This is a Bible Study for 1 Corinthians taught by John Green. The two major helps were “Blue Letter Bible with David Guzik” as commentator and “Holman New Testament Commentary on 1 & 2 Corinthians”. Most of the information was personal interpretation through the Holy Spirit with quotes from these commentaries.
1 Corinthians 1
Acts 18:1 tells us that Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. Verse 11 tells us that he spent a year and a half there. Why did He spend so long there when people weren’t listening to him? Acts 18:9-10) tells us that he stayed so long because God told him to. He was under God’s protection.
Acts 18:9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
Corinth was a typical Greek city. It had numerous temples to Greek gods. It had at least 12 temples including a temple to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of Love. They even had temple prostitutes. The Corinthians were an immoral people. The Corinthians highly valued wisdom and philosophy.
As you can imagine, when Paul left the Corinthians, some problems developed. Remember when Paul left, he left the church in the hands of relatively new Christians. Even if they we converted in the first week of Paul’s arrival, they would have been Christians for a year and a half.
As we go through 1 Corinthians, we will discover that the five main problems were:
Divisions – Who to follow. – Chapters 1-4
Sex – Immoral behavior – Chapters 5-7
Food – Religious sacrifices – Chapters 8-10
The Gathering – How to worship – Chapters 11-14
The Resurrection – Does it happen? – Chapters 15
With each problem in the Corinthian church:
Paul describes the problem.
Then he responds to the problem with some part of the Gospel
He explains how they are not living what they say they believe. This letter is all about learning to think about all aspects of life through the lens of the Gospel or WWJD.
Read verses 1-4
Paul starts in verse 1 reminding the Corinthians who he is, specifically a called apostle. An apostle is someone who has received a commission from Jesus himself. He also makes sure that they know who he received his commission from which was God through Jesus. Paul was not an apostle that had received his commission while Jesus was alive but He received it while traveling on the Damascus Road. He specifies that he was called by God.
1 Corinthians 1:1 lists Sosthenes as potentially a co-author with Paul. Paul mentioned someone with the same name in Acts 18:17. “Then the crowd there turned on Sosthenes the synagogue leader and beat him in front of the proconsul; and Gallio showed no concern whatever. Most theologians believe that Sosthenes was just a common Greek name and that they are not the same person but they aren’t sure. He could be Paul’s scribe for the letter.
In verse 2, Paul calls them a Church. Sounds like a trivial thing but he wants them to know that they are not a group of individuals but a community of believers. He reminds them and us that as believers in Jesus as the Christ, our Lord, we are sanctified or set apart for His service. Bill and Gloria Gaither wrote a hymn, “Family of God”, this is the same idea.
The NIV says that they were “called to be his holy people” (saints). If you look at different translations, the NASB gets verse 2 correct. English translators have added “to be”. Just as Paul was a “called” apostle, they were “called” saints by God.
“Notice the contrast: The church of God (something good), which is at Corinth (someplace bad). Understanding the tension between the church and the city is important to understanding the letter of 1 Corinthians. The bottom line is this: is the church influencing the city, or is the city influencing the church?” (Guzik)
In verse 3, he prays for grace and peace for them. This is a common greeting that Paul uses in his letters. I say he prays because the Bible tells us that if we ask for anything in His name then He will give it to us. Grace and true peace can only be given by God/Jesus. Our communication with God is through prayer. Wishing for grace and peace doesn’t cut it.
When I learned about evaluations at Owens Corning, I was taught to start and end with positive reinforcement, regardless of how things are in the middle. Paul learned the same thing. In verse 4, he says that he thanked God for them.
Read verses 5-9
He tells them how Jesus changed their lives (5-9).
They have God given grace, unmerited favor through their faith in Jesus.
They have grown in all speech and all knowledge, including their testimony.
Their church does not lack any spiritual gifts,
They are eagerly Jesus’ return.
They will be found blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He reminds them that God is faithful to those who are faithful to Jesus.
John MacArthur says that the day of our Lord Jesus Christ is different from the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is when Jesus comes to earth to punish those that have rejected Him. All New and Old Testament references talk about God pouring out His wrath. The Day of our Lord Jesus Christ refers to a time when we as believers will see Jesus face to face. Paul wants the Corinthians to know that because they have been found blameless, they will not have to endure the terrible Day of the Lord. They will have met Jesus before that day.
“In these first 10 verses, Paul refers to Jesus in every verse, for a total of 11 times. In this emphasis on Jesus, Paul promotes the sure cure for the problems of the Corinthians: getting your eyes off self and on Jesus.” (Guzik)
Read verses 10-17
In verse 10, Paul goes right into their first problem, there are divisions in the Church. Since they were taught by different teachers, they were following the different teachers instead of Jesus. Verse 12 said that some stuck with Paul’s teaching, some followed Apollos and some followed Peter.
In my years at the Alexandria Baptist Church, I have seen people leave our church after the pastor left. I have seen churches divided because of disagreements about a pastor or membership politics. This is no different than what was happening in Corinth.
Paul hits the nail on the head in verses 13. He says, “Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?” In verse 14 he goes so far as to say, I am thankful that I only baptized a few of you because you would think that you were baptized in my name.
In verse 17, Paul said that he only had one job and that was to preach the Gospel.
“How sobering this is! The great gospel of Jesus Christ, the very power of God unto salvation – made empty and of no effect through the pride and cleverness of men! This danger was constantly on the mind of the apostle Paul, and should be constantly on the mind of any preacher or teacher.” (Guzik)
Read verses 18-25
In verse 18, Paul says that “the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.“ The best that nonbelievers can hope for is to get what they deserve. In their eyes that is fair and just. They worked for it. Some go so far as to think if I take your portion and that is even better. Nonbelievers live in a survival of the fittest world. Believers believe in a loving God that goes even further. God gives us grace, we get what we do not deserve and it cannot be earned.
Remember that wisdom and philosophy were important to these Corinthians. At one time, they had respected each other based on their wisdom. The Greeks liked to argue logic.
In verse 19, Paul quotes Isaiah 29:14. “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.” God said this at a time in Israel’s history when human wisdom said that alliance with other nations would make them stronger but what they really needed to do was to trust in the power of God to save them.
In verse 20 and 21, Paul says that God has turned what was considered to be wise by the Jewish leaders into something that would make no sense to them. The Jewish leaders had the Law which said what I do matters. God said I sent my Son, trust in Him and you will have salvation. Human wisdom becomes foolish and faith in God’s power becomes all we need.
The world through its wisdom did not come to know God – “There is a constant tendency to think that the smartest and wisest humans will know the most about God. But God cannot be found through human wisdom, but only through the message of the cross. The pursuit of human wisdom may bring an earthly contentment or happiness (though this is rare), but in itself, it can never bring the true knowledge of the true God.” (Guzik)
Verse 22 and 23 tell us that the Jews wanted signs or miracles to prove power. The Greeks wanted a show of wisdom to command respect. It is understandable that preaching Christ crucified would make no sense what so ever. To the Jews, the crucifixion was a stumbling block but to the Greeks it was just nonsense. Why was the crucifixion a stumbling block for the Jews? As Acts 2:36 tells us, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” The Jews put Jesus to death.
Jesus did an innumerable number of miracles but the Jews still didn’t recognize His power. Paul was showing the Greeks that their human wisdom was foolishness. To nonbelievers, is there a more ridiculous religion that Christianity? “They are putting their faith in salvation from a man who was put to death on a Roman cross. What kind of power does a God have that could not prevent His human enemies from putting Him to death. That is your route to salvation. It is ludicrous!”
In verse 24, Paul says, “but to those whom God has called.” Who are those who are called? Paul says in Galatians 3:28 that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” There are only believers. To the believer, (verse 24) Paul says “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
In verse 25, Paul tells us or reminds us that God at His most foolish is still greater wisdom than any human on his best day and the same applies to His strength or power. Man is lower than angels and even angels can only hope to be as powerful as God. Just ask Satan.
In verse 26, Paul reminds them of where they were when they were called by God. It sounds a bit like Paul is trying to humble them. Remember that Jesus did NOT come for the rich and noble, His kingdom was/is in heaven. He came to seek and to save lost people.
1 Timothy 1:15 tells us that God had humbled Paul. It says, “. . . Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” His discussion in verses 26-28 points out that what God values are not the same as what man values. God chose (use NLT):
“What the world considers foolish. Things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
despised by the world, Things counted as nothing at all.”
Why did God choose these things? (Verse 29) So that no one will ever boast in the presence of God.
The Jews throughout the Bible believed that they were entitled to be saved because they were born Jews or because they followed the Law. The wise Greeks believed that they were the wisest and they deserved salvation because of their great wisdom. God turned the tables on them. It is not about man or what man does, it is all about what God did. John 3:16-17.
Paul finishes this chapter with a couple of verses on unification. Every church member should read these verses to remind them that it is all about God and not about me. We are a church and not a group of individuals. We are not a social group. We should have one common goal, the share the Gospel message with the world for God’s and their benefit and not for any benefit of our own.
Paul tries to remove all of their pride in whom they serve or follow. He reminds them that it is through the blood that we are saved. It was about Jesus’ work on the cross, His death, burial and resurrection.
Verse 30 (NASB) says, “But it is due to Him that you are in Christ Jesus,” Paul is saying that God sent His son so that we may have everlasting life and not that God predestined us to be saved.
Paul says that Jesus is our wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption. We are wise if we know the way to God through Jesus. We receive Jesus’ righteousness because we cannot be righteous on our own. We are sanctified or set apart for God’s service and Jesus is our redeemer because we cannot save ourselves.
So Paul finished this chapter with, If you are going to boast, then boast in Jesus and what He has done for you. Paul hoped that when the Corinthians stopped boasting about themselves then they could truly be unified in their service to God.
Read Jeremiah 9:23-24 – 23 Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.
1 Corinthians 2
Read verses 1-5
When I gave my first presentation before the Senior Vice President at Owens Corning, a co-worker gave me the advice, “If you can’t dazzle him with your brilliance, baffle him with you BS.” Fortunately, I had enough brilliance to dazzle him. This is what the world and the people of Corinth thought. Paul in this part of the letter has been saying the opposite. When he was in Corinth, he didn’t come to dazzle or baffle them. In verse 1, Paul tells them that he “did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God.”
Where have we seen someone try to get out of a calling of God, saying something similar? When God told Moses to go back to Exodus and speak on God’s behalf. Exodus 4:10 says, Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
“Paul was certainly a man who could reason and debate persuasively, but he didn’t use that approach in preaching the gospel. He made a conscious decision (I determined) to put the emphasis on Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Paul was an ambassador, not a salesman.” (Guzik)
Paul tells them in verse 2 that he told them about “Christ and Him crucified” which was all he knew. If they accepted the Gospel message, it was by the power of God and not the speaker.
In verse 3 through 5, Paul humbles himself even further by saying that during his time with them, he did so with fear and trembling. He was not persuasive. Paul lets them and us know that as believers, we need to get back to the true foundation of our faith, and that is praising Christ above all others. Paul outlined three ways for us to do this.
We must remember that the world rejects the truth of the gospel and that worldly “wisdom” is in error. We won’t have trouble with arrogance if we remember who and what we were before God saved us. We can act humbly by emulating Paul’s simplicity in his preaching.
When Jesus gave us the Beatitudes in Matthew, the first Beatitude is “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit”. Poor in spirit isn’t saying that you are depressed. It is recognizing that without Jesus, you have nothing of spiritual value. It should bring about humility on your part and a realization that you need Jesus more than ever.
“Many people use slick, entertaining, or even deceptive means to “lure” people into the church, and justify it by saying, “we’re drawing them in and then winning them to Jesus.” But the principle stands: what you draw them with is what you draw them to.” (Guzik)
Read verses 6-8
In chapter 1 of 1 Corinthians, Paul spent his time explaining that the world will see the Gospel message as foolish or not wise. In verses 6 and 7, he is trying to correct any misconceptions that he created in the minds of the Corinthians. He says in verse 7, that the wisdom of the Gospel is mystery, the hidden wisdom (NASB).
Paul says that God predestined the wisdom of the Gospel before the world began. He is saying that God knew from the beginning of time that His creation would fall into sin and we would need a savior. Nothing that has happened in human history has taken God by surprise.
In verse 8, Paul says that if man, specifically rulers, had understood that Jesus was the Messiah, they would not have put Him to death. God needed the rulers not to know or understand that Jesus was the Messiah so that Jesus could be sacrificed to take away the sin of the world.
Read verses 9-12
Paul quotes Isaiah 64:4 in order to emphasize the point, (NLT) “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
In our study of “Satan”, I said a number of times that part of the purpose of the Holy Spirit is as a helper (John 14:16 NASB) to perfect the communication between God and His people. In verses 10 and 11, Paul is saying if the Holy Spirit can take what we pray and make it understandable to God, the Holy Spirit can make what God says understandable to us. We can understand what God asks of us or we can know His will for us.
“Paul argues from the Greek philosophic premise that like is known only by like. You can guess what your dog is thinking, but you really can’t know unless he was to tell you. Even so, we could guess what God is thinking, and about His wisdom, but we would never know unless He told us.” (Guzik)
In verse 12, Paul explains that as believers we have the Spirit of God living in us and not the spirit of the world. We can know “the wonderful things God has freely given us.” (NLT)
Read verses 13-16
In verse 13, Paul explains that before we had the Holy Spirit living in us or as natural men, we were of the world and valued human wisdom. Anything relating to God and the Holy Spirit made no sense to us or them.
Theologians say that there are three different types of “man”.
The Natural Man: He is born into the human family and lives in his natural state without being a child of God. (1 John 4::3)
The Spiritual Man:He is one that is born again into God’s family and lives in a Spiritual state. (Galatians 3:26)
The Carnal Man: He is one that is born again into God’s family, but lives and behaves as a man in a natural state living according to his carnal or fleshly desires. (see Romans 7:14-25)
Once we accept Jesus as Lord of our lives and gained the power and understanding of the Holy Spirit, we “can understand what the Spirit means.” (v. 14 NLT)
In verse 16, Paul quotes Isaiah 40:13, “Who can know the Lord’s thoughts? Who knows enough to teach him?” Isaiah was referring to Yahweh or God the Father which is translated as Lord. Paul doesn’t have any problem translating it to say the mind of Christ because Jesus and God the Father are one. In John 10:30, Jesus says “I and the Father are one.”)
“Having explained that wisdom is for the mature and comes from the Spirit of God, Paul turned his attention to the kind of people who are able to receive the revelation of truth by God’s Spirit. The truth of Christ revealed by the Spirit of God comes only to those who depend on the teaching of the Spirit. Because wisdom comes only by dependence on the Spirit, those who do not have the Spirit cannot judge the wisdom of those who do. More importantly for Paul’s argument, even those who have the Spirit can resist his illumination and disqualify their own judgments. Thus, even though the believers in Corinth had the Spirit, those among them who pursued human wisdom instead of God’s wisdom had no authority to quarrel or to divide the church. (Pratt, Richard L., Jr.. Holman New Testament Commentary)
1 Corinthians 3
1 Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?
In verse 1, Paul tells them that he can’t speak to them as true children of God. If they were children of God they would be focusing on things that are spiritual in nature. They are behaving like they did before they knew about Jesus. Paul equates being a new Christian is like being new in the world, a baby. What do babies eat? Milk. What adults eat? Solid food. He knows that they are still immature Christians because they are behaving worldly. In verse 3, Paul says “Take a serious look at yourself. How does the world act and how are you acting? You are still doing the following things: ” (JRG paraphrase)
Quarreling among yourselves
Behaving worldly or fleshly
Acting like mere humans
“These people are part of the family of God (he calls them brethren), and that is the problem. Though they have the Holy Spirit (unlike the natural man of 1 Corinthians 2:14), they are not behaving like spiritual people, but like carnal – that is, fleshly -people, like immature Christians (babes in Christ).” (Guzik)
4 For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? 5 What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. 6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. 9 For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Paul says that if you are focusing on the human that gave you Jesus’ words, then you are being human. If you want to behave spiritually, focus on the spiritual one that taught them, Jesus. It seems that the Corinthians are raising Paul, Peter and Apollos to celebrity status. This seems similar to what is done in Catholicism. When Paul started this letter and many of his other letters, he addresses it to those called to be saints of Corinth. We are all saints or children of God and Paul is saying that they or we should not raise mere humans as anything to be worshiped. It should be all about Jesus.
In verse 5, Paul says “Who are these men really?” They are servants of Jesus. As servants God gave them certain tasks to do. Each job is no more important than the other. Even in Chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians, Paul will still be teaching this idea of unity. Read 1 Corinthians 12:15-20. Paul uses the human body to get the message of all believers serve one master.
According to verse 7, what are our jobs regarding leading someone to the saving knowledge of Jesus and how does that translate into the real world?
Plant the seed. Tell someone about Jesus.
Water. Teach them more about Jesus, by example or word.
Whose job is it to make their faith grow? God’s
If they reject what you say, who are they rejecting? God
Is planting any more important than watering? No. How does the amount reward get determined? According to the amount of work and not according to souls saved.
In verse 9, Paul is saying as he will again regarding spiritual gifts, you have a job or a gift and you are to use that gift to do God’s will. It is not important what job you have been given to do but it is important that you do it to glorify God and to lead others to Jesus.
What example did Jesus use in Matthew 7:15-20? We are doing God’s will, if we bear good fruit. We are all working to accomplish one goal, God’s will. Read 2 Peter 3:9. What is God’s goal? That none should perish.
“God gives us the amazing opportunity to work with Him. We cannot work without Him, and He will not work without us (generally speaking). God wants you as His working partner.” (Guzik)
10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
Paul tried that biological illustration. In verse 10, he tries another approach, maybe they will get a “building” analogy. Paul told them and us in verses 10-11 that when he was with them for the year and he built the foundation for their Christianity. And that foundation was Jesus Christ. Reminds me of a hymn, “On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand; All other ground is sinking sand.” If your foundation is made of anything else and it is tested by fire, the fire will destroy you and your foundation.
Read 2 Corinthians 5:10. We will all be accountable for what we have done. The purpose of the fire that Paul is talking about is to test the quality of what we have done for Christ and not purify us. It does not affect your salvation but it does impact your “rewards” in Heaven. When we studied “Heaven”, we studied about the crowns that we will receive in Heaven.
“This passage has first application to Christian leaders, because this is Paul’s topic in context, but the application extends to all servants of God.” (Guzik)
Matthew 6:19-21 tells us to lay up our treasures in Heaven. This is the same idea. If we are serving God for praise or personal gain here on Earth then they will burned up by the fire. We are to serve God as kingdom builders. Kingdom builders want to make sure as many souls as possible end up in Heaven. Not for nickels and noggins.
16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
Paul is speaking about the Church as a whole and not the individuals. What makes a church building into a church or temple? (Matthew 18:20) “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” A temple is different from any other building because the spirit of God dwells in His temple. Our church began in 1827 where they met in a barn. What separated that barn from any other barn in the area? Because they were worshipping in it, the spirit of God was present in the barn.
These verses are a harsh warning to church leaders not to do anything to cause the church to fail or lead it away from God. How can church leaders “destroy God’s temple”? Water down the Word of God. Make it a social gathering. Become all inclusive. . .
“The Corinthian leaders needed to preserve the unity of the temple, not destroy it with divisions. If they divided the fellowship, they attacked God’s holy temple, his body (Col. 1:18,24) and his bride (Eph. 5:23–27), thereby provoking God’s wrath.” (Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians)
18 Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; 20 and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”
The Corinthians had inflated their egos based on wisdom. The Greeks of that day were all about wisdom and these believers from Corinth were getting caught up in the ways of their world. Sound familiar? Paul points out that wisdom of the world is of no value to God. He quotes Job 5:13 and Psalm 94:11. Paul is says that it is better to be thought to be a fool for God than wise by human standards. Where have we seen someone acting a fool for God? Read 2 Samuel 6:13-23. Verses 21-22, King David says, “I will celebrate before the LORD, and I will humiliate and humble myself even more than this.”
21 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas (Simon Peter) or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.
In these verses, Paul sounds like a father or parent scolding his child. You can almost hear him say, “That’s enough! No more bickering about who is the best!”
“How prone we are to glory in men! We are more excited about being with the influential and famous of this world than about being with God. We value the gifts and honors of men more than the gifts and honors God gives. How we need to hear, let no one glory in men!” (Guzik)
This chapter ends with Paul saying that since we are in Christ then we have the same inheritance or as he says in other letters, we are joint heirs with Jesus. See Romans 8:17. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
How much better can it get? We are in Christ and Christ is in God. God controls all, Jesus was given all power, then we will have all power.
Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians sums up the first 3 chapter this way:
Divisions in the church are contrary to the gospel.
Believers are of great value, and they deserve to be treated well by other believers.
God loves his church and dwells in its midst—it is his holy temple.
Believers possess everything in Christ.
1 Corinthians 4
4:1 “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed. 2 Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
In verse 1, Paul tells them to regard Peter, Apollos and himself as servants. They are not to be worshiped or put on a pedestal. He is humbling himself before them. You have heard numerous times, “It is all about Him and not about me.” In verse 2, Paul says that regardless of which servant taught you, their responsibility is to be proven faithful. What did they teach? “The mysteries God has revealed”.
“There are several different words in the language of the New Testament to describe a servant. Here, Paul uses the word “hyperetas,” which describes a subordinate servant functioning as a free man. He does not use the more common New Testament word for a servant (doulos) which designated a common slave.” (Guzik)
“The word hyperetas literally means an “under-rower,” in the sense that someone is a rower on a big galley ship. So, though it is not the most lowly word for a servant, it certainly not a prestigious position. Under-rowers serve “Christ the master-pilot, helping forward the ship of the Church toward the haven of heaven.” (Trapp)
Pastor Brian usually says, “Don’t take my word for it, check what the Bible says for yourself.” This verse flips it around. The teacher better teach the correct Gospel. James says the same thing in James 3:1. He says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.”
In verse 3, Paul says that your opinion and for that matter, my opinion of myself, is unimportant. Remember Paul received his commission to teach from Jesus. He has never been a “people pleaser”, he is a “God pleaser”. In verse 4, he tells them that he believes that he has taught them the correct Gospel as he said earlier, he will be judged by God. He doesn’t say it but I believe that he implied that the Holy Spirit ensures that he is teaching the correct Gospel, that is how he can have a clear conscience.
Throughout history men have distorted the Gospel message to gain status or financial gain. I don’t know how they live with themselves knowing that they are misleading or have mislead others.
In verse 5, he uses something that the Corinthians are used to. Athletic competitions are judged all the time by the Greeks. They judge who get the trophies or go home as losers. This is the way they are behaving in regards to accepting the Gospel. They chose the victor based on who taught the Gospel.
Don’t judge winners and losers based on the teacher, wait until Jesus returns. When Jesus judges He can see everyone’s motives. He will be the judge that passes out the crowns in the end.
“When Jesus judges, it will be according to the motives of the heart, not only the outward action. This is another reason why human judgment is often wrong, and why Paul feels free to disregard the harsh judgment of the Corinthian Christians towards himself.” (Guzik)
In case you don’t remember from our study of Heaven (Week 5) the Bible tells us about 5 Crown Rewards in Heaven:
The Victor’s Crown (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)
The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8)
The Crown of Life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)
The Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4)
6 Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. 7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?”
In verse 6, Paul is clarifying what he had said in the first few verses. He has been speaking figuratively. He and Apollos are not slaves in the true sense but he wants them to realize that even though they are apostles, they are not the one(s) to be raised up but they are serving Jesus.
He tells them that if they are going to learn from anyone make sure that they “Do not go beyond what is written.” (NIV) Again, as Pastor Brian says about his preaching, check the Word of God to make sure of what it says. Make sure that what you are learning is Biblical.
In verse 7, Paul asks some pointed questions:
What makes you so special whether teacher or lay person?
If you have something special, wasn’t it God given and not of yourself?
If God gave you what you have then: “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”
(1 Corinthians 1:31 or Jeremiah 9:24)
8 Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!
Paul keeps questioning the Corinthians in verse 8. I consider them as questions even though the punctuation doesn’t show it. As a parent, I have used Paul’s tone with my sons. (NIV)
Already you have all you want!
Already you have become rich!
You have begun to reign—and that without us!
How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you!
“9 For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings.”
Paul says that God has not put the apostles on a pedestal. Paul was beheaded. Peter was crucified, upside down at his own request. All died as martyrs except John. They were made a ‘spectacle’ of by the world, much like Jesus was by Herod during His trials.
“10 We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11 To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12 We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13 when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment.”
In verse 10, Paul uses sarcasm to show the Corinthians how foolish they are thinking more highly of themselves, possibly even more highly than the apostles.
“Today, the church is heavy with this same attitude of the Corinthian Christians. They were concerned about the image of worldly success and power, and many of them despised Paul and the other apostles because they did not display that image. Today, there is no shortage of ministers who want to display the image of worldly success and power, and no shortage of Christians who will only value that in their minister.” (Guzik)
In 2 Corinthians 11:16-33, Paul goes into the details of what he has suffered for Christ. Here in verses 11 and 12, he gives the Corinthians an idea that the apostles do not have celebrity status in the world. Some of the human suffering that they have included:
They go hungry and thirsty
They don’t have enough clothes to keep warm.
They are often beaten and have no home.
They work wearily with our own hands to earn our living.
They bless those who curse us.
When they are persecuted, they endure;
When they are slandered, they respond kindly.
They are patient with those who abuse them.
The Corinthians considered physical labor as offensive. That is why they have slaves. The Greeks were used to ruling using the “Aristocracy” where the government was ruled by a small group of privileged men. The Greek aristocracy would think that they are the “scum of the earth”.
“14 I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children. 15 Even if you had ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16 Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church.”
In verse 14, Paul says that he is not trying ‘shame’ them but he is trying to ‘warn’ them. What do you think he is trying to warn them about? Pride (see Proverbs 11:2)
In verse 15, the NIV uses the word ‘guardian’ but other translations use the words ‘tutors’, ‘instructors’, ‘guides’ or ‘teachers’. The Outline of Biblical Usage (created by Larry Pierce) says that the word, ‘paidagōgos ‘, used here means “a tutor i.e. a guardian and guide of boys. Among the Greeks and the Romans the name was applied to trustworthy slaves who were charged with the duty of supervising the life and morals of boys belonging to the better class. The boys were not allowed so much as to step out of the house without them before arriving at the age of manhood.” In verses 14 and 15, Paul is not speaking about their age but to their maturity as Christians. Again one and a half years is still immature as a Christian. After Paul left the Corinthians, the leadership of the church was in the hands of these immature Christians. His reference to ‘not many fathers’ in the church means that there were not many mature church leaders in the Corinthian church.
Paul was the father of the Corinthian church and he left them. They do have the memory of how he behaved and what he taught while he was with them. So Paul urges them to “imitate me”. Interesting how Paul tells them in verse 15 that he could send them ten thousand instructors or teachers it would not be enough because what they need are fathers as examples of how to live a Christian life. Now Paul is telling them that he is sending Timothy whom he calls his son. Sounds like a daunting task for Timothy.
Again we have to look at Timothy’s age and experience as a Christian. Timothy had joined Paul on his 2nd Missionary journey (See Acts 16:1). He was a teen when he joined Paul so he had spent half of his life traveling with Paul. Young in age but much more mature as a Christian than the Corinthians. Paul calls Timothy as his true son in faith in 1 Timothy 1. So Paul feels that he will be putting the Corinthians in good hands. Timothy has had the benefit of being treated like a son by Paul and he has watched and learned about what it means to be a Christian firsthand from Paul. If the Corinthians imitate Timothy they will be imitating Paul.
“18 Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19 But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. 20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21 What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?”
This chapter finishes with Paul warning against arrogance. He would come back to the Corinthian church to check on this arrogance. Throughout Paul’s missionary journeys he was known to stop in a check on the churches that he had planted. He told them that it would be very “soon”, “if the Lord is willing.” In verse 19, Paul sounds like a father. I used to say to my boys, “Don’t make me come in there! Because if I do, it won’t be good for you!” This is what Paul is saying. “If I come to Corinth, I will find out who is speaking arrogantly and I will deal with them.”
In verse 20, Paul says “Talk is cheap and the kingdom of God is not about talk.” God, the Father is real, living and will judge and punish justly. What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit? It says what it says! Your behavior determines how I come, to encourage or discipline.
1 Corinthians 5
5:1 “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.”
“Previously in the letter, Paul dealt mainly with the “mental” problems of the Corinthian Christians: their wrong ideas about God’s power and work and His servants. Now Paul starts to deal with their “moral” problems. But the two are connected; their moral problems come because they aren’t thinking right about God and His world.” (Guzik)
In verse 1, Paul takes on the next big problem in the church of Corinth, sexual immorality. This particular type of sin doesn’t even exist among the Gentiles. “A man sleeping with his father’s wife.” It says “his father’s wife”, isn’t that his mother? Evidently it is his stepmother. So what is wrong with that? (See Leviticus 18:8 – “‘Do not have sexual relations with your father’s wife; that would dishonor your father.) The Bible says so.
“Originally, “porneia” just referred to going to prostitutes; but before New Testament times, the Jewish community used the word to refer to any kind of extramarital sex, including homosexuality. This is its sense in the New Testament.” (Guzik)
Besides the obvious issue, it wasn’t a one-time thing, it was an ongoing affair and the church members knew about it. If that isn’t bad enough, they seemed to be proud of it. In verse 2, he doesn’t mince words, he asks “Shouldn’t you have mourned and kicked him out of the church?” Why is this an issue for the church? Didn’t Jesus keep company with sinners? (Mark 2:17) “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.””
Jesus kept company with sinners to get them to repent, the church was accepting what he was doing and did not try to get him to change. The GLTB fits into this same category, they say “I am not changing, accept me the way I am.”
