“...ye are yet carnal.”
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.”
‘Brethren, I could not talk to you as to those governed by the Holy Spirit, but as to those who are ruled by their human natures, even as those who are childish (i.e. untaught) in the things of Christ and still drinking milk.’
This text continues from the end of the previous chapter (‘And’). Paul is exasperated by the lack of spiritual motive in the Corinthians. They were full of themselves and of their riches (see chapter four). They squabbled amongst themselves and generally bore all the marks of untaught people. The word 'babes' means 'childishness'. Like children, they were untaught in higher things and exhibited the same kinds of traits as children!
Many churches and individuals are like this today - they are content to sing continuous rounds of choruses and to listen to 'the Gospel'. Deep study of scripture is virtually unknown to them. Their excuse is that they have a 'simple faith', or a 'child-like faith'. This translates as ‘Don’t care’ and deliberate ignorance.
My own view accords with Paul's - they are not childlike at all, but are childish! They do not want the responsibility of learning and knowing the hard things of the Lord. They just want the 'easy bits', the titbits and not the meat. Thus, they never grow in the Lord (although they think they do!); their growth has been stunted by their own unwillingness to learn. What they fondly think is 'child-likeness' is actually an inverted pride in their own self-subsistence, self-indulgent childishness.
Many charismatic churches are of this nature - they pander to human desire by reducing meaty content and by increasing titbits that do not benefit (Isaiah 30 - re. a people who do not benefit the people of God).
Such churches major on outward shows of holiness, such as soup-runs, helping those in (physical) need, holding 'marches for Jesus', rock-music concerts, mass-appeal campaigns, ever-changing and 'bright', manic, services, democratic activities which enable everyone to try their hands at every form of leadership, preaching, teaching, etc., whether or not they have been gifted and called to such tasks. The list of childish things is endless!
For these reasons Paul could not speak to them on an equal footing yet. They were far behind in knowledge and understanding, because of self-reliance and self-interest. Although they were saved, they had never gone beyond that stage, but stopped growing in the things of God. This is why Paul says they are not 'spiritual'. Rather, they were 'carnal'.
There is a widespread denial of the existence of 'carnal Christians' - yet that is exactly what Paul is calling the Corinthians! This is repeated in verse three: "...ye are yet carnal." So, what does 'carnal', sarkikos, mean in this context? It means what you think it means - worldly and not of God; fleshly; controlled by one's earthly appetites, with the idea of depravity.
The word 'babes', nepios, means 'childish', infant, not of age, untaught and unskilled. In other texts to be 'untaught' is to be a barbarian. So, to be 'childish' is not a compliment! The opposite is to be 'spiritual', pneumatikos, governed and filled with the Spirit of God. It is highly likely that this is the real meaning of being 'filled with the Spirit', or what some call being 'baptised in the Spirit'. That is, a person whose life has previously been infantile in the spirit has now 'grown up' by accepting the rule of God in his or her life.
Thus, it is not some 'second' separate experience, but the commencement of an experience that should have occurred before. The sudden release of one's own defiance can often be mistaken for an influx of something else (i.e. the Spirit) from an external source, when it is really the acknowledgement of what is already within or available. That the person so affected does not realise it, is the result of his or her having been infantile to that juncture, with no point of reference with which to compare. That is, he or she refuses to grow and face spiritual facts.
Like a child who is starting to grow, he or she is unable to understand fully what has happened, so the natural and mistaken interpretation is likewise immature, based on a limited view of God and His activities. In God’s eyes, they are ‘barbarians’.
Many charismatics are at this untaught stage, hence their idea that there can be a 'second blessing' or a separate 'baptism'. If God demands that we adhere to what He has already commanded, it can hardly be termed a separate 'blessing'! What is experienced, rather, is the original, delayed blessing, which has been ignored by one's own childishness! That this is the case can be seen in the opposite state - childishness that leads one down an ungodly path of carnality (chapter four).
“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.”
‘I have given you the less difficult truths and not strong doctrine, for until now you were unable to take it in. And you are still unable to take it!’
Paul does not mince his words. He does not do what modern pseudo-Christians do - 'balance' his words so that he makes his hearers feel better! No, he is blunt and direct. Are YOU still drinking milk? Or, are you eating the meat? Paul says that he 'fed', potizo, them with milk. That is, he provided them with drink or food. This has a deeper meaning, as it is rooted in pino, meaning to receive into the soul what strengthens or nourishes to eternal life (i.e. salvation). Milk, gala, metaphorically means easier spiritual truths expressed very basically. Most are still on milk!
Paul was used in their salvation and to give them initial truths that were easy to understand. But, like so many today, that is where they stopped! They were not fed with 'meat', broma. That is, food which is eaten and not just swallowed whole like the easier milk. Ever noticed very small children having solids for the first time? They usually spit it out – it is far too onerous to chew and swallow! Likewise with most Christians, who only want the minimum to ‘stay alive’ spiritually. And it shows.
Paul said they were 'not able' to take in the deeper doctrine, 'able' being dunamai - cannot, by reason of state of mind or ability; not strong or powerful. So, they neither wanted strong meat, nor the work of digesting it anyway! God prepares the minds and hearts of those He gives knowledge to. But if we reject His will in our lives, He will not force it upon us. We all reject God's will and purposes, at some time or other, often without realising it.
But, each of us occasionally and deliberately refuses to obey God. This happens throughout our lives, whether we are known as the most devout or as the most weak Christians. We are all susceptible to our own sinful habits and ways. This weakens our spiritual resolve and can negate any good we may have done to that point. We MUST feed on the meat AND use the strength it affords us.
“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 you are still led by your human, depraved nature - amongst you there is jealous rivalry, wrangling and dissension (or even sedition). So, are you not depraved and acting as unsaved men?’
'...ye are yet carnal', says Paul. 'Yet' is eti, or 'still'. This indicates that Paul had possibly already warned them about their condition. Here they were, yet again, still carnal! Despite proper teaching, they continued in their own ways, disregarding God's commands - something that upsets many a good pastor. It is a most dangerous position to be in, for God does and will judge us on this earth.
