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1 Corinthians 3:1-23 Guide


1 Corinthians 3:1-23

Opening: You might start your group by reminding everyone that one of the most amazing things about being a Christian is the fact that we have the opportunity to know some of what is on God’s mind. We can’t know everything that’s on His mind but (thank God!) He has chosen to tell us some of what’s on his mind. He does this through the scriptures; they tell us what God wants us to know!

Question: Does this encourage you? Why? What are the implications for our time together?

Transition: Chapter 3 of 1st Corinthians has to do with divisions and personalities in the church. Having shown that the Gospel of Christ opposed this age’s arrogant wisdom, Paul warned against the celebrities whom worldly wisdom had created in Corinth.[1] Creating celebrities out of these Christian leaders only divided the body of Christ and showed how immature some of the believers were in their faith.

Objective: Our objective for today is to work through Chapter 3 and see what Paul has to say about the folly of making celebrities of church leaders. We should never do anything that detracts from our loyalty to Christ and His kingdom, for He alone should be our foundation. Only by building on the right foundation can we grow in maturity.

Discussion 1: Read verses 1-4.

  • Why is it so distasteful to us when we see one who should be a mature believer acting in childish and immature ways?
  • From what Paul says here, what does spiritual immaturity look like? What are its effects?
  • How do we see this kind of immaturity showing up in today’s culture?
  • What would a spiritually mature person do differently?
  • Are there ways you are spiritually immature? How much influence do your desires have on your life?

Discussion 2: Read verses 5-9.

  • What do we learn about creating Christian celebrities? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
  • How does Paul describe himself and Apollos? What was their purpose? How would they have seen each other’s roles?
  • Who does Paul say is the only celebrity?
  • What can we learn from Paul and Apollos in our efforts to serve Christ?
  • How might Paul and Apollos’ examples remove the pressure to perform?
  • Who would Paul say is the only hero?

Discussion 3: Read verses 10-15.

  • What was the foundation Paul laid?
  • Are you building your life on the only real and lasting foundation, or are you building on a faulty foundation such as wealth, security, success, or a human relationship?
  • What does Paul have in mind when he mentions the different types of materials? How does it challenge us to spend our lives (or build a life)?
  • What do we learn about the role of the Holy Spirit?
  • Are you building your life on something other than the Gospel? What does verse 15 say about that?

Discussion 4: Read verses 16-17.

  • Each Christian has been built together into God’s temple or church. We believers are the stones of this temple (1 Peter 2:5). How can God’s temple (church) be destroyed?
    • Answer: Our temple (church) can be destroyed by the sins, the worldliness, of its members. It is destroyed by false teaching, divisions, quarrels, and slander of one member against another. Therefore, let us beware! Whoever destroys God’s church, God Himself will destroy.[2]

Discussion 5: Read verses 18-20.

  • What choices do we face in this passage?
  • Are you going to be a wise person of this “age,” (what the world says is wise) meaning embracing contemporary thought forms or transient/passing ideas of what wisdom is or will you choose what looks like folly to the world (God’s wisdom) in order to become wise?
  • As believers in Christ, we’re not to chase after culture or “cool.” We’re to navigate life from the Word of God. Do you struggle with this? How so?

Discussion 6: Read verses 21-23.

  • What is the only legitimate boast we can make?
  • We are simply servants of Christ and all of us who have placed our faith in Jesus belong to Him. So why are we willing to settle for so much less and yet call it more?

Application: Beliefs/Values/Behavior

Maturity of thought is this: “I am a servant of God and others.”

Maturity of lifestyle is seen in consistent actions to serve and not be served at work, home, church, and the community. Our words, our time, our reputation, our lives are not our own.

Know that we have from God the truth of past, present, and future. And since we have the eternal truth and not just the “news,” let’s not be grumpy, angry, unhappy, fearful, moody, and unstable. Let’s be joyful, hopeful, and faithful—let’s move into maturity. Let’s grow up in our faith.

[1] Pratt, R. L., Jr. (2000). I & II Corinthians (Vol. 7, p. 46). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Hale, T. (1996). The Applied New Testament Commentary (p. 605). Colorado Springs, CO; Ontario, Canada; East Sussex, England: David C. Cook.

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