Bible Commentary–Understanding First Corithians (NIV)


 

UNDERSTANDING FIRST CORINTHIANS (NIV)

1   Introduction

This was, in fact, the second letter written to the church of God in Corinth, to those who were sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy and those every where who called on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  With reference to Chapter 5:9, we will realize that Paul had previously written on the subject of sexual immorality and greediness, but perhaps the Corinthian believers misunderstood Paul’s teaching.  This first letter, not included in the Bible, was apparently lost.

In Chapter 16:19, Paul in his final greetings said:

The church in the province of Asia send you greetings, Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so thus the church that meets at their house.

  Possibly Paul was at Ephesia when he wrote this letter (about A.D. 55-57 ) because Ephesia was an important city in Asia.

Act 18 recorded that “Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.  There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus”, who came from Italy with his wife Priscilla.  Paul went to see them and stayed with them to work as tentmakers.  (This was a leading industry in that day like building is today.)  Paul was always able to earn a living, enough for him to carry on his missionary work.  Paul began by speaking in the synagogue on every Sabbath day, trying to preach the gospel to mixed congregations of Jews and Greeks.  He stayed in Corinth for a year and a half teaching them the word of God (Act 18:11) before he left for Syria. (Act 18:18).

2 Correction in Christian Conduct (1 Corinthians 1 – 17)

Thanksgiving

After the usual greetings (1:1-3), Paul in his prayer thanked God for the church of the Corinthians because of:

  • God’s grace given to the Corinthians in Jesus Christ (1: 4).
  • Enrichment in every way–in speaking and knowledge (1: 5).
  • God’s faithfulness in keeping them strong to the end (1: 8).

Then, Paul plunged right into the question of the failure of the church and the quarrels among them that he was told by Chloe’s household and some (1:11).  And he wrote the following spiritual principles for their guidance:

Christ is not divided (1:13).  Christ is one.

We are saved because Jesus died for us.

For Christ did not send Paul or us to baptize, but to spread the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power(1:17).

3   The Cross – Jesus Christ and Him Crucified

1   Corinthians 1:18 – 25

Paul preached Christ crucified.  This was a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.  They could never comprehend the truth that a man dying on a cross could be a source of power.  To the Pharisees and the Greek philosophers of that age, the cross meant failure.  They expected the Messiah to be something different–a world prince, a miracle worker–one who would lead the Jews to victory over the rule of the Romans.

But to those who simply believe in God, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God (1:24).   Therefore, to know that Christ crucified is the maximum of knowledge (2:2).

1 Corinthians 1:26 – 31

Paul said that when they were called, not many of them were wise by human standards, not influential and not of noble birth; but God chose them.  In Chapter 1:5 and 7, Paul said:

 For in him you have been enriched in every way–in your speaking and in all your knowledge …  .  You do not lack any spiritual gift… .

 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.  Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boats boast in the Lord’ (1:30 to 31; Jeremiah 9:24).

 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?  (4: 7)

 

1 Corinthians 2: 1 – 16

Paul resolved not to talk with superior wisdom and eloquence, but he only preached about Jesus Christ and Him being crucified.  He came in weakness and fear and with much trembling.  His message was not wise and persuasive, but with the Spirit’s power, so that believers’ faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power (2: 1 – 5).

The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned (2:14).

Isaiah said: No eye has seen. no ear has heard. no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him  (2:9; Isaiah 64:4).

 “… No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”  And we have received the Spirit who is from God that we may understand what God has given us (2:12). We speak, not in human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, i.e., spiritual truth in spiritual words. (2:13)…”We have the mind of  Christ” (2:16).

4   Division in the Church (1 Corinthians 3: 1 – 23)

 Spiritually, Paul considered the Corinthians as infants in Christ for they were still worldly.  There were jealousy and quarrelling among them.  There were divisions in church–some claimed to follow Paul and some to follow Apollos.  Who were these people?  Paul questioned.  They were only servants through whom they came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each of his task.  Paul planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow (3:6).