God chastises those whom He loves; He casts us down if we continuously reject His commands, to experience the depths of our own depravity and the worst that the world's woes can offer. It is a warning to us all, to be vigilant over our own souls! When we know what to do, or what not to do, we must do it (or not do it), straight away. To wait is to tempt the mercy of God and to invite His wrath.
Amongst the Corinthians there was, amongst other sins, 'envying' or, as we have interpreted, 'jealous rivalry', zelos. This is not anything gentle or hidden; it is a fierce or punitive zeal for or against someone/something; jealousy; contentious rivalry. So, these people pursued their own interests and party-politics to the point of anger and bitterness, being prepared to 'punish' those who did not believe as they did.
This occurs in many churches today, openly, to the shame of the people. This became marked and blatant when the 'Toronto Blessing' arrived on the spiritual scene! Thousands of Christians, unhappy with what was going on and wanting true holiness, were cast aside, shunned and hated by their fellows, who could not tolerate any resistance to their erroneous idea of what the Holy Spirit was supposedly doing.
Those committing this atrocity claimed to have a greater love for God and for Christ, but, as scripture tells us, if we do not love our Brethren, then we cannot truly love Christ! Furthermore, love for Christ is shown in a love for acting out what He commands. Anything else is depravity and sin. As the root of zelos, zeo, tells us, such activity emanates from a boiling anger or zeal for evil... the kind we see in fanatical Muslims, for example.
There was also 'strife', or eris, wrangling, contention, debate, variance. This is very wearing amongst groups of people - the constant nagging and back-biting, fighting and readiness to fight. When a man is always like this, he is said to have a 'paranoid personality'. He is avoided by others, because almost anything can erupt into a nasty encounter. The man is ready to not just react, but to actively search for what could be arguable in what others say or do, even when there is nothing to argue about.
Recognise such folk? Because they are always 'ready for a fight' there is never any peace and this spirals of its own accord into constant bickering. This should not be confused with the activity of fighting error. We are called to fight sin and error where this is obvious and public. 'Strife' refers to a state of mind where arguing is its own end and for the arguer’s own satisfaction. It makes us want to avoid that person.
The natural result of strife is 'division', dichostasia, dissension, or even sedition. The people were split into factions by their adherence to party-loyalties. They were willing to shun and attack those in their own fellowship who did not agree with their views, but their views were not Christ-like. Thus, there was an atmosphere of division, possibly spilling over into actual sedition, or a kind of covert operation to undermine others by stealth and backbiting.
I know many people who really enjoy this kind of activity! For myself, to oppose others, even for genuine reasons, makes me 'sick to my stomach'. I loathe to oppose others, and try not to. But, when I have to do so, I will act with Biblical authority, in spite of my personal feelings. I simply do not understand Christians who enjoy opposing others, backbiting and causing divisions.
When the Toronto Blessing came along a typically cultic, seditious movement arose, in which those who adhered to the new spiritual climate of error immediately became defensive. They pointed the finger at those who opposed their activities, charging them with dividing the brethren, causing splits in the churches, and defaming the 'cause of the church'. This strategy was used, and is still used, to take the spotlight of truth off their own heresies and sinful lives. So, false accusation, which is a form of sedition, came into being, to protect the sinfulness of others.
This was, and is, a distasteful thing to happen, but is to be expected. Dichostasia is rooted in dis (meaning 'twice', an adverb from duo, meaning two or twain, indicating a deep and definite split) and in stasis, insurrection, sedition, dissension, uproar, strife. That is, in 'Toronto' terms, the actual bringing-down of God's elected church and people in great tumult... which is exactly what happened in the late 1990's. The reason why people did this, and continue to do this, is to bring about a radical, sinful, change in the churches. The source is Satan.
The root of dis and stasis is histemi, meaning to establish as authority; be firm; not waver. Those who falsely accuse and who reject true Biblical thinking are determined to alter God's word. They wish to bring in another gospel, and another form of government and belief – spiritual insurrection and rebellion.
Paul concludes with a rhetorical question, because he does not need an answer - the proof of rebellion was plainly witnessed amongst the Corinthians. He said: whilst all this goes on, don't you see that you are 'carnal', of the flesh and depraved? Can't you see that you 'walk as men'?
This 'walk', peripateo, refers to a progress, a way of living, how one regulates one's life and conduct. It is how others see us, because it is part of our personality and life. From peri (because of; on account of) and pateo (to tread underfoot i.e. treat with contempt; one's path in life), we can see that it is no passing phase. Rather, it is deep-rooted and part of one's thinking. In other words, it is sin as a habit, carnality.
We are required to prove our faithfulness to God, by obeying His commands. The commands of Christ are included in this, of course. We prove it by always striving for the mark and trying to live as the Lord demands. This includes loving the brethren and seeking the best for them. Even the act of discipline should be a part of this love. Sadly, such love is often subverted by falsity and anger.
That 'walking as men' is sinful is found in the word 'men', anthropos. This means 'human', but has the added meaning of contempt or disdain, a reference to the corrupt nature. The Corinthians, then, had lives regulated by their sinful natures, which prompted them to fight and hate each other.
“For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?”
‘Whilst some of you say 'I follow Paul', and others say they follow Apollos - are you not sinning?’
'While', hotan (as long as), people claim to follow this or that preacher, they sin. Thousands of Christians idolise big-name preachers... Billy Graham, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, and huge numbers place their local pastors on a pedestal, too. Yet, it is sin. The messenger is nothing. The One Who matters is the Person Who sent the message in the first place - God!
If a preacher is powerful, his power is of God. If he draws millions to hear the gospel, it is of God. If many become saved under his ministry, it is of God. The preacher is merely the messenger of God, not the creator of life, or the provider of salvation. In plain language, he is the boy on the bike who delivers the bread, not the baker! That is what I am, and that is what other preachers are – boys on bikes! (No apology is given to those who think they are more!)
“Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”
‘But who is Paul and Apollos? We are only the servants who brought you the message of salvation - as the Lord gave to us all! I evangelised, Apollos nurtured, but it was God Who gave the results. This means that the one who evangelises and the one who nurtures are both servants, and shall be rewarded by God according to his own diligence.’
How many preachers will gladly inwardly accept this statement of humility? Very few! Paul says both he and Apollos are 'but ministers'. The word he uses for 'ministers' in this text is different from the one he uses in 4:1. Here it is a very lowly term, diakonos, which is probably from diako, meaning to run errands (boy on a bike?).
Diakonos itself means one who performs the commands of a master, a servant, attendant, or 'minister' (e.g. one who gives a service). He can be servant to a king, a deacon (one who cares for the poor with a variety of helps), or a waiter at table.
Deacons ought to note this well! Today, deacons in most churches believe they are managers of their churches; they hold themselves in high esteem; they tell pastors what to do; they hire or fire pastors; they form church policies. A deacon, properly speaking, is a menial role. He is a servant to the church, performing practical tasks, and he is there to alleviate pressures on the pastor, so that he can do the work he has been called to do by God - look after the spiritual welfare of the flock.
Deacons may not choose or remove pastors by vote, nor may they form church policy, or perform any other spiritual task as though they had the mandate to do so. They do not. Deacons who do not understand this role, and lack the humility to be a servant to the local church to whom they belong as an equal member, should not be deacons at all.
Paul has no problem calling himself a lowly deacon and he makes no fuss about his position in the churches, although history has shown him to be a major figure in the early church and in the formation of New Testament scripture. Now, if such a man had no high opinion of himself, why should modern-day ministers? Paul was beaten and screamed at, thrown out of towns, put into prison... his reputation was mixed to say the least, something I can readily sympathise and identify with!
He was a minister or servant by whom some 'believed', pisteuo. That is, he was the instrument used by God to persuade men of the truth, and to trust in Jesus. It also means saving faith and is rooted in pistis, meaning faith in one's relationship to God and in the Messiah and salvation. Such faith leads to faithfulness to God and an unswerving desire to serve Him. In spite of their waywardness, Paul still refers to the Corinthians in this way!
Thousands of Christians today are wayward, deliberately following this or that wind of change, particularly charismatic excesses and errors. Yet, they are still our Brethren if they are saved by grace. Such a fact ought to make them grateful to the Lord for His patience with them, and make them turn back to Him in repentance. Not just them, but us also, who think we are safe from error! We are safe only insofar as we totally follow God's word, as it interprets itself.
Belief is given to the saved, by the 'Lord'. The word for 'Lord' in this text is commonly used in the New Testament: kurios; it reminds us of God's Lordship, for it means Lord, master; He to Whom we belong and Who has the power of decision over us. It means One Who is the Possessor and Disposer, the owner; One who controls; a sovereign. It is used as a title of reverence, a salutation to one's master. It is also a title of God and the Messiah and is rooted in kuros which means supremacy.
I have no doubt whatever that Paul had all these interpretations in mind when he called God 'kurios'! It reinforces God's own reference to Himself as the Potter, Who alone has the power to make or break a pot He has made; no-one has the right to question Him. The title of 'potter' was used by God when speaking of election of souls: He chooses those who will be saved, and He is accountable to no-one, either for those who are saved, or for those who are rejected..
Note that God 'gave' this salvation to men. They did not achieve it or work for it, or do anything at all to deserve or earn it. 'Gave', didomi, means to grant, to bestow a gift of one's own accord. Salvation is a free gift of God and we may only receive it and NOT obtain it in any other way. Such a teaching is widely rejected today.
Salvation, Paul says, is given to 'everyman', hekastos. This literally means 'everyone'. In context (see later verses) this means all who are built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. God tells us that this foundation was laid before the world was created. Therefore, all who will be saved have been saved from eternity. The fact, then, is that God chooses who will be saved and no-one can be saved unless he has been elected. This truth is found throughout scripture.
Paul is here seen as the one who sows the seed: he 'planted'. From a derivative of phuo it means to beget, bring forth, to be born - clearly referring to salvation. Apollos nurtured or 'watered' those who were saved, potizo, to irrigate, saturate one's mind; give to drink. This is from a derivative of the alternate of pino, which means to nourish or to strengthen spiritually. The 'increase', auxano, is to become greater, to grow or to grow up. All of this has to do with personal growth in the spirit and not with numbers being added to the Church.
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”
‘We are fellow-workers with God, and you are His fruit. Your growth is given by God (and not by us).’
Church courses abound in the West today, and each one claims to 'bring people into the church' and even to Christ! The large numbers being added to charismatic and ecumenical churches today are false indicators of spiritual growth. Indeed, this text is often used to applaud the growth in numbers. But, the text has nothing at all to do with growth of numbers; it is speaking of personal growth in faith! This is consistent with the context.
So, we are 'labourers together' with God. We are not thereby equal to God, for such is impossible. We are sunergos, helpers or workfellows. Just as a son might help his father in the garden, after the father has already planned the task and provided the means of 'help', so we 'help' God. That is, He graciously uses us to effect many (but not all) of his plans on this earth. It is our role simply to do what He commands and prompts. We have no part in the planning, means to be used, or the results.
The Corinthians were "God's husbandry", a statement which reinforces the fact that it is all of God, and nothing of ourselves. This lesson needs to be known and accepted by ecumenical and/or charismatic leaders and preachers, whose endless pride causes them to think they are their own masters, forever planning and executing their own ideas, only to submit them to God for His approval (‘rubber stamping’!).
'Husbandry', georgion, means 'husbandry'! It is the neuter of a presumed derivative of georgos: a tiller of the soil, or a vine-dresser. This is rooted in two words: ge, meaning earth, land, country, world, and ergon. (The word ergon is also found at the base of sunergos). It means work, deed, doing, undertaking, anything accomplished by the mind or hand etc., an act or deed, a thing done.
We can say, then, that by God's 'husbandry' scripture means acts that He alone accomplishes by His own hand or mind. It is He Who prepares and tends the soil of the soul, and it is He Who provides salvation and growth.
