Skip to content

1 Corinthians

May 16, 2009

Background

I. Introduction I Corinthians 1:1-9

  1. To Corinth and All Who are Holy                      I Cor. 1:1-3
  2. Thanksgiving for Giftedness                                I Cor. 1:4-9

II. Be Unified in Christ I Corinthians 1:10-2:16

  1. Unified in Mind and Thought                            I Cor. 1:10-17
  2. Unified in the Cross                                               I Cor. 1:18-31
  3. Unified in the Spirit                                               I Cor. 2:1-16

III. Resolve Your Divisions I Corinthians 3:1-18

IV. Address Your Pride and Picture Christ I Corinthians 4:1-21

  1. The Entrusted Servant                  I Cor. 4:1-2
  2. The Selfless Warrior                       I Cor. 4:6-13
  3. The Disciplined Father                  I Cor. 4:14-21

V. Avoid Sexual Immorality I Corinthians 5:1-13

VI. Resolve Civil Disagreements I Corinthians 6:1-8

VII. A Quick Review I Corinthians 6:9-18

VIII. Marriage Advice I Corinthians 7:1-40

  1. The Basics                                 I Cor. 7:1-6
  2. Resist the Need                       I Cor. 7:7-9
  3. Avoid Divorce                         I Cor. 7:10-16
  4. Love                                            I Cor. 7:17-24
  5. Choose Wisely                         I Cor. 7:25-40

IX. Freedom and Responsibility I Corinthians 8:1-13

  1. We are Free to Eat                       I Cor. 8:1-8
  2. We are Responsible for Our Actions                     I Cor. 8:9-13

X. Fund your Full Time Ministers I Corinthians 9:1-27

XI. The Meaning of Unity I Corinthians 10:1-11:1

  1. Be Fully Committed                         I Cor. 10:1-17
  2. Bring Glory to God                           I Cor. 10:18-11:1

XII. The Practice of Unity I Corinthians 11:2-13:13

  1. The Order of Authority I Cor. 11:2-10
  2. We are All Equal I Cor. 11:11-16
  3. The Lord’s Supper I Cor. 11:17-34
  4. We are Gifted I Cor. 12:1-31
  5. Love I Cor. 13: 1-13

XIII. The Worship Experience I Corinthians 14:1-39

  1. Prophecy Instead of Tongues          I Cor. 14:1-33
  2. Use Your Gift                                          I Cor. 14:34-39

XIV. The Resurrection I Corinthians 15:1-58

  1. Christ                                      I Cor. 15:1-19
  2. Our bodies                            I Cor. 15:20-58

XV. Closing Instructions I Corinthians 16:1-24

  1. Their Gift I Cor. 16:1-4
  2. Hospitality I Cor. 16:5-18
  3. Grace and Love I Cor. 16:19-24

Commentary

Background

Corinth was a very prosperous city located on an isthmus south and west of Athens.
It had two harbors, one on the east and one on the west. Paul, together with
Priscilla and Aquila, founded the Corinthian church on Paul’s Second Missionary
Journey. Paul ministered there for 1 ½ years before returning to Antioch
via Ephesus. Later Apollos, upon leaving Ephesus, was assigned by Priscila and
Aquila to minister there. Because of the Corinthian culture of business and
idolatry, the Corinthian church had to deal with many issues and problems to
remain the Church that God had intended to bring glory to His Name. Therefore,
this letter addresses many of those issues as they were brought to Paul’s attention.

This letter is a result of information that came to Paul from the household
of Chloe, either by letter or by a personal visit. Paul had been in Ephesus
about 2 years [a major part of his Third Missionary Journey] as a result of
promising to return to them after a very short encounter during his Second Missionary
Journey. Ephesus is located in the southeast corner of Asia Minor and was also
a city of great commerce. Therefore, it was very easy to communicate and travel
from Ephesus to Macedonia and to Greece because of the amount of shipping commerce
conducted between the two continents. Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthian
church during his last year at Ephesus, about 55 AD, before returning to Jerusalem
via Macedonia.

Paul’s overall theme is the Body of Christ and how it should function. He
addresses five major sub-themes; unity or the lack thereof; discipline; gifts
including faith, hope and love; worship; and the resurrection. He encourages
them to “get back on track” and to “rediscover to whom they belong”.

Introduction                                                                 I Corinthians 1:1-9

To Corinth and All Who are Holy                         I Cor. 1:1-3

Paul is writing this as an Apostle of Jesus Christ to the church at Corinth
and to Sosthenes. Sosthenes was the synagogue ruler during the uprising in Corinth
when Paul was ministering there during his Second Missionary Journey [see Acts
18]. Sosthenes was the second synagogue ruler to come to Christ at Corinth.
It is believed he is the same person that was beaten by the Jews when they failed
to convince the proconsul Gallio of Paul’s wrongdoing. Sosthenes became a believer
during Paul’s remaining time in Corinth or during Apollo’s ministry there.

It seems evident that this letter was to more than just Corinth in that Paul
addresses it to all who are called to be holy. We do know that Paul’s letters
were circulated and this one appears to be specific. The problems that Paul
addresses are common among all the churches. These problems are common even
among today’s churches. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians needs to be studied
in depth and applied by ALL Christians so we can ALL stand firm and can be ALL
that God wants us to be.

Thanksgiving for Giftedness                                          I Cor. 1:4-9

Paul thanks God for His Grace given in Christ Jesus to the Corinthians. They
are rich in the knowledge of Christ. They also have a rich and important testimony
of God’s saving grace. They are a church with great potential. They will be
a strong church as long as they look to and place their faith in Jesus Christ
for their strength, for He alone is faithful.

