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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Corinthians 3:23



and you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.

Adam Clarke Commentary

And ye are Christ's - You are called by his name; you have embraced his doctrine; you depend on him for your salvation; he is your foundation stone; he has gathered you out of the world, and acknowledges you as his people and followers. Ὑμεις δε Χριστου, ye are of Christ; all the light and life which ye enjoy ye have received through and from him, and he has bought you with his blood.

And Christ is God's - Χριστος δε Θεου, And Christ is of God. Christ, the Messiah, is the gift of God's eternal love and mercy to mankind; for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that they who believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Christ in his human nature is as much the property of God as any other human being. And as mediator between God and man, he must be considered, in a certain way, inferior to God, but in his own essential, eternal nature, there is no inequality - he is God over all. Ye, therefore, do not belong to men. Why then take Paul, Apollos, Kephas, or any other man for your head? All these are your servants; ye are not their property, ye are Christ's property: and as he has taken the human nature into heaven, so will he take yours; because he that sanctifieth, and they that are sanctified are all of one: ye are his brethren; and as his human nature is eternally safe at the throne of God, so shall your bodies and souls be, if ye cleave to him and be faithful unto death.

  1. A Finer and more conclusive argument, to correct what was wrong among this people, could not have been used than that with which the apostle closes this chapter. It appears to stand thus: "If you continue in these divisions, and arrange yourselves under different teachers, you will meet with nothing but disappointment, and lose much good. If ye will have Paul, Apollos, etc., on your present plan, you will have them and nothing else; nor can they do you any good, for they are only instruments in God's hand, at best, to communicate good, and he will not use them to help you while you act in this unchristian way. On the contrary, if you take God as your portion, you shall get these and every good besides. Act as you now do, and you get nothing and lose all! Act as I advise you to do, and you shall not only lose nothing of the good which you now possess, but shall have every possible advantage: the men whom you now wish to make your heads, and who, in that capacity, cannot profit you, shall become God's instruments of doing you endless good. Leave your dissensions, by which you offend God, and grieve his Christ; and then God, and Christ, and all will be yours." How agitated, convinced, and humbled must they have been when they read the masterly conclusion of this chapter!
  • A want of spirituality seems to have been the grand fault of the Corinthians. They regarded outward things chiefly, and were carried away with sound and show. They lost the Treasure while they eagerly held fast the earthen vessel that contained it. It is a true saying, that he who lends only the ear of his body to the word of God, will follow that man most who pleases the ear; and these are the persons who generally profit the soul least.
  • All the ministers of God should consider themselves as jointly employed by Christ for the salvation of mankind. It is their interest to serve God and be faithful to his calling; but shall they dare to make his Church their interest. This is generally the origin of religious disputes and schisms. Men will have the Church of Christ for their own property, and Jesus Christ will not trust it with any man.
  • Every man employed in the work of God should take that part only upon himself that God has assigned him. The Church and the soul, says pious Quesnel, are a building, of which God is the master and chief architect; Jesus Christ the main foundation; the Apostles the subordinate architects; the Bishops the workmen; the Priests their helpers; Good Works the main body of the building; Faith a sort of second foundation; and Charity the top and perfection. Happy is that man who is a living stone in this building.
  • He who expects any good out of God is confounded and disappointed in all things. God alone can content, as he alone can satisfy the soul. All our restlessness and uneasiness are only proofs that we are endeavoring to live without God in the world. A contented mind is a continual feast; but none can have such a mind who has not taken God for his portion. How is it that Christians are continually forgetting this most plain and obvious truth, and yet wonder how it is that they cannot attain true peace of mind?

  • Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". 1832.

    Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

    And ye are Christ‘s - You belong to him; and should not, therefore, feel that you are devoted to any earthly leader, whether Paul, Apollos, or Peter. As you belong to Christ by redemption, and by solemn dedication to his service, so you should feel that you are his alone. You are his property - his people - his friends. You should regard yourselves as such, and feel that you all belong to the same family, and should not, therefore, be split up into contending factions and parties.

    Christ is God‘s - Christ is the Mediator between God and man. He came to do the will of God. He was and is still devoted to the service of his Father. God has a proprietorship in all that he does, since Christ lived, and acted, and reigns to promote the glory of his Father. The argument here seems to be this, “You belong to Christ; and he to God. You are bound therefore, not to devote yourselves to a man, whoever he may be, but to Christ, and to the service of that one true God, in whose service even Christ was employed. And as Christ sought to promote the glory of his Father, so should you in all things.” This implies no inferiority of nature of Christ to God. It means only that he was employed in the service of his Father, and sought his glory - a doctrine everywhere taught in the New Testament. But this does not imply that he was inferior in his nature. A son may be employed in the service of his father, and may seek to advance his father‘s interests. But this does not prove that the son is inferior in nature to his father. It proves only that he is inferior in some respects - in office. So the Son of God consented to take an inferior office or rank; to become a mediator, to assume the form of a servant, and to be a man of sorrows; but this proves nothing in regard to his original rank or dignity. That is to be learned from the numerous passages which affirm that in nature he was equal with God. See the note at John 1:1.

    Remarks On 1 Corinthians 3:1. They are in a new world. They just open their eyes on truth. They see new objects; and have new objects of attachment. They are feeble, weak, helpless. And though they often have high joy, and even great self-confidence, yet they are in themselves ignorant and weak, and in need of constant teaching. Christians should not only possess the spirit, but they should feel that they are like children. They are like them not only in their temper, but in their ignorance, and weakness, and helplessness.

    2. The instructions which are imparted to Christians should be adapted to their capacity, 1 Corinthians 3:2. Skill and care should be exercised to adapt that instruction to the needs of tender consciences, and to those who are feeble in the faith. It would be no more absurd to furnish strong food to the new born babe than it is to present some of the higher doctrines of religion to the tender minds of converts. The elements of knowledge must be first learned; the tenderest and most delicate food must first nourish the body - And perhaps in nothing is there more frequent error than in presenting the higher, and more difficult doctrines of Christianity to young converts, and because they have a difficulty in regard to them, or because they even reject them, pronouncing them destitute of piety. Is the infant destitute of life because it cannot digest the solid food which nourishes the man of fifty years? Paul adapted his instructions to the delicacy and feebleness of infant piety; and those who are like Paul will feed with great care the lambs of the flock. All young converts should be placed under a course of instruction adapted to their condition, and should secure the careful attention of the ministers of the churches.

    3. Strife and contention in the church is proof that people are under the influence of carnal feelings. No matter what is the cause of the contention, the very fact of the existence of such strife is a proof of the existence of such feelings somewhere, 1 Corinthians 3:3-4. On what side soever the original fault of the contention may be, yet its existence in the church is always proof that some - if not all - of those who are engaged in it are under the influence of carnal feelings. Christ‘s kingdom is designed to be a kingdom of peace and love; and divisions and contentions are always attended with evils, and with injury to the spirit of true religion.

    4. We have here a rebuke to that spirit which has produced the existence of sects and parties, 1 Corinthians 3:4. The practice of naming sects after certain people, we see, began early, and was as early rebuked by apostolic authority. Would not the same apostolic authority rebuke the spirit which now calls one division of the church after the name of Calvin, another after the name of Luther, another after the name of Arminius! Should not, and will not all these divisions yet be merged in the high and holy name of Christian? Our Saviour evidently supposed it possible that his church should be one John 17:21-23; and Paul certainly supposed that the church at Corinth might be so united. So the early churches were; and is it too much to hope that some way may yet be discovered which shall break down the divisions into sects, and unite Christians both in feeling and in name in spreading the gospel of the Redeemer everywhere? Does not every Christian sincerely desire it? And may there not yet await the church such a union as shall concentrate all its energies in saving the world? How much effort, how much talent, how much wealth and learning are now wasted in contending with other denominations of the great Christian family! How much would this wasted - and worse than wasted wealth, and learning, and talent, and zeal do in diffusing the gospel around the world! Whose heart is not sickened at these contentions and strifes; and whose soul will not breathe forth a pure desire to Heaven that the time may soon come when all these contentions shall die away, and when the voice of strife shall be hushed; and when the united host of God‘s elect shall go forth to subdue the world to the gospel of the Saviour?

