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Important themes in this letter: The addressing of spiritual arrogance in the church/ the importance of maintaining the other-centered nature of the gospel/ the importance of decent and orderly worship- God is a God of order/ to remember that all things should be done for the building up of believers and the church
I. II. III.
Address to the church in Corinth: to all the saints who call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (1:1-3) Thanksgiving for the grace given to the Corinthian believers as well as for their testimony in Christ as evidenced by their spiritual gifts (1:4-9) Appeal to Unity (1:10-3:23): a. There have been reports of boasting, jealousy, and strife regarding whose spiritual leader is the best (1:10-16) i. Rhetorical question: Is it a man and his wisdom that we follow (1:12-17) or is there another? 1. Is man wise enough to have produced the gospel or is it the work of God? (1:18-25) 2. Remember that you were once foolish and low but were raised up by the wisdom of God. No man can boast to take the place of God or claim it for another (1:26-30) ii. Boast only in the Lord who has made man’s wisdom foolishness in light of Jesus Christ (1;31) b. Then where does wisdom come from? From man or from the Spirit? (2:1-15) i. We teach/ impart things of the Spirit and not the things of man (2:10) 1. Paul claims weakness among them in the flesh but spoke to them in the power of the Holy Spirit that they might hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and not the wisdom of a man (2:1-5) ii. The spiritual man has the mind of Christ (2:16) 1. He will be able to discern this true wisdom from God whereas the natural man will not (2:14) c. Paul rebukes the believers for their jealousy and strife; they are not spiritual, they are still of the flesh (3:1-23) i. Remember that men are only the workers- God is the one who makes man’s work grow. Boasting in men is immature (3:5-8) ii. Men merely build on the foundation of Jesus Christ- only in this way does his work stand the test of judgment (3:9-15) iii. Remember that you are the temple of God- you must care for that temple by being mature in these matters (3:16-17) iv. Do not boast in men- that is wisdom of the world and folly to God (3:21) 1. For all things yours- be unified under all authority; your leaders in the church, in Christ, in God (3:21-23) Concerning how the believers ought to regard themselves and their teachers, Paul in particular, and warns them of his power and impending visit in which he will deal with their arrogance and sin (4:1-21) a. Their teachers are servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God and therefore trustworthy (4:1-2) i. They are not to be judged by men (compared to others) for only God judges, in due time. At that time all things will come to light (4:3-5)
1. This is true for the believers as well because they too have received the fullness of faith from God- leaving nothing to boast in themselves about (4:8) ii. The servants suffer on behalf of the believers, enduring much hardship in order to build up the church (4:8-13) iii. Paul calls them to imitate him, and to help them in this he has sent Timothy (4:16-17) b. Paul is a wielder of power given by God- He warns that if they continue in their arrogance he will come wielding a rod (4:18-21) There are two reports that Paul addresses concerning their behavior/ arrogance that are ironic in light of their boasting amongst each other of spiritual excellence: sexual immorality and lawsuits among believers a. There is sexual immorality among you(5:1-11) i. It is reported that a man has his father’s wife! (5:1) And yet you still boast arrogantly of yourselves when this is occurring (5:2) 1. Remove this person- He has been judged 1. Deliver him to satan for destruction of his flesh (5:5) 2. Cleanse this leaven from you and return to the unleavened bread that you are in Christ (5:7) 3. Do not let this spread due to your boasting (5:6) b. There are lawsuits among believers (6:1-11) i. You bring your grievances before the unrighteous! (6:1) 1. Why not judge matters among the saints? (6:1-3) 1. We will one day judge the world and the angels- we are capable of judging between believers in this life 2. To even have lawsuits among believers is a defeat for believers (6:7) 1. Why not suffer the wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? 2. Why choose to wrong and defraud others, especially believers? 3. This is unrighteousness and the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (6:9-11) 1. You are not this way any longer- the implication is, ‘act like it!’ Answers to Questions 1-3: The believers at Corinth had written Paul and asked him several questions of which he answers three here and two more later on in his letter a. Preamble to Answer #1: This sets the stage for a discussion of the rightness of having or not having sex, and getting or staying married (6:12-20). It also hints at the discussion about eating or not eating food offered to idols (chapters 8-10) i. Verification of freedom in Christ but a reminder that the body has a purpose in the Lord alonethe purpose is to glorify God not shame Him with your sin ii. Sexual immorality/ prostitution is a joining of the body to an immoral woman (6:15-16) 1. The body is a temple of the Lord and the spirit of man is joined to the Lord in it (6:19) 2. To join with sin is to defile that temple (6:18) 3. You were bought for this purpose and are not in authority in this matter- glorify the Lord with your body (6:19-20) b. Question #1: Is it good for men and women to forego sexual relations? (7:1) i. Answer: Because of the problem with sexual immorality each man and woman should have a spouse and conjugal rights should be given (7:2-5) 1. Neither the man or the woman is free to deny these rights because neither owns their bodies but they are owned by the other 1. Limited forbearance is granted for the purpose of prayer but only if agreed upon and for a short while