Be Unified in Christ                                      I Corinthians 1:10-2:16

Unified in Thought and Mind                                    I Cor. 1:10-17

Paul exhorts them [and us] to agree with one another in mind and thought.
Evidently divisions arose based on which of the teachers/Apostles each thought
was best or which one they felt had the most authority. From what Paul writes,
we can assume that even Peter ministered in Corinth. But Paul reminds them that
Christ can not be divided. He is the ultimate authority and the basis for all
the teachings of the Apostles.

We too can be guilty of the same thoughts. Do we place one Pastor over another,
as better than another? Different Pastors will relate to different people but
that must not cause divisions among us as long as they preach Christ crucified.
Do not divide over allegiance to a man. Focus your allegiance on Jesus Christ.

Unified in the Cross                                                      I Cor. 1:18-31

Their unity in Christ [and ours] is to be based on the powerful message of
the cross. It alone has the power to save. Those who do not believe in Jesus
find the message of the cross to be foolish. So the wisdom of the world is at
odds with the wisdom of God. The Jews want miracles, the Greeks want wisdom,
but the Truth is Christ crucified. He is both the power and wisdom of God, infinitely
wiser and stronger than man. The Jews look outward, the Greeks [Gentiles] look
inward, but Christians look upward.

The Corinthian Christians were not wise by human standards but look at what
they became; holy, righteous, redeemed. The same should be true for us. The
powerful message of the cross is that Christ died on the cross for our sins
and that He can redeem all who place their faith in Him. He has power over sin
and death as shown by His resurrection. [See I Cor. 15]

Unified in the Spirit I Cor. 2:1-16

Paul never claimed to be eloquent or have superior wisdom even though he was
very well educated. His knowledge is Christ crucified and his power comes from
the Holy Spirit. He trembles at the knowledge of the Greeks. You might say he
was even intimidated by them. Paul’s focus was on God’s demonstrated power and
not on man’s wisdom. Man’s wisdom is for this life but God’s wisdom is for eternity.
Therefore, live for the future, not now. Life is short.

Technology is good but don’t get so wrapped up in it’s progress that you forget
the real truth, that Christ died for our sins.

Paul’s wisdom is not of this world. It was mature. It came from the beginning,
a wisdom that had been hidden from man until then, a wisdom that says God has
a wonderful plan for those who love Him. The spirit gives us understanding;
man’s spirit does and so does God’s Spirit for those who have believed and received
Him as Lord and Savior. The Spirit is able to teach us about God, His Truth.
We can have the mind of Christ because we have been indwelt by the Spirit of
God. The Spirit becomes a special instructor for special students.

One tends to be influenced significantly by ones culture. The Jews were influenced
by focusing on the law, outside works. Paul had to be stern to the Galatians
to prevent them from emphasizing the law instead of grace. The Corinthians are
prone to being influenced by the “great thinkers and philosophers”
of their culture which emphasized man’s wisdom over God’s wisdom. Their attitude
was “anything goes, anything is acceptable”. Paul is telling them
[and us] to focus on Christ, His Work, His Gift, His Will, His Wisdom, and His
Love. We are to forget the culture around us and focus on the culture taught
by the Holy Spirit. Let Him teach and guide us in the way of life.
Resolve Your Divisions                                     I Corinthians 3:1-18

Paul returns to the first problem, divisions. When visiting the first time,
the Corinthians were worldly, not spiritual, so he taught them the basic simple
truths because they were not ready for more…and they still aren’t. He tells
them to focus on God, not man for they are God’s field, God’s building. Paul
laid the foundation, Jesus Christ. Others have built on that foundation and
will be judged according to what they have/have not done.

Paul goes back to that building analogy, pointing out that they are a “temple”
and are subject to God’s judgment should someone destroy “their temple”.
This temple refers to the Corinthian church as well as to the individual Christian.

Paul returns to the subject of true wisdom in verse 18. True wisdom is from
God and not the world. He cautions them to stop boasting about who may have
taught them and focus on Christ alone. In other words, get growing in their
faith instead of remaining an infant.

“Unity in and of the Church” is an important factor in witnessing
of Christ’s love to those around us. We all have our favorite pastors, those
who made a special and personal impact on our lives. But the issue is not to
boast about which of them is better, more eloquent, more knowledgeable, or more
effective. The issue is to focus on Christ and Christ crucified. Christ has
the power to save, not a pastor [man]. Man is just a servant as we shall see
in the next chapter. Christ Jesus is our unifier through the Holy Spirit, not
who happens to be our favorite teacher/pastor.

We are to focus on growing personally in the knowledge and power of Christ
Jesus. As we focus on Christ’s person and Christ’s will, ministry on His behalf
will pour forth in the form of good works, thus attracting/gathering others
into His Kingdom. It is His Work, not man’s work that saves us.

Organizational hierarchy is necessary and important for vision, discipline,
and direction in accomplishing the work of God. But from God’s perspective,
there are only two levels; His level for He is God and our level for we are
servants.

Our foundation must be in Jesus Christ. Our building [lives, church, witness]
must glorify Christ Jesus. The emphasis of Paul’s letter to the Galatians is
faith alone. The emphasis of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is Christ
alone. We are not to say or do anything to negate the witness of Christ’s work
on the cross for our sin and the sin of all.

Address Your Pride and Picture Christ                         I Corinthians 4:1-21

Evidently the Corinthian church was very successful even though Paul addresses
many problems in this letter. From this chapter we learn that pride is a problem
along with arrogance. Their success and good standing within the community was
going to their head. Therefore, Paul gives them three pictures as examples to
follow. These pictures form an image of Christ and an image of the Apostles
in that they imitated Christ. He challenges them to imitate him because he imitates
Christ.

The Entrusted Servant                                   I Cor. 4:1-5

An entrusted servant has the following characteristics:

  1. They are caretakers of God’s secrets. [vs. 1]
  2. They are faithful. [vs. 2]
  3. They do not overstep their authority. [vs. 5]
  4. They wait on the Lord. [vs.5]
  5. They receive God’s praise. [vs. 5]

In this picture, Paul addresses their desire for power and their lack of patience
by exhorting them to be servants of the living God, Jesus Christ.

