Studies in 1 Corinthians
Contrasts Between God’s People and The World Around Them
New Series Began Sunday, September 11, 2022.
Just like in first century Corinth, so Christians today face sharp contrasts between the world’s morals and values and those to which Christ calls us. At the beginning of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church, he makes it clear: “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:25, ESV).
Please Note: Several of our services were not able to connect online. This explains the gaps between posts below.
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Survey of 1 Corinthians with Dean Wolf
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (NLT)
We are approaching the final chapter of Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth. Lord willing, we will address 1 Corinthians 16 on the final Sunday of this month.
This coming Sunday, Dean intends take a moment to review and summarize our journey. So many of the lessons taught in this book are relevant to our own struggles in our world today. Lord willing, this Sunday we will review those lessons together and apply them to the lives of Christians in 21st century America.
At 58 verses, 1 Corinthians 15 is the longest chapter in this great book. Apparently, there were people among the brothers and sisters of Corinth stating that there is no such thing as a resurrection! This dramatic chapter is the apex of Paul’s correspondence as prepares to close his letter.
If there is one thing the Corinthians must understand, it is that Jesus rose from the dead. It is at the heart of the Gospel story and it is the centerpiece of our faith. It is our pillar of hope that leads us through times of suffering and loss.
Paul spends a lot of time here because without this one reality, our faith is worthless and we are to be among the most pitied in the world (1 Corinthians 15:19).
In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul shows us how love infuses the use of those gifts to accomplish specific objectives. First, the use of tongues is primarily used by individuals to commune with God (verses 2, 4) and to speak to the hearts of unbelievers (verse 22). Unless someone is present to interpret what is being said, they are not appropriate in a public gathering (verse 13).
Secondly, the ability to prophesy serves three purposes that all involve the entire church: to strengthen others by educating them about God’s word, to encourage others in their walk with Christ and to comfort those who are suffering or struggling (verse 3). This is why Paul places the greatest value on the gift of prophecy (verse 5).
Building up the body of Christ is among the most important tasks of God’s love, working among His people.
With all of the problems and challenges with which the church in Corinth was dealing, Paul’s admonition to love is more than an afterthought. It breaks right into the middle of the discussion of spiritual gifts to underline Paul’s point.
Following Christ is not about the things we do to distinguish ourselves from each other, elevating the importance of one gift over another. It is about the cross of Christ as the ultimate expression of God’s love and the transforming power it provides for those who exhibit those gifts. Remove the principle of love and those gifts become meaningless and, in fact, work against the very core of the gospel: God’s love expressed through His Son, Jesus Christ!
As we prepare for the Christmas Holidays we marvel at the miracle of the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior of mankind. Had it not been for God the Son, choosing to release His place in the glorified presence of His Father, God, to take on the form of a man, we would still be without hope and without God in the world. Dean Wolf will be presenting a lesson this Sunday celebrating the coming of the One Who was from the beginning to dwell among us (John 1:1-18), perfect in every way: fully God and fully human.
In Philippians 2, Paul encourages each of us to strive to have the same attitude of Christ as a humble servant, faithful to the very end, so that we, too, can share in the glory that was revealed in Christ’s example.
Every person who has been baptized into the body of Christ has been given the same Holy Spirit. Furthermore, through the Holy Spirit, God has gifted each member of the body of Christ by His Sovereign Choice. Paul tells us that “…in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” All of us! No one is excluded. No one!
Not Available: Facebook Live Post – Sunday, December 4, 2022
In 1 Corinthians 11 the apostle Paul addresses two issues that help distinguish the Corinthian Christians from the cultures out of which they came and in which they continue to live. The ‘traditions’ he implemented among them at the beginning have now become more a reflection of Corinthian culture than the Lord’s church.
The first issue relates to head coverings of husbands and wives when the church comes together to worship in contrast to their Corinthian practices during idol worship. The second issue concerns class divisions during the common love feasts of the congregation.
More specifically, Paul insists that whenever the church comes together to celebrate the Lord’s supper, all social class distinctions become irrelevant. The distinction between the rich and the poor in the Corinthian culture have no place among God’s people.
All believers have a place at the Lord’s Table!
Not Available: Facebook Live Post – Sunday, November 27, 2022
In 1 Corinthians 8 Paul was concerned about those Christians who were offended by the eating of meats that had been sacrificed to idols. Paul protects the conscience of the ‘weaker’ Christians by encouraging the ‘stronger’ to be thoughtful about their influence. Why let meat or drink influence others to go against their conscience? It simply is not that important.
However, here in chapter 10, Paul takes a very different stance against those who are actually entering the pagan temples. Once they join the feasts and frenzied celebrations in front of idols, they open themselves to the temptations of demons, to sexual immorality and more. Paul states clearly, “I do not want you to be participants with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons” (1 Corinthians 10:20-21).
There are places in this world where Christians do not belong. “Flee from idolatry,” Paul exclaims (verse 14).
