Showing posts with label 1 Corinthians. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 1 Corinthians. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

1 Corinthians 16

The Gentile churches were contributing money for those poor in Jerusalem. Paul instructed Corinthians to set something aside for a weekly collection, which will be borne to Jerusalem.

Paul shared his plans to visit Corinth and gives news and instructions to various individuals. Paul commends Timothy, who is coming to visit the Corinthians - he asks them to treat him well. Apollos will come later when he has an opportunity.

Paul issued a word of caution:
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.
Paul is sending greetings from Aquila and Priscilla, those tent-workers with whom he lived during his stay in Corinth.

He wrote the final greeting with his own hand and greets everyone with a holy kiss.

1 Corinthians 15

The idea of resurrected body seemed ridiculous to the Greeks. To them, it was the soul that was immortal.

Paul preached to the Corinthians the gospel of resurrected Christ, who was seen by over five hundred people. This is recorded in Acts 17:32. Most of them who saw resurrected Christ were still alive at the time Paul wrote this - which was about 25 years later. Paul himself is a witness of seeing Jesus Christ and he turned away from his previous ways of persecution.

Paul challenged those who said there was no resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:12-14 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 
He taught that Christ is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. In Adam we all die, but in Christ all shall be made alive. Christ will reign until all his enemies are put under his feet.
1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 
Paul makes them think - If the dead do not raise, then let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die! Paul instills some words of wisdom.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God - I say this to your shame.
According to Paul, our bodies are like seeds, which are buried in the earth, but grow into resurrection bodies. There are various kinds of bodies too.
1 Corinthians 15:39-40 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.
Our bodies that are sown and perishable in weakness is raised in power as a spiritual body.
The first Adam was a man of dust, the last Adam a heavenly man. In the resurrection, we shall bear the image of the heavenly man. The change from corruption to purity will happen at the last trumpet. This maybe too hard to understand - but to make it clear, in the end when Jesus comes to rule, death will be defeated and we all can sing a victory song to God.
1 Corinthians 15:51-52 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 
This chapter closes with a word of encouragement from Paul:
1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 14

Paul is instructing how things should be done, and stressed the need for order. Speaking in tongues is speaking to God, whereas prophesying is speaking to men for their edification, and ultimately more useful. Speaking in tongues is self-edifying, and incomprehensible to others, whereas prophesying edifies the entire church.

The message is that one who prays using a private “prayer language” certainly gets a lot out of it, but proclaiming God’s truth to the church in its common language brings the whole church into growth and strength.

Paul prefers an interpreter if someone speaks publicly in tongues - the idea is that everyone should understand the language in which it is being spoken.
1 Corinthians 14:18-19 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
Prophets must take it in turns to speak, and not all speak at the same time. Again - the idea is to have order and peace in church.
1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace - as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
It is shameful for women to speak in church – if they wish to know something, they must ask their husbands at home. Paul is forbidding women from disturbing the service by talking. He is certainly not denying women a vocal part during the worship. He is instructing on how women should learn. 

1 Corinthians 13

This is one of the most glorious chapters in the entire Bible. While Paul paints the picture of love, he draws us to the portrait of Jesus Christ himself - the living embodiment of this outing.

Without love, all spiritual gifts are meaningless. Love is not envious, proud, arrogant, rude, cliquish, easily provoked, suspicious, nor happy with evil.

Unlike spiritual gifts, love can never fail. Spiritual gifts are appropriate for the present time, but not forever – they belong to a spiritual childhood, and to seeing through a glass darkly. In time, however, we will put away childish things and know as we are known.

Of faith, hope and love, love is the greatest.

Am including the entire chapter as Paul's writing cannot be summarized.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part,
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 12

Those who have spiritual gifts glorify Jesus. Gifts are diverse, but the Spirit behind them is the same. The Holy Spirit gives out the following gifts:
  • The gift of wise words.
  • The gift of 'knowledge', which means insight into a situation without having been told. It comes in the form of words or mental pictures. 
  • Faith - trusting God even in the darkest moment, against all probabilities. 
  • Gift of healing - which includes healing physical, spiritual, psychological and relational damage. 
  • Miracles - the 'acts of power' 
  • Prophecy - highly valued in the early church, wherein an individual speaks directly from God into a situation. It could be either predictive or encouraging. While Scripture comes from God, and has universal validity, whereas prophecy is for a particular situation. 
  • Tongues - the ability to praise God and pray in words inspired by the Holy Spirit, though the meaning is unknown to the user. 
  • Interpretation of Tongues - the ability to know what those words indicate. 
1 Corinthians 12:11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as He determines.
Diverse members make up the single body of the church – no member is separate, any more than a body part can be separate. It is because all of us are baptized in the same Holy Spirit. 