The Selfless Warrior                                    I Cor. 4:6-13

In this section, Paul gives them a picture of conquerors bringing home the
spoils and prisoners. He equates the selfless warriors as the prisoners placed
at the end of the victory parade. He pictures the selfless warrior as one who
has been weaned of pride in that:

  1. They are humble toward one another. [vs. 6]
  2. They acknowledge one’s creator. [vs. 7]
  3. They are condemned to die. [vs.9]
  4. They have become a spectacle to spectators. [vs. 9]
  5. They are fools for Christ and not worldly wise from an intellectual point of view. [vs. 10]

They are people without possessions in that:

  1. They are not strong or influential politically speaking. [vs. 10]
  2. They are broke and broken socio-economically speaking. [vs.11]
  3. They are workaholics. [vs. 12]

These are people who:

  1. Bless when cursed. [vs.12]
  2. Endure when persecuted. [vs. 12]
  3. Are kind when slandered. [vs. 13]
  4. Receive no respect. [vs.13]

The Disciplined Father                                       I Cor. 4:14-21

Our last picture is of a disciplined father and a willing pupil. The Father
is one who:

  1. Leads by example. [vs. 16]
  2. Hires a tutor. [vs. 17]
  3. Follows up. [vs.19]

When considering this whole section we learn that the Corinthians have received
the gifts of faith but they have not progressed in their willingness/desire
to sacrifice or be persecuted for their faith. He challenges them to Walk the
Talk and gives them a warning to not let their success go to their head [that
is success in a building program, success in fund raising, success in prestige
and influence, and success in ministry or numbers]. In other words, don’t water
down the Gospel for “success and praise” in the community.

Christian unity has been disrupted in the past by pride. The Catholics became
proud of their political power which caused them to adopt strange theologies
and birth the reformation. Today the Pentacostals and the Evangelicals of the
protestant movement must be careful not to let pride in their rapid growth get
in the way of the true Gospel message. We can not become more concerned with
how we are perceived than with how Christ loved us and gave Himself for us.
We need to imitate Christ in order to regain Christian unity.

As a faithful and trustworthy steward of “the secret things of God”,
we must be humble before all men, avoid comparisons that appear judgmental,
and use our gifts to show unconditional and sacrificial love for the good of
all so that Christ will be lifted up for all to see.

Avoid Sexual Immorality                                        I Corinthians 5:1-13

Paul addresses the sexual immorality in their midst which happens to be worse
than the pagans. A man has his father’s wife and they act proud instead of being
grief-stricken. They believe but do not emphasize repentance. They seem to have
a “holier than thou” attitude. See Romans 6:1-14. This is so wrong
that Paul has passed judgment even though he is not there. He recommends they
discipline the individual immediately and publicly so that he gets the right
message and repents before it is too late.

The Corinthians are prone to boasting. This is not an attitude to cultivate
but an attitude to destroy. They are to set aside their malice and wickedness
in favor of sincerity and truth. Their boasting is, “in reality”,
an action condoning what is taking place in their midst. They are sending the
wrong message to those who are pagans. The message of the Church is at stake
because of their behavior. He has told them previously to avoid immoral behavior
[referring to a lost letter written at an earlier date] and to not associate
with those who do such. He is not referring to those who are not Christians
but to those who claim to be Christian. Paul adds to that list those who are
greedy, idolatrous, slanderers, drunks, and swindlers.

Jesus has said we are not to judge others. Paul is not saying the Church should
be judging those who do not believe [in fact he is supporting the teaching of
Jesus in this matter] but he is saying we have a responsibility to keep the
body pure through corporate discipline. In other words, it is right and proper
to “judge” those who claim to know Christ but refuse to be a “new
creation” by His Spirit.

Paul is dealing with a number of issues that are hindering their spiritual
growth and sanctification. As believers, they [and we] are to act as believers,
to be different than our culture, to be like the Apostles, to be like Christ
as Paul describes in Chapter 4. Their light is not shining in the darkness.
Their testimony of Christ’s riches is dimming. So it is important that we check
our batteries [heart] for power. If low, clean our terminals [repent] and recharge
them with the Holy Spirit so the light of Christ can shine through us for all
to see.

Resolve Civil Disagreements                                  I Corinthians 6:1-8

Paul urges the Corinthians to resolve their civil disagreements among themselves.
“Don’t air your dirty linen” before the world. Resolve your disagreements
before it is seen by the world.

As saints, we will have “judgment duty” in the future. We are to
practice for the future now. We are to practice on these trivial cases.

It’s OK to set up our own litigation system internally. We just are not to
let these minor disagreements air in public and destroy our witness of Christ’s
love and our witness of loving the brethren. It is better for us to be wronged
then destroy His witness through us. Our purpose is to promote Christ and not
ourselves.

A Quick Review                                                                I Corinthians 6:9-18

The wicked have no hope for entering God’s Kingdom. They [we] were once wicked
people but now have been washed clean, sanctified, justified in the name and
Spirit of the Lord.

What is permissible is not necessarily beneficial. What is permissible can
be destructive. “Don’t play with matches”. We may start a fire that
we can not control. We belong to the Lord. Act like it. Do not involve yourself
with what you know to be wrong [sin] [see vs. 9-10] physically, mentally, or
contractually. Unite with God alone. He lives in us. We who believe in Jesus
are “His Temple”, His Light, His Ambassador, and His Image for all
to see.

Marriage Advice                                                            I Corinthians 7:1-40

We have gathered that some visitors delivered a letter to Paul from some members
of the Corinthian church concerning certain issues such as marriage and food
sacrificed to idols [Chapter 8]. The other issues Paul discusses in this letter
probably came as a result of conversations with those who delivered the letter.

