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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

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 things belong to you,

Adam Clarke Commentary

Whether Paul, or Apollos - As if he had said: God designs to help you by all things and persons; every teacher sent from him will become a blessing to you, if you abide faithful to your calling. God will press every thing into the service of his followers. The ministers of the Church of Christ are appointed for the hearers, not the hearers for the ministers. In like manner, all the ordinances of grace and mercy are appointed for them, not they for the ordinances.

Or the world - The word κοσμος, here, means rather the inhabitants of the world than what we commonly understand by the world itself; and this is its meaning in John 3:16, John 3:17; John 6:33; John 14:31; John 17:21. See particularly John 12:19; : Ὁ κοσμοσοπισω αυτου απηλθεν, the World is gone after him - the great mass of the people believe on him. The Greek word has the same meaning, in a variety of places, both in the sacred and the profane writers, as le monde, the world, literally has in French, where it signifies, not only the system of created things, but, by metonomy, the people - every body, the mass, the populace. In the same sense it is often found in English. The apostle's meaning evidently is: Not only Paul, Apollos, and Kephas, are yours - appointed for and employed in your service; but every person besides with whom you may have any intercourse or connection, whether Jew or Greek, whether enemy or friend. God will cause every person, as well as every thing to work for your good, while you love, cleave to, and obey Him.

Or life - With all its trials and advantages, every hour of it, every tribulation in it, the whole course of it, as the grand state of your probation, is a general blessing to you: and you have life, and that life preserved in order to prepare for an eternity of blessedness.

Or death - That solemn hour, so dreadful to the wicked; and so hateful to those who live without God: that is yours. Death is your servant; he comes a special messenger from God for you; he comes to undo a knot that now connects body and soul, which it would be unlawful for yourselves to untie; he comes to take your souls to glory; and he cannot come before his due time to those who are waiting for the salvation of God. A saint wishes to live only to glorify God; and he who wishes to live longer than he can get and do good, is not worthy of life.

Or things present - Every occurrence in providence in the present life; for God rules in providence as well as in grace.

Or things to come - The whole order and economy of the eternal world; all in heaven and all in earth are even now working together for your good.

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These files are public domain.

Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Whether Paul, or Apollos - The sense of this is clear. Whatever advantages result from the piety, self-denials, and labors of Paul, Apollos, or any other preacher of the gospel, are yours - you have the benefit of them. One is as much entitled to the benefit as another; and all partake alike in the results of their ministration. You should therefore neither range yourselves into parties with their names given to the parties, nor suppose that one has any special interest in Paul, or another in Apollos. Their labors belonged to the church in general. they had no partialities - no rivalship - no desire to make parties. They were united, and desirous of promoting the welfare of the whole church of God. The doctrine is, that ministers belong to the church, and should devote themselves to its welfare; and that the church enjoys, in common, the benefits of the learning, zeal, piety, eloquence, talents, example of the ministers of God. And it may be observed, that it is no small privilege thus to be permitted to regard all the labors of the most eminent servants of God as designed for our welfare; and for the humblest saint to feel that the labors of apostles, the self-denials and sufferings, the pains and dying agonies of martyrs, have been for his advantage.

Or Cephas - Or Peter. John 1:42.

Or the world - This word is doubtless used, in its common signification, to denote the things which God has made; the universe, the things which pertain to this life. And the meaning of the apostle probably is, that all things pertaining to this world which God has made - all the events which are occurring in his providence were so far theirs, that they would contribute to their advantage, and their enjoyment. This general idea may be thus expressed:

(1) The world was made by God their common Father, and they have an interest in it as his children, regarding it as the work of His hand, and seeing Him present in all His works. Nothing contributes so much to the true enjoyment of the world - to comfort in surveying the heavens, the earth, the ocean, hills, vales, plants, flowers, streams, in partaking of the gifts of Providence, as this feeling, that all are the works of the Christian‘s Father, and that they may all partake of these favors as His children.

(2) the frame of the universe is sustained and upheld for their sake. The universe is kept by God; and one design of God in keeping it is to protect, preserve, and redeem his church and people. To this end He defends it by day and night; He orders all things; He keeps it from the storm and tempest; from flood and fire; and from annihilation. The sun, and moon, and stars - the times and seasons, are all thus ordered, that His church may be guarded, and brought to heaven.

(3) the course of providential events are ordered for their welfare also, Romans 8:28. The revolutions of kingdoms - the various persecutions and trials, even the rage and fury of wicked people, are all overruled, to the advancement of the cause of truth, and the welfare of the church.

(4) Christians have the promise of as much of this world as shall be needful for them; and in this sense “the world” is theirs. See Matthew 6:33; Mark 10:29-30; 1 Timothy 4:8, “Godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” And such was the result of the long experience and observation of David, Psalm 37:25, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” See Isaiah 33:16.

Or life - Life is theirs, because:

(1) They enjoy life. It is real life to them, and not a vain show. They live for a real object, and not for vanity. Others live for parade and ambition - Christians live for the great purposes of life; and life to them has reality, as being a state preparatory to another and a higher world. Their life is not an endless circle of unmeaning ceremonies - of false and hollow pretensions to friendship - of a vain pursuit of happiness, which is never found, but is passed in a manner that is rational, and sober, and that truly deserves to be called life.

(2) the various events and occurrences of life shall all tend to promote their welfare, and advance their salvation.

Death - They have an “interest,” or “property” even in death, usually regarded as a calamity and a curse. But it is theirs:

(1) Because they shall have “peace” and support in the dying hour.

(2) because it has no terrors for them. It shall take away nothing which they are not willing to resign.

(3) because it is the avenue which leads to their rest; and it is theirs just in the same sense in which we say that “this is our road” when we have been long absent, and are inquiring the way to our homes.

(4) because they shall triumph over it. It is subdued by their Captain, and the grave has been subjected to a triumph by his rising from its chills and darkness.

(5) because death is the means - the occasion of introducing them to their rest. It is the “advantageous circumstance” in their history, by which they are removed from a world of ills, and translated to a world of glory. It is to them a source of inexpressible advantage, as it translates them to a world of light and eternal felicity; and it may truly be called theirs.

Or things present, or things to come - Events which are now happening, and all that can possibly occur to us, see the note at Romans 8:38. All the calamities, trials, persecutions - all the prosperity, advantages, privileges of the present time, and all that shall yet take place, shall tend to promote our welfare, and advance the interests of our souls, and promote our salvation.

All are yours - All shall tend to promote your comfort and salvation.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

1 Corinthians 3:22

Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas.

The gospel ministry as a property

I would say to the Church, in relation to this property--

I. Appreciate it. What on earth so valuable as a true gospel ministry? In it you have, as a rule, the most richly cultured intellect, the highest order of genius, the most disinterested services, the most sanctified sympathies.

II. Protect it from worldly cares, secular embarrassments, social slanders. Take care of it--it is more precious than gold.

III. Use it. You have eternal treasures in these earthly vessels. Take care, and get from them the “pearl of great price.”

IV. Thank God for it. It is given to you in trust. You must give an account at last. (Caleb Morris.)

Christ and thought

The text must be regarded as a warning against--

I. Intellectual levity.

1. It was far from the intention of the apostle in this Epistle to speak slightingly of knowledge, or of those gifted men who are its mouthpieces. True, he speaks depreciatingly of a certain wisdom; but there was another wisdom, on account of which he was prepared to suffer the loss of all things. Paul knew that Christ had put us into a fresh attitude of reverence towards the whole intellectual world. Christ taught us--

2. And it was no part of Paul’s purpose that the Corinthians should think lightly of their great teachers. In fact, he gives those teachers a very high place. “The world” is unquestionably a magnificent thing, and the apostle puts great teachers into the same category. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” &c. Intellectual men also declare the glory of God, and with an eloquence surpassing that of the stars.

II. Intellectual servility.

1. Whilst one party amongst the Corinthians set little store by any of the great teachers of the Church, the other three parties were in danger of paying these teachers exaggerated homage. Says the noble apostle: You do not exist for them; they exist for you. The apostle has just been remarking that the greatest sages have been guilty of the most serious errors; he then proceeds: “Therefore let no man glory in men.” The most gifted men are not infallible, and consequently they are to be followed with caution. The greatest teachers are only instrumental. There is a certain respect to be paid to the husbandman who brings forth precious fruits, but we reserve our full wonder and reverence for Him who alone gives the increase. There must, then, be no servility of soul in any of the congregation of the saints. No thinker must be permitted to coerce your intellect, no theologian to dictate your creed, no ecclesiastic to bind your conscience. God endows men that they may help and not enslave one another.

2. Here is a lesson for us to-day. Intellectual men are very prone to lord it over their less-gifted or less-cultured brethren. Sometimes they turn the republic of letters into a tyranny; sometimes they set up lordship in the Church. We see this despotism in philosophy. We are soon overawed by, and accept as gospel, what Carlyle says, or Arnold, or Ruskin, or Huxley, or Spencer. And we see this despotism in religion, and in the Roman Church in a very pronounced form. Now, our text warns us against such ignoble submission. “We are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” We do not stop with Paul, &c.; we are thankful for the stars, but it is still our privilege to have access to the Central Luminary; and all believers, even the humblest of them, share the illumination. It was given to tentmakers and fishermen to see truths not seen by prophets and kings; it was given to a peasant’s son to find for Christendom the Divine doctrine it had lost; it was given to a tinker in Bedford to have visions of God as Isaiah and Ezekiel had; it was given to Wesley’s “ragged regiment” to see truths of life hidden from the wise and prudent; it was given to a Northamptonshire cobbler to seize afresh and to give practical efficacy to the magnificent truth of the universality of salvation in Jesus Christ. Evils may arise out of an exaggerated individuality, but the right of the individual to be taught of God is too clear and too precious to be relinquished on any pretence whatever.

III. Intellectual partiality. These four sects were mutually exclusive, but Paul declares that all the great teachers belong to the whole Church. It has been said that an intellectual man ought to have preferences, but no exclusions; the Christian may have sundry preferences, but he ought to be prepared to get light from all who can give it. He must recognise the special truths insisted upon by philosophy on the one side, and by theology on the other, and joyfully concede the preciousness of the work wrought by the several denominations. Why should we shut ourselves up to one meadow, when the whole land is ours; to one tree, when the forest is ours; to one constellation, when the whole firmament is ours? (W. L. Watkinson.)

Or the world.--

The world is yours

It is--

I. The Christian’s temporary lodging place until God translates aim to a better world. This is the patriarchal view; they lived as pilgrims and strangers.

II. The Christian’s library. There are the books of nature--astronomy, geology, &c.; books of providence--history of nations, individuals--his own history.

III. The Christian’s spiritual mart. He has much to do both with earth and heaven. He is one of Christ’s agents for extending His cause and kingdom in this world. A Christian cannot be talkative; he has too much to do.

IV. The Christian’s school-room. In this school he is taught, especially on the Lord’s Day. Ministers are teachers. The Spirit instructs by the Word. Providence is a great teacher, so arc children. Christ placed a child in the midst of His disciples to teach them humility. He places sluggards under the tuition of the ant; and the ungrateful must take lessons from the ox and the ass.

V. The Christian’s battlefield. No battlefield in heaven, it is a palace; no battlefield in hell, it is a prison. This world to Christ was a battlefield. It is only in this world that Christians have to “fight the good fight of faith.”

VI. The Christian’s place for moral cleansing and adornment. He who has to stand in the presence of God and the Lamb, must be washed and properly dressed. Priests, Levites, washed in the laver outside the holy place, were robed and dressed before officiating in the presence of God. “Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.” There are no means of saving, justifying, and cleansing sinners, but in this world.