    5. The proper honor should be paid to the ministers of the gospel 1 Corinthians 3:5-7. They should not be put in the place of God; nor should their services, however important, prevent the supreme recognition of God in the conversion of souls. God is to be all and in all - It is proper that the ministers of religion should be treated with respect 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; and ministers have a right to expect and to desire the affectionate regards of those who are blessed by their instrumentality. But Paul - eminent and successful as he was - would do nothing that would diminish or obscure the singleness of view with which the agency of God should be regarded in the work of salvation. He regarded himself as nothing compared with God; and his highest desire was that God in all things might be honored.

    6. God is the source of all good influence, and of all that is holy in the church. Its only gives the increase. Whatever of humility, faith, love, joy, peace, or purity we may have, is all to be traced to him. No matter who plants, or who waters, God gives life to the seed; God rears the stalk; God expands the leaf; God opens the flower and gives it its fragrance; and God forms, preserves, and ripens the fruit. So in religion. No matter who the minister may be; no matter how faithful, learned, pious, or devoted, yet if any success attends his labors, it is all to be traced to God. This truth is never to be forgotten; nor should any talents, or zeal, however great, ever be allowed to dim or obscure its lustre in the minds of those who are converted.

    7. Ministers are on a level, 1 Corinthians 3:8-9. Whatever may be their qualifications or their success, yet they can claim no pre-eminence over one another. They are fellow laborers - engaged in one work, accomplishing the same object, though they may be in different parts of the same field. The man who plants is as necessary as he that waters; and both are inferior to God, and neither could do anything without him.

    8. Christians should regard themselves as a holy people, 1 Corinthians 3:9. They are the cultivation of God. All that they have is from him. His own agency has been employed in their conversion; his own Spirit operates to sanctify and save them. Whatever they have is to be traced to God; and they should remember that they are, therefore, consecrated to him.

    9. No other foundation can be laid in the church except that of Christ, 1 Corinthians 3:10-11. Unless a church is founded on the true doctrine respecting the Messiah, it is a false church, and should not be recognized as belonging to him. There can be no other foundation, either for an individual sinner, or for a church. How important then to inquire whether we are building our hopes for eternity on this tried foundation! How faithfully should we examine this subject lest our hopes should all be swept away in the storms of divine wrath! Matthew 7:27-28. How deep and awful will be the disappointment of those who suppose they have been building on the true foundation, and who find in the great Day of Judgment that all has been delusion!

    10. We are to be tried at the Day of Judgment, 1 Corinthians 3:13-14. All are to be arraigned, not only in regard to the foundation of our hopes for eternal life, but in regard to the superstructure, the nature of our opinions and practices in religion. Everything shall come into judgment.

    11. The trial will be such as to test our character. All the trials through which we are to pass are designed to do this. Affliction, temptation, sickness, death, are all intended to produce this result, and all have a tendency to this end. But, pre-eminently is this the case with regard to the trial at the great Day of Judgment. Amidst the light of the burning world, and the terrors of the Judgment; under the blazing throne, and the eye of God, every man‘s character shall be seen, and a just judgment shall be pronounced.

    12. The trial shall remove all that is impure in Christians, 1 Corinthians 3:14. They shall then see the truth; and in that world of truth, all that was erroneous in their opinions shall be corrected. They shall be in a world where fanaticism cannot be mistaken for the love of truth, and where enthusiasm cannot be substituted for zeal. All true and real piety shall there abide; all which is false and erroneous shall be removed.

    13. What a change will then take place in regard to Christians. all probably cherish some opinions which are unsound; all indulge in some things now supposed to be piety, which will not then bear the test. The great change will then take place from impurity to purity; from imperfection to perfection. The very passage from this world to heaven will secure this change; and what a vast revolution will it be thus to be ushered into a world where all shall be pure in sentiment; all perfect in love.

    14. Many Christians may be much disappointed in that Day. Many who are now zealous for doctrines, and who pursue with vindictive spirit others who differ from them, shall then “suffer loss,” and find that the persecuted had more real love of truth than the persecutor. Many who are now filled with zeal, and who denounce the comparatively leaden and tardy pace of others; many whose bosoms glow with rapturous feeling, and burn, as they suppose, with a seraph‘s love, shall find that all this was not piety - that animal feeling was mistaken for the love of God; and that a zeal for sect, or for the triumph of a party, was mistaken for love to the Saviour; and that the kindlings of an ardent imagination had been often substituted for the elevated emotions of pure and disinterested love.

    15. Christians, teachers, and people should examine themselves, and see what is the building which they are rearing on the true foundation. Even where the foundation of a building is laid broad and deep, it is of much importance whether a stately and magnificent palace shall he reared on it, suited to the nature of the foundation, or whether a mud-walled and a thatched cottage shall be all. Between the foundation and the edifice in the one case there is the beauty of proportion and fitness; in the other there is incongruity and unfitness. Who would lay such a deep and broad foundation as the basis upon which to raise the hut of the savage or the mud cottage of the Hindu? So in religion. The foundation to all who truly believe in the Lord Jesus is broad, deep, firm, magnificent. But the superstructure - the piety, the advancement in knowledge, the life, is often like the cottage that is reared on the firm basis - that every wind shakes, and that the fire would soon consume. As the basis of the Christian hope is firm, so should the superstructure be large, magnificent, and grand,

    16. Christians are to regard themselves as holy and pure, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17. They are the temple of the Lord - the dwelling place of the Spirit. A temple is sacred and inviolable. So should Christians regard themselves. They are dedicated to God. He dwells among them. And they should deem themselves holy and pure; and should preserve their minds from impure thoughts, from unholy purposes, from selfish and sensual desires. They should be in all respects such as will be the fit abode for the Holy Spirit of God. How pure should people be in whom the Holy Spirit dwells! How single should be their aims! How constant their self-denials! How single their desire to devote all to his service, and to live always to his glory! How heavenly should they be in their feelings; and how should pride, sensuality:. vanity, ambition, covetousness, and the love of gaiety, be banished from their bosoms! Assuredly in God‘s world there should be one place where he will delight to dwell - one place that shall remind of heaven, and that place should be the church which has been purchased with the purest blood of the universe.

    17. We see what is necessary if a man would become a Christian, 1 Corinthians 3:18. He must be willing to be esteemed a feel; to be despised; to have his name cast out as evil; and to be regarded as even under delusion and deception. Whatever may be his rank, or his reputation for wisdom, and talent, and learning, he must be willing to be regarded as a fool by his former associates and companions; to cast off all reliance on his own wisdom; and to be associated with the poor, the persecuted, and the despised followers of Jesus. Christianity knows no distinctions of wealth, talent, learning. It points out no royal road to heaven. It describes but one way; and whatever contempt an effort to be saved may involve us in, it requires us to submit to that, and even to rejoice that our names are cast out as evil.

    18. This is a point on which people should be especially careful that they are not deceived, 1 Corinthians 3:18. There is nothing on which they are more likely to be than this. It is not an easy thing for a proud man to humble himself; it is not easy for people who boast of their wisdom to be willing that their names should be cast out as evil. And there is great danger of a man‘s flattering himself that he is willing to be a Christian, who would not be willing to be esteemed a fool by the great and the frivilous people of this world. He still intends to be a Christian and be saved; and yet to keep up his reputation for wisdom and prudence. Hence, everything in religion which is not consistent with such a reputation for prudence and wisdom he rejects. Hence, he takes sides with the world. As far as the world will admit that a man ought to attend to religion he will go. Where the world would pronounce anything to be foolish, fanatical, or enthusiastic, he pauses. And his religion is not shaped by the New Testament, but by the opinions of the world - Such a man should be cautious that he is not deceived. All his hopes of heaven are probably built on the sand,

    19. We should not overvalue the wisdom of this world, 1 Corinthians 3:18-19. It is folly in the sight of God. And we, therefore, should not over-estimate it, or desire it, or be influenced by it. True wisdom on any subject we should not despise; but we should especially value that which is connected with salvation.

    20. This admonition is of special applicability to ministers of the gospel. They are in special danger on the subject; and it has been by their yielding themselves so much to the power of speculative philosophy, that parties have been formed in the church, and that the gospel has been so much corrupted.

    21. These considerations should lead us to live above contention, and the fondness of party. Sect and party in the church are not formed by the love of the pure and simple gospel, but by the love of some philosophical opinion, or by an admiration of the wisdom, talents, learning, eloquence, or success of some Christian teacher. Against this the apostle would guard us; and the considerations presented in this chapter should elevate us above all the causes of contention and the love of sect, and teach us to love as brothers all who love our Lord Jesus Christ.

