I noticed as I was reading through 1 Cor 3 today that the first three chapters of Corinthians form a chiastic structure. A chiastic structure is a teaching device of Scripture found embedded throughout God’s Word. The elements of a narrative are repeated around a central point in reverse order. The reason for the chiastic structure, is to point to the central point that the Spirit wants to convey, like an arrow so that it is not missed. As we saw in Rom 12, the way the central point is wrapped by the surrounding themes can also teach us important truths.
1 Cor 1:1-3:22
1A: 1 Cor 1:4-9, The gifts that belong to the Corinthians;
1B: 1 Cor 1:10-17, Boasting in men;
1C: 1 Cor 1:18-25, Foolishness of the world’s wisdom;
1D: 1 Cor 1:26-31, No room for boasting;
1E: 1 Cor 2:1-8, The Spirit of God in power and spiritual wisdom opposed to carnal wisdom;
CENTRAL AXIS: 1 Cor 2:9, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
2E: 1 Cor 2:10-16, The Spirit of God in power and spiritual wisdom opposed to carnal wisdom;
2D: 1 Cor 3:5-17, Paul and Apollos have no room for boasting in building the third temple;
2C: 1 Cor 3:18-20, Foolishness of the world’s wisdom;
2B: 1 Cor 3:21a, Let no one boast in men;
2A: 1 Cor 3:21b-22, All things that belong to the Corinthians.
The central point did not turn out to be what I thought it would be! But it is a theme throughout Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, that God is after His family, whom He loves with all He is, and in return, He desires that His family also love Him with all they are. The ones who love Him, will pay heed to Him, will listen to Him (Deu 6:4-6, Joh 14:15), will follow His Spirit and walk in His wisdom and in His ways.
He is not after sold out love from us because He is an egomaniac who requires the subservience of every person! What does our agreement with God add to Him? But His commandments inform us of that way which brings forth blessings for us in our lives! He is after our obedience, because He loves us with all He is!
And at the end, for those who have demonstrated that they love Him, not with lip service but true love, which requires subduing the flesh, which requires standing against the world and maybe being mocked at by the world, which requires humbling ourselves before God, and saying, for example, God, I don’t understand just why it is so important to You that I rest on the 7th day, and not the 1st day, or the 3rd day, or whatever day my own understanding would pick, or even whether I rest at all; but I acknowledge that as God, You are smarter than I am! Therefore I bow my heart and my life to You, to Your Word and Your commandments, because You are my God!
At the end, we cannot even imagine what God has prepared for us who love Him with the same sold out love that He loved us. But here is a hint: Yeshua Messiah is returning as a Bridegroom for us, His Bride!
“When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war or be charged with any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring happiness to his wife whom he has taken.” Deu 24:5
God obeys His own Word!
Now it is also true that the ones who reject Him, from Genesis to Revelation, follow their flesh and walk in the world’s wisdom and in the world’s ways. This has been the way since Adam decided he knew better than God and that nothing bad would happen to him if he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Knowing better than God is the definition of the world’s wisdom which is opposed to the Spirit of God, and it has been from the beginning.
Now in 1 Cor 2:16, Paul tells us that we have the mind of Christ. This is in the context of his point that he is making, that the Spirit of God is the source of spiritual wisdom, which is opposed to the wisdom of the world or the wisdom of carnal man (the world and carnal man agree). In other words, is he saying that every believer, once they say the sinner’s prayer, starts thinking thoughts after Christ in agreement with the Spirit? Well, I think the way we tend to view that Scripture is that any thought that pops into our heads is automatically from Christ or from the Spirit so run with it.
I don’t think that is what Paul is saying, however. We learned in Rom 12:2 that we have to renew our minds so that we can be transformed, and prove what is God’s good and perfect will. God’s will is revealed in His Word. So we test the thoughts of our minds against the Word of God, and see if they are in fact of Christ, or not. If they are, praise God! If not, then we take that thought captive and make it obey Christ (2 Cor 10:5) — we renounce it, and replace it with the truth that is from God’s Word. How vital it is for us to know what is written in God’s Word! It is the only plumb line that we have!