VII. The Christian’s road to heaven. Two roads in this world--the broad road leading to destruction, the narrow way that leads to life everlasting. Let us fear lest we should miss the way. Alongside the Christian’s way there flows the river of life; be constantly drinking its waters, and rejoicing you will go on your way to the heavenly world. (J. Robertson, M. A.)

That the whole world, with all things therein, is for the spiritual advantage of a godly man

He may say of the whole universe, all this is mine for the advantage of my soul one way or other. Come we, therefore, to show in how many particulars we may say the whole world is a godly man’s; it is for his use--First, it is the godly man’s school or academy; it is his study or library. The heavens and all things therein are so many books, whereby he admireth the wisdom of God (Romans 1:1-32.). Secondly, the world is a godly man’s, because everything therein is given him for his necessary use. Though he hath not everything, yet he hath as much as is needful to him. If you take a man into your house and bid him call for what he will, he may command everything in the house, though he doth not call for all things, but what is for his use--that is, as if he had all. And thus the whole world is for a godly man. What wealth, what honours, what health, is necessary and needful, he is sure to have. He that dwelleth by the ocean, he hath all the water in the sea for his use, though it is not necessary he should make use of it all. He that hath the use of anything, hath the thing. Thirdly, the world is a godly man’s, as his shop and place of service. It is that wherein he works and labours for God. It is the great shop for mankind to do that work God hath appointed them. It is the great vineyard, in which God hath set every man to work. This world is for doing; the world to come for receiving. Fourthly, the world is a godly man’s inn or lodging place, It is a provision God makes for a season, till they are ripe for heaven. Thus the godly are often compared to pilgrims and strangers. Fifthly, the godly have the world as the stage or artillery-yard--a place of exercise, wherein all their graces are to be drawn out by the opposition therein. To be quickened to the height of all thy graces, by how much more the combat and conflict thou hast, is exceeding great. The greatness of the tempest will discover the great art of the pilot. Sixthly, the world is a godly man’s, because all things therein are sanctified and made clean to his use. The objection, then, is, why have the godly the least possession of it, if they have the sanctified use of it? Doth not David complain that wicked men have the fatness of the earth? To answer this you must know that even those wicked men, who are said to have the world at their will, yet they have net the world indeed, they have it not as the godly men. “The little that the righteous hath, is better than great treasures of the wicked” (Psalms 37:16). First, whatsoever the wicked man hath, he hath it in wrath; it cometh from God’s anger. God is angry with the wicked all the day long. Secondly, wicked men have not the world, because they are overcome by it; the world hath them rather. Thirdly, wicked men have not the world, because they do not own and acknowledge God as the Giver of all; neither do they live to Him, but the things of the world are instruments to draw out their lusts, to make them the more wicked. They take the good creatures of God, and abuse them to wickedness. The very air, the very earth, is weary of them; yea, the timber in the house, and the stones of the wall do witness against them; they are, by the things of the world, made more wicked. Lastly, they have not the world, because they have not an holy contentation of mind; they are not quiet or satisfied in their condition. (A. Burgess.)

That godly men do only live, or the godly only do make a spiritual use of their life

I. That only godly men live. First, the godly man only liveth, because he is united to God and Christ, the fountain of life. David doth often style God “the fountain of life” (Psalms 36:9). And in His favour there is life. And in the New Testament, especially by John, Christ is made the Author of all life. Secondly, only the godly man liveth, because he hath a spiritual and a new life added to his animal life. Thirdly, the godly man only liveth, because he only hath the true blessedness and comfort of this life. He only hath true joy and peace of conscience, and this only the Scripture calls life. Fourthly, the godly only live, or life is theirs, because they only know how to improve the days of their life for God. Fifthly, life is only the godly man’s, because he hath an interest in eternal life. He hath passed from death unto life (John 5:24). He shall never die that liveth this life. Sixthly, the godly man only liveth, because he taketh his life from God, and referreth it to His glory. “Whether we live, we live to the Lord,” said Paul (Romans 14:8). Seventhly, the righteous only live, because they mortify and subdue those sins that kill our bodies, that take away our lives. Lastly, the godly man only liveth, because, even in the last breathings of this life, his hopes and comforts do most remain. “The righteous hath hope in his death” (Proverbs 14:32). And this hope is called a lively hope.

II. How can it be said that the wicked do not live, when they are said to have their portion chiefly in this life?

1. They are dead in their sins, and hereby their faith, their religion, their Christianity is all dead.

2. They do not live, because they are in a condemned estate; they are appointed to wrath.

3. They do not live, because all their time is lost, so all the time of a man’s unregeneracy is no life.

4. They make everything an instrument of death--their health, their wealth, their honours, are all deadly herbs in the pot; their tongue speaks the words of death; their hands work the works of death. (A. Burgess.)

The world is yours

1. It is useful as well as curious to observe under what different aspects the world is surveyed by different persons. The politician considers it as the scene of political changes; the soldier, as the field of war; the man of business, as the place for the acquisition of wealth; the gay and dissolute estimate it by its pleasures.

2. But each of these estimates is essentially erroneous. The Word of God affords the only criterion by which we can form a just judgment of the world. Instructed, therefore, by the light of Scripture, the Christian looks upon the world as fallen, and under a curse; but by the same Divine light he discovers that God, in His great mercy, has sent His Son into the world to save and raise it.

3. Every Christian, therefore, views the present world not merely as it is in itself, but as it is connected with this great plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. Its aspect is thus totally changed; it becomes a school of discipline, in which God places the heirs of salvation for their improvement and growth in grace; a theatre of instruction, in which are continually exhibited striking, examples of the truth and excellency of God’s precepts, the vanity of earthly pursuits, and the folly and evil of sin; a scene for the display of the bounty and goodness of God to those whom Christ has received as His disciples.

4. Thus “the world is yours.” It is intended for your use; it is adorned for your enjoyment; it was never formed to gratify the purposes of ambition, to satiate the lust of wealth, to be a scene of dissipation and unhallowed pleasure. The world is abused whenever it is used for these purposes. But yours is the world who use it for those ends for which its gracious Creator formed it; who survey its scenery, its mountains, &c.; and feel that they are yours because they were made by your Father. The world is yours who receive the bounty of Heaven with a thankful heart, and employ it, as God has intended, to your own lawful advantage and the good of ethers. The world is yours to enjoy it with moderation, thankful for the conveniences it affords you while a pilgrim and a stranger in it, in your way to a better and heavenly country. The world is yours who enjoy the blessing of God upon all your possessions and occupations in it, and possess in your souls “the peace of God which passeth all understanding.” (J. Venn, M. A.)

Christ and nature

I. Let us seek to establish the truth of the text--that the world is ours. Many ridicule this assertion. The conception that the earth was the centre of the universe has been entirely disproved. Now, man imagines himself to be the centre of the universe of things, the end for which the whole creation has groaned and travailed through countless ages, and groans and travails still. This view is declared to be an insane egotism. Let us see.

1. The world is realised only in man. It was only a mass of dark force, a dance of atoms, a whirlpool of vibrations, until Adam came. The universe is revealed only in the sense and in the thought of humanity.

2. The world is comprehended only by man. Geology makes the world of the past ours; astronomy makes the worlds above our head ours; a score of sciences make the world at our feet ours. The world is ours, for we comprehend its laws, perceive its unity, mark its developments, rejoice in all its wonderful movements and manifestations. A thing is pre-eminently made for the mind which comprehends it.

3. The world is claimed only by man. Man instinctively acts as if the whole world belonged to him. Ages ago the Psalmist celebrated the splendid sovereignty of man: “Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet.” And the fact is not less apparent to-day. Each living creature keeps within its narrow world, but men with telescope, microscope, spectroscope, go forth to claim the wide universe. If men acknowledge that the material realm has a centre, a master, an end, they are compelled to recognise that humanity alone meets the requirements of the case. If you take away man you must put what is inferior in his place.

II. Let us show how in Christ we realise our property in created things. “We see not yet all things put under” man. He has dropped the sceptre, or it has been wrested from him. But in Christ the government of the world is being restored to us. To illustrate this, look at--

1. The Christian creed.

2. Christian character. What humanity has lost of authority over nature through ignorance, lust, pride, sloth, covetousness, violence, cruelty, it shall recover through Christ in humility, kindness, wisdom, earnestness, truth, and love. Through righteousness shall we become heirs of the world. More righteousness, and our dominion shall extend over the vast, wild, mysterious forces of the material universe; more righteousness, and the birds of the air, the beasts of the field shall become our loyal subjects as we do not now dream; more righteousness, and desert places shall blossom as the rose.

3. Christian civilisation.

1. If the world is ours, let us carefully claim it. There would be less “godless science” if religious people more directly and fully put in their claim to nature. If you notice a piece of unclaimed ground anywhere, somebody will shoot his rubbish there; and so if we neglect to claim nature for God, an atheistical science will soon accumulate its rubbish there. Be sure you realise all that creation will give and teach. Enjoy all its physical fruits and treasures so far as they may be given unto you. Then, remember its intellectual ministry. It is to enrich thought, to exalt and expand the mind, to kindle the imagination and feeling. But, above and beyond all this, nature has a ministry to our spirit. Our Lord showed us this. What lessons He found in the lily and in the bird! &c. “The world is ours.” It is a magazine of instruments for our service; it is a school full of diagrams for our instruction; it is a sanctuary whose grand symbols, properly interpreted, are sacraments indeed. Man was not made for the world, but the world for man, and we must be careful to realise all the wealth and blessing of our great inheritance.

2. Does any one object, “But this proprietorship is all visionary--how can a man without a foot of land say, the world is mine?” To say that the fields and hills are ours only when we have certain parchments made out in our name, and locked up in our iron safe, that is the artificial proprietorship. That is truly ours which enlarges our mind, rejoices our heart, purifies our life. (W. L. Watkinson.)

Or life, or death.--

Life and death are yours

I. Life is yours.

1. It is obvious that St. Paul does not mean that any one is supreme over the events or circumstances of his life. Save in so far as virtue conducts to health and prosperity, there is, in this sense, but one end and course to the righteous and the wicked.

2. St. John wrote in Patmos, “He hath made us kings.” This royalty was untouched by transportation and imprisonment. This is a sufficient commentary upon the text. Life is yours still, whatever its condition. You are not its slave because it is adverse. The man who can say, “I have learned the great secret, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content”; “I am in the hand of God, and God is my Father”--is a king in reference to that life, and every part of it. But this empire of the man over his own life is the privilege of him alone who recognises Christ’s empire over him. “Life is yours, and ye are Christ’s.” Give yourself to Him, and then life is yours.

II. Death is yours.

1. Who shall echo this? Who that has seen death can do so with any feeling of truth? No, rather we say, as St. Paul (in a different connexion) says, Death reigns. Death is the limit of our free action, as well as the terminus of our long journey. All may be ours up to death, but not further.

2. How shall we interpret this which is here written as to our ownership of death?

(a) Death is the master of the fallen being, as fallen. It makes every plan precarious. How soon must this right hand lose its cunning! There is not a purchase which can be more than a few years’ possession, because of this reign of death over the individual. Hence that feverish eagerness in crowding two years’ work or ten years’ work into one.

(b) It is into existences thus circumstanced that St. Paul bears the startling explanation of the gospel, “Death is yours.” Instead of thus cowering and grovelling before the grim phantom, play the man. Death is yours. Take it betimes for your possession, and it shall be great gain. Look to it as the goal and prize of your being; expect it as the admission into a presence which is the fulness of joy, and you will find its very name and nature transfigured. See it as the gate of life, and it shall be yours, not you its, while you live; and it shall be yours, not you its, when you come to die.

(a) We are apt, by fallen nature, to see ourselves cruelly vanquished by the onslaught of death upon those we love. Many who could face their own death with something better than fortitude, are yet conquered by death when he assails them through another.