    22. Christians have an interest in all things that can go to promote their happiness. Life and death, things present and things to come - all shall tend to advance their happiness, and promote their salvation; 1 Corinthians 3:21-23.

    23. Christians have nothing to fear in death. Death is theirs, and shall be a blessing to them. Its sting is taken away; and it shall introduce them to heaven. What have they to fear? Why should they be alarmed? Why afraid to die? Why unwilling to depart and to be with Christ?

    24. Christians should regard themselves as devoted to the Saviour. They are his, and he has the highest conceivable claim on their time, their talents, their influence, and their wealth. To him, therefore, let us be devoted, and to him let us consecrate all that we have.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.

    Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

    The Biblical Illustrator

    1 Corinthians 3:23

    And ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

    Ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s

    I. “Christ is God’s.” To understand this high saying we must remember that Christ is God. But Christ is man also. As Man, Christ is God’s great Agent for man in every respect.

    1. He is God’s Messenger, God’s Witness, to reveal the mind and heart of God towards fallen men. His whole life is an index by which you may read the secret spring of love divine; in Him “God is love.”

    2. He is God’s Servant--obedient in life, “obedient unto death.”

    3. He is God’s Priest--the One only “Mediator between God and men,” who “ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

    4. He is God’s King, reigning now invisibly in truth, and to reign in due time visibly in righteousness over the whole earth.

    II. “ye are christ’s.”

    1. By creation, in common with all things. “All things were made by Him,” &c.

    2. By purchase, in common with all mankind. He “tasted death for every man.”

    3. By ordinance, in common with all Christendom.

    4. By gift from God the Father.

    5. By the secret power of the eternal Spirit working in due season, according to the purpose and plan of God.

    6. In the enjoyment of a friendship and fellowship such as no other friendship can equal. (H. McNeile, D. D.)

    That a godly man in all that he is, or can do, is wholly Christ’s

    Where we may observe the apostle in a climax rising higher, “All things are yours, you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.” So that the highest round in this ladder teacheth to heaven as Jacob’s did, and the lowest one is in the earth. “All things are yours,” there is your privilege; but “you are Christ’s,” there is your duty; even to see that whatever you are, or can do, it be in reverence to Him. So all things are for the godly, and the godly is for Christ.

    I. Let us consider in what respects the godly man is Christ’s.

    1. He is bought and purchased by His blood, so that he oweth all his being, comforts, and privileges to Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). So then, well may the godly man be said to be Christ’s, for he cometh to be His at a dear rate. Never did king get subject, or master a servant, at so dear a price as Christ obtained thee.

    2. The godly they are Christ’s because by His Spirit they are made new creatures. They have a new being. For it cannot be theft any should be Christ’s who live in the flesh and are carnally minded.

    3. They are Christ’s because He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He is the Alpha; He is the Author and Fountain of all the spiritual good we have; and the apostle calls Him “the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). It is He that giveth life and motion and all spiritual strength to us. Now every effect is more the cause’s than it is its own. Seeing, therefore, thou hast no good but what thou hast received from Christ, thou art wholly to depend on Him, as the stream is on the fountain, as the light is on the sun--for take them away and these immediately perish. We are not to live to ourselves, but to Him (Galatians 3:20). All our graces are to carry us out of ourselves to Christ, our faith in Christ, our love and affections to be pitched on Christ.

    4. We are Christ’s in that all our Christian completeness is in Him (Colossians 1:19). It pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell. The privileges of justification, and adoption, and sanctification, that we have by Him, are to be more than meat or drink unto us.

    5. We are Christ’s because we are wholly to be disposed by Him in all conditions, in all exercises and temptations. For Christ being made a Lord and King over us, He orders us in all things.

    II. Now in the next place let us consider some characters or properties of such as are Christ’s.

    1. They desire more knowledge of Him, more acquaintance with Him; they prize Him above all worldly things (Philippians 3:8).

    2. Those that are Christ’s abhor and have no communion with any sin or wickedness, because that only Christ hateth.

    3. Those that are Christ’s, they live not to themselves but to Him. They please not themselves or others in a sinful way. Exhortation to those who are Christ’s to be self-denying, to take up Christ’s cross, to love Him more than all they have; for Christ is not for thee, but thou for Christ. (A. Burgess.)

    Christ is God’s

    Now the doctrine speaks of Christ both in respect of His human nature, and as He is a Mediator--not as God. Let us see, then, how Christ as a man and as a Mediator is God’s.

    1. His incarnation and coming into the world, it was not for Himself but for God.

    2. That Christ is God’s appeareth, in that He acknowledgeth His doctrine and truth not to be His, but His Father’s, taking all off from Himself, and making Himself only a minister or ambassador in His Father’s Name, and revealing His will (John 8:26; John 8:28; John 7:16).

    3. That Christ is wholly God’s appeareth in that as the doctrine He preached was the Father’s, so He sought not His own glory, did not exalt Himself but the Father (John 8:29; John 17:4).

    4. That Christ is wholly God’s appeareth in that obediential resignation of Himself to do God’s will (John 17:4). (A. Burgess.)

    Ye are Christ’s

    means that we are dependent on Him and belong to Him. Note--

    I. Christ’s proprietorship.

    1. In this is involved the denial--

    2. Positively the declaration includes that we are Christ’s in such a sense that His glory is the end and His will the rule of our life. He, and He alone, has the right to us. To Him, and to Him alone, is devotion and submission due.

    II. Its basis.

    1. Not specially creation, for as creatures we belong to the Triune God.

    2. But--

    (a) This gives the right of property as founded on justice.

    (b) The purchase involving redemption from infinite evil gives the higher and tenderer obligation of gratitude.

    (c) The price paid being His own precious blood it gives the highest of all obligations, that of love.

    III. Its various forms. We are--

    1. The servants of Christ, which expresses the relation as founded in justice. We are bound as His δούλοι to live for Him and obey Him.

    2. His bride. This includes the ideas of--

    3. His friends, bound to Him by mutual love and confidence.

    4. His body. Nothing is so intimately a man’s own as his body. It has a common life and consciousness with him. The pains and pleasures of the body are our own pains and pleasures. It has a common interest and destiny with us. So are we bound to Christ in all these ways. This is the nearest relationship of all.

    IV. The blessedness resulting from it.

    1. Security. If we belong to Christ as His servants, &c., we are secure for time and eternity.

    2. Participation in Christ’s excellence, both as to soul and body--in His happiness, glory, and dominion.

    V. Duties.

    1. That we should act worthy of this relation. Remember that we belong neither to ourselves nor the world, but only to Christ.

    2. Contentment. We may well be satisfied if we are Christ’s, for all things are ours.

    3. Joyful anticipation of Christ’s coming. (C. Hodge, D. D.)

    Ye are Christ’s

    You are His--

    I. By donation; for the Father gave you to the Son.

    II. By purchase; for He counted down the price for your redemption.

    III. By dedication; for you have consecrated yourself to Him.

    IV. By relation; for you are named by His name, and made one of His brethren and joint heirs. Application--Labour practically to show the world that you are--

    The possession

    A gentleman one day took an acquaintance to the top of his house to show him the extent of his possessions. Waving his hand about, “There,” said he, “that is my estate.” Then pointing to a great distance on one side, “Do you see that farm?” “Yes.” “Well, that is mine.” Pointing again to the other side, “Do you see that house?” “Yes.” “That also belongs to me.” “Then,” said his friend, “do you see that little village out yonder?” “Yes.” “Well, there lives a poor woman in that village who can say more than all this.” “Ay! what can she say?” “Why, she can say, ‘Christ is mine.’” He looked confounded, and said no more.

    Copyright Statement
    These files are public domain.
    Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

    Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "1 Corinthians 3:23". The Biblical Illustrator. 1905-1909. New York.

    Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

    And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

    Of course, the Christian's possession of all things in Jesus Christ derives absolutely from the fact of who Jesus Christ is; he is God incarnate in human flesh, the eternal Word, one with the Father, who is and was and will be before all time and now and for ever.

    That Christ is God's, as here stated, "in no way detracts from his deity."[36] His essential oneness and equality with God are not under discussion in this verse, "but his subordination for the sake of human redemption."[37]

    [36] Paul W. Marsh, op. cit., p. 382.

    [37] Ibid.