2. Paul’s concession (this is not a command) to his overall rule: It would be best is all the believers could be as he was 2. Instruction to married believers (presumably both are believers- because of what comes next) (7:10-11) 1. Wife should not separate from her husband and the husband must not divorce his wife 3. Instruction to married believers with unmarried spouses (7:12-13) 1. Do not divorce your unbelieving spouse (7:12-13) i. The union makes your children holy (7:14) ii. It is possible that the unbelieving spouse may be saved through you (7:16) ii. Let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned. Do not concern yourself with changing but remain as you are with God (7:17). God has called us to peace (7:15) c. Question #2: Should the betrothed marry? (7:25) i. Answer: 1. If you are betrothed it is best to stay that way due to the present problems with immorality in the church (7:26-27) 2. If you are not betrothed and do marry it is not a sin (7:28) 1. Yet be warned, you will have worldly troubles if you marry (7:28) 2. Beware also that the time is short. The present form of the world is passing away (7:29) 3. But think on this, if you remain unmarried you are anxious only for the Lord, but if you get married you will be anxious for your spouse first and will be divided (7:32-35) 3. Also a woman whose husband dies is free to remarry but in Paul’s judgment she would be happier if she remained as she was (7:39-40) d. Question #3: Is it okay to eat food offered to idols? (8:1-13) i. Preamble to Answer #3: this sets the stage for a discussion of eating food offered to idols and a lengthy discussion about the freedom a believer enjoys in Christ and its intendant responsibility (8:1-3) 1. Be careful that your knowledge does not puff you up; making you think that you know more than you really do ii. Answer: We know that eating food offered to idols is really nothing just as the idol itself is in itself nothing. God alone is something and Jesus is Lord (8:4) 1. We must remember that not all believers will know this as we do 1. Some believe that food can really be offered to an idol because in their former lives they lived that way (8:7) 2. Our eating without considering who might be watching us may lead our weaker brothers into sin (8:10) i. Our weaker brother may then eat as well and be wounded in his conscience because of it 2. Exercising restraint while practicing your freedom is in order to protect/ help others (9:1-27) 1. Using himself as an example Paul declares his freedom as an apostle and a witness of Christ, even if there are others who judge him as not (9:3) i. He declares his rights as an apostle (9:5)
ii. He declares that his rights were God-given (9:9) iii. He declares his forbearance of his rights in order to present the gospel unhindered (9:12-18) 2. Paul foregoes his rights and makes himself a servant to all in order to ensure the salvation of souls (9:19-23) i. Paul tells us to do the same: to run as if to win; to do all that is necessary to make sure that in the race you run (i.e. the work you do) you are victorious 1. Discipline- Paul does this by maintaining control of his body in order to retain the qualifications to preach the gospel (9:26-27) a. This is an other-centered purpose for the believer 3. A warning about what happens when the discipline over freedom is not maintained and restrained (10:1-5) 1. An example from those who went before: The fathers were baptized as the believers in Corinth were; they ate and drank the same spiritual food; they followed the same Rock- Jesus Christ. And yet they did not please God with their behavior and were overthrown in the desert i. They were idolaters (10:7) ii. They were sexually immoral (10:8) iii. They tested Christ (10:8) iv. They grumbled (10:10) v. They are our example of what can happen when discipline is not maintained. They instruct us to beware of our standing before God. 2. But God is faithful and he will provide a way out for us when we too are tempted to follow in their footsteps and sin- we can endure (10:11-13) 3. We must therefore flee idolatry (10:14) i. We who believe share in the table and food of Christ whereas the pagans share in the table of demons (10:16-19) ii. It is not good to participate with demons (10:20) 1. You cannot do both: eat at the table of the Lord and at the table of demons (10:21) 2. Doing so will provoke the Lord’s jealousy (10:22) 4. Do what is helpful in this matter- consider your neighbor’s good when deciding to eat or not to eat 1. Practical details to consider: i. If the food is from the market and no question has been raised about it then go ahead and eat (10:25) ii. If you are invited to dinner and there is no question about the food raised then eat whatever is set before you (10:27) iii. But if you are at dinner and the host informs you that it has been offered to idols then decline; for the good of your host (10:28) 5. Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do- do all to the glory of God (10:31-33) 6. Imitate Paul in these matters as he imitates Christ Here begins a lengthy section that defines proper practice when the church comes together to worship. Paul commends the believers for remembering him and his teachings for the church, but he instructs them about/ clarifies for them the following: head coverings for women when they pray, partaking in the Lord’s
