The Worldly Wise Man and Wisdom: Part 3 of 5 (series: Lessons on 1 Cor.)
by John Lowe
I must admit that I have been guilty of placing ministers on a pedestal, and usually becoming good friends with them, but I am sorry to say that they have always let me down. Now I accept that they are just like me, with the same weaknesses I have, and friends, if you ever try to put me on a pedestal, you will sooner or later be disappointed. Therefore let no man glory in men; in preachers like Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas. Above all, they should not form parties around human leaders.
for all things are yours;
The believer who glorifies, exalts, or adores another man is lowering himself from his high position as heir of all things. All men (including your teachers) belong to Christ, and therefore to you, by your union with Him; He makes them and all things work together for your good: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28; KJV). You are not for the benefit of them, but they are for your benefit: “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake” (2 Cor 4:5; KJV); “For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God” (2 Cor 4:15; KJV). Ministers belong to you, not you to them. The little word “all” indicates that the ministers belonged to all of the Corinthians; the special gifts God had given to them were all for their use and service, and for their benefit and advantage. Therefore, it was wrong to compare ministers, to prefer one over the others, or to form factions endorsing a specific minister, when he belonged to them all; and it is wrong to reject ministers, when every believer has a right to every minister. All preachers are for your use and service, and are ordained to prepare you for eternal glory. To say I am of Paul or I am of Apollos is to have a view that is too narrow, too constricted. Both Paul and Apollos belong to you; the whole universe is yours in Christ. Why, even death is "ours"; it is our servant, not our master! Death to us may be like the angel who touched Peter in Acts 12, causing his chains to fall off, and leading him through a gate that opens by itself, into real freedom.
The man who belongs to Christ is a child of God, and his Father will do anything for him. Nothing of the Father’s resources will be begrudged to the believer: “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32; KJV). He that has God has everything that can make him happy and glorious: all are his. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come; all are yours. And you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.
22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas,
These three are named, because the disputes within the Corinthian Church were mainly over them; but what is said about them is true of everyone, and particularly of all the ministers of Christ; that they belong to the church. The gifts which Christ bestowed on them, are not their own, but the church's, and are given to them, not so much for their own use, as they are for the good and benefit of others. They are made competent ministers of the New Testament, not through their own efforts (their education and study), or with the assistance of another man (professors, teachers, experienced pastors), but by God. God gives them as blessings to his churches, and equips them to be pastors and teachers by feeding them with knowledge, and with understanding. They are qualified by the Spirit of God for the service of the saints, and are set aside by Him for that purpose, and are established as overseers of the flock by his direction; they are placed as stewards of the mysteries and manifold grace of God, to dispense them with wisdom and faithfulness to all in his family, and are the servants of the churches for Jesus' sake, and therefore they are not to be idolized or exalted; although they are due respect if they are faithful servants.
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, may be an enumeration of some
of the "all things" of the preceding verse; the teachers, in whom they gloried: “Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ” (1 Cor 1:12; KJV). Conspicuous by its absence is the so-called "Christ party" in this list, suggesting that the words "And I am of Christ," spoken in 1 Cor. 1:12, are the words of the apostle Paul himself, and not the slogan of any kind of a faction at Corinth. However, that is not something that can be said with certainty; there may well have been a Christ Party that competed against the other parties.
These three ministers were appointed by Christ, for the common benefit of the church: "Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas, are all yours. One is not to be elevated over another, but all are to be valued and used for your own spiritual benefit. They are all equally yours, to serve you for Christ's sake.” The ministers of the Church of Christ are appointed for the hearers, not the hearers for the ministers. Whatever advantages result from the piety, self-denials, and labours of Paul, Apollos, or any other preacher of the gospel, are yours--you have the benefit of them.
They were not rivals and they had no desire to form parties. They were united in their desire to promote the welfare of the whole church of God. The doctrine is, that ministers belong to the church, and should devote themselves to its welfare; and that the church enjoys, in common, the benefits of the learning, zeal, piety, eloquence, talents, and example of the ministers of God. To say I am of Paul or I am of Apollos is to have a view that is too narrow, too constricted. Both Paul and Apollos belong to you; the whole universe is yours in Christ. The absurdity of their dividing over allegiances to any of these men is that God gave them “all” to the Corinthians.
or the world,
Not only all the ministers of the world are yours, but the whole world is yours; although you have been called out of it, and have such a little a share of it. The world was made for the sake of the saints, and is kept on their account; and when they are called by grace, it will soon come to an end. It is their Lord's, both as Creator and Mediator, and so it is also theirs. The good things of the world are enjoyed by the saints in a peculiar way, as covenant mercies and blessings; and there is nothing that can keep us from them, because we can confidently say along with Paul—“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39; KJV).
God’s Christians escape the evil things in the world, such as the sins and lust; and the afflictions they meet with in the world are made to work for their good; and since they are heirs of the world, just as Abraham was, they will inherit it in a much better form than it is now: the present heavens will pass away, the earth and all therein will be burnt up, and new heavens and a new earth will come down from God. Only the righteous can live there. The world, in its present state, is like a motel that has been designed to accommodate the saints, in their current condition as pilgrims and strangers; but then it will be like a palace, fit for the spouse and bride of Christ.
World is, without a doubt, used, in its common meaning, to denote the things which God has made; the universe, and the things which pertain to this life. And the meaning of the apostle probably is, that all things pertaining to this world which God has made—all the events which are occurring due to His eternal will and foreknowledge are done for them, so that it would contribute to their improvement and their enjoyment. This general idea may be expressed in several ways:
1. The world was made by God, who is their common Father, and they have an investment in it since they are his children: He created the world, and He is present in all his works. Nothing contributes as much to the true enjoyment of the world than the knowledge that everything was made by the Christian's Father, and as his children they may all partake of the goodness He has for them in the world.