up in Chapter 18, and let’s see where they got their knowledge.
“After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome); and (Paul) came unto them. And because he (Paul) was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought (worked): for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”
Now as time goes by, and as Paul, Aquila, and Priscilla are spending some daily time with their occupation, what do you suppose Paul constantly talked about? His Gospel that he had received from the risen Lord. That’s all he could talk about. You know I’m always thrilled when we can stop and visit people that have been acquaintances only through the program, and they have invited us to stop as we did in the last week or two as we traveled to Oregon to see Iris’ sister. And for 48 hours do you think we talked about the weather or politics? No way. I mean it was constantly talking about the things of the Word. Well that’s as it should be, and it’s the same way with these three people. All they talked about was Paul’s revelations concerning now the Christ Who had died, and had been buried, and rose from the dead, ascended back to glory and commissioned this man Paul to take the Gospel of the Grace of God, not just to the Nation of Israel, but to the whole world. So now Paul has just unloaded on these two people, and he has gone his way. Now do you think Priscilla and Aquila forgot all that they had heard? When Apollos comes, and knows only the baptism of John what do these two people do? Well as I’ve said before, I think they took him home for dinner. And as they sat across that dinner table those two people unloaded on that eloquent man, and now let’s look at verse 27 and 28 in Chapter 18 again:
“And when he (Apollos) was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: For he (Apollos) mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.”
Now when you come back to I Corinthians Chapter 3, this is the same man who now has followed in Paul’s footsteps, and he is now at the congregation in Corinth. And he is again holding forth with eloquence, and a capability of opening the Scriptures, but of course he had to be in agreement with Paul’s Gospel, so there wasn’t any doctrinal differences, but it was personality. Now as we have shown before, Paul was not the kind of a man who simply drew people to him by his appearance and speech, but it was quite the opposite. Paul gained his converts strictly through the working of the Holy Spirit. I don’t think Paul physically had much to offer like Apollos did, and so now what do these believers in Corinth do? Some by virtue of the fact that Paul brought them out of their idolatry and immorality, naturally had an adherence to him. But Apollos, with his magnetism and charisma, also had his followers. Well that’s understandable because people are still doing the same thing today. I’ve seen churches just totally fall apart when a pastor leaves. In other words that church has been loyal to the man instead of the Word of God, and the Christ Whom they worship. So always remember that you don’t put your eyes or hang your heart on a man, but rather let your eyes be centered on the Word of God, and on the Christ Who bought us.
We have another group, and they are the ones that adhered to the Apostle Peter. I’ve said over the years that I’ve been teaching, that I did not believe that the twelve per se had a ministry among the Gentiles. Now that doesn’t mean that they never had an opportunity to greet some of these believers, and I’m sure Paul would have been the first to give Peter the opportunity to speak to the believers at Corinth, But I do not believe that Peter was instrumental in bringing these people out of paganism, and bringing them to salvation, but nevertheless you have this group at Corinth that are going to cling to Peter rather than Paul or Apollos. So as I have mentioned before, I believe these were the Jewish element of that Church. I think there were believing Jews in all these early congregations, and it naturally follows that since Peter had been steeped in Judaism, and had been located at Jerusalem, that he was the one that they more or less had an affinity for. Because after all, he was connected to their background, and so with all that going for Peter we have this group of people that followed him. And all this caused a division, and I suppose it was a rather stark division or Paul wouldn’t have considered it a problem.
Just like today, and I run into it constantly, when I teach that our Church Age doctrines come from the pen of the Apostle Paul, and I can show from Scripture where Paul says:
I Corinthians 11:1
“Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”
I Corinthians 4:16
“Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.”
“Brethren, be followers together of me and mark them which walk so as ye have us (me) for an example.”
II Thessalonians 3:7
“For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us:…”
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles,…”
I Timothy 1:16
“Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show forth all long-suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”
People rebel when I show them these Scriptures, and say, “Les, there’s no way I’m going to follow Paul because I only follow Jesus.” However, they fail to realize that Paul was inspired to write these verses from the Holy Spirit Himself. And it was the same thing here, let’s look at it in I Corinthians 1:12:
I Corinthians 1:12
“Now this I say, that every one of you saith, `I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.'”
