1 Corinthians, #2

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6/22/2010 - pastorlorraine
    Bible Study #2, 1 Corinthians

    Hello, Internet readers, welcome to this second abbreviated version of our study in First Corinthians.  If you would like to know more, you are invited to come to the church Wednesday mornings at 10:00 to be part of a small group of people who are learning together about the Bible.

    The letter, 1 Corinthians, is really the second letter Paul wrote to the church in Corinth.  The first letter which he refers to in 1 Cor. 5:9-13 was lost.  Scholars believe that our book of 2 Corinthians may really be parts of two different letters put together, which might mean that Paul actually wrote four letters to the church.

    In this lesson, we look briefly at the first chapter of 1 Corinthians.
Paul considered himself an apostle to the Gentiles, however he was a Jew.  When he came to a city he would first go to the synagogue, but if he was run out of the synagogue he would go somewhere else to preach– often to someone’s home. 

    While he was in Corinth for 18 months he lived with friends, Aquila and Priscilla.  Paul wrote this letter from the city of Ephesus after having left Corinth.  The main themes of the letter were: the judgment seat of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the glory of God, the Lord’s Supper, love, exercise of gifts, and resurrection.

    1 Corinthians, chapter one

1  Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,

 2  To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours:

 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 4  I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5  For in him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge— 6  because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7  Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8  He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9  God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.

Divisions in the Church
 10  I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."

 13  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14  I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16  (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don't remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17  For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Christ the Wisdom and Power of God
 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. 19 For it is written:
   "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
      the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

 20  Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22  Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23  but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24  but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25  For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

 26  Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27  But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28  He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29  so that no one may boast before him. 30  It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31  Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

1.  Please note that Paul uses the word “Lord” many, many times in his writings.  You will see that in just the first few verses.  His use of Lord makes it clear to his readers that Jesus is to be worshiped as God, for he is truly God!  (His use of the word “Christ” shows that Jesus is the Messiah.)  Paul also makes it clear that God is One which is in contrast to the pagan beliefs in many gods and lords.

2.  It is interesting to note that Paul states his thankfulness for the Corinthians even though they are causing him pain.  In fact, this is the usual way that Paul writes his letters, an exception being the letter to the Galatians.

3. Verses 7 & 8 state that believers have all they need in the way of spiritual gifts to keep them strong to the end.  Verses 8 & 9 assure us that we are blameless before God because of what Jesus has done for us.  It is like having all our debts paid for us– we don’t have to make payments any more.

4.  Paul had heard bad news from Corinth!  Part of it came from the some people who lived in the house of Chloe.  We don’t know if Chloe was a Christian, but apparently some in her household were.  There was also a letter from the church wanting clarification about matters relating to personal and congregational life.  We know this because of references he makes in the letter, such as in 7:1; “Now for the matters you wrote about...”
There was a third source of information– an official delegation of three men who came from Corinth to deliver the letter from the church to Paul personally.  Those three are named in 1 Cor. 16:17.

5.  Verses 10-17 tell us a little bit about the discord in the church.  Apparently people are following different leaders and factions.  There was even a faction for Christ, which may truly mean Jesus, or it could be something like the “Christ Party” of the church.  The danger for Christians is to follow the preacher instead the one being preached.  Paul did not come to have a following of himself.  He came to preach Christ and him crucified!  He also did not come to be a baptizer, that was not his role, although in the course of his ministry he did baptize people.

6.  In verses 18-31 Paul writes about the wisdom of God and the foolishness of man.  The Greeks were very big on studying philosophy and considering the great thoughts of philosophers of the day. They considered themselves intellectuals who had great stores of knowledge.
    Paul doesn’t see it like that.  For him it is powerful message of the cross that is important.  Christ became a stumbling block for the Jews because they could not accept that he was the Son of God, and he was just plain foolishness to the Greeks who thought they knew everything.  God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 
    God often chooses the weakest, the poorest, the most insignificant people to follow him and serve him.  The Old Testament is full of those who don’t seem to be likely candidates.  But those whom God chooses are loved and led by him.  Even there in Corinth, Paul says there were not many wise or influential or noble birth in the church, but God chose them anyway.  Thanks be to God!