Supper together, the nature and purpose of spiritual gifts and their place in worship, and the importance of conducting a decent and orderly worship. a. Head Coverings for Women when They Pray: A woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head when she prays (11:10) i. The hierarchy of headship is: God is the head of Christ, Christ is the head of man, and man is the head of his wife (11:3) 1. A woman who prays with her head uncovered dishonors her head (which is her husband) 1. A woman with her head uncovered in prayer is disgraceful, the same as if her hair were cut short or shaved (11:5-6) 2. Likewise a man who prays with his head covered dishonors his head (which is Christ) (11:5) 3. A man ought not cover his head in prayer because he is the image of God (11:7) i. A woman ought to cover her head in prayer because she is the glory of man 2. This does not bode inequality for woman- for woman was made from man but man is now born of woman (11:11-12) ii. Being contentious about this has no place in the church for there is no other practice in the churches regarding this matter (11:16) b. Partaking of the Lord’s Supper: Paul does not commend the believers for their practice of the Lord’s Supper and lists his grievances (11:17) i. The Lord’s Supper is not being observed properly. The church of God is being despised and believers are being humiliated (11:22) 1. The arrogant among the believers created divisions among the body so that they might hold the positions in the body that they felt they deserved (11:18-19) 2. The church is selfish. There are believers who eat their own meals and gets drunk while there are others who go hungry (11:20-22) ii. A reminder of the significance of the Lord’s Supper 1. Remember what the Lord said and did before He was crucified (11:23-25) 2. We observe the Lord’s Supper to proclaim His death until He returns (11:26) 3. To observe the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner is to bring the guilt of the body and blood of the Lord upon yourself(11:27) 1. Believers must examine themselves before partaking so that they will not be judged by the Lord (11:28). If the Lord judges a believer he will discipline that believer to save him the condemnation the world is due (11:32) iii. Wait for each other when you eat and do not bring judgment upon yourselves (11:33-34) c. Nature and Purpose of Spiritual Gifts: Instruction for the believer so that they will not be led astray as they once were by mute idols (12:1-2) i. Spiritual gifts are given through the Holy Spirit beginning with the ability He gives a man to say, “Jesus is Lord” (12:3) 1. Gifts, a variety of service, and various activities all come from one Spirit and God who empowers those gifts in everyone (12:4-6) 2. Gifts are a manifestation of the Spirit for the common good (12:7) 3. The Spirit gives to each one as He wills (12:8-11). His gifts are: 1. The utterance of wisdom 2. The utterance of knowledge
3. Faith 4. Gifts of healing 5. The working of miracles 6. Prophecy 7. The ability to discern between spirits 8. Various kinds of tongues 9. The interpretation of tongues ii. An explanation/ analogy of how the gifts are to be viewed in the church and their purpose in it (12:12-13) 1. Analogy: Just as the human body has many parts so the church has many parts 1. Just as the parts of the human body cannot operate independently of the other parts so with the parts of the church of Christ (12:14-24) 2. Just as God arranged the parts of the human body as He has chosen, giving honor or lack of honor as He saw fit, so He has arranged the parts of the church (12:24) i. He has arranged them so there would be no division but that they would all care for each other, and suffer and rejoice together (12:25-26) 3. All members of the church do not share the same gifts but God has given to each as He has chosen (12:27-30) i. He has given first for some to be apostles ii. He has given second for some to be prophets iii. He has given third for some to be teachers iv. Then He has given some to perform miracles, to work gifts of healing, administration, and to speak various kinds of tongues 4. It is good to earnestly desire the greatest of the gifts (12:31) iii. There is however a greater way to live than through the gifts of the Spirit and that is through the way of Love (12:31) 1. Without love one would be useless and gain nothing in life- even were he to have the greatest of the gifts of God (13:1-3) 2. The definition of love is given(13:7) 3. The superiority of love over gifts: love is unfailing whereas gifts must soon pass away (13:8) 1. Analogy: Just as a child leaves his playthings when he enters manhood so must the spiritual gifts be left behind when the “perfect” comes (13:9-12) 2. Faith, hope and love remain but the greatest of all is love (13:13) iv. Earnestly desire the greater spiritual gifts (14:1) of which prophecy is superior to the gift of tongues 1. One who prophecies can build up the people and offer encouragement and consolation to the church (14:3) 1. One who speaks in tongues can only be understood by the Spirit of God and builds only himself up (14:4) 2. Speaking in tongues is good but only if there is one who may interpret in order to build up the church (14:5) i. The one who speaks in tongues does well to pray that he may interpret also (14:13)
