1 Corinthians 3:16-17
In ch. 3:1-11, Paul is strongly affirming that he has properly done his job as a servant of the Lord, sowing the gospel seed and laying the gospel foundation of repentant faith in Jesus Christ. In vs. 12-15, Paul is arguing that now it is each individual Christian’s responsibility to build up their lives in the Christian faith; and furthermore, it is the responsibility of Christian ministers and laymen to together build up the body of Christ, the church. This is a great and rewarding obligation; but in vs. 16-17, there is punishment in store for those who degrade the church. In vs. 18-23, Paul shows the major problem of spiritual degradation in the Corinthian church- the exaltation of man according to the wisdom of man; and he contrasts this with the humbling wisdom of God, given for our benefit. So overall, Paul is making a fairly complex argument with complex pieces that must be carefully fitted together.
In our text today, Paul continues his stream of consciousness from vs. 9-15- God’s people are a building being built by God. In vs. 16, Paul uses the temple metaphor to make this building picture more concrete; he is also becoming increasingly pointed and direct in his application of this teaching. Furthermore, he openly deals with eternal truths that many in our day find distasteful, primarily the doctrine of condemnation. We will carefully consider his words in this setting in our study this morning.