The Basics                               I Cor. 7:1-6

Because there is so much immorality among them, Paul offers this advice:

  1. Have only one spouse.
  2. Be united in both body and spirit.
  3. Avoid living apart.
  4. Do not separate except to pray

Resist the Need                      I Cor, 7:7-9

Paul wishes none would marry but be like him, married to the proclamation
of the Gospel. But then everyone has a special gift and not all are called and
gifted as Paul was gifted. Even widows and the unmarried should resist marriage
except for reasons of desiring a mate.

Avoid Divorce                         I Cor. 7:10-16

To those married, Paul advises them not to separate or divorce. This is the
Lord’s command whereas the previous two sections were Paul’s wisdom.

If two people are married and only one is a believer, they are not to separate
because their marriage is holy and their children are of God. Their marriage
is to be a testimony of unity, faithfulness, and commitment to one another because
their marriage is sanctified by God. However if the unbelieving spouse wants
out, the believing spouse is not bound because a marriage is to represent unity
and peace. And the Holy Spirit will work through the believing spouse to bring
the unbelieving spouse into His Kingdom.

Love                         I Cor. 7:17-24

Overall, each of us [believers] has been called and assigned a duty/purpose
for which we have been created. We are to carry out our responsibility without
complaint, keeping the Lord’s commands to love God and to love others. This
is true for believers, unbelievers the free, slaves, gentiles, and Jews. The
Lord paid the same price for all and therefore, we all have the same responsibility
to God; to obey His calling and His commands.

This does not mean we should not try and better our lot in life by changing
jobs or receiving a better education. But wee are not to better ourselves by
leaving or changing spouses. We are to simply use our God-given gifts for His
Glory.

Choose Wisely                I Cor. 7:25-40

Paul believes personally that it is best for those who have never married
to remain that way because marriage can bring many troubles. In other words,
don’t ask for trouble when life is so short and this world will soon end. Again
Paul encourages everyone not to do something that will take their focus away
from the Lord. Whether one is married, separated, or not married, one must remain
devoted to Christ, obedient to Christ, and unified in Christ. Marriage must
not be a stumbling block for being unfaithful to Christ. So be careful and act
wisely.

Marriage to one spouse is forever until one spouse dies. Believers are to
marry believers only. But those who chose not to marry also possess the Spirit
of God [blessings of God]. Marriage is blessed by God and ordained by God because
it illustrates the unity of the Godhead. God has ordained the tangible [marriage]
to illustrate the intangible [Trinity]. That’s why God does not like divorce.
Divorce dims the light of God’s love and His Kingdom.

Freedom and Responsibility                     I Corinthians 8:1-13

We are Free to Eat                          I Cor. 8:1-8

Paul’s next subject concerns eating meat offered to idols. Before he begins
Paul talks about knowledge leading to pride whereas love builds up or encourages
and supports. Knowledge does not lead one to God. But one who loves God is also
known by God. Paul addresses knowledge and associates it with pride because
the Corinthian people were very knowledgeable but few accepted God. Instead,
they accepted idols.

The Corinthian believers, on the other hand, know idols were nothing and there
is no god but the one true God who created all things and for whom they live.
Of course, not all Corinthians believed that and some believers felt it best
not to eat meat which was previously sacrificed to idols. That’s OK but food
is food and it doesn’t have the ability to move us away from God or move us
closer to God regardless of the position we take.

We are Responsible for our Actions                       I Cor. 8:9-13

Be that as it may for individuals but, as Christians, we must also be aware
of those around us. Freedom, such as eating meat offered to idols, has the potential
to be a stumbling block for others. Therefore, know your brothers weak points
and don’t do anything which would cause him to sin against Christ, to stumble
or slow his/her growth in the knowledge of Jesus Christ.

In other words, each of us may be weak to certain temptations and strong against
others. Use you head. Use common sense. Be discerning. Do not participate in
any activity which may cause someone else to lose faith or not even consider
faith in Christ because of what you do. This is particularly true where false
gods are involved. In today’s culture, money, sports, education, power, prestige,
and other types of possessions are gods/idols. We are not to let our:

  • Love for sports prevent worshipping God.
  • Love for education prevent our reading His Word.
  • Love for power prevent our granting forgiveness.
  • Love for prestige prevent our expression of compassion.
  • Love of possessions prevent our hearts from giving thanks to God.

Our requirement is to love God and love our neighbors. We are to show our
love for God and for our neighbors by acting in such a manner as to encourage
and support them in knowing Jesus Christ and following Jesus Christ. Any activity
which does not do such is sin against Christ Jesus. Do as Jesus said; deny yourself,
take up your cross, and follow me. In other words, think of yourself last, identify
with Christ and His ministry, and obey Him.

Fund your Full Time Ministers                            I Corinthians 9:1-27

Paul offers up his credentials for apostleship; he is free [free from the
burden of his sin], he is called by God [see I Cor. 1:1], and he has seen the
Lord. The Corinthian Christians are a result of his preaching the Gospel. They
are evidence.

Apostles and their families have the right to be fed while ministering. They
are no different than soldiers because they are soldiers for Jesus Christ. They
are no different than farmers who partake of their labor. Paul even quotes the
Old Testament [Deut. 25:4] as applying not only to oxen but to those who work
for the Lord’s harvest. Apostles and those who minister deserve to be supported
so they can devote full time to the Lord’s work.

Even in the Jewish culture, those who worked in the temple, the Levites, were
supported by those who worshipped.

But Paul did not take advantage of this basic right because he considered
his work to be a special privilege. He preached because he believed in being
a living sacrifice for God, that the Gospel would be accepted with “no
strings attached”. The Gospel is God’s free gift to man. Therefore, Paul
offered it free to all who would believe.

Paul chose to operate in this manner, to be viewed as a slave to the Gospel,
in order to convince as many as possible that Jesus Christ is God incarnate.
His being a slave to the Gospel resulted in his adapting to the culture in which
he ministered whether they were Jew or Greek, free or slave, rich or poor. The
Gospel must remain “free to all” because it is God’s free gift of
grace.

