For my part, brothers and sisters, I was not able to speak to you as spiritual people but as people of the flesh, as babies in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, since you were not yet ready for it. In fact, you are still not ready, 3 because you are still worldly. For since there is envy and strife[a] among you, are you not worldly and behaving like mere humans? 4 For whenever someone says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not acting like mere humans?
The Role of God’s Servants
5 What then is Apollos? What is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one,[b] and each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9 For we are God’s coworkers.[c] You are God’s field, God’s building.
10 According to God’s grace that was given to me, I have laid a foundation as a skilled master builder,[d] and another builds on it. But each one is to be careful how he builds on it. 11 For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 each one’s work will become obvious. For the day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire; the fire will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If anyone’s work that he has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will experience[e] loss, but he himself will be saved—but only as through fire.
16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s temple and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is holy, and that is what you are.
The Folly of Human Wisdom
18 Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become a fool so that he can become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written, He catches the wise in their craftiness;[f] 20 and again, The Lord knows that the reasonings of the wise are futile.[g] 21 So let no one boast in human leaders, for everything is yours— 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come—everything is yours, 23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
The Faithful Manager
A person should think of us in this way: as servants of Christ and managers of the mysteries of God. 2 In this regard, it is required that managers be found faithful. 3 It is of little importance to me that I should be judged by you or by any human court.[h] In fact, I don’t even judge myself. 4 For I am not conscious of anything against myself, but I am not justified by this. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 So don’t judge anything prematurely, before the Lord comes, who will both bring to light what is hidden in darkness and reveal the intentions of the hearts. And then praise will come to each one from God.
The Apostles’ Example of Humility
6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying: “Nothing beyond what is written.” The purpose is that none of you will be arrogant, favoring one person over another. 7 For who makes you so superior? What do you have that you didn’t receive? If, in fact, you did receive it, why do you boast as if you hadn’t received it? 8 You are already full! You are already rich! You have begun to reign as kings without us—and I wish you did reign, so that we could also reign with you! 9 For I think God has displayed us, the apostles, in last place, like men condemned to die: We have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to people. 10 We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored! 11 Up to the present hour we are both hungry and thirsty; we are poorly clothed, roughly treated, homeless; 12 we labor, working with our own hands. When we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we respond graciously. Even now, we are like the scum of the earth, like everyone’s garbage.
Paul’s Fatherly Care
14 I’m not writing this to shame you, but to warn you as my dear children. 15 For you may have countless instructors in Christ, but you don’t have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 This is why I have sent Timothy to you. He is my dearly loved and faithful child in the Lord. He will remind you about my ways in Christ Jesus, just as I teach everywhere in every church.
18 Now some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk, but the power of those who are arrogant. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you want? Should I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?