2. Prophecy benefits the unbelieving visitor to the church who will be convicted by what he sees and hears, his secrets will be disclosed, and he will worship God as a result (14:24) 1. Tongues are a benefit in that the word of God can be brought to unbelievers but in the church it is not as useful because the believers cannot understand what is said (14:21-22) d. Conducting Decent and Orderly Worship: Principle given- God is not a God of confusion but of peace (14:33). All things must be done with the purpose of building up the church (14:26) i. Pertaining to the use of tongues in worship: If any speak in tongues let there be only two or three and let them speak in turn. Make sure there is an interpreter- if not let each keep silent and speak only to themselves and to God (14:22-28) ii. Pertaining to the use of prophecy in worship: If any prophecy let there be two or three who speak in turn and let the others weigh what has been said (14:29-32). 1. Prophets must control their own spirits and so maintain order iii. Pertaining to women in worship: Women are to remain silent in churches. They are to be in submission and inquire of their husbands at home if they wish to learn something (14:34-35) iv. Reiteration of primacy of order over confusion in the church and of seeking the higher gift of prophecy over tongues (14:39-40) Clarification of the Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead: an argument against disbelief in the resurrection of Jesus and the saints, and instruction in the resurrection itself a. Reminder of the basics of the gospel that was preached to and believed by the Corinthian church (15:111). Regardless of what others may preach, this is the gospel that was believed (15:11): i. Christ died for our sins in accordance with Scripture, was buried, and was raised from the dead on the third day (15:3-4) ii. He appeared to many individuals and groups after His resurrection (15:5-8) 1. He appeared to Cephas, the twelve, the five hundred, James, Paul) b. The argument: i. If Christ was proclaimed as raised from the dead and you believed it, how can you now say that there is no resurrection? (15:12) ii. If the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised 1. If Christ is not raised then all preaching and faith are in vain (15:14) 2. If Christ is not raised than we have misrepresented God whom we have said raised Christ (15:15) 3. If Christ is not raised then faith is futile and those who have died in Christ have perished and we are to be the most pitied among men (15:19) 4. If Christ is not raised then why do people baptize on behalf of the dead? (15:29) 5. If Christ is not raised then why do we suffer for the sake of this gospel? (15:30-34) c. Affirmation of the gospel: Christ has been raised and is the firstfruits of all who have died (15:12) i. Through man came death and through man (Christ) comes the resurrection of the dead (15:21) ii. Christ will deliver the kingdom of God after He destroys all power and authority and at the last He will destroy death itself (15:26) iii. Christ was the first to rise and after Him will come those who believe in Him(15:23) d. What is the resurrection body like and how will resurrection occur? (15:35) i. Analogy: Just as you sow a lifeless seed and expect it to bear fruit so you sow a lifeless body and expect to bear life. You will always produce what you sow, each after its own kind (15:36-37)
1. God gives to each (flesh or seed) the type of body He has chosen. The glory of each depends upon its kind. That which is earthly will have an earthly glory, and that which is heavenly will have a heavenly glory (15:40-41) 2. The body that is sown is perishable (it died) but it will be raised imperishable (it will never die), in heavenly glory and power (15:42-43) 3. The first man (Adam) was dust but the second man (Christ) was of heaven. We who have been born of dust will be raised with the image of the man of heaven (15:48-49) 4. Flesh and blood will not inherit the kingdom of God. The perishable who are raised will put on immortality (15:50-57) ii. Because of this truth believers ought to be strong knowing that their faith in Christ is not in vain (15:58) Answers to Questions 4-5 concerning their collection for the saints in Jerusalem and the expected visit from Apollos a. Question #4: How should the collection for the saints be conducted? i. Answer: Each week the church should put aside what they have chosen to give on the first day of the week so that when Paul comes the gift is ready to be sent to Jerusalem (16:1-2) 1. The gift will be sent to Jerusalem with men chosen by the Corinthian church (16:3) 2. Paul plans to visit when his work is finished in Ephesus, Lord willing 3. Timothy is expected to visit, Paul directs the church to treat him well b. Question #5: When is Apollos going to visit? i. Answer: Apollos has declined to visit but will come when he has opportunity (16:12) Final encouragements and Instructions (16:13-18) a. 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” b. Be subject to those who have devoted themselves to the Lord (16:15-16) c. Final greetings from the churches in Asia, Aquila and Prisca, and the brothers with Paul d. Amen!
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