(b) Yet in Christ we still own the dead. They are ours, not in hope only of reunion, but in possession too and fruition. Our richest stores of all must surely be those which are the most safely garnered. Our most real heirlooms are the memories and the affections of the dead. Death has set his seal upon them. What they were, in faith and patience, in wisdom and beauty, in grace and love--that are they for ever, that are they to us. (Dean Vaughan.)

Christ and life

We maintain that life is ours as against--

I. The fatalist, who teaches that we are the slaves of time, place, organisation, and circumstance. Our personal life is sacrificed to the exigencies of nature and humanity; just as the Egyptian tyrant made slaves of the Israelites, and compelled them to build the pyramids, so we are simply tools in the hands of necessity, building strange structures which at last are sepulchres. In opposition to this, the apostle declares that “life is ours”--our servant, with a hundred hands, enriching us with measureless blessings. Christ liberates us from the bondage of the outside world. Science is man asserting his liberty as against nature; history is man asserting his liberty as against the despotism of climate, situation, and material fortune; and Christian life is man asserting his personal liberty as against hereditary influences and current circumstances, and using these in such a way that they build up his character in the full power and beauty of righteousness. Man apart from Christ is too often the manifest creature of circumstances--success inflates him; failure crushes him; darkness makes a worm of him; and sunshine a butterfly. But in Christ life becomes ours, and we use it towards the attainment of that ideal moral perfection which is the mark of the prize of our high calling. You are not the poor vassals of outside forces, you are not sacrificed to the type, you are not insignificant as the coral worm which builds the reef and perishes in the depths, you are free to use the world, and to be served by it in the very largest and grandest sense. The bee does not find honey in every flower, nor the diver a gem in every shell, but in Christ all things are yours, and every emotion within, every action and circumstance without, shall strengthen and refine.

II. The pessimist, who holds that life is our foe, that to live is a misfortune. It is little matter whether you are rich or poor; life is weeping; the rich man wipes his eyes with a silk, the poor man with a cotton handkerchief, and it doesn’t much matter. It is little matter whether you are wise or ignorant; perhaps it is better to be ignorant, since he who increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. Froude writes of Carlyle, “Every day he told me he was weary of life, and spoke wistfully of the old Roman method. Increasing weakness only partially tamed him into patience, or reconciled him to an existence which, even at its best, he had more despised than valued.” John S. Mill says his father “thought human life a poor thing at best, after the freshness of youth and of unsatisfied curiosity had gone by … He would sometimes say, that if life were made what it might be, by good government and good education, it would be worth having; but he never spoke with anything like enthusiasm even of that possibility.” Miss Martineau says, “You will feel at once how earnestly I must be longing for death--I, who never loved life, and who would any day of my life have rather departed than stayed. Well! it can hardly go on very well much longer now. But I do wish it was permitted to us to judge for ourselves a little how long we ought to carry on the task which we never desired and could not refuse.” That is, she wishes that suicide were permitted. “The world’s winter is going, I hope, but my everlasting winter has set in.” Thus sadly wrote George Eliot. Now, in opposition to all this, the text declares that in Christ “life is ours.” The New Testament everywhere holds human life as a precious and blessed thing. Not that Christianity fails to recognise the sad element in human life. Yet, in face of a groaning and wailing creation, it maintains that life is the crowning benediction, to be prized by us all, to be held fast with gratitude and wonder and hope. And living in Christ we prove that life is a blessing. Christ makes man to rejoice in life--

1. By discovering a great purpose in it--the perfection of our immortal spirit, through the love of God and the keeping of His commandments. Here is something to live for.

2. By putting a great strength into it. “I can do all things through Christ, who strengtheneth me.”

3. By putting a great love into it. The great curse of life is egotism, selfishness. If our pessimists would only leave their selfish moonings and lay themselves out to help, and bless all who are about them, it would soon change their philosophy.

III. The sensualist. There is an idea abroad that life belongs to the man who lives to the end of self-indulgence. To see the world of animal indulgence is spoken of as “seeing life.” One following a course of licence is said to be “fond of life.” Such life is called “fast life,” “gay life,” and those who live it say to the Christian, “You have some advantage now, you have also great expectations beyond, but surely this life here and now is ours.” This we deny. Life, here and now, is ours--it is our inheritance who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit. A man who merely lives on the carnal side misses the real depth and fulness of life. You may say that the Greenlander is alive, and that he enjoys life; but what a different thing from the life of Europe! And the spiritual life of man goes still beyond. Now, the man who knows not this life, knows not the true life of man--living for meat and drink and raiment, he is dead while he liveth. To be carnally minded is death--the death even now of the finer faculties of the living soul. Christ enables us to realise life in all its fulness.

1. The life of the senses is ours in Christ. He is “the Lord of the body,” and as we live to Him the sensational life becomes ours. The very restraint and moderation which the Christian creed imposes on all material enjoyment only puts us in fuller possession of that enjoyment. We lose our life to find it.

2. Christ leaves us free to expatiate through the whole intellectual world.

3. And, most of all, He brings out that Divine nature of ours in which we most truly and gloriously live. As the summer shines on the landscape, and brings green leaves out of the barren stems, full flowers from the sleeping bulbs, singing birds from the silent woods, a world of sweet smells and bright colours and rich music, so Christ acts upon human nature, realising its instincts, its faculties, its powers, making it to blossom as the rose, to stretch its wings like the eagle, to thrill with joyous feeling as the harp with many strings. Our modern poet tells that “more life and fuller” is what we most need. Surely we find this in Christ. He came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly.

IV. The ascetic, who denies to the Christian the pleasures of life; he considers that the more meagre, starved, and sad our life is, the safer and better it is, and the nearer to the true ideal. Let us remember that in Christ “life is ours”--all good, bright, glad things. And life shall be ever brighter with us to the perfect day. True life implies constant renunciation, but it implies also constant acquisition. We do not so much put away joy and gladness, as we keep changing one joy for a higher, one glory for a fuller, one gift for a more excellent gift. Christian life often involves self-denial; but every act of renunciation is followed by the acquisition of a strength and treasure, a beauty and blessedness, altogether more deep and precious. (W. L. Watkinson.)

Death is yours

Death is the property of the Christian--

I. As bringing a conclusion to all his sorrows. It is, to the Christian, the Red Sea, where all pursuing enemies are arrested and perish--the confines of Canaan, where the wilderness, with all its privations and perils, terminates--the perfect sleep, in which the toils of the day are all forgotten, not a dream even, or floating reminiscence, disturbing its composure.

II. As forming the introduction to his heavenly joys. When Hannibal was conducting his troops through Alpine heights, before deemed impassable, and they were ready to yield in despair amid the snows and crags and gulfs which surrounded them, he found it sufficient for their reinvigoration to tell them of the fertile Italy they were triumphantly to subdue. Be the boundary of life, then, ever so steep, frowning, and unproved, should not the prospect of Canaan suffice to sustain us amid all its wilds and terrors? We must not judge of what death is to the departing soul by what it is to the survivors. Elisha prayed that his servant’s eyes might be opened to see the defence by which they were encompassed. Were a similar prayer to be heard on behalf of Christians lamenting the departure of friends, a sight would be exhibited superior at once in its glory and its efficacy.

III. As itself contributing to his present and future well-being.

1. The Greeks and Romans had an adage that no man should be accounted happy till he was dead--thus indicating that a desirable end was a chief element of happiness. But in the connection of our text we have death classed with the present possessions of the Christian, subordinated to his interests, and enhancing life itself by augmenting holiness, usefulness, and reward. Paul says (Acts 20:24), “But none of these things (trials, &c.) move me; neither count I,” &c. And so the last stage, anticipated and realised, gives energy to prior stages; and life, while it lasts, is turned to account, and rendered more vital and vitalising, through that solemn change beheld in the vista (2 Peter 1:13, &c.).

2. Death is serviceable to the Christian not only in prospect, but also at the time it befalls him, in affording him occasion for the greatest of victories. There is not, indeed, always the same manifestation of triumph; but it comes effectually and seasonably. “Thanks be to God who giveth us the victory,” &c. In case entrance to heaven be abundant, then indeed is grace specially magnified, and the soul in which it dwells is blessed in its commendation. We have not many accounts of death-bed scenes and experiences in the New Testament. Still examples are given us which verify the exclamation, “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright; for the end of that man is peace!” Nothing in all Stephen’s foregoing service was so serviceable to the cause of the gospel as his martyrdom, and on the very border of sealing his testimony with his blood Paul said, “I am now ready to be offered,” &c. Come, ye devotees of pleasure, and witness such spectacles; and say if all your cravings for delight can find anything to equal this transport! Welt may it extort from a very Balaam the aspiration, “Let me die the death of the righteous.” It will be eternally good for the Christian to have died. He will thereby be made more like to the Saviour. Think, too, what eternal life will gain by contrast with this. Conclusion: The practical lesson of all is to make sure of death being ours. With multitudes the great aim is to secure benefits of which death will despoil them. By all their acquisitions they are only extending the ravages of the King of Terrors. Be it your aim to coerce hostility into friendship, and make the very spoiler yours. (D. King. LL. D.)

Death is yours

I. The forerunners of death are for our advantage. These, indeed, are often not joyous but grievous at first, but afterwards yield the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby. In common life we often consider those things which are attended with a very considerable degree of pain, as advantageous, because they are so in their results. For instance, a man suffers the amputation of a limb, because he hopes that the operation will be productive of good: and so it is eventually; life is spared. Now, on the same principle, but on higher grounds, we should learn to submit to those afflictions, whatever they may be, that are the precursors of death, to put us in mind that the great destroyer is on his way. “Our light affliction, which is but for a moment,” &c.

II. All the circumstances of death are for our advantage--time and place and manner. “My times are in Thy hand.” And we know that God’s time is the best; and the place, too, in which we shall expire, and the manner of our death--both will be of Divine appointment, and will prove to be the best. The manner of your death--whether it be natural or violent--whether it be a sudden death, or preceded by a lingering and distressing illness--all these things are ordered by the Lord.

III. The consequences of death are for our advantage. I do not wonder that people are unwilling to think of death who have not a good hope through grace; but the heir of eternal life can look forward beyond all the dark clouds that intervene between him and the consummation of his happiness, and “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” “Death is yours,” if you are members of Christ, for your advantage

1. Because there will then be an end of all evil--not only moral evil, or sin, but all natural, inward suffering.

2. Because as soon as it takes place, your happy spirits, disentangled from the encumbrance of these tenements of clay, enter into eternal rest. (J. Entwisle.)

Death an advantage to the Christian

Death is ours--

I. As the means of deliverance from all the inconsistencies and sinfulness of time. Select any of the people of God whose lives are recorded in the Word of God, and how often have we reason to deplore their inconsistencies! But for death this would be the eternity of their history.

II. As the means of delivering us from all weakness and imperfection, whether of body or of mind.

III. As the means of relieving us from the isolated position which we occupy in this world. About the angels we know nothing; we are separated from them. What do we know about the immediate presence of God; the joys of a glorious immortality; the power of the fellowship that is formed around the everlasting throne? By death we enter into the universal region of the good. Conclusion: Sinner, death is not yours--he brings you no benefit. You are his victim. He comes as the messenger of justice to lead you to the judgment seat, to hear the doom which you are to undergo, world without end. Painful as your pilgrimage on earth may be, it is your highest happiness. Your happiness must terminate with its close. You are death’s, and when death seizes you, instead of delivering you from your sins and imperfections, all your sins and imperfections are confirmed for ever. (J. Burnett.)

Death, the privilege of the believer

“Death is yours” if you look at it--

I. In reference to others.

1. It is so when you seriously regard its universal appointment. There are multitudes who acknowledge this mournful fact, but who derive no advantage whatever from the solemn occurrence. It is otherwise with the Christian; he beholds a number of lessons which, by Divine grace, he is enabled to learn.