While he was in Corinth Paul supported himself as a tentmaker (Acts 18:1-3). Referring back to that time, Paul now shares with the Corinthians in chapter 9 that he intentionally supported himself while he preached the gospel there in Corinth. As an apostle, he could have insisted upon their financial support. He had that right! Nonetheless, he chose not to accept their money so that he could preach freely without anyone suggesting that he had a profit motive.
This one decision set him apart as someone with an important message that needed to be heard. This was because, in the end, he wanted to serve people in hopes of winning them for Christ so that they, too, could share in the Lord’s blessings.
Not Available: Facebook Live Post – Sunday November 13, 2022
Dean Wolf will be presenting this morning addressing caring for new Christians whose consciences are sensitive to eating meat that has been sacrificed to idols. For the more mature Christians, they know that meat is meat, no matter where it has been cooked. But those weaker believers whose consciences are sensitive as they learn how to discern between the world from which they have come and the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
If there is a risk that one weak Christian will question their own conscience, Paul says, I’ll never eat meat again! Our faith is all about helping each other through life to remain faithful to the end.
In 1 Corinthians 5 and 6 Paul condemns sexual immorality outside of marriage by upholding the commandments of the Law. Those who are sexually active outside of the boundaries of marriage “will not inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:10).
In chapter 7, however, Paul sharpens the focus upon those Christians who are married, single, engaged, widowed and divorced to help them grasp Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels in the context of their own experience, their culture and the times (see Matthew 5:31-32, 19:1-12; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:17-18). The overriding principle Paul promotes is found in the heart of this chapter: “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches” and “So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God” (1 Cor. 7:17, 24).
The church in Corinth was in trouble. While undermining the authority of Paul’s apostleship (1 Cor. 4), condoning the sexual immorality of a brother (1 Cor. 5) and removing the boundaries for moral behavior (1 Cor. 6:12-20), brothers were taking brothers to court in the public square (1 Cor. 6:1-8).
In the process of his analysis of what is happening in the church in Corinth, Paul clearly makes a distinction between the community from which the church has come and brothers and sisters that are members of the church. There is a different standard that must be applied to God’s people as they begin transforming into faithful followers of Christ. Their calling lifts them up from the condemned corruption of the world around them and brings them into God’s moral code of behavior through the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 4 Paul takes those to task who would question his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ. When a person questions the authority of God’s messenger, as they did with Jesus, that person is challenging the very sovereignty of God.
This is not a good place to be. This is because once you jettison God for your guiding principles, you become your own judge of what is right and wrong, eating from the tree of knowledge. The path that follows is very predictable as we see in 1 Corinthians 5:1-8 where what God has forbidden is embraced and welcomed. Today’s lesson will require some uncomfortable passages in God’s word in Genesis 1:27 and 2:24-25, Leviticus 18 and 20 and Deuteronomy 22. Better to listen to God by eating of the tree of life!
With Dean Wolf
In 1 Corinthians 1-3, Paul addresses the divisiveness that it troubling the church as people gravitated to their favorites. The challenge is that elevating one person or group of people over others is wrong among God’s people. Paul’s encouragement is to keep Jesus at the center of their lives.
In chapter 4, however, Paul moves to address those Christians who have started questioning his authority as Christ’s apostle. This must be resolved before he begins to address the list of problems that have emerged in a church that is striving to live for Christ in sharp contrast to the lifestyles of the cosmopolitan world around them.
Not Available: Facebook Live Post – Sunday, October 9, 2022
It is becoming increasingly obvious that we are presently in a time of cultural transition and change at a level we have never experienced before. Just as Paul was being challenged in the community of ancient Corinth, so, also he endured challenges to his authority from within the very churches that he had personally planted (see 1 Corinthians 4, next week). How does this happen and how should followers of Christ proceed when the culture around them is in such sharp contrast to their faith?
Not Available: Facebook Live Post – Sunday, October 2, 2022
How do God’s people deal with the diversity of the body of Christ? In the world, what people think and believe often serves to divide and separate, inspiring conflict over differences of opinion. This can be true in the church of Christ as well. So, we must be vigilant keep our focus upon Christ. As Paul says, “21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23, ESV).
Among us believers in Christ there is a supernatural connection between God, His Holy Spirit and our spirits. The wisdom that this connection inspires does not make sense to the non-believer until they come to know and to believe in the Lord of all creation, Jesus Christ.
CORINTH WITH DEAN WOLF
CORINTH – INTRODUCTION
After spending a year and a half evangelizing Corinth, Paul moves on to take the gospel to other parts of Asia Minor. Towards the end of three years later in Ephesus he receives news of trouble in the church in Corinth. The new Christians there are struggling with whom to believe: the apostle Paul himself or those who are trying to bring the church into mainstream Corinthian society. Now, as then, this is the real challenge of the church.
We begin setting the stage for Corinth in order to apply Paul’s teaching to our own struggles today.