    Copyright Statement
    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 3:23". "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

    And ye are Christ's,.... This is the ground and foundation of all things being theirs, and shows in what way they come by them, and what gives them their claim and property: they are Christ's, he has an interest in them, and they in him; they are his, not only by creation, as all men are, but by the Father's special gift of them to him, as his spouse and bride, his children, his sheep, his portion, and his jewels; they are his through the purchase of his own blood, and by a voluntary surrender of themselves unto him, under the influence of his Spirit and grace; they are his by their profession of him; they avouch themselves to be the Lord's and call themselves by his name; and they are his by his possession of them, and dwelling in their hearts by faith; and all they have are his. Their worst things are his; their sins are accounted to him, and laid on him by imputation, and have been bore and done away by him: their griefs and sorrows are his, their reproaches his, and their afflictions and sufferings his. Their best things are his; their temporal mercies come from him, and through him; and all their spiritual blessings, they are blessed with in him; and all the good things done by them are done in his strength, by the assistance of his Spirit, and in virtue of his grace.

    And Christ is God's; he is his Son, his own, his only begotten and well beloved Son, as he is a divine person; and as man he is his creature, made by him, and inferior to him; he is the head of him, as the man is of the woman; and as Mediator, he is his righteous servant, whom he has chosen, called, brought forth, upheld, and in whom he is glorified: so that, upon the whole, the saints should not glory in men, though ever so great and good, but in God, and in Christ, as of God, made unto them wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.

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    Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". 1999.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

    ye are Christ‘s — not Paul‘s, or Apollos,‘ or Cephas‘ (1 Corinthians 11:3; Matthew 23:8-10). “Neither be ye called masters; for one is your Master, even Christ” (Romans 14:8). Not merely a particular section of you, but ye all are Christ‘s (1 Corinthians 1:12).

    Christ is God‘s — (1 Corinthians 11:3). God is the ultimate end of all, even of Christ, His co-equal Son (1 Corinthians 15:28; Philemon 2:6-11).

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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 3:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

    Vincent's Word Studies

    Ye are Christ's

    A summary of the title following the inventory. Compare Romans 8:17.

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    Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

    Wesley's Explanatory Notes

    And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

    And ye are Christ's — His property, his subjects. his members.

    And Christ is God's — As Mediator, he refers all his services to his Father's glory.

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    Wesley, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". 1765.

    Abbott's Illustrated New Testament

    Ye are Christ's; that is, ye do not belong to Paul and to Apollos, &c., as one in might suppose from your undue and inordinate interest in such human leaders; ye are Christ's.--And Christ is God's; you owe, therefore, no spiritual allegiance to any but to Christ and to God.

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    Abbott, John S. C. & Abbott, Jacob. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Abbott's Illustrated New Testament". 1878.

    Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

    23.Christ is God’s This subjection relates to Christ’s humanity, for by taking upon him our flesh, he assumed “the form” and condition “of a servant,” that he might make himself obedient to his Father in all things. (Philippians 2:7.) And assuredly, that we may cleave to God through him, it is necessary that he have God as his head (1 Corinthians 11:3.) We must observe, however, with what intention Paul has added this. For he admonishes us, that the sum of our felicity consists in this, (204) that we are united to God who is the chief good, and this is accomplished when we are gathered together under the head that our heavenly Father has set over us. In the same sense Christ said to his disciples,

    “Ye ought to rejoice, because I go to the Father,
    for the Father is greater than I,” (
    John 14:28,)

    for there he set himself forth as the medium, through which believers come to the original source of every blessing. It is certain, that those are left destitute of that signal blessing, who depart from the unity of the Head. (205) Hence this order of things suits the connection of the passage — that those subject themselves to Christ alone, who desire to remain under God’s jurisdiction.

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    Calvin, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". 1840-57.

    Vv. 23. We might be tempted to give the words, and ye are Christ"s, a restrictive meaning: "Ye are His alone, not your teachers"." But in the two analogous propositions, that which precedes and that which follows, Paul certainly does not mean: "All things are only yours," and "Christ is only God"s." It is not restrictions we have here, but strong affirmations; the thought is not limited, it rises. "All things are the Church"s, because it belongs itself to Christ, and depends on Him." It is in this saying, and ye are Christ"s, that allusion is found to the fourth party. It is not merely a few presumptuous people, puffed up with conceit of their own wisdom, who can say: And as for me, I am Christ"s; this is the privilege of the whole Church.

    And, as if to put the last stroke to the annihilation of all human glory, Paul denies it even in the person of that Lord in whom all mankind might legitimately glory: and Christ is God"s. As the Church possesses all things because it depends on Christ, Christ possesses all things because He depends on God; comp. 1 Corinthians 11:3. God in Christ, such then for man is the one subject of glorying (1 Corinthians 1:31). It has been asked, from the first ages of the Church, whether these words referred to Christ as man, or as a Divine Being. The old commentators and several of the Fathers, even Athanasius (see Edwards), applied them to the eternal relation between the Son and the Father. This is done also by Meyer, Kling, etc. Hence would follow the subordination of the Son to the Father, even within the Trinity. Others, Augustine, Calvin, Olshausen, de Wette, Edwards, apply them to Christ only in His humanity, in order to maintain the essential equality of the Father and the Son. It must be remembered, above all, that they refer to the Lord in His present state of glory, for it is as glorified that He is the Head of the Church. But this itself proves that the first explanation is not less true than the second; they are as inseparable from one another as the two states, the human and Divine, in the person of the exalted Christ. That is to say, we apply the notion of dependence contained in Paul"s expression, not only to the Lord"s humanity, but also to His Divinity. Is not this implied besides in the names of Son and Word used to denote His Divine being? And is not Beet right in affirming that only this notion of the essential subordination of the Son to the Father enables us to conceive the unity in the Divine Trinity? The meaning therefore is, that as to His one and indivisible person as Son of God and Son of man, Jesus receives all from the Father, and consequently belongs to Him wholly. It is on this absolute dependence that His universal sovereignty rests.

    As soon as the Church of Corinth rises to the view of these relations, what will become of the miserable desire among its members to magnify themselves and to turn what may be wanting to others into a ground of self-satisfaction? How will it be possible for one, when he contemplates the absolute dependence in which the Son abides relatively to the Father, still to glory in himself or in another? Each believer will possess everything, even the eminent teachers who enable him to make progress, as gifts from His hand.

    After thus making the Corinthians ashamed of their guilty infatuations, it only remains to the apostle to check the rash judgments in which some indulge respecting him: this is what he does in the following passage, which closes this section.

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    Godet, Frédéric Louis. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Frédéric Louis Godet - Commentary on Selected Books".

    John Trapp Complete Commentary

    23 And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

    Ver. 23. And ye are Christ’s] We hold all we have in capite tenure in Christ. From Christ therefore let us take our denomination. The name of Jesuits savoureth of blasphemous arrogance.

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    Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". John Trapp Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.

    Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary

    23.] On the change of the possessives, see above:—Christ is not yours, in the sense in which πάντα are,—not made for and subserving you—but ( δέ) you are His,—and even that does not reach the Highest possession: He possesses not you for Himself; but ( δέ again) κεφαλὴ χριστοῦ ὁ θεός, ch. 1 Corinthians 11:3.

    CHRIST HIMSELF, the Incarnate God the Mediator, belongs to God, is subordinate to the Father, see John 14:28; John , 17 passim. But this mediatorial subordination is in no way inconsistent with His eternal and co-equal Godhead: see notes on Philippians 2:6-9; and on ch. 1 Corinthians 15:28, where the subjection of all things to Christ, and His subjection to the Father, are similarly set forth.

    There is a striking similarity in the argument in this last verse to that in our Lord’s prohibition, Matthew 23:8-10.

    See Stanley’s beautiful note.

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    Alford, Henry. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. 1863-1878.

    Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary


    DEAREST Lord Jesus! while I hear thy servant, as in this Chapter, reproving the Church, for their weakness in faith, and their little disposition to anything more than as babes in Christ; how can I overlook my Lord's tenderness to his flock, who hath fed them in all ages, and is feeding them now, as a Shepherd! Dearest Jesus! thou knoweth how to bear with the weaknesses and infirmities of thy people! Thou carriest the lambs in thy bosom, and gently leadeth those that are with young.

    Do thou, gracious Lord, watch over the husbandry of thy Church! Do thou order all the apartments of the spiritual building. Lord! grant, that I may never bring the wood, and hay, and stubble of anything of my own, to lay upon the foundation Jesus Christ; And let the gold, and the silver, and the precious stones, laid upon, Christ, be the doctrines of Christ, that in the hour of trial, they may never be burnt up, but be found to be Christ's, which, will stand every trial.

