1 And I could not speak to you, brothers, as I would to spiritual people, but [I have to speak to you] as I would to worldly people, for you are immature children in [the fellowship of] Christ. 2 For I fed you with milk, not with solid food [i.e., with basic fundamentals instead of more advanced teaching. See Heb. 5:12-13] because you were not able to absorb it, 3 for you are still worldly [minded]. And since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, is that not evidence that you are [still] worldly and living like [unspiritual] people? 4 For when one of you says, "I am a follower of Paul," and another says, "I am a follower of Apollos," are you not [acting like worldly] people?
5 After all, who is Apollos? And who is Paul? They are [only] servants through whom you believed [in Christ], with each one doing what the Lord gave him to do. 6 I [Paul] planted [i.e., preached God's word], Apollos watered [it], but God made it grow. 7 So then, it does not matter who plants or who waters, but [it is] God who matters, for He makes the seed grow. 8 Now the person who plants and the person who waters have the same [purpose], and each one will receive his own wages, according to the work each one does. 9 For we are all fellow-workers in God's service; you people are God's farm land; [you are] God's building. 10 Using the unearned favor shown to me by God [Note: Paul here probably refers to his apostleship and its attending spiritual gifts], as an expert building contractor, I laid the foundation [i.e., in starting the Corinthian church], and someone else is building on it [i.e., Apollos. See verse 6]. 11 For no one can lay [any] other foundation than the one which [God] has [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 But if anyone [i.e., a preacher or soul winner] builds on this foundation with gold, silver, expensive building stones, wood, grass, or straw, 13 [the quality of] each person's work will become evident [i.e., for what is it made of]. For the [judgment] day will expose his workmanship. And it will be revealed by the fire [of judgment], which will test the quality of a person's workmanship [i.e., the faithfulness of his converts]. 14 If the work of anyone lasts [i.e., if his converts are judged faithful], he will receive a reward [i.e., his converts will constitute part of his reward]. 15 But if anyone's work is burned up [i.e., does not survive the judgment], he will experience loss [i.e., of his converts], but he himself will [still] be saved, like a person escaping from the fire [i.e., of a burning building, which consumes his efforts].
16 Do you people not know that you are God's Temple [i.e., the church. See I Pet. 2:5; I Tim. 3:15], and that the Holy Spirit of God lives in you [i.e., collectively]? 17 If any person destroys God's Temple, God will destroy him. For God's Temple is holy [i.e., set apart for His service], and you people are His [holy] Temple.
18 No one should fool himself. If any person among you thinks he is smart, by human standards, he should become a "fool," so that he can become [really] wise. 19 For this world's "wisdom" is foolishness to God. For it is written [Job 5:13], "He [i.e., God] catches wise people in their cleverness." 20 And again, it says [Psa. 94:11], "The Lord knows that the thoughts of 'wise people' are worthless." 21 So, no one should boast about [the knowledge or position of] people. For all things belong to you, 22 including Paul, and Apollos, and Cephas [i.e., Peter], and the world, and life and death, and present and future things. All of these things are yours. [Note: Paul is showing that, as Christians, they really possessed and should value all preachers and circumstances of life alike]. 23 And you people belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.