Paul continued to explain that Jesus Christ had by grace given him the expertise to lay a foundation on which to build our faith, which would be subject to test one Day.  No one could lay any foundation other than the one already laid that is Jesus Christ (3: 10 – 15).

Paul said that we are God’s temples and that God’s spirit lives in us.  Any one of us who causes divisions among us is, in fact, destroying God’s temple.  And God will destroy him/her.

Do not think you are wise in this world?  To become truly wise, you have to become a fool, because the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

So then, no more boasting about men!  All things are yours…the present or the future… and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God  (3:21 – 23).

 Apostles of Christ

 1 Corinthians 4:1 – 7

Paul, Apollos and whoever as spiritual teachers are not to be regarded to be our party leaders but servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.

Therefore, they (the servants) must be:

  •  Faithful (4:2)… that is loyal, responsible, and diligent and persevere in the discharge of their duty given by the grace of God, to proclaim the Gospel of God.
  • Unconcerned with people’s judgment (4:3)… because the Lord will judge at the appointed time.
  • Not proud to be spiritual leaders, that is we will not take pride in one man over against another (4:6).

1 Corinthians 4: 8 – 13

 Paul coinued to criticize ironically the Corinthians saying:

Already you have all you want!  Already you have become rich!  You have become kings… How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you!  (4:8)

 Then Paul made a comparison of what God had called His apostles to do as though they were put on display at the end of the procession while they were condemned to die in the arena where they were being watched fighting to death with the hungry lions.  On the contrary, while the Corinthians considered themselves so wise in Christ, so strong and so honored, the apostles were so foolish, so weak and dishonored (4: 10).

1 Corinthians 4: 14 – 21

Paul called the Corinthians “my dear children” because Paul became their father through the gospel (4: 15).  He warned them and urged them to imitate him.  For this reason, Paul sent Timothy, his beloved son in Christ, to the Corinthians so that he would remind them of his way of life in Christ Jesus (4:14, 16 – 17).

5   Vice in the Church

1 Corinthians 5: 1 – 13

Christians must act out in our lives, on a standard Christ has set for us.  Any standard lower would reflect only wrong testimony to the world.  We must watch out for questionable things that may one day lead us to a fall.  Like the church at Corinth, a member married his own stepmother. That was socially unacceptable, but the Corinthian, instead of filling with grief, were puffed up with pride and had not put out of fellowship with the man committing the act.  Read Deuteronomy (22: 22 – 30) regarding Marriage Violations and their being stoned to death as punishment.  Paul gave his teaching as follows:

  •  Fill with grief–“If some is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.  But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted” (Galatians 3:1).
  • Pass judgment–based on Biblical truth; the church must pass a judgment.  The sin must not be tolerated.
  • Hand the wrongdoer over to Satan (5:5)–The sinner will suffer punishment so that his sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
  • “Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast” (5:7)–Because Christians are children of God, having been redeemed through Christ, they should ensure to be free from malice and wickedness, but like the bread of sincerity and truth.
  • “Expel the wicked man” (5:13)–Not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian, “but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slander, a drunkard or a swindler” (5:11).

1 Corinthians 6:1 – 11

The Corinthians like the unbelievers had disputes among themselves and had brought their quarrels before the worldly court, whereas they should have been brought before the saints.  Note the kind of questions Paul asked.

  •  “Dare he take it” [the dispute] “before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?” (6:1).
  • “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (6:2).
  • “If you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?” (6:2).
  • “Do you not know that we will judge angels?” (6:3).
  • “Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?” (6:5).
  • “Why not rather be wronged?” (6:7).
  • “Why not rather be cheated?” (6:7).
  • “Do you not know the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (6:9).

Trying to understand the possible answers for the above questions, we would learn the truth that civil disputes that are not criminal should be resolved within the church and judged by the saints.  If the matters could not be resolved within the church, believers would rather be wronged or cheated; quarrels should never be brought up in front of unbelievers; for by doing so, we Christians would give a very bad testimony to the world.

If we are just as bad as other folks; if we want our way; if we are covetous and just as ambitious for our own rights as the non-believers, what difference would it be for us who have been separated as holy from others?  But we were washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of our God (6:11). Paul says, “Dare you do such a thing?”

