Continuing right along in Paul’s letters we now come to his first letter to the Corinthians. This will also take a little over 3 weeks as there are 16 chapters. I am learning so much by reading them slowly and unpacking them. I hope you will come along, and again, I welcome comments if ever you see I may not have interpreted correctly. As I have said before I am no scholar!! Please read the chapter in the Bible before you read my words. Then comment if you like something that speaks to you.
1 Corinthians 1
At the beginning of this letter, Paul starts with telling the Corinthians who he is and also mentions his companion, Sosthenes.
“Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes” (1 Corinthians 1:1)
Sosthenes may have been his scribe, but apparently he was someone whom the Corinthians would have recognized. In Acts 18:17 there is a Sosthenes mentioned who was the head of the Corinthian synagogue who was beaten, actually for trying to persecute Paul. This may be the same person. This wouldn’t be too much of a stretch since Paul, himself needed forgiveness for the way he had persecuted Christians in his past, I can imagine he would be forgiving of one who may have persecuted him. Paul also, as he did many times in his letter to the Romans mentions his credentials.
Next he tells who the letter is to:
“To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:” (1 Corinthians 1:2)
Corinth was considered one of the great cities of the ancient world. It had an up and coming society, it was prosperous, it was busy, it was growing and it had a reputation for being a place where one could pursue his own pleasure. Paul is writing this letter to the “church of God” in Corinth, to the people who were to be following Jesus. Not to the citizens of the city who had no knowledge of Jesus. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine that a church in such a city, may have a hard time with being sure that they were the ones influencing their city rather than the other way around.
In verses 4 – 9 Paul gives thanks for the church in Corinth and, in Paul fashion, he is building them up. He tells them he thanks God for them, he commends them for their knowledge and their speech. Apparently they talked a good game in their testimony. They were a gifted people and they were eagerly anticipating Christ’s return.
However, it had gotten back to Paul that the church had started arguing among themselves. (vv 10-17) Apparently, there were dividing lines among the people with some saying they were followers of Paul, some Apollos, some Peter and then some Christ. I have seen and heard many churches who will get divided over the color of the carpet, or drums in the church. Or some other such nonsense. Paul is seeing dividing lines beginning to form and he is trying here to point It out to the people. In verse 13 “Is Christ divided?” Paul points out that he (Paul) was not crucified for them, that while he baptized a few men, he did not do it for the people to become followers of him, but his mission was always to preach the gospel.
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Paul goes on to explain to the Corinthians that the word of God is going to look like foolishness to the world. Hmm does that sound familiar? This day and time, there are people of the world who think that the cross is folly. We get so offended when we hear them make fun of us, or negate us, or persecute us for our Christian values. But this was happening back in Paul’s days as well. Paul is telling the Christians in Corinth that while they live among this society, who will look at them as foolish because of where they have put their faith that rather than letting those facts divide them and quarrel among themselves, that they had to let their faith be what joined them together and that would strengthen them. There was no place for the arguing.
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
The people in the church at Corinth were just that, ordinary people. They were not the elite of the society, they were not the most educated, they were not the “up and coming”. They were just plain, ordinary people, like you and me that God put a calling on their lives, just like He does for us. Think on David, God looked at his heart, not what the world sees when He chose David to be a King.
“And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)
Friends if we are going to argue or boast about anything, let it not be in the numbers of our church, or what we may be doing, or the color of the carpet, or if we like the drums or whatever else, let us be unified in following Jesus in our churches. Let the world look on us as foolish. It is the folly of what we preach that will save those who will believe. (v 21)
Sweet Lord, please help us to put aside arguing in our churches, amongst ourselves, and help us to keep our eyes on You only Lord Jesus.