Paul’s purpose is to run the best race possible in that his name was entered
into the competition by none other than Christ Himself. Christ is his sponsor.
Christ was his trainer. Christ gave him a purpose and taught him to be persistent
regardless of his circumstances. Paul owed everything, [his life] to the person
of Christ. For Paul, it was all or nothing. He gave it his all. His vision was
always of Christ and His Gift of eternal life for those who acknowledged Him
as Lord and Savior, God Almighty, Creator.

Two things seem to be addressed in this Chapter. One is that the Corinthians
didn’t feel it was always necessary to support those who ministered among them.
Paul argues that this is their “right” according to scripture and
according to God’s will even though he did not personally require or desire
it for himself. He did not require or accept it because he thought he could
be more effective operating in that manner. Paul was at Corinth about 1 ½
years and had a trade, tent making, with which he could support himself. Others
also had families to support which required more funds than Paul required. Paul’s
message is “support those who minister to you and who minister to others
on behalf of Christ”. They should not have to be burdened by physical needs.
Support those who are called into full time ministry. It is our obligation and
privilege, assuring maximum effectiveness on behalf of Christ Jesus.

The second issue Paul discusses is devotion, devotion to Christ’s work. He
was completely devoted to preaching and teaching the Gospel. Likewise, we too
are to be devoted to the Gospel. We Christians have all been called to race.
We are being trained to race, and we must not deviate or rest. Whether we are
a long distance runner, a sprinter, a hurdler, a high jumper, …..we have
all been gifted specifically to serve Him. In so doing, support your “coach”
[full time minister] and finish strong for your team [the Kingdom of God], and
honor your sponsor Jesus Christ.

Evidence of our devotion to God is first seen through our generosity to His
ministry. [Matt. 6:19-21]. Lev. 26-27 is another interesting portion of scripture.
It can be outlined as 1) Acknowledge Me, 2) The Right Way, 3) The Wrong Way,
4) The Restored Way, and concerning generosity 5) The Devoted Way. We have been
blessed by the Lord so we give. We give and receive the Lord’s blessing. Giving
is one way in which we can show our thanksgiving to God and our unity with God.

The Meaning of Unity                                       I Corinthians 10:1-11:1

Be Fully Committed                                     I Cor. 10:1-17

Paul appears to be pausing to provide a historical perspective to the seriousness
of the instruction he has written thus far. He mentions the Israelites travel
from Egypt to the Promised Land. In essence, the Israelites were all members
of God’s chosen people. They were participants in God’s provisions and they
heard God’s Word. But not all appreciated God’s goodness, God’s provisions,
and God’s Word. Some did not even want to be members of God’s family. In fact,
they grumbled against God. They preferred to practice idolatry, pagan rituals,
and sexual immorality. As a result, they died in the desert.

By using this example, Paul is implying that the Church, composed of both
Jew and Gentile believers, represents God’s chosen people. Thus, they are being
warned not to be like the disobedient and faithless Israelites.

Paul offers this as an example of God’s judgment upon those who do not take
Him seriously. We are to avoid thinking we are strong and invincible but rather
humble ourselves before His throne and depend on Him. God is faithful and will
protect and preserve we who place our faith in Him, who obey His commands, and
who resist our natural desires. Don’t be like the Israelites who followed their
own will and died.

One is not saved by joining a church. One is saved by placing their faith
in Jesus Christ and depending on God’s grace and mercy for salvation. Only then
do we realize the hope of eternal life in heaven. We choose who we will serve.
Choose wisely. Choose to follow Jesus Christ. As Jesus taught, “deny yourself
[humility instead pride], take up your cross [identify with Me, join Me], and
follow Me [obey my commands].

Paul exhorts them to flee all forms of idolatry. He equates their drinking
of wine and eating bread as a constant reminder of the Lord’s Supper and that
they are one body, united in Christ Jesus. This relates to Paul’s theme of unity
which began this letter.

Bring Glory to God                                  I Cor. 10:18-11:1

He further explains situations that may come up in the eating of meat offered
to idols. Eating the meat is not a problem but participating in a ceremony of
sacrifice is a problem. They are free but not free to worship any other than
the one true God.

Discernment and responsible behavior is critical in the expression of our
Christian freedom. Not all that is permissible is beneficial. We are to place
others ahead of self and Jesus above all. That is the true JOY in Christ.

Paul adds a qualifier to aid in their discernment concerning meat that was
offered to idols. If nobody mentions it as an offering, don’t ask, eat. But
if they make mention of it and place importance on the fact it was offered,
then refrain from eating it. Refraining is ones opportunity to testify that
you worship the true God that created man instead of an idol created by man.

The bottom line is “Who do you serve”? As Christians, we serve Christ.
Therefore, all we say and do is for Him and His Kingdom. Follow the example
of Christ. Follow the example of Paul. We are to live our lives so that we can
genuinely and honestly say “follow my example because I follow Christ”.
All we say and do is for Christ and not for our self. We are free; free to love
Christ, free to worship Christ, free to follow Christ, and free to serve Christ.
That is the key to correct discernment and responsible behavior as His Children.

The Practice of Unity                                      I Corinthians 11:2-13:13

The Order of Authority                                                I Cor, 11:2-10

In spite of all the problems Paul is addressing in the Corinthian church,
he compliments them for maintaining the Gospel that he taught them. Their underlying
concern for the Gospel has prompted these concerns which were brought to Paul
for clarification. It never hurts to seek outside advice from qualified people
to clarify and define what constitutes a consistent Christ-like approach to
life.

Paul reiterates the order of Divine authority. It is God the Father, Jesus
Christ the Son, man, and woman. This Divine order of creation is revealed through
cultural protocol as to whether ones’ head is or is not covered when participating
in humble worship.