Paul says in verse 3 that he may not be present in body but is present in spirit and by the way, I have already voted to boot him out of the church. By the time we get to verses 4 and 5, Paul is not just saying, “I voted to boot him out” but he says at your next service, you boot him out and deliver him to Satan for the sinner that he is.
What happened to “judge not, lest you be judged”? (see Matthew 7:1-5) 7 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
“Paul is not being disobedient in the slightest way. Jesus’ command in Matthew 7:1-5 forbids hypocritical judgment, and judging others by a standard that we ourselves do not want to be judged by. Paul is perfectly willing to apply the same standards to himself that he is applying to the Corinthian Christians.” (Guzik)
“Some judgment is permitted, and some is not. “While Christians are not to judge one another’s motives or ministries, we are certainly expected to be honest about each other’s conduct.” “ (Wiersbe)
Putting this man out of the church membership would do several things for the church:
It would get the focus of the church back on God.
Can you imagine the gossip that occurred in the church when he walked in? The focus of the congregation had to move from worshiping God to gossiping about him.
The church membership would recognize that there are consequences for sin.
The members might be saying, “If the church is okay with what he is doing, then I am in great shape.”
It would impact the way the church was viewed by the world.
“Why would I want to be part of that church? They have immoral people attending there.”
Paul would have been familiar with Jesus’ way of dealing with sin in the church from Matthew 18:15-17.
Go and point out their fault, just between the two of you.
But if they will not listen, take one or two others along.
If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church.
If they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.
Do every step in love.
Turning him over to Satan means to deliver him into Satan’s sphere of influence, sending him into the world. The church members are not to interact with him. Paul skips the first steps because in Paul’s understanding, the man is not repentant. Paul used this same terminology in 1 Timothy 1:20.
“6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
In verse 6, Paul rebukes them for boasting about this man’s bad behavior. The sin was bad but the way they accepted it was even worse. Yeast is used throughout the Bible to represent sin or evil. It is used 22 times in the Old Testament and 17 times in the New Testament. Read Mark 8:15, “Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.”
In the chapter of 1 Corinthians, who is Paul calling the yeast or sinner? The man living with his stepmom. What do Paul say for them to do when he says “Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump”? Get the sin out of your church.
“We can rightly say Paul is more concerned about the sin of the entire church (especially the leadership), than the sin of the individual man. Both are important, but the sin of the church is worse.” (Guzik)
What does Paul mean when he says, “For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed”? Jesus is our Passover Lamb, His blood was shed that the judgment of God might pass over us. So, we are to live in the purity that Passover speaks of. As believers in Jesus as the Christ we are purified by His work on the cross. So verse 8, says if He purified us then we are “unleavened bread of sincerity and truth”, sinless. 1 John 1:9 tells us to confess our sin to God and He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So even though we sin we can be “unleavened” again. Along with the confessing of the sin we are to not to keep doing the same sin over and over.
Having the unrepentant man in their midst means that they have accepted the sin as part of their church. Paul says, “Get rid of that sin!”
“9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.”
In these verses, Paul is trying to clear up that there is a difference between living in the world and bringing the world into your church. In the world you will see all sorts of vile people.
1 Peter 2:11-12 says, “11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. 12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” This is how Paul wants the members of the Corinthian church to live. They are to live among the nonbelievers of Corinth but don’t let the world get you to behave like the world. In verse 11, Paul tells us and them that if a person says that he or she is a believer and shows themselves to be immoral then “Do not even eat with such people.”
“12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.””
Paul says here that he can’t control the behavior of the world but God will judge all people. Numerous verses in Deuteronomy (13:5; 17:7; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21,24; 24:7) tell how the Jews were to deal with all sorts of men and women that behaved immorally. They all end with the warning, “You must purge the evil from among you.” This is what Paul is telling the Corinthian church to do.
“The Corinthian Christians were failing to judge where they should have made judgment. They should not have “winked” at the notorious sinner among them, and they should not have considered themselves “loving” for doing so. We must remember both reasons why it was important to deal with this sinning man among the Corinthian Christians: not only for the sake of purity in the church, but also for the sake of the man’s own salvation.” (Guzik)
1 Corinthians 6
“6-1 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!”
In this chapter, Paul moves on to another problem in the Corinthian church. Church members are settling disputes in the Greek court system. Paul’s issue is that believers are letting nonbelievers or as he calls them “ungodly people” resolve their disputes.
Daniel 7:27 says “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.’” Daniel had a vision and at the end of the vision, he sees what most theologians call the millennial reign of Christ. In Matthew 18:28, Jesus says, “All power and authority has been given unto me in heaven and on earth.” Paul has obviously taught the Corinthians about this prophecy from God to Daniel. God gave Jesus all power and authority to reign over heaven and earth and He will pass it on to us. Paul tells Timothy (2 Timothy 2:12) that “if we endure, we will reign with Him.”
The way that Paul is writing in these verses, the Corinthians should already know that they will reign with Jesus “if they endure”. In verse 3b, he says, “So you should surely be able to resolve ordinary disputes in this life.”(NLT) In verse 4, Paul says, “If you don’t accept the way that the judges are living their lives as nonbelievers, then how can you accept their rulings.”
In verse 5, Paul asks isn’t there one person in the church that can help you resolve these issues so that you stay out of the world’s courts. Allow someone with the same spiritual values help you to resolve these issues. Paul allows his frustration with the church to show in verse 6. Instead of doing what Paul is proposing they air their dirty laundry for the whole world to see.
“7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.”
In verse 7, Paul is saying that the mere fact that they have lawsuits against each other shows that Satan is already won. Read Matthew 18:21-22 to see what Jesus said about forgiveness. How many times did Jesus say we should forgive our brothers or sisters? 77 times. These issues have become lawsuits because they are willing to forgive and forget. Paul adds an exclamation to what he is saying here because the disputes are not between believer and nonbeliever. They were cheating or disputing with brothers and sisters in the church.
“The fact that the Corinthians mishandled lawsuits by taking them to public court was terrible, but this problem flowed out of an underlying difficulty. The Corinthians mistreated one another and failed to reconcile their conflicts in a Christian manner.” Holman New Testament Commentary
“9 Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
In the Sermon of the mount who does Jesus say will inherit the kingdom of heaven? (Matthew 5:3) The poor in spirit. Who does Jesus say will inherit the earth in Matthew 5:5? The meek. The beatitudes list the attributes of Jesus. The Corinthian church and we should be striving to be like Jesus. Paul is pointing out the converse of what Jesus said, wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God because they are nothing like God’s only begotten son.
Paul continues by warning us that included in with these wrongdoers are the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, men who have sex with men, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers and swindlers. He does not pull any punches. He calls out some of the Corinthian church as fitting in this wrongdoer category. It is not just that they were sinners before that accepted Jesus but they continue to behave the way they did before. What is the difference between repentance and remorse? Remorse usually means you feel bad but will most likely do it again but repentance is a complete turning away from doing it.
Paul reminds them that they “were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” In 2 Corinthians 5:17, Paul tells them something similar. He tells them that they are a new creation in Christ, the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”(NASB)
What do the following terms mean?
You were washed – clean from sin by the mercy of God (Titus 3:5)
You were sanctified – set apart, away from the world and for God’s will,
by Jesus’ work on the cross (Hebrews 10:10),
by God’s Word (John 17:19),
by faith in Jesus (Acts 26:18),
by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:16).
You were justified – Just as if I’d never sinned. We are declared “just” before the court of God; not only found “not guilty.”
12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14 By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also.”
The world would argue with what Paul has covered in this chapter. The world would say that we have ‘free will’ then don’t we have the right to do anything that is lawful?” Paul says “Not everything is good for you.” Then he also argues that we shouldn’t be controlled by anything.
“Specifically, from the reference to the harlot in 1 Corinthians 6:15, the point seems to be that the Corinthian Christians thought they had the liberty to use the services of prostitutes. This would have been culturally accepted in the city of Corinth, and it would have been accepted in the religious community among the religious pagans – who saw nothing wrong in a “religious” person using prostitutes.” (Guzik)
“Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods: The Corinthian Christians were probably using this motto to justify giving their bodies whatever their bodies wanted. “My body wants food, so I eat. My body wants sex, so I hire a prostitute. What’s the problem?” (Guzik)
In verse 13, Paul says that “God will destroy both it and them.” When we studied Heaven earlier in this class, we learned that we will still eat when we get to Heaven. We will eat with Jesus at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. The difference between the way we will eat in Heaven and Earth is that there will not be a sense of being dependent on food and we won’t be affected by hunger. Anyone ever get “hangry”, John does.
Paul points out that God did not create the human body for sexual immorality, that happened with Adam and Eve sinned in the garden. Our body was given to us to serve God and it is also the place where the Holy Spirit dwells so it is not meant for sexual immorality. In verse 14, Paul says just as Jesus was resurrected by the power of God, our bodies will also be resurrected by God. If this is our destiny, then why would we want to use these bodies for sexual immorality.
15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
As Paul continues to argue against sexual immorality, he says “Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ?” In some way, when we accept Christ we are connected spiritually to Him. The book, “My Heart Christ’s Home” says it slightly differently. It says that Jesus sets up residence in us. He actually moves in.
In verse 17, Paul says that when we join spiritually with Jesus, we are “one spirit with Him.” Paul continues and says that if we are connected to Jesus spiritually then why would we want to link the body of Christ to a prostitute.
“In their sexual relationship, a husband and wife become “one flesh” in a way that is under God’s blessing. In sex outside of marriage, the partners become “one flesh” in a way that is under God’s curse.” (Guzik)
“18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
In our study “When Satan Attacks”, one of the recommended responses to temptation was to flee. The biblical example was Joseph’s response to Potiphar’s wife’s advances (Genesis 39:12). When Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph to do something sexually immoral, then Joseph ran. Paul says in verse 18 that when we consider doing some sexually immoral then we are to run.
Paul points out that the sin of sexual immorality is different a unique affect on the body. It is both different in a physical way, and in a moral and spiritual ways. In verse 19, Paul says what he has implied several times already. If Jesus is God and Jesus is living in your body, then your body is a temple of God. Sometimes we accept that the Holy Spirit is living in us and that is the same as God living in us. Having the Holy Spirit living in us means that we have the power of God within us to help us stand firm against the temptations of Satan including sexual immorality.
In closing this chapter, Paul says that we are redeemed by God and the price of that redemption was everything that Jesus endured in His final day on earth, the Passion. Since we know what it cost and who we belong to then we should do everything in our power to”glorify God in your body”.
1 Corinthians 7
“Who should marry? Who should remain single? How should husbands and wives relate to one another? These practical matters occupied the apostle Paul throughout chapter 7.” (Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians)
“7:1 Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” 2 But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. 3 The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command.”
Evidently, the group from the Corinthian church asked the question regarding sexual relations between a man and woman. In verse 1, Paul is restating what the Corinthians had asked. “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with (touch NASB/KJV) a woman?” It appears that they have been immoral or seen so much immorality that they are confused about what is right and what is wrong.
The Corinthians are asking if Paul agrees with the statement. Paul agrees but he starts verse 2 with the word “But” or the NKJV uses the word “Nevertheless”. He is adding his limitations to their statement.
If Paul were talking to most of the other churches that he planted, he wouldn’t have to add the first part of this verse. The Corinthians have grown up with sexual immorality. Sexual immorality is any sexual relations outside of marriage. In Chapter 5, we learned about the man that was living with his stepmother. Corinth was known to be a city full of prostitution. A city like Las Vegas of its day. The temple of Aphrodite even had temple prostitutes.
In verse 3, the NKJV says that “husbands are to render to his wife the affection due her,” each Bible translation has different thoughts on this verse.
ESV – “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights”
KJV – “the husband render unto the wife due benevolence”
NASB – “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife,”
NLT – “The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs,”
“The affection due her is an important phrase. Since Paul meant this to apply to every Christian marriage, it shows that every wife has affection due her. Paul doesn’t think only the young or pretty or submissive wives are due affection; every wife is due affection because she is a wife of a Christian man.” (Guzik)
This idea that Paul is talking about is not new to Jews because they have been teaching it since creation. Genesis 2:24 says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” It may not have been taught to the Greeks or if it was not to the detail that God gave it.
Paul found the idea of husbands and wives being “one flesh” missing in the cities and towns as he traveled on his missionary journeys. The following verses cover a similar topic.
Colossians 3:18-19 – Wives are to submit and husbands are to love their wives.
Ephesians 5:25 – Husbands are to love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.
1Timothy 2:11 – Wives are to be submissive.
1 Peter 3:1, 7 – Wives are to be submissive. Husbands are to honor their wives. Both are heirs to God’s grace.
In verse 4, Paul continues with the idea of a married couple being “one flesh”. If a married couple is of “one flesh”, then the husband and wife do not have full control of their own bodies. They are to yield control of their body to the other in a loving way. In verse 5, Paul says they can harm the relationship if they deprive one another. Strife or lack of self-control can enter into the relationship. Along with these problems comes Satan who will lead you to worse problems in the marriage. In verse 6, Paul says clarifies what he said in verse 5 where he said “except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.” “God does not command or even recommend abstaining from sex within marriage, but it can be done for a brief time for a specific spiritual reason.” (Guzik)
“7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.”
In verse 7, Paul was unmarried at the time and so includes himself with the single or widowed men. As a single man completely devoted to God there were no downsides to not being married. He considered that marriage carried with it obligations and he believed it would have interfered with his working for Christ.
“Though Paul was unmarried when he wrote this letter, he probably had been married at one time. We can say this because we know Paul was an extremely observant Jew and an example among his people (Philippians 3:4-6). In Paul’s day, Jews considered marriage a duty, to the extent that a man reaching 20 years of age without marrying was considered to be in sin. Unmarried men were often considered excluded from heaven and not real men at all. Also, by Paul’s own words, it is likely that Paul was a member of the Sanhedrin. In Acts 26:10, Paul says I cast my vote against them, speaking of the early Christians, and the logical place he would cast a vote is as a member of that great congress of the Jewish people. An unmarried man could not be a member of the Sanhedrin, so Paul was probably married at one time.” (Guzik)
Paul continues in verse 7 by saying that we all have gifts and depending on your gift, marital status may interfere with you using your gift. The word for gifts used here is ‘charisma’ which is also used in Chapter 12 when he is discussing ‘spiritual gifts’. For Paul, being married would have prevented him from freely using his gifts for the Lord.
In verse 8, Paul implies that “When serving the Lord with your gifts” celibacy can be beneficial. He continues in verse 9 with “BUT” if self-control is a problem then you should get married. Just read the current news headlines regarding Catholic priests and you will see what Paul is talking about. Now I doubt that Paul is implying that the only reasons to get married are sexual in nature. He is teaching on this topic because the church in Corinth is surrounded by immoral sexual behaviors. What does God say regarding marriage in Genesis 2:18? It is not good for man to be alone. Paul is not going against God, he is just saying there are times when being alone can be beneficial. If you can do it.
“10 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11 But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.”
In verses 10 and 11, Paul speaks to those that are married. The Corinthians were wondering that since Paul was single then maybe it was more spiritual to be single. In these verses, Paul is talking about a marriage between two believers.
Mark 10:11–12 (see also Matt. 19:9) says, “He (Jesus) answered, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery against her. 12 And if she divorces her husband and marries another man, she commits adultery.” Paul goes back to Jesus’ word on divorce. The only allowance for divorce given by Jesus was sexual immorality. In all other cases of divorce, there are only two choices, reconcile or stay unmarried.
“12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16 How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?”
In verse 12, Paul points out that what he is about to say is from him. What he is going to teach was not taught to him by Jesus but he is still under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
He is now going to explain divorce between a married couple that is made up of a believing husband and a non-believing wife. He says, “if she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her.” The same thing applies to a believing wife and a non-believing husband. He is saying if there aren’t issues then do not divorce and religious differences aren’t legitimate grounds for divorce. God can be glorified in these marriages. God may be able to use the believing spouse to bring the non-believing spouse to Jesus Christ. Paul is not saying that the non-believing spouse is saved because of his/her marriage to a believer.
“Otherwise your children are unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” “If the children of non-Christian parents are saved, and do go to heaven – even some of them – it is important to understand that it is not because they are innocent. As sons and daughters of guilty Adam, we are each born guilty. If such children do go to heaven, it is not because they are deserving innocents, but because the rich mercy of God has been extended to them as well.” (Guzik)
In verses 15 and 16, Paul handles what happens if the non-believing spouse wants out of the marriage. According to Paul, there is not a problem. The believing spouse is not bound by the marriage covenant. The hope was that the non-believing spouse would come to the saving knowledge of Jesus.
Guzik says regarding this divorce whether acceptable or not, “They should know that with faith and patience, they can look for God to work in their present circumstances, difficult as they might be.”
“Tragically, much of the early church did not heed God’s word to keep marriages together, as much as possible, when married to unbelievers. One of the great heathen complaints against the early Christians was that Christianity broke up families. One of the first charges brought against Christians was “tampering with domestic relationships.” (Barclay)
“17 Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18 Was a man already circumcised when he was called? He should not become uncircumcised. Was a man uncircumcised when he was called? He should not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God’s commands is what counts. 20 Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
21 Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22 For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings. 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
Your marital status doesn’t matter, whether you are married, single, divorced, widowed, remarried …, you are to work to do God’s will for your life. If your marital status changes, you should continue to work for the Lord. In the next few verses, Paul uses the example of circumcision and free versus slave to explain his point. When it comes to serving God, what is important is that you serve. Paul is expanding what we learned in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female,[ single or married or divorced] for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Verses 20 and 24 say “Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.” He is saying, God can use you, right where you are. We can serve and worship God regardless of our marital status.
25 Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you pledged to a woman? Do not seek to be released. Are you free from such a commitment? Do not look for a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.
In these verses, Paul is teaching that marriage is not bad in God’s eyes but he is making a case for being single has its advantages. In verse 25, Paul continues to develop the idea of staying with your current marital status. Depending on your translation, it may say ‘virgin’ or ‘marriageable woman’ or ‘people who have never been married’. Most translations say ‘virgin’. Paul says that again, he has had no teaching from Jesus regarding men or women that have never been married but he is still being inspired by the Holy Spirit.
In verse 26, “Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for a man to remain as he is.” Paul is talking to a group of people that are living in difficult times. He is saying because of the current situation in Corinth at that time or because truly Paul believed that Jesus’ second coming was about to happen, then don’t look to change your marital status. Continue as you have been. He is not saying that being single or married is a sin. He is saying that in times of persecution, being married will be more difficult for you.
“What is the advantage of remaining single? We can easily imagine how in a time of persecution or great crisis, how much more of a burden a wife or a family can be for someone committed to standing strong for the Lord. We may say, “Torture me, and I will never renounce Jesus.” But what if we were threatened with the rape of our wife or the torture of our children? These may seem far away to us, but they were not far away to Christians in the first century.”
29(NLT) “But let me say this, dear brothers and sisters: The time that remains is very short. So from now on, those with wives should not focus only on their marriage. 30 Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions. 31 Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.”
Paul says in verse 29 that “the time is short”. Paul is keeping with what Jesus taught in Matthew 24:44, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Even 2000 years later, we are to be prepared for Jesus’ return. If we knew when He was coming back, we could set up a countdown clock and live the way we want until the final week.
Paul wants the Corinthians to live a life worthy of Jesus every day and not live like the world. What does Psalm 39:4-5 say about how short our lives are? NLT says “my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;”
In these verses, Paul is telling them that the world is changing because of Jesus’ work on the cross and you should live that way. He says, “From now on:”
Those with wives should not focus only on their marriage.
Those who weep or who rejoice or who buy things should not be absorbed by their weeping or their joy or their possessions.
Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them.
Why does Paul say that we should not focus on the things of this world? Because the world in its present form will soon pass away. In our study of Heaven, we have seen that there will be a New Heaven, a New Earth and a New Jerusalem. The old ones will all pass away. Jesus taught about being prepared for His second coming in parables in Matthew 25. He used the parable of the 10 virgins to say that (v. 13) we do not know when He is coming back. We want to hear Jesus say to us (v. 21), “Well done, good and faithful servant!” when He does return. In these verses, Paul is saying, “If you are too busy, living your life in the world then you will not be prepared for His return.”
32 I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord.
In these verses, it comes down to focus. If we are married then our focus “may” move from God to your spouse. Paul is saying that, if we are single then we do not have a family, with the responsibilities associated with taking care of a family, then we are more “free” to serve God. This was the main reason Paul considered the unmarried state preferable for himself. But, you need to reread verses 20 and 24 in this chapter. It is not for everyone.
In verse 33, Paul tells us that it is about focus. Are you pleasing God or your wife? Fortunately in a marriage where both are focused on God, the marriage will be blessed by God. This is why Paul spelled out marriages between believers and nonbelievers earlier in this chapter. I would guess these verses are the source of the rules in the Catholic Church against marriage and for the celibacy of priests and nuns. Paul continues to say that it is not a sin to be married or to be single.
In verse 35, Paul gives the purpose of this entire chapter. He is going into great detail on this subject for their “benefit, not to place restrictions” on them.
“I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord best, with as few distractions as possible.”
36 If anyone is worried that he might not be acting honorably toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if his passions are too strong and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37 But the man who has settled the matter in his own mind, who is under no compulsion but has control over his own will, and who has made up his mind not to marry the virgin—this man also does the right thing. 38 So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does better.
Remember the customs at that time in history were different than those today. Arranged marriages were the rule and not the exception. Today, the daughter chooses her husband but at that time the responsibility for choosing a husband for a single woman fell on her parents.
Verse 36 is speaking to the fiancée, if he has good self-control then it is ok to wait but if not then he should get married before he “gives in to his passion”. In verse 38, Paul again says what works best for him. It is not for everyone. Paul says being married is good but being single is better when it comes to serving God.
39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord. 40 In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.
In verse 39 Paul says, “Until death do us part, means until death do us part.” He adds that as a widow, she can get married again if she wishes but only to another Christian (“only in the Lord”). In Verse 40, Paul makes another plea for servants of God to remain single. He says, “She will be happier if she remains as she is.”
“Again, Paul will affirm celibacy, but not because sex itself is evil (as some of the Corinthian Christians thought). Instead, the unmarried state can be superior because it offers a person (if they are so gifted) more opportunity to serve God.”
1 Corinthians 8
8:1”Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. 2 Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know. 3 But whoever loves God is known by God.”
In this chapter, Paul moves on to food sacrificed to idols. In verse 1, Paul says that “we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies (or builds up).” This seems kind of strange that in order to talk about food sacrificed to idols, Paul starts with knowledge and love. During this study, we have said a number of times that the Greeks or Corinthians were raised to think that knowledge is very important but to a Christian, love is more important. By the time we get to chapter 13, Paul will give them a deeper understanding of love.
“Some translations say “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” Guzik says, “The difference between puffs up and edifies is striking; it is the difference between a bubble and a building. Some Christians grow, others just swell!”
God had a lot to say about idols in Jeremiah 10:1-22. Fill in these blanks regarding idols in Jeremiah 10:
5 – “Idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good.”
8 – Those that worship idols are “all senseless and foolish; they are taught by worthless wooden idols.”
11 – “These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.”
V 14-15 – “Everyone is senseless and without knowledge; every goldsmith is shamed by his idols. The images he makes are a fraud; they have no breath in them. 15 They are worthless, the objects of mockery; when their judgment comes, they will perish.”
What does Jeremiah say about God in verse 10 of Jeremiah 10? “But the Lord is the only true God. He is the living God and the everlasting King!” 1 John 4:4 says, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” In verse 2, Paul says that some people think they know it all but do they really know anything. What is truly important, he says in verse 3, is that we love God.
What do these verses say about what God sees or knows about us?
Matthew 6:4 – “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
1 Samuel 16:7 – “God does not see as man sees, since man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
Hebrews 4:13 – “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.”
“4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.” 5 For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), 6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.”
In verse 4, Paul says that based on what we learned in Jeremiah 10, idols worshiped by others are nothing more than a piece of wood. We worship the one true God. In verse 5, Paul refers to the idols as “so-called gods”. Remember that Jeremiah 10:8 says that the people that worship idols “are taught by worthless wooden idols.” In verse 6, Paul restates what I am sure he taught them when he was in Corinth. Even though Paul says there is one God, the Father and one Lord, Jesus the Christ, he is not trying to separate God and Jesus.
Paul changes a couple of words. For God, he says “from whom all things came and for whom we live”. God is the creator, nowhere in the Bible does it says anything different and we should love God and devote our lives to Him, our reason for living. For Jesus, he says “one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.” Jesus is our savior. Paul is echoing John 1:3-4. John 1:4 says, “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” As Lord, Jesus requires obedience. We can truly live because He set us free from death and sin.
“In many rituals only part of the meat was burned. The priest and the family making the sacrifice took the rest. This consecrated meat was taken home and eaten, or sold in the marketplace. The Jerusalem council had forbidden Christians to eat these foods (Acts 15:29).” Holman New Testament Commentary
“The Corinthian Christians may have reasoned like this: if idols are really nothing, it must mean nothing to eat meat sacrificed to nothing idols, and it must mean nothing to eat in the buildings used to worship these nothing idols. In the following section, Paul will show them a better way.” (Guzik)
“7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat sacrificial food they think of it as having been sacrificed to a god, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.”
Paul agrees with the “so what” attitude of the Corinthian Christians but in verses 7 and 8. However, Paul adds a “BUT”. Paul’s experience in dealing with people was that not everyone has the same information and so they may not come to the same conclusion as you. What Paul is saying is that if you know that idols are nothing and God is everything, then it is ok to eat unless there are believers present that still believe that these idols have power, then do not eat of it. If they see you eat the food, they will think that you recognize the power of the idols.
“Paul asks the Corinthian Christians who know there is nothing to an idol to remember that not everyone knows this. And if someone believes there is something to an idol, and they eat meat that has been sacrificed to an idol, their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Why is their conscience considered weak? Not because their conscience doesn’t work. Indeed, it does work – in fact, it overworks. Their conscience is considered weak because it is wrongly informed; their conscience is operating on the idea that there really is something to an idol. You can imagine the “free” Corinthian Christians with their superior knowledge saying, “but we’re right!” And in this case, being right is important but it is not more important than showing love to the family of God.” (Guzik)
“9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”
In verse 9, Paul says that just because you are right, don’t become a stumbling block to other Christians. In his letter to the Romans, Paul goes into more detail about not causing others to stumble. Read Romans 14:13-21. In an ideal world, everyone would have all the same information and come to the same conclusions. Everyone would grow at the same pace in the knowledge of Jesus and have the same understanding of God’s Word.
When Pastor Mickey McManus decided to leave our church and move to Tiffin, OH, those who regularly attended the church knew that he left on his own. Those that attended occasionally evidently did not have the same information and believed that we, as a church, ran him off. Paul says that it was better to not do something that might lead other believers astray. In verse 13, he says that he would stop eating meat, if it was a stumbling block for someone else. Quite often today, Christians drinking alcohol fits into this category. Some believe that drinking any alcohol is wrong and others believe it is ok. It can become a stumbling block.
“The apostle called for Christians to care about one another so much that they put the good of others over their own rights. Theological precision must be so extensive that it factors the personal and relational dimensions of church life in addition to theological facts.”
Holman New Testament Commentary
1 Corinthians 9
“9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2 Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord.”
Just like in the U.S., freedom in Corinth at the time Paul wrote this letter is highly valued. We celebrate Memorial Day, Veterans Day and the Fourth of July to honor those that have given us these freedoms. Many Americans and Corinthians believe that they can do whatever they want as long as no one gets hurt.
Paul is continuing his discussion from Chapter 8, regarding eating food sacrificed to idols and doing things that are ok but these things may cause a weaker believer to stumble or draw an improper conclusion. He is starting out his argument by saying that as an apostle he too has certain rights even if some people do not accept him as a true apostle of Jesus. We saw in his letter to the Galatians (1:11-13) that he had to continuously defend his apostleship.
Paul says that in Corinth there are those that doubt that he is a true apostle of Jesus. Paul received his commission from Jesus on the road to Damascus. In his letter to the Galatians he explains this but here in verse 2, he says that he shouldn’t have to explain it because they, the Corinthians are his “seal of apostleship”. Seals were used to prove that a letter had truly come from that person.
“3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?”
In these verses, Paul is beginning to defend his apostleship just like a lawyer argues at a trial. He points out that as an apostle he has certain rights. As an apostle he has the right to get paid for his preaching. He says he has the right to eat and drink but he is implying that he is to do so at the church’s expense. Doesn’t he have the right to bring his wife along like Peter and the other apostles did.
“Those judging Paul knew that he understood the practice was theologically justifiable—it was a freedom that every knowledgeable, mature Christian had. To them it must have seemed that Paul contradicted the straightforward truth when he insisted that stronger Christians should not eat for the sake of weaker Christians. To defend his actions, Paul drew upon the larger practices of his life. His position on eating meat sacrificed to idols was not a sign of weakness or inconsistency. Rather, it accorded with the basic Christian principles that guided his life. For this reason, the Corinthians who opposed him on the matter of meat sacrificed to idols actually opposed the fabric of Christian ethics.” Holman New Testament Commentary
7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8 Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?
But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.
Paul goes even further back in his argument regarding getting the spoils of your labors. He gives several examples of this fact.
Verse 7 – The service of a soldier
A vineyard worker eats the grapes.
A shepherd drinks the milk from his flock.
The Law of Moses says:
Do not muzzle an ox while the ox is grinding the wheat so that it can eat.
Whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest.