Now why do you suppose they were doing that? They felt that Jesus was the One Who had brought all this to pass. It was Jesus Who had instituted the work of the Cross and so forth, but Paul tells them you can not have these divisions. Now back to Chapter 3, and verse 5:
I Corinthians 3:5,6
“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave (the measure of faith) to every man? (Now here Paul says how it really works) I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”
And that’s the same way today. You don’t always have to see the fruits of your witnessing, and testimony. You don’t have to be one that sees a person saved. All you have to do is sow the seeds. You and I sow the seed, someone else may come along and add to their understanding, and maybe even a third person will come along and bring them along a little further, but regardless how many of us may be involved in the salvation of an individual, Who is final cause? God is. He is the One that gives the increase, and never lose sight of that. Now verse 7:
I Corinthians 3:7
“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.”
And that’s what we have to understand: the whole focus here is on God that giveth the increase. Now verse 8:
I Corinthians 3:8
“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”
I can’t take credit for someone’s salvation when someone else has had a part in it, even if I’m the only one, I can’t take credit, Why? I didn’t save them, but rather God did. So this is the role of every believer. We sow the seed, and sometimes it only takes a couple or three words. Maybe it’s just a little statement that makes someone sit up and take notice about eternity – hey you’ve sown the seed, and maybe something else will happen, and all of a sudden that person will be generated, and get a hunger, and then God moves in, and He finishes that work of salvation. Well, I really don’t have time to do the next part justice, but I guess we might as well try. Now in the light of everything we’ve seen thus far in Corinthians, God is going to bring us now, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit through the pen of the Apostle Paul, this whole idea of works in the life of a believer. Now verse 9, and remember Paul has just said he planted, Apollos watered, maybe somebody else had a part in it, but God gave the increase. Now with that thought resting on your mind come into verse 9:
I Corinthians 3:9a
“For we are labourers together with God:…”
Right about now I wish I could bring in one of these little portable beehives. A gentlemen down at Wilburton, Oklahoma has one, and there may be others around. You can set that beehive inside your house, and run a little inch pipe outside, and those bees will start coming in that pipe, and they will build up their honey, and you can sit there at the table and watch them work. It’s one of the most interesting things you could ever see. The people that put these together mark the queen bee so that you can watch her every place that she goes, and how those little workers will kick out those who are lazy. You can just watch all that right in front of your eyes. Well, here’s exactly what we see here. Just like a hive of bees, busy with all their workers, and they all have their unique little role to fulfill. Some do nothing but clean house for the queen, but they are all part of the hive, they’re all working for the same purpose. Now Paul says that’s what we are. We’re labourers, not as individuals, not just for your local church, although there’s nothing wrong with that, but that’s not the end result. The end result is that:
I Corinthians 3:9b
“…ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
Now as I teach this I hope you will read the next few verses before the next program rolls around, and envision yourself as being a worker building a wall maybe of brick. And then you will see that God is going to give you six different materials to work with as you build in that segment of the wall which is part of God’s building. And everyone of us are involved in it. Some of us may just never get out of our rocking chair, others may accomplish great things, but we’re still just like those bees in the hive, we’re all working together for a common purpose. Of course the analogy breaks down because God doesn’t kick out the lazy workers as the bees will. But nevertheless, we are working everyday toward the same end, and that is to bring glory to God to fulfill or fill up the Body of Christ, and remember, when the Body is complete, and the last person is brought in, what’s going to happen? The Lord’s going to take us out in the Rapture of the Church (Ref. I Thessalonians 4:13-18) He’s going to deliver us out of this evil world because the Body is now complete. So the whole concept as we read verse 9 again:
I Corinthians 3:9
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
Now we will start with verse 10 in our next lesson, but remember, as workers, every believer, whether we’re carnal like the believers at Corinth were, or whether we’re spiritual giants like maybe some other great men of God, it doesn’t make any difference. We are all working for the same end, we are all working for the same purpose, and that is to bring everything to God’s end, and that’s why He’s left it in the hands of mortal men. Why didn’t He put the Word of God in the hands of angels. He wanted people just like you and I to labour just like that honeybee.