“All things are yours!” What things? (An explanation of 1 Corin. 3:21).

We properly understand the use of “all” in scriptures when it comes to applying it in its proper context. So how do we apply it with when it comes to 1 Corinthians 3:21. What are the ‘all” in this case?

1 Corinthians 3:21 (NKJV)

21 Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours:

The succedent texts helps us out.

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

The Apostles Paul, Cephas (Peter), Apollos, and the world (“kosmos” in the Greek — mass multitude of men, which in context refers to ministers of the Gospel) and as well as their living & their deaths. Things present is the fact that they are (at that time) alive & things to come is their eventual deaths for the sake of the GospelThey did ALL THAT for them, referring to the persecutions which the Apostles faced for the Church.

Paul says something similar again in 2 Corinthians 4

2 Corinthians 4:8-12 (NKJV)

8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you.

Observe verse 12.

Life in you. That is, the benefit of our sufferings is evident in you. All these things are yours — for your benefit.

Also in Philippians 1

Philippians 1:21-26 (NKJV)

21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. 24 Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful FORYOU. 25 And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, 26 that your rejoicing for me may be more abundant in Jesus Christ by my coming to you again.

Note verse 24; to remain is more needful FOR YOU. The life of the Apostles was one of COMPLETE service to Christ’s Church. Their deaths were considered a honour, having lived for Christ. Hence, they referred to themselves as “bondservants” of Jesus Christ

Romans 1:1 (NKJV)

1 Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God

Galatians 1:10 (NKJV)

10 For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.

Philippians 1:1 (NKJV)

1 Paul and Timothy, bondservants of Jesus Christ,

To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

Titus 1:1 (NKJV)

1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness,

James 1:1 (NKJV)

1 James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad:



2 Peter 1:1 (NKJV)

1 Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:

That word “bondservant” was translated from the Greek word “doulos” which refers to “a slave; someone who belongs to another, one who gives himself up wholly to another’s will.”Its usage in classical Greek suggests an individual with no rights.InIn the case of the Apostles, this was done voluntarily. i.e they laid down their privileges in service. Responsibility is picked up as the Saints mature in the faith.

2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (NKJV)

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

We are to live for Him; in service to His cause; this would involve waiving our privileges & appetites; self-denial

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (NKJV)

19 For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20 and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21 to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.

Paul modeled this perfectly.

2 Corinthians 11:23-28 (NKJV)

23 Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.

He suffered persecutions for the sake of the Gospel.

Acts 16:22-24 (NKJV)

22 Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. 24 Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks.

Beaten with rods, imprisoned. He later calls these persecutions (particularly the demonic entity that caused them) “a thorn in the flesh”

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NKJV)

7 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. 8 Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. 9 And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

And “the marks of the Lord Jesus”

Galatians 6:17 (NKJV)

17 From now on let no one trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

The word “marks” used here (“stigmata” in the Greek) refers to to the literal scars on Paul from the lictor’s rods at Philippi (Acts 16:22-23), violent expulsion from Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:50), the stoning at Lystra (Acts 14:19), etc. These “marked Paul off” as the slave of Jesus.

Interestingly, these sort of brand-marks, like “tatoos,” were burned into the skin of slaves in New Testament times – proving they belonged to a particular owner. According to ancient oriental usage, slaves and soldiers bore the name or stamp of their master or commander branded or pricked (cut) into their bodies to indicate what master or general they belonged to. So, Paul draws from this imagery in describing his sufferings in his service unto the Lord. The “marks of the Lord Jesus Christ” are the traces left behind by the perils, hardships, imprisonments and scourgings endured by him for the cause of Christ, and which mark him as Christ’s faithful and approved minister.

So, when Paul says “all things are yours” (in 1 Corin. 3:21), he referred to the persecutions which the Apostles faced for the Church. They are ours, that is, for our benefit. The “all things” are specified and do not refer to EVERYTHING under the sun. Contextual reading is key. The Corinthian Church & by extension, we today, are the products of their sacrifice & selfless living.

1 Corinthians 3:6 (NKJV)

6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.

Paul wrote to a Church which was deep in schisms;

3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? 4 For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

So, this was a wake-up call saying: Hey! Stop creating cliques around ministers of the Gospel. All they do is for you. Their collective labours are yours!”


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2019.


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