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1 Corinthians 3:1-4

You can read the text here.

This is one of the more challenging passages in the letter. Thiselton, as usual was extremely helpful, and what I write hear is roughly in line with his comments.

The Corinthians had a problem.  The church had factions supporting different teachers. These factions were competing for status and claiming superiority. Paul's speech, in opposition to Apollos' (presumably) was rather unimpressive by the rhetorical standards of the day. He certainly wasn't the type of teacher who would help the Corinthian Christians get ahead in the eyes of the world.

Paul dubs this way of thinking as infantile and opposed to the ways of the Spirit. He wants them to grow up and act their age so he can build on the good foundation that he and other teachers had laid. Until the Corinthians were ready to give up their status seeking (one thinks here of Jesus' words, 'the first shall be last') they were never going to grow into all that God desired for them.

One point I was tempted to make on my initial pass through the text was that Paul was advocating that there is a more advanced teaching that went beyond the gospel message, or that the gospel is just a basic message for salvation. When considering the entire context of the letter I don't think that's what Paul has in mind. The issue he's opposing is status seeking which does seem to involve supposed special experiences of the Spirit, given some of the latter chapters. Additionally, some of the teaching in the letter is very 'meaty' and not the core proclamation of the story of Jesus. Why give them what you just said they weren't ready for?

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