Paul emphasises these things: it is God Who does it all, not Paul or us. We are, then, the result of what God does, not what preachers or teachers or leaders do! We are also said to be God's 'building', or oikodome. This means edifying, building, the act of building, the act of one who promotes another's growth in Christian wisdom, piety, happiness, holiness, etc.
Again, it is God Who builds us up into mature individuals. Note this text well; as has already been said, it does NOT refer to the growth in numbers in the churches! Rather, it plainly tells us that God made us and saved us, and it is He Who builds us up in all the Christian graces, which is the 'increase' referred to in verse seven.
“According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.”
‘God has given me favour and I use this free gift to the best of my ability, as one who watches over the construction of a building. I gave you the basic principles of truth and someone else expanded on them so that you could grow. But those who do such work must take great care how they do it!’
In the late 20th century, thousands of self-elected preachers teach that we are now in extra-Biblical days, when God acts outside of His own word, for He is greater than any 'box' we would place Him in! That is, they are being licentious with Christian teaching and with God's word. Paul warns that whoever would follow salvation by teaching Christians young in the faith, MUST do so with immense diligence and care. They are accountable to God for what they teach, and so they must only teach what God commands in His word. Anything else (extra-Biblical) is a lie and a fraud.
Paul says that what he himself did was according to God's 'grace', charis. In this context, he refers to the favour of God: free and without obligation on God to act. Paul's abilities were given as a gift by God, by His own pleasure or loving-kindness, which issued forth in the salvation and faith, etc., of others. The word also refers to the spiritual life governed by the power of divine favour. Once again, nothing of self, but all of God!
As if to emphasise this, we are told that this grace was 'given', didomi. That is, granted to Paul, given of God's own accord without any merit in Paul. It means that God bestowed a gift and appointed him to office. We cannot just take it from God or demand it (although in other contexts, didomi can mean to ask and to receive, it does not mean it in this text), as so many today claim... which begs the question - if they claimed something from God as if by right, and what they receive is NOT of God, then what is it? The answer is obvious.
Paul calls himself a 'wise masterbuilder'. By 'wise', sophos, he means skilled, learned teacher, having the best plans and using the best ways to perform them. In context he means that God has made the best plans (see above) and, like a supervising builder, Paul brings the plan into operation in the best possible way that he can. Bear in mind - the architect works on behalf of a client, and not for himself.
A 'masterbuilder', architekton, is an architect or supervising builder. This contains the meaning of laying a corner stone, or the first in a series (i.e. of teachers), by a planner or author. So, Paul is saying that he was the first on the scene in Corinth, laying the 'corner stone' of salvation and ensuring that those who built upon that salvation had to be watched and guided.
Paul says that he laid the 'foundation', themelios. That is, the beginnings, first principles, or institution of truth. It is a fact that if the foundation is not right, then the whole edifice is in danger of collapse. Likewise, if a church is built upon lies and deception, then it is no church at all, for its foundations are wrong. The foundation of the true Church is built on none other than Jesus Christ, not on human teachers or super-preachers. Therefore, charismatic churches are in grave danger.
Those who 'buildeth upon' (epoikodomeo) the foundation 'build up'. That is, they finish a structure on top of what has already been laid (the foundation). It means to give continuous increase in Christian knowledge and conduct. False teachers will build badly, and their work will not stand the test of fire (verse 13). That is why everyone who teaches Christians in Biblical living and doctrine must be very careful what they say. They must 'take heed', blepo, beware, discern and understand, weigh carefully, what they say and do. Even many reformed preachers fail at this task.
The modern way is to give great leeway to erring pastors and preachers, whose ministries are one long stream of blunders and gross 'mistakes'. But this proves they are not called by God and have no right to preach or teach others! If a pastor or teacher is constantly 'making mistakes', even if he always 'repents', he has no place within the churches as pastor or teacher. If they cannot watch 'how' they work, then they are false.
'How', pos, means after what manner; in what way; by what means. The way they do things is of paramount importance! Yet, when the Toronto Blessing came along, big-name preachers were allowed to do whatever they wished, and they preached outside of scripture! Although they uttered many public heretical teachings, they were not warned or taken from office. Instead, they were praised and encouraged. It was said that they 'had to learn'! But this does not fit the Biblical pattern of teaching or pastorship. One day the work and teachings of these false representatives of God will be burned to ashes, and their falsity will be made known to all.
“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”
‘Jesus Christ gave us the principles of truth, for He IS the foundation - and no man can give us anything else.’
It is a fact that many voices today clamour to convince us that they have the Truth. Charismatic leaders go a step beyond this by declaring God to be acting outside of His own commands and statements in scripture, and that they (charismatics) not only have these new words of knowledge and teachings, but they also have the key to understanding them!
Usually, the interpretations do not resemblance scriptural teaching, and no logical connection even with the 'new' words of knowledge they invent, which often oppose what is said in scripture. They are not just trying to build falsity upon the true foundation, but they are trying to lay a brand-new foundation that is NOT the Lord Jesus Christ and His word.
Note that the foundation already laid is Jesus Christ Himself and not simply what He has said. Therefore, by laying this new foundation, charismatics are rejecting Jesus Christ and not only what He says. Reject one and the other is rejected automatically. Even if they claim to be simply building upon the true foundation with 'extra-Biblical' teaching, this is tantamount to rejecting the true foundation, Jesus Christ.
This is because the building set upon the foundation has an organic relationship with that foundation; it is not just put on top with no connection whatever with it! Just as a person cannot receive a transfusion of blood that is foreign to his own, but will die, so the Church (the building) is organically connected with the foundation, Jesus Christ. Both must be compatible, or the building will fall.
In the AV we see that no man can lay 'other' (allos) or 'another' foundation. Yet this is what charismatics are doing, for the word 'foundations' (themelios) refers to the beginnings, the first principles of a system of truth.