In verse 12, Paul ties the physical to the spiritual. If we share in the harvest in the world then we should also share in the harvest in the spiritual domain. Paul was saying that the spiritual work of one who shares the good news of Jesus should benefit him in the material world. He had a right to get paid for saving their souls. He also says that even though they had the right to be supported by the church, he is willing to forego this right in order to save more people. He was willing to support himself if it became a stumbling block. How did Paul support himself? Tentmaker
13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
Just like most pastors and priests today, as one called to preach the gospel, Paul asked isn’t he entitled to focus on serving the Lord and not have to worry about earning an income. This goes back to Joshua 13:14 and 33, “14 But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since the food offerings presented to the Lord, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them.”
There is no record of Jesus saying those specific words, but He states something similar.
Matthew 10:10 says “for a worker is worthy of his support (or food (NKJB) or keep (NIV).
Luke 10:8 says “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you.”(NIV)
Luke 8:3 helped Jesus ministry financially.
“15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.”
Remember why Paul has headed down this road. He is giving up his rights as an apostle so that he does not become a stumbling block to current or future believers. In verse 16, he is not asking to be paid or supported for preaching the Gospel. He preaches to reach as many people as possible with the Good News of Jesus.
Paul doesn’t want the Corinthians to think that he is boasting to build himself up. He is again trying to reach people for Jesus and if by supporting himself allows him to reach more, then all the better. Paul says this more clearly in 2 Corinthians 11:30. If he is going to boast then he will boast in Jesus. In verse 17, Paul says “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” Preaching is Paul’s calling from God. He is compelled to do nothing else. Pastor Larry said that his grandfather told him, “You should never become a pastor without a calling from God but if you are called to preach then you should do nothing else.” In verse 18, he gives his reason for supporting himself. It is so he can preach the Gospel message free of charge.
“19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”
Paul says that he is free and is not responsible to any man. He is responsible to God and he takes it very seriously. Paul takes the following verses very seriously.
Matthew 22:36-40. Paul devoted his life to loving and serving God. After seeing Jesus on the road to Damascus, he then understood loving people.
Matthew 28:19-20. This is the Great Commission. If you love God and people then this is what God wants us to do.
As a church, what are some of the things that we do as the two commands of the Great Commission.
Go – mission trips, tell those around you about Jesus, VBS
Teach – Teach Sunday School, VBS, Bible Studies, Preach
Paul is continuing to teach us how not to be a stumbling block to fellow believers. He was willing to become “all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” He was willing to give up his rights in order to save as many people as he could. Paul was willing to do whatever it took to save people. Today people get caught up on MY rights. They make everything about themselves, not Paul.
Paul says that he does everything for the “sake of the gospel”. What is the gospel that Paul preached? (See 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
The gospel brings salvation (v. 2).
Jesus died to take away our sins (v. 3)
He died, was buried and was raised again. (v. 4)
Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us that it is by grace that we have been saved.
John 3:16 ties it all together. The whole purpose is “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” with God.
“24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
In these verses, Paul uses the example of running a race. The Greeks were the creators of the Olympics. The goal of running a race is to win the crown (or olive wreath). He points out that proper training is required to do your best to win. The same thing applies to living your Christian life. If you don’t read God’s Word, go to Church, serve God in everything, then you will not grow as a Christian and you will not win the crown from Jesus.
In case you don’t remember from our study of Heaven (Week 5) the Bible tells us about 5 Crown Rewards in Heaven:
The Victor’s Crown (1 Corinthians 9:25-27)
The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 2:19)
The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8)
The Crown of Life (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10)
These crowns are from God so they are eternal.
Paul finishes this chapter with another analogy. He uses boxing. His goal is not to just shadow box but it is to lead others to Christ. The NASB says that he disciplines his body in order to get control of it, so that it does what his mind and heart want. If it does what the world wants then he would not be living as God wants. If he preaches one way and lives another, then what kind of witness would he be. No good to God. This is similar to his discourse in Romans 7:15-20. Controlling the body is critical to living a Christian life and being a good example for others.
1 Corinthians 10
10:1” For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.”
Paul starts this chapter by giving the Corinthians the history of the Hebrew nation coming out of Egypt. When I say that history is boring, Mike quotes a former historian, George Santayana “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Can you guess where this history lesson is going to lead us? Paul is going to take them and us back to the question “Is it ok to eat meat which has been sacrificed to idols.” Remember Paul didn’t write the letter as chapters and verses.
Remember in Chapter 8, Paul said that “Idols are nothing.” It should be okay to eat food sacrificed to idols but not if it causes a weaker believer to stumble. In Chapter 9, Paul said that we all have rights but if my rights get in the way of leading someone to Christ or cause another believer to stumble then you should give up what is your right in favor of loving the other person.
What did Jesus’ say was the most important commandment and the one that was slightly lower than the first? Love God with all your heart, soul and mind. Love others as you love yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39)
Back to the history lesson, Paul says that everyone in the Hebrew nation was under the cloud and passed through the sea. What/who was the cloud? (Exodus 13:21-22) God or God’s Shekinah glory. We also know that Moses parted the Red Sea with God’s help. Paul connects this amazing event to baptism. Dining in an idol’s temple is an act of demon worship that Christians should shun. Christians should learn from Israel’s bad example that they must avoid idolatry.
Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians:
Crossing of the Red Sea
The Jews were slaves to the Egyptians
They passed through the waters of the Red Sea.
A new life was waiting for them on the other side.
God saved them because He loved them.
God had a special land promised for them.
We were slaves to sin.
We pass through the waters of baptism.
A new life is waiting for us on the other side of baptism.
God saves us because He loves us.
God has a special land promised for us.
In verses 3 and 4, Paul says, “They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink”. What was the spiritual food? (Exodus 16:4-5) Manna. What was the spiritual drink? (Exodus 17:6) The water that flowed from a rock.
What spiritual food and drink do we and the Corinthians take part in Christ’s name? communion
Paul ties Jesus to the Exodus of the Hebrew nation from Egypt. He says that Jesus was that water. Where have we heard that Jesus is the water? John 7:37-39 “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” or John 4 – The Samaritan woman at the well.
Paul points out that even God’s chosen people failed Him and were scattered in the wilderness. How many of the adults from the Exodus made it into the Promised Land? 2 (Joshua and Caleb)
6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.
Paul gives them 5 examples and an praise.
In verse 6 and 7, Paul is warning the Corinthians not to fall into the same trap that the Hebrews did when they left Egypt. In Chapter 32:6, Moses stayed on the mountain with God and the Jews partied in his absence and worshiped a Golden Calf.
In verse 8, Paul continues with what happened during the Golden Calf incident. Paul says that 23,000 died. The number that died in the Golden Calf incident was 3000 so Paul may be referring to another day during the exodus. Numbers 25 tells about a day when the Israelites were indulged in sexual immorality with Moabite women and 24,000 died during a plague.
In verse 9, Paul warns them not to test the Lord or Christ. He is again using an example from the exodus recorded in Number 21:4-9. This reference describes the Israelites complaining against God and Moses. It says that “the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.”
This should also be a warning to those that believe in the prosperity gospel. If bad things happened to God’s chosen people then bad things can happen to anyone.
“11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
In verse 11, Paul says that the bad things recorded in the Bible are put there as a warning. Fortunately for us, the good examples also help keep us on the right path because we know what amazing things God has in store for us.
In verse 12, Paul reminds them to stand firm. In our study of Satan, we studied about the Full Armor of God. In Ephesians 6:10-20, Paul tells us to put on the Full Armor of God so that we can stand or stand firm against the temptations of Satan.
We used verse 13 in our study of how to defend ourselves from Satan. We need to remember that God is in control of everything, even Satan. Verse 13 tells us that there have been no new temptations “except what is common to mankind”. Sexual immorality existed when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. They didn’t have the internet but it was still there.
The remainder of the verse says how faithful God is. “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Remember it says tempted beyond what you can bear and not give you trials beyond what you can bear. During our temptations, we should always look for and take advantage of the way out that God provides.
“Barclay says the word for a way of escape is really a mountain pass, with the idea of an army being surrounded by the enemy, and then suddenly seeing an escape route to safety. It isn’t necessarily an easy way!”
“14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.”
In verse 14, Paul sums up what he has been saying for 3 chapters. “Flee from idolatry.” What Paul is saying is go to the butcher and get your meat. Don’t go to the pagan temples to get it.
In verse 15, Paul says what Pastor Brian says most weeks during his sermon. “You are intelligent people, make sure what I am preaching makes sense and when in doubt check the Word of God.”
In verses 16 and 17, Paul draws communion into his argument regarding food sacrificed to idols. For our communion, the bread represents the body of Christ and the cup represents the blood of Christ. We hold these sacraments to be holy and meaningful. Isn’t it possible that those that participate in the idol worship hold their rituals to have similar meaning?
He points out that in both kinds of worship there is a form of fellowship.
“In the thinking of that part of the ancient world, to eat at the same table with someone indicated friendship and fellowship with that person. Since you ate of one bread, that made you one body, because you both shared of the same food at the same table. So to eat at the table of a pagan temple restaurant was not as innocent as it seemed.” (Guzik)
“18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?”
In these verses, Paul goes back to Jewish history. The food was sacrificed on the altar by the priests and then it was eaten by the priests. Chapters 6 and 7 of the book of Leviticus go into great detail on how the food is to be sacrificed.
In verse 19, Paul wants to reiterate that idols are still nothing. Just as the act of baptism does not save you. It is an outward expression of what is in your heart and mind. This same thing applies to idol worship. The idol is nothing but if you are participating in the idol worship then you are showing others that it is important to you.
In our study of Satan, we learned that Satan is doing his best to draw our focus and worship away from God. Paul says that if you are participating in idol worship then you are worshiping with demons and Satan is winning.
In verses 21 and 22, Paul reiterates two facts that we should know:
Matthew 6:24 says, “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Paul is saying the same thing in these verses except he is substituting idols for money.
Read Exodus 20:5 says, ”You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.” Paul goes back to the 10 Commandments and points out that our God is a jealous God. No idols allowed! Paul gives them a Joshua moment. Joshua 24:15 says, “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Make your decision, it is God or idols, you can’t have both.
In verse 22, Paul asks, “Are we stronger than God?” “The Corinthian Christians claimed the right to eat at pagan temples because they were such strong Christians; but are they stronger than God?” (Guzik)
23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.
Paul reiterates what he has already said in this letter to the Corinthian church. Just because they have the right to do something, that doesn’t make it beneficial or constructive. It all comes down to what Jesus said was the second most important commandment, Love others as you love yourself. (Matthew 22:37-39) The 10 Commandments comes down to giving up of yourself and giving of yourself to God and others.
Paul states that in verse 24, it doesn’t say it is ok for some to think about themselves first. No one is to be self absorbed or self focused. Back in 1 Corinthians 2, Paul said we are to have the mind of Christ (verse 16).
25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
In verse 14, Paul said “Flee from idolatry” but he was really saying even though you have the right to eat meat sacrificed to idols, go to the butcher to get your meat. Here in verse 25, he says it plainly “Eat anything sold in the meat market without” feeling any guilt.
Guzik says, “At the butcher shop, some of the meat was sacrificed to idols, and some of it was not. Paul says, “if you aren’t going to partake of the atmosphere of the pagan temple, the meat itself doesn’t matter. Don’t even ask, and it won’t even bother you.” What if one of the brothers with a weak conscience objects, saying “Wait a minute! That meat was sacrificed to an idol!” Paul responds by quoting, The earth is LORD’S, and all its fullness (Psalm 24:1). The cow belonged to the Lord when it was on the hoof, and it belongs to the Lord now that it is on the barbecue! The food wasn’t the issue, the idol worshipping atmosphere was.”
27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
In verse 27, Paul covers eating at a nonbeliever’s house. If you go to a nonbeliever’s house then eat what is placed before you. Use the “don’t ask / don’t tell” policy. In verses 28 to 30, Paul adds a hypothetical situation. The “don’t ask / don’t tell” policy works fine until someone tells. Once you know for a fact that the meat has been sacrificed to an idol and someone has a problem with it, then you can’t eat it.
It sounds confusing but the problem is not the meat. God made the cow and God made nothing that is unclean. (See Acts 10:13-15) The problem is the person that has an issue with the meat. For their benefit, you should not eat it. Your love for others should outweigh your right to do something. Paul doesn’t say it but maybe at another time, you should consider educating the person so that you are both working from the same knowledge base.
In verse 30, Paul says that if we eat a meal with thanks then we should be able to eat with a clear conscience, and not have to worry about offending someone else’s conscience. In turn, they should not judge us or speak ill of you. His justification for eating with a clear conscience is that the food itself is not the problem. No one should judge another Christian who can eat meat sacrificed to idols, as long as they don’t violate their own conscience or someone else’s.
31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.
Paul finishes his discussion of the last 3 chapters with one final principle. “do it all for the glory of God.” As we have said numerous times, “It is all about Him and not about me.” I believe that we are to educate others about what the Word of God says. We are to help each other to grow. While at OC, I learned that a good supervisor removes barriers so that their employees can grow and accomplish the company’s objectives. If we “do not cause anyone to stumble” as Christians then we are doing the same thing. We are to build others up and help them to grow in Christ.
Paul’s goal is to lead others to Christ. He reiterates what he said in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.”
1 Corinthians 11
11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
This chapter starts with Paul making a statement. He says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” This statement should probably be part of the last chapter as a summary statement. One way to go through life is to make it up as you go along. Another is to follow the example of someone else. As a child, we grow up imitating our parents. We mock what they say and do. Often our value system, what we think, how we vote, etc. came from them. Anything else?
Once Paul received his course correction on the road to Damascus, his goal has been to live with Jesus as his example. He had lived among the Corinthians for a year and a half as an example of how to live a Christian life. Remember from chapter 4 (verse 17) that Paul was going to send Timothy to live among them also as an example of proper Christian living.
2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
In verse 2, Paul is praising them for remembering and holding on to the traditions that Paul has passed on to them. Many of the things that we do in our house are a blend of traditions of the Hankinson family, the Green family and the John & Terry Green family. Some of these traditions have been passed down for years and some are fairly new.
Growing up my dad didn’t attend church but after he passed away, God gave me a new father (in law) and the tradition that he passed to me was that it is important for a man to go to church. Hebrews 10:25 says, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Ed showed by example how I should live this good Bible principle.
In verse 3, Paul sets up a hierarchy of authority and accountability. It shouldn’t be anything new to the Corinthian Christians. We have seen it a number of times in Paul’s letters. Read Ephesians 5:25-29. Paul tells them and us that God is at the head with Jesus below Him. Jesus is above all people and men are to be heads of their household.
“It is essential to understand that being under authority does not equal inferiority. Jesus was totally under the authority of God the Father (John 5:19, 8:28), yet He is equally God (John 1:1, 8:58, 10:30). When God calls women in the church to recognize the headship of men, it is not because women are unequal or inferior, but because there is a God-ordained order of authority to be respected.” (Guzik)
4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.
“The idea of a head covering was important in this (and many other) ancient cultures. To wear the head covering (or, veil in some translations), was a public symbol of being under the authority and protection of another.” (Guzik)
“It was a custom, both among the Greeks and Romans, and among the Jews an express law, that no woman should be seen abroad without a veil. This was, and is, a common custom through all the east, and none but public prostitutes go without veils.” (Clarke)
“Even as today, among some, to wear a hat or some other kind of head covering is a picture of humility and modesty, so the head covering had an important cultural meaning among the ancient Corinthians.” (Guzik)
These were practices performed at a time when women were little more than a possession. They were cultural more than anything else. It is similar to what goes on in Muslim cultures where a woman would wear a burqa. Jewish women would wear a veil on her head to show that she was under the authority and protection of another. Consider 1 Samuel 16:7, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” If you have reverence, obedience and love in your heart, God knows it.
In verses 4-6, Paul is talking about things that were common to the cultures of the world at that time. Having a covered head or uncovered head meant something to those cultures. In some ancient cultures, the shaving of a woman’s head was the punishment given to an adulteress.
In our study of Acts, we saw Paul refuse to accept the 4 rules added to salvation through Jesus Christ. (Eating of the blood of an animal, eating a strangled animal, food sacrificed to idols, sexual immorality) In these verses, what Paul is recommending doesn’t affect your salvation, it is an outward display to show your reverence and respect to God. This order goes back to the Garden. God did not create Jesus but Jesus was present during creation. God created man and then from the rib of man, God created woman. Paul is saying that by creation happening this way then God created the order. While on earth, Jesus honored God. Man is to honor Jesus and woman is to honor her husband.
Paul is essentially saying that if we are to have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and even though Jesus is God, He completely humbled Himself and was obedient to God, then we should also be obedient to God. Philippians 2:8 says, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” In verses 4, 5 and 6, Paul says that men should not cover their heads but women should cover their heads. I find this confusing because Exodus 28:40 tells us that Old Testament priests were to cover their heads. “For Aaron’s sons, make tunics, sashes, and special head coverings that are glorious and beautiful.” Several theologians say that Paul may have been trying to separate Christian worship from pagan rituals held by the Greeks. In these rituals, men pulled their togas up over their heads.
7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.
Again, what Paul is teaching does not affect your salvation. What he told the Galatians in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is related to your salvation. All are equal when it comes to salvation through Jesus. Paul is talking about how to behave in worship.
Paul justifies what he is saying with the creation of man. Man was created in the “image of God” and Paul adds also the glory of God. Since woman was created from man’s rib then she is the “glory of man”. This means that in addition to being created in the “image of God” and glory of God, she is the “glory of man”.
“Paul called women the glory of their husbands because this is one of their unique roles in the creation order. According to Genesis 2:18, 20, God created Eve to make it possible for the human race to fulfill the task originally given to Adam. For this reason Moses called Eve “a helper suitable for [Adam].” Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians
In verses 8 and 9, Paul justifies what he is saying by the creation story. I have heard numerous times in my life that God created woman from man’s rib so they could be more equal. Not from his foot that he could walk over her or from his head so she cannot lord over him.
Ephesians 5:25-29 says, “25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—.” It all comes down to love and respect for each other.
Paul ends verse 10 with “because of the angels”. This statement has a couple of different interpretations. Guzik says, “Angels are present at any assembly of Christians for worship and note any departure from reverent order; and apparently, angels are offended by any violation of propriety.” Some believe that Paul wasn’t talking about the heavenly beings but the word interpreted as “angels” also means “messengers”. For Paul, the messengers would be Timothy or anyone else that Paul would send to them.
11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.
In these verses, Paul says that man and woman are not meant to be independent. He is saying the same thing as what is written down in Genesis 2:24. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” Becoming one flesh is the same as man and woman being dependent on each other.
I wonder what the Greeks were taught regarding where man and woman came from. There can be no doubt that Paul taught them about Adam and Eve. In verse 12, Paul makes sure that they know that man was created by God. When Paul says that woman came from man he sums up Genesis 2, in that chapter verse 18 says, “Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”
He goes even further when he says that man is born of woman. He is referring to a woman actually giving birth to a male baby. Every man that has walked upon the earth, has been born of a woman, his mother, except Adam.
Earlier we read Ephesians 5:25-29 which says “Husbands, love your wives.” Guzik says of these verse and 1 Cor. 11:12, “Therefore, the man, or men, who rule in the church or in the home without love, without recognizing the important and vital place God has given women, is not doing God’s will.”
13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered
14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.
Paul starts verse 13 with “Judge for yourselves”. Evidently, he feels they should be able to figure it out for themselves. To me, this means, “What I have said or am about to say is not of God.” If it were, he would not have given them an option. Paul is going back to cover a topic that he covered earlier in this chapter. “Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?” Growing up as Jews, Paul and the Corinthian Jews would have grown up watching men and women praying with their heads covered. Paul then throws in that it is dishonorable for a man to have long hair but long hair is a woman’s glory.
“Based on this verse, many people have thought that it is a sin for a man to wear long hair – or, at least hair that is considered long by the culture. But long hair in itself can be no sin; after all, Paul apparently had long hair for a time in Corinth as a part of a vow (Acts 18:18). But, the vow would not have meant anything if long hair was the norm; that’s what Paul is getting at!” (Guzik)
“While it is true that it is wrong for a man to take the appearance of a woman (Deuteronomy 22:5), longer hair on a man is not necessarily an indication of this. It is far better for most preachers to be concerned about the length of their sermons instead of the length of people’s hair!” (Guzik)
In verse 16, “But if anyone wants to argue about this, I simply say that we have no other custom than this, and neither do God’s other churches.” (NLT) This is proof that Paul not speaking of God, he is speaking from his experience, as well as Corinthian and Jewish customs. He is trying to settle disputes based on the original issues presented to him by the Corinthians.
17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
Here Paul moves on to another topic, partaking in the Lord’s Supper. Again, this topic as most of the topics cover in this letter to the Corinthians, do not affect salvation. Paul wastes no time making sure they know the way that they are performing the Lord’s Supper is not what he had taught them. In verse 18, he points out that there are “divisions” among them. Nearly every translation says “divisions”, I like how the Contemporary English Version translates verse 18, “I am told you can’t get along with each other when you worship.”
Throughout his letter, Paul has been dealing with these “divisions”. As I stop and think about what we have studied thus far in 1 Corinthians, the song, “Heart of Worship” comes to my mind, specifically the chorus. “I’m comin’ back to the heart of worship, And it’s all about You It’s all about You, Jesus I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it. When it’s all about You. It’s all about You, Jesus”
The Corinthian church is getting worship wrong and even one of the holiest parts of the worship service, the Lord’s Supper, they are getting it wrong. Throughout Paul’s letters, he teaches the churches that the church is the body and Christ is the head. There cannot be division in the body or it does not function the way that God intended. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
Verse 19 says that God allows the “divisions” in the church. Guzik says God allows ‘divisions’ “so that, over time, those who really belong to God would be made evident.” Those that adhere to God’s commands are the ones that belong to God.
They can’t get any part of the Lord’s Supper right. Not only is there division but some are making it a feast while others go hungry. He sets them straight that the Lord’s Supper is not a meal. He says, “The Lord’s Supper is a remembrance and not a meal. If you are hungry, eat at home.” As I read these verses, I wonder, are these verses why Baptists made their meals, potlucks. In verse 22, Paul is sounding like a disappointed parent and finishes with “Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you.”
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
In these verses, Paul reminds the Corinthians of how to perform the Lord’s Supper. He also reminds them that he was taught the proper way by Jesus. The three synoptic Gospels also give details on the Last Supper. (See Matthew 26:17–29; Mark 14:12–25; Luke 22:7–38)
These verses in 1 Corinthians 11 are commonly used as part of communion. When it occurred for the first time it was part of the Passover meal. In these verses, Paul is trying to bring the Corinthians back to what communion or the Last Supper is all about. It is all about Jesus. Paul specifies when Jesus gave the communion or the Lord’s Supper to his apostles and the world, he gave it on the night He was betrayed. Specifying, it this way reminds us that Jesus was not only executed by the Romans but first He was betrayed by one of His own. Paul follows all of the same steps that appear in the three synoptic Gospels. Jesus ‘gave thanks” for the bread first. The Lord’s Supper is often called the eucharist which comes from the Greek work ‘eucharisteō’ which means ‘give thanks’.
““This is my body”. This expression has been the source of much controversy throughout church history. With the help of Aristotelian philosophy, Roman Catholic tradition has interpreted this passage in a literal fashion, arguing that the bread and wine actually change their physical substances to become the body and blood of Christ. Their view is called “transubstantiation.” The Lutheran tradition of “consubstantiation” contends that Christ’s body and blood are present in, with, and under the bread and wine, but that the substances of the bread and wine do not change. Calvinism has purported that Christ himself is spiritually present in a mysterious way, but not that his physical body and blood are somehow present. Other groups have argued that the elements of the Lord’s Supper are symbols that encourage a focus on Christ’s body and blood. Neither this passage nor the Gospel records answer this question, but most Protestants hold one of the last two views.” (Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians)
Jesus specifies the purpose of what He was doing. The bread represents His body broken for us. Many translations leave out the broken but in the original Greek it was present as ‘kláō’ which can mean ‘shattered’ like in Mark 8:19 which says that the five loaves of bread recovered after the feeding of the five thousand was 12 baskets of broken pieces.
The words that Paul is using as he performs communion match exactly what Jesus said and did at the Last Supper.
“This cup is the new covenant in My blood;” “In receiving the cup, we are called to remember the blood of Jesus and the new covenant. The Passover meal featured several cups of wine, each with a different title. The cup Jesus referred to was known as the cup of redemption, and Jesus added to the reminder of redemption from slavery in Egypt the idea that His blood would confirm a new covenant which would change our relationship with God.” (Guzik)
What is the new covenant all about? It is all about an inner transformation, that cleanses us from all sin (“For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” [Jeremiah 31:34]), and puts God’s Word and will in us (“I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts” [Jeremiah 31:33]). It is all about a new, close, relationship with God (“I will be there God, and they shall be My people” [Jeremiah 31:33]). (Guzik)
Both the bread and the cup are specified as helping us remember what Jesus did on the cross but in verse 26, Paul tells us that they are looking into the future when Christ returns. Jesus also told the apostles to look ahead to “that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” at the marriage supper of the Lamb spoken about in Revelation 19:9.
In our church, the bread and the cup only represent the body and blood of Christ. They help us remember Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
We should never take communion lightly. It is one of the most holy acts that we can do. There are no limits on how often we should take communion but verse 26 says “As often as” you take it (most translations), NLT says “every time” and the NIV says “whenever” you take it then “you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.
Communion is a blessing but it does come with a warning. Verse 27 says that if you participate in communion in an “unworthy manner” (nearly all translations), the Good News Bible says in a way that “dishonors” Jesus, “will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.”
What constitutes an “unworthy manner”?
“If anyone needs to remember the work of Jesus on the cross, it is the one who has sinned! When we are repentant, our sin should drive us to our Savior, not away from Him! However, if a Christian is in sin, and stubbornly unrepentant, they are mocking what Jesus did on the cross to cleanse them from their sin. We can never really make ourselves “worthy” of what Jesus did for us on the cross. He did it because of His great love, not because some of us were so worthy. So, as we take the bread and cup, we should not stare at the floor, or struggle to achieve some sort of spiritual feeling. We should simply open our heart to Jesus and recognize His presence with us – in fact, in us!” (Guzik)
In verse 28, Paul adds a self examination step into the communion in order to make sure that you are in the correct mindset, which includes:
Taking it seriously.
Remembering that what we are about to do is Holy.
Remembering what each element represents.
Remembering what Jesus endured for us.
Remembering how much He loved us.
In verse 29, Paul gives us a warning regarding taking communion in an unworthy manner. If you do, then you will bring judgment on yourself. In verse 30, he says that it is this judgment that has caused some in the Corinthian church to be ill or be weak or have died. Verse 31 says that if we do the self examination correctly then we will not be judged unworthy. Paul tells us in verse 32 that when we are judged for taking communion in an unworthy that we are judged out of love so that we don’t end up being judged like nonbelievers.
33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment. And when I come I will give further directions.
Paul closes this chapter with a final explanation of the communion. He tells them it is not about eating or feasting, it is about remembering. He says, “If you are hungry, then eat at home before you come to participate in communion.”
Communion is one of those occasions at the church that is “All about Him and not about us!”
Verse 34 says, “There is more to say, but he will leave it for another time.” I think it would be better if he included it. I would like to know what he said or would have said to them later.
1 Corinthians 12
12:1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
Paul starts this chapter talking about “Spiritual Gifts”. As I have said previously, Paul is working his way through a list of questions and issues supplied by the Corinthian church. The NASB says “regarding your question about the special abilities the Spirit gives us.” Just by asking about Spiritual Gifts shows that the Corinthians were aware of them but they needed clarification on what they were and how to use them. Clarke defines “spiritual gifts” as “Gracious endowments, leading to miraculous results … these all came by the extraordinary influences of the Holy Spirit.”
In verse 2, Paul reminds them of their lives before Christ came into their lives. He says that before Christ, they were “influenced or led astray by idols”. Paul doesn’t want the Corinthians or us to bring what we had learned when we weren’t Christians to influence our understanding of the Bible or in this case the Holy Spirit. If the Corinthians come in with preconceived ideas about idols, those ideas may influence their understanding of how the Holy Spirit works. In verse 3, Paul says that if someone curses Jesus, it is not from the Holy Spirit but if they yield their lives to Jesus then it IS from the Holy Spirit. Where have we heard that before? Read Matthew 16:13-17 says, 13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
“If a religious experience does not honor Christ as Lord, then it is not from the Spirit. If it does, then the Holy Spirit may be behind the experience.” (Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians)
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
As Paul begins to tell the Corinthians about the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts, he starts at the beginning. He says that the Holy Spirit distributes these gifts and there a “different kinds” of spiritual gifts. We don’t decide which one or ones we get, the Holy Spirit does. These verses cover the Trinity. The one Holy Spirit distributes the gifts, there are different ways to serve the one Lord, Jesus and all of the work is done to the glory of the one God.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
Verse 7 shows that God is in control. Paul is saying that not only does the Holy Spirit distribute the spiritual gifts but He does it in a way that ensures that the church has all of the required spiritual gifts. I absolutely believe that God puts us where we need to be to serve Him. We are here in this church today because God made it so.
“There are similarities and differences between talents and spiritual gifts. Both are gifts from God. Both grow in effectiveness with use. Both are intended to be used on behalf of others, not for selfish purposes.”
1 Peter 4:10 says, “God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” (NLT)
In the next few verses, Paul lists nine spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit. The ones listed in these verses include:
Message of wisdom
Message of knowledge
Gifts of healing
Distinguishing between spirits
Speaking in different kinds of tongues
Interpretation of tongues
Romans 12:3-8 lists the spiritual gifts as follows: prophecy, serving others (in a general sense), teaching, exhorting, generosity, leadership, and showing mercy.
In verse 11, Paul reiterates that the Spiritual Gifts are given only by the Holy Spirit according to God’s will.