2. It is so when you are impressed by the deaths of particular characters.

II. In reference to ourselves. “Death is yours,” as it is--

1. A complete deliverance from sin.

2. A final termination of suffering.

3. A retreat from injurious and distressing associations.

4. Secures your admission to the enjoyment of all possible good. (J. Clayton.)

Death for the advantage of the good

Let us consider in how many particulars death is a godly man’s; it is for his benefit and comfort. And first, in this respect, because by death he gaineth, he is invested with greater glory, joy, and happiness than this world can afford. All the while a godly man liveth in this world he is a loser, he is kept from his best treasures, he is not enjoying his best blessings, which will be vouchsafed to him. The apostle doth fully express it (2 Corinthians 5:4). We would gladly be clothed with immortality, yet to put off this mortal body is grievous; as little children cry for their new garments, and yet cry while they are putting them on. Secondly, death is a godly man’s, because it putteth a period to all those miseries and troubles he was here exercised with. It is the haven, after all the tossings he had in this world. Thirdly, death is theirs, because it is the finishing of all their works and service, and by that they come for their wages. How doth the labouring man long for the end of the day, or the week, that he may come to receive his wages? Fourthly, death is the godly man’s, because the meditation and thoughts of it are sanctified to him. He liveth as one that expecteth it daily. Fifthly, death is the godly man’s, because he only knoweth how to die well, as we told you. Life was his, because he only could tell how to live. So death is his, because he only knoweth how to die. Simeon saith (Luke 2:29). Sixthly, the godly man hath death as an advantage, if you respect the time and season of his death. His death is not only mercy, but the time of his death is mercy. The term of every man’s life is appointed by God, “To Him belong the issues of death” (Psalms 68:20). Now God in great wisdom and mercy hath determined the time of thy death. Lastly, even the violent death of martyrdom, which cometh by the cruel and bloody oppression of implacable enemies, that is theirs. It is a mercy, a gain, and honour. The apostles rejoiced that they were accounted worthy to lose what they had for Christ’s sake. (A. Burgess.)

Death of rude appearance, but welcome to the good

Many a man has an ill-favoured countenance, is lean and haggard, pale and sallow, and mean in his attire, who yet, under an ungainly exterior, conceals great talents and virtues. Such is the case with death. Ah me! how much of what is good and sweet and blessed is concealed beneath its sour aspect and transient bitterness! It is not I who die, when I die, but my sin and misery. As often as I think of death I figure to myself that I see a messenger coming from a distant land, bringing the good news of nay Saviour, the Bridegroom of my soul, and of the inheritance which He has purchased with His blood, and reserves for me in heaven. What care I although the messenger may have an ugly face, be armed with a long dart, wear a tattered coat, and knock rudely at my door? I attend less to his appearance than to his business. (Gotthold.)

Death a blessing

I congratulate you and myself that life is passing fast away. What a superlatively grand and consoling idea is that of death! Without this radiant idea, this delightful morning star, indicating that the luminary of eternity is going to rise, life would, to my view, darken into midnight melancholy. Oh, the expectation of living here and living thus always, would be indeed a prospect of overwhelming despair! But thanks be to that fatal decree that dooms us to die; thanks to that gospel which opens the vision of an endless life; and thanks, above all, to that Saviour Friend who has promised to conduct all the faithful through the sacred trance of death, into scenes of paradise and everlasting delight. (J Foster.)

Death brings freedom to the good

Mr. William Jenkyn, one of the ejected ministers in England, being imprisoned in Newgate, presented a petition to King Charles II. for a release, which was backed by an assurance from his physician that his life was in danger from his close imprisonment; but no other answer could be obtained than this: “Jenkyn shall be a prisoner as long as he lives.” A nobleman hearing some time after of his death, said to the king, “May it please your majesty, Jenkyn has got his liberty.” Upon which he asked, with eagerness, “Ay! who gave it him?” The nobleman replied, “A greater than your majesty--the King of kings”; with which the king seemed greatly struck, and remained silent. (Scripture Doctrines Illustrated.)

The Christians mastership over death

Development in our life on earth is limited, as is the development of the bird in the egg. The bursting of the egg-shell is no disaster, but a relief and a profit. That breaking of the shell brings the bird into a world that is unspeakably more glorious. Death is our servant, not our master--through Christ an immeasurable blessing. Because--

I. It restores us more nearly to our friends who have gone beyond.

II. It brings us nearer to Christ.

III. It places us in a position more favourable for soul growth.

IV. It increases our capacity for usefulness. Those who are faithful in this life in a few things, will be made in the life to come rulers over many things.

V. As a consequence our happiness will be greatly augmented. (Homiletic Monthly.)

Christ and death

Christ makes death ours--

I. As He gives us assurance of the life beyond. If we consider death with the eye of the materialist we feel that we are death’s. We are delivered helplessly into its cruel hands, and it strips us of everything. But Christ makes death ours by giving us the assurance of immortality.

1. Men have an instinct of immortality. It has been found in the lowest savages, and in the most intellectual races. Very strange and diversified are the manifestations of this instinct, but that it exists in the human heart is beyond question. And this instinct we are bound to respect. “But then,” says Mr. Darwin, “arises the doubt, Can the mind of man, which has, as I fully believe, been developed from a mind as low as that possessed by the lowest animal, be trusted when it draws such grand conclusions?” Here he does his own theory injustice. Are not the instincts of the lower creatures on the whole marvellously correct? And, may we not ask with confidence, if the instinct of the caterpillar pointing to the butterfly, if the instinct of the swallow discerning far beyond the sea a land of sunshine and flowers, if these instincts prove no mockery, why should the instincts of human nature, pointing to a grand perfection in a world above and beyond, prove untrustworthy?

2. And reason has a powerful verdict to give on this question of our immortality. Even sceptical philosophers cannot do without this great doctrine. George Sand felt that without immortality there is a painful “deficiency of proportion.” Darwin felt it “an intolerable thought” that after such long-continued and costly progress we should all be annihilated. And Edgar Quinet concludes “that, whilst the human race pursues on earth its career of perfection, the individual continues its parallel march in some place and in some form already prepared for it by Providence.”

3. But whilst human instinct and reason thus declare for immortality, the subject at last is left in deep uncertainty. It may be nothing more than guess-work and illusion. But when Christ comes all is changed. He makes eternity a fact. You cannot come into contact with Him without tasting the powers of the world to come. He brought life and immortality to light. It is the same change that we witness when we see alchemy changed into chemistry, astrology into astronomy, speculation into science. In Christ the dream becomes a reality, the inference a certainty, the desire knowledge and experience. Christ has shown us that through death we find “more life and fuller,” even length of days for ever and ever.

II. As he gives us fitness for the life beyond.

1. We are sometimes disposed to consider the question of immortality as altogether an intellectual one; we think if we can only succeed in establishing it on logical grounds, that we have nothing more to do than to surrender ourselves to the mighty comfort. But the moral element enters very largely into it. It is conscience that makes death terrible, the unknown world so dark and dreadful. This Epistle goes to the depth of the thing: “The sting of death is sin.” Without sin we might view death with the uneasiness with which we might suppose a caterpillar to view a chrysalis; but a wounded conscience brings in another element, and we shrink from death with sore amazement (see also Hebrews 2:14-15). If it had not been for sin we should have feared death only as a young bird fears to try its wings, but we fear death now as the bird fears the barbed arrow which drinks up its life.

2. It is very easy for us to see what a vast difference is made in our estimate of death whether we bring in or leave out the idea of guilt. Look at the death of a malefactor. How truly repulsive and terrible is death in such a case in all its circumstances! Consider, on the other hand, the death of a martyr. Here the material adjuncts are pretty much the same; but how different is the effect of the whole spectacle! The very same spectacle of death is a horror or a triumph according as you bring into it the idea of guilt or innocence, of infamy or glory. The consciousness of sin makes death an enemy. Because we are children of disobedience we are all our lifetime in bondage to the fear of death; we are debtors, there is an execution out against us for arrest, and we are always trembling lest the bony policeman should lay his cold grip upon us, saying, “You are my prisoner,” and so shut us up in the prison till we have paid that uttermost farthing we never can pay.

3. Here once again Christ makes death ours. He changes death for us from the death of a malefactor to the death of a martyr. He takes away the guilt and power of sin. He satisfies the conscience as He does the intellect. And as He gives peace to the conscience He gives purity and life to the whole personality. Christ becomes the Resurrection and the Life, freeing us from the death of sin, awaking in us the life of righteousness, and so making us meet for the inheritance of the saints in light. Christ, so far as we gather from the New Testament, never saw any one die; I do not believe that any one else could have died in His presence; death cannot come where Christ is. Let Christ, then, be with you in your last hour, and death shall be swallowed up in victory. (W. L. Watkinson.)

Spoiling the spoiler

The believer stands with his heel on the neck of the king of terrors. Death is yours as--

I. A conquered foe transformed into a friend. A lion’s carcass with the honeycomb in it.

II. An opportunity to glorify God. The Christian’s way of meeting death, not that of the Stoic glorifying his firmness, nor that of the sceptic glorifying his shame, but of the believer magnifying the grace of God. Showing forth Christ’s power perfected in his weakness.

III. A redeemer from servitude to the clayey body, and subjection to the discordant, tempting, crippling influence of the physical.

IV. A convoy to heaven--a gateway to glory, a herald of coronation. The dawn of “Graduation Day.”

V. A boon. Rest to the tired pilgrim; harbour for the storm-tossed voyager; Sabbath eve to the working man. Conclusion: Faith in Christ is victory over death. (Homiletic Monthly.)

Or things present.--

Things present

We reckon present things at the highest rate: “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” The little present, to our apprehension, eclipses the great past or the greater future. In the case of the true Christian--

I. His temporal possessions are his own. The ungodly man for awhile engrosses the good things of this life, but they are sent to him often in anger, and are taken away in wrath. As for you, whatever of earthly good the Lord has apportioned you, is in a most blessed manner your own; because--

1. Honestly got. The Christian owns no stolen property or unrighteous gain. Dishonest persons may be rich, but none of their riches are in truth their own; like the jackdaw in the fable, they wear borrowed plumes.

2. Acknowledged to the great Giver with becoming gratitude. Gratitude is, as it were, the quit rent to the great superior owner, and until we discharge the claim, our goods are not lawfully ours in the court of heaven.

3. The due portion which belongs to God has been conscientiously consecrated. The tithing of the substance is the true title to it. It is not altogether thine till thou hast proved thy gratitude by thy proportionate gift to the cause of the Master.

4. We seek to be graciously guided in the use of them. They are not bestowed upon us absolutely; they are ours within the lines of law and gospel, within bounds of sobriety and holiness; not as masters, but as mercies. The benediction of heaven sweetens the lawful use of earthly goods. You are not required to play the ascetic. John came neither eating nor drinking; but the Son of man, who is your master, came both sating and drinking. There is no piety whatever in your accounting the gifts of Providence as necessarily temptations; you can make them so, but that is your folly and no fault of theirs. Vain are those who sneer at nature and the lavish bounty thereof. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fulness thereof.” It is no crime to enjoy the beauties of nature, but a sign of idiocy to be unaffected thereby. Fair scenes, sweet sounds, balmy odours, and fresh gales, your Father sends them to you, take them and be thankful. Let us note well, before we leave this point, that any of God’s saints who have but little of this world’s goods, may yet remember that all things are theirs, so that up to the measure of their necessities God will be quite sure to afford them sustenance. The Lord is your shepherd, and you shall not want.