So, charismatics are not building upon Jesus Christ, but they are laying another system of beliefs which they call 'truth'! They have altered the truth as proclaimed by God. It does not matter if such change is relatively small or large... as Paul tells the Corinthians in chapter five, a minuscule amount of 'leaven' (e.g. corruption) affects the entire 'lump' or body, so it must be removed and the Body must begin again, as new-born (see interpretations in the Article on chapter five).
This has a great deal to tell us about the nature of sin, and the way God sees it. To Him there is no such thing as a 'small' sin. The 'smallest' (in our eyes) of sins is sufficient to condemn us.
The word 'can' ('can no man lay'), dunamai, is short but significant, for it includes the idea of being able, or having the power to do something...Man has no power of his own, nor the ability to do anything, which is why the text tells us that 'no man can' do this. 'No man', oudeis, means no-one, nothing, none, 'neither any man', yet men think they can invent their own schemes and get away with it!
Commonly, charismatics say that they develop their schemes and then present them to God to be approved and ratified! In this way they treat God like an underling, a clerk who merely rubber-stamps whatever men wish to do. They fail to understand that even the smallest activity and belief must be founded only on what God wishes and says. He must inaugurate and motivate an idea into action. It is He Who instructs men what to do and how to do it.
But, charismatics continuously invent things they think God will later approve of! They cannot (because they are incapable) 'lay' (tithemi - see above) another foundation... but they insist on trying.
The small word 'than', para, means 'besides'. What they build, if not genuine, is therefore 'besides' or at the side of. That is, not on the true foundation, but right next to it. This is the major characteristic of all pseudo-Christian cults, and it is designed to make the new system appear to be Biblical. It gains its credibility not by its truth, but by being very similar to the original. The original is the foundation 'that is laid', keimai. That is, the things 'set in place to be' by God's consent, destined to be, appointed, ordained; the laws laid down. Already accomplished!
The foundation is not just Jesus Christ Himself and what He says, it was ordained and set before the world was made! Let it be impressed into our minds and hearts: the foundation of our salvation and faith is Jesus Christ, Iesous Christos, Joshua or 'Jehovah is salvation'; the anointed One, the Messiah! Only One could lay the foundation, and He has completed it.
Verse 12 & 13
“Now if any man build upon his foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.”
‘Whatever a man adds to these basic principles of truth will be shown for what it is worth when Christ returns. It shall be made bare by the fire of testing, which shall burn away the dross to reveal the true nature.’
Beware, false prophets! What you think you get away with on this earth, will be tested by Jesus Christ on the Day of Judgement! And beware those who listen to them and follow their lies. The text says 'now', or de, so; if any man 'build', epoikodomeo. In this context, it means to build on top of a foundation already laid, in order to increase Christian knowledge etc. If any man build upon 'this', touton, this same, i.e. the foundation laid by Christ or, ho - 'the things' (of Christ).
The rest of the verse tells us that men can build all kinds of things upon what Christ has already laid: from good to bad, precious to useless. The very best things will be made of gold, chrusos, precious things made of solid gold. The works which are deemed to be 'gold' will be highly prized and rewarded.
The work of others will be like silver, arguros; silver usually adorned noble buildings in the form of an overlay or layer, but was still precious and in God's eyes are argos, or 'shining'. Other works will be like 'precious stones', timithios lithos. These are counted to be most precious, honourable, of good reputation, of great price and highly esteemed.
Then we come to those works that are of lesser materials, such as wood, xulon, which makes lovely objects, but which can also make things like gibbets, crosses and stocks, which kept people fettered and shackled, cudgels for beating, etc. The worth is thus lower and dependent on what the work is meant to do, etc. Many works in the churches today can be likened to 'wood', of dubious use and value.
Of even lower value is the work that is 'hay', chortos, - grass or other crops, items that grow and wither quickly in the sun; things with a short life. But, the lowest works are 'stubble', kalame, stalks of wheat after the grain has been cut off, or reeds that have been cut down (and thus of no use).
The works of men, then, are viewed on a sliding scale of usefulness and value. Those works that are prized by God will be rewarded with honour, but those works that are useless will be stripped of any earthly honour they once had, and will be exposed as being worthless. Sadly, most church works today are stubble.
The fiery test will be applied to the works by all men (and me) who claim to act on behalf of God. 'Work' (verse 13) is ergon, defined as that with which a man is occupied, his acts and deeds; the products of his mind... so even his thoughts will be scrutinised. This shall 'come to pass' ('shall be made') or be made 'manifest', phaneros, meaning: known, spread abroad, evident, plainly recognised. Based on phaino, it means 'be seen', brought into the light and exposed (i.e. made public).
'the day' shall declare it. 'The day' is the Day of Judgement, hemera: after the Lord comes again. It can also refer to a time when all sins stop (the opposite of 'darkness' when sins are at their worst). That day shall 'declare', deloo, it. That is, it shall make the works manifest, others will be told of them, 'because', or hoti, 'since', it shall be 'revealed by fire'. This fire (God's judgement) shall be the means by which the sins of false prophets, preachers and teachers, will be uncovered.
'Revealed', apokalupto, means to uncover, to open what has been kept covered up or veiled; to disclose what was not previously known. Included in this meaning is a root meaning, to actually hinder knowledge of something. If we trace the roots back far enough we come to stealing (klepto) and to 'keep secret' or to 'escape notice' (kruptos); all of which state that these false men deliberately hide their real purposes. Often, they will hide behind such phrases as 'I am a simple man', or 'I leave theology to others', etc. In this way they try to absolve themselves of blame for their own beliefs and teachings. The same is also true of self-appointed pastors and preachers (sadly, most of those who we know today).
In the late 1990's infamous 'Toronto Blessing' preachers such as Rodney Howard Browne and John Arnott claimed to be God's agents on this earth, but they uttered 'extra-Biblical' teachings, claiming that theology was useless, as was searching scripture. This is all klepto, stealing truth from others, and an effort to kruptos - keep the real truth secret.
