1 Corinthians 1:7
We are taking a tour through the New Testament in chronological order. Today we are studying the fourth book, 1 Corinthians. This is Pauls third letter that he wrote, the first two was to the Christians in Thessalonica and this one is to the Christians in Corinth. We date 1 Corinthians in 57AD.
The Greek city of Corinth had suffered defeat at the hands of the expanding Roman Republic in 146 BC, Corinths citizens were sold into slavery and shiploads of treasures were sent to Rome. Corinth laid desolate for 100 years until in 46 BC, Julius Caesar rebuilt the city, giving it wide streets, marketplaces, temples, theaters, statues, and fountains.
On the Acrocorinth, a hill that rose 1,700 feet above the city, was the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love and fertility. The worship of Aphrodite dominated much of the social and religious life of the city, and whose worship popularized immorality among both citizens and travelers.
Corinth also hosted athletic games, the Isthmian Games, like the Olympiads in Athens. Corinths games were held both the year before and the year after the Olympic Games. The Games originated as funeral games for Melicertes, a sea deity in Greek Mythology; later games were dedicated to Poseidon.
The victor’s crown at the Isthmian Games was made of celery, and maybe Paul had this in mind when he spoke of the “corruptible crown” given to victorious athletes (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
The athletes would compete in footraces, wrestling, boxing, throwing the discus and javelin, the long jump, chariot racing, poetry reading and singing (This will be important when we study 2 Timothy.) Women competed in these games as well, the inscriptions mention women winning the 200-meter dash as well as the war-chariot races.
Maybe one of the reasons Paul wanted to go on to Corinth was because the Games where coming to town and there would be an opportunity to reach many with the Gospel.
Since there were no permanent accommodations at the site, the people stayed in tents in the surrounding fields. Fixing and selling tents would have given Paul and his partners, Aquila and Priscilla, ample employment as well as opportunities to share the gospel with those attending the Games (Acts 18:3).
From the pen of Luke in Acts 18 we find some interesting information about the Corinthian church.
Jesus spoke to Paul while in Corinth and we learn Paul preached in Corinth for a year and a half.
Acts 18:9 One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10 For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
We see a synagogue ruler turn missionary.
Acts 18:17 Then they all turned on Sosthenes the synagogue ruler and beat him in front of the court.
1 Corinthians 1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes,
This may not be the same person but it could be. Sosthenes rejected and beaten by his fellow Jews which gave Paul and the Christians an opportunity to show forgiveness and love. Then Sosthenes traveled with Paul to Ephesus where he then wrote back to the Christians in Corinth.
In the book of 1 Corinthians we see a theme that Paul has written in all three of his letters to this point. Our hope in the Resurrection.
1 Corinthians 15:51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed– 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
Paul is writing this book we call 1 Corinthians to clarify what he wrote in a letter that God choose not to preserve for us. We think we have to be clear the first time or that people should understand what we say or write the first time that just is not true. Paul wrote part of 2 Thessalonians to clear up a misunderstanding and he is writing 1 Corinthians to clear up another issue.
Paul wrote an earlier letter to the Corinthians that we do not have so we dont Pauls first instruction just his clarification now.
1 Corinthians 5:9 I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people– 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11 But now I am writing 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. 12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.”
We are told to judge each other. We have to judge those who claim to be a brother in Christ and lives like the devil. One of the most popular verses in the Bible used by both believers and non-believers must be reconciled with these verses.
Matthew 7:1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
If people would look at the context of Matthew 7 the confusion would be cleared up; Paul and Jesus are not giving different commands. Jesus doesnt want us living our life being judgmental and not being critical of our own sin. But that doesnt mean we cant confront a brother in sin, look at Matthew 18:15-18.
Instead of judging the world we should become their friend, like Jesus (Matthew 11:19). Jesus was a friend of sinners and we must be a friend of sinners and associate with them so we can introduce them to Jesus.
As I read through the book of 1 Corinthians I heard the theme of unity, love and building one another up. The book can be divided into 8 issues that Paul deals with and the purpose of getting these issues right is so that the church will be unified in love.