Three qualities of life - Faith, Hope and Love outlive all these gifts. 

1 Corinthians 11

Some of the women in church at Corinth were praying bareheaded and had flouted the custom. What is the proper headdress for men and women during prayers? This question came up as Jewish customs differed from those of Greek and Romans.
First, Paul defined the tradition:
1 Corinthians 11:3 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.
Contrary to the Greek and Roman custom, Paul said that men should pray bareheaded. According to him, women should cover their heads.
1 Corinthians 11:13-15 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 
In earlier days, Lord's Supper was held in a 'bring-and-share' manner (potluck) - everyone brought whatever food they could. Then they shared the food that was brought in, in a communal manner. However, in Corinth, this 'bring-and-share' principle was broken down. Due to those prevailing factions in the church, some faction began eating before others arrived. Some group got drunk while others were still hungry. It is in this context, Paul reminded them how Lord's Supper should take place. He is certainly not happy with them.
17-22 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 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. No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 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. 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!
He taught them that The Lord’s Supper should be eaten together, not with some starting their meal before others. Paul reminded them of the commemorative purpose of the Lord’s Supper – inappropriate behavior makes one guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. He also told them to wait before they started eating!

Additional Info
Cutting the hair of women was a punishment instituted for prostitutes at that time. 

1 Corinthians 10

Taking them back in time, Paul reminded how the Israeli ancestors were under God's protection. All of them, they ate the same spiritual food, drank the same spiritual drink, Israel was blessed, yet God scattered them in the wilderness.
1 Corinthians 10:7-8 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.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did - and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died.
We read these things in the scripture so that it may serve as s warning to us - that we do not set our hearts on evil things. He then wrote about temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13 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.
Paul appeals to us to flee from idols - who are empty in themselves, but contain demonic power behind them. When eating their meat at their sacrifices, we are actually participating with them. He clearly wrote not to partake in such parties.
1 Corinthians 10:20-21 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 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.
All things are lawful, but not necessarily helpful. Do not ask any questions about the meat offered to you at market, or at an unbeliever’s house, but avoid it if you are told it has been offered to idols. Do not seek to offend the Jews or Greeks, but do everything for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 9

Using examples from his own life, Paul told Christians in Corinth that they should curtail their own freedom. If there is any risk, it will damage others.

Paul has the right to be supported by those he ministers to.
1 Corinthians 9:13-14 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? In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
However, he is not using any of those rights. He is preaching the gospel voluntarily without making use of his rights as a preacher.
1 Corinthians 9:17-18 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 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.
Paul is using his freedom in preaching the gospel with the intention of saving some people. He does all these so that may share it's blessings.

Then Paul stressed the importance of self-discipline. He used the example of runners and boxers. Paul compared himself to an athlete who competes for an imperishable crown.
1 Corinthians 9:24 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.

Additional Info
Isthmain Games, second only to Olympics, were held at Corinth both the year before and after Olympics. Each competitor underwent 10 months of training in order to win that pine wreath. Paul used this example as Corinthians were so familiar with it.

1 Corinthians 8

Those days in Corinth, several trade groups held their social gatherings at pagan temples. Majority of the meat sold in butcher shops was first offered as sacrifice at the pagan temple.

Paul taught that love is more important than knowledge to keep a church strengthened. He then told that God knows everyone - especially those who loves Him.
1 Corinthians 8:3 But whoever loves God is known by God.
There is only One God, and idols do not have a real existence. Christians are therefore free to eat meat offered to an idol at a pagan temple. Eating such food does not get us closer to God or keep us away from God.
1 Corinthians 8:8 But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
Those with a strong conscience must respect the views of those with a weak conscience.

1 Corinthians 7

When Corinthians wrote to Paul, they raised 6 questions about being single and married. In this chapter, Paul address those questions.

1. Should married couple continue normal sexual relationship even after conversion to Christianity? 
Answer: Yes. In marriage, husbands and wives each have authority over the body of the other. Husbands and wives should not sexually deprive each other.