'Fire', pur, means fire or fiery, something fierce and all-consuming. This fire will 'try' men's works: 'try', dokimazo, is to prove, test, examine to see if something is genuine or not, and if it is worthy. It is based on dokimos. In ancient Greece the men who made coins poured valuable metals into moulds. (Today, money has no value of its own, but only has 'face' value. In earlier days, coins were valuable in their own right, because they were made of gold, silver, etc.). Then these 'money-smiths' would shave off the rough edges to make the coins smooth. But many of these men were corrupt and they shaved off more than they should, keeping back the valuable shavings, thus defrauding people of the correct weight. (which is why, in just one year about that time, 80 laws were passed against this kind of fraud!).
However, there were some good and honest men, who gave exact weight. They were called dokimos, which meant approved or trustworthy. The fire will be a test of the men themselves: the prophets, preachers and teachers who claimed to do works from the Lord, and not just of the works they do. The test will discover if these men defrauded their listeners and reduced the true word of God to their own sinful level.
Dokimos also means accepted or pleasing (to God). It is from dokeo, which is 'seem good', reputed, or 'it seems good to me'. God shall test everything to see 'what', hopoios, 'sort it is'. Hopoios means 'what manner of/of what sort', what kind of quality (it is). So, God shall test with fire. The 'fire' is His own unerring word and perception. He already knows who are the deceivers and will reveal them in the appointed time.
“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.”
‘If any man's work remains as good, he shall be rewarded by God.’
If a man's work 'abide', meno, remain (i.e. stays intact), that is 'built thereupon', epoikodemeo, built upon a foundation already laid, he shall 'receive', lambano, have, take possession of, receive what is given, gain, a 'reward', misthos. The misthos means the fruit resulting from good labours and endeavours. They are given by God and are not received by people who previously cared nothing for Him or for His word. That is why 'Toronto Blessing' 'fruit' is false.
Notes: Lambano can also mean to take what is owed or sought; to take by one's own efforts. This is how charismatics see gifts, fruit and other things obtainable from God. They claim they can just demand them. But, this text clearly states that God gives them as a reward; we cannot claim them as a wage. Also, a 'reward', misthos, can be a good gift or a punishment, or a wage received for work done.
Again, charismatics assume they may simply take a reward for doing this or that activity (usually referring to increased numbers in their churches, which they readily equate with the salvation of many souls). They are wrong in this, also. If God rewarded according to our own worth and activities, then such reward (including salvation itself) would be mechanical and automatic.
In the world both the good and the bad worker can receive the same 'reward' or wage, because their contract states this to be the case. Conversely, a good reward given by God depends NOT on our own efforts (even if we do exactly what God says), but only on His good pleasure. It is HE Who decides to reward us; we must not see His rewards as being 'wages' to be demanded. Be assured, God will indeed 'reward' false teachers: if they are saved but disobedient, they shall be shamed before all, but if they are unsaved and pretend to salvation, they shall be sent to hell where their deeds will be destroyed continuously, along with their bodies and souls.
“If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
‘But if his work is consumed, he shall receive injury yet shall not perish. This being so through testing.’
The truly false teacher (and there are vast numbers of them), the man who is unsaved but who pretends to be saved, will know only hell. The false prophet who is saved shall indeed be shamed before the throne of Almighty God, yet he himself shall still enter heaven. Note the following types of preachers/teachers/prophets:
Saved and called
These men are truly saved and are obedient. They have received the call of God to preach, teach or prophesy, and do so diligently and properly. Nothing they do is of self, except by mistake. Such men have genuine office, authority and power, and must be listened to.
Saved and not called
These men are indeed saved and are brethren. However, they only think they have been called to office. It is a truism that a large majority of such men take preaching, teaching and prophecy upon themselves without any calling from God. Most of them may have a definite human talent for oratory - but no gift from God. Thus, they persuade by fine words, but not by God's prompting. If there are good results, i.e. people saved, this is due to God's providence and not to their own efforts.
An example of this was John Wesley, whose preaching resulted, supposedly, in salvation of thousands when he himself was unsaved. However, the very same men can be used to spread deceit and lies. (These salvation claims are disputed, but with distance of time we cannot now tell). This happens regularly in most pulpits. It is also a fact that most people think they should preach, as soon as they are saved! They mistake their own zeal and witnessing, for the calling of God to office. A vast majority of people appear to be in this category.
Unsaved and therefore not called
Sadly, huge numbers of men are of this type today. Although unsaved, they nevertheless occupy many pulpits. It is generally true that most Anglican clergy are of this type, both in the UK and elsewhere. Also, many more 'denominationalists' are now joining their ranks, as a direct result of charismatic teaching and preaching. Such men (and women) have no place in office of any kind. If they hold office, they must be removed immediately. It is impossible for these people to be called to office, because they are unsaved. God does not call the unsaved to office in His Church.
Unsaved, uncalled and deliberately deceitful
Far worse, are those who are unsaved (and therefore not called to office), but who set out to deliberately deceive others. Pseudo-Christian cults are of this type. Both this type and the type in (c) above are to be exposed and removed, their teachings regarded as suspicious and unworthy.
The works of false teachers will be 'burned', katakaio, consumed by the fire. This is not an actual fire. God can consume and destroy merely by His gaze or by His word. Such men (and women) shall 'suffer loss'; that is, they shall be damaged or injured. Those who are false but who are saved, shall, then, enter heaven after having their falsity exposed to full view. They will be shamed, yet they shall be 'saved', sozo: rescued from destruction/not receive the damning judgement of Christ; they shall retain their salvation.
This point should be emphasised for all who think we may be 'saved today and lost tomorrow'! If even false teachers will be shamed but yet gain entry to their heavenly abode - then so will ordinary folk. Do not let your doubt cause you misery: if you have repented and been forgiven by God in Christ, then you can never, ever be lost again! Yes, every Believer will be tested, and even if their works are consumed, they themselves shall enter heaven.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you.?”
‘Don't you know that the Holy Spirit lives in you?’
These thoughts ought to cause many men and women to hang their heads in shame, but also to repent and put their lives right! The Holy Spirit lives in us - what impetus to set our own house in order! 'Know ye not' asks Paul; 'know', eido, discern, understand, cherish. Paul asks the Corinthians if they understand and cherish this basic principle, that the Holy Spirit is actually living inside us, prompting us to do good at all times. So, how can we desecrate the temple which is our body?