We are All Equal                                                         I Cor. 11:11-16

But different levels of authority have no bearing on one’s relationship with
God. God views all equally and independently because He is the Creator of all.
God created man and woman to be different, to compliment one another. He created
both for His glory, a glory that is expressed by outward differences in our
earthly cultures.

As one Pastor put it, we have been created to play different roles. Play your
role to the best of your ability and in so doing you will please God and bring
glory to His name.

The Lord’s Supper                               I Cor. 11:17-34

After complimenting the Corinthians for maintaining the Apostles teaching,
Paul criticizes them for their disrespectful practice of communion. They come
together as one but are really divided [see Chapter 1:10-2:16]. There is no
order or reverence to their worship through the Lord’s Supper. There is chaos.
Some eat more and others go wanting. Some drink too much and become drunk. They
are cliquish. They don’t share with one another. The most significant symbol
of Christian unity, the Lord’s Supper, is actually testifying of their divisions.

Paul explains the proper order and focus of the Lord’s Supper by quoting the
words of Jesus with His disciples on the night He was betrayed. He goes on to
explain that an improper celebration/order of worship is a sin against God.
We are to be thankful, reverent, humble, confessing our sin, and having loving
hearts toward Him and one another.

Paul says the sickness among them is a result of their behavior at the Lord’s
Table. It is actually God’s discipline to effect a change in their behavior.
They are to share and share alike. Don’t deprive others of partaking by eating
more than your fair share. Show forth your unity and not your divisions when
celebrating the Lord’s Supper.

We are different and we are one. May God grant each of us His Wisdom to determine
correctly when we are to be different and when we are to be one. Anytime we
come together as a body of believers we are to act as one. Anytime we, as individuals,
minister to another, we are different; different by gender and different in
our giftedness.

We are Gifted                                        I Cor. 12:1-31

Paul changes subjects now to their spiritual gifts. He has spoken to them
about their need to show unity through partaking of the Lord’s Supper and now
he talks about their different gifts.

There is one gift which all true believers possess and that is to genuinely
say “Jesus is Lord”. We can say that only because the Holy Spirit
indwells us as believers. Others may curse Him, take His name in vain, but believers
praise His name above all other names.

Therefore, through the working of the Holy Spirit in our lives, He gifts us
with different talents and aptitudes for serving Him, for participating in His
ministry. This variety of giftedness is for the good of all. Some speak with
wisdom, some speak with knowledge, some are examples of strong and steadfast
faith, some are able to heal, others have miraculous powers, some are able interpreters
of His Word for the purpose of prophesying, and others have discernment and
can easily distinguish between the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Satan, good
and evil. Some are able to speak in tongues while others are able to interpret.
All these are present in the Body of Christ, given by the Holy Spirit for the
edification and building-up of all believers.

Paul continues explaining this important concept by equating the Body of Christ,
the body of Believers, with our physical bodies. We are one; whole, complete,
because we possess the Spirit of God. The Spirit gives the Body life. One might
say it is our blood. Without His Spirit we would die.

Note that Paul describes active parts like the hands and eyes, strong and weak
parts, passive parts, and hidden parts. All are necessary and are a result of
God’s design. All are equally important. One affects the other.

There are several points to consider.

  1. Unity in serving Christ is first and foremost.
  2. Each of us will have different functions and some of us will have the same function based on our gifts.
  3. We must have knowledge of our gift[s] and use them for His glory.
  4. We must be careful not to do wrong [sin] and thus, cause pain to the Body.

I believe that in any body [church], regardless of size, all the gifts are
present. For example, when assessing one’s spiritual gifts in a Sunday School
class of 20, most all were present and in more than one person. Even in my CBS
small group of six we had a variety. To make this statement, I must take a broad
approach to “healing” and “tongues”. There is more to healing
than the physical. There is mental, relational, emotional, and healing of the
soul. Those who are wise have the unique position of being able to offer advice
such that healing occurs. There is little need for “tongues” today
because the Body of Christ exists in all nations except for certain small tribes.
“Tongues” is no different than evangelizing, presenting the claims
of Christ to those who have not heard. That was its original purpose. The purpose
is still important but the means is different.

Paul goes on to explain that in addition to different gifts, we have different
functions. All functions need a variety of gifts too. So in the Body of Christ
there is much overlap, all for the purpose of glorifying God. Identify your
gifts and constantly use them. Paul closes by saying we are to desire the greater
gifts. But what are they?

[ An interesting exercise is to list the gifts Paul references and then list
the functions. If you were to interview a person for a particular function,
what gifts would you look for?]

Love                                         I Cor. 13:1-13

Paul singles out three gifts [tongues, prophecy, and generosity] but says
they are of no value without love. The answer to the question “What are
the greater gifts?” is answered in this chapter. Some would say this chapter
is more foundational in nature, that it stands alone, and that the greater gift
is that of prophecy in Chapter 14. Obviously, I have chosen a different approach.
The fact that faith, hope, and love are foundational makes them great.

Paul talks about faith, hope, and love and says the greatest of these three
is love. Only faith happens to be mentioned in Chapter 12:9 but all three are
an integral part of the gifts Paul mentions. Chapter 12 talks about gifts we
exhibit because we love God and love others, because we have placed our faith
in Jesus Christ, and because we have hope through Him for eternal life in heaven.
Faith, Hope, and Love are a result of the Holy Spirit living in us and are foundational
to the manifestation of all these “gifts” toward others.

Rather than go into more detail, let me say that the best way to interpret
Chapter 13 is to insert your name every time you see the word “love”.
Doing so will change your heart.

One time while traveling on business I did a study of Chapter 13 under the
hypothesis that faith and hope are a very close second to love. In other words,
I wanted to see more balance between the “big three”. I have since
changed my mind but I did write down the following sentences which illustrate
what is being taught.