II. Temporal trials.

1. Tribulations are treasures. Saints gain more by their losses than by their profits. Your present trials are yours--

2. You who are cross-bearers, I would remind you for your comfort--

III. All our circumstantial surroundings. These are ours as subservient to our usefulness. You wish to win souls, and say, “I wish I were a minister”; but you have a family round about you, and you have to keep to that farm, to manage the shop. Now the position you occupy is, all things considered, the most advantageous for doing your utmost for the glory of God. Suppose the mole should cry, “How I could have honoured the great Creator if I could have been allowed to fly it would be very foolish, for a mole flying would have been a very ridiculous object, while a mole fashioning its tunnels and casting up its castles is viewed with admiring wonder by the naturalist, who perceives its remarkable suitability to its sphere. The fish might say, “How could I display the wisdom of God if I could sing, or mount a tree, like a bird!” But you know a fish in a tree would be a very grotesque affair; but when the fish cuts the wave with agile fin, all who have observed it say how wonderfully it is adapted to its habitat. It is just so with you. If you begin to say, “I cannot glorify God where I am, and as I am,” I answer, neither could you anywhere. “But I have a large family,” says one, “what can I do?” Train them in the fear of God. “I work in a large factory with ungodly men, what can I do?” Needless inquiry! What cannot the salt do when it is cast among the meat? “I am sick,” says another; “I am chained to the bed of languishing.” But your patience will magnify the power of grace, and your words of experience will enrich those who listen to you. Look at the seaman out at sea! does he sit down and fret because the wind will not blow from the quarter that he would most prefer? No; he tacks about and catches every capful of wind that can be of use to him, and so reaches the haven at last. Look at a good commander, if he occupies a bad position, he turns that to account, and often makes the worse become the better.

IV. Spiritual privileges.

1. The favour of God is not for heaven only; it is ours to-day. Adoption into His family is for this present time.

2. Christ is present, and He is ours. We have a “fountain filled with blood,” which puts away all sin; a mercy-seat where all prayer is prevalent; an Intercessor who takes our prayers and offers them.

3. The Holy Ghost, too, is present, and He brings you present enlightenment, guidance, strength, consolation.

4. And if there be any promise to-day written in the Word of God, any blessing to-day guaranteed to the elect family, any mindfulness of Providence, or any abundance of grace, all these are yours, and yours now. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ and the present

That things above, that things beyond, may belong to the Christian is welt understood; the sceptic with a smile will allow this; but that “things present” are ours in Christ is not so well understood. Observe, however--

I. That the faith of Christ secures to us “things present.” It is a common complaint of secularism that the tendency of supernatural religion is to withdraw our attention from the immediate practical world, and to waste our time and powers on mere figments of the imagination. And it is a very common thing for secular writers to point to the mediaeval age for the demonstration of their position, and to assert that civilisation was saved only by the Renaissance calling man’s energies from the unknowable to the knowable, from heaven to earth. Now this is capable of a satisfactory reply.

1. We appeal from a corrupt to a pure Christianity. Surely none would compare the positive science of astronomy with the obscure divinations and horoscopes of astrology. Yet astronomy concerns itself with the distant, but the science of the firmament is a most fruitful one in regard to our present immediate worldly interests. And so if in the middle ages a corrupt theology and ecclesiasticism worked badly, that is no argument against the Christianity of Christ. The New Testament never separates earth from heaven. It brings before us, in God and Christ and heaven, great ideals which are to vivify, to enrich, to realise, to exalt, to perfect, all earthly things. Men talk of the unworldliness of Christianity, but it recognises the dignity and rights of the body, it assigns us all the wealth of nature, it leaves us free to work out our intellectual faculty, it gives its Divine sanction to all the articulations of human society. Men talk of the narrowness of Christianity, but it is wide enough for all present things so far as those things are rational and useful. If there ever was a grand protest against narrowness it is the protest of the text. Christianity is wide enough for all muscularities; it shuts out Roman amphitheatres and modern prize-rings, but thank God for the narrowness that shuts out brutality and blood. Christianity is wide enough for all art; it shuts out Pompeian chambers of obscenity, but thank God for the narrowness that shuts out beastliness and ghastliness. Christianity is wide enough for love and home; it shuts out Venus’s temple and Mohammed’s harem, but thank God for the narrowness that shuts out the degradation of women. Christianity is wide enough for all true commerce, wealth, pleasure; it warns us against covetousness, licentiousness, materialism, but thank God for the narrowness that prevents our taking the big barn of Dives for the supreme goal of life.

2. We appeal from the mediaeval to the modern world. Whatever a few dilettante critics may say, the faith of Christ has filled us with an energy which finds manifold and magnificent manifestations in the things present. Do you find that the faith of Christ gives men about you a distaste for, and makes them successful in, practical life? “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof,” and all is yours, for “ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

II. That the faith of Christ makes “things present” ours with truest and fullest propriety. In Christ we have--

1. The richest enjoyment of things present. Things are not ours when they are ours legally, conventionally--they are ours only when we so realise them that they rejoice our heart. It is easy to have riches, &c., and yet not have the power to eat thereof. Some maintain that it is in miserable conditions that the deepest need is felt for religious truth and consolation; and they affirm that as man ceases to be miserable, so religion will be ignored as a superfluous thing. But this is far from being the case. Men are never more deeply, mysteriously miserable than they are when they have everything their soul desireth. Look at Germany to-day, brilliant in genius, flushed with power and success, and yet cankered with the philosophy of despair. And we are constant witnesses how successful opulent men are wearied of life; they remind one of bees drowning in their own honey. The fact is, you can only realise the joy of things present in the light of God’s presence, in the power of His blessing. When the beautiful orb comes between the sun and the earth, it is an inky blot on the heavens. And so all beautiful things in human life become dark and disappointing the moment they come between us and God. It is only in the light of God that life shines, only in His blessing that it is rich.

2. The fullest profit of things present. A life of material success is no advantage. Maudsley, who has no bias to religion certainly, observes: “There is no more efficient cause of mental degeneracy than the mean and vulgar life of a tradesman, whose soul is entirely taken up with petty gains, who, under the sanction of the customs of the trade, practises systematic fraud and theft. The deterioration of nature which he has acquired will, unless a healthier family influence serve to counteract it, be transmitted as a family heritage to his children, and may result in some form of moral or intellectual deficiency, perhaps in outbreaks of positive insanity.” Here, then, the religion of materialism and material success is nothing very grand. Now, what is to save a man from this deterioration? Romances? Politics? The theatre? ‘The newspaper? Surely not. Great thoughts, great principles, great hopes--these will lift the soul of the tradesman; and these are to be found only in religion. Christ makes things present ours by making them means and instruments of our higher education. Conclusion: In this way we are told much about impressionism, about making the best of the present moment. It is said that man has always one foot in the past, the other in the future, and that he misses altogether the flowers and fruits, the delights and treasures, of the present. There is no vivid, full realisation of the moment except as we realise immortality in the moment; he who tastes the power of the present must taste the powers of the world to come. In Christ things present are ours because things to come are ours. Present joy is ours in all its depth and preciousness; and these “light afflictions, which are but for a moment,” are ours also. “Whilst we look not at the things which are seen,” &c. (W. L. Watkinson.)

The present for the good of the godly man

I. Whatever mercies or good things come about, they are the godly man’s, in these respects: First, they are for his necessary use and supply. They come as so many gifts immediately given by God for thy necessities. Secondly, these prosperous things are not only in a sanctified way to the godly, but God also requireth that with joy and gladness we should make use of them for His glory. It is lawful for them to eat and drink, and enjoy the good mercies they have with a cheerful, joyful spirit. God doth not only love a cheerful giver, but a cheerful receiver also of His mercies. So then, when prosperous things befall thee, thou mayest with great joy of heart make use of them. Thirdly, these prosperous things are not only sanctified to them, but they are also made sanctifying of them. God giveth them those good things of She body to make their souls better. Abraham had many outward mercies, but these also were helpful to his graces; he was rich in faith, as well as in cattle and great substance. Fourthly, these prosperous present things are theirs, because they know how to make the present use of them for God’s glory. As life was theirs, and death theirs, because they only could live well and die well, so present riches, present death, present comforts are theirs, because they know how to make the present improvement of them. And thus it should be with every godly man; there is nothing befalls thee, no good comes to thee, but thou shouldst bethink thyself, How can this be improved for God? How may I make heavenly advantages of these things? Thus be like the bee sucking honey out of every herb. Fifthly, present good things are a godly man’s, because they are accompanied with the love and favour of God, which is infinitely more than the good things themselves. That all these good things are the effects of God’s favour and gracious reconciliation through Christ, this makes them ours in an eminent manner. When God gave Abraham such large worldly revenues, and withal said He Himself would be his great reward (Genesis 15:1). This was the fulness of happiness. A good conscience is a continual feast. Now no man hath a good conscience but he who is reconciled with God through Christ. Lastly, these prosperous events are theirs, because God giveth contentment of spirit. The blessing of the Lord maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it (Proverbs 10:22). Many men have these outward mercies, but then many thorns grow up with them. There is so much gall in their honey that all the sweetness is gone.

II. We come now to the second sort of present events, and those are tribulations and afflictions. There are none of these present troubles upon thee, though grievous and burdensome, but it is for thy good. Now they may well be called ours--First, because they come from God’s gracious love to us. It is the same hand that doth stroke thee and strike thee (Hebrews 12:6; Psalms 119:15). Thy tribulations are for thy advantage, as much as all the mercies thou ever enjoyedst. Go to the fountain from whence they came, and that is nothing but precious love. Secondly, they are thine for the blessed and heavenly effects they work on the godly, so that they could not be so well without them. Now of many excellent effects, consider--

Or things to come.--

Things to-come

I. The broad future is ours. We are apt to wish to pry into it, but grace forbids us to indulge impertinent and foolish curiosity. My text is a crystal ball, which doth not tell thee facts and minutiae, but what it is far better for thee to know, if thou be Christ’s--viz., that all future things are vested in thy name. Let that content thee.

1. We have no reason to expect that the rest of our life will be more unhappy than the years which are passed already. Life to us has its sorrows, but goodness and mercy have followed us hitherto, and they shall with equal certainty follow us all the days of our life. You who are contending against sin may anticipate the joy of conquest. You who are planning how you can serve God on a wider scale, and in a wiser manner, may expect the joy of His guidance.

2. Still, without any foolish forebodings, you may expect troubles. Changes in circumstances may arise, poverty may supplant wealth, and slander injure fame, or if not, thy friends must die. Then, sooner or later, bodily infirmities must set in. And there must come temptations and inward conflicts, in all which we shall have need to possess our souls in patience, lest we be overcome of evil. And certainly to us all there must come the valley of death-shade; “for it is appointed unto men once to die.”

3. Passing on a little further, in the Word of God we have dark hints as to the grand events of the future, which concern the Church and the world. All things that shall happen, be they ever so counter to your wishes, will, nevertheless, come up, like Blucher at Waterloo, at the exact moment when they shall help on the grand old cause.

4. Amongst the things to come, there is heaven--the heaven of the separate spirit, and the perfect heaven, when soul and body in one man shall sit down at the right hand of God--all this is ours.

II. The bright eternal future is ours.

1. Notice that the text is not “all may be yours.” According to some a Christian may have a hope of heaven, but he can never have a certainty of it.

2. Notice, too, that the text is not--“Things to come shall be yours.” But how can they be ours till they have come? Because we have a title to them; and though, like nobles who are under age, we come not into our estates until we have reached our majority, yet those estates are as much ours as if we possessed them at this moment. When one of our English kings demanded of his barons where were their title deeds to their lands, a hundred swords flashed from the scabbards, as every man swore to maintain his right by his good sword. We take no sword from its scabbard, but we point to Christ, for He is both our God and our right, and we are persuaded that as our Surety and Representative, He will preserve our inheritance for us.