The 'temple', naos, is the sanctuary. In Old Testament times it would be equal to the Holy of Holies, where God resided and into which only the High Priest could go to meet Him. Now, Jesus Christ is the High Priest, and He has entered the Holy of Holies. Through Him we have direct access to God.
Every saved man and woman is now the sanctuary in which the Holy Spirit lives! So, knowing this, how can we disobey and live wickedly? The word 'dwelleth' is rooted in oikos, meaning the house or palace of God! Bear in mind (as the next verse implies) that God can and does judge us on this earth. He does not always wait until Judgement Day.
“If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
‘If any man corrupts God's abode with unholy or bad teaching, God shall destroy him, for God's abode - which you are - is sacred.’
God judges many people whilst they still live on this earth. He definitely judges those who falsely teach the Body of Christ. Even the best and most honest of teachers can make mistakes. God is not referring to mistakes, but to deliberate and continuous false teaching, which deceives and is based upon a different system of beliefs. God says He will certainly destroy these men (and women).
Note that 'destroy' does not always mean death, but can mean ruin. The worst ruin a man can know on this earth is the removal of God's active Presence in his life. Such a man deludes himself because he sees large numbers attending his church, or has some other physical manifestation of apparent good. But, a large, growing and lively church may be just a sham, an empty husk, to be burned in the fire on the last day. It is lively, but not alive! Such congregations are false because the leaders deluded the people, and themselves.
These men 'defile' the Body of Christ. 'Defile', phtheiro, is probably from phthio, meaning to pine (away) or to (lay) waste. Phtheiro is to corrupt, to corrupt one's self, and to destroy. Make no mistake, false teaching destroys men and women, and their faith. It also tarnishes the earthly manifestation of God's word (although it cannot ever destroy the word itself or the will of God). These men corrupt others, just as bad apples spread their disease of death to other apples around them.
To the Jews, the word was used of anything, no matter how small, that tainted or damaged the physical Temple. They used the word to describe the Temple guardians (priests) who failed in their tasks. The word is also used to speak of leading a church away from true knowledge and holiness, something charismatic leaders are guilty of today. It can mean to perish or to deprave. Such men God will 'destroy'; the word for 'defile' (above), is used – phtheiro. Thus, God will punish them or cause them to perish (whilst on this earth, even if they are saved).
As His temple, we are 'holy' - hagios, or, 'holy things'/'most holy thing'. As Paul says 'which temple ye are'..."you are that temple!" How dare we desecrate His temple? How dare we spread deceit and falsity? Yet many do. We must all pray for wisdom and truth in our lives, that we do not fall under these same judgements.
“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.”
‘Don't fool yourselves! If any of you thinks he is clever in human terms, then let him become humanly stupid so as to become learnéd in God.’
Let no man 'deceive', exapatao, or 'beguile' himself. This word is based on the roots ek and apatao. Ek means 'out of'' or 'away from', with reference to a point of origin (in this context, from the source of truth) and apatao means 'cheat'. The deception spoken of here is the self-deception of a man who wanders from God's word. Before he cheats or deceives others, he cheats himself. That is, he defrauds himself of peace and truth and can no longer understand God's word properly.
This self-deception causes the man to 'seemingly' be wise in his own eyes. 'Seemingly' is dokeo, to think or suppose, to be of an opinion. He resorts to his own opinion of himself and disregards any idea of being sinful or deceived, thinking that his ideas are suitable and truthful. But, as the text indicates he is only 'wise in this world'; his wisdom is in himself and in what other men say. Unfortunately, many pastors and preachers are of this type.
Paul says that this is useless; the man must reject men's philosophies and again embrace God's word. To the world, he will then seem to be an idiot, moros, foolish. Based on musterion, it means that the man's new wisdom is hidden from the world, so the unsaved cannot understand it. But, to God, he will be a faithful servant, with the wisdom of the heavenlies, the only wisdom that really counts.
Many wayward souls today think that to be a 'fool for Christ's sake' is to dress up like a clown and perform antics before crowds! What a gross and simplistic misunderstanding of what God says! To be a 'fool' is to appear to be foolish intellectually - not making sense in human terms.
The purpose behind dressing like a clown and playing silly games, is to help break down the 'barriers' between Christians and unbelievers, in order to make the Gospel easier to understand. This is nonsense! God's command is to preach, not to clown about! Preaching, NOT clowning about, is the ordained way of spreading the Gospel.
Any 'barrier' is one instituted by God; it is the barrier of sin. Any man who thinks dressing like a clown is to be a 'fool for Christ's sake' is displaying his ignorance of God's word. He does not know God's will, and he certainly has not been called to preach and is without gifts to do so. The clowning is godless and sinful.
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.”
‘For worldly learning is godless to God. It is recorded that He captures the wise in their cunning and false wisdom!’
What the world thinks is clever and learnéd, God thinks is impious or godless (including clowning about!). Paul calls it 'foolishness', or moria, which is rooted in moros. In this context it means impious or godless (or, without God). Paul says that God 'taketh', drassomai, these people; He grasps/captures them with His hand.
There is a sense in which they are attempting to escape His commands, so He grasps them back again as prisoners. He catches them out in their 'own craftiness', panourgia, which, in this context, means cunning and false wisdom. This is expanded in the root, panourgos: clever, crafty, treacherous, deceitful.
This is the true nature of the 'holy' clowns (or anyone else who does not follow God's commands concerning preaching). Those who reject God's way in favour of their own are treacherous and deceitful.
A cry of dissent goes up: after all, it is claimed, these people are Christians who are only trying to present the Gospel! No, they are trying to be humanly clever! That such people might be Christians is irrelevant; if they do things outside of God's declared and required way, then they are deceiving themselves and others.
It does not matter which way a deception is spread: deception is deception, whether it is deliberate or not! The one who deceives is therefore treacherous and is teaching doctrines of men (which is equal to doctrines of devils). They are dangerous people to know, because they take others away from Truth and place them on the road of sin, and possibly even heresy.
