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1 Cor 3 v 1- 9
1. And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.
2. 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.
3. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
4. For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?
5. Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
6. I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
7. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.
8. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.
9. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.
Particularly interested in the notion of God giving the increase. Noticed the cycle of plants growing on our allotment and makes you think a lot about fruitfulness and how God created things that needed work in the garden of Eden.
What are the observations from 1 Cor 3?
- – Starts with a reminder – they are not spiritual, they are carnal, and as babes.
- – Fed with milk, not meat because they can’t bear meat because of their envyings, strife and divisions. This is like men.
- – This is the back drop for the argument that is going on, it is carnal to say I am of Paul or Apollos. God gave ministers to every man.
- – Paul planted, Apollos watered (picture of man in the G of E doing the work which God commanded) – BUT God gave the increase.
- – Whoever plants, or whoever waters is nothing, but God who gives the increase.
- – The person who plants or waters are one. Fellow labours, God’s husbandry, God’s building.
- – Paralleled with building, one lays the foundation, another builds.
We can think about the early principles that are being called on here, with husbandmen, will pick up on this later.
Want to go through a few examples of how this word is used in the NT
Mat 6 v 28
Speaking of the God’s continual support of the lilies, they are arrayed, and they grow. The point being it is his hands
Mat 13 v 32
The mustard seed growing to become the greatest, this is like the kingdom of heaven. God’s hand at work here again. This is a man sowing and the implication being that the seed grows by the hand of God. There is no other input from the man.
Mark 4 v 1
We see here the word used in the parable of the sower. The seed that falls on the good ground springs up and increases.
This is similar to the pattern in 1 Cor 3 whereby there is a sower who plants the seed. The model is still being used around the plants.
Bear this in mind.
14. Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
15. So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers,
16. And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem.
17. But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,
What we learn here is that this is a description of the C of I in Egypt, but also the fulfilment of part of the promise to Abraham was integral to this. When we think about this being the “seed” of Abraham we start to draw the ideas together.
Lets look at the OT context for this.
Read Ex 1 – Ex 2 v 2
Couple of things I want to notice here
7. And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.
20. Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.
Know from Ex 12 that there are potentially a million people coming out of Egypt – from 75 people.
37. And the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, beside children.
38. And a mixed multitude went up also with them; and flocks, and herds, even very much cattle.
Draw parallels with Gen 1 and creation here
28. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
Instruction is to fill the earth in Gen 1 (replenish) – In Ex 1 we see a fulfilment of this.
It is interesting when we butt up the fact that we have a creation in Gen 1 of the earth and the things in it
and then in Ex 1, as if a new creation all on it’s own, but this is about the C of I.
The conclusion of Gen 1 is that God see what he has created and sees that it is very good.
We see a conclusion in Ex also – Moses is born and he is described as a goodly child.
5. And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
A picture of God sustaining and causing the herbs to grew, there is no man to “till” (serve) the ground.
When God takes the man in v 15 – he instructs the man about the work he should do. He is to serve the garden.
15. And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
Compared to the creation of the nation of Israel… Ex 1
13. And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:
14. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.
Here the C of I are serving Egypt, making from the ground, bricks for a sinful and incorrect building. They should not have been building the kingdom of Egypt.
God says that he wishes for the C of I to serve him in the wilderness, he says this multiple times.
16. And thou shalt say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness: and, behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear.
It is clear it is the wrong type of serving they are doing under the hand of the Egyptians.
God to to take them out into the wilderness in order for them to learn obedience to him and serve him.
What we know is that the C of I were considered an ecclesia in the wilderness. We learn this from Acts 7 where we have already looked at.
36. He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
37. This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear.
38. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
So we have a picture of this creation of a nation, the fulfilment of Abraham’s seed being multiplied, and then the detail regarding this nation being an ecclesia in the wilderness. All the while this has been guided by the hand of God, his hand has caused the nation to increase into this group that leaves Sin and goes to serve him towards the promised land.
It stands to reason then, that these principles, as per 1 Cor 3 where we started are seen in the establishing of the first century ecclesias.
The lead up to Stephen’s speech..
5. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch:
6. Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
7. And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.
8. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.
We see a picture here of the establishment of the disciples in Jerusalem, those obedient to the faith are being described at being multiplied greatly as the word of God increased.
Stephen draws this through as he likeness this to the growing and multiplying seen with the C of I in Egypt.
So we have seen the parallels between creation, the nation of Israel being multiplied into an ecclesia, and the growing and increasing that was achieved with the establishment of the first century ecclesias.
What then should be happening now. How do we contribute?
We know what was achieved through the work of Christ.
19. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21. In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
We pick up the growing here in Eph 2. Jesus laid himself as the corner stone, the building is then fitly framed and grows into a holy temple. We know that we therefore are part of this growing structure that God is causing to happen.
2 Cor 9
We can draw teaching from this letter to the Corinthians about what they shouldve been doing.
6. But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
8. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:
9. (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.
10. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
11. Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
12. For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, butis abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;
God’s grace towards us, providing we are willingly sowing, enables our seed to multiple and increase the fruits of our righteousness. We need to be focussing on this, we need to be willingly giving our lives to the service of God, and he will cause the increase in our fruits of righteousness through his grace.
We can learn more from the letter to the Colossians.
5. For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
6. Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
7. As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
8. Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
9. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10. That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11. Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
We learn here that the word of truth in the gospel brings forth fruit, and that it should be a desire in us to be filled with knowledge of his will. The aim of this to be fruitful in every good work, and INCREASE in the knowledge of God.
We can go on into Col2
18. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
19. And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.
We learn that the beholding of the Head, Christ, is about being nourished and knit together, being increased by the increase of God.
We learn that this is an ongoing thing that God is working through Christ to grow the ecclesia in a similar pattern to that of Creation, the nation of Israel in Egypt and the establishing of the ecclesias in Acts.
Just finish with the last two verses of 2 Peter
17. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
18. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
Simon Foster added
The faithful are scattered so that the word is preached abroad. A bit like the seed.
John and Jesus grew – quoting from Moses and Samson. Therefore you get to H5193 and Ps 144 v12 which feeds in to Eph 4 and the type of growing that happens there.