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.”