    And blessed Lord the Spirit! suffer me never to lose sight of that soul-reviving truth, that the bodies of Christ's members are his Temple. Lord, take up thine abode in my poor nature, and reign in me, and rule in me, as the Almighty Lord of every affection. And let that vast inheritance, to which, by my new birth, I am begotten; be my everlasting consolation, against every exercise, and sorrow of life. While I can say with the Church, I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me; sure I am, that both in life and death, things present and things to come, every matter and every event, must minister to the Lord's glory and my salvation. If Christ be mine, all is mine. And blessed shall I be in my basket and in my store, in my lying down and in my rising up, in life, in death, in time, and, to all eternity. Precious thought! Allure ours, for we are Christ's, and Christ's is God's. Amen.

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    Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". 1828.

    Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae

    DISCOURSE: 1950


    1 Corinthians 3:23. Ye are Christ’s.

    TRUE Christians, however poor in this world, are indeed the richest people in the universe. There is not any thing of which they have not the best use and enjoyment. All things temporal, spiritual, and eternal, belong to them: yet they are not so rich in the property they possess, as they are in being themselves the property of another. The Apostle is enumerating in a climax the privileges of Christians; and having said that all things are theirs, he adds, as a more exalted privilege, that they are Christ’s. To elucidate this truth, we shall consider,

    I. Whose we were—

    The whole creation properly belongs to God; but mankind have alienated themselves from him: nor, whatever difference may have been made between us and others by the grace of God, is there any difference between us by nature. As long as we continue unregenerate we belong,

    1. To ourselves—

    [The natural man disclaims God’s authority over him, and thinks himself at liberty to live to himself. This was once the state even of the Apostles themselves [Note: Titus 3:3.]: nor is there one amongst us who was not once a rebel like unto them. Our understanding, will, and affections, we used as altogether our own. The members of our bodies too we employed wholly in our own service: even in our religious actions we regarded self rather than God [Note: Zechariah 7:6.]. With respect to all our talents of time, money, influence, &c. we said, “They are our own, who is Lord over us [Note: Psalms 12:4.]?”]

    2. To the world—

    [The world has an entire ascendency over us by nature. We adopt its maxims, follow its fashions, and obey its dictates: the pleasures, riches, and honours of it are the idols which we worship. What more can be wanting to constitute us its vassals [Note: Romans 6:16.]? Our Lord himself declares, that all such persons are, not merely the friends, but the property, of the world [Note: John 15:19.].]

    3. To Satan—

    [Satan rules in all the children of disobedience [Note: Ephesians 2:2.]; he leads them captive at his will [Note: 2 Timothy 2:26.]. Hence he is called the god of this world [Note: 2 Corinthians 4:4.]: and who amongst us has not fulfilled his will? This then manifests us to have been his children [Note: 1 John 3:8; 1 John 3:10.]; and, if we be not converted by divine grace, it may still be said to us, as it was to the Jews of old, “Ye are of your father, the devil [Note: John 8:44.].”]

    By conversion, however, we are brought back to our rightful Owner,

    II. Whose we are—

    Christ is the heir and sovereign Lord of all things. Both men and devils are subject to his controul; but believers are his in a more peculiar manner. They are his people [Note: Titus 2:14.], his bride [Note: Revelation 21:9.], his very members [Note: Ephesians 5:30.]—

    1. By donation from the Father—

    [The Father, from eternity, chose a people for himself [Note: Ephesians 1:4.]. These he gave to Christ to be redeemed by him [Note: John 17:6.]; and secured them to him by an everlasting covenant [Note: Psalms 89:34-36.]. To his eternal purpose we must trace the distinction made between them and others [Note: 2 Timothy 1:9.], and ascribe all our salvation to him alone [Note: 1 Corinthians 15:10.].]

    2. By his own purchase—

    [Though salvation is freely given to us, it was purchased for us at a most invaluable price. Christ gave his own life a ransom for us: the price he paid was no less than his own blood [Note: 1 Peter 1:19.]. This is the great subject of praise in heaven [Note: Revelation 5:9.]: nor should it ever be forgotten by us on earth.]

    3. By the drawings of the Holy Spirit—

    [No man, of himself, would go to Christ for salvation: all who are his, are drawn to him by the Spirit [Note: John 6:44.]. It is the Spirit who quickens and renews our souls: to him alone must we ascribe the power and the glory [Note: Zechariah 4:6.].]

    4. By their own voluntary surrender—

    [All Christ’s people are made willing to be his [Note: Psalms 110:3.]: they willingly renew their baptismal covenant, and give themselves up to him at his holy table. This they consider as their reasonable service [Note: Romans 12:1]: yea, they rejoice in it as their highest privilege. This is the peculiar character of all true Christians [Note: Jeremiah 50:5.].]

    Learn hence,

    1. What an exalted character the Christian is—

    [He is Christ’s, he is Christ’s property, and “purchased possession.” He is so united to Christ, as to be even “a member of his body [Note: Ephesians 5:30.]:” yea, he is so entirely one with Christ as to be “one spirit with him [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:17.].” Amazing! one would be almost ready to account this blasphemy. But it is altogether the very truth of God. Compare him, in this view, with what he was: how marvellously changed! There are changes in the natural world, which are truly wonderful; from an acorn to an oak; from a chrysalis, immured in its cell, to a butterfly, with all its gaudy plumage: but the Christian far surpasses them: for they had in their very nature the elements of what they afterwards display: whereas the Christian had the very reverse; a carnal and earthly nature, which is changed into one that is heavenly and divine. Methinks, scarcely would Beelzebub himself, if restored to his former state, be a greater monument of grace than he. Brethren, I charge you to keep this in mind. And, if any imagine that such a reflection will generate pride, tell them, that what you was is all that you can call yours; and that what you are, is the gift of sovereign grace, to the praise and glory of God alone.]

    2. What inestimable privileges he possesses—

    [Is he Christ’s? Then Christ acknowledges him as his, and fixes his eye upon him for good, and orders every thing for his eternal welfare. Yes, the Lord Jesus “keeps him even as the apple of his eye,” and will suffer neither men nor devils “to pluck him out of his hand.” To the Christian the Saviour looks as to the brightest jewel in his crown, and as a trophy, in whom he will to all eternity be glorified. It was in reference to him that the Saviour, in his last, his intercessory, prayer, said, “Father, I will that they whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me [Note: John 17:24.]:” and never will he cease to watch over every one of them, till that prayer is answered, and they are enthroned with him in glory, at the right hand of God.]

    3. How plain and obvious is his duty—

    [Are you Christ’s? Then for him you must live; and every faculty you possess, whether of soul or body, must be improved for him. Your whole life must be a comment on those words of the Psalmist, “Depart from me, ye wicked; I will keep the commandments of my God.” Having obtained this stupendous, this inconceivably exalted honour, you must “walk worthy of your high calling;” or, rather I should say, of Him who hath called you, yea, “worthy of the Lord himself unto all pleasing.” There should be no bounds to your desire after holiness, no limit to your efforts. You should desire to be “pure as Christ himself is pure,” and “holy as your Father which is in heaven is holy.” This is what the Lord Jesus expects at your hands [Note: Titus 2:14.], and what your relation to him imperatively demands. Seeing that “you are not your own, but bought with a price, it is your bounden duty to glorify him with your body and your spirit which are his [Note: 1 Corinthians 6:20.].”]

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    Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. 1832.

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

    1 Corinthians 3:23. In 1 Corinthians 3:22 Paul had stated the active relation of the Christians as regards ownership, all being made to serve them—a relation which, by its universality, must preclude all boasting of human authorities. He now adds to this their passive relation as regards ownership also, which is equally adverse to the same hurtful tendency, namely: but ye belong to Christ,—so that in this respect, too, the καυχᾶσθαι ἐν ἀνθρώποις of 1 Corinthians 3:21 cannot but be unseemly. Rückert would make πάντα γὰρ ὑμῶν ἐστι κ. τ. λ(580) in 1 Corinthians 3:22 the protasis and said by way of concession, so that the leading thought would lie in 1 Corinthians 3:23 : “All indeed is yours; but ye belong to Christ.” We are, he holds, to supply μέν after πάντα. But, even apart from this erroneous addition, there may be urged against his view, partly the fact that an independent emphasis is laid upon the thought πάντα ὑμῶν, as is clear at a glance both from its explication in detail and from the repetition of the phrase; and partly the internal state of the case, that what Rückert takes as a concession really contains a very pertinent and solid argument against the καυχ. ἐν ἀνθρώποις.