“To summarize the differences between spiritual gifts and talents: 1) A talent is the result of genetics and/or training, while a spiritual gift is the result of the power of the Holy Spirit. 2) A talent can be possessed by anyone, Christian or non-Christian, while spiritual gifts are only possessed by Christians. 3) While both talents and spiritual gifts should be used for God’s glory and to minister to others, spiritual gifts are focused on these tasks, while talents can be used entirely for non-spiritual purposes..” (Gotquestions.org)
12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
In these verses, Paul uses the example of the human body to get his message of unity across to us and the Corinthians. He says that whether it is a human body or a church, both are made up a variety of parts all working together in unity for one purpose.
In verse 13, Paul says that it is our baptism by the Holy Spirit that ties us all together. It doesn’t matter who we were before the baptism, we are all one after the baptism. Paul is talking about a baptism different than the one given by John the Baptist. John baptized for the repentance of sin which was an act of confession of sin in anticipation of the Messiah’s coming but Jesus was the Messiah and He baptized with the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 3:11) Along with the baptism with Holy Spirit comes spiritual gifts. Some realize their spiritual gifts almost immediately but others may take years to understand them.
When I read verse 14, I think of the VBS theme this year, “We are wonderfully made”. The human body is put together with numerous body parts doing their jobs in unity. We as a church must do our jobs so that we function as one body, God’s church. The church of Corinth was a mess because they were not working together to do God’s will. There was discord in the church and a serious lack of unity.
15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
In the verses, Paul says “Don’t you think it would be strange if we were made up of one body part? There would be feet walking around, eyes sitting around with no way to get transport.” This sounds like something for a Dr. Seuss book. The human body is made up of complex systems of body parts all functioning to keep us alive and functioning the way that God intended.
“Here, Paul puts the question in the mouth of the one who feels excluded from the body. It is as if some of the Corinthian Christians were saying, “I don’t have this certain spiritual gift. I guess I’m not part of the body of Jesus Christ.” After all, hands and eyes seem more important and more “glamorous” than feet and ears. So Paul wants these Christians who feel excluded that they are indeed members of the body, and their sense that they are not, is just as foolish as the foot or the ear who feel excluded.” (Guzik)
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Paul points out in these verses, that no one body part is more important than any other. In order for the body to function as God intended, then all parts must be functioning together. If one body part doesn’t function correctly, you will end up at the doctor’s office or in the hospital.
Clarke on the less honorable parts: “seem to mean the principle viscera, such as heart, lungs, stomach, and intestinal canal. These, when compared with the arms and limbs, are comparatively weak; and some of them, considered in themselves, uncomely and less honorable; yet these are more essential to life than any of the others.”
The body functions best when each body part or system runs along smoothly with no issues. Each one doing its job to serve the entire body. When an organ or part of an organ wants to do its own thing, this is usually called a “cancer” and needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. In verse 26, Paul says that “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” This becomes no more apparent to us than as we age. As we age some parts start to fail and cause problems with the whole body. The best we can be is when everything is working together.
As a church I believe that we do what it says in verse 26 pretty well. During sharing time in the worship service we share our blessings and prayer concerns. There was an old adage that said, “If you share a problem with a friend it, is halved and if you tell a friend about a blessing, it is doubled.”
As I read these verses, Paul is saying “body” but I am thinking the “church”. No member is any more or less important than another. The best that we can function as a church is to have the body function in unity and harmony. Making it all about “me” by gossiping, personal agendas and egos are all examples of cancer in the body of believers. We were all put into this church for one purpose, to do God’s will and that is to reach as many people as possible for Christ.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
Love Is Indispensable
And yet I will show you the most excellent way.
In verse 27, Paul sums up this chapter by saying that being a part of the church which to me means you love God and God loves you and you love others, then you are important to God and His church. He goes onto list what he sees are the jobs associated with the Spiritual Gifts that he listed earlier.
gifts of healing
gifts of helping
gifts of guidance
gifts of different kinds of tongues.
In verse 29 and 30, Paul asks the most important question(s), “What gift(s) do you possess?” “Do we all have the same gifts?” No. To say it like John Kennedy, “Ask not what your church can do for you but ask what can you do to serve God in your church.”
I love the way that Paul said it to the Romans (12:3-8) “3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
So whatever gift the Holy Spirit gives you, do it for the glory of God and not your own glory. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Consider doing a Spiritual Gifts sur
Holman New Testament Commentary
1 Corinthians 13
(The Love Chapter)
13:1 If I speak in the tongue of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Paul continues his discussion with “Spiritual Gifts”. The obvious purpose of our spiritual gifts is to use them to serve God. Here he points out that love has to be the foundation of all of the spiritual gifts or the gift is nothing. Matthew 22:37-39 tells us that Jesus did a similar thing with the 10 Commandments. All of the 10 Commandments can be boiled down to 2 commandments with love as their focus. Here the spiritual gifts also require us to love God and love each other.
In 1 John 4, John goes into great detail regarding the topic of love. John says:
Verse 7. Love is from God.
Verse 7. To love is to know God.
Verse 8. If you don’t love then you don’t know God.
Verse 8. God is Love.
Verse 8-9. God loved us so much that He has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.
Verse 18. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.
Verse 19. We love because he first loved us.
Verse 20. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.
Verse 21. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.
Throughout his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul has tried to get them to realize that to a Christian, love should be the most important thing. The Corinthians put high value on spiritual gifts. Just as Paul has said throughout this letter, love trumps everything. In John 13:35, Jesus said “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” With all of the divisions in the Corinthian church, Paul wasn’t sure that they did more than tolerate each other.
“People of little religion are always noisy; he who has not the love of God and man filling his heart is like an empty wagon coming violently down a hill: it makes a great noise, because there is nothing in it.” (Josiah Gregory, cited in Clarke)
Paul says that if I don’t have love then the spiritual gifts are meaningless. In Ecclesiastes Solomon says something similar, he said without God in your life, everything is meaningless. Logic says that “If God is love and life without God in it is meaningless then without love everything is meaningless.”
In verse 3, Paul expands what he has been saying to more than just spiritual gifts. He says that “if we give everything we have to feed the poor and endure hardship (NIV) or to be burned (NASB)”, and don’t love then we have nothing. Sounds like Ecclesiastes to me. “To endure hardship” or “to be burned” implies that even if we are martyred and don’t have love we wasted our life.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
These verses are read at more weddings than any other verses in the Bible. They define what we think the relationship within a marriage should be. These verses define what God says love is.
It does not envy,
It does not boast,
It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
But rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
Love never fails.
“Paul is using the Greek word agape. The ancient Greeks had four different words we translate love. It is important to understand the difference between the words, and why the apostle Paul chose the Greek word agape here.”
“i. Eros was one word for love. It described, as we might guess from the word itself, erotic love. It refers to sexual love.”
“ii. Storge was the second word for love. It refers to family love, the kind of love there is between a parent and child, or between family members in general.”
“iii. Philia is the third word for love. It speaks of a brotherly friendship and affection. It is the love of deep friendship and partnership. It might be described as the highest love of which man, without God’s help, is capable of.”
“iv. Agape is the fourth word for love. It is a love that loves without changing. It is a self-giving love that gives without demanding or expecting re-payment. It is love so great that it can be given to the unlovable or unappealing. It is love that loves even when it is rejected. Agape love gives and loves because it wants to; it does not demand or expect repayment from the love given. It gives because it loves, it does not love in order to receive.” But it can be defined as a sacrificial, giving, absorbing, love. The word has little to do with emotion; it has much to do with self-denial for the sake of another. (Guzik)
Most people associate “agape” love with “God’s love” but Guzik says that it can’t be or God’s love is the perfect version of this kind of love because the Greek word “agapaō” was used to describe sin and the world.
John 3:19 – “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved (agapao) darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”
Luke 11:43 – “Woe to you Pharisees, because you love (agapao) the most important seats in the synagogues and respectful greetings in the marketplaces.”
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
In these verses, Paul points out that even the spiritual gifts given by God are temporary. Consider that each of these gifts are only necessary or of value because of our current circumstances, living on the earth. We only need to prophecy because we don’t know what is coming. We only need to speak in tongues (actual languages and not babbling) because we all speak different languages. These things won’t matter when we are in heaven or beyond.
Paul says that “when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” Paul is saying that there will be a time when these gifts disappear but love will never end. The NASB says, “when the perfect comes”. Can you imagine a perfect time of completeness? When we become completely like Jesus.
John Calvin was one who thought the “will cease” spoke of the eternal state. “But when will that perfection come? It begins, indeed, at death, because then we put off many weaknesses along with the body.” (Calvin)
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Paul points out that when we were young our thought processes were different than they are now. What was important when we were young is not as important to us as adults. As a young Christian, we might rely on spiritual gifts but as a mature Christian they will become a part of us and we will not focus on them, however, love is important regardless of your age.
The mirrors of Paul’s day were polished pieces of metal. At their best, they showed a fuzzy reflection of everything. In verse 12, Paul says that at this current time the best that we can hope for is to see God around us in the people we encounter, in nature and in ourselves. Still our view of God is fuzzy at best.
Exodus 33:11 says that the Lord spoke “face to face” with Moses and Exodus 33:20 says that Moses could not see the Lord’s face. Today we could not look directly at God but there will come a time when we will see God. Paul is referring back to 1 Cor. 13:10, in that perfect time or that time of completeness. Then we shall see Him, just as He is. 1 John 3:2 says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”
Regarding “Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” “God knows everything about me; this is how I also am known. But in heaven, I will know God as perfectly as I can; I will know just as I also am known. It doesn’t mean I will be all-knowing as God is, but it means I will know Him as perfectly as I can.” (Guzik)
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Just like the Corinthians, sometimes we get caught up on the details of living a Christian life. Paul boils the pursuit of a perfect Christian life down to three things. Faith, hope and love. Without faith we have no salvation. Our salvation comes through our faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. As the song writer put it, “Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” Throughout this letter to the Corinthian church, Paul has told them that love is above everything. He told them in the last few chapters that we have give up our rights because love is more important.
Earlier we took a brief look at 1 John 4. Verse 8 says, that love is an attribute of God. (“God is love.”) If we are to try to be like God, then we are to love as God has loved us. As humans, we cannot reach that kind of love but it should be our goal.
“But the greatest of these is love: Love is greatest because it will continue, even grow, in the eternal state. When we are in heaven, faith and hope will have fulfilled their purpose. We won’t need faith when we see God face to face. We won’t need to hope in the coming of Jesus once He comes. But we will always love the Lord and each other, and grow in that love through eternity.” (Guzik)
1 Corinthians 14
14:1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
Paul continues his discussion with “Spiritual Gifts”. Specifically, he goes into more detail on speaking in tongues and prophecy. As I have already said, speaking in tongues is not speaking gibberish, it is speaking a known language. The difference between speaking in tongues and speaking a language in which you have been educated is when speaking in tongues you don’t even know what you are saying. You speak the language as a gift from the Holy Spirit.
Paul starts off saying that it is ok to desire spiritual gifts, especially prophecy. Just as he has said in the last two chapters, pursue everything in love. Serve God to glorify Him and not to benefit yourself. In the previous chapters, Paul told us that the Holy Spirit gives you these gifts and God controls which gift or gifts you will receive. He also said that no gift is more important than any other. He says that if you speak in tongues then you are speaking to God. He understands all languages even unspoken languages. He can also interpret what is in your heart.
Paul says that if you speak in tongues, you are speaking in a language that is foreign to you. It is meant to communicate directly with God with others but without an interpreter or someone that understands the language, then only God can understand what is being said. The NLT says “You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious.”
In verse 3, Paul says that if you are prophesying then you are doing it to edify or lift up others. Specifically, you are speaking “to men for edification and exhortation and consolation” of them and not yourself. Spiritual gifts are not about you saying “Look at me!”
From Guzik’s commentary: “What does it mean for someone to prophesy? Many who believe miraculous gifts are no longer given by God regard prophecy as simply “inspired preaching,” and not “inspired” in a direct way. Paul will tell us much more about prophecy in this chapter. Yet, we know he does not mean prophecy is identical to preaching, because there was a Greek word available for “preaching” (kerusso), and Paul did not use this Greek word. “Preaching is essentially a merging of the gifts of teaching and exhortation, prophecy has the primary elements of prediction and revelation.” (Farnell, cited in Kistemaker)
Paul isn’t saying that one gift is more important but it comes down to the use of the gift. Both the gift of prophecy and speaking in tongues are most valuable when they are used to edify or lift up the church. John MacArthur believes that the gift of speaking in tongues has not been given out in decades.
6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.
In verse 6, Paul says that if I speak in tongues and I don’t bring a message of importance from God, then what value is it. It is an important message from God if it is a message of “revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching (NASB). He includes “lifeless things” like musical instruments. I enjoy listening to Deb play specials but they are most meaningful to me when I can identify the tune and either sing with her music in my mind or as Terry might tell you that I sing softly along her playing.
He uses another example of a musical instrument, the bugle. On the battlefield, it is used to give directions to an army above the fray. If bugler doesn’t use distinct blasts of the bugle then no one will know what to do or where to go. The same thing applies to speaking in tongues. If no one can understand what you are saying then they won’t know what the message from God is. There are churches today that say they are speaking in tongues. Years ago I had a conversation with someone who had been in attended one of these churches. He didn’t want people to think that he didn’t have the gift so he joined in with gibberish of his own. What benefit would there be for the Holy Spirit to give everyone in the church this gift?
Paul says in verse 9, that unless people know what you have said then you might as will be speaking to the air. God’s message will be falling on deaf ears.
10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.
Consider the tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1–9. Man began to think that they could reach up to God if they built the tower so God destroyed the tower and “Lord confused the language of the whole world.” To a small degree, the gift of speaking in tongues undoes what God did at that time.
If we do not speak the same language, then how can we understand each other? One of the first things that missionaries do is give the people of the foreign land copies of the Word of God in their own language. If they don’t read the Word of God in their own language, how will they know what God is telling them?
In verse 11, Paul says that if we go into a church and don’t understand what is being said then we feel like a foreigner or barbarian in a strange land. Paul uses the Greek word ‘barbaros’ and this word was used by the Greeks of any foreigner ignorant of the Greek language. It was translated barbarian because of the Persians who were known for their rudeness and brutality.
In verse 12, it sounds like we get to choose our gifts. Again, they are chosen for each of us by God and given to us by the Holy Spirit. When we use our gifts we should use them to do God’s will and to build up or benefit the entire church.
Guzik says “The goal must be mutual benefit at church meetings. So, if there must be tongues, there must be interpretation, so there can be edification.”
Read verse 28 in this chapter, it says that if someone is speaking in tongues and no one present understands what he/she is saying then they should be quiet.
13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.
In verses 13 and 14, Paul says that if you are given the gift of speaking in tongues by the Holy Spirit, then pray that God also blesses you with the ability to interpret what you are praying or saying. When you have the gift of tongues it is communication between your spirit and God. Your mind doesn’t even know what you are saying.
If you can interpret then your mind will know what you are praying or saying and this would benefit your mind. I have never experienced anything like what Paul is describing. In verses 14 and 15, Paul says if you have the gift of speaking in tongues then you should pray for understanding that way you will be praising God with your spirit and your understanding. Verse 16 says that if you don’t have understanding and no one else understands what you are saying then how can anyone hearing you say “Amen”. Amen is a term that says, “I am in agreement.”
Verse 17, Paul says when speaking in tongues you are praising God but no one else is edified by what you are saying. Again, this works fine at home but not in the church because no one in the church is lifted up or even understands your praise.
18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
In verse 18, Paul says that he has the gift of tongues and it is more powerful than anyone else’s ability to speak in tongues. Paul sums up speaking in tongues or even preaching in verse 19. It is not the quantity of what is said but it is the quality. Whether the sermon lasts 10 minutes or 2 hours, it comes down to what is being said and not the length of the sermon. I have read books by some theologians that sound like they are speaking in tongues but they are speaking in English. Sometimes you can move people to Christ by saying less. Paul says he would rather hear five intelligible words than 10,000 spoken in tongues.
20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21 In the Law it is written:
“With other tongues
and through the lips of foreigners
I will speak to this people,
but even then they will not listen to me,
says the Lord.”
Paul says in verse 19 for the Corinthians to stop thinking like children. How do children behave (and often so do adults)? They are selfish. Even from birth they want attention.
The following verses tell us about the behavior of immature Christians. (NASB)
Ephesians 4:14 – “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;”
Hebrews 5:12, 13 – “ For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.”
1 Peter 2:2 – “ like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,”
Jeremiah 4:22 – ““For My people are foolish, they know Me not; They are stupid children and have no understanding. They are shrewd to do evil, But to do good they do not know.”
Jesus said that in order to get into heaven you must come to Him as children. Paul says the same thing when he says, regarding evil be like children. Paul says but when it comes to thinking, think like an adult. How does God’s Word say they should behave?
Matthew 10:16 – “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Jesus speaking.)
Romans 16:19 – “For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.”
1 Corinthians 13:11 –“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”
In verse 21, Paul quotes Isaiah 28:11-12. Guzik says about this verse: “In Isaiah 28, the prophet Isaiah is announcing judgment to the people of Israel. They did not receive the word of the prophets who spoke to them in Hebrew, so now they will hear the voice of men with other tongues and other lips. The Assyrian invaders spoke a language the Israelites could not understand, and it was an example of judgment to the Israelites. “And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me” says the Lord.”
22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
In verse 22, Paul says that speaking in tongues is also for nonbelievers. Read Acts 2:4-11. On the day of Pentecost, the disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit with the gift of tongues. Everyone heard what they were saying in their own language. No interpreters were necessary because they heard the message in their own tongues. It wasn’t a strange language that needed interpretation.
Speaking in tongues requires that the message be delivered in something other than the common language, in the case of the Corinthian church the common language would have been Greek. If the message is delivered in another language then only those people that understand the other language would benefit. The chances are those that speak another language would be foreigners or most likely nonbelievers.
“In Isaiah 28, the strange tongues were not a blessing, but a curse. Paul is warning,” (Guzik) “Take heed that it be not the case now: that, by dwelling on the gift, ye forget the Giver; and what was designed for you as a blessing, may prove to you to be a curse … God may curse your blessings.” (Clarke)
What Paul says in verse 23 is common today for people that visit a church that speaks in tongues. With what is going on in the church, the visitors would believe that the church members had lost their minds.
I talked to a coworker that had visited such a church and he didn’t want others to think that he wasn’t a believer so he made up his own language and joined in. He never returned to the church and to this day considers it one of the strangest things that he has ever encountered.
In verses 24 and 25, Paul compares the previous picture of a church to one where all of the members of the church are prophesying. He says that the opposite might happen, the visitor would become convicted of his sin and think that God was moving in the church. Then the visitor might fall down and worship because God was present in the church.
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
In these verses, Paul addresses the order of service or at least getting control of the order of service. Can you imagine a worship service today where it is made of what I would call popcorn style preaching or worship. When someone felt led to participate, they would just jump up and sing, preach, teach or testify. Paul believed in a worship service in which many participated. He didn’t expect it to be what it has become today, passive. Today, we come to church to be taught, encouraged, preached at but not to participate. I referenced verse 28 before. If someone has something share through the gift of tongues, Paul says if there is no interpreter present then he/she should just sit down and use the gift at home. Again, the purpose of the worship service is to glorify God and to edify or build up the congregation. If what is being contributed through song or preaching does that then allow it.
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
“Though Paul is far more positive about the use of the gift of prophecy in church meetings than the use of the gift of tongues, he still believes prophecy should be regulated. The gifts of the Spirit are never to be made the focus of congregational life. Worship and the Word are the focus, and the gifts flow under God’s direction around the focus of worship and the Word.”
Paul says what Pastor Brian always says, “Judge for yourselves.” Make sure that the message that we hear is accurate according to the Word of God. Just because you trust the person speaking, prophet or preacher, make sure the speaker is preaching the Word of God.
“Prophecy in the early church resembled contemporary preaching in many ways. It was a message from God to his people, delivered in the language of the people. Prophecy benefited people in countless ways and was used in the service of love.”
(Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians).
In these verses, Paul is trying to get the Corinthians to get some order into their worship services. It sounds strange to us but their services seemed to be all over the map with chaos, people talking while others are talking. This type of service would make it about the people and not about God. Paul said in verse 32 that “the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.” He is saying that God is still in control but God gives the prophecies so let those with the same gift decide who should speak. 1 John 4:1 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Who better to judge what is being prophesied, than those with the gift of prophecy.
In verse 33, Paul says that there should be order in a worship service because God is not a god of chaos or disorder but a God of peace.
34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
Now we hit a tough couple of verses. As you read these verses remember that Paul is speaking to a church in the first century. Women are slightly higher in status than slaves. As I said before, Paul is talking about the worship service and not salvation. He is trying to maintain order in the worship service. I can’t imagine what the service would have been like if you have multiple people prophesying or preaching and then you add others interrupting and asking questions in the middle of the service.
Why did Paul single out wives? My take on this is that considering the status of women and the fact that women were not being educated the same way that men were at this time. Many people think that Paul was anti-women but I think God through Paul started the first women’s movement. He told wives to not ask questions while her husband was speaking but to wait until they got home. Again, it would reduce the disorder in the worship service.
36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored. 39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
In verse 36, Paul is saying “Where did you learn of the Word of God. Did God teach you and then you passed it on to me?” Evidently, there are some in the Corinthian church that believe that they don’t need Paul or that Paul is wrong about what he has been teaching them. Additionally in verse 36, Paul is saying that the Word of God didn’t come to only the Corinthian Christians. It is for all. There have been men throughout the ages that controlled the reading of the Word of God so that they could control the interpretation. One way was by printing it in a different language, like Latin to prevent everyone from reading it.
In verse 37, Paul says to let those with the gift of prophecy verify that he is speaking the truth. Paul received his information from God so let those who also get their information from God confirm it. In verse 38, Paul is making it known that those that don’t believe what Paul is writing should be ignored by them and will be ignored or not recognized by Paul.
In the final two verses of this chapter, Paul summarizes what he has said in this chapter. It is better to develop the gift of prophecy over the gift of tongues and the worship service should be orderly.
1 Corinthians 15
(The Resurrection Chapter)
15:1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
Paul is changing direction. He has moved on from Spiritual Gifts and is now going to talk about the resurrection of Christ. He starts by reminding them about the gospel message that he preached while in Corinth. He says that by accepting the gospel message that he preached to them, they have taken a stand with the gospel as their foundation.
Galatians 1:8-9 says, “8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” Paul had to remind the Galatians and the Corinthians that there is but one Gospel and that is the one he preached to them. This is a message that needs to be preached in many churches today. Paul is saying to the Corinthians and the Galatians, as well as you and I, make sure that the gospel message that you believe is the same one that Paul delivered to you. He ends verse 2 with a warning that if you are following any gospel message other than the one that he taught you then you are wasting your time.
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
Paul lets them know that the gospel that he taught was the one that he received, from Christ, either on the road to Damascus or at a later date. He does a better job of saying this in Galatians 1:12, “For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Here in verse 3, Paul gives them that gospel. He says that the gospel message is composed of the following things:
Christ died for our sins.
He was buried.
He was raised on the third day.
He appeared to Peter and the other disciples.
He also appeared to more than 500 others.
He appeared also to His half-brother James and the disciples again.
He appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus.
Paul’s gospel message was proven true because the disciples and the more than 500 others had seen Jesus alive. Paul says “If you don’t believe me, go and ask them. Some of them are still alive.” In verse 8, Paul calls himself “abnormally born” (NIV) or one of “untimely born” (NASB). What do you think Paul is saying? Some think that he may have said it because he missed out on the personal 3 year training course with Jesus. Or others believe that he was speaking about the Corinthians doubt that he was a real apostle, not one of the original 12. At the core of the gospel message is the fact that Jesus was crucified to take away our sins. Paul said at the beginning of his letter to the Corinthians that he only preached one thing, “Christ crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2.
“However, we never speak of the physical sufferings of Jesus to make us feel sorry for Jesus, as if He needed our pity. Save your pity for those who reject the complete work of Jesus on the cross at Calvary; for those preachers who do not have the heart of Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:23, when he proclaimed the center of the Christian message: we preach Christ crucified.” (Guzik)
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
In verse 9, Paul humbles himself. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, Jesus taught humility. In Matthew 19:30 and Matthew 20:16, Jesus said that “the last shall be first and the first last”. Paul’s humility goes beyond that of other men. Before he traveled on the road to Damascus, Paul was responsible for the imprisonment, suffering and death of Christians. He persecuted the Church of God. Read Acts 9:3-5. How humbling to be called out by the Son of God for persecuting Him. It would stick with you all the days of your life. In verse 10, Paul gives his testimony regarding the grace given to him. God could have struck Paul dead but he was only temporarily blinded. It was by grace Paul was spared and given salvation. Because of God’s grace, Paul worked harder than any one.
“By the grace of God’ we not only are what we are, but we also remain what we are. We should long ago have ruined ourselves, and damned ourselves, if Christ had not kept us by his almighty grace.” (Spurgeon)
In verse 11, Paul concludes this section with regardless of who preached it, Paul or someone else, this is what you believed. Again, it has to be the gospel message that we have covered in this section. Do not add to it or remove anything from it! John 14:6, Jesus is the only way!
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Paul says that if they (and we) fully believe in the gospel message that he preached then we must believe in resurrection. Jesus died and was raised on the third day, the true resurrection. In verse 13, he reminds them that the converse is also true. If there is no such thing as resurrection, then Christ was not raised from the dead. If Christ was not resurrected then the gospel is false and everything that we believe has been in vain. If there is no resurrection then we are wasting our time. As Jennie Allen (from the video) and an old man on my newspaper route put it, “We may as well eat, drink and be happy for tomorrow we may die.” (From Isaiah 22:13)
If I didn’t believe in resurrection then my message at my brother-in-law Rich’s funeral would have been different. Without resurrection of the dead then there is no hope. It means that this is all there is. The entire New Testament was written under the foundation of resurrection. That would mean that the entire N.T. was false. Without the resurrection of Jesus then the O.T. prophecies would still not be fulfilled.
Throughout this entire section, Paul points out that without Christ’s resurrection then our faith is a waste. As the hymn says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness.” Paul says if Christ was not resurrected then anyone we tell about Jesus, has been a false witness. As a matter of fact, if Christ was not resurrected then we would not be here this morning, listening to a hope filled sermon about Jesus, studying an incorrect New Testament.
In verse 18, Paul says that if we have died then we are lost. We are gone forever. The Jehovah Witness believe much this same way. They believe that when Christ returns, only 144,000 living people will be taken to heaven. Their teachings says “If you die before Christ’s return then sorry, tough luck you ain’t coming back.” In verse 19, Paul finishes this section with if Jesus was not resurrected from the dead then we are to be pitied. Paul hasn’t gotten there yet but I have to say “PRAISE GOD it is not this way!!!”
20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
In verse 20, Paul uses that word that turns everything around, ‘but’. He says that Jesus did raise from the dead, just as He said. John 2:19 says that “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” The second part of verse 20 says that Jesus is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”.
“Firstfruits is the Greek word aparche. In the Septuagint, this word is used for the offering of firstfruits and in secular usage the word was used for an entrance fee. “Jesus was the firstfruits of our resurrection in both senses. In the Old Testament, the offering of firstfruits brought one sheaf of grain to represent and anticipate the rest of the harvest (Leviticus 23:9-14). The resurrection of Jesus represents our resurrection, because if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection (Romans 6:5). The resurrection of Jesus also anticipates our resurrection, because we will be raised with a body like His.” (Guzik)
“As in the firstfruits offered to God, the Jews were assured of God’s blessing on the whole harvest; so by the resurrection of Christ, our resurrection is insured.” (Trapp)
When did death come to man and woman? In the Garden of Eden. In verses 21 and 22, Paul is saying if man (Adam) brought sin into the world then God brought resurrection through a man (Jesus).
Adam was the first man and he brought death upon the human race. Jesus is sometimes called the second Adam because He undid what the first Adam did by bringing resurrection into the world. Adam brought us death and Jesus brings us new life.
In verse 23, Paul says that “But each in his own order:” (NASB). The NLT is easier to understand, “But there is an order to this resurrection.” That order is first Jesus had to die and be resurrected before any of us could be resurrected.
Yes, there were times in the Bible where someone was raised from the dead but those were special circumstances. After Jesus rose from dead, it became something for all believers. What does John 3:16 say who resurrection is for? Anyone who believes. Whosoever believes. Who does verse 23 say resurrection is for? They that belong to Christ.
24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
I separated this group because this is Paul prophesying. Just as John did in Revelation, Paul covers the end times in these verses. In case you forgot, Paul was called up to Heaven just as John was. Read 2 Corinthians 12:2–4 tells us, “2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”
In verse 24, Paul says at the end of times, Jesus will “destroy” or “abolish” “all rule and all authority and power”. I know that God is in control of everything but who or what has authority of men today? Other men, Satan and death.
Verse 25, says that Jesus will reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.
When will rebellious man be defeated? Jesus second coming.
When will Jesus reign? 1000 year reign Revelation 20:1-6
When will Satan be completely defeated? After the 1000 year reign. Revelation 20:7-10
What does verse 26 say is the last enemy defeated? Death
In verse 27, Paul says that once Jesus has completely defeated His enemies and is control of everything, then He will turn everything back over to God the Father who gave Him control in the first place. When did Jesus first get control? Read Matthew 28:16-18. After His Resurrection. Who gave Him control? God
God gave Jesus control over heaven and earth but the relationship between Father and Son remained the same. In Acts 7:54-55, Stephen saw Jesus sitting at the right hand of God. In Luke 22:69, Jesus says that He will be sitting there in this place of honor. It shows that both have same authority but the one on the true throne has given the one to his right equal power and authority.
