A Building Permit for God’s Church

BIBLE INSIGHTS in 500 words


A Building Permit for God’s Church
1 Corinthians 3:10-17
Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.


In these verses we find the permit and building plans for God’s Church, “You are … God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9).


1-The Building’s Foundation: “No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (vs. 11).

Was Paul the founder of Christianity? This question makes little sense to us, but forms the debate that is the background of our text. Some in the church in Corinth (as well as some modern teachers) believed that Christianity was an invention of Paul who only looked to Jesus in order to form a new religion.

There are two glaring flaws in this thinking:

1-Christianity is not a new religion, but the fulfillment of True Religion as God intended.

2-The fact of the Jesus’ resurrection proves that Paul could not have made it all up.

Verse 11 is Paul’s response: he founded individual churches but THE “foundation” is Jesus himself (vs. 11). But there is only one foundation, Jesus Christ.

As is true with the modern church, the church of Corinth had shifted their loyalty from the true foundation to their favorite teachers creating the problem of “boasting” (1 Corinthians 1:29-31). Yet, Paul and other teachers are only “servants through whom you believe” (1 Corinthians 3:5). The word “servant” that is used here means “the one who waits at table.” In plain language, church leaders and teachers are people who serve the food, while God is the chef.

Do not make such a fuss
about the waiter who serves the food.
Worship the One who
prepares the meal.


2-The Building’s Purpose: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst” (vs. 16)?

The purpose of the church is to be a Temple (vs. 16). The church exists for worship. Paul addresses church leaders: Is what you are doing encouraging and empowering people to worship the true and living God in holiness and truth?

Paul lists building materials that were use to adorn a temple (vs. 12). Solomon’s Temple was resplendent with beautiful materials. This is an image of the church. Paul is referring to the church as a group of people rather than a literal building. Peter also writes about God’s people as “Living Stones” in the temple of God (1 Peter 2:1-10).

Jesus embodied the Temple of God (Mark 15:29; Matthew 18:20). Just as God’s presence (Shekinah Glory) dwelt in the Temple, God’s Spirit now dwells in the Christian community. Through the Spirit of God, we are now, today, equivalent to the Temple in the “age to come” (Mark 10:29-31).

Therefore, it is dangerous to build with the wrong materials (vs. 12-15). Care for the Temple, God’s people. To harm or destroy God’s Temple is a sacrilege (vs. 17).

To care for God’s people
is to prepare a Temple
for the Glory of God.


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