3. Notice, again, that in the text there is no exception--“Things to come; all are yours.” Whatever may be the future glory of the saints, it all belongs to them. And as there is no exception of things, so there is no exception of persons. Not “All belongs to a few of you, and only a portion to others.”

4. The text speaks without a grain of contingency as to the things to come. It does not say heaven is ours if there be a heaven; but the blessings are spoken of as though they must come. Our future glory is ordained by Divine decree. It is hastened on by every event of Providence; it is prepared by the ascension and session of our Lord; in measure, beatified saints are already partakers of it, and we may rest assured that by no means shall we be defrauded of it.

III. Examine well your title deeds to see whether they belong to you. Are you Christ’s? Do you trust Him? Do you love Him and serve Him? If so, your title is clear, and all future things are yours. Rejoice even now in your inheritance. Conclusion:

1. All these things are yours; then--

2) Gratefully bless God for them.

2. If thou hast no title for these things to come, be amazed and confounded, for it will be an awful thing for heaven to come and thou no entrance into it. God grant that thou mayest lay hold on Christ by an act of faith; thus and thus only the blessings of Christ shall become yours. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ and the future

I. Humanity has a grand future. Consider--

1. The possibilities of nature. The scoffer speaks of all things continuing as they were from the beginning of the creation, but the scoffer is wrong. Things have changed, are changing, and will change immensely yet. You cannot look into the prophecy of Isaiah, into the argument of Paul, into the vision of John, without a deep feeling of the coming glorification of nature. “Yes,” you say, “but we cannot build much on these.” Very well, then, listen to a President of the Royal Society. Sir J. W. Dawson writes: “There have been, and might be again, conditions which would convert the ice-clad arctic regions into blooming paradises, and which, at the same time, would moderate the fervent heat of the tropics. We are accustomed to say that nothing is impossible with God; but how little have we known of the gigantic possibilities which lie hidden under some of the most common of His natural laws!” “How great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up, which Thou hast hidden, for them that fear Thee! “Nature is a great storehouse, whose treasures of darkness will in due time be brought into the light.

2. The possibilities of society.

II. The grand future of humanity will be realised in Christ. This is the distinct teaching of the Scriptures. The Old Testament teaches that in Messiah the world, the ages, will become the possession of the faithful. In the Hebrews we are taught that Christ is Heir of all things, and that He brings many sons to share His glory; and so in Romans 8:1-39. The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle declares in the Ephesians, hath set Christ at; His own right hand in the heavenly places, and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be Head over all things to the Church, which is His body.

1. It is only in godliness that there is progress.

2. It is only in hope that there is progress. “When the heart sinks the ship sinks,” and when a people lose heart the mightiest and richest civilisation suffers wreck. Now, the religion of Christ is pre-eminently the religion of hope. Of the confusion and anguish of the world there is no mistake, but everything depends upon the interpretation of the wailing creation. Says the pessimistic philosophy, the world is in its death-throes. And herein that philosophy strikes at; the very root of civilisation and progress. No, says Christianity, it is the birth-pang of a grander world that is now coming into the light. And herein is the faith of Christ a well-spring of life and energy to our race as it struggles onward to its goal of glory. We are saved by hope--that is, by Christ. (W. L. Watkinson.)

The Christian’s possesions

Here is the three-fold cord which unites earth with heaven.

I. The source of all things--God. He possesses all things.

1. By creation.

2. By undisputed authority. There is no other being in the world to dispute His right.

3. By practical manifestation. He regulates all we see and know.

II. The recipients of all things--“All things are yours.”

1. In the Church--its members, their labours, graces, and efforts.

2. In the present world--that is, all its highest good.

3. In the world to come--life, death, and eternity.

III. The medium of connection “Ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” Here is one Being standing between man and God. Christ’s relationship to the Father renders Him proprietor of the universe. His relationship to us gives us all He possessed. We are one with Him who is one with the Father. (Homilist.)


I. All things for man--so wide is the first inclusion. Laws and forces, beauties and sublimities, thought, invention, genius, endeavour, failure, victory--the history of them, the evolution to which they have contributed--life and death, what is, and what is to be--such is man’s inheritance. “How the world is made for each of us!”--each a centre to which the streams of a thousand hills converge, the rays of a thousand stars, the sorrows and joys of ten thousand hearts. “Man is one world, and hath another to attend him.” He can go the whole round of creation, selecting, appropriating what he will.

II. But there is another inclusion by which the first is ruled and made consonant with our true position. It cannot seem that our enjoyment and use exhaust the economy of the world. Does any one go the whole round of creation and gather its gems to enrich himself?--then his wisdom is at an end. The whole would be lost, as mere unproductive expenditure, if men kept it for their own glory. There is One who claims men. The end of God’s gifts is not to aggrandise a man so that he shall become a self-satisfied vanity, filled with the wind of knowledge, the pride of possession. The law is--All belongs to you, and you to Christ. It is when we are possessed by Christ, and our life is His tribute, that the wealth of nature and the bounty of providence fill our souls to their spiritual fulness.

III. And the final inclusion gives a perfect issue to the series. All is from God, and returns through Christ to God. Where else can there be an end? The world and life, the streams from a thousand springs, flow into the being of the man whose soul is opened and enlarged by his devotion to Christ. And Christ with all the men He has made His own, and all they have gathered from the generous creation, a broad, deep, rejoicing river, must flow in eternal tribute to the Father. Conclusion: We see--

1. The use of the world--to enlarge the mind, enrich the soul, and perfect the power of man.

2. The place of men with all their science, power, and experience, gathered from the vassal world--to serve Christ, to make for Him a manifold kingdom of brave, wise, earnest life.

3. Christ as mediatorial Prince, all the conquests, gains, and harvests of His patient toil and splendid sacrifice devoted to the glory of the Father, whose He is. This is the cycle which completes the Christian philosophy of being, the economy of the natural and spiritual universe, revealing the glory of the world, of man, of Christ, and of God. (R. A. Watson, M. A.)

An account of stock

We have here a roll of government securities--a warranty-deed to the whole universe. In making an inventory of the Christian’s possessions, I remark--

I. That he owns this world. If you have a large park, a grand mansion, &c., to whom will you give the first right to them? To your own children. Now this world is God’s park, and while He allows those who refuse His authority the privilege of walking through, all this grandeur is the right of the Christian. He may not have the title-deed to one acre of land; but we can go up on a mountain and look off and say, “All this is mine: my Father gave it to me.” Lawyers when they search into titles often find everything right for some years back; but, after a while, they come to a break in the title, a diversion of the property, and find that the man who supposed he owned it has no right to it at all. Now examine the title to all earthly possessions. Go back a little way, and men of the world think they have a right to them; but go farther back, and you will find the whole right vested in God. Now, to whom did He convey it? To His own children! And in the last days they will have it literally. “The meek shall inherit the earth.” The Christian has a right to--

1. The refinements of life. He has a right to as fine apparel, to as beautiful adornments, to as elegant a residence. Show me any passage that tells the people of the world that they have privileges that are denied the Christian.

2. All the sweet sounds. When did the house of sin or the bacchanal get the right to music?

3. All artistic and literary advantage. I do not care on whose wall the picture hangs, or on whose pedestal the sculpture stands, “All are yours.”

4. Full temporal support. The commissary department of an army will busy scores of people, but just think of the commissary department of a world! God spreads this table first of all for His children, and therefore it is extreme folly for them ever to fret about food or raiment. If God takes care of a wasp, will He not take care of you?

5. All the vicissitudes of this life, so far as they have any religious profit. There are a great many sharp curves in life; but if we are Christians we are on the right track, and are going to come out at the right place. In this voyage of life we often have to change our tacks. One storm blows us this way, and another that way; but He who holds the winds in His fist will bring us into the haven at the right time. One of the best things that ever happened to Paul was being thrown off his horse. One of the best things that ever happened to Joseph was being thrown into the pit. The losing of his physical eyesight helped John Milton to see the battle of the angels. All things work together for your good.

II. He owns the next. Death is not a ruffian that comes to burn us out of house and home, to leave us homeless for ever. He is only a messenger who comes to tell us it is time to move from this hut into that palace. The Christian owns all heaven. He will not walk in the eternal city as a foreigner, but as a farmer walks over his own premises. “All are yours.” All the mansions yours. Angels your companions. Trees of life your shade. You look up into the face of God, and say, “My Father.” You look up into the face of Jesus and say, “My brother.” Yours the love. Yours the acclaim. Yours the transport. (T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Corinthians 3:22". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

For all things are yours; whether Paul, Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours.

This precious doxology reminds one of the famous passage in Romans 5:31-37; but this has a positive implication not in evidence there. "Things present, things to come, etc.," are there viewed as opposing the Christian but failing to thwart him; here the Christian is viewed as the possessor of everything in Christ.

This means that Christians are not to choose certain things, such as certain teachers; for all things are theirs. A Christian is in fact a member of no sect or party, because he has entered "into the possession of a fellowship and love which are as wide as the universe."[35]

Paul, Apollos, or Cephas ... Conspicuous by its absence is the so-called "Christ party" in this list, proving that the words "And I am of Christ," spoken in 1 Corinthians 1:12, are the words of the apostle Paul himself, and not the slogan of any kind of a sect at Corinth.


[35] William Barclay, op. cit., p. 40.

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James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas,.... These are particularly named, because their disputes were chiefly about them; but what is said of them is true of all other, and all the ministers of Christ, that they are the church's. The gifts which Christ received for them, and has bestowed on them, are not their own, but the church's, and are given to them, not so much for their own use, as for the good and benefit of others. They are made able ministers of the New Testament, not by themselves, nor by man, but by God; who disposes of them as blessings to his churches, and gives them to be pastors and teachers of them, to feed them with knowledge, and with understanding; they are qualified by the Spirit of God for the service of the saints, and are separated by him to it, and are constituted overseers of the flock by his direction; they are placed as stewards of the mysteries and manifold grace of God, to dispense them with wisdom and faithfulness to all in his family, and are the servants of the churches for Jesus' sake, and therefore not to be gloried in; though to be respected in their place and station:

or the world: this, with what follows, is an amplification of the account, and is as if the apostle should say, you should be so far from glorying in man, in a few poor weak instruments, and especially in that in them, which with God is foolishness and vanity, that not only all the ministers of the word are yours, but even the whole world is yours; though called out of it, esteemed the filth of it, and have so little a share of it. The world was made for the sake of the saints, and is continued on their account; when they are called by grace, it will soon be at an end. It is their Lord's, and so theirs, both as Creator and Mediator: the good things of the world are enjoyed by the saints in a peculiar way, as covenant mercies and blessings, so as they are not by others, The evil things of it, as the sins and lusts of it, are escaped by them; and the afflictions they meet with in it are made to work for their good; and as they are heirs of the world, as Abraham was, so they shall inherit it in a much better form than it now is: the present heavens will pass away, the earth and all therein will be burnt up, and new heavens and a new earth arise, in which will dwell none but righteous persons: the world, in its present state, is an inn, suited to the condition of the saints, as pilgrims and strangers; but then it will be as a palace, fit for the spouse and bride of Christ.

Or life; in every view of it: the life of Christ, which he lived here on earth, in obedience to his Father's will, and which he now lives in heaven, where he ever lives to make intercession for his people, and for their good; that fulness of life that is in him, and that eternal life which is through him, are all theirs. The lives of the ministers of the Gospel are for their profit and advantage; and they are spared and continued on their account; their own lives are theirs, though not to live to themselves, nor to the lusts of men, but by faith on Christ, and to the glory of God, and which is what they desire.