Through the gift of Faith we acknowledge Christ as Lord and Savior.
Through the gift of Love we serve Him.
Through the gift of Hope we are sustained by Him.

These are the more excellent gifts. We are to place our emphasis on these three
and the rest will fall into place according to God’s Divine Plan for each of
us.

The Worship Experience                 I Corinthians 14:1-39

Prophecy instead of Tongues                           I Cor. 14:1-33

Paul encourages us to love. This is also the dominate theme and attitude of
the Apostle John’s writings. Love and use your gift. Love by using your gift.
The gift of prophecy is most welcome because it strengthens, encourages, and
comforts others. Speaking in tongues edifies no one except one self. Prophecy
edifies all who hear.

Paul equates “tongues” to be like someone playing a musical instrument
without a score. Only the player enjoys it. It may even be beautiful but those
who listen have difficulty discerning the melody or the purpose. Perhaps an
even better analogy would be someone who is playing improvisational jazz. Does
it tell a story? Does it offer praise and thanksgiving to God? Is it a warning
from God? Was anyone strengthened, encouraged, or comforted? Interpretation
is definitely required to make it meaningful.

Interpretation is critical if “tongues” are to be beneficial to
the Body of Christ. Paul encourages us to pray and sing, engaging both our spirit
and our mind together with the spirit and the mind of others who are worshipping
with us. When gathering together as a church body, our emphasis is to be on
strengthening, encouraging, and comforting one another under the umbrella of
love. Every member must be able to understand the message of our Lord.

Paul spoke in tongues but he sought to speak so all could understand. Tongues
are a sign to unbelievers enabling them to listen to the Word of God in their
native tongue so that they may believe [see Acts 2]. But once believers exist
and are filled with the Holy Spirit, they are to edify one another in their
own tongue through the gift of prophecy. Therefore an established church is
more likely to reach others with the Gospel by clear preaching and teaching
than by speaking in a language no one can understand.

Paul continues to emphasize orderly worship through hymns, preaching, and
possibly a tongue if accompanied by interpretation. Tongues without interpretation
leads to chaos. Our God is a God of order and peace. Our God is the Creator
God; a God over both natural and spiritual laws. Our God is a God of love, mercy,
and compassion offering hope to all who believe and place their faith in Christ.

Use Your Gift                                           I Cor. 14:34-39

Paul now addresses the role of women in worship saying they should be in submission
to man and let them lead. This is a cultural consideration but again has Biblical
order in that the line of authority is God, Christ, man, and woman as stated
in I Corinthians 11:2-10. This does not devalue women. They are also gifted.
But their roles are different from men. All men and women function together
as the Body of Christ, the Church, to edify one another. Recognize your gift,
acknowledge your role, and serve the Lord in loving service. That is true for
both men and women. It’s called being responsible for what you have been created
to do.

In conclusion, seek to prophesy in an orderly way. Use tongues but do not
emphasize tongues. Teach and preach [prophesy] so that all may be encouraged
and grow in the faith and knowledge of the Lord. All of us, man and woman, are
gifted to teach someone [see Titus]. Serve Him gladly. Serve Him with thanksgiving
and praise. Serve Him in love. Share Him with the brethren and with your neighbor.

The Resurrection                                                I Corinthians 15:1-58

This portion of Scripture is significant in teaching us about the Doctrine
of the Resurrection. It doesn’t answer all the questions one might have but
it comes close. God has chosen not to reveal all the details but He has given
us the basics. I have more notes on this subject than I will document here in
that I have chosen to limit my comments to the basics of the basics. So let’s
begin.

Christ                                        I Cor. 15:1-19

The Doctrine of the Resurrection is one of the most important doctrines of
the Church. But before beginning, Paul encourages the Corinthians to hold firm
to the Gospel he taught them lest they believe in vain. Only the Doctrine of
Salvation by Grace, the Gospel; that Jesus is God incarnate who loves us and
shed His blood on the cross for our sin so that all who place their faith in
Him might have eternal life, is more important. He, Jesus, is living, being
raised from the dead, and sits at the right hand of the Father to offer us hope
because we are His Children.

His many appearances to His disciples after being raised from the dead prove
beyond a shadow of a doubt that He was resurrected. His appearances give us
confidence of His Truth. He appeared to Paul upon his conversion and He appears
to us through the Holy Spirit when we repent of our sin and place our faith
in Him. As His children, as believers in Christ, as believers in the Gospel,
we can live assured of our salvation, assured of eternal life with Him, assured
of our dwelling place in heaven, and assured He counts us as righteous.

It is by God’s grace Paul was saved. It is by God’s grace that we can become
His children. It is not by works. If God imputed His righteousness on Paul even
though he persecuted those who believed, He will surely impute His righteousness
on us if we believe. Therefore, hold fast to the Gospel. Hold fast to the Truth
that Jesus is God. Hold fast to the Truth of His resurrection.

We can not say logically or intellectually that Christ has been resurrected
but we will not be resurrected. Christ is God incarnate, both human and divine,
both man and God. If there is no resurrection, then Jesus Christ as man could
not have been resurrected. If that is true, then we are wrong to place our faith
in Him and we will die in our sin. Then all are lost and we live without hope.

But Christ was raised from the dead. He was seen by over 500 witnesses. We
who believe know the Truth and that Truth makes us free; free of sin, free of
death, free to love, free to hope, free to live assured, and free to know the
TRUTH. FREE! FREE! FREE! FREE INDEED!!

Our Bodies                                      I Cor. 15:20-58

This section is easier to discuss than write so let me give you an outline
coupled with some principles and applications.