    χριστὸς δὲ θεοῦ] and Christ, again, belongs to God, is subordinated to God, stands in His service. For κεφαλὴ χριστοῦ θεός, 1 Corinthians 11:3. Comp Luke 9:20. The strict monotheism of the N. T. (see on Romans 9:5), and the relation of Christ as the Son to the Father, necessarily give the idea of the subordination of Christ under God.(582) As His equality with God and His divine glory before the incarnation (Philippians 2:6), although essential, were still derived ( εἰκὼν τ. θεοῦ, πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως, Colossians 1:15), so also the divine glory, which He has obtained by His exaltation after His obedience rendered to God even unto the death of the cross, is again a glory bestowed upon Him (Philippians 2:9), and His dominion is destined to be given back to God (1 Corinthians 15:28). Since, however, this relation of dependence, affirmed by χριστὸς δὲ θεοῦ (comp on Ephesians 1:17), by no means expresses the conception of Arianism, but leaves untouched the essential equality of Christ with God (Theodoret aptly remarks: χριστὸς γὰρ θεοῦ οὐχ ὡς κτίσμα θεοῦ, ἀλλʼ ὡς υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ), it was all the more a mistake to assume (so Calvin, Estius, Calovius, and many others, including Flatt and Olshausen) that the statement here refers only to the human nature. It is precisely on the divine side of His being that Christ is, according to Paul (Romans 1:4), the Son of God, and therefore as γέννημα γνήσιονὡς αὐτὸν αἴτιον ἔχων κατὰ τὸ πατέρα εἶναι (Chrysostom), not subordinate to Him simply in respect of His manhood. But for what reason does Paul add here at all this χριστὸς δὲ θεοῦ, seeing it was not needed for the establishment of the prohibition of the καυχᾶσθαι ἐν ἀνθρώποις? We answer: Had he ended with ὑμεῖς δὲ χριστοῦ, he would then, in appearance, have conceded the claim of the Christ-party, who did not boast themselves ἐν ἀνθρώποις (and hence were not touched by 1 Corinthians 3:22), but held to Christ; and this, in point of fact, is what Pott and Schott make out that the apostle here does. But this was not his intention; for the confession of the Christ-party was not, indeed, Ebionitic,—as if the χ. δὲ θεοῦ were aimed against this (Osiander),—but, although right enough in idea, yet practically objectionable on the ground of the schismatic misuse made of it. He rises, therefore, to the highest absolute jurisdiction, that to which even Christ is subject, in order in this passage, where he rejects the three parties who supported themselves on human authorities, to make the Christ-party, too, feel their error: Christ, again, is—not the head of a party, as many among you would make Him, but—belonging to God, and consequently exalted in the highest possible degree above all drawing in of His name into party-contentions. In this way, with no little delicacy, Paul sets the relation of the fourth Corinthian party also—of which 1 Corinthians 3:22 did not allow the mention—in the light of the true Christian perspective; to do which by no means lay too far from the path of his exhortation (Hofmann), but was very naturally suggested by the concrete circumstances which he could not but have in his eye.


    The reference in 1 Corinthians 3:22 f. to the party of Peter and on Christ is to be regarded as simply by the way. The whole section from 1 Corinthians 1:13 to 1 Corinthians 4:21 is directed against the antagonism between the Pauline and the Apollonian parties (comp on 1 Corinthians 3:4); but the idea πάντα ὑμῶν ἐστιν, which Paul holds up to these two, very naturally leads him to make all the parties sensible of their fault as well, although to enter further upon the Petrine and the Christ-party did not lie in the line of his purpose. The theory, so much in favour of late, which refers the polemic, beginning with 1 Corinthians 1:17, to the Christ-party (Jaeger, Schenkel, Goldhorn, Kniewel, etc.), has led to acts of great arbitrariness, as is most conspicuous in the case of Kniewel, who divides chap. 3 among all the four parties, giving 1 Corinthians 3:3-10 to that of Paul and that of Apollos, 1 Corinthians 3:12-17 to that of Peter, and 1 Corinthians 3:18 f. to that of Christ; while in the contrasts of 1 Corinthians 3:22 ( εἴτε κόσμοςμέλλοντα) he finds the Christ-party’s doctrine of the harmony of all contrasts accomplished in Christ as the world-soul.

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    Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.

    Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

    1 Corinthians 3:23. ὑμεῖς δὲ χριστοῦ, and ye are Christ’s) Immediately; not by the intervention of Peter.— χριστοῦθεοῦ, of Christ—of God) To this 1 Corinthians 4:1 has respect.— χριστὸς δὲ, θεοῦ, and Christ is God’s) 1 Corinthians 15:28; Luke 9:20.

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    Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.

    Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

    See Poole on "1 Corinthians 3:22"

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    Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.

    Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture

    1 Corinthians


    1 Corinthians 3:21 - 1 Corinthians 3:23.

    The Corinthian Christians seem to have carried into the Church some of the worst vices of Greek-and English-political life. They were split up into wrangling factions, each swearing by the name of some person. Paul was the battle-cry of one set; Apollos of another. Paul and Apollos were very good friends, their admirers bitter foes-according to a very common experience. The springs lie close together up in the hills, the rivers may be parted by half a continent.

    These feuds were all the more detestable to the Apostle because his name was dragged into them; and so he sets himself, in the first part of this letter, with all his might, to shame and to argue the Corinthian Christians out of their wrangling. This great text is one of the considerations which he adduces with that purpose. In effect he says, ‘To pin your faith to any one teacher is a wilful narrowing of the sources of your blessing and your wisdom. You say you are Paul’s men. Has Apollos got nothing that he could teach you? and may you not get any good out of brave brother Cephas? Take them all; they were all meant for your good. Let no man glory in individuals.’

    That is all that his argument required him to say. But in his impetuous way he goes on into regions far beyond. His thought, like some swiftly revolving wheel, catches fire of its own rapid motion; and he blazes up into this triumphant enumeration of all the things that serve the soul which serves Jesus Christ. ‘You are lords of men, of the world of time, of death, of eternity; but you are not lords of yourselves. You belong to Jesus, and in the measure in which you belong to Him do all things belong to you.’

    I. I think, then, that I shall best bring out the fulness of these words by simply following them as they lie before us, and asking you to consider, first, how Christ’s servants are men’s lords.

    ‘All things are yours, Paul, Apollos, Cephas.’ These three teachers were all lights kindled at the central Light, and therefore shining. They were fragments of His wisdom, of Him that spoke; varying, but yet harmonious, and mutually complementary aspects of the one infinite Truth had been committed to them. Each was but a part of the mighty whole, a little segment of the circle

    ‘They are but broken lights of Thee,

    And Thou, O Lord! art more than they.’

    And in the measure, therefore, in which men adhere to Christ, and have taken Him for theirs; in that measure are they delivered from all undue dependence on, still more from all slavish submission to, any single individual teacher or aspect of truth. To have Christ for ours, and to be His, which are only the opposite sides of the same thing, mean, in brief, to take Jesus Christ for the source of all knowledge of moral and religious truth. His Word is the Christian’s creed, His Person and the truths that lie in Him, are the fountains of all our knowledge of God and man. To be Christ’s is to take Him as the master who has absolute authority over conduct and practice. His commandment is the Christian’s duty; His pattern the Christian’s all-sufficient example; His smile the Christian’s reward. To be Christ’s is to take Him for the home of our hearts, in whose gracious and sweet love we find all sufficiency and a rest for our seeking affections. And so, if ye are His, Paul, Apollos, Cephas, all men are yours; in the sense that you are delivered from all undue dependence upon them; and in the sense that they subserve your highest good.

    So the true democracy of Christianity, which abjures swearing by the words of any teacher, is simply the result of loyal adherence to the teaching of Jesus Christ. And that proud independence which some of you seek to cultivate, and on the strength of which you declare that no man is your master upon earth, is an unwholesome and dangerous independence, unless it be conjoined with the bowing down of the whole nature, in loyal submission, to the absolute authority of the only lips that ever spoke truth, truth only, and truth always. If Christ be our Master, if we take our creed from Him, if we accept His words and His revelation of the Father as our faith and our objective religion, then all the slavery to favourite names, all the taking of truth second-hand from the lips that we honour, all the partisanship for one against another which has been the shame and the ruin of the Christian Church, and is working untold mischiefs in it to-day, are ended at once. ‘One is your Master, even Christ.’ ‘Call no man Rabbi! upon earth; but bow before Him, the Incarnate and the Personal Truth.’

