All Things Are Yours
All Things are Yours
As one enters the Corinthian letter one discovers that the Corinthians were still thinking like unbelievers in certain aspects of their lives (3:3). One example is that they wanted to create sides or religious parties based on men like Paul, Peter or Apollos (1 Corinthians 1:12). Paul reminds them that men like himself, Peter and Apollos were all on the same side, they were simply servants of Christ (1 Corinthians 3:5). As chapter 3 ends, consider Paul’s points.
1 Corinthians 3:21 “Wherefore let no one glory in men. For all things are yours”
“Wherefore”: “What is the proper conclusion to be drawn from all this?” “Let no one glory in men”: “To glory in men, means to boast about them, their qualities, teachings, and wisdom in any measure or degree apart from Christ and the wisdom of the gospel. The Corinthians were on the way to that type of glorying” (Lenski, p. 153). There is no good reason to glory to man, seeing that man, by himself cannot find God (1 Corinthians 1:21; Jeremiah 10:23). Why in the world would one want to boast in a "wisdom" that is so helplessly inept? “For all things are yours”: “All of them belong to you” (NEB).
1 Corinthians 3:22 “whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours”
You Do Not Have to Choose
“Whether”: These are the things that "belong" to the Corinthians. “Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas”: “How can the Corinthians say, ‘I am of Paul’, or ‘Apollos’? That is too narrow, too constricted a view. You do not belong to them; they belong to you, as your servants” (Fee, p. 154). “Why should they claim Paul as theirs and leave Peter? They're all yours” (McGuiggan, p. 54).
Or The World
Paul here is not talking about “the world” that can draw us away from God (1 John 2:15), that is, that element of society or the culture that is in rebellion to God. Yet, the earth and all that it contains does belong to God (Psalm 24:1). In that sense, the world under consideration does belong to the believer, after all, it belongs to God and I am his child.
- “The point is that the world exists and subsists for the usefulness of the saint. Only the Christian can properly use the things of the world; the non-Christian generally lets the world use him” (Willis, p. 122). Another way to express this, is that the Christian uses the things of the world for God’s glory, to bring about a better life, to grow spiritually; the things of the world serve the child of God. While the non-Christian ends up being the slave. The Christian uses the things in the world as useful tools, while, the unbeliever becomes the tool that others use.
- In addition, the world, that is, the planet, it’s creatures and all created things are all examples of God’s wisdom, power and creative ability. All such things prove, confirm or will support the idea that God does exist (Psalm 19:1; Romans 1:20). Or, do not be afraid of nature or “science” because it will always backup what the Bible teaches.
Life or Death
“Don't choose life and reject death; both are yours” (McGuiggan, p. 54). Both life and death "serve" a useful purpose for the Christian. The Christian can use both to his or her advantage. "Death" is very handy when we are ready to exit this life, and go to our reward (Philippians 1:21, 23). Without death the Christian could never get any closer to God, and would be trapped in a decaying body. “Life with its possibilities and death with its gain – Philippians 1:21” (McGarvey, p. 66). I love the balance here. Do not fear death and yet do not worship it either. Do not view it as the answer to all your problems. Do not fear life and yet do not worship “life”. Do make either into something lesser or greater than they happen to be.
Present and Future
“Don't choose now and reject the future; all is yours” (McGuiggan, p. 54). All periods and possibilities of time belong to the Christian. Both the present and the future serve a useful function for the Christian, because both the present and the future contain blessings. See Revelation 21:5-27 and Romans 8:28. How poor the people of the world look who "live for today" (or dwell in the past), but have nothing to look forward to in the future. Who grasp for every bit of life in the present, and yet fear death. Who merely "exist" in this world because they are slaves of the world they were originally created to use. How sad to only possess a little "slice" of life.
- The same powerful and wise God exists in all ages.
- The God who exists today and will exist tomorrow is the same God who created the universe, protected Abraham, delivered the Israelites, protected Esther and so on. So I can trust Him (Hebrews 13:5-8).
- Opportunities always exist.
- God’s providence is active in all times and places.
There is a sense in which the past belongs to the child of God as well. Consider the following:
- The past is filled with lessons that only confirm what the Bible is seeking to teach us. People do reap what they have sown (Galatians 6:7). Sin does enslave (John 8:34). Righteousness does exalt a nation (Proverbs 14:34).
- The past is also filled with arguments which were made by unbelievers that are now shown to be completely false. In fact, the world often does not want to revisit the past, because the past is filled with bad arguments, false statements and inaccuracies when it comes to seeking to justify unbelief or sin.
- For the Christian, the facts never change. Truth is truth in all times and places.
- I was really struck by this recently when I came across a small booklet which was published in 1938. It dealt with alcohol, drugs, including marijuana. What I found is that the same arguments that people use today to justify such substances, were used back then, i.e. it is not addictive, I can quit anytime I want, it intensifies my personality, it helps me relax, etc… Yet, time has not supported such arguments. And the reasons to stay away from such substances are still really good reasons today, such as enslavement, the connection with moral compromise, domestic violence, drunk driving, and creating a thinking or mindset that is no longer connected to reality.
- What this means is that what sin or a sin did to a culture or people in the past, is going to be the same outcome today if people adopt it. We must not be so foolish to believe that “it destroyed them” but us modern people can handle it. Consider 1 Corinthians 10:1ff on that point.
Another observation I had at this point is that whatever wisdom or smart things men in the past have said, were typically already said in Scripture. Long ago Justin Martyr argued, “All that has been well said belongs to us Christians” (Second Apology). What he was saying is something I have often discovered myself, is that whatever good points or accurate observations have been made in the works of literature or in other religious texts, have already been made in Scripture. That all truth is really God’s truth.
- So do not be afraid of what wise people have said in the past, for it will only confirm what God has already said. Seeing that the Christian is a lover of truth, digging back into the past, or looking into the present or looking forward to the future, will only reinforce such truth.
- While the past backups up all that we believe, I love it that we are not told to live in the past. All the glory is not in the past. So the believer does not dwell on a golden age in his or her past, but rather enjoys each and every stage of life.
- Whatever truth men discover in the future, will only confirm the truth that already exists. So I do not fear the future, as if something in the future will disprove God’s existence or the reliability of the Bible. The future belongs to the believer, and what this means is that the future will only provide more evidence that God is right.
- For example, the statistics that came in after the sexual revolution, the advent of no-fault divorce and all other social experiments only confirm what the Bible was trying to warn us about.
1 Corinthians 3:23 “and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's”
“Here is the true slogan which abolishes all others. 'You' means all of the Corinthians as one body. This wipes out the ‘I’ in the old slogans, one individual over against the others” (Lenski, p. 158). “It is not that ‘all things are yours’ willy-nilly, or selfishly. They are yours because you belong to Christ; and all things are His (1 Corinthians 15:23-28). Thus it is only in Him that the believer possesses all things” (Fee, pp. 154-155). “And what is their response to be? You are Christ's! Act like it” (McGuiggan, p. 54).
Seeing that so much “belongs to us” we should never become people who are desperate. We are rich. It all belongs to us.
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017