Read Genesis 41:39-42 says, 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.”
Joseph was given power and authority over Egypt. These verses say that only in throne was Pharaoh greater than Joseph. This same thing applies to God the Father and Jesus. Jesus has equal power and authority to God, only in throne are they different.
In verse 28, “That God may be all in all: Here, Paul refers to God the Son’s desire to glorify God the Father through all eternity. Importantly, each person of the Trinity desires to glorify another person of the Trinity. The Son glorifies the Father (John 17:4), the Father glorifies the Son (John 17:5), and the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son (John 16:14). This aspect of the nature of God is something God wants us to walk in, having a concern for the glory of others, and not our own (Philippians 2:3-4).” (Guzik)
29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”
33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.
In verse 29, Paul mentions those “baptized for the death”. Paul is referring to a pagan custom of baptism for the dead. “Paul simply mentions the superstitious custom without approving it and uses it to fortify his argument that there is a resurrection from the dead.” (Mare)
“Paul certainly does not approve of the practice; he merely says that if there is no resurrection, why would the custom take place? The Mormon practice of baptism for the dead is neither Scriptural nor sensible.” (Guzik)
In verses 30 and 31, Paul says if this life is all there is, then why would I risk my life to tell that there is more. It makes perfect sense. Without resurrection, then it makes no sense for Paul to go through everything he endured for Christ and then lie to them. He gives them the example of fighting wild animals but there are numerous things that Paul endured for Jesus. (See 2 Corinthians 11:24-31)
If Paul didn’t believe in the true Gospel of Jesus, then how could he face death daily to bring its message to the world. This alone is proof that the Gospel message is true, which means that the resurrection of Jesus is true, which means that the resurrection of believers is also true.
As I stated before, life is too short. If you are not following what is true then you may as well eat, drink and be merry for death is final. There are what I call “Just in case” Christians that cling to a weak faith in Christ, “Just in case” resurrection of the dead is true. Paul was all in and he lived his life that way.
In verse 33, Paul warns them and us not to be deceived. We have been warned about false prophets. Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites were led astray by false religions and false prophets. Jesus even warns us about false prophets in Matthew 7:15-20. Jesus says, 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
One of the differences between the Sadducees and Pharisees was that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead but the Pharisees did. It is possible that there were followers of the Sadducees in the city of Corinth. Also there are people who just believe that this life is all there is.
Paul says to watch who you associate with. In other places in the Bible, yeast was used to say that a small amount of a bad thing corrupts the whole batch. I like the way the NLT says verse 34, “Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning.” It doesn’t get any plainer than that. The verse continues, “For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.” Jesus’ response to these people is recorded in Matthew 7:23, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
Covering even unasked questions for the Corinthian church, Paul asks the question, “How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?” To Paul the answer to the first part of this question should have been obvious to the Corinthians.
Since his birth, Paul had been raised to serve God and then on the road to Damascus he met Jesus. His beliefs about God up to that point were the foundation for his Christian beliefs. He would have said the same thing that Jesus said in Matthew 19:26. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
When on trial in Caesarea before Agrippa II and Festus (Acts 26). Paul was allowed to defend himself against charges made by the Sanhedrin. The Sadducees were part of that group and again, they didn’t believe in resurrection. During that trial Paul states to Agrippa II, “Why should any of you consider it incredible that God raises the dead? (Acts 26:8)
Paul would have studied the book of Job. Read Job 19:25-27. Even Job believed in resurrection. The book of Job is believed to be the oldest book in the Bible and it says that “Yet in my flesh, I shall see God.”
In verse 36, Paul says that you can’t have resurrection unless you first die. The definition of the word ‘resurrection’, is “restore (a dead person) to life.” In verses 36-38, Paul uses the analogy of a seed to explain further. Paul likens the burial of a person to the planting of a seed. When you plant the seed, it will grow to a brand new plant. When a person is buried, it will ultimately become a resurrected body.
This is more pleasant to think of than what Job wrote in Job 9:26 (KJV), “And though after my skin worms destroy this body.” It really doesn’t matter what happens to the body after we die. Genesis 2:7 tells us that “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground”. If God can make the first man out of dirt, then He can make a resurrected body regardless of its state after death. At any of the funerals of believers that I have spoken at, I make sure that everyone present knows that death is not final. Even though we miss the loved one, we will see them again if we too put our faith in Jesus.
Charles Spurgeon put it this way. “Dear friends, if such be death – if it be but a sowing, let us have done with all faithless, hopeless, graceless sorrow … ‘Our family circle has been broken,’ say you. Yes, but only broken that it may be re-formed. You have lost a dear friend: yes, but only lost that friend that you may find him again, and find more than you lost. They are not lost; they are sown.”
39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
In verse 39, Paul says that when you plant a seed, it is just a seed and what grows from the seed looks nothing like the seed. He said in verse 38b that what a body is or how it looks is up to God, our Creator. In verse 40, he transitions and says that our earthly bodies and heavenly bodies will be different. He then uses another analogy for this based on the differences between the Earth, moon and stars. In these verses, Paul says that all bodies whether human or animals or celestial are not the same.
In our study of Heaven, we used Jesus’ resurrected body as an example of how our resurrected body will look and behave. Passing through walls, no more illness or no more death will be ‘glories’ associated with the resurrected body. When God created Adam and us, He gave us a body that is suited for our life on Earth. Our resurrected bodies will be suited for life in Heaven and New Earth.
42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
In verse 42, Paul points out that whatever you want to consider your human body, the resurrection body will be way more glorious. What Paul says in the second part of verse 42 is so true. Never is it more true as when we age that our current body is perishable. I am reminded of this fact when I get up every day. For most of us, when we are in our 20’s or 30’s, we reach a point where we are no longer improving physically. Things begin to go downhill slowly. As I read these verses, I am reminded of what is usually said at a graveside service. “Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.” God created Adam from dirt and when we die our body will decay and return to dirt. These words show that the body truly is perishable.
Verses 43 and 44, show the differences between our current bodies and our resurrected bodies.
it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;
it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
“There is nothing more uncomely (unattractive), unlovely, and loathsome than a dead body; but it will not be so when it shall be raised again, then it shall be a beautiful, comely body. We shall rise in a full and perfect age, (as is generally thought,) and without those defects and deformities which may here make our bodies appear unlovely.” (Poole)
Paul says in the second part of verse 44, that if there is a natural body then there is also a spiritual body. To Paul, one who has seen Jesus in His spiritual body, then he knows for a fact that this statement is true. When arguing or explaining things to the Greeks, Paul uses logic. “If” “Then” statements are part of logic. To Paul, it is logical that if we have physical then when we are resurrected, we get a spiritual body.
45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.
Paul paraphrases Genesis 2:7, “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” This is the creation story, the creation of the first Adam. Paul says that if the first Adam was created in a natural body then the last Adam will have a spiritual body. He points out that it would appear to us that the natural man came first but what does John 1:1-5 say? John 1:2 says that Jesus was present from the beginning.
In verse 47, Paul says that Adam, the first man was made from dust. Creation story tells us so. He refers to Jesus as the second man. Jesus is the second man because He was created different than any other man before Him or since. As the Christmas story tells us (Matt 1:20-23) Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. So Jesus even though He was fully human, He is fully God or a spiritual man. In verse 48, Paul says that by definition an earthly man was born out of human parents and was born on the Earth. Since Jesus is the only heavenly man ever seen on the Earth, then all heavenly beings are going to have the same attributes as Jesus.
The following verses show that Jesus in His resurrected body was physical because it could be touched and He ate food (Luke 24:39-43), yet it was not bound by the laws of nature (Luke 24:31; 36-37).
Verse 49 tells us that while we are in our earthly bodies we will have all the attributes of Adam or sinful man but when we have our resurrected bodies then we will have all the attributes of Jesus’ resurrected body. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells us that God will change our physical bodies into spiritual bodies. Philippians 3:21 says “who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
In verse 50, Paul says that “flesh and blood” or our current bodies cannot inherit the kingdom of God. In order to go to heaven, we need to have a resurrection body. Jesus resurrection body was a physical body. From this verse, we can see why Randy Alcorn says that “God may grant us some physical form that will allow us to function as human beings while in that unnatural state “between bodies,” awaiting our resurrection.” (Alcorn, Randy. Heaven: A Comprehensive Guide to Everything the Bible Says About Our Eternal Home)
In verse 51, Paul tells us of a mystery. The mystery is the same one that he told the Thessalonian church in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. He is describing the rapture of the church. The first thing to happen is the raising the physical bodies of those who have died. “In the twinkling of an eye”, our dead corpses are transformed into resurrected bodies and we will be returned to our God given resurrected bodies. When the last trumpet sounds, regardless of the state of the dead body, the body leaves where it was placed or ended up. The “perishable” or “corruptible” will be made perfect.
Read Romans 1:23. The same word used to describe God, whether it is immortal or incorruptible, is used in 1 Corinthians 15:53. We will be immortal as God is immortal.
When we think of perishable, we think of fruits and vegetables. As our body ages, we become more like wilted lettuce and less like crisp lettuce. I am ready for a new imperishable body, one without the defects brought on by sin. If we are alive at the time of the Rapture, our bodies will also be transformed to resurrected bodies.
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
In verse 54, Paul reiterates what he has been saying. There will be a Rapture and we shall be made new and everlasting.
He then quotes Isaiah 25:8, “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” As believers who put our faith in Jesus, death has been defeated. The mortal has become immortal, the perishable has become imperishable. He also quotes Hosea 13:14. The complete verse in Hosea reads (NIV), “I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
Where, O grave, is your destruction?”
Death for us will be defeated. Jesus showed us when He was raised from the dead that He has power over death. Because of our faith in Him, we too have inherited everlasting life. Read the following verses, what do they say about this inheritance?
Ephesians 1:11 – NLT – “because we are united with Christ, we have received an inheritance from God”
Hebrews 9:15 – NLT – We receive the inheritance because Christ died to remove the penalty of sin.
1 Peter 1:23 – NASB – “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.”
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – NIV – “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
Revelation 21:4 – “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
Paul closes this chapter with an encouragement. He encourages us and them to continue be strong and stand firm. In 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul encourages Timothy to “Fight the good fight, Take hold of the eternal life”.
Isaiah 55:11 tells us that the Word of God will not return void but it will ultimately accomplish whatever God intends it to. Paul says that what we do for God will not be in vain. Jesus said in Matthew 24:35, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
1 Corinthians 16
16:1 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
In the final chapter of his letter to the Corinthian Church covers the topic of giving to God’s ministry. I haven’t met a pastor that likes speaking on tithing or giving to the church. This money is to be collected for the poor Christians living in Jerusalem. Paul wrote this same recommendation in many of his letters. Read Acts 11:29-30, Romans 15:26 and Galatians 2:10.
This collection was not forced on the Corinthians but it was a love offering for the poor. Paul didn’t tell them what percentage or amount to give. They were to give from the heart.
Taking care of those in need was encouraged throughout the New Testament. Paul even instructs Timothy on taking care of those in need in 1 Timothy 5. In verses 3 and 4, Paul gives them details regarding getting the financial support to specific individuals in Jerusalem. Either Paul will accompany them or he will provide them with letters of introduction.
5 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
Paul went through Corinth on his 2nd and 3rd missionary journeys. He wrote this letter to the Corinthian church after leaving Corinth after his first visit and traveling to Ephesus where he stayed for 3 years. In these verses, Paul provides the Corinthians with the possible logistics for him getting back to Corinth. He leaves things open to what God plans for his life and travels by saying, “if the Lord permits.” Paul is going to stay in Ephesus through Pentecost because God has opened a door for him to reach more people for Christ.
Acts 19 tells us about those that opposed Paul in Ephesus. There ended up being a riot caused by the silversmiths. Their income was based on making idols to their god, Artemis. If the Ephesian people accepted the gospel message then the silversmiths would have no income from the idol worship.
10 When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. 11 No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
Earlier in this letter, Paul told them that he was sending Timothy to them to help them stay on track. Now Paul is saying, “When he gets there, don’t give him a hard time.” Timothy is an extension of Paul, so Paul wants him treated well. Based on verse 11, Timothy will meet up with Paul. I think it is interesting how two people can find each other in the miles and miles of area covered by Paul. There were no cars and no cell phones. It seems almost impossible to me.
As far as we know, Paul had no children. Yet here is Paul speaking like a father on young Timothy’s behalf. In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul tells Timothy, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
12 Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
Paul is beginning to wrap up the letter and he wants to make sure that he has covered everything, so he tells them about Apollos’ plans. Do you remember who Apollos was? He was a disciple of John the Baptist. Read Acts 18:24-28 for more. Acts 19:1 tells us that Apollos did end up in Corinth.
13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love.
In these to verses, Paul sums up everything that he has tried to tell them in this letter. He wants them to “stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” In Paul’s letters, he has constantly reminded them and us to stand firm in the faith. In our study of 1 Corinthians 10, Paul said to “stand firm”, so I took you to Ephesians 6:10-18 and the Full Armor of God. By putting on the attributes of Jesus, we can do as Paul says, “stand firm”.
Paul has told them and us numerous times that before we say or do anything, we need to pass it through a love filter. “Is what I am doing or saying showing my love for this person or these people?”
15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16 to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. 17 I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.
In these verses, Paul specifically mentions others involved with missionary outreach. Paul praises them and gives them credit for what they are doing for Christ.
“Apparently, Stephanas was the head of the household, and Fortunatus and Achaicus were two household slaves of his, who accompanied him on his journey to see Paul. Fortunatus and Achaicus were common names for slaves or freedmen (former slaves).” “Paul was especially grateful for their coming, because they ministered to Paul’s needs when they visited (they refreshed my spirit), doing what the Corinthian church should have, but did not (what was lacking on your part they supplied).
We read about Stephanas in 1 Corinthians 1:16. He was one of the firstfruits (NASB) of Achaia because they were among the first saved in that region, and were baptized by Paul himself.
19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20 All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
22 If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.
This is final greeting from Paul to the Corinthians. He sends them a greeting from those like minded Christians in Asia which includes Ephesus. He mentions Aquila and Priscilla by name.
He tells them to “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” This was a Jewish custom and early church tradition indicates that the holy kiss was a common greeting in that culture.
Verse 21 says, that Paul wrote this letter with his own hand. It was common for the New Testament authors, even Paul to have someone else do the physical writing. Paul writing the letter added a more personal touch to the letter. In verse 22, Paul curses anyone that does not love the Lord Jesus. Is this the unpardonable sin? Read Matthew 12:31-32. The purpose of the Holy Spirit is to convict us of our sin and help us to recognize that we need a savior. He finishes verse 22 with “Come, Lord” which is an Aramaic expression used by early Christians (“Marana tha”). John used this same closing to Revelation 22:20. In the last chapter, we read about the resurrection and the Rapture. Jesus will return to take us home, just as He promised in John 14:3.
His final prayer for the Corinthian Church and us, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.”
2 Corinthians 1
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God in Corinth, together with all his holy people throughout Achaia: 2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. He most likely wrote the letter from Macedonia or Ephesus during his third missionary journey. Evidently, Timothy has caught up with Paul because he is included in the greeting. Paul does remind the church that he is an apostle but he points out that it may not be his choice but it is “by the will of God”. Paul’s letter is not just to the Corinthian church but he wants it reach believers all over the region of Achaia or Greece. In verse 2, Paul uses a common greeting for him. He greets them in the name of the Father and the Son.
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 6 If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. 7 And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Sometimes we forget that we are not alone in our struggles in this world. We think that no one has ever experienced what we have had to go through. In these verses, Paul makes it clear that we are not alone. When we go through difficult times, we are to both gain comfort from God, the Father and Jesus. And when we are comforted then we are to comfort others. Verses 3 and 4 tell us that our comfort comes directly from God and Jesus. When I read these verses, my mind goes to 2 Samuel 7:18. When King David was troubled, he “went in and sat before the LORD, and he said: “Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?”
King David was called “a man after God’s own heart”, not because he lived a perfect life but because he had a true personal relationship with God. When he was up, he praised God. When he was down, he sought the comfort of God. John 16:33 records that Jesus tells us that we will have trouble. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Those that preach the prosperity gospel overlook this verse. If things are going amazingly well for you, maybe Satan doesn’t need to attack you. Jesus says that we will have troubles in this life. But we are to be comforted because Jesus endured worse than anybody and He has overcome the world. Also He says that he will go through the troubles with us. In Matthew 28:10, Jesus tells us so, He says “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” God told us in Deuteronomy 31:6 (repeated in Hebrews 13:5) “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
I like the NLT version of verse 5. “For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ.” John recorded Jesus’ words in John 15:21which says, “They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.” Paul knew suffering. Later in this letter, Paul lists some of the suffering that he had to endure. 2 Corinthians 11:23-28
John 14:26 tells that God sent the Holy Spirit to us as a “Comforter” (NKJV) or “Helper” (many other translations). One of the most asked questions today is “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Paul is saying, “Expect it, bad things will happen but know that you will be comforted.” In verse 5, Paul says “Where troubles abound then comfort abounds even more.” When comfort comes Paul tells us to share the comfort. Human nature is to have a pity party when things are going bad. Paul says expect the comfort to come.
In verse 6, he says that when troubles come and they will come, it is for our comfort and salvation. What? When we have troubles: First the salvation part. It should make us closer to God and rely on God through the troubles. Second, our experiences are a part of who we are and how we minister to others. In BSF, I had an ex-con in my group. He talked about going on a mission trip back into a prison. He could minister to the inmates as an insider. He could reach the inmates on a deeper level than those without that experience. I have often said “I am thankful that I am a believer because I don’t think that I could get through a funeral without the comfort and hope that I get from Jesus Christ, knowing that I will see them again.” Paul tells us in Verse 7 to share our sufferings and our comfort with others. It makes me think of the old adage, “Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow.”
8 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10 He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11 as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
David Guzik says, “We don’t know the exact nature of this trouble. It was probably either some type of persecution, or a physical affliction made worse by his missionary work. There are at least five suggestions for this trouble:
Fighting with “wild beasts” in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 15:32).
Suffering 39 stripes after being brought before a Jewish court (2 Corinthians 11:24).
The riot at Ephesus (Acts 19:23-41).
A particular persecution shortly before he left for Troas (Acts 20:19; 1 Corinthians 16:9).
A recurring physical malady.
Paul is clear on why some bad things happen. In verse 9, Paul says that it happened so that “we might not rely on ourselves but on God.” Whatever happened was bad enough that they could not fix the problem themselves. When I have problems, I tend to try to fix the easy stuff. God wants us to rely on Him for all of it, the easy and the difficult. We also tend to think that He is under the same constraints as we are. Paul points out that God can handle all of our problems because He even “raises the dead”. I have had circumstances in my life that I didn’t think that they could be fixed. God doesn’t have our human limitations. He can resolve any issue. Just pray.
If you think, I messed up again. Paul says that if we set our hope on God then “He will continue to deliver us.” There are no limits to the number of times that He will help us. Paul says in verse 11 that it is through your prayers that you can help others. Sometimes we say, “I’ll pray for you.” I see numerous Facebook posts that have “PRAYERS” in the comment section. Do you take praying for others seriously? Do you actually pray in earnest when you promise to do so? God answers prayer. Here Paul tells us so. They were able to escape whatever was happening because “God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.”
Remember from our study of Revelation, what does God do with our prayers? Revelation 5:8 tells us, “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” If God values our prayers that much and those that we are praying for value our prayers then why would not pray for them.
12 Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity. We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace. 13 For we do not write you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14 as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.
“Paul’s delay had apparently called his sincerity into doubt. Paul wanted the Corinthians to remember his integrity, and to accept his good intentions toward them, in spite of this delay.” Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians
Paul says that if our conscience is clear then we can know we acted the way that we are suppose to. What is the difference between a conscience and the Holy Spirit? In 1 Corinthians 2:11-13, Paul tells us that conscience is part of the spirit of man which is subject to the sin in our lives. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of God living inside of us which has a renewing influence on our conscience.
The conscience of a believer like Paul is different than that of a nonbeliever. So when Paul speaks about him having a clear conscience, he has also passed it through the Holy Spirit. At the end of verse 12, Paul says “We have done so, relying not on worldly wisdom but on God’s grace.” Paul feels confident that what he has said, done and written was his best with the help of the Holy Spirit. In verse 13, that his writing was straightforward (NLT) with no hidden meanings and even if they don’t understand at this time everything that he has written then when Christ returns it will all make sense. Not only will it make sense, they will be proud of everything that Paul had taught them. Pride or boasting are not the same terms that we think in a worldly way. Paul is not talking about “look at me”. He is talking about it in a “Praise God we made it!” way.
15 Because I was confident of this, I wanted to visit you first so that you might benefit twice. 16 I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia and to come back to you from Macedonia, and then to have you send me on my way to Judea. 17 Was I fickle when I intended to do this? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say both “Yes, yes” and “No, no”?
When Paul went to Corinth the first time, he had trouble with the Jews. So much that when he left the synagogue, “he shook out his clothes in protest (Acts 18:5).” Just as in Galatia, the Jews attacked Paul. Their motto must have been, “If you can’t win the argument, then slander your opponent.”
Throughout his missionary journeys, Paul was under attack by Jews and Gentiles because he claimed to be an apostle of Christ. The depth of his knowledge about the Law would have been unmatched. In Acts 22:3, Paul tells us that “he was”a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today.” It is doubtful that a Jew could argue the Law with him and win. In 1 Corinthians 16:5, Paul told the Corinthians that he would visit them on his way back through. It appears in these verses that plans have changed. In your life when you plan something, does it always happen as planned. It doesn’t in my life. These verses fit me very well. When I make plans to do something, I speak before I check the calendar. I have the best of intentions in my planning but end up double booking appointments. Here Paul has changed his plans. It doesn’t mean that he lied or had bad motives. Things just changed.
In verse 17, I like how the NLT says it, “You may be asking why I changed my plan. Do you think I make my plans carelessly? Do you think I am like people of the world who say “Yes” when they really mean “No”?” Paul wants them to realize that he takes changing his plans seriously. He tells them that he is not “fickle”. One definition of fickle is “likely to change your opinion or your feelings suddenly and without a good reason.”
18 But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” 20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.
As I said earlier, it is human nature to cast doubt on the person, if you cannot cast doubt on what the person is saying. Someone in the Corinthian church is attacking Paul and his ministry team for changing their plans. They might be saying, “Look he lied about coming through Corinth, what else is he lying about. Maybe what he has said about Jesus is not true.” In verse 18, Paul says, “I say what I mean and mean what I say!” His “yes” means yes and his “no” means no. Paul’s use of “yes” and “no” can be confusing. To me, the world uses slippery “yes” and “no’s”. People tell you what you want to hear, not what they really think. Just a month ago we were being bombarded with political campaigns. Politicians are notorious for telling you what you want to hear. Many of them flip-flop on their views.
In verse 19, Paul says that the Gospel message that they preached to the Corinthian church had no doubt in it. Back in his first letter, Paul covered the true Gospel message (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). When Paul says “was not “Yes” and “No,” he was saying that the Gospel message that they preached did not say maybe Jesus died and rose from the dead. They said “Yes”, Jesus died and rose from the dead, without a doubt. So what does “Amen” mean? It is used to show that you are in agreement with what was said or “Yes”. Can you ever think of a reason that God, the Father would say “No” to Jesus?
This verse makes me think of Matthew 7:9-11. 9 “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” God knows how to give us gifts and blessings.
“We might never have had this precious verse if Paul had not been so ill-treated by these men of Corinth. They did him great wrong, and caused him much sorrow of heart … yet you see how the evil was overruled by God for good, and through their unsavoury gossip and slander this sweet sentence was pressed out of Paul.” (Spurgeon)
21 Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, 22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
Where ever the attack came from against Paul, they were attacking Paul’s credibility. In these verses, he lets them know by attacking his credibility, they are attacking God’s credibility because Paul and his team are commissioned by God. The power they received from God through the Holy Spirit helps them to stand firm for Christ. Their power is not their own. The NASB says that God has:
Gave us the Spirit in our hearts.
23 I call God as my witness—and I stake my life on it—that it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth. 24 Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.
In verse 23, Paul swears an oath that “it was in order to spare you that I did not return to Corinth.” Paul takes swearing an oath very seriously. In Matthew 5:33-37, Jesus warns against making oaths. He doesn’t forbid it but He does warn how serious swearing an oath is.
“Even when Paul had corrected the Corinthians, he had not lord[ed] his authority over their faith, ruling over them. On the contrary, he tried to work with them for their own joy. Paul desired happiness for the Corinthians, and he knew they could stand firm in the blessings of Christ only by faith.” Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 2
2 1 So I made up my mind that I would not make another painful visit to you. 2 For if I grieve you, who is left to make me glad but you whom I have grieved? 3 I wrote as I did, so that when I came I would not be distressed by those who should have made me rejoice. I had confidence in all of you, that you would all share my joy. 4 For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
Paul continues from chapter 1 with his explanation of why he wasn’t coming for a second visit. Have you ever visited someone and not only were you eager to leave but anytime you thought about going back, you quickly thought, “no way”. This is where Paul was.
Consider everything that Paul has written to them about in the first letter. They had messed up communion, there was division in the church, their worship service was a mess, they did not understand why they had to love each other, they were a troubled church and they didn’t consider him a true apostle. How could you ever want to go back to that church unless there was proof that they had fixed their problems?
Instead of being able to celebrate that his hope and prayers had come true, he was distressed by what the Corinthian church had become. Verse 3 says that he would be distressed by the people that should have caused him to rejoice.
In his time in Corinth, when Paul preached, he taught them about his love and God’s love for His church. Paul told them all through 1 Corinthians that in everything, his and their motivation should be love.
5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you to some extent—not to put it too severely. 6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.
As a Christian, one of the most important things that we can do is to forgive others, especially our sisters and brothers in Christ. Read the following verses about forgiveness. Keep in mind the Bible is full of verses about forgiveness.
Matthew 6:12-15 – We will be forgiven in the same way that we forgive.
Ephesian 4:32 – Forgive others because Christ forgave us.
Luke 6:37 – Forgive and we will be forgiven.
Matthew 18:21-22 – How many times? As many as it takes.
1 John 1:9 – If we confess, God will forgive us.
Psalm 103:12 – When we are forgiven, the sin is gone.
As humans, we are going to fail and most likely fail often. There was only one man that walked on this earth and did it perfectly. If we don’t learn to forgive, we will be attending church alone. In verse 7, Paul says that we are to not only forgive but we are to comfort them. The normal human response is, “He wronged me, why would I need to comfort them?” It says so they don’t have excessive sorrow. I don’t know about you but when I have wronged somebody, I beat myself up.
When we are wronged by a fellow believer, we are to forgive, tell them to forget it and move on. We are not to hold it against them in the future. My mom always said, “I am going to forgive them but I am not going to forget.” It is like the old adage, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” God and Paul say, “No, it is gone.” It doesn’t take long in this chapter for Paul to bring Love into it. I absolutely believe that we are a church family. If we are, then it has to be all about love. Without love, we are a social group, not a family.
9 Another reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything. 10 Anyone you forgive, I also forgive. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake, 11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.
In nearly all of his letters and even in his first letter to the Corinthian church, Paul has encouraged them to “stand firm”. Even today with all the problems in the world, these words ring true, “stand firm”, stay “obedient”.
In John MacArthur’s book, “The Gospel According to Jesus”, he points out that what most people miss regarding the Gospel message taught by Jesus was obedience. He says, “Let me say as clearly as possible right now that salvation is by God’s sovereign grace and grace alone. Nothing a lost, degenerate, spiritually dead sinner can do will in any way contribute to salvation. Saving faith, repentance, commitment, and obedience are all divine works, wrought by the Holy Spirit in the heart of everyone who is saved.”
Paul shows that he trusts their judgment. He says, “Anyone that you forgive is forgiven by me too.” Remember, even if we were to go so far as treat them as a nonbeliever, we would still love them. In Matthew 22:39, Jesus says that we are to love others as ourselves. So regardless of what we do, we are still to love people that have wronged us. In our humanness, it is easier said than done.
“Take advantage or outwit us (the ancient Greek word pleonekteo) is used in four other verses in the New Testament (2 Corinthians 7:2, 12:17-18, and 1 Thessalonians 4:6). It has the idea of cheating someone out of something that belongs to them. When we are ignorant of Satan’s strategies, he is able to take things from us that belong to us in Jesus, things like peace, joy, fellowship, a sense of forgiveness, and victory.” (Guzik)
Paul speaks about Satan from time to time but there must have been deeper lessons on who Satan is and how he works in the world. Paul says in verse 11 that we are aware of his schemes.
12 Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, 13 I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said goodbye to them and went on to Macedonia.
Paul was always open to God’s leading. In Acts 16:6, Paul says that the Holy Spirit prevented him from speaking the Word of God in the province of Asia. God was in control of Paul’s missionary journeys and He is in control of our lives. The idea of opening doors is what you would think it is. If God makes it possible or easier to do something, then the door is opened. If it doesn’t happen or is made difficult the door is closed.
During the pastoral searches that I have been involved in, God’s leading is truly evident when what looks straightforward is blocked by the committee or the perspective pastor. You say to yourself, how did this not happen? Everything was aligned perfectly but God says “No!” So you move on. This is what Paul is talking about.
In verse 13, Paul says that he was trying to meet up with young Titus. Sometimes you get the feeling that Paul was a one man band but he wasn’t. In most of his travels, Paul traveled with numerous companions. I have said a number of times in this study that I am amazed how they can connect with each other. Here it says that Paul had no peace of mind because Titus wasn’t with him. Paul’s ministry was enhanced by working with others. Each one had certain assignments and they worked together to serve God.