Or death: the death of Christ was for them, in their room and stead, for their sins, to make satisfaction to divine justice for them; and the benefits of it are enjoyed by them. The death of good men, ministers, martyrs, and confessors, is theirs, serves to confirm their faith, animate their zeal, and encourage them to hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering. Their own death is a blessing to them; the sting is taken away by Christ; the curse is removed; it is no penal evil to them; it is a deliverance of them from all the sorrows and troubles of this life, and is their passage into endless glory and happiness.

Or things present; whether prosperous or adverse; and these, whether they be their own or others, all work together for their good.

Or things to come; future troubles and exercises; or future good things, either in this world, or in the world to come; the invisible glories of a future state:

all are yours; which is repeated for confirmation sake, and to observe, that if there was anything that was omitted, or could not be thought to be included in any of the above expressions, that also was theirs.

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Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the 12 world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

(12) He passes from the persons to the things themselves, that his argument may be more forcible. Indeed, he ascends from Christ to the Father, to show that we rest ourselves not in Christ himself, in that he is man, but because he carries us up even to the Father, as Christ witnesses of himself everywhere that he was sent by his Father, that by this band we may be all united with God himself.

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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Enumeration of some of the “all things.” The teachers, in whom they gloried, he puts first (1 Corinthians 1:12). He omits after “Cephas” or Christ (to whom exclusively some at Corinth, 1 Corinthians 1:12, professed to belong); but, instead, substitutes “ye are Christ‘s” (1 Corinthians 3:23).

world … life … death … things present … things to come — Not only shall they not “separate you from the love of God in Christ” (Romans 8:38, Romans 8:39), but they “all are yours,” that is, are for you (Romans 8:28), and belong to you, as they belong to Christ your Head (Hebrews 1:2).

things present — “things actually present” [Alford].

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Yours (υμωνhumōn). Predicate genitive, belong to you. All the words in this 1 Corinthians 3:22 and 1 Corinthians 3:23 are anarthrous, though not indefinite, but definite. The English reproduces them all properly without the definite article except κοσμοςkosmos (the world), and even here just world will answer. Proper names do not need the article to be definite nor do words for single objects like world, life, death. Things present (ενεστωταenestōta second perfect participle of ενιστημιenistēmi) and things to come divide two classes. Few of the finer points of Greek syntax need more attention than the absence of the article. We must not think of the article as “omitted” (Robertson, Grammar, p. 790). The wealth of the Christian includes all things, all leaders, past, present, future, Christ, and God. There is no room for partisan wrangling here.

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Vincent's Word Studies

Things present ( ἐνεστῶτα )

See on Romans 8:38.

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Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

Whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas — We are all equally yours, to serve you for Christ's sake.

Or the world — This leap from Peter to the world greatly enlarges the thought, and argues a kind of impatience of enumerating the rest. Peter and every one in the whole world, however excellent in gifts, or grace, or office, are also your servants for Christ's sake.

Or life, or death — These, with all their various circumstances, are disposed as will be most for your advantage.

Or things present — On earth.

Or things to come — In heaven. Contend, therefore, no more about these little things; but be ye united in love, as ye are in blessings.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

22.All things are yours. He proceeds to show what place and station teachers should occupy (201) — such as not to detract in any degree from the authority of Christ, the one Master. As therefore Christ is the Church’s sole master, and as he alone without exception is worthy to be listened to, it is necessary to distinguish between him and others, as even Christ himself has testified respecting himself, (Matthew 23:8,) and no other is recommended to us by the Father with this honorable declaration, (202) “Hear ye him.” (Matthew 17:5.) As, therefore, he alone is endowed with authority to rule us by his word, Paul says that others are ours — meaning, that they are appointed to us by God with the view of our making use of them — not that they should exercise dominion over our consciences. Thus on the one hand, he shows that they are not useless, and, on the other hand, he keeps them in their own place, that they may not exalt themselves in opposition to Christ. What he adds, as to death, life, and the rest, is hyperbolical, so far as concerns the passage before us. He had it in view, however, to reason, as it were, from the greater to the less, in this manner. “Christ having put in subjection to us life and death, and everything, can we doubt, whether he has not also made men subject to us, to help us by their ministrations — not to oppress us by tyranny.”

Now if any one takes occasion from this to allege, that the writings both of Paul and of Peter are subject to our scrutiny, inasmuch as they were men, and are not exempted from the common lot of others, I answer, that Paul, while he does not by any means spare himself or Peter, admonishes the Corinthians to distinguish between the person of the individual, and the dignity or distinction of office. “As for myself, viewed as a man, I wish to be judged of simply as a man, that Christ alone may have distinction in our ministry.” This, however, in a general way, we must hold, (203) that all who discharge the office of the ministry, are ours, from the highest to the lowest, so that we are at liberty to withhold our assent to their doctrine, until they show that it is from Christ. For they must all be tried, (1 John 4:1,)and we must yield obedience to them, only when they have satisfactorily shown themselves to be faithful servants of Christ. Now as to Peter and Paul, this point being beyond all controversy, and the Lord having furnished us with amply sufficient evidence, that their doctrine has come forth from Him, when we receive as an oracle from heaven, and venerate everything that they have delivered to us, we hear not so much them, as Christ speaking in them.

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Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

Scofield's Reference Notes


kosmos = earth. Romans 8:19-21.

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Scofield, C. I. "Scofield Reference Notes on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Scofield Reference Notes (1917 Edition)". 1917.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

Ver. 22. All are yours] Though not in possession, yet in use, or by way of reduction, as we say, the worst things are God’s children, and in reversion those best things above.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3:22. Detailed explication of the πάντα; then an emphatic repetition of the great thought πάντα ὑμ., in order to link to it 1 Corinthians 3:23.

παῦλοςκηφ.] for they are designed to labour for the furtherance of the Christian weal. Paul does not write ἐγώ; as forming the subject-matter of a partisan confession, he appears to himself as a third person; comp 1 Corinthians 3:5.

κόσ΄ος] generally; for the world, although as yet only in an ideal sense, is by destination your possession, inasmuch as, in the coming αἰών, it is to be subjected to believers by virtue of the participation which they shall then obtain in the kingly office of Christ (Romans 4:13; Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 6:2. Comp 2 Timothy 2:12). More specific verbal explanations of κόσμος, as it occurs in this full triumphant outpouring—such as reliqui omnes homines (Rosenmüller and others), the unbelieving world (comp also Hofmann), and so forth—are totally unwarranted by the connection. Bengel says aptly: “Repentinus hic a Petro ad totum mundum saltus orationem facit amplam cum quadam quasi impatientia enumerandi cetera.” The eye of the apostle thus rises at once from the concrete and empirical to the most general whole, in point of matter ( κόσμος), condition ( ζωὴ, θάνατος), time ( ἐνεστῶτα, μέλλοντα).

ζωὴθάνατος] comp Romans 8:38. We are not to refer this, with Chrysostom, Theophylact, and Grotius, to the teachers: “si vitam doctoribus protrahit Deus,” and “si ob evangel. mortem obeunt” (Grotius, comp too, Michaelis), nor to transform it with Pott into: things living and lifeless; nor even is the limitation of it to the readers themselves (“live ye or die, it is to you for the best,” Flatt) in any way suggested by the text through the analogy of the other points. Both should rather be left without any special reference, life and death being viewed generally as relations occurring in the world. Both of them are, like all else, destined to serve for your good in respect of your attainment of salvation. Comp Philippians 1:21; Romans 14:7 ff.; 1 Corinthians 15:19 ff. Theodoret: καὶ αὐτὸς δὲ θάνατος τῆς ὑ΄ετέρας ἕνεκεν ὠφελείας ἐπηνέχθη τῇ φύσει.

εἴτε ἐνεστῶτα, εἴτε ΄έλλοντα] Similarly, we are not to restrict things existing (what we find to have already entered on a state of subsistence; see on Galatians 1:4) and things to come to the fortunes of the readers (Flatt and many others), but to leave them without more precise definition.

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Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3:22. παῦλος, Paul) Paul, as if a stranger to himself, comes forward in the third person and shows how it was the duty of the Corinthians to speak of him, and he places himself, as if he were lowest in rank,(31) first in the enumeration.— κῆφας, Cephas) They were wont to glory also in Peter, which also was wrong. See note on 1 Corinthians 1:12.— κόσμος, the world) He by a sudden bound extends his remarks from Peter to the whole world, as if he were in some degree impatient of enumerating all the other things. Peter and every one else in the whole world, how distinguished soever he may be by his talents, gifts, or office whether ecclesiastical or political, all are yours; they are instrumental in promoting your interests, even though unwittingly: comp. respecting, the world, 1 Corinthians 3:19; 1 Corinthians 4:9; 1 Corinthians 6:2; 1 Corinthians 7:31; Romans 4:13; Galatians 4:3.— εἴτε ζωὴ, εἴτε θάνατος, whether life or death) and so therefore the living and the dead. Comp. Romans 14:8; Philippians 1:21.— ἐνεστῶτα, things present) on the earth.— μέλλοντα, things to come) in heaven.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Ver. 22,23. Here are in these two verses three things asserted:

1. The believer’s title to all things.

2. The specialty of their title.

3. The force of the apostle’s argument from hence, why they should not glory in men.

He had said before: All things are yours, which he repeats again, in 1 Corinthians 3:22: they have a right and title to all things, and all things are for their good, use, and advantage. Amongst these he first reckons ministers: every one of them might lay a claim to Paul, to Apollos, to Peter; for they were all servants of Christ for the use of the church, a part of which they were. Then he goes on, and saith, the world, that is, the things of the world, are theirs; that is, whatsoever portion of them the providence of God orderly disposed to them, they had a true title to it, and it was for their use and advantage; so were the lives and deaths of God’s ministers, their own lives and deaths, all things present, and all things that were to come, they were all theirs by a just title; if the providence of God gave them to them in an orderly way, they might comfortably use them. They themselves were Christ’s; they were not of Paul, nor of Apollos, nor of Peter. He that had the bride was the bridegroom; these ministers were but the friends of their bridegroom.

And Christ is God’s, the Son of God by an eternal generation; the servant of God as man, and born under the law, so yielding obedience to his Father; the Messiah or Anointed, and sent of God as Mediator. All things are God’s, by God given to Christ, by Christ given to and sanctified for you; that makes the believers’ special title to all things. The men of the world derive their title to what they have from God alone, as Creator; they derive not from Christ, as being ingrafted and implanted into him. Hence the apostle rightly concludes their vanity, in glorying in their relation to this or that special apostle or minister, whereas they had a true and just right to the labours of all ministers, and ought to look upon all faithful ministers as God’s gifts to his whole church, and for the advantage and benefit of all: yet this hindereth not, but that people ought to have their particular pastors and teachers, to whom they ought ordinarily to attend in their ministry; but they ought not to have their persons in such admiration, as for them to despise or slight any other faithful ministers, nor to make parties and factions in the church of God.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

22. κόσμος. The Divine order of things in the visible universe, though at present that order is thrown into confusion by man’s sin. Cf. 1 John 2:16; 1 John 5:19.

ζωή. Life in its higher and diviner aspects, as ψυχή represents the life-principle at the root of our present existence, βίος our manner of living in this world.

θάνατος. As life is naturally a blessing to those who possess it, so even death is revealed in Christ to be part of a Divine scheme for man’s benefit, leading on to a higher life.

ἐνεστῶταμέλλοντα. These words have been variously explained. But taken in connection with the rest of the passage it seems best to explain ἐνεστῶτα of the things of this present life, and μέλλοντα of the glories hereafter to be revealed.

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"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

22. Paul—Claim not one or two apostles sectarianly; but liberally make them all your own collective wealth.

Cephas—In 1 Corinthians 3:4-5, where he speaks depreciatingly, he selects himself and his dear associate Apollos; but now, when he speaks honouringly, he brings in Peter, who was claimed by the party opposed to himself.

