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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.
The church and its leaders
1Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly – mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? 4For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere human beings?
5What, 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. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labour. 9For we are fellow workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11For no-one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved – even though only as one escaping through the flames.
16Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives among you? 17If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
18Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become ‘fools’ so that you may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their craftiness’#3:19 Job 5:13; 20and again, ‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.’#3:20 Psalm 94:11 21So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas#3:22 That is, Peter or the world or life or death or the present or the future – all are yours, 23and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.