14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.
In verse 14, Paul thanks God for directing our lives. Ideally, once we submit to God, we turn over control of our lives to Him. He wants full control but our humanness can be in a battle with Him for control. Paul says that God’s control can appear as if we are “captives in Christ’s triumphal procession”(NIV).
The idea of a triumphal procession – “The idea is borrowed from an ancient Roman triumph, which to the eyes of the world of that day was the most glorious spectacle which the imagination could conceive.” (Meyer)
Since we don’t do this today, my mind went immediately to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. “Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest!” (John 12:12-19) Paul uses the imagery that sacrifice brings to God. Leviticus 1 tells us that a sacrifice made on the altar is “an aroma pleasing to the Lord.” What Paul is saying here is the opposite. The sweet aroma is for believers instead of God. Imagine how “sweet” the world would be today if everyone was a believer and lived as Jesus wants us to, if love was our motivation in all things.
Years ago, Pastor Mickey used the illustration that when God looks at believers, He is looking at us through “Christ colored glasses”. Paul is saying that when God smells Christians, He smells the sweet aroma of Christ. This is the same idea. Just like a burnt sacrifice, our faith in Christ makes us a sweet aroma to God.
In verse 15, it says that as believers we are perceived differently by other believers and nonbelievers. To other believers, we are an encouragement, a friend and a reminder that eternal life is our future. To a nonbeliever, we are a goodie two-shoes, a reminder that they are sinners and a reminder that death is all they believe follows this life. Paul reminds them and us at the end of verse 16 that we have chosen to put our faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. He says, “Who is up to the task?” Jesus said it a little differently in Matthew 5:10-12. Blessed are you that are up to the task.
Back in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul said that you have a right to get financial support for preaching the Gospel but here in verse 17, he says don’t pedal the Gospel for money. He is talking about two different things. Back in 1 Corinthians 9, Paul was talking about someone that was called as a pastor but here he is saying don’t share the Gospel message with others for personal gain. It speaks to your motivation. The NLT says, “like the many hucksters.” My mind goes to the old snake oil salesman. “I have this cure-all. My elixir can cure all your problems for just one thin dime.” It goes to creditability or believability. I think of the prosperity gospel preachers. If you believe that God will answer your prayer, then don’t ask for your old car to be fixed, ask for a new Lexus.
In the last line of this chapter, Paul says, “We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.” Can we get any greater warning that to know that God is watching us? Sometimes when we sin, we forget that God has seen us and is disappointed with us.
2 Corinthians 3
3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? 2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone. 3 You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
Paul starts this chapter in a peculiar way. He starts by talking about letters of recommendation. The letters that he is talking about are different than the ones that we think about. These letters are a list of people that you have led to Christ. Jesus said in Matthew 7:16-20, being a Christian is about bearing fruit and that is the only thing worthy of putting into a letter of recommendation. Does John 13:35 contradict what we read in Matthew 7:16-20? How do we show our love for one another? No. Telling others about salvation through Jesus is showing your love for them.
The product of Paul’s ministry was “changed lives”. In 1 Corinthians 3:6-8, Paul describes what he is talking about in these verses. According to 1 Corinthians 3:7, what are our jobs regarding leading someone to the saving knowledge of Jesus and how does that translate into the real world?
Plant the seed. Tell someone about Jesus.
Teach them more about Jesus, by example or word.
Whose job is it to make their faith grow? God’s
If they reject what you say, who are they rejecting? God
Is planting any more important than watering? No How does the amount reward get determined? According to the amount of work and not according to souls saved.
Paul says in verse 2 that the members of the Corinthian church are part of his letter of recommendation. When he came to Corinth, they knew nothing about salvation through Jesus. In verse 2, Paul says those that have accepted Christ become a letter of recommendation for Christ. The letter is written on our hearts. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, he will say it differently. He will say that we are a new creation in Christ. Again, we are a changed person. According to Exodus 31:18, by whom and how were the original tablets of the 10 Commandments written? “ inscribed by the finger of God.”
Jesus says in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” That is what Paul is talking about in these verses. Consider the changes to Peter. Before the Holy Spirit, he denied that he even knew Jesus. After the Holy Spirit came upon him, he preached Jesus to the Sanhedrin. All in all, the change is made by the Holy Spirit and the credit for the change is given to Jesus, the Son of God.
In his time in Corinth, when Paul preached, he taught them about a Christian’s love and God’s love for this church. Paul told them all through 1 Corinthians that in everything, his and their motivation should be love.
4 Such confidence we have through Christ before God. 5 Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. 6 He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Verse 4 makes me think of the old hymn, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus Christ, my righteousness”. Through our faith in Jesus, we have salvation. Without our hope or our confidence in our salvation through Jesus, then we are lost, just like the rest of the world.
Verse 5 says that it is all about God and not about us. Remember from 1 Corinthians 3, we have no control of whether or not someone that we share the Gospel message actually accepts it. We witness and leave it to God. God gives us a blessing when we do share but the rest is all about God and He should be praised.
All through verses 5 and 6, the NIV uses the word ‘competency’ and the NASB uses the word ‘adequacy’ to describe our ability to change lives. We do not change lives on our own, it is God that changes lives. Our competency or adequacy to lead someone to Christ comes from God through the Holy Spirit.
You have heard Pastor Brian or me say, when someone sits down to write a sermon or message and it is a message from God, it all flows as if God is giving it to you as you write. The author just needs to be open to God through the Holy Spirit.
In verse 6, Paul compares the New Covenant through Jesus and the letter that kills (NIV). What is this letter that kills? It is the Law. The Law points out the mistakes we make. If all we had was the Law, then we would all fall short of the glory of God. The New Covenant gives us everlasting life. (John 3:16)
7 Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was, 8 will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? 9 If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! 10 For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. 11 And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
In verse 7 and 8, Paul says that if the ministry of the Law was glorious, then the ministry of salvation through the Holy Spirit would be even more glorious. How glorious was the ministry of the Law? Paul uses the change in Moses appearance as an example of how glorious it was. But the glory that shown from Moses face was not permanent and it came from the Holy Spirit and not the Law.
In verse 9, Paul says that the Law only brought condemnation but grace through faith brings righteousness. The Law gave no salvation. Through the New Covenant we have Jesus’ righteousness (imputed righteousness) since we have none of our own. (Read Romans 4:18-25)
In verse 11, Paul says “If God’s glory that is temporary is amazing, then how much more amazing would permanent glory be?” Remember the glory that showed up on Moses face only lasted a short time and he had to cover it with a veil so no one could see it was gone.
12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. 13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
In verse 12, Paul says that since we have salvation through Jesus or “the hope”, we should be able to speak boldly about it to others. Consider the fear in Peter during his denial of Jesus (Luke 22:54-62) compared to the way he spoke before the Sanhedrin a short time later (Acts 4:5-12). This is the transformation God wants from us. He wants us to speak boldly because our hope is not in this world but in Jesus.
In verse 13, Paul reiterates what he said earlier. When Moses was in the presence of God, his face glowed but it was not permanent. It lasted a short time so he wore a veil so others wouldn’t know when the glow was gone. Also in verse 13, Paul ties the Law to Moses’ veil. The Law was given to point out our sins but the Law’s time had passed. The Law offered no salvation just a roadmap for keeping your life right.
In verse 15, Paul says that even in his day, the Jews couldn’t see that the Law was fulfilled by Jesus. The Jews were still following the Law by mistake because they thought it was all God had to offer. The Law was the veil that kept salvation through Jesus from being seen as God’s new covenant or way to be right with God. All through Paul’s missionary journeys, he ran into Jews that rejected Jesus as the Messiah. Every time Paul preached grace through faith in Jesus, Jews would argue using the Law. Even the Christian Council in Jerusalem didn’t accept that salvation comes only through Jesus with nothing added. What does Jesus say in John 14:6? No one comes to the Father but through Jesus.
When we share the Gospel message with others, they have a choice to accept or reject God’s new covenant. If they choose to remove the veil and stop seeing Christianity as a bunch of rules and laws that keep them from enjoying life, then they can see the love that it gives, the salvation that it brings, the true freedoms that Jesus gives us.
“Many Christians with a heart to preach to their Jewish friends wonder why it is rarely so simple as just showing them that Jesus is the Messiah. This is because a veil lies on their heart. Unless God does a work in them so they turn to the Lord and have the veil taken away, they will never see the fading glory of Moses’ covenant and the surpassing glory of Jesus and the new covenant. Of course, it could be said that the Jews are not the only ones with a veil… on their heart. Gentiles also have “veils” that separate them from seeing Jesus and His work for us clearly, and Jesus is more than able to take those veils away. This points to the essential need of prayer in evangelism. It has been rightly said that it is more important to talk to God about men than it is to talk to men about God, but we can do both of these important works.” (Guzik)
17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
In verse 17, Paul points out what every Christian should know. Jesus told us that the Father and the Son are one (John 10:30) but here Paul completes the Trinity. He says that the Father and the Holy Spirit are one. Also in verse 17, Paul also reiterates what Jesus said in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Paul includes the Holy Spirit in giving us freedom from sin. Jesus didn’t include the Holy Spirit because when Jesus said the words recorded in John 8:36, the Holy Spirit had not come.
In verse 18, Paul says that as we become mature Christians we will look more and more like Jesus. In Paul time, a mirror was just a piece of polished metal that showed a distorted view. As a young Christian, it should be less evident that we are a Christian. As a mature Christian, others should be able to see Christ in us.
Verse 18 also has the following truths:
As we mature we reflect the glory of God.
The Holy Spirit and God are one.
Our transformation is performed by God through the Holy Spirit.
It will not be complete until we look like God or Jesus.
2 Corinthians 4
4:1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
In verse 1, Paul points out that his ministry and the Corinthian church’s ministry were God given. Their ministry is the same as the one given by Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20, “19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” It is the same ministry that we are given when we accept Jesus as our Savior. The verses in Matthew 28 are a two step ministry. First, we are to Go and make disciples and second, we are to teach. Most churches today are good at step one or step two. As a church, which step do we do best?
In verse 2, Paul makes sure that they understand that in his ministry he has not used any tricks or he has not misled anyone when he preached the Gospel of Jesus. He tells them that they should be commended because they have done the same.
Today there are numerous churches that alter or water down the Word of God to get more “nickels and noggins”. Those that share a prosperity Gospel or the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses are examples groups that have changed or watered down the Word of God.
In verses 3 and 4, Paul says that the Gospel is veiled to the perishing. Paul tells them and us what he told them in 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” Which came from Isaiah 29:14, “Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” To a nonbeliever or the perishing the need for a savior is foolishness. The fact that there is more than death is folly. The fact that there is only one way and that Jesus had to die make no sense to those that do not believe. Paul says that their ability to understand has been “veiled”. I would guess that to the Calvinist, since Paul said that there is a veil over the Gospel to the nonbeliever, this makes them correct to think that God picks who can and cannot accept the Gospel message.
“When the Christian message is conveyed by ministers who deceive or who rely on worldly wisdom, the gospel may be veiled. But when it is proclaimed plainly with a focus on the glory of Christ in his death and resurrection, the problem does not reside in the gospel or in its ministers. . . Satan and his demons have been given a measure of dominion over the fallen world (Eph. 6:12). One of their greatest powers is the ability to deceive and blind people to spiritual truths. Paul affirmed that this was the case when unbelievers rejected the gospel of Christ.” (Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians)
In verse 5, Paul uses the pronoun ‘we’ so he is speaking about himself and those that speak based on his teaching at the Corinthian church. What Paul preached and taught them to preach was Christ and Him crucified. 1 Corinthians 1:23 says, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness.” If you attend a worship service and the speaker preaches about himself, then it is time to get up and leave. David Koresh (Branch Davidians, Waco, TX) claimed to be his church’s final prophet. Based on these verses in 2 Corinthians, his followers should have taken off running. Paul is saying, “The Lord God who created light in the physical world can fill your heart with spiritual light, even if you are blinded by the god of this age.” Satan’s work of blinding is great, but God’s work of bringing light is greater.
Verse 6 begins with a quote from Genesis 1:3. The NLT is the best translation. It says, “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness.’” If God can make the light shine in the world then he can also make the light shine in our hearts. This light is the light of Jesus. In the Book of Revelation, we are told that we will not need the sun or moon because we have the light of Jesus. Revelation 21:23 says, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp.”
As mature Christians, people should be able to see Jesus in us and want what we have. When we accept Christ, we become a changed person and others should see that change in us. Paul most likely uses this illustration because of his own conversion in Acts 9:3. It says, “As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.” The light Paul saw was life changing. Verse 6 makes me think of the children’s song, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.”
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
In verse 7, Paul says that we have this treasure in earthen vessels. The treasure is the Gospel message living in us, the earthen vessels. Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 64:8 that “We are the clay and God is the potter. We are the work of your hand.” God’s plan for the Gospel is to be passed from believer to nonbeliever. The jar of clay symbolizes that those like Paul were just the vessels that God chose to use. The vessel is of no value except to carry the refreshing liquid. In this case, Paul and the Corinthian church were the vessels carrying and sharing the love of God through the Gospel message. The way the Gospel is to be passed is foolishness to the wise. Why would God put something as valuable as the Gospel message in something a fragile and self-focused as humans? In our weakness, God’s power shows through.
In verses 8 and 9, Paul talks about his own suffering that was meant by Satan and nonbelieving men to destroy his resolve or his body but it only made him more determined to share Jesus with others. He or his followers were:
Afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
Perplexed, but not despairing;
Persecuted, but not forsaken;
Struck down, but not destroyed;
10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
In verse 10, Paul says that we carry around the death of Christ. The death of Christ did so much for us. He became the perfect sacrifice, once and for all, to take our imperfections and made them perfect. Why did He die for us? Love. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Paul faced death numerous times. Later in this letter (2 Corinthians 11:25-30), Paul will list some of the things that he faced before being beheaded for Christ. According to numerous theologians, there was a faction in the Corinthian church that had issues with Paul. They doubted he was a true apostle. “From his sufferings concluded against the truth of his doctrine, or his favour with God.” (Poole)
Consider this, the only way that the Corinthians heard the Gospel message was through Paul’s willingness to face death. So they received eternal life through Jesus which was delivered by Paul as he faced death. The NLT makes it easier to understand. It says, “So we live in the face of death (Paul and other missionaries), but this has resulted in eternal life for you (us and the Corinthian church members).”
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
Paul quotes Psalm 116:10. This translation is different than most modern translations. Online the Brenton Septuagint Translation matches most closely. Paul is saying that if you believe in what the Word of God says, then you should tell others.
“We also believe and therefore speak: This is a great principle — that faith creates the testimony. Paul really believed God had a purpose in his death-like sufferings, and really believed he lived and experienced the resurrection life of Jesus. Therefore, he wasn’t hesitant to speak about it.” (Guzik)
Verse 14 tells us the reason we tell others about Jesus regardless of the consequences. The reason for sharing the Gospel is eternal life for all who believe. It makes me think of the saying, “If you had a cure for cancer, wouldn’t you share it?” Paul’s proof for eternal life is that God had the power to raise Jesus from the dead, then He has the power to raise all who have faith in Jesus.
In verse 15, Paul tells them and us that everything that God has done is for the benefit of all believers. Also, everything that Paul has endured is for the benefit of his ministry. The more we share the good news of Jesus Christ, the more believers there will be in Heaven. The more believers that are in heaven, the more God will be praised and the more amazing the celebration when we get there.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
In verse 16, Paul says “Don’t lose heart.” Or as he says throughout his letters “Stand firm!” I don’t know about you but the aging process takes its toll on my body every day. Paul says even though the body is aging, the spirit is being renewed every day.
“Outward man has the same idea as earthen vessels in 2 Corinthians 4:7 and mortal flesh in 2 Corinthians 4:11. The message is the same: “On the outside, we are suffering and taking a beating, but on the inside, God is blessing and renewing us!” (Guzik)
Before retirement, I didn’t spend nearly as much time studying God’s Word as I should have. Now if I miss my Bible Study time, I truly miss it. The more time I spend with God, the closer I am to Him. The closer that I am to God, the more my spirit is renewed. In the final two verses in this chapter, Paul tells us and the Corinthian church to focus on eternal life. I am reminded of a Youth Sunday sermon by Anthony Terry. He used an illustration of a rope. He had a short section of rope that represented our life on earth and another really long section that represented eternity. Our life on earth is just a short time but eternity is forever.
Paul is telling the Corinthians and us, don’t focus on our lives in this world but look ahead to the glory of heaven. Paul could endure what he endured because he was looking ahead to eternity. The NLT translates the final verse as, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 5
5 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.
In verse 1, Paul tells the Corinthian church and us that our bodies are nothing more than a tent. The most important part of you and I are our souls. Our physical bodies are just a dwelling place for the soul and because of sin, it will not last forever. Just as God raised Jesus from the dead and gave Him a resurrected body, then He will do the same for us. 2 Corinthians 4:14 tells us so, “ because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself.”
In verse 2, Paul says that while we are on this earth, our soul “groans” for a heavenly body. Our physical bodies are failing us as we age. This fact goes back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. Genesis 2:17 says, “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” The promised death was not immediate but the sin would lead to death as a lifelong process. If you have seen the info-mercials related to stopping the aging processes in our bodies and faces, then you recognize that these companies are preying on our desire to have the perfect heavenly dwellings that Paul is talking about.
In verse 3, Paul says that when we get to Heaven we will have a resurrected body. We will not just be spirits or ghosts. Our souls will inhabit the new resurrected bodies that are designed by God to allow us to live our best in the conditions of Heaven.
David Guzik says, “To God, the body itself is not a negative. The problem isn’t in the body itself but in these sin-corrupted, fallen bodies that we live in. Jesus approved the essential goodness of the body by becoming a man. If there was something inherently evil in the body, Jesus could never have added humanity to His deity.”
In verses 3 and 4, Paul tries to explain that our souls will not be naked but will have a resurrected body. He is not talking about us having unclothed resurrected bodies. However, physical nakedness is only a problem because of our sinfulness. Consider that Adam and Eve lived naked without a problem until they allowed sin into the world. Genesis 3:7 says that after they ate of the forbidden fruit, “And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; so they sewed together fig leaves and made coverings for themselves.” The sin problem will be gone in Heaven.
In verse 4, Paul points out that our earthly bodies will be left here on earth until the Rapture. The Rapture will reconnect us with our resurrected version of our bodies left on earth. When we studied “Heaven”, we learned from Randy Alcorn that he believes that when we die, we will receive a temporary resurrected body so that we will be able to function in Heaven until the Rapture when we are reconnected with our resurrected old bodies.
In verse 5, Paul says God is the one that has all of this planned and He is at work in us today. He is molding us and making us better Christians and preparing us for our future in Heaven. He says that “God has given us the Holy Spirit as our deposit or down payment to remind us about what is to come.” The Holy Spirit helps us to finish the race, to get to Heaven. He is not the final payment, just the assurance of how amazing Heaven will be.
6 Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
In verse 6, Paul points out that as long as we are on this earth, we are not in heaven. Not counting the Rapture, when we leave these earthly bodies we will be taken into the presence of Jesus and God the Father in heaven.
“We can be always confident, even in hard times, if we keep Colossians 3:2: Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. (Guzik) “What, then, is the way to maintain peace when there are changes in the soul; when we are sometimes taken up to heaven and are anon cast down? Why, the only way is never to be unduly elated by prosperity without or within, and never to be unduly depressed by adversity or by doubts and fears, because you have learned to live neither upon the things without nor upon things within, but upon things above, which are the true food for a new-born spirit.” (Spurgeon)
Verse 7 says that Christians are to “live by faith, not by sight”. This is easier said than done. The most famous doubter in the New Testament was Thomas. He said that he wouldn’t believe that Jesus had been raised from the dead “unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” He was living by sight and not by faith. Too often today, believers and nonbelievers want God to prove that He is real by doing a miracle or something out of the ordinary. What does Deuteronomy 6:16 tell us? Do not put the LORD your God to the test.
If Paul were getting a test at my doctor’s office, he would be asked if he thinks about death or is suicidal. If his answer was what he said in verse 8, the doctor might recommend an antidepressant.
What Paul is saying is that Jesus is in heaven and living on the earth in these physical bodies will never compare to living in our resurrected bodies in heaven. Verse 8 is used at many funerals. If we are present in this body then the presence of God is taken purely on faith. As a believer, if we are absent from the body, then we are present with the Lord. There will be no doubt because we will be able to see God and Jesus in the throne room of God.
Verse 9 means just what it says. Jesus is the one that decides where our final home will be. He will say “Away from me!” or “Well done.” If we pretended to be a Christian but didn’t live for Him or “please” Him, His decision will not go in our direction.
In verse 10, Paul states a fact. We all will be judged in the end. It will be to determine our punishment or our reward. Our righteousness will not get us to the reward portion of judgment. It is our faith in Jesus that gives us the imputed righteousness of Jesus. Which will it be punishment or reward? Are you living by sight or by faith?
11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. 12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. 13 If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
In verse 11, Paul gives justification for sharing the Gospel message with others. No one wants others to face the wrath of God. We know that our God is powerful but we fear His wrath. We have studied Revelation and other end times prophecies and wouldn’t want other to face what is coming, the wrath of God poured out on mankind.
In verse 10, Paul said that we will face judgment from God and we will find out whether the things that we have done were good or bad. If they were bad then we can expect the wrath of God. If we lead others to the saving knowledge of Jesus, then they will not face the wrath and have nothing to fear. Our conscience will be clear.
“Paul could see the need to persuade the world of the person and work of Jesus, and of his own integrity as a messenger of the good news. But he knew there was no need to persuade God, and it frustrated him that it was necessary to persuade the Corinthian Christians.” (Guzik)
Paul is not bragging about his weakness, his trials or his struggles. The Corinthians took pride in appearance. Paul took pride in what was in the heart. Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians to have a way to answer those that had pride in appearance.
We have heard in our study of Paul’s letters to the Corinthians that “Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.” (1 Corinthians 1:23). He preached the Gospel message, this foolishness, for God. This made me think of King David dancing for God as the Ark was brought to Jerusalem. In 2 Samuel 6:21-22, David tells Michal, “so I celebrate before the Lord. 22 Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes!” It is a matter of doing whatever you do to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
“The apostle tells them, that if indeed he was beside himself in any of their opinion, it was to God, that is, for the honour and glory of God: or if he was sober, it was for their sake; in what temper so ever he was, it was either for service to God, or them.” (Poole)
In verse 14, Paul tells us and them that it is the love of Christ that compels him to serve God. How much did Jesus love Paul and us? He was willing to die for us. John 15:13 tells us that “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” If Jesus showed us that much love for us then we should give our lives to Jesus. As Paul puts it in verse 15, we should no longer live for ourselves but for Him who died for us.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
In verse 16, since the body is just a tent that will be replaced in heaven (v. 1), we should not evaluate others based on human appearance (NASB says ‘flesh’) but we should look at their heart. This is the same thing that he said in Verse 12. What is in our hearts is the true indicator of what we are really like. Unfortunately, humans can hide what is in their hearts using their outward appearance, consider politicians.
Verse 17 is a commonly quoted verse. When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we are to behave differently because we are a new creation. The old things in our life, the people we associate with, the things that we did or the life we lived has passed away. We are to live a new life for Jesus and there is no room for anything in our past lives that could lead us back into our sinful lives.
“It is unfair for us to expect those who are not in Christ to live as if they were a new creation. However, it is not unfair to expect a changed life from people who say they are Christians! “I know no language, I believe there is none, that can express a greater or more thorough and more radical renewal, than that which is expressed in the term, ‘a new creature.'” (Spurgeon) However, being a new creation doesn’t mean that we are perfect. It means that we are changed, and that we are being changed. (Guzik)
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
In verse 18, Paul says that the Gospel message and the route to salvation is a gift from God. It is grace, God’s Riches at Christ’s Expense. We cannot have salvation or become righteous on our own, it is because of Jesus’ work on the cross. I have said before that it is strange but God has put His trust in mankind to deliver His message of salvation. Throughout history, mankind has failed God time and time again. Yet this is how God chose to send the Gospel message to man. We must share God’s message of salvation with the people that we are in our circle of influence.
“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself is all the more amazing when understood in light of what happened on the cross. At some point before Jesus died, before the veil was torn in two, before Jesus cried out it is finished, an awesome spiritual transaction took place. The Father lay upon the Son all the guilt and wrath our sin deserved, and Jesus bore it in Himself perfectly, totally satisfying the wrath of God for us.” (Guzik)
Because of Jesus’ work on the cross, our sins are no longer counted against us. Our sins were imputed to Jesus on the cross and when we accept Jesus, His righteousness is imputed to us. God has given us the Gospel message and when we receive the Holy Spirit then we are to give the message to others. Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
In verse 20, Paul says that we are ambassadors of Christ. By representing Christ, we are to show others that Christ lives in us and show our love by sharing His message. We are to reach others for Christ. The NLT says “God is making the appeal through us. . . We plead, “Come back to God!” Up until the last generation, the U.S. was considered a Christian nation but today more and more people are growing up without Christ. Today, the need to plead, “Come to Jesus!”
Verse 21 is a Paul’s paraphrase of John 3:16, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (NASB)
2 Corinthians 6
6:1 As God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. 2 For he says,
“In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.”
I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
In verse 1, Paul that tells the Corinthian church that they are fellow workers with Paul and his team. Too often as members of a church or as a denomination we forget that serving Christ is not a competition. We should all be working to produce fruit.
Paul urges them not to take God’s grace in vain. If we are living for ourselves then we are minimizing the grace that God has given us. We are to love God because He first loved us. His portion of the love is grace, unmerited favor, given freely to us. Our love for God is obedience, trusting in Him and serving Him in our daily walk.
“To support his appeal, Paul referred to Isaiah 49:8. This prophecy focused on the restoration of God’s people after the exile. God promised that he would respond to the cries of the exile, in the time of his favor and in the day of salvation. Paul focused attention on Isaiah’s emphasis that in God’s timing salvation from the judgment of exile would come. As a result, Paul pressed the significance of this prophecy on the Corinthian situation. The days in which they lived, the days of the New Testament, were not to be ignored or taken for granted.” (Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians)
Today, just as it was in those days, is a time of God’s favor and the day of salvation. God sent His only son to take on the sins of the world. He sent His son to redeem us and restore us back to Himself. It is not something to take lightly or “receive in vain.” We are living in the Church age. When this age ends, salvation ends and all people will face God’s judgment. The only thing that will save us is our faith in Jesus as the Christ. We are living in a time of salvation but are we living with a great sense of urgency. Consider that Jesus and His disciples died to share the Gospel message.
Just as it is today in America, many claim to be believers but don’t live as they should be living. Paul was not convinced that everyone in the Corinthian church was a true believer. As Paul said in the previous chapter, it is what is in our hearts that will be judged. Appearances do not account for anything. Paul believed that if you were a true believer, then you cannot lose your salvation. Eph. 4:30 says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Being sealed, we will always belong to God. Philippians 1:6 says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” The good work was started and will continue until Jesus returns.
3 We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. 4 Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; 5 in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; 6 in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; 7 in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; 8 through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; 9 known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; 10 sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
Paul has said numerous times in his letters to the Corinthian church that the Gospel that he preached was accurate and from God. Because it was the true Gospel from God, Paul did not add or remove anything from it. It was not a watered down version of the Gospel. If he had altered the Gospel that he received from Jesus, then he could have been discredited.
As we studied the Book of Acts, we read of the things endured by Paul and his companions. In verse 4, Paul says that they could commend themselves because everything they did, they did for the glory of God. They weren’t commending themselves in an arrogant or self-pleasing way. He had been faithful in his calling or in serving God.
In the next several verses Paul explains what he meant when he said “we could commend ourselves in every way.” He starts with “in great endurance.” Throughout his letters to the churches, he always told them to “stand firm”. So it is appropriate that he starts here.
Next he says “in troubles, hardships and distresses”. These are all broad terms but in 2 Corinthians 11:23-25, he gives a more exact list of the things that he endured in his ministry.
Included in his list of what Paul endured (2 Corinthians 11:23-25) included beatings and imprisonments. In Acts 19:23-41, Paul was encouraged not to speak during a riot he had caused in Ephesus. Most people would have said, “That’s it!” but Paul continued to share the Gospel, working for God.
In the second part of verse 5 Paul lists “hard work, sleepless nights and hunger”. Compared to the first things that Paul listed these things are self-inflicted. Paul worked hard because he chose to do so. Hunger would have also included fasting which is also by choice.
“Paul knew he needed endurance, and he knew many things in his life drew him to seek that endurance. Some of them were the general trials of life, some were sufferings directly brought by others, and some were self-inflicted. Not every trial was the same, but they all made him need endurance.” (Guzik)
The next part of the list are problems that Paul faced or endured. He faced “troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots.”
The next part of the list are attributes that Paul possessed or resources that he could draw on when facing the things he faced for God. When it came to some of these characteristics, Paul had a greater measure than most men.
Paul wrote to Ephesian Church regarding the full armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18. When defending ourselves from Satan, we are to put on these attributes of Jesus. They are attributes that will help us stand firm in the face of temptations and trials. Several of these attributes are covered here in Paul’s list. Match the piece of armor with the attribute listed in verses 6 and 7.
Belt of truth – in truthful speech
Breastplate of righteousness – with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left;
Shield of faith – in the power of God
Sword of the spirit – in the Holy Spirit
The attributes of “purity, understanding, patience and kindness; and sincere love” were commonly listed by Paul. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul gives us the fruits of the spirit which contain these same attributes. “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
In concluding his list of things to be commended for, Paul adds a list what the world versus what God thought of him.