 6   Liberty Not Reckless 1 Corinthians 6:12 – 20)

Paul changed the subject to how one should live to glorify God.  Our body is His dwelling place–the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in us, whom we have received from God.  We Christians have been bought at a great price.  Jesus Christ died for us on the cross.  We have been redeemed with His precious blood.  Therefore, we must honor God with our bodies, which are members of Christ himself (6:13 – 20).

What principles are stated for guidance of our conduct?  Christian liberty does not mean the right to do as we like, but rather to do as we ought.  Paul puts it, “Everything is permissible for me–but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible for me–but I will not be mastered by anything” (6: 12).  Note the quotation, “everything is permissible…” and compare the expression that follows, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food”.  These were the conventional expression of the thought and conduct of the Corinthians who took great liberty in sexual immorality as if it was permissible.

Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires.  Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.  For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace (Romans 6: 12 – 14).

7 Marriage(1 Corinthians 7:1 – 40)

 To counter act so much immorality in Corinth, Paul said that “each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” (7:2). The married couple should fulfill their marital duty and respect each other, honor each other (7:3 –5).

Paul was single, but he didn’t say that everyone must follow his way.  “But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that” (7: 7).  As to the unmarried and the widows, they should decide for themselves whether in the circumstances to marry or not for it is better to marry than to burn with passion (7:8-9).

Paul reiterated the Lord’s teaching that

a wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband.  And a husband must not divorce his wife  (7: 10).

Paul advised the Corinthians that any brother who has a wife who is not a believer must not divorce her.  Similarly a woman should not divorce her unbelieving husband (7: 12 – 13).

For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband  (7: 14).

It would be very likely that the Christian would lead his or her unbelieving mate to Christ (7:16).

Paul asked the Corinthians

to retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him (7:17). Circumcision is nothing and un-circumcision is nothing.  Keeping God’s commands is what counts (7: 19).  [When one was called, one would be free in Christ.]  Each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to (7:24).      

 

On the question of whether one should remain a virgin or to get married under the crisis, Paul said that he had no command from the Lord, but would give a judgment as he thought he had the Spirit of God.  He thought the time was short, and he wanted believers’ undivided interest in the Lord’s affairs–not in the affairs of this world. He wanted the Corinthians to live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord (7:25, 29, 32 – 35).

 8   Food Sacrificed to Idols (1 Corinthians 8:1 – 13)

 Can we eat the foods that have been sacrificed to idols?  Some Corinthians thought they had the knowledge that an idol was nothing at all in the world, and there was no God but one.  They exercised their freedom eating in the idols’ temples.

But Paul said that their knowledge puffed up.  Those who thought they knew something that was not yet known, as they ought to know.  Paul warned the Corinthians not to become a stumbling block to their brothers.  If they were seen eating of food sacrificed to idols, any brother with a weak conscience might be tempted to fall into sin.  When they sinned against their brothers in this way and wounded their weak conscience, they sinned against Christ.  As a result, their knowledge destroyed their weak brothers for whom Christ died.

The man who loves God must not sin against his brothers i.e., against Christ.  Paul said: “if what I eat causes my brother to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause him to fall” (8:13).

  9   The Rights of an Apostle (1 Corinthians 9: 1 – 27)

Paul’s right as an apostle was questioned (9: 3). So he put up his defense. He was an apostle, at least to the Corinthians who bore witness to the results of his work (9:2). Also he had seen Jesus (9: 1). Paul then listed out the rights of an apostle:

  • The right to food and drink (9:4).
  • The right to marriage  (9: 5).
  • The right to receive total support (9:6). For instance: a soldier who served his country would be remunerated (9:7), a gardener who planted a vineyard would eat its grapes (9:7) and a shepherd who attended the flock would drink of the milk (9:7).

 [It is written:] Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain (Deuteronomy 25:4).  “Because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest (9:10).

 “The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (9:13). But Paul had not used any of these rights (9:15). He offered it free of charge (9:18). Paul belonged to no man, but made himself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible (9:19).

 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.  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. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak.  I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some (9: 20 – 22).