“And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.”
‘It is also recorded that God knows that the reasoning of the world's learned men is worthless/useless.’
He 'knoweth', ginosko; He has full knowledge and understanding of the 'thoughts of the wise'. God knows what we will do, say and think even before we know it ourselves! Yes, He knows the 'thoughts', dialogismos, the reasoning, imagination, disputing, arguing, doubting. He knows us through and through!
Left to our own devices we can only sin. That is why God calls men's ways 'vain' or mataios, devoid of any real force, truth, success, or legitimate results. It means something is useless and of no purpose. Immediately, this points to the charismatic claims of bringing thousands into the kingdom. Their halls ring with cries of success and good results, but God says they are 'vain', totally useless and not successes at all! They have no purpose, for they are outside of God's will and word. And their words cause thousands to be led astray.
Of course, the same vanity is found in all kinds of pseudo-Christian settings. Charismatics are not the only culprits. However, the main reason for targeting charismaticism is that it is the 'connecting tissue' between God's word and falsity or cultism. It even connects with occultism. It is the medium of lies, and this is what makes it so evil. Hence concentration on its activities. If we fail to see the import of this movement, then we fail to understand the way Satan is working in these days.
Ah! Some shout - what about the 'fruit' within charismaticism! Surely this is proof of its validity? No it is not, for mataios (vanity) is rooted in maten, which means 'in vain' and 'fruitlessly'! And it includes the idea of manipulation and unsuccessful searching. When men depart from truth, everything they do is vain and fruitless. God does not give fruit when the roots are diseased or dead!
“Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;”
‘For this reason, then, men should not boast in their own learning. For everything is yours (in Christ)!’
Paul is telling the Corinthians that in Christ they have everything they could possibly need, so why insist on hankering after human learning? Why be proud of that human learning, when it rejects or fights against God? It does not make sense. Yet, that is what men do; they 'glory', kauchaomai, or boast and even rejoice in human reasoning, even though it is of no value to God or to themselves.
Note the countless and growing conferences, 'workshops' and seminars, which enthusiastically 'teach' men 'how to' preach, evangelise, counsel, and so on. What nonsense! They are just the teachings of men, given to other men who have not been called to their supposed 'ministries'. Anyone who needs a seminar to 'teach' him 'how to' do it, has never been called of God to do it in the first place!
The charismatic 'Alpha Course' is of this ilk: it dares to presume that men can be taught how to become Christians and 'how to' claim gifts and fruit! It is all vanity, useless and manipulative.
To glory in these devices of men is to glory in men's finite nature and limited understanding. That is why Paul is pulling them up short. He reminds them that as Believers they already have true wisdom (in God's word), so they do not need the false wisdom of other men. Christ gives us everything we require, so why search after falsity? Some say they prefer to try something than to remain ignorant of what God wishes.
This is itself falsity. It is an anxiety borne of lack of understanding. Whatever we know and whatever God wants us to know, at any given time, is all that we are supposed to have. God builds us up precept by precept. If we are living as we ought, then God will lead us as He wishes, into knowledge and Truth. We all gain these things at a differing pace and intensity, depending on God’s plan for individuals. In this way the lowliest garbage man can be head and shoulders above the most revered professor when it comes to Biblical knowledge and understanding!
So, 'all', pas (all manner of, everything, the whole), things are 'yours', humon: 'of yours' (belong to you). To desire after human wisdom in this circumstance is like the world's richest man stealing from his own bank account! Why do it, when it belongs to him anyway? We are princes in our Father's house. His riches are our riches.
Verses 22 & 23
“Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”
‘Paul, Apollos, Peter... the stars; or fullness of life, or death; or what is now, or what is in the future - everything is yours! And you belong to Christ - and Christ belongs to God.’
Paul is telling the Corinthians, and us, something very important, and he puts it all in proper order: first the Father, then the Son, then us. Everything, in all of time and from whatever (true) teacher is God's and belongs to them (and us). This is because we who are saved belong to Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ belongs to the Father.
Jesus Christ IS God, and so whatever belongs to God belongs to Christ. And those of us who belong to Christ share in this unlimited wealth! What the Father gives to Christ is also given to us, for we are His. To learn this fact is to learn God's wisdom: Christ first, and all else falls into place. Reject this and replace it with human wisdom, and we have nothing but pretty baubles of no worth.
This, then, is the crux of Paul's argument concerning whether or not men should follow him or Apollos, or any other preacher. True preachers all come from the same God. One is not 'better' than the other! They just do different tasks, as commanded by God.
If a man does to the uttermost whatever God tells him to do, then that man is doing God's will, and there can be no higher accolade. It does not matter if that man is a deacon painting a church door, one listening to the woes of another, or a preacher used in the salvation of thousands; each is valued by God. And the value of each is equal.
It does not matter who the preacher is, so long as what he says is of God's prompting. It does not matter if he lives in a mansion, wears a white silk suit and has a dazzling smile, or if he lives in a council house, only has one set of worn clothes, and has no teeth at all! (The reference to a mansion and suit is only used for illustration!). What matters is that he is obedient to the Lord in what he says and does. No one preacher is better than another, if each is obedient.
2016 Note: Though the original study was written twenty years ago, nothing has changed: charismaticism has become ‘mature’ in its sin, and has managed to ‘theologise’ its ramblings into an almost coherent whole. It is as easy in Protestantism as it is in Romanism! And that should tell you a lot about its source and aim.
Sadly, it is firmly entrenched even in the best of churches, who, just as they did twenty years ago, defend the movement for reasons I cannot fathom. One of those groups who thus defend it once told me that it would ‘Peter out’. I warned at the time that this would not happen. I was right. Satan will continue this charade as far as he is allowed by God. However, the Lord WILL finish it off finally and assign it to hellish pits, along with its fake teachers and those duped into accepting an Arminian version of the truth.
© May 1996 (Updated July 2016)
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
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The Bible Lives is published on www.christiandoctrine.com
Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH United Kingdom