New Defender's Study Bible Notes
3:1 carnal. There is thus a distinction between “spiritual” believers and “carnal” believers, the one controlled by the Spirit, the other still largely controlled by the flesh (note Romans 8:5-13; Galatians 5:16-25). Carnal Christians are not necessarily unsaved pseudo-Christians, although they need to examine themselves carefully to determine whether their profession of faith in Christ is genuine (II Corinthians 13:5). Quite possibly they are just “babes in Christ” and need to “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (II Peter 3:18).
3:2 not with meat. Compare Hebrews 5:12-14. Baby Christians are wonderful to see, just like baby people; but if they remain babies indefinitely, they become tragic to behold. Spiritual growth requires, first, the milk of the word (I Peter 2:2), but then soon they should begin to partake of the strength-building meat of the word (Jeremiah 15:16).
3:6 God gave the increase. The soul-winner should rejoice when someone accepts Christ, but not boast, for it is God the Holy Spirit who has actually saved him. Those who sow, or water, or reap may have a part, but the praise belongs only to God.
3:8 are one. When God gives the increase, then “both he that soweth and he that reapeth [will] rejoice together” (John 4:36).
3:9 labourers together with God. Both the Father and the Son have been working together ever since the fall of man on their great work of reconciling man to God (note John 5:17), and we have the great privilege of sharing in this “ministry of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:18). Our faithfulness in this “labour in the Lord” (Romans 16:12) will be evaluated when Christ comes again “to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).
3:10 masterbuilder. “Masterbuilder” is the Greek architekton, meaning essentially “structural engineer.”
3:11 foundation. No part of a structure should be built without a strong foundation if it is expected to stand. Similarly creation is the foundation of the life of the cosmos, and Jesus Christ was the Creator before He became the Savior. The record of His creation in Genesis is the foundation of all revelation. Jesus Christ, first as Creator, then as Redeemer, is the foundation of any true and lasting Christian life.
3:13 what sort. The purifying fires of Christ’s judgment seat (II Corinthians 5:10) will try our works of what sort they are, not how numerous or how great they are. Quality and motivation count more with the Lord than quantity and reputation.
3:15 shall be saved. All who have made Christ the foundation of their lives are saved, and they will be saved even though their works are burned up at the judgment seat. This judgment, therefore, is of believers only, and will determine only rewards or loss of rewards. Note also I Peter 4:17 and I Corinthians 4:5. Judgment will “begin at the house of God,” when every man shall have “[his] praise of God” (I Corinthians 4:5).
3:16 dwelleth in you. See I Corinthians 6:19-20. In light of the certainty of our eventual meeting with Christ at the judgment seat, it is vital to live in daily obedience to the guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit. We must be especially respectful of our bodies and what we do with them, for He has made them individual temples to house His glory.
3:17 destroy. This destruction must be physical death, not spiritual, for the apostle has just assured us that all in whom the Spirit dwells are eternally saved (I Corinthians 3:15). Note I Corinthians 5:5.
3:19 it is written. This passage is quoted from Job 5:13. The preaching of the cross may be foolishness to those who are unsaved, but their wisdom is foolishness with God.
3:20 again. This quote is from Psalm 94:11.