2. Should those who are single marry? 
Answer: Single life is preferred, but marriage is acceptable if their passions are too strong and they cannot exercise self-control. It is better to marry than to burn with passion.

3. Is divorce permissible between Christians?
Answer: No.

4. What about divorce in situation where one spouse is a Christian and other is not? 
Answer: Christian partners should stick with their pagan partner, unless the partner wants separation. Unbelieving husbands or wives are sanctified by their believing spouses – unbelief is not a grounds for divorce.

5. What about those single and engaged couples?
Answer: If you can remain single, do so. Those who are engaged should carry on with their pledge. Marriage is not a sin. Paul warns about being too committed to a world that will pass away. The unmarried have the potential to please God with less worldly distraction. A father may or may not give his virgin daughter away in marriage.

6. Can widows remarry? 
Answer: Yes. A widow is free to remarry, although remaining single is preferable.

1 Corinthians 6

In this chapter, Paul writes about two things:
(a) Lawsuit among believers
(b) Sexual Immorality

Paul says that Christians should not take one another to the court as certain Corinthians have. The culture from which Paul came, Jews never took their cases before Gentile courts - of course, on several occasions, those Jewish courts were corrupt and bribery was rife. However, taking Jewish matters outside to a Gentile court meant their inability to operate within their own laws.

Here we see Paul leashing out his anger upon them. The very fact of Christians having lawsuits among themselves defeats the purpose of being a Christian. He reminds them that some of them became Christianity from 'not so reputable' backgrounds.
1Corinthians 6:9 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 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 
Such individuals were washed and sanctified in the name of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Paul also outlines a principle for sexual purity among Christians: what is permitted is not our only guide for behavior. ‘All is lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.’ Appetites for food and sex are not the same. Our bodies are part of the body of Christ, and therefore should never be united with a prostitute.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 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; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

Additional Info:
According to Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy Enterprises, the Corinthian mindset in today's culture:

“Sex is a function of the body - a drive which man shares with animals, like eating, drinking, and sleeping. It is a physical demand that must be satisfied. If you don’t satisfy it, you will have all sorts of neurosis and repression cycosis.  Sex is here to stay; let’s forget the prudery that makes us hide from it. Throw away those inhibitions, find a girl who is like-minded, and let yourself go.”

1 Corinthians 5

According to the pagan culture, they enjoyed their pleasure when they wanted it, and where they wanted it.

Paul had heard accusations of sexual immorality among the Corinthians – a man was sleeping with his father’s wife. Paul was shocked at hearing this news. What shocked him even further was the attitude of the Corinthian church towards this man - they completely accepted this illicit association and had done nothing about it.

Paul, who not present physically with them, but is present in spirit, had judged this person committed this sin. In his opinion, he must be given over to Satan, so that that his flesh may be destroyed, and his spirit saved.

An easygoing attitude and a little sin affects everyone – a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Paul encouraged them to purge this leaven for Christ, who was sacrificed for us.

Paul admonished church members to keep themselves away from immoral people.
1 Corinthians 5:9-11 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people - 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. 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.
We members of the church who try to profess the faith and live in ways contrary to the holiness of God cannot have it both ways.

Additional Info
One of the missing letters of Paul is what was mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9. This tells us there has been some history behind it.

1 Corinthians 4

In this chapter, Paul repeatedly reminds us that there should be no room for pride among Christians.

Paul wants to be considered as a servant of Christ - the one who has been granted trust. Paul refers to the idea of 'steward' - one who was a slave to the master, but in charge of all the slaves. A steward managed the household and the money of the master. He does not care if people or any human court judges him:
1 Corinthians 4:4 My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.
Next, Paul is nailing the root cause of their problem - Pride. If God made us different, then it is because God created us that way - hence no need to have pride. Everything we have comes from God - again another reason not to be pride.

Then Paul goes along and applies his sarcasm of contrasting his foolishness with their greatness.
1 Corinthians 4:10 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! 
He urged them to imitate him and follow his teachings. He then asks them how he should approach them - with a rod of discipline, or in love and a spirit of gentleness. 

1 Corinthians 3

Paul is writing about those church leaders whom the crowd is following. There were three factions centered on rival leaders: Paul - their founder, Apollos, and Cephas (Peter). A fourth division claimed exclusive rights to the label 'Christian'.

