BIBLE INSIGHTS in 500 words
All Things Are Yours
1 Corinthians 3:21-23
Richard Leslie Parrott, Ph.D.
I like a sermon with a big ending, something that inspires me, lifts me to the heavens, and challenges me to press on. Paul has written with power and passion about the foolishness of debating over human teachers.
Paul concludes by telling the Corinthians that boasting about human teachers and relying on human wisdom limits who you are in Christ. In one sweeping, startling statement, he shatters human wisdom and its limitations to open the vistas of God’s wisdom, “all things are yours” (vs. 21).
All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God (21-23)
Paul breaks the limits of human boasting and human wisdom by giving us a partial description of the reign of God through his people. He lists a few of the “all things [that] are yours.”
- The teachers belong to you. It is not that the members of the Corinthian church belong to the leaders of the church, but the leaders belong to Corinthian congregation.
- The world is yours. God’s people are to be “kings and priests” in the new world (Revelation 1:6; Exodus 19:6). In the age to come, we are destined to rule the world in obedience to God. Jesus understood this (Matthew 5:5). Paul goes so far as to declare that God’s people will judge the world (1 Corinthians 6:2).
- Life and death are yours. As Christians, we are resurrection people. The book of Corinthians moves toward the Gospel message that Jesus’ resurrection will become our resurrection (1 Corinthians 15).
- The present and the future are yours. Even as we live in this present evil age, we are citizens of the age to come. We are now members of the kingdom of God that was established in Jesus and will be completed upon his return.
Here is the challenge for us:
- Why should we splash around in a muddy pool when the ocean itself is before us?
- Why should we drink dirty water when there is a sparkling mountain spring at our feet?
- Why should we limit ourselves to worldly wisdom, when the wisdom and power of God declares, “all are yours” (vs. 21).
It is hard for me to get my head around this vision and to make logical sense of it. Let me give you a definition of humble faith that I recently discovered:
“It isn’t a matter of knowing
that you’ve got it all together;
It’s a matter of knowing
that somewhere it is altogether
and that you are part of.”
Humility and confidence combine because we “are of Christ” who is on God’s side against the evil of this world, and “Christ is of God” as distinct yet united (vs. 23). In Jesus we see the Holy God who loves us.