The World’s view of Paul God’s view of Paul
Bad report Good report
Dying We live on
Beaten Not killed
Sorrowful Always rejoicing
Poor Making many rich
Having nothing Possessing everything
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. 12 We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. 13 As a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts also.
In these verses, Paul takes a moment to talk about his relationship with the Corinthians. Have you ever had a friend that you weren’t sure if they were really a true friend? That is what Paul is talking about. He counted the Corinthians as his friends. He withheld nothing and wanted them to be the best Christians they could be. But he wasn’t sure that he stood with them.
There is nothing like a true friend. First, you want to make sure that they will be with you throughout all eternity. Paul did that. He taught them about what Jesus did for them and how to get to heaven. Next, a true friend is straight with you. They don’t talk behind your back. There should be nothing that you aren’t willing to share (within reason). Finally, you hold them in your heart. When they laugh, you laugh. When they cry, you cry.
Finally, he says stop keeping me at arm’s length or let me in. Open up your hearts and truly love one another and me.
14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”
“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”
“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”
In these verses, Paul is talking about your true friends. He does not recommend that your true friends be non-believers. He is talking about marriage and deep friendships.
Paul uses the term ‘equally yoked”. In Paul’s day oxen were used to work the fields, usually in pairs. If one was stronger than the other, the plowed rows would not be straight. The rows would be curved in the direction of the weaker oxen. If you marry someone that doesn’t know God, then they are the weaker spouse and your rows will lean in their directions. Consider, if the believer wants to talk about salvation through Christ then the nonbelieving spouse will resist. Most of your conversations will be about the world and not God.
I grew up that way. I was sent to church with my siblings. Mom wanted to go to church but felt obligated to stay home with Dad. After he passed, Mom took us to church. The row curved in favor of the weaker oxen, the believer (Mom) did what the nonbeliever (Dad) wanted. We weren’t forbidden to go to church but we weren’t a Christian family either.
Another example, I taught Juniors in Sunday School. One boy said to me, “How old do I need to be before I don’t have to come to church?” His dad and grandfather did not go to church, so he was skewed in the direction of the weaker oxen.
This also applied to best friends. Your friendships are based on what you have in common. A believers’ friendship is lifelong because you always have a love for Christ in common. A friendship based on the world or worldly things will pass away. I have had friends that school was what we had in common. When we graduated the friendships disappeared.
In verse 15, Paul says, “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?” Poole says that the word ‘Belial” is a Greek word for ‘worthlessness’ but it is used here to mean Satan. Paul also says “Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?”
A friendship based on worldly things can not only lead you away from God but they can lead you into sin. In our study of Corinthians, we learned that we are a new creation in Christ. If we had bad habits before we accepted Christ, then we can be influenced to return to our old bad habits.
Paul applies this idea to idols and the Temple in verse 16. If someone is worshiping idols they would be a bad influence to a new Christian that has just turned away from idols. If you keep an idol worshiper as your friend, then you run the risk of turning back to idols. What are idols? Anything that leads for focus away from God.
Paul says, “For we are the temple of the living God.” Paul said this same thing in 1 Corinthians 3:16–17. Just as you treat temples with respect, you should treat your body with respect. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, Paul said the same thing but both of the 1 Corinthian scriptures referred to an individual’s body. Here in his 2nd letter he is referring to the church as a whole.
“Because temples are holy places and should be protected against things that might defile the holy place, we should protect our hearts and minds as holy places before the Lord.” (Guzik)
At the end of verse 16 and verses 17, 18, Paul uses Scripture to backup that we are the temple of the living God. He starts with Ezekiel 37:26-27. It tells that God is living in the midst of the Temple. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit living inside us, which is God, the Father. Then Paul uses Isaiah 52:11 to show that God is holy and we should be sanctified (set apart) and stay unclean because we should do our best to be fit for Him to live within us.
Finally in this chapter, Paul quotes Jeremiah 31:9. God makes a promise of a more intimate relationship with us. He will be our Father and we will be the children of God. This is achieved by a personal relationship.
Read the following chapters and see what the Bible says about the Children of God.
Matthew 5:9, NIV – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Romans 8:14, NLT– “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
Romans 8:28, NASB – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
Galatians 4:6-7, NLT – “And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.”
Romans 8:17-19, NIV –“Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.”
“Says the LORD Almighty: The title Almighty uses the ancient Greek word pantokrater, which means, “the one who has his hand on everything.” In the whole New Testament, the word is used only here and in the book of Revelation. Paul wants us to understand that it is the sovereign God of heaven who offers us adoption as His children as we separate unto Him.” (Guzik)
2 Corinthians 7
7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God
In verse 1, Paul is finishing Chapter 6. In 2 Corinthians 6:16, he says that we are the temple of the living God and then quotes scripture to prove it. If we have God living in us as the Holy Spirit then that makes us His temple. If we are the temple of God then we should separate ourselves from the things of this world, especially idols. God is too pure to look upon sin. (Habakkuk 1:13) If we have sin or evil in us, then Paul says we need to “cleanse ourselves of anything that can defile our body or spirit.”
He says that since “we have these promises”, we are to cleanse ourselves. These promises are taken from the scriptures that Paul quoted at the end of 2 Corinthians 6. We are promised that if we separate ourselves from the world then:
God will live with us. (2 Cor. 6:16)
He will be our Father. (2 Cor. 6:18)
We will be His sons and daughters. (2 or 6:18)
1 Peter 1:15 tells us how clean God wants us to be. Peter says that we must be holy, just as God is holy. That is a pretty lofty goal for mere mortals but we have the entire trinity on our side. This is a lifelong process called “sanctification” which means “set apart”.
Paul finishes verse 1 with, we should be “perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (NASB) The NLT exchanges the word “purity” for “holiness”. The word holy is difficult to define. Most definitions include the word “sacred” but they are referring to the ground or objects. God’s holiness is something that is difficult for us to understand. It is our goal but it is a lofty goal.
“Neither the writer nor the reader of these words is qualified to appreciate the holiness of God. . . God’s holiness is not simply the best we know infinitely bettered. We know nothing like the divine holiness. It stands apart, unique, unapproachable, incomprehensible and unattainable. The natural man is blind to it. He may fear God’s power and admire His wisdom, but His holiness he cannot even imagine.” (A. W. Tozer)
2 Make room for us in your hearts. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have exploited no one. 3 I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you. 4 I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
It is interesting, throughout his letters to the Corinthian church he preached love but here he is asking them to “Make room for us in your hearts.” He is saying show us the love that I have told you about. Just as he has also said through his letters, everything that he has taught them was from God. He preached the true Gospel and he has not wronged, corrupted or taken advantage of any of them.
In verse 3, Paul says that what he preached was a message from God and not intended to specifically condemn anyone. I have sat in the sanctuary on numerous occasions thinking that this message was directed at me. If it was directed at me it was sent by God and not the pastor.
Today in the world, people are hearing a Gospel that has been altered or watered down, a feel good Gospel. I believe that what people want is the Gospel that Paul taught. The last few months have been amazing. People are responding to the true Gospel that Pastor Brian has been delivering each Sunday.
Paul says that he is reciprocating their love. Whether they are living together or dying together, he loves them. In Philippians 1:7, Paul tells the Philippians the same thing. He loves them because they are all partakers of the same grace, God’s grace.
“Paul affirmed that his outlook for the majority of the church was positive: (1) he had great confidence in them; (2) he took great pride in them; and (3) he was greatly encouraged about them. It is unlikely that Paul approved of every Corinthian church member, especially to this degree.” (Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians)
5 For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. 6 But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 7 and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever.
Paul says in this section that things were not going well in Macedonia. They were not only busy but they were under attack by Satan from every direction. This is what we are to expect as Christians. If we are not under attack from Satan then he does not consider us worth his time. Not a good place to be as a Christian.
Back in 2 Corinthians 2:13, Paul said that he was distressed about connecting with Titus. Along with the bad things happening in Macedonia, Titus had arrived in Macedonia which lifted Paul’s spirits and Titus brought good news from Corinth. Paul gave glory to God for this encouragement in verse 6. God knows what we need and when we need it.
At the beginning of this chapter, Paul sounded concerned that the Corinthian church would not want to see him but Titus told him that they were looking forward to Paul’s second visit. Verse 7 says that Paul was filled with joy for this news.
8 Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it—I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while— 9 yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
As we went through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, we could see that Paul didn’t pull any punches with the Corinthians church. He spoke the true Gospel and he told the church what corrections needed to be made to get them on track.
Telling someone the truth can cause them to turn away from you or move closer to you. Titus told Paul that the Corinthian church heeded Paul’s instruction from his first letter and repented to get on the right track. Often when we share the Gospel, we point out to others that they are headed in the wrong direction. They may feel hurt or offended for a while until they think about it. Sometimes it can lead them to repentance. That is what happened with the members of the Corinthian church. Remember that along with correction, Paul taught them about love throughout the first letter.
In verse 10, Paul said that the sorrow that comes from being corrected and puts you on the right path is from God. Correction that comes from God which leads you to doing the “will of God” also leads to repentance. If it leads to repentance then it leads to salvation but correction that comes from the world leads to death.
11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are. 13 By all this we are encouraged.
In verse 11, Paul says that this godly sorrow has produced the following things in the Corinthian church members. (NASB)
Vindication of themselves
Indignation (righteous anger)
Paul says in verse 12 that he was not trying to point out the offender or to appease the person that was offended. He wanted them to show God that they were willing to make the changes necessary to do His will.
“He had wanted the Corinthians to see for themselves how devoted they were to the ways of Christ. He had wanted them to experience the joy of seeing God at work in their lives. This divine grace displayed itself in their godly sorrow and thorough repentance.” (Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians)
In the first line of verse 13, Paul wants the Corinthians to know that he and his companions were encouraged by the changes made by this church.
13b In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you. 14 I had boasted to him about you, and you have not embarrassed me. But just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting about you to Titus has proved to be true as well. 15 And his affection for you is all the greater when he remembers that you were all obedient, receiving him with fear and trembling. 16 I am glad I can have complete confidence in you.
Have you ever had trouble with an employee of a company with whom you are trying to do business? If you and the employee can’t work it out then your first step is to ask to speak to a supervisor. Paul is saying in verse 13 that it was good to hear that Titus was treated the same way that they would have treated Paul. It not only made Titus happy to be treated well but it also pleased Paul. There was no reason to call the supervisor.
Paul goes on to commend them for showing Paul’s worship team that he was correct in trusting that they would treat Titus well. It had to also give Paul confidence in sending Titus and Timothy in his place, knowing that they would be treated well. If they would have treated Titus poorly, then Paul would feel that he had to do more and not be able to delegate.
In verse 15, Paul says not only did the Corinthian Church treat Titus well, they have developed a good personal relationship between them. They not only developed acquaintances but they had developed friendships that will last a lifetime.
“At the end of this chapter, Paul praises the Corinthian Christians and they seem to be in a place of victory. But in the “sorrowful letter” (mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:1) there was no praise. What was the difference? Their real repentance, reported by Titus and commented on by Paul in this chapter. All through this chapter we see how concerned Paul was about his relationship with the Corinthian Christians. This shows that people were just as important to Paul as ministry. He didn’t want to do “ministry” at the expense of his relationships with people.” (Guzik)
2 Corinthians 8
8:1 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
In verse 1, Paul changes gears. He shares a situation that is occurring in the churches of Macedonia. The churches of Macedonia were in cities such as Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. These are the churches that are in the northern part of Greece. Athens and Corinth are in the southern part of Greece called Achaia.
In verse 1, Paul gives credit to the grace of God for what has occurred in Macedonia. Paul is giving God the glory for both the opportunity and the willingness to give a gift. The NLT says, “what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia.”
In verse 2, Paul tells us that the conditions in the Macedonian churches are less than optimum for giving. He says that they are in the midst of a severe trial and they are in extreme poverty. Even under these conditions they can give assistance to others with overflowing joy and rich generosity.
In verse 7 of chapter 9, Paul defines what sacrificial giving is. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” The giving should be a response to what is in your heart and not what is in your mind.
When giving is from the heart, then it is between you and God to work out. Both you and God know what your finances are like and what is truly in your heart.
3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.
Paul has lived in the midst of these Christians and understood their financial situations. Their giving fit into sacrificial giving because:
They gave as much as they could.
They gave even beyond their ability.
They gave entirely on their own.
Before we go any further, we need to understand to whom the Macedonian Christians were sending money. Back in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4, we read that Paul had asked the church at Corinth to set aside money for the extremely poor believers in Jerusalem. He had asked the Galatian church to do the same.
Not only did they want to give to the poor Christians in Jerusalem but Paul says they urgently pleaded for the opportunity to give.
How well did these believers do, they exceeded Paul’s expectations. They gave themselves to God first and then they followed God’s lead and gave to the mission that Paul had set forth for them.
“In giving, the real issue isn’t giving money. It is giving ourselves to the Lord. If we really give ourselves to the Lord, then the right kind of material giving will naturally follow.” (Guzik)
This kind of giving can be a greater blessing to the giver than the one that receives it. Proverbs 19:17 says “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.” I am not saying give so you will get a blessing from God. Give because that is what God wants you to do whether or not you receive a blessing.
6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
In the previous chapter, we read that Titus had arrived with good news from Corinth. Evidently part of the news from Corinth was that Titus had encouraged the Corinthian Christians to give to the poor in Jerusalem.
According to verse 6, Paul and his missionary team were sending Titus back to Corinth so that he can complete his mission to encourage the Corinthians to give more to the poor.
Considering that Paul doesn’t pull any punches in his letters to the churches, verse 7 must be the truth for the church in Corinth. His encouraging description of the Corinthian church sounds significantly different than what we had studied in his first letter. By saying that they excel or abound in the attributes of Christians almost sounds like he is pouring it on pretty heavy. According to verse 7, the Corinthians excel or abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in love. He wants them to also excel in giving.
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Paul says that he will not command them to give. Earlier we talked about sacrificial giving and said that it comes from the heart. If your giving comes from the heart then you don’t need to be commanded to give.
How do we determine how serious someone is about what they are doing? We compare their actions to the action of others. In verse 8, Paul says that he will see how serious they are about their giving by comparing it to other churches but not in a competitive way.
Owens Corning would encourage their employees to give to the United Way through raffles. One year, one of my co-workers won a brand new Ford Mustang. It would have been interesting to see how much would have been given without the incentives. Then we could have seen the seriousness of the OC employees at giving to the United Way.
In verse 9, Paul brings Jesus into the giving equation. Jesus left the riches of Heaven to come to Earth as servant leader. During His ministry, He would have been considered poor.
“Why would Jesus need to become poor for your sakes? How does His poverty benefit us?
Because it shows us the giving heart of God.
Because it shows us the relative importance of material things.
Because it makes Jesus open and accessible to all.
Because it rebukes the pride that might refuse to come to a poor Savior.
Because it gave others the privilege of giving to Jesus.
Because it fulfilled the heart and will and plan of God, making our salvation possible.” (Guzik)
10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
In these verses, Paul gives his final thoughts on giving. When Paul was in Corinth (about 1 year ago), they were ready and eager (ESV). He says that they were the first who wanted to give to the poor in Jerusalem.
God looks for the ready and eager. Consider Isaiah. Read Isaiah 6:8. What did he say to God when needed someone to share His messages? Here am I, Send me.
The Bible is full of people who were not ready and eager. Consider Jonah or even Moses.
In verse 11, Paul says that since you were ready and eager in the beginning then you should complete your works. Keep up the momentum all the way through this mission. Let the eagerness that you had in the beginning carry through until the end.
Sometimes in the excitement that we have at the beginning of a project fades over the life of a project. Paul is saying keep up the excitement throughout the project.
He also says when you give according to what you have. He could have said give a tithe which would have fulfilled his requirement. He wanted to allow room for their hearts to influence their giving. Remember true sacrificial giving comes from the heart and not the mind.
“Again, God does not expect us to give what we do not have. True Christian giving cannot be measured by the amount. One might give a million dollars and yet not give enough; another may give one dollar and give with tremendous sacrifice and generosity. True giving is measured by obedience, proportion, and need, not by amount.” (Guzik)
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
In verse 13, Paul tells them and us that he didn’t expect them to give to the point that they were in worse financial shape than the poor in Jerusalem. The purpose of giving is more of a balancing of money. The early Christians shared all they had. Acts 4:32 says, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” This was not the equality in giving that Paul had in mind. He wanted them to give because they could.
In verse 14, Paul says that this type of balancing of possessions could lead to the Corinthians receiving assistance from those that you have given to when you go through bad time. He was aware that financial situations change. Consider that Joseph’s brothers (Jacob’s sons) went to Egypt because of a great famine.
In verse 15, Paul quoted Exodus 16:18 which was written about the Hebrew nation’s exodus from Egypt. Since no one had anything to eat, God sent manna from Heaven. You can bet there were people that collected more than they needed, it is the human way. The thing about manna was that it had a short expiration date. If you collected too much, it spoiled.
We don’t like to think of our savings and possessions as manna but the same thing can happen. One saying about earthly riches is “You can’t take it with you.” So Paul is saying, “if you can’t take it with you then give a reasonable portion of it to those in need.”
6 Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. 17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.
In the previous chapter, Paul was pleased to find out that Titus and the Corinthian Christians had developed a good relationship. In verse 6 of this chapter, Paul said that they were sending Titus back to Corinth to continue his work in receiving an offering to take to Jerusalem. In these verses, he is saying that because of this relationship, Paul is sending Titus to pick up the offering for the poor in Jerusalem. They know him then they will trust him.
Paul also wanted the Corinthian church to know that Titus was eager to come back to Corinth.
18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. 19 What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.
In the verse 18, Paul tells them that Titus would not be alone. Another man would be accompanying Titus. Paul doesn’t give his name. Instead Paul says that this man is praised for his knowledge of the Gospel. Many of Paul’s traveling companions come to mind, such as Silas, Timothy, Luke, Barnabas, or even Apollos.
We can only speculate because Paul didn’t give his name. Whoever this man is, verse 19 tells us that he was chosen by the other churches to join in the mission of collecting the money for the poor in Jerusalem. This rules out my list.
This man must also be trustworthy because he was chosen by the other churches. Paul believes that he helps make others trust that the money will get to Jerusalem and be distributed in a fair manner so that no one can discredit their mission.
Paul wants to make sure that their mission for the poor in Jerusalem cannot be questioned by God or man. God knows what is in the hearts of man, so they can trust that God will approve. Saying that they are pleasing God is one thing but pleasing man can be more difficult. God is unchanging but men can be fickle.
“Also in the sight of men is a reminder that all things financial in the church should be conducted above board and properly. Paul took whatever steps were necessary so no one could blame him with financial impropriety. Paul could write like a poet and think like a theologian; but he could also act with the meticulous accuracy and integrity of the best accountant.” (Guzik)
22 In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. 24 Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.
In verse 22, we learn that Paul is sending another man with Titus. He says that this man has been tested and found to be diligent (NASB) or zealous (NIV).
He says that Titus is his representative or co-worker and the other two unnamed men are representatives of the churches. In the final verse of this chapter Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians to treat them with the love that he has been boasting about. He is saying, “Treat them like they were me.”
2 Corinthians 9
9 There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. 2 For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.
In verse 1, Paul continues encouraging the Corinthian Christians to give their fair share for the believers or saints in Jerusalem. Many translations say “it is superfluous for me to write to you”. Superfluous means unnecessary. My mom might have said, “I am not going to tell you again but what you are doing is important.” Many translations used the word “saints” to describe those in need in Jerusalem. The NLT uses the word “believers” and the NIV calls them the “Lord’s people”.
In verse 2, Paul pulls out all the stops. In the previous chapter, Paul used the Macedonians as an example of how to give. Now he is encouraging the Corinthians saying that he knows of their “eagerness to help”, he has been “boasting about it to the Macedonians”.
In the previous chapter, he said that they were willing to give a year ago. Here he reminds them of their willingness to give a year ago when he was with them. He says that the enthusiasm of the Corinthians “has stirred most of them (Macedonians) to action.”
He says that he is boasting about their eagerness to help. He uses the Greek word ‘kaucháomai’ which is translated as ‘glory in’ or boast. It is the same word that he used in 1 Corinthians 1:31, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” where he quoted Jeremiah 9:24.
In the chapter 9, Paul’s encouragement reached a similar level and I said, “almost sounds like he is pouring it on pretty heavy”. He is doing the same here. He is not comparing his boasting of their willingness to give to his boasting in the Lord.
He is willing to do what it takes to motivate the Corinthians to give assistance to those in need in Jerusalem. It makes me think of 1 Corinthians 9:22, “To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”
Guzik says of the verse, “This may be a “playful” way of encouraging the Corinthian Christians to really be ready and willing to give. Paul may be saying, “Come now, you really can be ready to give. After all, I’ve already bragged about your willingness to others!”
3 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
In verse 3, Paul tells them that he is sending a group of brothers to get your offering for Jerusalem. This might sound weird but this sounds like Paul in his encouraging is saying, “I am sending brothers to get your offering so put your money where MY mouth is.”
He is saying “I have bragged about your giving, so don’t make me look bad.”
In verse 4, Paul says that there may be Macedonians coming to get the Corinthian donation. In fact, Macedonians did come to assist in taking the offering to Jerusalem. Acts 20:4 says that he was accompanied by “He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica “.
If the giving of the Corinthian Christians didn’t come up to what Paul had said, then the Macedonians would see this first hand. It could show that Paul’s confidence in the Corinthians was misplaced.
Have you ever been in Paul’s situation? You build up someone, only to be let down. We have had a Mission Chairman in the past that set goals for our mission giving. Her unmet expectations left her upset when we came up short. She took in too personal. Hopefully this letter reaches the Corinthians so they know what is expected of them. It sounds like it based on verse 5.
In verse 5, Paul says that he is urging some of his co-workers/brothers to visit them before they plan on picking up the offering. This would allow the brothers the opportunity to encourage the Corinthians to give what they could, true heartfelt giving.
He finishes verse 5 by saying that he is allowing them more time so that they can give over a time and not be forced to give at the last minute so they aren’t angry about giving. He is trying to give them every opportunity to give cheerfully.
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
If Paul can’t get them to give by bragging on them or maybe some guilt, then he tries to get them to give because they will be blessed if they give. It is believed that he paraphrases:
Proverbs 11:24-25 (NIV) – ”One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
Proverbs 22:9 (NIV) – “The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.”
What does Jesus say about giving? These are from the NIV.
Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you. . . . For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Matthew 6:2-4 – “So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Luke 12:33-34 – “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
In verse 7, Paul reiterates what he has been saying all along.
Give what is in your heart
Do not give reluctantly or under compulsion,
God loves a cheerful giver.
In verse 8, Paul reminds them what Rev. Jim Alison used to say, “God has a bigger shovel than we do. You can’t out give God.”
9 As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
All the way through the Bible, the Israelites always went back to their exodus from Egypt to be reminded of God’s ability to care for His people. The manna from Heaven, the parting of the Red Sea, their ability to defeat those living in the Promised Land, the list of God’s blessings during that time was almost endless. The Corinthians didn’t go through all of those experiences so Paul had to make his reasons for giving broader.
In verse 9, Paul quotes Psalm 112:9. “This verse describes different characteristics of the righteous person, and verse 9 depicts him as generous to the poor. This theme fit well with Paul’s emphasis on generous giving at Corinth because these contributions were destined for the poor of Jerusalem. . . The second line of Psalm 112:9, “his righteousness endures forever,”. . . It is possible that the psalm focused on the permanence of a righteous person’s actions. In other words, God will never forget or ignore a righteous man’s generosity (righteousness).” Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians)
Many theologians believe that verse 10 is a prayer offered up by Paul. Paul talks about “he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food”. Who is he talking about? It is God, the great supplier. James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Paul says it another way in Philippians 4:19, KJV: “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
In the second part of this verse, Paul prays that God will bless those that donate in love to those in need. In verse 11, he prays that their lives will be enriched in every way for their gifts to the poor. When they are blessed for what their gifts then they will glorify God for what He has done.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
In these verses, Paul gives us the benefits of giving.
Giving helps others meet their daily needs.
Those receiving the gift will praise God.
Your giving will prove your obedience to God.
It will cause those receiving the gift to pray for you.
Too often when we think of giving to organizations or people, we think the worst. We usually ask, “What are they doing with the money?” or “How much of my gift goes to those in need?” It is true that we are to be good stewards of what God has blessed us with but remember what we have read in the last two chapters. Give from the heart.
If you are giving through a relief organization, remember this organization helps collect, fairly distribute and get the money to those in need. It is fair for them to take a portion of the gift.
Regarding the question of what are they doing with the money that is between them and God. The gifts in Chapters 8 and 9 are going to poor Christians. This fact simplifies the discussion here in Paul’s letter.
When giving to nonbelievers, you should still give from the heart but there is the hope that your generosity will lead them to want to know more about Jesus.
“Liberal sharing: The ancient Greek word translated sharing is koinania. This is the same word used for the ideas of fellowship and communion — it means the sharing of things in common.
When we share our lives, koinaniais called fellowship.
When we share remembrance of Jesus’ work for us through the Lord’s Supper, koinaniais called communion.
When we share our resources so none would be destitute, koinaniais called sharing.” (Guzik)
2 Corinthians 10
10:1 By the humility and gentleness of Christ, I appeal to you—I, Paul, who am “timid” when face to face with you, but “bold” toward you when away! 2 I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world.
Paul is down to the last few chapters of his second letter to the Corinthians. He has finished his encouragement regarding giving to the poor in Jerusalem. In the following verses, Paul will defend his pedigree as a true apostle of Christ.
If Paul had walked with Christ during His ministry on earth, there would be no doubt that Paul was an apostle. We have seen it time and again, that members of some of the churches questioned whether or not Paul is a true apostle. He spent the first two chapters of his letter to the Galatians trying to dispel any arguments that he was not an apostle. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he did the same thing. So what is the difference between an apostle and a disciple? A disciple is a follower or student of Jesus or His teachings but an apostle is one commissioned by God/Jesus. When did the 12 apostles get their commission from Jesus? Pentecost, Acts 2:1-4. When did Paul get his commission from Jesus? Road to Damascus.
In verse 1, Paul uses terms like “humility and gentleness”, as well as “timid”. These words show the change in Paul when he met Jesus on the Damascus Road. Before his meeting with Jesus, Paul would most likely not have used such words. Evidently some of the Corinthian Christians said that Paul behaved differently in person than he did in his first letter. In person he was “timid” but in his letter he let them have it and he wrote “boldly”.
I believe that letters, emails or texts are ok for providing information. “We had a great time on vacation.” “We bought 4 pairs of shoes.” It is very difficult to read the writer’s emotions or body language in written communication. People do tend to write more boldly than they are willing to speak in person, which can get them into trouble. In both of his letters to the Corinthians, Paul has said that whatever you do or say, do it with love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 says, “Do everything in love.” (NIV) This is the same feeling that you get in “the humility and gentleness of Christ”.
In verse 2, Paul says that when he comes to Corinth, hopefully he doesn’t have to be “bold”. It would be difficult to do everything in love when the Corinthian Christians are not listening or accepting what he is teaching. Again, it is not everyone in the church that is causing the problems. It was believed to be a vocal minority.
“Paul hopes that the Corinthians will change their attitude towards him and his credentials as an apostle so that he may come to them in gentleness, not severity.” (Guzik)
At the end of verse 2, Paul says that there are some in the Corinthian church that think Paul and his mission team “act from human motives” (NLT) or “walked according to the flesh.” (NASB) This makes me think of Christians that live as Christians on Sunday but like nonbelievers the rest of the week. If Paul is on a mission for Jesus and collecting no pay for himself, as well as enduring all sorts of hostility, how can he not be fully committed, 24/7/365.
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 6 And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
In verse 3, Paul says that “we walk in the flesh” (NASB) or “we live in this world”. Since we are all human beings then that is the only way that we can walk. He concludes this verse with “we do not wage war as the world does.” This verse says the same thing that he told the Ephesians. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
We may be walking as mere mortals but we are battling Satan and his minions. If we battle as mortals then we will fail. Defeating Satan requires spiritual weapons or as the NLT says, “We use God’s mighty weapons”.
At the end of verse 4 (NASB), Paul says that God’s mighty weapons are “divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.” Read Ephesians 6:10-18. How do we get this divine power that can “demolish strongholds”? Put on the full armor of God.
“The Corinthian Christians tended to rely on and admire carnal weapons for the Christian battle:
Instead of the belt of truth, they fought with manipulation.
Instead of the breastplate of righteousness, they fought with the image of success.
Instead of the shoes of the gospel, they fought with smooth words.
Instead of the shield of faith, they fought with the perception of power.
Instead of the helmet of salvation, they fought with lording over authority.
Instead of the sword of the Spirit, they fought with human schemes and programs.” (Guzik)
We use the full armor of God which are attributes of Jesus to (verses 5-6 NASB):
Destroy speculations and every lofty thing that sets itself up against the knowledge of God.
We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
We will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
7 You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. 8 So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it.
In verse 7, Paul has realized that those causing problems in the Corinthian church are judging things by outward appearances. They were saying that Paul was bold when he was writing to them but he was ‘timid’ or ‘meek’ when he was with them. He finishes verse 7 by saying, on the outside he may appear weak but they should consider that Paul and his team “belong to Christ just as much as they do”.
“But they knew Paul only on an outward, surface level. The people who criticized Paul and said that there were “two Pauls” — one reflected in his letters and one evident in person — really didn’t know Paul except on a surface level.” (Guzik)
1 Samuel records when the prophet Samuel went to anoint David as king. In verse 7, God said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (NIV)
In verse 8, Paul tells them that he does not want to boast about any authority that Jesus gave him. Paul was humbled by his experience on the road to Damascus. Do you remember the Paul that put Christians to death because he was so confident that he was right? Now he does not want to boast about his authority that he knows he has been given by Jesus. He is a changed man. The authority given to him by Jesus was given to Paul to edify or build up those that he was teaching. It was not given for humbling or tearing them down. In Paul’s mind, he was using his authority properly, so he had nothing to be ashamed of.