Paul wrote this letter with a heavy heart because of all the problems that existed and he sent Timothy with this letter so he could help them imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 4:17).
2 Corinthians 2:4 For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you but to let you know the depth of my love for you.
Paul confronted the Corinthians, he judged their actions because they were not living a righteous life in Christ. He confronted them because he loved them, we judge other Christians out of love not out of hate.
Paul knew the problems and misunderstandings that existed in the Corinthian church from three sources.
1 Corinthians 1:11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you.
Some suggest that the folks from Choles household went to Corinth on business and came back to Ephesus with a report or maybe some from Choles house went to Ephesus on business and gave a report.
Paul takes four chapters to deal with the division and arguments and then deals with it again in chapter 6, discussing law suits among brothers.
The perfect church is a myth. There are going to be issues among brothers and sisters in Christ because there are issues among siblings, issues among spouses, and issues among friends. The issue is not if there are issues but how do we handle the issues. We must forgive each other and work through our differences even if we are the ones wronged.
1 Corinthians 6:7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers.
You heard the story of the guy who got stranded on a deserted island. When he was finally rescued he was asked why there were three huts. He said that the first one was where he lived, the second one was where he went to church; and the third? That is where he use to go to church.
He couldnt even get along with himself.
You may think, but if we had better leadership, a better preacher there would not be issues. Really? Do you remember the congregation where all 12 Apostles were in leadership?
Acts 6:1 In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Grecian Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. 2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.
Some of the widows felt neglected and there was accusations flying, the congregation of believers was starting to crack over food. At least in Corinth they fought over who was the better preacher. We have evolved so much now Christians fight over the color of paint and the type of carpet as well as the preacher and the food.
Nothing changes even in almost 2000 years because we still have humans who truly love Jesus and we still have Satan tempting us. As sinners, we fall prey to his temptations and hurt each other and fight to get our own selfish way.
The second source of Pauls information.
1 Corinthians 5:1 It 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.
Was this report part of the information from Choles household or a different source? The immorality may have been so bad that the negative reputation of the church had reached Paul in Ephesus by other travelers unknown to the Corinthian congregation.
Think about the impact of this verse. We have an immoral sinner in a church who claims to love Jesus. Yes, sinners attend church just like sick people go to the hospital. In the church, we find a bunch of forgiven sinners, not perfect Christians. The impact of this verse is two-fold.
Some of these Christians have come out the pagan worship of Aphrodite, sexual immorality was how you worshipped her. So, the man committing this sin had not yet surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus and had jumped back into his old way of life. It is sad but if we dont fight against our past demons we will fall back into our old habits. So, the best policy is not to form any bad habits.
But Paul says that the immorality in their congregation is worse than among the pagans. Wow, let that sink in.
In reality the sexual immorality was same practice as the pagan worshippers but not all in Corinth would have condoned such activity. Since the refounding of the city of Corinth there was a different attitude between Greeks and the Romans on the issue of incest.
Pauls biggest concern was not one mans sin but the attitude of the congregation.
1 Corinthians 5:1 It 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. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?
Individual Christians will sin in horrific ways but they must be judged and not praised. The church cant condone or praise sinful actions or attitudes. Paul shows us what to do and the attitude we should have.
1 Corinthians 5:3 I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. 4 When 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, 5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the flesh may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
Judging a fellow Christians sin is about saving their soul for eternity not being mean. We need to love each other enough to help each other overcome our sins so we can live righteous lives.
The third source of Pauls information.
1 Corinthians 7:1 Now for the matters you wrote about: It is good for a man not to marry.
The letter was sent with three leaders from Corinth.
1 Corinthians 16:17 I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you.
Paul is writing back to the struggling church in Corinth because he loves them and wants them to win the race. He wants them to endure to the end. I want the same thing for us we will struggle but lets run the race waiting eagerly for Jesus to return.
1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 1:7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.
Jesus is faithful and He will keep us strong as we will be considered blameless. All your sins are washed away because Jesus died on the cross and forgave us.
1 Corinthians 6:9 Do 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 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.