 Like running a race, having had strict training all runners competed for the prize–a crown that will not last. But Paul did not run like a man running aimlessly; he did not fight like a man beating the air (9:26).

 Paul said, “I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (9:27).

10   Warnings from Israel’s History (1 Corinthians 10:1 – 33)

 Paul, at this point, quoted reference in the Old Testament to give warning to the Corinthians that they should not to be ignorant of the failure of their forefathers.

God led the Israelites out of Egypt by the desert road and across the Red Seato safety ground (Exodus 13:17 – 18; 14:22).

By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night (Exodus 13: 21). The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan (Exodus 16:35).  He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas; he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made waster flow down like rivers (Psalm 78: 15-16).

Although they had been through all these spiritual experiences with God, Israelites failed to live up to the Godly standard; they continued to sin against Him and rebelled against the Most High (Psalm 78:17.) Why did the Israelites stumble?  This is because they thought they were standing firm–relying on themselves in the stead of God (1 Corinthians 10:12). If we have good faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ, and seek Him first for what we do, He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).

 11   Idol Feasts and the Lord’s Supper

 Paul asked the Corinthians to flee from idolatry.  Because the people of Israel ate the sacrifices offered in the altar to idols and demons, they would be led to temptation of worshiping the demons or idols, and they must not drink the cup of the Lord (10:18-22).

The Believer’s Freedom

Paul has laid down some principles for our self-discipline in life:

  •  Everything is permissible–but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permission–but not everything is constructive ( 10: 23).
  • Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others (10:24). Try to please everybody in every way.  For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved (10:33).
  • Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (10:31).
  • Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God–even as I try to please everybody in every way(10:32).

 

1 Corinthians 11:1 –16

From this Chapter onward until Chapter 14, Paul started to talk about the subject of the Lord’s supper (11: 17 – 34) and the propriety in church worship (11: 2 –16) as well as the spiritual gifts (Chapters 12 – 14).

Paul praised the Corinthians for holding to his teachings and asked them to follow his example as he had followed the example of Christ (11: 1 –2).

It was the social custom of Corinth that women had to cover their heads in prayers.  If the woman’s head were not covered, she would dishonor her head as though her head were shaved.  It was a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off.  Verse 16 seemed to say that this practice was only applicable to the church in Corinth and not in other churches of God.

However, we should learn from Paul’s teaching in here where certain principles are not limited by time, place, customs, and practice:

  • The head of every man is Christ (11:1).
  • The head of the woman is man (11: 3)–This means that the husband must be responsible for and be the leader of the family.  Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Ephesians. 5: 22–24).
  • The woman is the glory of man (11:7). Husbands must love their wives just as Christ loves his church (Ephesians 5:25).
  • In the Lord, man and woman are mutually dependent (11:11).  For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman, but everything comes from God (11 – 12).

 

 

 

The Lord’s Supper  (1 Corinthians 11: 17 – 22)

In the old days, eating together in church was an important occasion for fellowship and showing God’s love.  But in the church of Corinthians, Paul heard about divisions among believers.  They came together, but it was not the Lord’s Supper that they ate.  They ate without waiting.  One remained hungry; another got drunk.  They despised the church of God and humiliated those who had nothing.

1 Corinthians 11:23 – 34

Paul gave an account of the beginning of the Lord’s Supper.  There are six things to remember:

  •  Looking back–It was established on the night in which Christ was betrayed (11: 23 –25).
  • Looking inward– A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.  For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on him (11: 28 –32).
  • Looking up—In remembrance of His underlying love for His followers, the Lord Jesus, on  the   night he was betrayed, took bread 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.”  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” (11: 23 –25).
  • Looking round (11: 33 – 34)

 “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf” (10: 17).  Therefore, we Christians ought to live  together in mutual respect and love and unite in Christ–wait and serve one another in true love.

  • Looking outward–For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes (11: 26).  We Christians are charged with the dutyto proclaim the gospel until then.
  •  Looking forward–Until He comes, …  I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom (Mathew 26: 29).  This is our faith, love, and hope in waiting for the   advent of Jesus Christ in the day of the last judgment.

12   Spiritual Gifts  (1 Corinthians 12:1 – 11)

 Chapters 12 to 14 give an account of the gifts that the Spirit gives to believers.  “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines” (12:11).

Chapter 12 talks about the general gifts and their use, Chapter 13 about the gift of love, and Chapter 14 about the gifts of prophecy and tongues.

Verses 1–3 tell of the change that had come into the lives of the Corinthians when they turned from worshiping mute idols to the living Christ.  The triune God (i.e., God, Jesus Christ, and Holy Spirit) is working to give believers different kinds of gifts for the different kinds of services and different kinds of working in church.  And to each manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

Verses 8–10 list the kinds of gifts such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous power, distinguishing between spirits, speaking different kinds of tongues and interpretation of tongues.  All these are from the same Holy Spirit.

13   One Body, Many Parts (1 Corinthians 12:12 – 26)

Christ is the head of the church, and the church is His body (Ephesians 5:25).The body has many parts, but they form one body.  Each part has a different function, controlled by the head that is Christ. Therefore, in Christ, one part is gifted with a specific function and is not more or less important than that of the other part.  For example, we cannot say the hand is more important than the eye, for each function is required for the benefit of the body that is the church.  One Spirit into one body baptized us “and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (Chapter 12: 13).  … “In fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (12:18).

What are the lessons we have to learn here?

  •  Mutual respect and acceptance (12:13).
  • Do not boast about one’s gift or feel bad about one-self, if less gifted or envy others who are gifted in more aspects.  The Holy Spirit is the Giver of spiritual gifts.  We must not forget that the gifts, which God gives, were given that Christ might be exalted and others blessed.  He gives it not that I may gather people about myself, but that it may through me be a blessing for others (12: 15-16).
  • Avoid competition for the same function in the service for different parts of the body are meant for different functions.  Just do what we are gifted most in cooperation and coordination towards the common good and the glory of God (12: 17-20).
  • Do not look down on others.  We should help the weak (12: 21 – 22).
  • Honor others. Love and help others (12: 23 –24).
  • No division in the body–if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it (12:25 –26).

1 Corinthians 12: 27 –31

Paul told the Corinthians in Chapter 14:40 that

everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.  We are the body of Christ.  Each one is part of it.  In church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help other, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues (12: 27 –28).  Paul then continued, I will show you the most excellent way – love (12: 31).

 14   Gift of Love (1 Corinthians 13:1 – 13)

Love is the greatest spiritual gift of all. A church can survive without spiritual gifts, but is dead without the gift of love.

Without love, the speaking of tongues of men and angels is nothing more than the disturbing noise of a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal (13:1). It is liked empty vessels.

Without love, the gift of prophecy is nothing and the gift of faith to move a mountain is nothing (13:2).

Without love, any generous donation to the poor and even surrendering one’s life for the sake of the gospel is worthless in the eye of the Lord (13:3).

[ But,] Love is patient, love is kind.It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud (13:4). It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs (13:5). Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (13:6). It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres (13:7).

All worldly things such as the gift of prophecies, the speaking of tongues and knowledge will pass away, but love never fails (13:8 – 9). Paul said, “When perfection comes, the imperfect disappears” (13:10). Here he referred to the second advent of Jesus Christ when our salvation will be complete. By that time all believers would know fully though at present we do not see the complete picture. Paul compared the situation to the image of a copper mirror that reflected a poor image now, but when the time comes, we will understand fully (13:12).

Only three things remain: “faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (13:13). Faith is not our natural faith in its normal meaning. It is the faith in believing the advent of Jesus Christ. By then the hope of complete salvation will be fulfilled. But only love will remain eternal for God is love.

15   Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues (1 Corinthians 14:1 – 19)

Paul explained the gifts of prophecy and tongues:

  • Any one speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. (No one understands him for he utters mysteries with his spirit (14: 2).
  • He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself (14:4).
  • Any one who prophesies speaks to the men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.(14: 3).
  • He who prophesies edifies the church (14:4).
  • He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues (unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified (14:5).
  • Paul could speak many tongues, but in church he would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue (14:19).

1 Corinthians 14: 20 – 25

Speaking in tongues are one of the spiritual gifts that, if not appropriately used, would do more harm than good to the believers, who would not understand what is said. Therefore, they would not be edified (14:17). If an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes into the church to find everyone speaking in tongues would be perturbed and confused  (14:23). He who speaks in tongues must interpret so that the church may be edified (14: 5).

 But, if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while every one is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner…and will…worship God (14:24 – 25).

 16   Orderly Worship (1 Corinthians 14: 26 – 40)

  •  God is not a God of disorder but of peace (14:33).
  • Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said (14:29).
  • If a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaks should stop (14:30).
  • You can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged (14: 31).
  • In all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches (14: 34).
  • When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation, all … these must be done for the strengthening of the church (14:25.17).

17   The Resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1 – 11)

 Paul asked, “How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” (15: 12). This question obviously confirmed that there was a group in the Corinthians church who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. We – believers in Jesus Christ–must be, if we are true believers, very clear of one of the greatest of all truths of the gospel, otherwise all preaching is in vain; faith and hope are all in vain. If there were no resurrection, there would be no gospel at all for we would be worshiping a dead Christ. There would be no proof that God had accepted Jesus’ death as atonement for our sins.

Paul did not give a new gospel. It was the old gospel, recorded in Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus.

  • Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (15:3).
  • He was buried(15:4).
  • He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (15:4).
  • He was seen by many witnesses (15: 5 – 8).

The Resurrection of the Dead (1 Corinthians15: 12 – 19)

 Because Christ lives, we shall live also.

The basic truth of the gospel is that Christ was raised and He lives (15:17 –18).

  • Our belief on resurrection of Christ provides us the foundation of our faith and hope that we will have eternal life (15: 19).
  • The resurrection of Christ provides the driving force to proclaim the gospel at any cost (15: 14).
  • The resurrection of Christ is the proof for the resurrection of the dead (15: 15 –16).

1 Corinthians 15:20 – 28

  •  The resurrection of Christ is the first fruits of the dead. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (15: 20 – 22).
  • His coming again (15: 23).
  • Resurrection of believers (15: 24). For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thessalonians 4: 16 – 17).
  • Overthrow of Christ’s enemies  (15: 25).
  • His glorious reign (15:  26 – 28).
  • Our mortal bodies shall be changed to immortal.

1 Corinthians 15:29 – 34

  •  If there is no resurrection, there will be no hope. Baptism would be meaningless (15: 29).
  • If there is no resurrection, any endanger of life for the gospel would be meaningless. What Paul had suffered in Ephesus would be for merely human reasons (15: 30- 32).
  • If there were no resurrection, life would be meaningless. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (15: 32; Isaiah 22:13).
  • If there is no resurrection, no one needs to be accountable for one’s deed for there would be no final judgment (15: 33).   
  • Whoever refuses to believe in resurrection does not believe in God. Paul asked the Corinthians to come back to … senses and stop sinning… for some …are ignorant of God” (15: 34).

  The Resurrection Body (1 Corinthians 15:35 – 50)

When Jesus prayed for His disciples, He said,

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.  My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it (John 17: 14 – 16).

We, Christians, live in this world, but strictly speaking we are not of this world. Therefore, it would not be easy for a true Christian to live in this world or to get accepted without hatred. But Jesus did not pray to take us out of the world; He prayed God to protect us from evil. This would mean that we have a duty to fulfill in this world i.e., to live like Jesus Christ. How?  Psalm 1:1-6 shed some spiritual light for our guidance:  

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand on the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is liked a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish (Psalm 1).                     

Someone may ask, “How are the dead raised?” (15: 35).

Paul tried to compare the present life with a seed that must die before it would become a plant that is the future life. Therefore, what has been sown now and how it has been cultivated directly effects the fruit of the plant in the future that is the future life. Then he continued to say,

The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body (15:42 – 44).

Adam became the first living being (Genesis 2:7). The last Adam (Jesus Christ) is the life-giving spirit (15: 45).

 The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven (15: 47).  … Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable (15: 50).

1 Corinthians 15:51 – 58

Paul told of a mystery that we will not all die but

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.  For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortal (15: 51 – 54).

 Verses 54 to 55

Death has been swallowed up in victory.Where, O death is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?

In conclusion, Paul asked all believers to stand firm on the faith of the resurrection of Christ and, accordingly, the resurrection of the dead.

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (15: 58).

 

12   Collection for God’s People  (Verses 1 – 9)

  • On the first day of each week, i.e., every Sunday offering should be collected; the amount of offering should commensurate with individual earning power (16: 2).
  • The collections should be set aside and deposited in the church; every believer should be obligated to offering to God (16: 2).
  • Sent gift to Jerusalem through believers with letters of introduction from Paul (16:3). Paul might accompany them to Jerusalem, if advisable (16:4).
  • Do everything in love (16: 14).

Verses 15: 10 – 24

Paul asked the church of Corinthians to make recognition for his co-workers. Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus had supplied what was lacking from the Corinthians. Most probably these three persons were introduced to the Corinthians for sending the gifts to Jerusalem (16:17).

Timothy was Paul’s young helper.  Paul asked the Corinthians to help him carry out the work of the Lord and to send him on his way in peace to Paul (16: 10 – 11).

Acts18: 24 recorded that a native of Alexandria, Apollos, was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scripture. Paul strongly urged him to go to the Corinthians (16: 12 – 13).

The household of Stephanas was the first converts in Achaia. They devoted themselves to the service of the saint. (16: 15 – 16).

     

 Summary of 1 Corinthians

(Chapter 1 – 16)

  1. Second letter to thechurchofGodinCorinth. (The first letter was apparently lost).
  2. Written in A.D. 55 – 57  at Ephesia.
  3. Correcting Christian conducts–no division in church; Christ died for us to save us.
  4. The Cross–To know Christ crucified is the maximum of knowledge. It’s the power of God.
  5. No one knows the thought of God except the Spirit of God.
  6. On division of Church–Paul and Apollos were only servants through whom they came to believe.
  7. We’re God’s temples and God’s spirit lives in us.
  8. God will destroy anyone who destroys God’s temple.
  9. God’s servant must be:
  • Faithful, loyal, responsible, diligent, perseverant.
  • Unconcerned with people’s judgment.
  • Not proud.

In dealing with vice in the church–

  • Fill with grief; restore him gently.
  • Based on biblical truth to pass judgment.
  • Hand the wrongdoer over to Satan.
  • Get rid of the yeast.
  • Expel the wicked.
  1. Church disputes should not be brought before the worldly court, but the saints.
  2. If the matters could not be resolved within the church and judged by the saints, believers would rather be wronged or cheated.
  3. Libertynot recklessness–do, as we ought.
  4. Marriage–marital duty, respect and honor.
  5. Food sacrificed to idols–must not cause your brothers to fall.
  6. The rights of the apostle–food and drink, marriage, to receive total support.
  7. Warning fromIsrael’s history–failure of the forefathers as recorded in the Old Testimony.
  8. To flee from idolatry.
  9. Self-discipline in life.
  10. Chapter 11 – 14 about Lord’s Supper.
  11. Spiritual gifts–different kinds of gifts for different kinds of service. To each manifestation of the Spiritual gifts is given for the common good.
  12. Christ is the head of the church that is the body.
  13. One body, many parts:
  • Mutual respect and acceptance.
  • Do not boast or feel bad.
  • Avoid competition.
  • Do not look down others.
  • Honor others, love and help others.
  • No division in church…
  1. The gift of love is the greatest spiritual gift of all:
  • Love is patient, kind, not envy, not boast, not proud, not rude, not self-seeking, and not easily angered.
  • Love keeps no records of wrongs.
  • Not delight in evil, but rejoice with the truth.
  • Always protect, always trust, always hope, and always persevere.
  1. Everything passes away but faith, hope and love remain.  But love is eternal for God is love.
  2. Gifts of Prophecy & Tongues.
  3. Orderly Worship.
  4. The Resurrection of Christ.
  5. The Resurrection of the Dead.
  6. The Resurrection of the Body.
  7. God’s people.
  8. Paul Asked Corinthians to help his co-workers in the service of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 REFLECTION

Introduction

  1.  What evidence you may have found to proof that this is the second letter from Paul to the Corinthians?
  2. Where and with whom was Paul staying?
  3. In what year Paul wrote this letter?
  4. During his stay inCorinthhow did Paul preach the World of God?

Chapter 1

  1. What did Paul express in his thanksgiving prayer to God?
  2. What spiritual principles Paul gave to the Corinthians for guidance?
  3. Do you think these spiritual principles are applicable to the church you’re attending?

Chapter 2

  1.  What make you believe that Jesus dying on a cross is a source of power–not a failure?
  2.  Some people say:”When God calls, He enables.” Do you believe that this is true?
  3. Would you, if you have had such experience, share that event with us?
  4. Isaiah in 64:4 said, “God has prepared for those who love him.” Can you explain?
  5. What makes you think that you’re following the guidance of God and that is not merely your own desire?

Chapter 3

  1. Division in the church o\f Corinthians a common phenomenon in today’s churches. What do you think would be the true cause of the division?

Chapter 4

  1. What attributes that a Christian or a spiritual leader must have in the service of God?
  2. What is the difference between a party leader and a servant of Christ?

Chapter 5

  1.  What guidance Paul had given to the Corinthians in regard to marriage and other sins?

Chapter 6

  1. How to resolve disputes among believers in church according to the Bible teaching?
  2. What do you know about “the temple of the Holy Spirit”? And how to keep it holy?
  3. What makes you believe that you have all the liberty in Christ or otherwise?

Chapter 7

  1. A compressive lesson on the truth of marriage etc. is given in vv.1-40. Do you agree?

 

Chapter 8

  1. Christians must watch out for being a stumbling block to their brothers. Can you give some examples in this regard?

Chapter 9

  1. What biblical evidence you can find in support of Paul’s claims on apostles‘ rights?

Chapter 10

  1. What should the Corinthian learn as pointed out by Paul from theIsrael’s history?
  2. Why the Israelites did not learn from their predecessors’ spiritual experience with God and failed to live up to the Godly standard?
  3. List the principles for our self-discipline as taught by Paul.

Chapter 11

  1. Discuss Paul’s teaching regarding the mutual dependence of man and woman in Christ.
  2. To what extent do you understand the true meaning of the Lord’s Supper?

Chapter 12

 

  1. The Holy Spirit gives believers different kinds of gifts for different kinds of services. Bearing this in mind, what would be your right approach towards your brothers and sisters in the worship of God?
  2. Are you aware what spiritual gifts

God has given you and in what way have you ever tried to use them towards

others?

Chapter 13

  1. What makes you believe “love” is the greatest spiritual gift of all?
  2. Why is it so important for us to have faith in the advent of Jesus Christ?

Chapter 14

  1. What did Paul say about the importance of prophecy comparing with the speaking in tongues?
  2. What can be considered as orderly worship?

Chapter 15

  1. Why is it so important for Corinthians to truly believe that Jesus Christ died for sinners and resurrected?
  2. What do you understand about the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the Christian faith?
  3. If there were no resurrection of Jesus Christ, would you believe that your Christian faith could still be of any value to you?
  4. Why did Jesus say in His prayer that we were not of this world?
  5. Since we are not of this world, why Jesus Christ does not remove us from this world?
  6. What does the Bible tell us about the changing from the perishable into the imperishable i.e., the resurrection of the dead?

Chapter 16

  1. What advice did Paul give to the Corinthians in regard to “collection” for God’s purpose?

—- END —

About Francis Loo

I'm a retired landed property professional since 2005 with 57 years working experience, 41 of which related to landed property in Valuation, Property Management, Lease Negotiation etc., in Hong Kong, Toronto and Vancouver. A Guide to Effective Property Management in Hong Kong published in 1991 and translated in 1998 for Chun San University external training courses. Have been contributing biblical articles to Truth Monthly after retirement.
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