World… to come—Compare notes on Romans 8:38-39. Not only were all the apostles and all Christian teachers theirs, but all the glorious truths and wonders revealed by Christianity through those apostles are also theirs. They, under Christ, as Christ under God, are proprietors of all things. For as God has made Christ heir of all, and the Christian is heir of (or with) Christ, so the Christian inherits all. Away, then, with human philosophies and leader-ships. The world is viewed as created for unfallen man. Lost by Adam, it is regained by Christ. Lost for all in Adam, it is regained for all renewed by Christ. Hence, though the wicked seem to possess the world, it really possesses, masters, and ruins them. This world, then, is the theatre for the Christian’s development for the world to come. Life is the Christian’s commencement for a life eternal. Death is the gate through which he passes from the lower life to the higher.

Things present—All events and objects that fill this world and this life.

Things to come—The glorious events, sceneries, and personages of a blessed eternity.

All are yours—How, then, in view of so sublime and boundless a wealth, can you be engrossed in quarrels and partisanships about the comparative talents of your Christian leaders? And so, also, Paul asks, 1 Corinthians 6:4, since Christians are judges of angels, how can they be judged by pagan courts?

Wonderful it is how this apostle, surrounded by the pomp and power of the world, should be thus able to see by the eye of faith and truth that the world belonged to his humble flock of despised disciples of Jesus. It was because he was gifted with the power divine to look through the deceptions of the phenomenal and temporal, and descry the real and eternal.

Ye are Christ’s—As all below you belong to you, so you belong to Christ above.

Christ is God’s—The God-man is now subordinate to the Supreme Deity, whose only begotten Son he is. And so God is now supreme, as he finally will become all in all. 1 Corinthians 15:28.

Both as the result of 18-24, and as the point to which the whole epistle has thus far tended, St. Paul has shown how apostles, and so all Christian teachers, must not be viewed, namely, as partisan dividers of the Church: he will now describe how they should be viewed. 1 Corinthians 4:1-13.

There are many at the present day who declaim vigorously and indiscriminately against creeds and dogmas. They are fond of saying that Christianity is not a doctrine but a life. It is easy to carry such declamation to a dangerous extent. Christianity is both a doctrine and a life. No doubt there are unessential dogmas, and subtle distinctions, which, even while valuable in themselves, should not be allowed to produce quarrel and division. Yet there are truths which even he who builds on Christ may neglect or deny to his own loss. There are doctrines of great positive value, and it is right that they should be expressed in concise forms and adopted as articles of Churchly concord.

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

22. Whether of Paul or Apollos or Peter.” Instead of being silly enough to follow these leaders, as party leaders, thus grieving the Holy Spirit and driving away the light, we should recognize each one of these preachers, with his peculiar gifts and graces, as a valuable spiritual treasure. God has made no two things alike. If Paul, Apollos and Peter were all just alike, the three would only be the equivalent of one. What a glorious blessing they had in Paul, their spiritual father; and so have we, because we are Europeans, and participants of the Pauline gospel established at that time with our ancestors. What an invaluable treasure we have in the masterly intellectual power and tremendous depth of Pauline wisdom, as well as the fire and dynamite flashing from his terrifically rough, plain style! What an invaluable blessing we have in Apollos: his glorious eloquence, iron logic and profound theology which we have in the epistle he wrote to the Hebrews (Volume II). What an unutterable benediction and inspiring uplift we get when we read those red-hot thunderbolts which flash and flame from the Alpha to the Omega of Peter’s epistles! How silly for those unsanctified Corinthians to divide up into parties, some following Paul, some Apollos, and still others Peter, instead of each one taking all of them! While it is equally silly for the people in our day to be forming parties around Martin Luther, John Calvin, Wesley, and Knox, instead of all following Jesus on a bee-line and praising God for all of these good men whom He has made a blessing to millions. If you are only true to God, He will make everybody and everything a blessing to you. “Whether the world.” Why, certainly this world, bad as it is, is a great blessing to us, furnishing us a glorious and inexhaustible field of labor in which to exemplify Christ, win souls and lay up treasures in Heaven. It is doubtful whether in all the flight of eternal ages we will ever enjoy such a chance to win a crown of glory as this poor, wicked world affords us. “Or life.” Oh, what a blessing is this life! — the embarkation into an eternal existence encompassed with millions of opportunities for achievement and the glorification of God, replete with invaluable probationary privileges, flying from us with the velocity of a weaver’s shuttle, never to return, but destined to meet us with an awful account at the Judgment Bar! “Or death.” Why, certainly physical death, sure and inevitable, is a great blessing to us, a constant terror to all evil-doing and an incessant inspiration to every noble, laudable, philanthropic and holy enterprise. “Or things present.” Everything around us is a constant inspiration to industry, enterprise, holiness, truth, and heroism for God and souls. If we are true to the Holy Ghost, we actually get good out of everything transpiring around us; ministering to us, warning, opportunity, edification, correction and inspiration. “Or things to come.” What wonderful blessings does the future constantly shed down on us! Damnation inspiring us with every incentive to flee the wrath to come, and glorification reaching from the skies blooming festoons of fadeless flowers, revealing fields of splendor and worlds of bliss. “All things are yours;”

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Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

All of God"s servants were God"s gifts to them. The world (Gr. kosmos, universe) belongs to the Christian in the sense that we will inherit it and reign over it with Christ one day. Life and all it holds contains much blessing for us. Even death is a good gift because it will usher us into the presence of our Savior. This list is similar to the one in Romans 8:38-39 and, as there, is a way of saying "everything." The figure of speech is a merism. In a merism objects that are poles apart are intended to encompass everything between them.

"The five things . . . represent the fundamental tyrannies of human life, the things that enslave us, the things that hold us in bondage." [Note: Carson, p86.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

1 Corinthians 3:22. whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas—including all the characteristics of each; for as Christ’s donation to the Church, each and all are its common property. There is probably as much diversity in the gifts and graces of the Christian ministry as in the capacities, sympathies, attainments, and tastes of the Church’s members; and this is doubtless wisely arranged for the good of the whole. Some suit the educated and refined; some the masses. But the Pauls, the Apolloses, and the Cephases are alike ours, and each, therefore, should be honoured in his own sphere.

or the world—now no longer master, but servant.

or life—now much more than a mere natural blessing, but ours by the highest right, to the highest ends, and, viewed as such, enjoyed as never before.

or death—once a dreaded, now a conquered enemy, and the gate of heaven.

or things present—in all the good of them without their curse, and the ill of them without their sting; and may we not include among “things present” “the first-fruits of the Spirit,” “the earnest of our inheritance”?

or things to come—but who can tell what these are, before they are reached? This might seem an exhaustive inventory; but as if to make room for anything that might seem to have been omitted, the apostle repeats his statement.—all are yours.

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Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary


All things are yours. Are ordained for your good. For this end, I, Apollo, and Cephas have been sent to promote your salvation. The world and all things in it are allowed you, are yours, that by making good use of them, you may save your souls: that death may be to you a passage to a happy eternity, that the things to come may be your eternal reward. --- You are Christ's, you belong to him who hath redeemed you, and sanctified you by his grace: and Christ is God's, Christ as man, who being the Son of God, was made also man, and sent to make known the glory of God, his divine perfections of mercy, justice, &c.

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

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;

"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"-"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)

"or 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/her advantage. "Death" is very handy when we are ready to exit this life, and go to our reward. (Philippians 1:21; Philippians 1:23) Without "death", the Christian could never get any closer to God! "Life with it"s possibilities and death with it"s gain- Philippians 1:21" (McGarvey p. 66)

"or things present, or things to come"-"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. Both Present and Future contain blessings for the the child of God. (Revelation 21:5-27) See Romans 8:28.

Hence how "poor" the people of the world look who "live for today", but have nothing to look forward to in the future. Who grasp for every bit of life, and yet fear death. Who merely "exist" in this world because they are "slaves" of the world they were created to "use". How sad to only possess a little "slice" of life.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

life. Greek. zoe. App-170.

present. Greek. enistemi. See Romans 8:38.

to come = about to be. Greek. mello.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

Enumeration of the "all things." The teachers in whom they gloried he puts first (1 Corinthians 1:12). He omits after "Cephas," or Christ, to whom exclusively some (1 Corinthians 1:12) professed to belong; for he stands infinitely above the category, Paul, Apollos, etc.; since only through Him they are what they are; but substitutes "ye are Christ's" (1 Corinthians 3:23).

World, or life, or death, or things present (until Christ's coming and kingdom) ... things to come (after it). Not only shall they not "separate you from the love of God in Christ" (Romans 8:38-39), but they "all are yours" (Mark 10:29-30), as they belong to Christ your head (Hebrews 1:2).

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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
5-8; 9:19-22; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Ephesians 4:11,12
or the
Romans 8:37-39; Philippians 1:21

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

This is the amplification of the preceding verse. In the "all things" there mentioned are included,

1. The ministry, which belongs to the church and is designed for its edification. The church does not belong to the ministry, as a kingdom belongs to a king, but the reverse.

2. The world ( ךן ́ ףלןע) in its widest sense. The present order of things is maintained and directed to the promotion of the great work of redemption.

3. Life and death. This means not merely that the question whether the people of God live or die, is determined with reference to their own good; but also that life and death are dispensed and administered so as best to fulfill the designs of God in reference to the church. The greatest men of the world, kings, statesmen and heroes, ministers, individual believers and unbelievers, live or die just as best subserves the interests of Christ's kingdom.

4. Things present and things to come, i.e. the present and the future. It is no temporary subjection of all things to the church which is intended. The plan of God contemplates the permanent exaltation of the redeemed.

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Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians.

The Bible Study New Testament

Paul, Apollos, and Peter. See 1 Corinthians 3:5. This world is the servant of God's people (1 Corinthians 6:12). Life and death. Our time on earth, and even death, becomes our servant in Christ. The present and the future stretches it out over all possible times. All of these. Paul jubilantly repeats the thought that the totality of Creation is our blessing in Christ!!! See Romans 8:28.

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Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible

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." 1 Corinthians 3:22

"LIFE," says the Apostle, is "yours." But how can this be? In two ways. Life present and life future, both are the Christian"s, according to the words, "Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now Isaiah , and of that which is to come." But life present is natural and spiritual. In three senses, therefore, is life the portion of Christ"s people; life natural, life spiritual, life eternal. Life natural is theirs, for they alone can truly enjoy it. What is natural life if it hangs by a thread over a dreadful eternity? How soon spent and gone, and how soon death and judgment close the scene. But the Christian"s very natural life is his season for faith and prayer, the seedtime of an immortal harvest. Most men are life"s slave, but he is life"s master; to most, life is but an opportunity of evil, but to him an opportunity of good. Spiritual life is peculiarly his, for he alone possesses it. Natural men share with him natural life; but he alone enjoys spiritual life. This life is his because Christ is his. Christ is his life, and because Christ lives, he lives also. And then there is life eternal, which commencing now in life spiritual is transplanted above to bloom in immortality.

And then, more wondrous still, "DEATH," that last enemy, that king of terrors, who makes the strongest tremble, and the stoutest heart quake; that, also, is yours, if you are Christ"s. Death is not your enemy if you are Christ"s, but your friend. He may indeed in the dim and distant prospect seem to come in the guise of an enemy; you may dread the thought of his approach, and may even sink down with fear how it may be with you in that solemn hour. But if you are Christ"s, death is yours as well as life, for he has abolished death, and has brought life and immortality to light. Death then cannot harm you, because Christ died for you. Death will merely cause your poor body to drop into the ground, while it will open to your soul the everlasting doors through which the King of glory, the Lord mighty in battle, entered as your forerunner when he went to prepare a place for you.

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Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:22". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible.

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