If you recall Acts 18, when Apollos, a fervent Jew arrived from Alexandria arrived into Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla took him for further instructions about God and Jesus Christ. He continued preaching in Ephesus as an eloquent teacher.

Peter was considered a leader of the 12 apostles and it was only natural to have a following.

According to Paul, the Corinthians have a carnal mindset – they are like little babies in Christ, fed with milk rather than solid food. He tells them they are not yet ready to follow Christ, and are still worldly. He told them he and Apollos were just playing their part, assigned by Lord.
1 Corinthians 3:3-5 You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, “I follow Paul,” and another, “I follow Apollos,” are you not mere human beings? 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.
Paul made it clear that he and Apollos co-workers in God's service, planting and watering them; it was Lord who made them grow. Paul laid the foundation upon Jesus Christ building churches. Then, he opened their eyes, and told them that individual Christians are God's temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for God’s temple is sacred, and you together are that temple.
He advised them to become foolish in order to gain wisdom - as the world's wisdom is not God's wisdom. Paul also mentioned that their thoughts were futile and human leaders of worldly wisdom were just foolish without Godly wisdom.
1 Corinthians 3:21-23 So then, no more boasting about human leaders! All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future - all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

1 Corinthians 2

When Paul arrived in Corinth, he was staying with those tent makers Aquila and Priscilla, for about 18 months supporting himself with the trade of tent making.

He is telling them that he did not come to preach to the Corinthians with ‘wisdom’ or excellent speech. He further acknowledged the fact that he was trembling with fear when he arrived there. However, all he had was that singular faith in Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:3-5 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
Continuing on, Paul writes to them that faith should not be in men’s wisdom, but in the power of God. He also speaks about the love of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9 However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
    what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
    the things God has prepared for those who love Him.
The wisdom of God is not the same as the wisdom of the world – if it had been, Christ would not have been crucified.

God’s wisdom is known only by the Holy Spirit. The ‘natural’ and the ‘spiritual’ man are contrasted. Paul then lists all those things that God revealed using the Holy Spirit:
1 Corinthians 2:14-16 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for,
“Who has known the mind of the Lord
    so as to instruct him?”
But we have the mind of Christ."

Monday, April 14, 2014

1 Corinthians 1

Paul encourages the readers with greetings and thanksgiving. Right after his greeting, he gets into the topic of unity. He pleads they should agree with one another and stay united in mind and thought. Paul quoted several examples saying Jesus was not divided.

Corinth was situated near Athens and the Corinthians considered themselves to be intellectually superior. This is why Paul brings in the topic of human cleverness and wisdom. He reminds them that human cleverness has it's own limitations.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 
The world in its wisdom did not know God. Jews demand signs and Gentiles look for wisdom. Christ is both the sign and God's wisdom. Paul displays God's magnanimity by quoting:
1 Corinthians 1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Paul explained using their own example that God chose foolish things of the world to shame the wise and weak things of the world to shame the strong. Therefore, nobody could boast in his own wisdom/strength, but only glorify the name of God.

A sneak peak into Corinthian background

The Book of 1 Corinthians was written by Paul, while he was in Ephesus, in about AD 54, according to the book of Acts 18. The city of Corinth was one thriving with trade and hence an ideal location to form a church.

Corinth was dominated by the temple of Aphrodite - goddess of love. There were thousands of temple prostitutes and the city had an unsavory reputation. The City of Corinth was synonymous with illicit sex. To 'corinthianize' meant to live with drunken and immoral debauchery.

Corinthian Christians were overwhelmed with that kind of life-style. They assumed that since they were saved, it was all right to continue living a debauched social life. They did not look at their sexual sin as anything serious, but merely casual - because everyone was doing it. This group was causing the most problems in the church.

Corinthians carried their former life-style into the church. The problem of sexual immorality was simply another problem the church at Corinth had to deal with. Paul wrote the entire epistle of 1 Corinthians to respond to each of the problems that resulted from their former life-style.

It is believed Paul wrote 4 letters to the church in Corinth.
  1. A warning letter indicated in 1 Corinthians 5:9 
  2. 1 Corinthians
  3. A Severe Letter, which Paul refers as 'Letter of Tears' in 2 Corinthians 2:3-4 
  4. 2 Corinthians. 
Two of them are unfortunately lost.

The reason Paul wrote these letters were two fold:
(a) he received reports about the church, which made him uneasy
(b) a delegation arrived from Corinth seeking answers.