    And in like manner they who are Christ’s are delivered from all temptations to make men’s maxims and practices and approbation the law of their conduct. Society presses upon each of us; what we call public opinion, which is generally the clatter of the half-dozen people that happen to stand nearest us, rules us; and it needs to be said very emphatically to all Christian men and women-Take your law of conduct from His lips, and from nobody else’s.

    ‘They say. What say they? Let them say.’ If we take Christ’s commandment for our absolute law, and Christ’s approbation for our highest aim and all-sufficient reward, we shall then be able to brush aside other maxims and other people’s opinions of us, safely and humbly, and to say, ‘With me it is a very small matter to be judged of you, or of man’s judgment. He that judgeth me is the Lord.’

    The envoy of some foreign power cares very little what the inhabitants of the land to which he is ambassador may think of him and his doings; it is his sovereign’s good opinion that he seeks to secure. The soldier’s reward is his commander’s praise, the slave’s joy is the master’s smile, and for us it ought to be the law of our lives, and in the measure in which we really belong to Christ it will be the law of our lives, that ‘we labour that, whether present or absent, we may be pleasing to Him.’

    So, brethren, as teachers, as patterns, as objects of love which is only too apt to be exclusive and to master us, we can only take one another in subordination to our supreme submission to Christ, and if we are His, our duty, as our joy, is to count no man necessary to our wellbeing, but to hang only on the one Man, whom it is safe and blessed to believe utterly, to obey abjectly, and to love with all our strength, because He is more than man, even God manifest in the flesh.

    II. And now let us pass to the next idea here, secondly, Christ’s servants are the lords of ‘the world.’

    That phrase is used here, no doubt, as meaning the external material universe. These creatures around us, they belong to us, if we belong to Jesus Christ. That man owns the world who despises it. There are plenty of rich men in Manchester who say they possess so many thousand pounds. Turn the sentence about and it would be a great deal truer-the thousands of pounds possess them. They are the slaves of their own possessions, and every man who counts any material thing as indispensable to his wellbeing, and regards it as the chiefest good, is the slave-servant of that thing. He owns the world who turns it to the highest use of growing his soul by it. All material things are given, and, I was going to say, were created, for the growth of men, or at all events their highest purpose is that men should, by them, grow. And therefore, as the scaffolding is swept away when the building is finished, so God will sweep away this material universe with all its wonders of beauty and of contrivance, when men have been grown by means of it. The material is less than the soul, and he is master of the world, and owns it, who has got thoughts out of it, truth out of it, impulses out of it, visions of God out of it, who has by it been led nearer to his divine Master. If I look out upon a fair landscape, and the man who draws the rents of it is standing by my side, and I suck more sweetness, and deeper impulses, and larger and loftier thoughts out of it than he does, it belongs to me far more than it does to him. The world is his who from it has learned to despise it, to know himself and to know God. He owns the world who uses it as the arena, or wrestling ground, on which, by labour, he may gain strength, and in which he may do service. Antagonism helps to develop muscle, and the best use of the outward frame of things is that we shall take it as the field upon which we can serve God.

    And now all these three things-the contempt of earth, the use of earth for growing souls, and the use of earth as the field of service-all these things belong most truly to the man who belongs to Christ. The world is His, and if we live near Him and cultivate fellowship with Him, and see His face gleaming through all the Material, and are led up nearer to Him by everything around us, then we own the world and wring the sweetness to the last drop out of it, though we may have but little of that outward relation to its goods which short-sighted men call possessing them. We may solve the paradox of those who, ‘having nothing, yet have all,’ if we belong to Christ the Lord of all things, and so have co-possession with Him of all His riches.

    III. Further, my text tells us, in the third place, that Christian men, who belong to Jesus Christ, are the lords and masters of ‘life and death.’

    Both of these words are here used, as it seems to me, in their simple, physical sense, natural life and natural death. You may say, ‘Well, everybody is lord of life in that sense.’ Yes, of course, in a fashion we all possess it, seeing that we are all alive. But that mysterious gift of personality, that awful gift of conscious existence, only belongs, in the deepest sense, to the men who belong to Jesus Christ. I do not call that man the owner of his own life who is not the lord of his own spirit. I do not see in what, except in the mere animal sense in which a fly, or a spider, or a toad may be called the master of its life, that man owns himself who has not given up himself to Jesus Christ. The only way to get a real hold of yourselves is to yield yourselves to Him who gives you back Himself, and yourself along with Him. The true ownership of life depends upon self-control, and self-control depends upon letting Jesus Christ govern us wholly. So the measure in which it is true of me that ‘I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me,’ is the measure in which the lower life of sense really belongs to us, and ministers to our highest good.

    And then turn to the other member of this wonderful antithesis, ‘whether life or death.’ Surely if there is anything over which no man can become lord, except by sinfully taking his fate into his own hands, it is death. And yet even death, in which we seem to be abjectly passive, and by which so many of us are dragged away reluctantly from everything that we care to possess, may become a matter of consent and therefore a moral act. Animals expire; a Christian man may yield his soul to his Saviour, who is the Lord both of the dead and of the living. If thus we feel our dependence upon Him, and yield up our lives to Him, and can say, ‘Living or dying we are the Lord’s,’ then we may be quite sure that death, too, will be our servant, and that our wills will be concerned even in passing out of life.

    Still more, if you and I, dear brethren, belong to Jesus Christ, then death is our fellow-servant who comes to call us out of this ill-lighted workshop into the presence of the King. And at His magic cold touch, cares and toils and sorrows are stiffened into silence, like noisy streams bound in white frost; and we are lifted clean up out of all the hubbub and the toil into eternal calm. Death is ours because it fulfils our deepest desires, and comes as a messenger to paupers to tell them they have a great estate. Death is ours if we be Christ’s.

    IV. And lastly, Christ’s servants are the lords of time and eternity, ‘things present or things to come.’

    Our Apostle’s division, in this catalogue of his, is rhetorical rather than logical; and we need not seek to separate the first of this final pair from others which we have already encountered in our study of the words, but still we may draw a distinction. The whole mass of ‘things present,’ including not only that material universe which we call the world, but all the events and circumstances of our lives, over these we may exercise supreme control. If we are bowing in humble submission to Jesus Christ, they will all subserve our highest good. Every weather will be right; night and day equally desirable; the darkness will be good for eyes that have been tired of brightness and that need repose, the light will be good. The howling tempests of winter and its white snows, the sharp winds of spring and its bursting sunshine; the calm steady heat of June and the mellowing days of August, all serve to ripen the grain. And so all ‘things present,’ the light and the dark, the hopes fulfilled and the hopes disappointed, the gains and the losses, the prayers answered and the prayers unanswered, they will all be recognised, if we have the wisdom that comes from submission to Jesus Christ’s will, as being ours and ministering to our highest blessing.

    We shall be their lords too inasmuch as we shall be able to control them. We need not be ‘anvils but hammers.’ We need not let outward circumstances dominate and tyrannise over us. We need not be like the mosses in the stream, that lie whichever way the current sets, nor like some poor little sailing boat that is at the mercy of the winds and the waves, but may carry an inward impulse like some great ocean-going steamer, the throb of whose power shall drive us straight forward on our course, whatever beats against us. That we may have this inward power and mastery over things present, and not be shaped and moulded and made by them, let us yield ourselves to Christ, and He will help us to rule them.

    And then, all ‘things to come,’ the dim, vague future, shall be for each of us like some sunlit ocean stretching shoreless to the horizon; every little ripple flashing with its own bright sunshine, and all bearing us onwards to the great Throne that stands on the sea of glass mingled with fire.

    Then, my brother, ask yourselves what your future is if you have not Christ for your Friend.

    ‘I backward cast mine eye

    On prospects drear;

    And forward though I cannot see,

    I guess and fear.’

    So I beseech you, yield yourselves to Jesus Christ, He died to win us. He bears our sins that they may be all forgiven. If we give ourselves to Him who has given Himself to us, then we shall be lords of men, of the world, of life and death, of time and eternity.

    In the old days conquerors used to bestow upon their followers lands and broad dominions on condition of their doing suit and service, and bringing homage to them. Christ, the King of the universe, makes His subjects kings, and will give us to share in His dominion, so that to each of us may be fulfilled that boundless and almost unbelievable promise: ‘He that overcometh shall inherit all things.’ ‘All are yours if ye are Christ’s.’

