1 Corinthians 3:1-23

God wants his people to grow as believers

1 My Christian friends, I could not teach you as I would teach people who have God's Spirit. I had to teach you as people who belong only to this world. You were like little children who could not understand the message about Christ very well. 2 I had to teach you things that were easy to understand, like a mother gives milk to a baby. You were not yet ready to receive proper food. And you are still not ready to receive God's complete message! 3 You still do what your human nature wants to do. You are jealous of each other, and you quarrel with each other. Yes! This shows that you do what your human nature wants to do. You live like people who do not know God. 4 Some of you say, ‘Paul is my leader.’ And other people say, ‘Apollos is my leader.’ When you speak like that, you are talking like people who belong to this world.

5 Is Apollos important? Is Paul important? No! We are God's servants. We told you God's good news and you believed it. Each of us is doing the job which the Lord has given to us. 6 When I told you God's good news, I was like someone who planted seeds. Then Apollos was like someone who gave water to the young plants. But it was God who caused everything to grow. 7 The person who plants the seeds is not important. The person who gives water to the plants is not important. The important person is God, because he causes everything to grow. 8 The person who plants and the person who gives water both have the same purpose. God will pay each person what is right for their work. 9 Apollos and I work together as God's servants. You are like God's field that we work in.

You are also like a building that belongs to God. 10 I am like a good builder. God has given that job to me and he has helped me to do it well. I was the person who built the foundation. Now other people are building on that foundation. But each person must be careful how he builds. 11 God has already put Jesus Christ as the only foundation of this building. So nobody can put any other foundation there.

3:10Paul was the first person to tell God's good news to the people in Corinth. Other people, like Apollos, helped the believers to understand more about God's message.

12 People may build on this foundation with gold, silver or valuable stones. Or they may build on it with wood, dry grass or leaves. 13 One day, God will show clearly how good each builder's work is. God will put each person's work into a fire on that great day. The fire will show whether their work is good or bad. 14 If the fire does not destroy the work, then that builder will receive good things from God. 15 But if the fire destroys a builder's work, that person will lose everything. The person himself will be safe. But he will be like someone who has run through the fire to a safe place.

3:13That is the day when Christ will return and judge everyone.

16 You surely know that you are like God's special house. As God's people, God's Spirit lives in you. 17 If anyone destroys God's special house, then God will destroy that person. And you are like that house. You belong to God in a special way.

18 Be careful! Do not think that you are better than you really are. Maybe you think that you are wise, like people today want to be wise. But if you want to become truly wise, be ready for other people to think that you are a fool. 19 People in this world think that some people are wise. But God thinks that those wise people are fools. It says in the Bible:

‘God causes the clever thoughts of wise people to confuse them.’

3:19See Job 5:13.

20 In another place, the Bible says:

‘The Lord knows that the thoughts of wise people have no value.’

3:20See Psalm 94:11.

21 Because of that, you should not be proud of any human leader. All leaders are there to serve you, as God's people. 22 Do not be proud of Paul, Apollos or Peter. We belong to you. All of this world, and life and death belong to you. The things of today and tomorrow belong to you. Everything belongs to you, 23 you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.