  1. Assured truth……as seen from Christ’s life. vs. 20-22
  2. When……………as seen from Christ’s teaching. vs. 23-28
  3. Testimony……….as seen from Christ’s heirs vs. 29-34
  4. How……………..as seen in Christ’s creation vs. 35-41
  5. Results…………..as seen by Christ’s power vs. 42-50

Principles:

  1. Because He rose, we will rise. He, as creator has always had power over death.
  2. Through Adam’s choice we die. Through Christ’s choice we live.
  3. Satan’s clones are founded in Adam’s sin. God’s clones are founded in Christ’s righteousness.
  4. The resurrection of the dead is TRUTH as demonstrated by Christ’s resurrection.
  5. As Christians there is no need/room to question the concept/doctrine of the resurrection.
  6. Our Lord is a God of order, not chaos. He brings focus to our wandering ways as our resurrection nears.
  7. The resurrection applies to all creation. For instance:
    Moral dimension
    : fallen man –> redeemed man –> resurrected man
    Civil dimension
    : fallen earth –> redeemed earth –> resurrected earth
    Spiritual dimension
    : fallen Jerusalem –> redeemed Jerusalem –> resurrected Jerusalem
  8. Our redemption is His earthly work. Our resurrection is His heavenly work.
  9. The believer’s resurrection is to eternal life and praise. The unbeliever’s resurrection is to eternal death and damnation.

Applications:

  1. Focus on success [Resurrection], not failure [Death].
    Focusing on Him and His Resurrection Hope speeds His Sanctification and Transformation
    process to make us like Him.
  2. Belief in the Resurrection gives us a heavenly perspective, a longing for
    home, anticipation of our family reunion, and direction and purpose. This results
    in a vibrant faith, joy, happiness, love for one another, hope for tomorrow,
    and an attractiveness to others because we are looking up, not down; ahead,
    not behind.
  3. We must die daily to sin in order to be resurrected to joyous supernatural abundant living so that others will see His testimony in us and trust Him as their Savior, their Resurrection Hope.

Let’s Review:

  1. Christ was resurrected and given an immortal body after His death on the
    cross. Therefore the resurrection of the dead is a valid truth. I Cor. 15:20
  2. All who believe in Christ will be resurrected. I Cor. 15:21-22
  3. Our resurrection body is given when He comes again prior to His millennial
    reign. I Cor. 15:23-27
  4. Our resurrected body is created by God to be immortal, spiritual, and in God’s likeness. I Cor. 15:38, 42, 44, 49
  5. All believers will have a resurrection body, those who are dead and those who are alive at His coming. I Cor. 15:51-52

So we understand that our current bodies must die and we who have placed our
faith in Christ Jesus will receive a new body upon His coming again.

The facts are clear but not all is revealed to us. Questions arise such as:

  1. Is our “heavenly body” different than our “resurrected body”?
  2. It is implied that Enoch and Elijah were translated. Did they receive a resurrected
    body then?
  3. Graves were opened upon Jesus’ death and resurrection. Did those persons
    have resurrected bodies?
  4. Moses and Elijah were seen by Peter, James, and John at Jesus’ transfiguration.
    Did they have resurrected bodies?
  5. Is there more than one number and/or one type of resurrection?

So we must be careful and not mix opinions with the facts. We must be very
careful when taking certain phrases, placing them with others, and turning them
into concrete facts [context issues]. Again we must be careful not to turn theological
theory into doctrinal fact. There are some excellent commentaries, apologetics,
and books written but I ask you to read them with care. One of the better ones
is Things to Come by Dwight Pentecost. Another is Dispensational Truth by Clarence
Larkin. But read with care.

Death is swallowed up in victory. This happens when we, who are perishable,
are clothed with the imperishable, Christ’s righteousness. Therefore, stand
firm in your faith and devote yourself to the Lord’s work. Your labor will not
be in vain. It will benefit the Body of Christ and further the Kingdom of God.

Closing Instructions                                   I Corinthians 16:1-24

Their Gift                                                  I Cor. 16:1-4

Paul closes his letter with instructions and information about what should
happen prior to his return to Jerusalem.

The first item of business is to plan ahead and begin the collection of their
gift for the Jerusalem church. Evidently this is something that the Corinthian
church had committed to earlier. If they start now, they will have it collected
early and will not be scrambling prior to the trip to Jerusalem. This is good
advice. Our giving to the work of Christ should be planned out too. Such planning
assures us of meeting our commitments, enables us to give more because of the
discipline employed, and prevents hardship when it is due. Follow this instruction,
which demonstrates our devotion to and for the Lord, and live a joyful stress-free
life in service to those in need.

Hospitality                                              I Cor. 16:5-18

Paul will visit them after visiting Macedonia. He wants to stay at Corinth
with them for a while. It appears he too expects funds from them for his travels.
He will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost because he has been given great opportunities
to minister in spite of opposition.

There are evidently teams of brothers from the different churches that travel
throughout the area for the purpose of encouraging believers, evangelizing,
teaching, training, and exchanging information. Timothy is leading one team
and is expected to visit Corinth before returning to Paul. Apollos leads another.
He was a key player in establishing the work at Corinth, relating to them as
a fellow Greek. Paul encouraged him to return but Apollos evidently felt otherwise.

Paul then repeats his final charge in Chapter 15:58 to stand firm, be on guard,
and be strong and courageous as they continue ministering in the love of Christ.

Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Archaicus were another team of ministers sent out
by the church at Corinth. They stopped by Ephesus and gave Paul further information
on the Corinthian church to which Paul has responded in this letter. While in
Ephesus, they ministered to Paul by refreshing his heart. See my comments on
Philemon associated with refreshing hearts. Perhaps they even brought a monetary
gift for Paul on behalf of Corinth.

Grace and Love                                         I Cor. 16:19-24

Paul sends them greeting from the local churches and from Priscilla and Aquila.
They were also part of the original work at Corinth. Paul closes by giving them
the Lord’s blessing of grace and his love for them.

dividerPlease note: the links directly below (after “from–>”) are external links. Clicking on them means you will leave the Greenley Commentary Web site. To search Greenley Commentary using categories, use the Search by Category function in the right sidebar.

Advertisements

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: