1 Corinthians Archives

1 Corinthians 1

1Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
2To 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:
3Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Thanksgiving

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

1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Explanation:

1:1   Paul was given a special calling from God to preach about Jesus Christ.  Each Christian has a job to do, a role to take, or a contribution to make.  One assignment may seem more spectacular than another, but all are necessary to carry out God's greater plans for his church and for his world.  Be available to God by placing your gifts at his service.  Then as you discover what he calls you to do, be ready to do it.   Sosthenes may have been Paul's secretary who wrote down this letter as Paul dictated it.  He was probably the Jewish synagogue leader in Corinth (Acts 18:17) who had been beaten during an attack on Paul, and then later became a believer.  Sosthenes was well known to the members of the Corinthian church, and so Paul included his familiar name in the opening of the letter.

1:2   Corinth, a giant cultural melting pot with a great diversity of wealth, religions, and moral standards, had a reputation for being fiercely independent and as decadent as any city in the world.  The Romans had destroyed Corinth in 146 B.C. after a rebellion.  But in 46 B.C., the Roman Emperor Julius Caesar rebuilt it because of its strategic seaport.  By Paul's day (A.D. 50), the Romans had made Corinth the capital of Achaia (present day Greece).  It was a large city, offering Rome great profits through trade as well as the military protection of its ports.  But the city's prosperity made it ripe for all sorts of corruption, Idolatry flourished, and there were more than a dozen pagan temples employing at least a thousand prostitutes.  Corinth's reputation was such that prostitutes in other cities began to be called Corinthian girls.   A personal invitation makes a person feel wanted and welcome.  We are called to be holy.  God personally invites us to be citizens of his eternal kingdom.  But Jesus Christ, God's Son, is the only one who can bring us into this glorious kingdom because he is the only one who removes our sins.  Sanctified means that we are chosen or set apart by Christ for his service.  We accept God's invitation by accepting his Son, Jesus Christ, and by trusting in the work he did on the cross to forgive our sins.   By including a salutation to all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, Paul is making it clear that this in not a private letter.  Although it deals with specific issues facing the church at Corinth, all believers can learn from it.  The Corinthian church included a great cross section of believers--wealthy merchants, common laborers, former temple prostitutes, and middle-class families.  Because of the wide diversity of people and backgrounds, Paul takes great pains to stress the need for spiritual unity and Christlike character.

1:3   Grace is God's free gift of salvation given to us in Christ.  Receiving it brings us peace.  In a world of noise, confusion, and relentless pressures, people long for peace.  Many give up the search, thinking it impossible to find, but true peace of heart and mind is available to us through faith in Jesus Christ.

1:4-6   In this letter, Paul wrote some strong words to the Corinthians, but he began on a positive note of thanksgiving.  He affirmed their privilege of belonging to the Lord and receiving his grace, the power God gave them to speak out for him and understand his truth, and the reality of their spiritual gifts.  When we must correct others, it helps to begin by affirming what God has already accomplished in them.

1:7   The Corinthian church members had all the spiritual gifts they needed to live the Christian life, to witness for Christ, and to stand against the paganism and immorality of Corinth.  But instead of using what God had given them, they were arguing over which gifts were more important.  Paul addresses this issue in depth in chapters 12-14.

1:7-9   Paul guaranteed the Corinthian believers that God would consider them blameless when Christ returns (see Ephesians 1:7-10).  This guarantee was not because of their great gifts or their shining performance, but because of what Jesus Christ accomplished for them through his death and resurrection.  All who believe in the Lord Jesus will be considered blameless when Jesus Christ returns (see also 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Hebrews 9:28).  If you have faith in Christ, even if it is weak, you are and will be saved.

Divisions in the Church

10I 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. 11My brothers, some from Chloe's household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12What I mean is this: One of you says, "I follow Paul"; another, "I follow Apollos"; another, "I follow Cephas"; still another, "I follow Christ."
13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 1:10-13

Explanation:

1:10   Paul founded the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey.  Eighteen months after he left, arguments and divisions arose, and some church members slipped back into an immoral life-style.  Paul wrote this letter to address the problems, to clear up confusion about right and wrong, and to remove the immorality among them.  The Corinthian people had a reputation for jumping from fad to fad; Paul wanted to keep Christianity from degenerating into just another fad.   By saying brothers, Paul is emphasizing that all Christians are part of God's family.  Believers share a unity that runs even deeper than that of blood brothers and sisters.

1:10, 11   To agree with one another, allow for no divisions, and be perfectly united in mind and thought does not require everyone to believe exactly the same.  There is a difference between having opposing viewpoints and being divisive.  A group of people will not completely agree on every issue, but they can work together harmoniously if they agree on what truly matters--Jesus Christ is Lord of all.  In your church, speak and behave in a way that will reduce arguments and increase harmony.  Petty differences should never divide Christians.

1:12.....  In this large and diverse Corinthian church, the believers favored different preachers.  Because there was as yet no written New Testament, the believers depended heavily on preaching and teaching for spiritual insight into the meaning of the Old Testament.  Some followed Paul, who had founded their church; some who had heard Peter (Cephas) in Jerusalem followed him; while others listened only to Apollos, an eloquent and popular preacher who had a dynamic ministry in Corinth (Acts 18:24;19:1).  Although these three preachers were united in their message, their personalities attracted different people.  At this time the church was in danger of dividing.  By mentioning Jesus Christ ten times in the first ten verses, Paul makes it clear who it is all preachers and teachers should emphasize.  God's message is much more important than any human messenger.

1:12, 13   Paul wondered whether the Corinthians' quarrels had divided Christ.  This is a graphic picture of what happens when the church (the body of Christ) is divided.  With the many churches and styles of worship available today, we could get caught up in the same game of my preacher is better than yours! To do so would divide Christ again.  But Christ is not divided, and his true followers should not allow anything to divide them.  Don't let your appreciation for any teacher, preacher, or author lead you into intellectual pride.  Our allegiance must be to Christ and to the unity that he desires.

14I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so 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.) 17For 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

18For 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. 19For it is written:
   "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
       the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."
20Where 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? 21For 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. 22Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.
26Brothers, 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. 27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things -- and the things that are not -- to nullify the things that are, 29so that no one may boast before him. 30It 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. 31Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

1 Corinthians 1:14-31

Explanation:

1:17   When Paul said that Christ didn't send him to baptize, he wasn't minimizing the importance of baptism.  Baptism was commanded by Jesus himself (Matthew 28:18) and practiced by the early church (Acts 2:41).  Paul was emphasizing that no one person should do everything.  Paul's gift was preaching, and that's what he did.  Christian ministry should be a team effort; no preacher of teacher is a complete link between God and people, and no individual can do all the apostles did.  We must be content with the contribution God has given us to make, and carry it out wholeheartedly.   Some speakers use impressive words, but they are weak on content.  Paul stressed solid content and practical help for his listeners.  He wanted them to be impressed with his message, not just his style.  You don't need to be a great speaker with a large vocabulary to share the gospel effectively.  The persuasive power is in the story, not the storyteller.  Paul was not against those who carefully prepare what they say, but against those who try to impress others only with their own knowledge or speaking ability.

1:19   Paul summarizes Isaiah 29:14 to emphasize a point Jesus often made:  God's way of thinking is not like the world's way (normal human wisdom).  And God offers eternal life, which the world can never give.  We can spend a lifetime accumulating human wisdom and yet never learn how to have a personal relationship with God.  We must come to the crucified and risen Christ to receive eternal life and the joy of a personal relationship with our Savior.

1:22-24   Many Jews considered the Good News of Jesus Christ to be foolish, because they thought the Messiah would be a conquering king accompanied by signs and miracles.  Jesus had not restored David's throne as they expected.  Besides, he was executed as a criminal, and how could a criminal be a savior?  Greeks, too, considered the gospel foolish; they did not believe in a bodily resurrection; they did not see in Jesus the powerful characteristics of their mythological gods; and they thought no reputable person would be crucified.  To them, death was defeat, not victory.  The Good News of Jesus Christ still sounds foolish to many.  Our society worships power, influence, and wealth.  Jesus came as a humble, poor servant, and he offers his kingdom to those who have faith, not to those who do all kinds of good deeds to try to earn his gifts.  This looks foolish to the world, but Christ is our power, the only way we can be saved.  Knowing Christ personally is the greatest wisdom anyone could have.

1:25   The message of Christ's death for sins sounds foolish to those who don't believe.   Death seems to be the end of the road, the ultimate weakness.  But Jesus did not stay dead.  His resurrection demonstrated his power even over death.  And he will save us from eternal death and give us everlasting life if we trust him as Savior and Lord.  This sounds so simple that many people won't accept it.  They try other ways to obtain eternal life (being good, being wise, etc.).  But all their attempts will not work.  The foolish people who simply accept Christ's offer are actually the wisest of all, because they alone will live eternally with God.

1:27   Is Christianity against rational thinking?  Christians clearly do believe in using their minds to weigh the evidence and make wise choices.  Paul is declaring that no amount of human knowledge can replace or bypass Christ's work on the cross.  If it could, Christ would be accessible only to the intellectually gifted and well educated, and not to ordinary people or to children.

1:28-31   Paul continues to emphasize that the way to receive salvation is so simple that any person who wants to can understand it.  Skill and wisdom do not get a person into God's kingdom--simple faith does--so no one can boast that his or her achievements helped him or her secure eternal life.  Salvation is totally from God through Jesus' death.  There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation; we need only accept what Jesus has already done for us.

1:30   God is the source of and the reason for our personal and living relationship with Christ.  Our union and identification with Christ results in our having God's wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), possessing right standing with God (righteousness, 2 Corinthians 5:21), being holy (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7), and having the penalty for our sins paid by Jesus (redemption, Mark 10:45).

1 Corinthians 2

1When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. 2For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. 4My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, 5so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

Wisdom From the Spirit

6We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

1 Corinthians 2:1-8

Explanation:

2:1   Paul is referring to his first visit to Corinth during his second missionary journey (A.D. 51), when he founded the church (Acts 18).

2:1-5   A brilliant scholar, Paul could have overwhelmed his listeners with intellectual arguments.  Instead he shared the simple message of Jesus Christ by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide his words.  In sharing the gospel with others, we should follow Paul's example and keep our message simple and basic.  The Holy Spirit will give power to our words and use them to bring glory to Jesus.

2:4   Paul's confidence was not in his keen intellect or speaking ability but in his knowledge that the Holy Spirit was helping and guiding him.  Paul is not denying the importance of study and preparation for preaching--he had a thorough education in the Scriptures.  Effective preaching must combine studious preparation with reliance on the work of the Holy Spirit.  Don't use Paul's statement as an excuse for not studying or preparing.

2:7   God's secret wisdom...that has been hidden was his offer of salvation to all people.  Originally unknown to humanity, this plan became crystal clear when Jesus rose from the dead.  His resurrection proved that he had power over sin and death and could offer us this power as well (see 1 Peter 1:10-12).  God's plan, however, is still hidden to unbelievers because they either refuse to accept it, choose to ignore it, or simply haven't heard about it.

2:8  Jesus was misunderstood and rejected by those whom the world considered wise and great.  He was put to death by the rulers in Palestine--the high priest, King Herod, Pilate, and the Pharisees and Sadducees.  Jesus' rejection by these rulers had been predicted in Isaiah 53:3 and Zechariah 12:10, 11.

9However, as it is written:
   "No eye has seen,
       no ear has heard,
   no mind has conceived
   what God has prepared for those who love him"-- 10but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
11The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14The 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. 15The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment:
    16"For who has known the mind of the Lord
       that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2:9-16

Explanation:

2:9   We cannot imagine all that God has in store for us, both in this life and for eternity.  He will create a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1), and we will live with him forever.  Until then, his Holy Spirit comforts and guides us.  Knowing the wonderful and eternal future that awaits us gives us hope and courage to press on in this life, to endure hardship, and to avoid giving in to temptation.  This world is not all there is.  The best is yet to come.

2:10    The deep things of God refers to God's unfathomable nature and his wonderful plan--Jesus' death and resurrection--and to the promise of salvation, revealed only to those who believe that what God says is true.  Those who believe in Christ's death and resurrection and put their faith in him will know all they need to know to be saved.  This knowledge, however, can't be grasped by even the wisest people unless they accept God's message.  All who reject God's message are foolish, no matter how wise the world thinks they are.

2:13   Paul's words are authoritative because their source was the Holy Spirit.  Paul was not merely giving his own personal views or his personal impression of what God had said.  Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote the very thoughts and words of God.

2:14, 15   Non-Christians cannot understand God, and they cannot grasp the concept that God's Spirit lives in believers.  Don't expect most people to approve of or understand your decision to follow Christ.  It all seems so silly to them.  Just as a tone-deaf person cannot appreciate fine music, the person who rejects God cannot understand God's beautiful message.  With the lines of communication broken, he or she won't be able to hear what God is saying to him or her.

2:15, 16   No one can comprehend God (Romans 11:34), but through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, believers have insight into some of God's plans, thoughts, and actions--they, in fact, have the mind of Christ.  Through the Holy Spirit we can begin to know God's thoughts, talk with him, and expect his answers to our prayers.  Are you spending enough time with Christ to have his very mind in you?  An intimate relationship with Christ comes only from spending time consistently in his presence and in his Word. More on the mind of Christ can be found in Philippians 2:5.

1 Corinthians 3

On Divisions in the Church

1Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ. 2I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? 4For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere men?
5What, 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. 6I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. 7So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.

1 Corinthians 3:1-9

Explanation:

3:1-3   Paul called the Corinthians infants in the Christian life because they were not yet spiritually healthy and mature.  The proof was that they quarreled like children, allowing divisions to distract them.  Immature Christians are worldly, controlled by their own desires; mature believers are in tune with God's desires.  How much influence do your desires have on your life?  Your goal should be to let God's desires be yours.  Being controlled by your own desires will stunt your growth.

3:6   Paul planted the seed of the gospel message in people's hearts.  He was a missionary pioneer; he brought the message of salvation.  Apollos's  role was to water--to help the believers grow stronger in the faith.  Paul founded the church in Corinth, and Apollos built on that foundation.  Tragically, the believers in Corinth had split into factions, pledging loyalty to different teachers.  After the preachers' work is completed, God keeps on making Christians grow.  Our leaders should certainly be respected, but we should never place them on pedestals that create barriers between people or set them up as a substitute for Christ.

3:7-9   God's work involves many different individuals with a variety of gifts and abilities.  There are no superstars in this task, only team members performing their own special roles.  We can become useful members of God's team be setting aside our desires to receive glory for what we do.  Don't seek the praise that comes from people--it is comparatively worthless.  Instead, seek approval from God.



 10By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. 11For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13his 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 man's work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
16Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.
18Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness"; 20and again, "The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile." 21So then, no more boasting about men! All things are yours, 22whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future--all are yours, 23and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.

1 Corinthians 3:10-23

Explanation:

3:10, 11   The foundation of the church--of all believers--is Jesus Christ.  Paul laid this foundation (by preaching Christ) when he began the church at Corinth.  Whoever builds the church--officers, teachers, preachers, parents, and others--must build with high-quality materials (right doctrine and right living) that meet God's standards.  Paul is not criticizing Apollos, but challenging future church leaders to have sound preaching and teaching.

3:10-17   In the church built on Jesus Christ, each church member would be mature, spiritually sensitive, and doctrinally sound.  However, the Corinthian church was filled with those whose work was wood, hay, straw, members who were immature, insensitive to one another, and vulnerable to wrong doctrine.  No wonder they had so many problems.  Local church members should be deeply committed to Christ.  Can your Christian character stand the test?

3:11   A building is only as solid as its foundation.  The foundation of our lives is Jesus Christ; he is our base, our reason for being.  Everything we are and do must fit into the pattern provided by him.  Are you building your life on the only real and lasting foundation, or are you building on a faulty foundation such as wealth, security, success, or fame?

3:13-15   Two sure ways to destroy a building are to tamper with the foundation and to build with inferior materials.  The church must  be built on Christ, not on any other person or principle.  Christ will evaluate each minister's contribution to the life of the church, and the day of judgment (the Day) will reveal the sincerity of each person's work.  God will determine whether or not they have been faithful to Jesus' instructions.  Good work will be rewarded; unfaithful or inferior work will be discounted.   The builder will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames means that unfaithful workers will be saved, but like people escaping from a burning building.  All their possessions (accomplishments) will be lost.

3:16, 17   Just as our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the local church or Christian community is God's temple.  Just as the Jews' temple in Jerusalem was not to be destroyed, the church is not to be spoiled and ruined by divisions, controversy, or other sins as members come together to worship God.

3:18-21   Paul was not telling the Corinthian believers to neglect the pursuit of knowledge.  He was warning them that if worldly wisdom holds them back from God, it is not wisdom at all.  God's way of thinking is far more valuable, even though it may seem foolish to the world.  The Corinthians were using so-called worldly wisdom to evaluate their leaders and teachers.  Their pride made them value the presentation of the message more than its content.

3:22   Paul says that both life and death are ours.  While nonbelievers are victims of life, swept along by its current and wondering if there is meaning to it, believers can use life well because they understand its true purpose.  Nonbelievers can only fear death.  For believers, however, death holds no terrors because Christ has conquered all fears (see 1 John 4:18).  Death is only the beginning of eternal life with God.

1 Corinthians 4


Apostles of Christ

1So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. 2Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 3I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. 4My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. 5Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.
6Now, brothers, 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 take pride in one man over against another. 7For 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?
8Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings--and that without us! How I wish that you really had become kings so that we might be kings with you! 9For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. 10We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! 11To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

1 Corinthians 4:1-13

Explanation:

4:1, 2   Paul urged the Corinthians to think of him, Peter (Cephas), and Apollos not as leaders of factions, but as servants of Christ entrusted with the secret things of God (see 2:7).  A servant does what his master tells him to do.  We must do what God tells us to do in the Bible and through his Holy Spirit.  Each day God presents us with needs and opportunities that challenge us to do what we know is right.

4:5   It is tempting to judge fellow Christians, evaluating whether or not they are good followers of Christ.  But only God knows a person's heart, and he is the only one with the right to judge.  Paul's warning to the Corinthians should also warn us.  We are to confront those who are sinning, but we must not judge who is a better servant for Christ.  When you judge someone, you invariably consider yourself better--and that is arrogant.

4:6, 7   How easy it is for us to become attached to a spiritual leader.  When someone has helped us, it is natural to feel loyalty.  But Paul warns against having such pride in our favorite leaders that we cause divisions in the church.  Any true spiritual leader is a representative of Christ and has nothing to offer that God hasn't given him or her.  Don't let your loyalty cause strife, slander, or broken relationships.  Make sure that your deepest loyalties are to Christ and not to his human agents.  Those who spend more time debating church leadership than declaring Christ's message don't have Christ as their top priority.

4:6-13   The Corinthians had split into various cliques, each following its favorite preacher (Paul, Apollos, Peter, etc.).  Each clique really believed it was the only one to have the whole truth, and thus felt spiritually proud.  But Paul told the groups not to boast about being tied to a particular preacher because each preacher was simply a humble servant who had suffered for the same message of salvation in Jesus Christ.  No preacher of God has more status than another.

14I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you, as my dear children. 15Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. 16Therefore I urge you to imitate me. 17For this reason I am sending 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.
18Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 19But 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. 20For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. 21What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a whip, or in love and with a gentle spirit?

1 Corinthians 4:14-21

Explanation:

4:15   In Paul's day, a guardian was a slave who was assigned as a special tutor and caretaker of a child.  Paul was portraying his special affection for the Corinthians (greater than a slave) and his special role (more than a caretaker).  In an attempt to unify the church, Paul appealed to his relationship with them.  By father, he meant he was the church's founder.  Because he started the church, he could be trusted to have its best interests at heart.  Paul's tough words were motivated by love--like the love a good father has for his children (see also 1 Thessalonians 2:11).

4:16  Paul told the Corinthians to imitate him.  He was able to make this statement because he walked close to God, spent time in God's Word and in prayer, and was aware of God's presence in his life at all times.  God was Paul's example; therefore, Paul's life could be an example to other Christians.  Paul wasn't expecting others to imitate everything he did, but they should imitate those aspects of his beliefs and conduct that were modeling Christ's way of living.

4:17   Timothy had traveled with Paul on Paul's second missionary journey (see Acts 16:1-3) and was a key person in the growth of the early church.  Timothy may have delivered this letter to Corinth, but more likely he arrived there shortly after the letter came.  Timothy's role was to see that Paul's advice was received, read, and implemented.  Then he was to return to Paul and report on the church's progress.

4:18-20   Some people talk a lot about faith, but that's all it is--talk.  They may know all the right words to say, but their lives don't reflect God's power.  Paul says that the kingdom of God is to be lived, not just discussed.  There is a big difference between knowing the right words and living them out.  Don't be content to have the right answers about Christ.  Let your life show that God's power is really working in you.

4:19    It is not known whether Paul ever returned to Corinth, but it is likely.  In 2 Corinthians 2:1 he writes that he decided not to make another painful visit, implying that he had had a previous painful confrontation with the Corinthian believers.

1 Corinthians 5


Expel the Immoral Brother!

1It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife. 2And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? 3Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
6Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

1 Corinthians 5:1-8

Explanation:

5:1....   The church must discipline flagrant sin among its members--such sins, left unchecked, can polarize and paralyze a church.  The correction, however, should never be vengeful.  Instead, it should be given to help bring about a cure.  There was a specific sin in the church, but the Corinthian believers had refused to deal with it.  In this case, a man was having an affair with his mother (or stepmother), and the church members were trying to ignore the situation.  Paul was telling the church that it had a responsibility to maintain the standards of morality found in God's commandments.  God tells us not to judge others.  But he also tells us not to tolerate flagrant sin because leaving that sin undisciplined will have a dangerous influence on other believers.

5:5    To hand this man over to Satan means to exclude him from the fellowship of believers.  Without the spiritual support of Christians, this man would be left alone with his sin and Satan, and perhaps this emptiness would drive him to repentance.  That the sinful nature may be destroyed states the hope that the experience would bring him to God to destroy his sinful nature through repentance.  Sinful nature could mean his body or flesh.  This alternative translation would imply that Satan would afflict him physically and thus bring him to God.  Putting someone out of the church should be a last resort in disciplinary action.  It should not be done out of vengeance, but out of love, just as parents punish children to correct and restore them.  The church's role should be to help, not hurt, offenders, motivating them to repent of their sins and to return to the fellowship of the church.

5:6    Paul was writing to those who wanted to ignore this church problem.  They didn't realize that allowing public sin to exist in the church affects all its members.  Paul does not expect anyone to be sinless--all believers struggle with sin daily.  Instead, he is speaking against those who deliberately sin, feel no guilt, and refuse to repent.  This kind of sin cannot be tolerated in the church because it affects others.  We have a responsibility to other believers.  Yeast makes bread dough rise.  A little bit affects the whole batch.  Blatant sins, left uncorrected, confuse and divide the congregation.  While believers should encourage, pray for, and build up one another, they must also be intolerant of sin that jeopardizes the spiritual health of the church.

5:7, 8   As the Hebrews prepared for their exodus from slavery in Egypt, they were commanded to prepare bread without yeast because they didn't have time to wait for it to rise.  And because yeast also was a symbol of sin, they were commanded to sweep all of it out of the house (Exodus 12:15; 13:7).  Christ is our Passover lamb, the perfect sacrifice for our sin.  Because he has delivered us from the slavery of sin, we should have nothing to do with the sins of the past (old yeast).

9I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people-- 10not 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. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you."

1 Corinthians 5:9-13

Explanation:

5:9   Paul is referring to an earlier letter to the Corinthian church, often called the lost letter because it has not been preserved.

5:10, 11   Paul makes it clear that we should not disassociate ourselves from unbelievers--otherwise, we could not carry out Christ's command to tell them about salvation (Matthew 28:18-20).  But we are to distance ourselves from the person who claims to be a Christian, yet indulges in sins explicitly forbidden in Scripture then rationalizes his or her actions.  By rationalizing sin, a person harms others for whom Christ died and dims the image of God in himself or herself.  A church that includes such people is hardly fit to be the light of the world.  To do so would distort the picture of Christ it presents to the world.  Church leaders must be ready to correct, in love, for the sake of spiritual unity.

5:12   The Bible consistently tells us not to criticize people by gossiping or making rash judgments.  At the same time, however, we are to judge and deal with sin that can hurt others.  Paul's instructions should not be used to handle trivial matters or to take revenge; nor should they be applied to individual problems between believers.  These verses are instructions for dealing with open sin in the church, with a person who claims to be a Christian and yet who sins without remorse.  The church is to confront and discipline such a person in love.

1 Corinthians 6


Lawsuits Among Believers

1If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints? 2Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, appoint as judges even men of little account in the church! 5I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6But instead, one brother goes to law against another--and this in front of unbelievers!
7The 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? 8Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.
9Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And 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.

1 Corinthians 6:1-11

Explanation:

6:1-6   In chapter 5, Paul explained what to do with open immorality in the congregation.  In chapter 6, he teaches how the congregation should handle smaller problems between believers.  Society has set up a legal system where disagreements can be resolved in courts.  But Paul declares that disagreeing Christians should not have to go to a secular court to resolve their differences.  As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit and the mind of Christ, so why should we turn to those who lack God's wisdom?  Because of all that we have been given as believers, and because of the authority that we will have in the future to judge the world and the angels, we should be able to deal with disputes among ourselves.  The saints are believers.  See John 5:22 and Revelation 3:21 for more on judging the world.  Judging angels in mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6.

6:6-8   Why did Paul say that Christians should not take their disagreements to unbelievers in secular courts?  (1) If the judge and jury are not Christians, they are not likely to be sensitive to Christian values.  (2) The basis for going to court is often revenge; this should never be a Christian's motive.  (3) Lawsuits make the church look bad, causing unbelievers to focus on its problems rather than on its purpose.

6:9-11   Paul is describing characteristics of unbelievers.  He doesn't mean that idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, slanders or swindlers are automatically and irrevocably excluded from heaven.  Christians come out of all kinds of different backgrounds, including these.  They may still struggle with evil desires, but they should not continue in these practices.  In 6:11, Paul clearly states that even those who sin in these ways can have their lives changed by Christ.  However, those who say that they are Christians but persist in these practices with no sign of remorse will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Such people need to reevaluate their lives to see if they truly believe in Christ.  In a permissive society it is easy for Christians to overlook or tolerate some immoral behaviors (greed, drunkenness, etc.) while remaining outraged at others (homosexuality, thievery).  We must not participate in sin or condone it in any way, nor may we be selective about what we condemn or excuse.  Staying away from more "acceptable" forms of sin is difficult, but it is no harder for us than it was for the Corinthians.  God expects his followers in any age to have high standards.  Paul emphasizes God's action in making believers new people.  The three aspects of God's work are all part of our salvation:  our sins were washed away, we were set apart for special use (sanctified), and we were pronounced not guilty (justified) for our sins.

Sexual Immorality

12"Everything is permissible for me"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"--but I will not be mastered by anything. 13"Food for the stomach and the stomach for food"--but God will destroy them both. The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14By his power God raised the Lord from the dead, and he will raise us also. 15Do 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! 16Do 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." 17But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
18Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Explanation:

6:12   Apparently the church had been quoting and misapplying the words everything is permissible for me.   Some Christians in Corinth were excusing their sins by saying that (1) Christ had taken away all sin, and so they had complete freedom to live as they pleased, or (2) what they were doing was not strictly forbidden by Scripture.  Paul answered both these excuses.  (1)  While Christ has taken away our sin, this does not give us freedom to go on doing what we know is wrong.  The New Testament specifically forbids many sins that were originally prohibited in the Old Testament (see Romans 12:9-21; 13:8-10).  (2)  Some actions are not sinful in themselves, but they are not appropriate because they can control our lives and lead us away from God.  (3)  Some actions may hurt others.  Anything we do that hurts rather than helps others is not right.

6:12, 13   Many of the world's religions teach that the soul or spirit is important but the body is not;  and Christianity has sometimes been influenced by these ideas.  In truth, however, Christianity takes very seriously the realm of the physical.  We worship a God who created a physical world and pronounced it good.  He promises us a new earth where real people have transformed physical lives--not a pink cloud where disembodied souls listen to harp music.  At the heart of Christianity is the story of God himself taking on flesh and blood and coming to live with us, offering both physical healing and spiritual restoration.  We humans, like Adam, are a combination of dust and spirit.  Just as our spirits affect our bodies, so our physical bodies affect our spirits.  We cannot commit sin with our bodies without damaging our souls because our bodies and souls are inseparably joined.  In the new earth we will have resurrection bodies that are not corrupted by sin.  Then we will enjoy the fullness of our salvation.  Freedom is  a mark of the Christian faith--freedom from sin and guilt, and freedom to use and enjoy anything that comes from God.  But Christians should not abuse this freedom and hurt themselves or others.  Drinking too much leads to alcoholism, gluttony leads to obesity.  Be careful that what God has allowed you to enjoy doesn't grow into a bad habit that controls you. 

6:13   Sexual immorality is a temptation that is always before us.  In movies and on television, sex outside marriage is treated as a normal, even desirable, part of life, while marriage is often shown as confining and joyless.  We can even be looked down on by others if we are suspected of being pure.  But God does not forbid sexual sin just to be difficult.  He knows its power to destroy us physically and spiritually.  No one should underestimate the power of sexual immorality.  It has devastated countless lives and destroyed families, churches, communities, and even nations.  God wants to protect us from damaging ourselves and others, and so he offers to fill us--our loneliness, our desires--with himself.

6:15-17   This teaching about sexual immorality and prostitutes was especially important for the Corinthian church because the temple of the love goddess Aphrodite was in Corinth.  This temple employed more than a thousand prostitutes as priestesses, and sex was part of the worship ritual.  Paul clearly states that Christians are to have no part in sexual immorality, even if it is acceptable and popular in our culture.

6:18   Christians are free to be all they can be for God, but they are not free from God.  God created sex to be a beautiful and essential ingredient of marriage, but sexual sin--sex outside the marriage relationship--always hurts someone.  It hurts God because it shows that we prefer following our own desires instead of the leading of the Holy Spirit.  It hurts others because it violates the commitment so necessary to a relationship.  It often brings disease to our bodies.  And it deeply affects our personalities, which respond in anguish when we harm ourselves physically and spiritually.

6:19, 20   What did Paul mean when he said that our bodies belong to God?  Many people say they have the right to do whatever they want with their own bodies.  Although they think that this is freedom, they are really enslaved to their own desires.  When we become Christians, the Holy Spirit fills and lives in us.  Therefore, we no longer own our bodies.  Bought at a price refers to slaves purchased at an auction.  Christ's death freed us from sin, but also obligates us to his service.  If you live in a building owned by someone else, you try not to violate the building's rules.  Because your body belongs to God, you must not violate his standards for living.

1 Corinthians 7


Marriage

1Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry. 2But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. 3The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. 5Do not deprive each other except 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. 6I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7I wish that all men were as I am. But each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
8Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I am. 9But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

1 Corinthians 7:1-9

Explanation:

7:1   The Corinthians had written to Paul, asking him several questions relating to the Christian life and problems in the church.  The first question was whether it was good to be married.  Paul answers this and other questions in the remainder of this letter.  Christians in Corinth were surrounded by sexual temptation.  The city had a reputation even among pagans for sexual immorality and religious prostitution.  It was to this kind of society that Paul delivered these instructions on sex and marriage.  The Corinthians needed special, specific instructions because of their culture's immoral standards.  For more on Paul's teaching about marriage, see Ephesians 5.

7:3-5   Sexual temptations are difficult to withstand because they appeal to the normal and natural desires that God has given us.  Marriage provides God's way to satisfy these natural sexual desires and to strengthen the partners against temptation.  Married couples have the responsibility to care for each other; therefore, husbands and wives should not withhold themselves sexually from one another, but should fulfill each other's needs and desires.

7:3-11   The Corinthian church was in turmoil because of the immorality of the culture around them.  Some Greeks, in rejecting immorality, rejected sex and marriage altogether.  The Corinthian Christians wondered if this was what they should do also, so they asked Paul several questions:  Because sex is perverted, shouldn't we also abstain in marriage?  If my spouse is unshaved, should I seek a divorce?  Should unmarried people and widows remain unmarried?  Paul answered many of these questions by saying, For now, stay put.  Be content in the situation where God has placed you.  If you're married, don't seek to be single.  If you're single don't seek to be married.  Live God's way, one day at a time, and he will show you what to do.

7:4   Spiritually, our bodies belong to God when we become Christians because Jesus Christ bought us by paying the price to release us from sin (see 6:19, 20).  Physically, our bodies belong to our spouses because God designed marriage so that, through the union of husband and wife, the two become one (Genesis 2:24).  Paul stressed complete equality in sexual relationships.  Neither male nor female should seek dominance or autonomy.

7:7   Both marriage and singleness are gifts from God.  One is not morally better than the other, and both are valuable to accomplishing God's purposes.  It is important for us, therefore, to accept our present situation.  When Paul said he wished that all people were like him (i.e., unmarried), he was expressing his desire that more people would devote themselves completely to the ministry without the added concerns of spouse and family, as he had done.  He was not criticizing marriage--after all, it is God's created way of providing companionship and populating the earth.

7:9   Sexual pressure is not the best motive for getting married, but it is better to marry the right person than to burn with passion.  Many new believers in Corinth thought that all sex was wrong, and so engaged couples were deciding not to get married.  In this passage, Paul was telling couples who wanted to marry that they should not frustrate their normal sexual drives by avoiding marriage.  This does not mean, however, that people who have trouble controlling themselves should marry the first person who comes along.  It is better to deal with the pressure of desire than to deal with an unhappy marriage.

10To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. 11But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
12To 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. 13And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14For 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.
15But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. 16How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?

1 Corinthians 7:10-16

Explanation:

7:12   Paul's command about the permanence of marriage (7:10) comes from the Old Testament (Genesis 2:24) and from Jesus (Mark 10:2-12).  His suggestion in this verse is based on God's command, and Paul applies it to the situation the Corinthians were facing.  Paul ranked the command above the suggestion because one is an eternal principle while the other is a specific application.  Nevertheless, for people in similar situations, Paul's suggestion is the best advice they will get.  Paul was a man of God, an apostle, and he had the mind of Christ.

7:12-14   Because of their desire to serve Christ, some people in the Corinthian church thought they ought to divorce their pagan spouses and marry Christians.  But Paul affirmed the marriage commitment.  God's ideal is for marriages to stay together--even when one spouse is not a believer.  The Christian spouse should try to win the other to Christ.  It would be east to rationalize leaving; however, Paul makes a strong case for staying with the unbelieving spouse and being a positive influence on the marriage.  Paul, like Jesus, believed that marriage is permanent (see Mark 10:1-9).

7:14   The blessings that flow to believers don't stop there, but extend to others.  God regards the marriage as sanctified (set apart for his use) by the presence of one Christian spouse.  The other does not receive salvation automatically, but is helped by this relationship.  The children of such a marriage are to be regarded as holy (because of God's blessing on the family unit) until they are old enough to decide for themselves.

7:15, 16   This verse is misused by some as a loophole to get out of marriage.  But Paul's statements were given to encourage the Christian spouse to try to get along with the unbeliever and make the marriage work.  If, however, the unbelieving spouse insisted on leaving, Paul said to let him or her go.  The only alternative would be for the Christian to deny his or her faith to preserve the marriage, and that would be worse than dissolving the marriage.  Paul's chief purpose in writing this was to urge the married couple to seek unity, not separation (see 1 Peter 3:1, 2).

17Nevertheless, each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the churches. 18Was 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. 19Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts. 20Each one should remain in the situation which he was in when God called him. 21Were you a slave when you were called? Don't let it trouble you--although if you can gain your freedom, do so. 22For he who was a slave when he was called by the Lord is the Lord's freedman; similarly, he who was a free man when he was called is Christ's slave. 23You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. 24Brothers, each man, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation God called him to.
25Now about virgins: I have no command from the Lord, but I give a judgment as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy.

1 Corinthians 7:17-25

Explanation:

7:17   Apparently the Corinthians were ready to make wholesale changes without thinking through the ramifications.  Paul was writing to say that people should be Christians where they are.  You can do God's work and demonstrate your faith anywhere.  If you became a Christian after marriage, and your spouse in not a believer, remember that you don't have to be married to a Christian to live for Christ.  Don't assume that you are in the wrong place, or stuck with the wrong person.  You may just be where God wants you.

7:18, 19   The ceremony of circumcision was an important part of the Jew's relationship with God.  In fact, before Christ came, circumcision was commanded by God for those who claimed to follow him (Genesis 17:9-14).  But after Christ's death, circumcision was no longer necessary (Acts 15; Romans 4:9-11; Galatians 5:2-4; Colossians 2:11).  Pleasing God and obeying him is more important than observing traditional ceremonies.

7:20   Often we are so concerned about what we could be doing for God somewhere else that we miss great opportunities right where we are.  Paul says that when someone becomes a Christian, he or she should usually continue with the work he or she has previously been doing--provided it isn't immoral or unethical.  Every job can become Christian work when you realize that the purpose of your life is to honor, serve, and speak out for Christ.  Because God has placed you where you are, look carefully for opportunities to serve him there.

7:23   Slavery was common throughout the Roman empire.  Some Christians in the Corinthian church were undoubtedly slaves.  Paul said that although the Christian slaves were slaves to other human beings, they were free from the power of sin in their lives.  People today are slaves to sin until they commit their lives to Christ, who alone can conquer sin's power.  Sin, pride, and fear no longer have any claim over us, just as a slave owner no longer has power over the slaves he sold.  The Bible says we become Christ's slaves when we become Christians (Romans 6:18), but this actually means we gain our freedom, because sin no longer controls us.

26Because of the present crisis, I think that it is good for you to remain as you are. 27Are you married? Do not seek a divorce. Are you unmarried? Do not look for a wife. 28But 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.
29What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; 30those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; 31those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
32I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs--how he can please the Lord. 33But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world--how he can please his wife-- 34and 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. 35I 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.
36If anyone thinks he is acting improperly toward the virgin he is engaged to, and if she is getting along in years and he feels he ought to marry, he should do as he wants. He is not sinning. They should get married. 37But 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. 38So then, he who marries the virgin does right, but he who does not marry her does even better.
39A 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. 40In my judgment, she is happier if she stays as she is--and I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 7:26-40

Explanation:

7:26   Paul probably foresaw the impending persecution that the Roman government would soon bring upon Christians.  He gave this practical advice because being unmarried would mean less suffering and more freedom to throw one's life into the cause of Christ, even to the point of fearlessly dying for him.  Paul's advice reveals his single-minded devotion to spreading the Good News.

7:28   Many people naively think that marriage will solve all their problems.  Here are some problems marriage won't solve:  (1)  loneliness, (2) sexual temptation, (3) satisfaction of one's deepest emotional needs, (4) elimination of life's difficulties.  Marriage alone does not hold two people together, but commitment does--commitment to Christ and to each other despite conflicts and problems.  As wonderful as it is, marriage does not automatically solve every problem.  Whether married or single, we must be content with our situation and focus on Christ, not on loved ones, to help address our problems.

7:29   Paul urges all believers to make the most of their time before Christ's return.  Every person in every generation should have this sense of urgency about telling the Good News to others.  Life is short--there's not much time!

7:29-31   Paul urges believers not to regard marriage, home, or financial security as the ultimate goals of life.  As much as possible, we should live unhindered by the cares of this world, hot getting involved with burdensome mortgages, budgets, investments, or debts that might keep us from doing God's Work. A married man or woman, as Paul points out, must take care of earthly responsibilities--but they should make every effort to keep them modest and manageable.

7:32-34   Some single people feel tremendous pressure to be married.  They think their lives can be complete only with a spouse.  But Paul underlines one advantage of being single--the potential of a greater focus on Christ and his work.  If you are unmarried, use your special opportunity to serve Christ wholeheartedly.

7:38   When Paul says the unmarried person does even better, he is talking about the potential time available for service to God.  The single person does not have the responsibility of caring for a spouse and raising a family.  Singleness, however, does not ensure service to God--involvement in service depends on the commitment of the individual.

7:40  Paul's advice comes from the Holy Spirit, who guides and equips both single and married people to fulfill their roles.

1 Corinthians 8


Food Sacrificed to Idols

1Now about food sacrificed to idols: We know that we all possess knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. 2The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. 3But the man who loves God is known by God.
4So 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. 5For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many "gods" and many "lords"), 6yet 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.
7But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. 8But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.
9Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10For if anyone with a weak conscience sees you who have this knowledge eating in an idol's temple, won't he be emboldened to eat what has been sacrificed to idols? 11So this weak brother, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 12When you sin against your brothers in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. 13Therefore, 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.

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Explanation:

8:1   Meat bought in the marketplace was likely to have been symbolically offered to an idol in one of the many pagan temples.  Animals were brought to a temple, killed before an idol as part of a pagan religious ceremony, and eaten at a feast in the idol's temple or taken to butchers who sold the meat in the marketplace.  The believers wondered if by eating such meat, they were somehow participating in the worship of pagan idols.

8:1-3   Love is more important than knowledge.  Knowledge can make us look good and feel important, but we can all too easily develop an arrogant, know-it-all attitude.  Many people with strong opinions are unwilling to listen and learn from God and others.  We can obtain God's knowledge only by loving him (see James 3:17, 18).  And we can know and be known by God only when we model him by showing love (1 John 4:7, 8).

8:4-9   Paul addressed these words to believers who weren't bothered by eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols.  Although idols were phony, and the pagan ritual of sacrificing to idols was meaningless, eating such meat offended Christians with more sensitive consciences.  Paul said, therefore, that if a weaker or less mature believer misunderstood their actions, they should, out of consideration, avoid eating meat offered to idols.

8:10-13    Christian freedom does not mean that anything goes.  It means that our salvation is not determined by good deeds or legalistic rules, but by the free gift of God (Ephesians 2:8, 9).  Christian freedom, then, is inseparably tied to Christian responsibility.  New believers are often very sensitive to what is right or wrong, what they should or shouldn't do.  Some actions may be perfectly all right for us to do, but may harm a Christian brother or sister who is still young in the faith and learning what the Christian life is all about.  We must be careful not to offend a sensitive or younger Christian or, by our example, to cause him or her to sin.  When we love others, our freedom should be less important to us than strengthening the faith of a brother or sister in Christ.

1 Corinthians 9


The Rights of an Apostle

1Am 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? 2Even 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.
3This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4Don't we have the right to food and drink? 5Don'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? 6Or is it only I and Barnabas who must work for a living?
7Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat of its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink of the milk? 8Do I say this merely from a human point of view? Doesn't the Law say the same thing? 9For 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? 10Surely he says this for us, doesn't he? Yes, this was written for us, because when the plowman plows and the thresher threshes, they ought to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12If others have this right of support from you, shouldn't we have it all the more?  13But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ. Don't you know that those who work in the temple get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar?

1 Corinthians 9:1-13

Explanation:

9:1    Some Corinthians were questioning Paul's authority and rights as an apostle, so Paul gave his credentials--he actually saw and talked with the resurrected Christ, who called him to be an apostle (see Acts 9:3-18).  Such credentials make the advice he gives in this letter more persuasive.  In 2 Corinthians 10-13, Paul defends his apostleship in greater detail.   Changed lives were the evidence that God was using Paul.  Does your faith have an impact on others?  You can be a life-changer, helping others grow spiritually, if you dedicate yourself to being used by God and letting him make you effective.

9:4   Paul uses himself as an illustration of giving up personal rights.  Paul had the right to hospitality, to be married, and to be paid for his work.  But he willingly gave up these rights to win people to Christ.  When your focus is on living for Christ, your rights become comparatively unimportant.

9:4-10   Jesus said that workers deserve their wages (Luke 10:7).  Paul echoes this thought and urges the church to be sure to pay their Christian workers.  We have the responsibility to care for our pastors, teachers, and other spiritual leaders.  It is our duty to see that those who serve us in the ministry are fairly and adequately compensated.

9:5   The brothers of Jesus attained leadership status in the church at Jerusalem.  James (one of the Lords brothers), for example, led the way for an agreement at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15, and wrote the book of James.

9:13   As part of their pay, priests in the temple would receive a portion of the offerings as their food (see Numbers 18:8-24).

14In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.
15But 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. I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of this boast. 16Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make use of my rights in preaching it.
19Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20To 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. 21To 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. 22To 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. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
24Do 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.
25Everyone 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. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, 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.

1 Corinthians 9:14-27

Explanation:

9:16    Preaching the gospel was Paul's gift and calling, and he said he couldn't stop preaching even if he wanted to.  Paul was driven by the desire to do what God wanted, using his gifts for God's glory.  What special gifts has God given you?  Are you motivated, like Paul, to honor God with your gifts?

9:19-27    In 9:19-22 Paul emphasizes that he has freedom to do anything; in 9:24 he emphasizes a life of strict discipline.  The Christian life involves both freedom and discipline.  The goals of Paul's life were to glorify God and bring people to Christ.  Thus he stayed free of any philosophical position or material entanglement that might sidetrack him, while he strictly disciplined himself to carry out his goal.  For Paul, both freedom and discipline were important tools to be used in God's service.

9:22, 23   Paul gives several important principles for ministry:  (1) find common ground with those you contact;  (2) avoid a know-it-all attitude; (3) make others feel accepted; (4) be sensitive to their needs and concerns; and (5) look for opportunities to tell them about Christ.  These principles are just as valid for us as they were for Paul.

9:24-27   Winning a race requires purpose and discipline.  Paul used this illustration to explain that the Christian life takes hard work, self-denial, and grueling preparation.  As Christians, we are running toward our heavenly reward.  The essential disciplines of prayer, Bible study, and worship equip us to run with vigor and stamina.  Don't merely observe from the grandstand; Don't just turn out to jog a couple of laps each morning.  Train diligently--your spiritual progress depends on it.

9:25    At times we must even give up something good in order to do what God wants.  Each person's special duties determine the discipline and denial that he or she must accept.  Without a goal, discipline is nothing but self-punishment.  With the goal of pleasing God, our denial seems like nothing compared to the eternal, imperishable reward that will be ours.

9:27   When Paul says he might be disqualified, he does not mean that he could lose his salvation, but rather that he could lose his privilege of telling others about Christ.  It is easy to tell others how to live and then not to take our own advice.  We must be careful to practice what we preach.

1 Corinthians 10


Warnings From Israel's History

1For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3They all ate the same spiritual food 4and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
6Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7Do 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 pagan revelry." 8We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did--and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9We should not test the Lord, as some of them did--and were killed by snakes. 10And do not grumble, as some of them did--and were killed by the destroying angel.
11These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 13No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13

Explanation:

10:1    In chapter 9 Paul used himself as an example of a mature Christian, who disciplines himself to better serve God. In chapter 10, he uses Israel as an example of spiritual immaturity, shown in their overconfidence and lack of self-discipline.

10:1-5   The cloud and the sea mentioned here refer to Israel's escape from slavery in Egypt when God led them by a cloud and brought them safely through the Red Sea (Exodus 14).  The spiritual food and drink are the miraculous provisions God gave as they traveled through the desert (Exodus 15, 16).

10:2  Baptized into Moses means that just as we are united in Christ by baptism, so the Israelites were united under Moses' leadership in the events of the exodus.

10:7-10   The incident referred to in 10:7 is when the Israelites made a golden calf and worshiped it in the desert (Exodus 32).  The incident in 10:8 is recorded in Numbers 25:1-9 when the Israelites worshiped Baal of Peor and engaged in sexual immorality with Moabite women.  The reference in 10:9 is to the Israelites' complaint about their food (Numbers 21:5, 6).  They put the Lord to the test by seeing how far they could go.  In 10:10, Paul refers to when the people complained against Moses and Aaron, and the plague that resulted (Numbers 14:2, 36; 16:41-50).  The destroying angel is referred to in Exodus 12:23.

10:11   Today's pressures make it easy to ignore or forget the lessons of the past.  But Paul cautions us to remember the lessons the Israelites learned about God so we can avoid repeating their errors.  The key to remembering is to study the Bible regularly so that these lessons remind us of how God wants us to live.  We need not repeat their mistakes.

10:13   In a culture filled with moral depravity and sin-inducing pressures, Paul gave strong encouragement to the Corinthians about temptation.  He said (1) wrong desires and temptations happen to everyone, so don't feel you've been singled our; (2) others have resisted temptation, and so can you; (3) any temptation can be resisted because God will help you resist it.  God helps you resist temptation by helping you (1) recognize those people and situations that give you trouble, (2) run from anything you know is wrong, (3) choose to do only what is right, (4) pray for God's help, and (5) seek friends who love God and can offer help when you are tempted.  Running from a tempting situation is your first step on the way to victory (see Timothy 2:22).

Idol Feasts and the Lord's Supper

14Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16Is 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? 17Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.
18Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19Do I mean then that a sacrifice offered to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21You 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. 22Are we trying to arouse the Lord's jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

1 Corinthians 10:14-22

Explanation:

10:14   Idol worship was the major expression of religion in Corinth.  There were several pagan temples in the city, and they were very popular.  The statues of wood and stone were not evil in themselves, but people gave them credit for what only God could do, such as provide good weather, crops, and children. Idolatry is still a serious problem today, but it takes a different form.  We don't put our trust in statues of wood and stone, but in paper money and plastic cards.  Trusting anything for what God alone provides is idolatry.  Our modern idols are those symbols of power, pleasure, or prestige that we so highly regard.  When we understand contemporary parallels to idolatry, Paul's words to flee from idolatry become much more meaningful.

10:16-21    The idea of unity and fellowship with God through eating a sacrifice was strong in Judaism and Christianity as well as in paganism.  In Old Testament days, when a Jew offered a sacrifice, he ate part of that sacrifice as a way of restoring his unity with God, against whom he had sinned (Deuteronomy 12:17, 18).  Similarly, Christians participate in Christ's once-for-all sacrifice when they eat the bread and drink the wine symbolizing his body and blood.  Recent converts from paganism could not help being affected if they knowingly ate with pagans in their feasts the meat offered to idols.

10:21   As followers of Christ we must give him our total allegiance.  We cannot, as Paul explains, have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons.  Eating at the Lord's table means communing with Christ and identifying with his death.  Eating at the demons' table means identifying with Satan by worshiping or promoting pagan (or evil) activities.  Are you trying to lead two lives, following the desires of both Christ and the crowd?  The Bible says that you can't do both at the same time.

The Believer's Freedom

23"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive. 24Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
25Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26for, "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it."
27If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28But if anyone says to you, "This has been offered in sacrifice," then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience' sake-- 29the other man's conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another's conscience? 30If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
31So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God-- 33even as I 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.

1 Corinthians 10:23-33

Explanation:

10:23, 24   Sometimes it's hard to know when to defer to the weaker believer.  Paul gives a simple rule of thumb to help in making the decision--we should be sensitive and gracious.  While some actions may not be wrong, they may not be in the best interests of others.  While we have freedom in Christ, we shouldn't exercise our freedom at the cost of hurting a Christian brother or sister.  We are not to consider only ourselves, but we must be sensitive to others.  For more on the proper attitude toward a weaker believer see Romans 14. 

10:25-27   Paul gave one answer to the dilemma--to buy whatever meat is sold at the market without asking whether it was offered to idols.  It doesn't matter anyway, and no one's conscience would be troubled.  When we become too worried about our every action, we become legalistic and cannot enjoy life.  Everything belongs to God, and he has given us all things to enjoy.  If we know something is a problem, then we can deal with it, but we don't need to go looking for problems.

10:28-33   Why should we be limited by another person's conscience? Simply because we are to do all things for God's glory, even our eating and drinking.  Nothing we do should cause another believer to stumble.  We do what is best for others, so that they might be saved.  On the other hand, Christians should not make a career out of being the weaker person with oversensitive consciences.  Christian leaders and teachers should carefully teach about the freedom we have in matters not expressly forbidden by Scripture.

10:31   God's love must so permeate our motives that all we do will be for his glory.  Keep this as a guiding principle by asking, Is this action glorifying God? or How can I honor God through this action?

10:33   Paul's criterion for all his actions was not what he liked best, but what was best for those around him.  The opposite attitude would be (1) being insensitive and doing what we want, no matter who is hurt by it; (2) being oversensitive and doing nothing, for fear that someone may be displeased; (3) being a yes person by going along with everything, trying to gain approval from people rather than from God.  In this age of me first and looking out for number one, Paul's starting statement is a good standard.  If we make the good of others one of our primary goals, we will develop a serving attitude that please God.

The Lord's Supper

17In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18In 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. 19No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God's approval. 20When you come together, it is not the Lord's Supper you eat, 21for as you eat, each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry, another gets drunk. 22Don't you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you for this? Certainly not!
23For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me." 25In 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." 26For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 11:17-26  

Explanation:   

11:17-34   The Lord's Supper is a visible representation of the Good News of the death of Christ for our sins.  It reminds us of Christ's death and the glorious hope of his return.  Our participation in it strengthens our faith through fellowship with Christ and with other believers.

11:19   Paul allows that there might be differences among church members.  When they develop into self-willed divisions, they are destructive to the congregation.  Those who cause division only serve to highlight those who are genuine believers.

11:21, 22   When the Lord's Supper was celebrated in the early church, it included a feast or fellowship meal followed by the celebration of Communion.  In the church in Corinth, the fellowship meal had become a time when some ate and drank excessively while others went hungry.  There was little sharing and caring.  This certainly did not demonstrate the unity and love that should characterize the church, nor was it a preparation for Communion.  Paul condemned these actions and reminded the church of the real purpose of the Lord's Supper.

11:24, 25   What does the Lord's Supper mean?  The early church remembered that Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper on the night of the Passover meal (Luke 22:13-20).  Just as Passover celebrated deliverance from slavery in Egypt, so the Lord's Supper celebrates deliverance from sin by Christ's death.  Christians pose several different possibilities for what Christ meant when he said, this is my body.  (1) Some believe that the wine and bread actually become Christ's physical blood and body.  (2) Others believe that the bread and wine remain unchanged, but Christ is spiritually present with the bread and wine.  (3) Still others believe that the bread and wine symbolize Christ's body and blood.  Christians generally agree, however, that participating in the Lord's Supper is an important element in the Christian faith and that Christ's presence, however we understand it, strengthens us spiritually.

11:25   What is this new covenant?   In the old covenant, people could approach God only through the priests and the sacrificial system.  Jesus' death on the cross ushered in the new covenant or agreement between God and us.  Now all people can personally approach God and communicate with him.  The people of Israel first entered into this agreement after their exodus from Egypt (Exodus 24), and it was designed to point to the day when Jesus Christ would come.  The new covenant completes, rather than replaces, the old covenant, fulfilling everything the old covenant looked forward to (see Jeremiah 31:31-34).  Eating the bread and drinking the cup shows that we are remembering Christ's death for us and renewing our commitment to serve him.  Jesus said, Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.  How do we remember Christ in the Lord's Supper?  By thinking about what he did and why he did it.  If the Lord's Supper becomes just a ritual or a pious habit, it no longer remembers Christ, and it loses its significance.

27Therefore, 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. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. 30That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. 32When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
33So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. 34If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.  And when I come I will give further directions.

1 Corinthians 11:27-34

Explanation:

11:27   Paul gives specific instructions on how the Lord's Supper should be observed.  (1) We should take the Lord's Supper thoughtfully because we are proclaiming that Christ died for our sins. (2) We should take it worthily, with due reverence and respect. (3) We should examine ourselves for any unconfessed sin or resentful attitude.  We are to be properly prepared, based on our belief in and love for Christ.  (4)  We should be considerate of others, waiting until everyone is there and then eating in an orderly and unified manner.

11:27-34   When Paul said that no one should take the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner, he was speaking to the church members who were rushing into it without thinking of its meaning.  Those who did so were guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord.  Instead of honoring his sacrifice, they were sharing in the guilt of those who crucified Christ.  In reality, no one is worthy to take the Lord's Supper.  We are all sinners saved by grace.  This is why we should prepare ourselves for Communion through healthy introspection, confession of sin, and resolution of differences with others.  These actions remove the barriers that affect our relationship with Christ and with other believers.  Awareness of your sin should not keep you away from Communion but should drive you to participate in it.

11:29   Without recognizing the body of the Lord means not understanding what the Lord's Supper means and not distinguishing it from a normal meal.  Those who do so condemn themselves.

11:30   Fallen asleep is another way of describing death.  That some of the people had died may have been a special supernatural judgment on the Corinthian church.  This type of disciplinary judgment highlights the seriousness of the Communion service.  The Lord's Supper is not to be taken lightly; this new covenant cost Jesus his life.  It is not a meaningless ritual, but a sacrament given by Christ to help strengthen our faith.

11:34   People should come to this meal desiring to fellowship with other believers and prepare for the Lord's Supper to follow, not to fill up on a big dinner.  If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home means that they should eat dinner beforehand, so as to come to the fellowship meal in the right frame of mind.

1 Corinthians 12


Spiritual Gifts

1Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. 2You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3Therefore I tell you 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.
4There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men.
7Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10to 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. 11All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

Explanation:

12:1.....   The spiritual gifts given to each person by the Holy Spirit are special abilities that are to be used to minister to the needs of the body of believers.  This chapter is not an exhaustive list of spiritual gifts (see Romans 12; Ephesians 4; 1 Peter 4:10, 11 for more examples).  There are many gifts, people have different gifts, some people have more than one gift, and one gift is not superior to another.  All spiritual gifts come from the Holy Spirit, and their purpose is to build up Christ's body, the church.   Instead of building up and unifying the Corinthian church, the issue of spiritual gifts was splitting it.  Spiritual gifts had become symbols of spiritual power, causing rivalries because some people thought they were more spiritual than others because of their gifts.  This was a terrible misuse of spiritual gifts because their purpose is always to help the church function more effectively, not to divide it.  We can be divisive if we insist on using our gift our own way without being sensitive to others.  We must never use gifts as a means of manipulating others or serving our own self-interest.

12:3   Anyone can claim to speak for God, and the world is full of false teachers.  Paul gives us a test to help us discern whether or not a messenger is really from God:  does he or she confess Christ as Lord?  Don't naively accept the words of all who claim to speak for God; test their credentials by finding out what they teach about Christ.

12:9  All Christians have faith.  Some, however, have the spiritual gift of faith, which is an unusual measure of trust in the Holy Spirit's power.

12:10, 11   Prophecy is not just a prediction about the future; it can also mean preaching God's Word with power.  Distinguishing between spirits means the ability to discern whether a person who claims to speak for God is actually doing so, or is speaking by an evil spirit. (Paul discusses tongues and their interpretation in more detail in chapter 14.)  No matter what gift(s) a person has, each gift is given by the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit decides which gifts each one of us should have.  We are responsible to use and sharpen our gifts, but we can take no credit for what God has freely given us.

12The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
14Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If 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? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28And in the 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 others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31But eagerly desire the greater gifts.
And now I will show you the most excellent way.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31

Explanation:

12:12   Paul compares the body of Christ to a human body.  Each part has a specific function that is necessary to the body as a whole.  The parts are different for a purpose, and in their differences they must work together.  Christians must avoid two common errors: (1) being proud of their abilities; or (2) thinking they have nothing to give to the body  of believers.  Instead of comparing ourselves to one another, we should use our different gifts, together, to spread the Good News of salvation.

12:13   The church is composed of many types of people from a variety of backgrounds with a multitude of gifts and abilities.  It is easy for these differences to divide people, as was the case in Corinth.  But despite the differences, all believers have one thing in common--faith in Christ.  On this essential truth, the church finds unity.  All believers are baptized by one Holy Spirit into one body of believers, the church.  We don't lose our individual identities, but we have an overriding oneness in Christ.  When a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit takes up residence, and he or she is born into God's family.  We were all given the one Spirit to drink means that the Holy Spirit completely fills our innermost beings.  As members of God's family, we may have different interests and gifts, but we have a common goal.

12:14-24   Using the analogy of the body, Paul emphasizes the importance of each church member.  If a seemingly insignificant part is taken away, the whole body becomes less effective.  Thinking that your gift is more important than someone else's is an expression of spiritual pride.  We should not look down on those who seem unimportant, and we should not be jealous of others who have impressive gifts.  Instead, we should use the gifts we have been given and encourage others to use theirs.  If we don't, the body of believers will be less effective.

12:25, 26   What is your response when a fellow Christian is honored?  How do you respond when someone is suffering?  We are called to rejoice with those rejoice and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).  Too often, unfortunately, we are jealous of those who rejoice and apathetic toward those who weep.  Believers are in the world together--there is no such thing as private or individualistic Christianity.  We shouldn't stop with enjoying only our own relationship with God; we need to get involved in the lives of others.

12:30   Paul discusses the subject the subject of speaking in and interpreting tongues in more detail in chapter 14.

12:31   The greater gifts are those that are more beneficial to the body of Christ.  Paul has already made it clear that one gift is not superior to another, but he urges the believers to discover how they can serve Christ's body with the gifts God has given them.  Your spiritual gifts are not for your own self-advancement.  They were given to you for serving God and enhancing the spiritual growth of the body of believers.

1 Corinthians 13


Love

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If 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 have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love 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. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When 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 childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor 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.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Explanation:

13:1....  In chapter 12 Paul gave evidence of the Corinthians; lack of love in the utilization of spiritual gifts; chapter 13 defines real love; and chapter 14 shows how love works.  Love is more important than all the spiritual gifts exercised in the church body.  Great faith, acts of dedication or sacrifice, and miracle-working power produce very little without love.  Love makes our actions and gifts useful.  Although people have different gifts, love is available to everyone.

13:4-7   Our society confuses love and lust.  Unlike lust, God's kind of love is directed outward toward others, not inward toward ourselves.  It is utterly unselfish.  This kind of love goes against our natural inclinations.  It is possible to practice this love only if God helps us set aside our own desires and instincts, so that we can give love while expecting nothing in return.  Thus the more we become like Christ, the more love we will show to others.

13:10   God gives us spiritual gifts for our lives on earth in order to build up, serve, and strengthen fellow Christians.  The spiritual gifts are for the church.  In eternity, we will be made perfect and complete and will be in the very presence of God.  We will no longer need the spiritual gifts, so they will come to an end.

13:12   Paul offers a glimpse into the future to give us hope that one day we will be complete when we see God face to face.  This truth should strengthen our faith--we don't have all the answers now, but one day we will.  Someday we will see Christ in person and be able to see with God's perspective.

13:13   In morally corrupt Corinth, love had become a mixed-up term with little meaning.  Today people are still confused about love.  Love is the greatest of all human qualities, and it is an attribute of God himself (1 John 4:8).  Love involves unselfish services to others, to show it gives evidence that you care.  Faith is the foundation and content of God's message; hope is the attitude and focus; love is the action.  When faith and hope are in line, you are free to love completely because you understand how God loves.

1 Corinthians 14


Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues

1Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. 2For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
6Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. 12So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.
13For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. 14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say "Amen" to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.
18I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
20Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21In the Law it is written:
   "Through men of strange tongues
       and through the lips of foreigners
   I will speak to this people,
       but even then they will not listen to me," says the Lord.

1 Corinthians 14:1-21

Explanation:

14:1   Prophecy may involve predicting future events, but its main purpose is to communicate God's message to people, providing insight, warning, correction, and encouragement.

14:2   The gift of speaking in a tongue was a concern of the Corinthian church because the use of the gift had caused disorder in worship.  Speaking in tongues is a legitimate gift of the Holy Spirit, but the Corinthian believers were using it as a sign of spiritual superiority rather than as a means to spiritual unity.  Spiritual gifts are beneficial only when they are properly used to help everyone in the church.  We should not exercise them only to make ourselves feel good.   Paul makes several points about speaking in tongues: (1) it is a spiritual gift from God; (2) it is a desirable gift even though it isn't a requirement of faith; (3) it is less important than prophecy and teaching.  Although Paul himself spoke in tongues, he stressed prophecy (preaching) because it benefits the whole church, while speaking in tongues primarily benefits the speaker.  Public worship must be understandable and edifying to the whole church.

14:5-12   As musical instruments must play each note in order for the music to be clear, so Paul says words preached in the hearers' language are more clear and helpful.  There are many languages in the world, and people who speak different languages can rarely understand each other,  It is the same with speaking in tongues.  Although this gift is helpful to many people in private worship, and helpful in public worship with interpretation, Paul says he would rather speak five words that his hearers can understand than 10,000 that they cannot.

14:13-20   If a person has the gift of speaking in tongues, he should also pray for the gift of knowing what he has said (interpretation) so he can tell the people afterwards.  This way, the entire church will be edified by this gift.

14:15   There is a proper place for the intellect in Christianity.  In praying and singing, both the mind and spirit are to be fully engaged.  When we sing, we should also think about the meaning of the words.  When we pour out our feelings to God in prayer, we should not turn off our capacity to think.  True Christianity is neither barren intellectualism nor thoughtless emotionalism.  See also Ephesians 1:17, 18;  Philippians 1:9-11;  Colossians 1:9.

22Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. 23So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"

Orderly Worship

26What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. 27If anyone speaks in a tongue, two--or at the most three--should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
29Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.
34As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
36Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. 38If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.
39Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

1 Corinthians 14:22-40

Explanation:

14:22-25  The way the Corinthians were speaking in tongues was helping no one because believers did not understand what was being said, and unbelievers thought that the people speaking in tongues were crazy.  Speaking in tongues was supposed to be a  sign to unbelievers.  After speaking in tongues, believers were supposed to explain what was said and give the credit to God.   The unsaved people would then be convinced of a spiritual reality and motivated to look further into the Christian faith.  While this is one way to reach unbelievers, Paul says that clear preaching is usually better.

14:26........  Everything done in worship services must be beneficial to the worshipers.  This principle touches every aspect--singing, preaching, and the exercise of spiritual gifts.  Those contributing to the service (singers, speakers, readers) must have love as their chief motivation, speaking useful words or participating in a way that will strengthen the faith of other believers.

14:33   In worship, everything must be done in harmony and with order.  Even when the gifts of the Holy Spirit are being exercised, there is no excuse for disorder.  When there is chaos, the church is not allowing God to work among believers as he would like.

14:34, 35   Does this mean that women should not speak in church services today?  It is clear from  11:15 that women prayed and prophesied in public worship.  It is also clear in chapters 12-14 that women are given spiritual gifts and are encouraged to exercise them in the body of Christ.  Women have much to contribute and can participate in worship services.   In the Corinthian culture, women were not allowed to confront men in public.  Apparently some of the women who had become Christians thought that their Christian freedom gave them the right to question the men in public worship.  This was causing division in the church.  In addition, women of that day did not receive formal religious education as did the men.  Women may have been raising questions in the worship services that could have been answered at home without disrupting the services.  Paul was asking the women not to flaunt their Christian freedom during worship.  The purpose of Paul's words was to promote unity, not to teach about women's role in the church.

14:40   Worship is vital to the life of an individual and to the whole church.  Our church services should be conducted in an orderly way so that we can worship, be taught, and be prepared to serve God.  Those who are responsible for planning worship should make sure it has order and direction rather than chaos and confusion.

1 Corinthians 15


The Resurrection of Christ

1Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. 6After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
9For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Explanation:

15:2   Most churches contain people who do not yet believe.  Some are moving in the direction of belief, and others are simply pretending.  Imposters, however, are not to be removed (see Matthew 13:28, 29), for that is the Lord's work alone.  The Good News about Jesus Christ will save us if we firmly believe it and faithfully follow it.

15:5-8   There will always be people who say that Jesus didn't rise from the dead.  Paul assures us that many people saw Jesus after his resurrection; Peter; the disciples (the twelve); more than 500 Christian believers (most of whom were still alive when Paul wrote this, although some had died); James (Jesus' brother); all the apostles; and finally Paul himself.  The resurrection is an historical fact.  Don't be discouraged by doubters who deny the resurrection.  Be filled with hope because of the knowledge that one day you, and they, will see the living proof when Christ returns.

15:7   This  James is Jesus' brother, who at first did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah (John 7:5).  After seeing the resurrected Christ, he became a believer and ultimately a leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13).  James wrote the New Testament book on James.

15:8, 9   Paul's most important credential to be an apostle was that he was an eyewitness of the risen Christ (see Acts 9:3-6).  Abnormally born means that his was a special case.  The other apostles saw Christ in the flesh.  Paul was in the next generation of believers-yet Christ appeared to him.

15:9, 10    As a zealous Pharisee, Paul had been an enemy of the Christian church--even to the point of capturing and persecuting believers (see Acts 9:1-3).  Thus he felt unworthy to be called an apostle of Christ.  Though undoubtedly the most influential of the apostles, Paul was deeply humble.  He knew that he had worked hard and accomplished much, but only because God had poured kindness and grace upon him.  True humility is not convincing yourself that you are worthless, but recognizing God's work in you.  It is having God's perspective on who you are and acknowledging his grace in developing your abilities.

15:10    Paul wrote of working harder than the other apostles.  This was not an arrogant boast because he knew that his power came from God and that it really didn't matter who worked hardest.  Because of his prominent position as a Pharisee, Paul's conversion made him the object of even greater persecution than the other apostles; thus he had to work harder to preach the same message.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12But 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? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
20But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.

1 Corinthians 15:12-23

Explanation:

15:12....Most Greeks did not believe that people's bodies would be resurrected after death.  They saw the afterlife as something that happened only to the soul.  According to Greek philosophers, the soul was the real person, imprisoned in a physical body, and at death the soul was released.  There was no immortality for the body, but the soul entered an eternal state.  Christianity, by contrast, affirms that the body and soul will be united after resurrection.  The church at Corinth was in the heart of Greek culture.  Thus many believers had a difficult time believing in a bodily resurrection.  Paul wrote this part of his letter to clear up this confusion about the resurrection.

15:13-18   The resurrection of Christ is the center of the Christian faith.  Because Christ rose from the dead as he promised, we know that what he said is true--he is God.  Because he rose, we have certainty that our sins are forgiven.  Because he rose, he lives and represents us to God.  Because he rose and defeated death, we know we will also be raised.

15:19   Why does Paul say believers should be pitied if there were only earthly value to Christianity?  In Paul's day, Christianity often brought a person persecution, ostracism from family, and, in many cases, poverty.  There were few tangible benefits from being a Christian in that society.  It was certainly not a step up the social or career ladder.  Even more important, however, is the fact that if Christ had not been resurrected from death, Christians could not be forgiven for their sins and would have had no hope of eternal life.

15:20   Firstfruits were the first part of the harvest that faithful Jews brought to the temple as an offering (Leviticus 23:10).  Although Christ was not the first to rise from the dead (he raised Lazarus and others), he was the first never to die again.  He is the forerunner for us, the proof of our eventual resurrection to eternal life.

15:21    Death came into the world as a result of Adam and Eve's sin.  In Romans 5:12-21, Paul explained why Adam's sin brought sin to all people, how death and sin spread to all humans because of this first sin, and the parallel between Adam's death and Christ's death.

24Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
29Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31I die every day--I mean that, brothers--just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,
   "Let us eat and drink,
       for tomorrow we die." 33Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." 34Come 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.

1 Corinthians 15:24-34

Explanation:

15:24-28   This is not a chronological sequence of events, and no specific time for these events is given.  Paul's point is that the resurrected Christ will conquer all evil, including death.  See Revelation 20:14 for words about the final destruction of death.

15:25-28    Although God the Father and God the Son are equal, each has a special work to do and an area of sovereign control.  Christ is not inferior to the Father, but his work is to defeat all evil on earth.  First he defeated sin and death on the cross, and in the final days, he will defeat Satan and all evil.  World events may seem out of control and justice may seem scarce.  But God is in control, allowing evil to remain for a time until he sends Jesus to earth again.  Then Christ will present to God a perfect new world.

15:29   Some believers were baptized on behalf of others who had died unbaptized.  Nothing more is known about this practice, but it obviously affirms a belief in resurrection.  Paul is not promoting baptism for the dead; he is illustrating his argument that the resurrection is a reality.

15:30-34   If death ended it all, enjoying the moment would be all that matters.  But Christians know that there is life beyond the grave and that our life on earth is only a preparation for our life that will never end.  What you do today matters for eternity.  In light of eternity, sin is a foolish gamble.

15:31, 32    I die every day refers to Paul's daily exposure to danger.  There is no evidence that Paul actually fought wild beasts in Ephesus, but rather he was referring to the savage opposition he had faced.

15:33    Keeping company with those who deny the resurrection could corrupt good Christian character.  Don't let your relationships with unbelievers lead you away from Christ or cause your faith to waver.

The Resurrection Body

35But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?" 36How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40There 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. 41The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
42So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven. 48As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. 49And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:35-49

Explanation:

15:35...... Paul launches into a discussion about what our resurrected bodies will be like.  If you could select your own body, what would you choose--strong, athletic, beautiful?  Paul explains that we will be recognized in our resurrected bodies, yet they will be better than we can imagine, for they will be made to live forever.  We will still have our own personalities and individualities, but these will be perfected through Christ's work.  The Bible does not reveal everything that our resurrected bodies will be able to do, but we know they will be perfect, without sickness or disease (see Philippians 3:21).   Paul compares the resurrection of our bodies with the growth in a garden.  Seeds placed in the ground don't grow unless they "die" first.  The plant that grows looks very different from the seed because God gives it a new body.  There are different kinds of bodies-people, animals, fish, birds.  Even the angels in heaven have bodies that are different in beauty and glory.  Our resurrected bodies will be very different in some ways, but not all, from our earthly bodies.

15:42-44  Our present bodies are perishable and prone to decay.  Our resurrected bodies will be transformed.  These spiritual bodies will not be limited by the laws of nature.  This does not necessarily mean we'll be superpeople, but our bodies will be different from and more capable than our present earthly bodies.  Our spiritual bodies will not be weak, will never get sick, and will never die.

15:45  The last Adam refers to Christ.  Because Christ rose from the dead, he is a life-giving spirit. This means that he entered into a new form of existence.  He is the source of the spiritual life that will result in our resurrection.  Christ's new glorified human body now suits his new glorified life--just as Adam's human body was suitable to his natural life.  When we are resurrected, God will give us a transformed, eternal body suited to our new eternal life.

50I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- 52in 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. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
    55"Where, O death, is your victory?
       Where, O death, is your sting?" 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58Therefore, my dear brothers, 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 15:50-59

Explanation:

15:50-53   We all face limitations.  Those who have physical, or emotional disabilities are especially aware of this.  Some may be blind, but they can see a new way to live.  Some may be deaf, but they can hear God's Good News.  Some may be lame, but they can walk in God's love.  In addition, they have the encouragement that those disabilities are only temporary.  Paul tells us that we all will be given new bodies when Christ returns and that these bodies will be without disabilities, never to die or become sick.  This can give us hope in our suffering.

15:51, 52  We will not all sleep means that Christians alive at that day will not have to die but will be transformed immediately.  A trumpet blast will usher in the new heaven and earth.  The Jews would understand the significance of this because trumpets were always blown to signal the start of great festivals and other extraordinary events (Numbers 10:10).

15:54-56   Satan seemed to be victorious in the Garden of Eden and at the cross of Jesus.  But God turned Satan's apparent victory into defeat when Jesus Christ rose from the dead (Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14, 15).  Thus death is no longer a source of dread or fear.  Christ overcame it, and one day we will also.  The law will no longer make sinners out of us who cannot keep it.  Death has been defeated, and we have hope beyond the grave.

15:58   Paul says that because of the resurrection, nothing we do is in vain.  Sometimes we hesitate to do good because we don't see any results.  But if we can maintain a heavenly perspective, we will understand that we often will not see the good that results from our efforts.  If we truly believe that Christ has won the ultimate victory, that fact must affect the way we live right now.  Don't let discouragement over an apparent lack of results keep you from working.  Do the good that you have the opportunity to do, knowing that your work will have eternal results.

1 Corinthians 16


The Collection for God's People

1Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.

Personal Requests

5After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you--for I will be going through Macedonia. 6Perhaps I will stay with you awhile, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.
10If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. 11No one, then, should refuse to accept him. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.
12Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.
13Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 14Do everything in love.
15You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, 16to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it. 17I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

1 Corinthians 16:1-18

Explanation:

16:1.......Paul had just said that no good deed is ever in vain (15:58).  In this chapter he mentions some practical deeds that have value for all Christians.

16:1-4   The Christians in Jerusalem were suffering from poverty and famine, so Paul was collecting money for them (Romans 15:25-31).  He suggested that believers set aside a certain amount each week and give it to the church until he arrived to take it on to Jerusalem.  Paul had planned to go straight to Corinth from Ephesus, but he changed his mind (2 Corinthians 1; 2).  When he finally arrived, he took the gift and delivered it to the Jerusalem church (Acts 21:18; 24:17).

16:10, 11   Paul was sending Timothy ahead to Corinth.  Paul respected Timothy and had worked closely with him (Philippians 2:22; 1 Timothy 1:2).  Although Timothy was young, Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to welcome him because he was doing the Lord's work.  God's work is not limited by age.  Paul wrote two personal letters to Timothy that have been preserved in the Bible (1 and 2 Timothy).

16:12   Apollos, who had preached in Corinth, was doing evangelistic work in Greece (see Acts 18:24-28).  Apollos didn't go to Corinth right away, partly because he knew of the factions there and didn't want to cause any more divisions.

16:13, 14    As the Corinthians awaited Paul's next visit, they were directed to (1) be on their guard against spiritual dangers, (2) stand firm in the faith, (3) behave courageously, (4) be strong, and (5) do everything with kindness and in love.  Today, as we wait for the return of Christ, we should follow the same instructions.

Final Greetings

19The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
21I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.
22If anyone does not love the Lord--a curse be on him. Come, O Lord!
23The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.
24My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.

1 Corinthians 16:19-24

Explanation:

16:19   Aquila and Priscilla were tentmakers (or leather workers) whom Paul had met in Corinth (Acts 18:1-3).  They followed Paul to Ephesus and lived there with him, helping to teach others about Jesus (Romans 16:3-5).  Many in the Corinthian church would have known this Christian couple.  They are also mentioned in Acts 18:18, 26;  Romans 16:3;  2 Timothy 4:19.

16:20   Kissing was a normal way of greeting each other in Paul's day.  Paul encouraged the "holy kiss" as a way to greet Christians, and a way to help break down the divisions in this church.

16:21   Paul had a helper, or secretary, who wrote down this letter while he dictated.  Paul wrote the final words, however, in his own handwriting.  This is similar to adding a handwritten postscript to a typewritten letter.  It also served to verify that this was a genuine letter from the apostle, and not a forgery.

16:22  The Lord Jesus Christ is coming back to earth again.  To Paul, this was a glad hope, the very best he could look forward to.  He was not afraid of seeing Christ--he could hardly wait!!  Do you share Paul's eager anticipation?  Those who love Christ are looking forward to that wonderful time of his return.  To those who did not love the Lord, however, Paul says, let them be cursed.

16:24    The church in Corinth was a church in trouble.  Paul lovingly and forcefully confronted their problems and pointed them back to Christ.  He dealt with divisions and conflicts, selfishness, inconsiderate use of freedom, disorder in worship, misuse of spiritual gifts, and wrong attitudes about the resurrection.  In every church there are enough problems to create tensions and divisions.  We should not ignore or gloss over problems in our churches or in our lives.  Instead, like Paul, we should deal with problems head on as they arise.  The lesson for us in 1 Corinthians is that unity and love in a church are far more important than leaders and labels.