The first Christian leaders established churches in many countries, but they did not build any buildings. Christians usually met in houses or in public places. For them, the ‘church’ meant the people, not the place.
So, Paul uses a building as a word-picture here. A building needs a strong base, called the foundation (see Matthew 7:24-27). In the same manner, people need something strong that they can depend on. That is true in our lives; and it is also true for our churches (the people, rather than the buildings).
Paul insists that the only sensible foundation for anyone’s life or for any church is Jesus Christ. We cannot depend on money, success or popularity, because these things do not last. We cannot trust in politics, because governments change. We cannot even trust our own skills, because we ourselves are weak. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and always (Hebrews 13:8). God’s promises are certain. God does not disappoint the person who trusts in him (Hebrews 6:19).
Paul wanted that first church in Corinth to be strong. So Paul did not urge those first Christians to trust him, Paul. Instead, he constantly emphasised one message; the death of Christ (2:2). Paul was very aware of his own weakness (2:3), but Christ is strong. If people in Corinth trusted Christ, then they and their church would be strong.
After Paul left, other Christian leaders went to Corinth. They were like builders who build upon a foundation. But because the foundation of that church was Jesus Christ, it would remain strong.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.