9 I do not want to seem to be trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 For some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but in person he is unimpressive and his speaking amounts to nothing.” 11 Such people should realize that what we are in our letters when we are absent, we will be in our actions when we are present.
In our study of Paul’s letters to the Corinthian Christians, I have said several times that Paul isn’t pulling any punches or holding back. In verse 9, Paul says that he is not trying to frighten them with what he is putting in his letters.
He continues in verse 10 with what they are saying about his first letter. They called it “weighty and forceful” but his personal presence is weak or unimpressive and his speech is contemptible or worthless (NLT). Some theologians believe that Paul may have been sick when he was in Corinth. Whether he was sick or not, being thought weak would not have bothered Paul.
In a couple of chapters Paul will write about a thorn in his flesh that he prayed for God to take it away. Paul says, “But he (Jesus) said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)
The human way is to attack the person when you cannot attack his message. As Paul said in verse 7 of this chapter, there are some Corinthians that are attacking him based on his physical appearance. Paul may be physically weak but through his faith in Jesus, he is spiritually strong. How could you look at all that Paul endured or accomplished for “Christ’s sake” and think him weak?
In verse 11, Paul is saying that whether we are telling you in person or in a letter, we are the same people and it should be treated the same way. Paul says that he can be as tough in person as he was in his letters, if that is what they want. Sometimes we think that in order to show love to someone we must be weak or humbled around them but there are times when tough love is necessary. We do it for their own good.
12 We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.
In this verse, Paul blasts his critics. He says that his critics should not make themselves the standard by which they measure others or themselves. I would imagine that if you are the standard, then you would measure up pretty well and others might not measure up too well. This verse makes me think of Matthew 7:1-3. Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
Paul wrote about this same type of thinking in Romans 12:3. He said, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Paul says that if you think that you should be the standard then you are ignorant or not wise. It is not the way that Jesus thought nor is it the way that God wants you to think.
13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ.
In verse 13, Paul says that when it comes to boasting, Paul will not go beyond what he considers “proper limits”. When sharing the Gospel message with others, it is best to speak about how God changed your life. That is what Paul is talking about. Those that preach the prosperity Gospel go beyond “proper limits”. Paul’s sphere of influence was assigned by God. Paul followed God’s moving and every church that he planted was part of God’s plan. Acts 16:6-10 gives an example of God’s leading. Paul moved as he was led by the Holy Spirit. It was not by chance that Paul ended up in Corinth. It was by the leading of the Holy Spirit. He counted the church in Corinth part of his sphere of influence. He could boast about what God had done in that church because God had worked through him to plant it.
In verse 14, Paul says that it would not be a stretch for him and his team to claim authority over the Corinthian church because Paul and his team were the first ones to share the Gospel message of Jesus in Corinth.
15 Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, 16 so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory.
In verse 15, Paul says that they claim credit for what they have done. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian Christians (1 Corinthians 3:6-9), Paul says that he “planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” Paul was great at planting churches and he would follow up to make sure things were going well. Growth of the church was up to God and those that made up to the church. He could only claim credit for planting and checking on the church.
Consider that Paul was in Corinth for a year and a half and then moved on to other churches. That was the goal of Paul’s ministry. It was not to stay longer and become a part of the church. If the church thrived and grew, it was up to God working through the members of the church. Paul did not want to babysit the church after he planted it. He wanted to share the Gospel with as many people as he could, it was purely evangelistic. Paul clearly does not want to take credit for work done by others. He is making a point of clarifying this issue because that is exactly what his critics are doing or what they are accusing him of.
17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
In the verse 17, Paul quotes Jeremiah 9:24. His ministry was all about praising God and how He changed Paul’s life. After his encounter with Jesus, Paul’s life was changed. He was humbled by it. He considered anything that he did insignificant compared to what God had done. He didn’t preach the saving grace of Paul, he preached the saving grace of Jesus as the Messiah.
Verse 18 in the NLT says, “When people commend themselves, it doesn’t count for much. The important thing is for the Lord to commend them.” or “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”(Matthew 25:21)
When it comes to being commended or praised by others, the Bibles says:
Proverbs 27:2 – “Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth— a stranger, not your own lips.”
Colossians 3:23 – “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”
John 5:44 – Jesus said, “How can you believe since you accept glory from one another but do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?”
Matthew 6:1 – Jesus said, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”
Matthew 6:19-21 – Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
2 Corinthians 11
11:1 I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! 2 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.
In verse 1, Paul asks the Corinthian Christians to put up with a little bit of foolishness. When Paul wrote to the Galatian church, he wanted to teach them more than what he was able. He failed to go into the depth that he did with the Thessalonians because the Galatian church was caught up in the Law. There is a group in the Corinthian church that is caught up in whether Paul is a true apostle compared to the false teachers or so-called “super-apostles”. Paul calls what he is about to say foolishness not because it is going to be a joke or the way we think of foolishness. He is just feels that it is a waste of time when he should be teaching them more.
In verses 2 through 4, Paul explains why his apostolic credentials are so important. In verse 2, he says that he has a jealousy from God. Where have we heard of God being a jealous God? Read Exodus 20:3-5. The 10 Commandments.
Do you believe that you are sitting here in this church listening to me teach by luck? God wants you here for His purpose. That is what Paul is saying. It is what Jesus said in John 10:27-29. Paul is saying, “God sent me to Corinth, He put you in my hands and no one can snatch you from my hands. I am jealous for your salvation.”
Continuing in verse 2, since God ordained it there should be no arguments from them. Since they are God’s church and the church is the bride of Christ. The church is betrothed to Christ and Paul wants to deliver a pure bride. Paul’s job was to deliver the Corinthians to Jesus with a pure understanding of the Gospel and faith in salvation through Jesus. But they keep altering the true Gospel or keep listening to improper teachers.
Paul goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden to give them a scriptural example of what he is talking about. Paul has said time and time again that the Gospel that he presented to the Corinthians was accurate and given to him by Jesus. They keep altering the Gospel taught by Paul because they were led astray by Satan, just like Eve in the Garden. Satan said to Eve, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” Satan was saying to the Corinthians that doubted, “Is Paul’s gospel really accurate? He didn’t even walk with Jesus.”
In verse 4, Paul says that if someone comes to them with a different message about Christ, then consider these things:
Does their message teach about “a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached?”
Does their message give you a “different spirit from the Spirit you received?”
Is their message, “a different gospel from the one you accepted?”
Gusik says about the sentence at the end of verse 4, “You may well put up with it: The problem wasn’t so much that these false teachers had come among the Christians in Corinth. The problem was that the Corinthian Christians put up with them.”
5 I do not think I am in the least inferior to those “super-apostles.” 6 I may indeed be untrained as a speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way.
In verse 5, Paul compares himself to these false teachers by sarcastically calling them “super-apostles” or “most eminent apostles.” He isn’t insinuating in any way that he is less than these false teachers. He was mocking the false teachers for their claims or inaccurate gospels.
In verse 6, Paul says that his speaking may not be the best but his knowledge is unquestionable. God had prepared Paul for his apostleship from his birth. Paul could argue the Law with any Jew or member of the Sanhedrin. He studied under a member of the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, then on the road to Damascus, He was further taught by Jesus.
In verse 6, Paul says that he was willing to teach them but not to put on a show. While Terry and I were in Myrtle Beach a couple of week ago, we saw just what Paul is talking about here. We saw two evangelical preachers put on a show. They stirred emotion but without much substance. Then we saw Ken Ham from AIG who taught, but maybe too much.
7 Was it a sin for me to lower myself in order to elevate you by preaching the gospel of God to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so as to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and needed something, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied what I needed. I have kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.
“Someone in the church had mistaken Paul’s refusal to take money as an indication that he considered himself inferior to others. The “super-apostles” were well paid for their efforts, but Paul offered only free service in Corinth.” Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians
In these verses, Paul said that he was given money by the other churches to live on while teaching in Corinth. Sometimes we think, if what we received was free then it obviously had lower value. Price does not always equal the true value.
Owens Corning had lots of groups that set the prices of their products. Occasionally, they would set a price high but people didn’t buy it because the true value didn’t equal the premium price. They thought the high price meant people would think it was much better than the lower price product, not so.
When you truly think about it, Paul was offering something of high value, salvation, at no cost. What an amazing deal!
In verse 8, Paul says that he “robbed” other churches. He used the Greek word ‘sylaō’ which is a strong word for ‘rob’ or ‘to strip’ as in, stripping the possessions from a dead soldier. He felt strongly about taking an income from the other churches in order to teach the Corinthians for a year and a half. Paul was a hard worker but there must have been something to prevent him from usual work, tent making.
In verse 9, Paul tells them that as a missionary in Corinth, he relied on the support of the churches in Macedonia. Earlier in 2 Corinthians, Paul spoke of the willingness of the churches in Macedonia to give cheerfully. This is another example of their generosity.
10 As surely as the truth of Christ is in me, nobody in the regions of Achaia will stop this boasting of mine. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!
In verse 10, Paul says that as a true apostle, he will never stop boasting about the Gospel message that he taught. The Gospel message he taught to the Corinthians and for that matter, all of the churches that he planted, came directly from Jesus. He was not boasting about himself but the message that was in him from Christ.
In verse 11, Paul says that the reason for his boasting was that He wanted them to have the true salvation that comes from Jesus and not some altered promise of salvation that would come from a false teacher. Just as we want to see our loved ones in Heaven, Paul wanted to see the members of the Corinthian church in Heaven too. Why, because he loved them. He almost says it as an oath to God. “God knows that he loves them!”
12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.
In verse 12, Paul says that he will continue to “cut the ground” from under the false prophets that are watering down the Gospel or altering the Word of God. These false prophets are preaching for personal gain, both financial and reputation. Look around today and you see the same thing going on. There are pastors preaching a prosperity gospel or a lukewarm gospel just to “tickle the ears of their listeners”.
This verse makes me think of Matthew 7:15 where Jesus gave the warning, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Sometimes it gets to be difficult to tell if the promises made by these false teachers or pastors are from Satan himself. “God wants you to prosper. He wants you to be happy and successful.”
In the second part of verse 12, Paul gives the reason they are teaching. They are looking for any opportunity to boast about what they have done and not what Jesus did.
In verse 13, Paul again pulls no punches. He says that these people are false prophets and deceitful workers. The phrase “masquerading” or “disguised as apostles of Christ” are the wolves in sheep’s clothing that Jesus warned about.
By definition, a true apostle of Jesus; it is only a calling from God. “They were never apostles of Christ, only they put themselves into such a shape and form, that they might have more advantage to deceive.” (Poole)
Jesus’ beloved disciple, John was having the same problem when he wrote his epistles. Read 1 John 4:1-5. John and Paul are warning people about the same thing but John was warning the believers to test every spirit.
In verse 14, Paul brings Satan into the mix just as he told the Ephesians in Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Jesus blasted His own people because they were the children of Satan and not the children of God (John 8:44).
These false teachers were altering the Gospel. Peter ran into the same thing. Peter too, recognized that the false teachers were from Satan. In 1 Peter 5:8-9, he said, “8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
Men have always had trouble with the fact that Jesus was fully human and fully God. Their thinking is: Since Habakkuk 1:13 tells us that God cannot look upon sin and Jesus and God are one (John 10:30), then how could Jesus have a physical body and walk among sinful men. He must have appeared to have a physical body and He appeared to have suffered and died on the cross. This type of teaching was rampant during Paul’s life. It is related to agnosticism.
16 I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then tolerate me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. 17 In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. 18 Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. 19 You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! 20 In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face. 21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that!
In verse 16, he reiterates that if they consider him a fool then he will act like a fool but he won’t act like Jesus. Paul would rather talk about Jesus but he believes that he must brag about himself like the false teachers which he considers acting a fool. Back in 1 Corinthians 1:31, Paul quoted Jeremiah 9:24, “Therefore, as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'” Paul brags about Jesus because Paul considers that man’s accomplishments to pale in comparison to those of Jesus.
The accomplishments of men lead to self-elevation. Jesus’ accomplishments glorified the Father and lead to salvation. Back in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, Paul said, “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” Paul is about to become a fool to save these fools.
In verse 18, Paul says that the false teachers are boasting about what they have done, just as the world does then he will too.
In verse 19, he uses sarcasm. He says that they put up with the foolish because they are so wise. They have a bit of Mohammed Ali in them. He said, “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.”
In verse 20, Paul says that the troublemakers in the Corinthian church are willing to tolerate anything from the “super apostles” or false teachers. They are “willing to put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or puts on airs or slaps you in the face.”
“The bondage Paul speaks of may indicate that these false apostles were legalists, trying to put people under the bondage of the Law. However, it is just as likely that the bondage Paul refers to is the personal domination and authority the most eminent apostles held over others. The emphasis on image and outward appearance is often coupled with an authoritarian approach to leadership, and this probably explains the bondage Paul refers to.” (Guzik)
In verse 21, Paul says that he and his mission team were too weak to let someone do that to them. You can sense that Paul is getting fed up with these troublemakers. He is using more and more sarcasm. Paul says that whatever these false teachers are boasting about then he too will boast about what he has done.
22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. 24 Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. 27 I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. 28 Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
Paul is about to take off on his boasting about who he is and what he has accomplished. In verse 22, he says that if they say that they are Hebrews, Israelites and descendants of Abraham, so is he. As a Jew, Paul’s pedigree was unmatched. He was a Jew’s Jew.
In verse 23, Paul says, “When it comes to serving Christ, I am unmatched.” He said, “I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again.”
In verse 24 – 27, Paul lists what he has suffered for Christ.
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one.
Three times I was beaten with rods,
Once I was pelted with stones,
Three times I was shipwrecked,
I spent a night and a day in the open sea,
I have been constantly on the move.
I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers.
I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep;
I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food;
I have been cold and naked.
In verse 28, Paul says that in addition to his physical suffering he has endured the daily stress of worrying about his churches. Mental and emotional stress can wear on a body as much or more than physical suffering. His concern for the churches is because he truly loves them. It is not that he doesn’t trust God, he doesn’t trust the people in the churches.
30 If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. 32 In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. 33 But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.
Paul points out in verse 30 that he has boasted about things that show his weakness. He still goes back to boasting in God and Jesus. To Paul, it truly is not about him, it is about Him.
In verse 31, he says that “the God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying.” It doesn’t matter whether men believe what he says, God knows the truth.
In verses 32 and 33, he gives one more example of his suffering to finish this chapter. Paul had to be “lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.” He did this in order to escape death for preaching the Gospel in Damascus.
“It illustrates with power the contrast between Saul of Tarsus and Paul the Apostle. Saul of Tarsus traveled to Damascus full of man’s power and authority, directed against God’s people. Paul the Apostle left Damascus humbly in a basket. Is there anything more descriptive of weakness than being let down in a basket over a wall? (Guzik)
“Could we think of anything more likely to rob a man of any sense of dignity than that?” (Morgan)
2 Corinthians 12
12 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.
In verse 1, Paul says the he will continue boast but now he will switch gears and boast about visions and revelations. He does remind them that there is no benefit to boasting. Paul considers boasting juvenile. It reminds me of what was done in grade school, the old, “My dad is bigger than your dad.” Paul says that there is nothing to be gained by it but if it is what they want then he will continue.
I am guessing but the false teachers or “super-apostles” were boasting that they had visions and revelations too. As I said previously, Paul is getting tired of being compared to these fakes and their grand claims.
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3 And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4 was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell. 5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6 Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say,
Paul starts this section with “I know a man in Christ”. It is difficult to be sure but many theologians believe that Paul is talking about himself in the third person. It makes it difficult to tell whether Paul doesn’t want to boast more about himself or he really isn’t talking about himself. The NLT goes so far as to translate “I know a man in Christ” to say “I”. Guzik says, “But because he transitions into the first person in verse seven, we may be assured that he really writes about himself.”
He continues in verse 2 saying that this man (Paul) was caught up in the third heaven fourteen years ago. The first heaven is the sky above us. The second heaven is the stars, moon and planets. The third heaven is where God and His throne are. Fourteen years earlier Paul would have been 42 years old. He wrote his second letter to the Corinthian church at the age of 56. This would have been a few years after his meeting with Jesus on the Damascus road (age 34). He would have still been in Tarsus. Acts 9:29 – 30 tells us that “He talked and debated with the Hellenistic Jews, but they tried to kill him. 30 When the believers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.” Paul was in Tarsus for several years until Barnabas goes in gets him which is recorded in Acts 11:25.
In verse 3, Paul says that the vision was so real that he didn’t know whether it was a vision or if it really happened. He says that only God knows if it was real or not. Daniel had a vision regarding end times which is recorded in Daniel 12. He was told to “roll up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end.”(NIV) Paul says he “heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”
In verse 5, Paul continues to speak in the third person and says that he will boast of this unnamed person that had a vision about the third heaven but when it comes to boasting about himself, then he will only boast about his weaknesses.
In verse 6, Paul says that even if he boasted it would not be foolish because what he would be saying would be the truth and not exaggerations like what the false teachers were saying. Paul says that he does not want to get into a boasting match with the false teachers even though it is true because he only wants credit for how they see him live and the accurate Gospel message that he has delivered.
7 or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
In verse 7, Paul says he would also boast about the amazing visions that God had given him. The fact that Paul had these visions or revelations could have boosted his ego. He wasn’t speaking of mere dreams caused by something he ate or caused by stress. Paul was speaking about a true vision from God. It would be the same as being in God’s holy presence and speaking with God.
He continues in verse 7 with “but God found a way to keep me humble”. Paul says that “I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” Notice that Paul says the thorn was given to him. He didn’t say that he was afflicted by the thorn. The ESV says that Paul was given the thorn “to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations.” The word translated to mean thorn also means spike or stake so we are not talking about a splinter. This “thorn” appears to suggest some constant bodily ailment or infirmity that kept bothering him even though he was in a trance/vision that reminded him that he was in a human body.
“It seems that everyone could see the thorn in the flesh Paul suffered from — it was no secret. His heavenly vision was a secret until now, but everyone saw the thorn. Some among the Corinthian Christians probably thought less of Paul because of his thorn in the flesh, but they knew nothing of the amazing spiritual experience that lay behind it.” (Guzik)
In verse 8, Paul says that he pleaded three times with God to take it away. When you consider that Paul prayed three times and God still said “No”, you should be reminded that Paul is no different than us. Sometimes we pray to have God get us out of a bad situation but sometimes the answer is still No. We don’t know why but neither did Paul.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Christ is telling Paul that “Our personal relationship with Him is at its best when you rely on Me or when you bring your problems to Me. If everything is good in your life then you will become self-reliant.” As a parent, you spend your life trying to make sure that your children are able to stand on their own but when they reach that point you feel worthless and long for the days when they relied on you. You feel that in their weakness, your relationship is strong.
Paul says that he boasts in his weaknesses because his weaknesses bring him closer to God. Men pick on us when we are weak but we are able to be stronger when we are weak because we have the power of God in us.
As a young man I didn’t understand how I could love Terry more than I did but with the love of Christ in us, our ability to love is increased. As a man, weakness makes us weak but by relying on Christ our power is significantly greater. Back in 1 Corinthians 1:27 Paul wrote, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
In verse 10, Paul says that he boasts of his “weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.” In BSF, we had a great discussion about how as men, our first approach to solving a problem is the say, “I got this one God.” Then we leave Him out of the solution until we fail then we try it God’s way.
11 I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. 12 I persevered in demonstrating among you the marks of a true apostle, including signs, wonders and miracles. 13 How were you inferior to the other churches, except that I was never a burden to you? Forgive me this wrong!
In verse 11, Paul said that through his boasting about himself he has made a fool of himself but it was their fault. They drove him to it. He says that even though he is nothing, he is still better than the “super-apostles”. He is better because everything that he has done, he did for Christ’s sake. His goal was not self-edification, it was to glorify Jesus. Paul has the same attitude regarding Jesus that John the Baptist had. In Luke 3:16, it is recorded that John said, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
“The Corinthians should have remembered his signs, wonders and miracles that mark an apostle. Paul had performed miracles in many places as he had proclaimed the gospel of Christ, but in Corinth he had done these things with great perseverance. Time and again, he had demonstrated the divine authorization of his ministry before the Corinthians.” (Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians)
In verse 13, Paul says the Corinthian church was not inferior to other churches except that he did not take money for his preaching. Remember in the previous chapter that the churches in Macedonia paid for Paul’s living expenses while he was in Corinth. In order to reach the people of Corinth, Paul did not want to be a financial burden to them and they had a problem with it.
14 Now I am ready to visit you for the third time, and I will not be a burden to you, because what I want is not your possessions but you. After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. 15 So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?
“Now for the third time I am ready to come to you: On his first visit to Corinth, Paul founded the church and stayed a year and six months (Acts 18:11). His second visit was a brief, painful visit in between the writing of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. Now he is prepared to come for a third time.” (Guzik)
He says that when he visits, he will not take an income from them. He says that he does not want their money, he wants them. He wants them to fully accept Jesus as their savior. He says that a parent should take care of their children and not the other way around. Paul is the spiritual parent of the Corinthian church. After all, he led them to Christ and without his help, they may still be lost.
In verse 15, Paul says that he would gladly spend himself for them. He is going back to needing the financial support from the Macedonian churches to live. The fact that they didn’t support him was not important but he would have appreciated it. Here he says, he would gladly give as much of himself in order to save their souls.
Paul says that it seems the more he loves them, the less they love him back. This reminds me of raising a teenager, the more love you pour into them, the less love they give you back in return.
16 Be that as it may, I have not been a burden to you. Yet, crafty fellow that I am, I caught you by trickery! 17 Did I exploit you through any of the men I sent to you? 18 I urged Titus to go to you and I sent our brother with him. Titus did not exploit you, did he? Did we not walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit?
In verse 16, Paul says that it is not everyone in the Corinthian church that has a problem with Paul and these members did not feel that Paul was a burden. There are some that accused Paul of being “crafty”. Paul used sarcasm to say so.
Paul says that those few members that felt Paul was “crafty” believed that Paul got them to accept the Gospel message by trickery. It is strange because they were claiming that Paul took no money, was in it for the money but the “super-apostles” who were in it for the money, were doing right. Sounds very strange.
Paul asks them about the members of his missionary team that he sent to them. Did Timothy and Titus take advantage of you? To Paul this was a rhetorical question, it did not need answered. Back in 2 Corinthians 7:13, Paul said, “By all this we are encouraged. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was, because his spirit has been refreshed by all of you.” He was sure that everything between Titus and the Corinthian church had a positive outcome. Paul felt that Titus walked the same path and walked in the same spirit that Paul did with the Holy Spirit.
When Paul wrote to Timothy, he said, 1 Timothy 6:10 (NIV) “10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” The whole problem that Paul has been writing about has been the influence of money. Was Paul and his missionary team misappropriating funds for their own personal gain?
19 Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening. 20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged.
In verse 19, Paul wants the Corinthians to know that he has been defending himself to strengthen them. He went down the route of boasting for their benefit. He was afraid that the Corinthians would think that he was just making excuses. Paul believed that everything that he had done for the Corinthian church was to lift them up or strengthen them and not for his personal gain. He said that everything he had said regarding Christ was done with God as his witness. He wants them to understand his motives were purely selfless. He preached Christ crucified for their salvation and not his own personal gain.
Paul calls them “dear friends” (NIV) or “beloved” (NASB). The Greek word ‘agapētos’ is used which is the same word used by Paul in 2 Timothy 1:2 when he calls Timothy his “beloved son”. It shows the love that Paul has for the Corinthians.
In verse 20, Paul says that he is afraid that things will not be civil between him and the Corinthians. He won’t see them as he wants and they won’t see him the way they want. He was afraid that there would be discord and every sort of problem between them.
In verse 21, Paul says that he is afraid that God will humble him before the Corinthians. Guzik says, “If the Corinthian Christians were still stuck in their worldly thinking, Paul would be humbled among them. He would have reason to think, “I must not be a very good apostle or leader because these Corinthian Christians will not respond to me.” That was not the whole truth, but it would still humble Paul.”
Just like any good pastor, Paul is afraid for the Corinthians. Read Luke 15:3-7. It is the parable of the lost sheep. Based on what Paul says in verse 21, Paul views some in the Corinthian church as lost sheep. They continue to sin doing their previous sins and have not repented from them. Paul is grieved by the lack of repentance. Remember Paul says that when we accept Christ as our savior, we are a new creation. Some in Corinth are not new, they are old and doing the same old sins.
2 Corinthians 13
13 This will be my third visit to you. “Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.” 2 I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others,
In verse 1, Paul reminds them that this will be his third visit to Corinth. He came the first time and planted the church and he stayed for 1 ½ years. Then he went to Corinth a second time after he had beaten them up with his first letter. And now this will be the third visit. You can tell by his tone through this letter that he is reaching the end of his patience with them. He is using more and more sarcasm with each chapter.
He quotes Deuteronomy 19:15. It looks out of place but he is referencing that fact that this is his third visit. He has witnessed their improper behavior the first two times. So he has met the letter of the law that he has quoted. This time he isn’t coming to witness their bad behavior, he is coming to judge it.
In verse 2, he confirms this interpretation. He says that he has warned them twice and now in this letter he is warning them again, while he is absent from them. In the previous chapters, the Corinthians have complained that when he is with them, he was weak but in his letters he speaks boldly. At the end of verse 2, he warns them that he is going to be bold in person.
He says that he “will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others.” He is coming to take corrective actions. One theologian said of these verses that if you rebel against God’s appointed messenger then you are rebelling against God himself.
3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you. 4 For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you.
In verse 3, Paul says that he will give them proof that everything that he has taught them and written to them has come from Jesus. He is saying, “You want to see power, then you will see the power of Jesus in me!” In the second part of verse 3, Paul essentially says what it says in Revelation 19:15. Jesus came the first time to “seek and to save” or as a servant leader. When Christ returns or even in heaven, he has the full power and authority of God. “He will rule them with an iron scepter. He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.”
In verse 4, Paul says that Jesus allowed Himself to be crucified in weakness or as it says in Isaiah 53, “he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” As Paul continues in verse 4, he reiterates that Jesus has the full power of God at His disposal and Paul is willing to use the power of God in dealing with these false teachers and those that believe them.
5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? 6 And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.
In verse 5, Paul tells them to examine themselves first. Jesus said it this way in John 7:3-5, “ 3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Make sure that there isn’t a problem between you and Jesus before you judge someone else.
He wants them to make sure that they truly are following Jesus and are truly putting their faith in Jesus as their savior. It is easy to criticize someone else but before you do, Paul says check yourself first. In Galatians 6:4, Paul said, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.”
“To examine yourself, in fact, is to submit to the examination and scrutiny of Jesus Christ the Lord — and this never to fix attention on sin but on Christ — and to ask Him to reveal that in you which grieves His Spirit; to ask Him to give you grace that it might be put away and cleansed in His precious blood.” Self examination “takes the chill away from your soul, it takes the hardness away from your heart, it takes the shadows away from your life, it sets the prisoner free.” (Redpath)
What is truly in your heart is not visible to others but you can know what is in your own heart. You know whether your motives are for personal gain or whether or not you are following Jesus. Are you doing what is right or are you putting on a front to empress others? Jesus knows.
We have used Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11) several times in our study of Corinthians. They told everyone that they were giving everything but they were holding some of their money back. No one knew but God and them. They were willing to bet their lives on the fact that no one would find out.
Here in verse 5, Paul reminds them that “Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you?” If you fail the test, then you are not a true believer, just a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
In verse 6, Paul says that he hopes “they do not fail the test”. Based on the fact that at least some of the Corinthians are attacking and judging Paul, he fully expects some of them will fail, if they judge themselves correctly.
7 Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong—not so that people will see that we have stood the test but so that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. 9 We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. 10 This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come I may not have to be harsh in my use of authority—the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down.
In verse 7, Paul is saying that if they failed the test, he hopes they will not refuse correction. If we are really wrong to the point that we doubt that we are Christians, then we must repent and get right with God. If we still believe that Christ is in us, then we have to do what 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
In verse 8, Paul says that as true apostle of Christ, he is on the side of truth. Since he is on the side of truth then he cannot do anything contrary or against the truth. As recorded in John 14:6, Jesus is the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” If Jesus is the truth, a believer has to be on the side of Jesus, who is the truth. The false teachers or so called “super-apostles” were teaching a false gospel so they were not on the side of truth. They worked against the truth.
In verse 9, Paul says that he is glad when his weakness contributes to their strength in Christ. In Chapter 12 verse 9, Paul said that Jesus said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Here Paul wants his weakness to help bring the Corinthian believers to completeness. If they can have a better relationship with Jesus, Paul will be blessed by it.
In verse 10, Paul says that he has the authority that Jesus gave him. He wants to use that authority to build them up and not tear them down. If he can be rough on them in his letter so that they get straightened out before he arrives in Corinth. It comes down to correction versus edification.
11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. 13 All God’s people here send their greetings.
14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
These verses fall under a title, “Final Greetings” in my Bible. In verse 11, Paul used the Greek word, ‘chaírō’, “Farewell is much better translated rejoice. Even though Paul has been severe with the Corinthian Christians, all was written to the end that they would enjoy the joy of walking in a right relationship with God.” (Guzik)
“Paul listed five exhortations followed by a promise of divine blessing.” (Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Corinthians)
The 5 exhortations or encouragements are:
Farewell or rejoice
Strive for full restoration or be made complete
Encourage one another or be comforted
Be of one mind or be like-minded
Live in peace.