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    MacLaren, Alexander. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". Alexander MacLaren's Expositions of Holy Scripture.

    Justin Edwards' Family Bible New Testament

    Ye are Christ’s; all united in one body under Christ, who has redeemed you by his blood, and to whom alone ye belong, not to any human leader.

    Christ is God’s; sent by the Father to redeem men, and always acting in his name and for his glory. Thus the unity in God’s holy family is complete. Compare John 17:8; John 17:21-23, which is the best commentary on these wonderful words.

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    Edwards, Justin. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Family Bible New Testament". American Tract Society. 1851.

    Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges

    23. Χριστὸς δὲ θεοῦ. Even Christ is not existing apart and for Himself (cf. John 5:19-30), but is for ever united and conjoined with His faithful ones in the God and Father of all. ‘I in them and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one.’ John 17:23. Cf. also ch. 1 Corinthians 15:28.

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    "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges". 1896.

    William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

    23. Ye are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” Everything in the universe is a golden chain binding us to Christ, if duly appreciated and utilized; while Christ is our only way to God, leading suffering humanity back to the loving Heavenly Father they lost in the Fall. Christ has thrown His omnipotent arms around the world, utilizing and sanctifying everything in all the earth to those who will be true to Him. Like all the roads in England leading to London, everything in all the world, viewed in the light of God’s Word, Providence and grace, points to Christ, and He brings all back to the God they lost in the Fall.

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    Godbey, William. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament".

    Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

    All the Corinthians belonged to Christ, not just those of the "Christ party" ( 1 Corinthians 1:12). They belonged to Him, not to one of His servants. Even Christ belongs to God in the sense of being under the authority and protection of the Father (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Corinthians 15:28). This is functional rather than ontological subordination. All things belong to the Christian because the Christian belongs to Christ, and all things are His. Thus in Him we possess all things, but it is only in Him that we do.

    Paul made several references to the administrative order of God when correcting disorders of various kinds in the Corinthian church. This order is the Father over the Song of Solomon , the Son over the Prayer of Manasseh , and the man over the woman (e.g, 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Corinthians 11:3; et al.). The apostle stressed divine order because the Corinthians were disorderly, having failed to submit to the Holy Spirit"s control.

    "On this high note Paul"s response to the Corinthian pride in man and wisdom has come to a fitting conclusion. But the problem is larger still; so he turns next to deal with their attitudes toward him in particular." [Note: Fee, The First . . ., p155.]

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    Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". 2012.

    Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament

    1 Corinthians 3:23. and ye are Christ’s (possession), and Christ is God’s (possession). What a climax,—and an anti-climax too,—from all things down to ourselves, and from ourselves up again to God! But while all things are ours, by a seeming paradox there is something which is not ours. “We are not our own”—“we are Christ’s,” and none can pluck us out of His hands, as “Christ is God’s;” His Elect, in whom His soul delighteth, and from whom He cannot be separated. Thus, through Him that loved and gave Himself for us, those who are His are secured by a golden chain reaching up to the eternal throne.

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    Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". 1879-90.

    Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

    1 Corinthians 3:23 and ye are Christ"s; and Christ is God"s.

    "ye are Christ"s"-"Here is the true slogan which abolishes all others..."You" means all of the Corinthians as one body. This wipes out the "I" in the old slogans, one individual over against the others.." (Lenski p. 158)

    "It is not that "all things are yours" willy-nilly, or selfishly...They are yours because you belong to Christ; and all things are his (1 Corinthians 15:23-28). Thus it is only in him that the believer possesses all things.." (Fee pp. 154-155)

    "Hence not the properly of his servants" (McGarvey p. 66)

    "And what is their response to be? You are Christ"s! Act like it." (McGuiggan p. 54)

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    Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". 1999-2014.

    Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

    And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

    Ye are Christ's - not Paul's or Apollos', etc. (Matthew 23:8-10; Romans 14:8). Not merely a section, but ye all are Christ's (1 Corinthians 1:12).

    Christ is God's (1 Corinthians 11:3). God is the ultimate end of all, even of Christ, His co-equal Son (1 Corinthians 15:28; Philippians 2:6-11).

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    Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

    Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

    (23) And Christ is God’s.—Probably these words were added, not only as being the great climax of the gradual ascent up which the Apostle’s thoughts and language have gone in the whole passage, but as avoiding any danger of the party who called themselves by the name of Christ, arrogating anything to themselves from the previous words, “Ye are Christ’s,” if the passage had concluded with them. Christ is God’s as being Mediator (as John 14:28; John 17:3.) There was no danger, in that early age of the Church, of these words being misunderstood (as some have endeavoured to misunderstand them since) as in the least implying a want of absolute identity between the Son, in regard of His Divine Nature, and the Father.

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    Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.

    Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

    And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.
    6:19,20; 7:22; 15:23; John 17:9,10; Romans 14:8; 2 Corinthians 10:7; Galatians 3:29; 5:24
    and Christ
    8:6; 11:3; Matthew 17:5; John 17:18,21; Ephesians 1:10; Philippians 2:8-11

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    Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge".

    Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians

    And ye are Christ's: and Christ (is) God's.

    As all things are subject to the church and belong to it, the church itself can be subject and belong to none but Christ. In him, therefore, only can it glory.

    Christ is God's. As the church is subject only to Christ, so Christ is subject only to God. The Scriptures speak of a threefold subordination of Christ.

    1. A subordination as to the mode of subsistence and operation, of the second, to the first person in the Trinity; which is perfectly consistent with their identity of substance, and equality in power and glory.

    2. The voluntary subordination of the Son in his humbling himself to be found in fashion as a man, and becoming obedient unto death, and therefore subject to the limitations and infirmities of our nature.

    3. The economical or official subjection of the theanthropos. That is, the subordination of the incarnate Son of God, in the work of redemption and as the head of the church. He that is by nature equal with God becomes, as it were, officially subject to him. The passages the most directly parallel with the one before us are 1 Corinthians 11:3, and 1 Corinthians 15:28, but in Philippians 2:6-11; Hebrews 1:3, and in many other passages, the same truth is taught.

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    Hodge, Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". Hodge's Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and First Corintians.

    The Bible Study New Testament

    And you belong to Christ. This is the climax! In Christ they have union with God!!! How foolish, then, the jealousy and quarrels of rival parties. This also is a statement of irony. "Lords of Creation, you are His slaves. All Creation does belong to you, but you are slaves of the true owner, the God of heaven." No boasting here, because we are caretakers of God's riches!

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    Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.

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

    1 Corinthians 3:23

    "And you are Christ"s; and Christ is God"s." 1 Corinthians 3:23

    "Christ is God"s." These are remarkable words, and need to be carefully and reverently opened up. The fullness of the mystery is beyond our grasp. Still, we may attempt to look at it in faith and godly fear. How, then, is Christ God"s? First, he is God"s SON—not a Son by covenant or by office; in other words, not a nominal, but a true and proper Son—a Son by nature, by his eternal mode of subsistence as a Person in the Godhead. "This is my beloved Son" was twice proclaimed by God the Father with an audible voice from heaven.

    Second, but he is also God"s SERVANT. "Behold my servant whom I uphold" ( Isaiah 42:1). "It is a light thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob" ( Isaiah 49:6), and this he was as Messiah. But because he is by office God"s servant, he is not less by nature God"s Son.

    Here, however, he is spoken of as the God-man MEDIATOR, the Son of the Father in truth and love, the great High Priest over the house of God; and especially what he is as viewed in union with the Church, the Bridegroom with the bride, the Vine with the branches, the Shepherd with the sheep, the living foundation with the living stones built into and upon it. Christ, therefore, in our text is said to be God"s not only as the only-begotten Son of God, but as "the HEAD of the body, the Church" ( Colossians 1:18); for, says the Apostle, "We are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones" ( Ephesians 5:30). Christ, then, is God"s, with all those that belong to him—he as much as they, they as much as he. Look, then, at these glorious truths. "You are Christ"s" because by donation, purchase, and possession you are members of his body. "Christ is God"s" as Song of Solomon , as Servant, as Mediator, as Head of the Church. Then you too are God"s, because you are Christ"s; for the members are one with their covenant Head.

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    Philpot, Joseph Charles. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 3:23". Commentary by J.C.Philpot on select texts of the Bible.

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