Daily Bible Reading

BOOK OF 1 CORINTHIANS

 

Paul addressed at least six identifiable themes in this first letter to the believers in Corinth:

 

Wisdom:  In no other epistle does Paul so eloquently compare the shortcomings of human wisdom in light of divine wisdom (1:18 - 2:16).

 

Rewards:  Paul mentions the coming Judgment Seat of Christ by name twice in his letters - briefly in Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10.  But in 3:11 - 15, he connects the forthcoming rewards for Christians to Christ 's judgment.

 

Spiritual Gifts in the Church:  These gifts are discussed four times in the NT:  Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 12 - 14.  The longest instruction on the topic (3 chapters) is directed at the Corinthians because of their abuse of the gifts and their failure to submit their gifts to the priority of love (12 - 14).

 

Resurrection:  The greatest presentation of human resurrection-both Christ's and the coming resurrection of believers-is found in 15:1 - 58.  Paul solidifies Christ's resurrection as both the linchpin of Christian theology and the basis of the believer's hope for eternal life.

 

Christian Living:  Paul addresses practical problems that would be confronted by any group of Christians coming out of a pagan background like that of Corinth: immorality (5:1 - 12; 6:12 - 20),k settling disputes between believers (6:1 - 11), Christian marraige (7:1 - 40), the tension between liberty and license (8:1 - 13; 10:23 - 11:1), and separating pagan feastsw from the Lord's Supper (11:17 - 22).

 

Love:  Following 12 chapters of patient, apostolic teaching, correction, and problem solving, it is as though a shaft of resplendent light suddenly knifes through an overcast sky.  Paul writes, "I show you a more excellent way," and then, under anointing and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he launches into one of the most moving transcendent treatises on love in all of human literature, First Corinthians 13 is like a perfect flower pushing its way up through the common mud of church struggles and petty human divisions.

 

What It Means For YOU- The Forgotten Priority

 

Where does one begin with a contentious, undisciplined, out-of-balance, problem filled church?  Deep into his letter, Paul seems to set aside his long list of church problems and headaches to write about...agape love.

 

Whenever there are problems-in a church or a marriage, or any significant relationship-the first thing to slip out the back door is the steady, timeless, selfless, sacrificial love that Jesus modeled.  When Jesus wrote His own letter to the church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1 - 5), He complimented them on their hard work and their accurate doctrine, but He also brought a serious charge against them:  They had lost their love.  As a result, they were about to lose everything else.

 

Maybe the place to start with our relational problem-solving efforts is to first ask the Lord of the church to restore the selfless love that only He can give, maintain, and ultimately perfect.

 

Asign of spiritual immaturity within a congregation is quarreling over personalities instead of focusing on loylty to Christ.  Paul describes how the different factions in the church took off in four different directions-some devoting themselves to Paul, some to Apollos, some to Cephas, and some arrogantly claiming they had transcended earthly teachers.  In the early church, the people called their great teachers theoe anthropoe: God-men.  The Corinthians had polarized around these various teachers, whom they had placed  on pedestals (1:14, 15; 2:2).  By doing so, they had lost sight of the One who should be receiving the glory-not the one speaking, but the One of whom that teacher was speaking! 

 

1:10,11 - Paul pleads as a brother rather than commanding as an apostle.  The word "contentions" (strife) is also found in Romans 1:29, bookended by "murder" and "deceit".  Unity doesnot mean that believers agree all the time, but a great difference stands between caring, concerned question and a contentious, strife-ridden comment (Eph. 4:3).

 

1:11 - Note that Paul did not respond to an anonymous tip; the report came from a credible source: those of Chloe's household.  Anonymous attacks and idle gossip are not worth the breath required to repeat them.  A substantiated report of discord disgracing the church deserves follow up.

 

1:10 - The Greek word for divisions is schismata, from which comes the word schism.  It is used in the NT to describe the tear in a garment (Matt. 9:16), a difference of opinion (John 7:43), or a feeling of alienation or inward separation.

 

1:13 - 17 - Paul sarcastically rebukes those who cause division by reminding them of the essentials of the faith:  Christ and Him crucifiedc (2:2).  To elevate any many or woman is to distort the cross of Christ and the hope provided through His resurrection. Any time the focus shifts to the human messenger, God is robbed of His glory (4:1).

 

1:17 - Baptism has an important place in the life of the church, but Paul's intent was to focus the Corinthians' minds on the One whose name they were baptized.

 

1:18, 19 - Paul quotes Isaiah 29:14 to illustrate the message of the cross.  The cross is a simple word-basic enough that everyone can understand its essence, yet powerful enough to radically transform a life.  It is also a separating word, for whenever the cross is preached, it causes division: those who reject it are perishing; those who receive it are being saved.

 

1:18 - Paradoxically, the cross both divides and unifies.  It set believers apart from the unbelieving world while uniting them with all the children of God (Gal. 6:18).

 

1:20 - The wise, the scribe, and the disputer of this age collectively describe the intelligentsia of ancient culture.  God's plan and action throughout history demonstrates how foolish the wisdom of this world is .  Only the truth of God endures  through every situation and culture (3:19; Jer. 8:9)

 

1:21 - 2:16 -  Apart from divine revelation, man can never through his own wisdom come to knowledge of God.  Salvation requires belief in the crucified One, not worldly understanding or signs (1:22, 23).  The mind of Christ is the true discerner of truth (2:16).

 

1:22 - 25 - The two groups of the day (Greeks, or Gentiles, and Jews) looked for two diffferent proofs of truth.  One desired a miraculous sign; the other sought proof through reason and logic.  Paul did not care to cater to their worldly desires for verification; for Paul, Christ crucified was all the proof needed.

 

1:23, 24 - To the Jews, a crucified Savior made no sense, because they were looking for a victorious king.  To the Greeks, such a Savior made no sense because crucifixion was a symbol of weakness and defeat.  Yet the message of the crucified One is exactly what provides those who are called with the power and wisdom of God.  In the Savior those people rejected were the very things they longed for.

 

1:26 -  The wise, the mighty, and the noble are in the minority (not many) of those whom God chooses to serve Him.  God will use some influential figures, but seldom.

 

1:27, 28 - God uses five things to accomplish His work:  (1) foolish things, (2) weak things (3) base things (4) despised things, and (5) things which are not.  The word weak can be translated "sickly, feeble, impotent" (Acts 4:9).  The base things are ignoble.  The word despised here means "contemptible," like the way Goliah looked upon David and God (1 Sam.17).

 

1:29 - 31 - Salvation is not earned through one's own strength but given by the grace of God (Eph. 1:8, 9). God wants two things fom His servants:  that they not glory in themselves, and that they give glory to Him.  God makes the nobodies of this world into somebodies in His kingdom.

 

 

2:1 - Paul's program in ministry was simply declaring the gospel.  He was not a preacher because he enjoyed preaching or because he was a brilliant orator (2:4).  He was a preacher because he simply could not be anything else and still be in the will of God.

 

2:2 - The priority in Paul's ministry was to know...Christ and Him crucified, plus or minus nothing-a strategy that is still valid today.  The great missionary to the Native Americans, David Brainerd, wrote in his dairy at the end of his ministry: "I never got away from Jesus and Him crucified.  I found that when my people were gripped by great evangelical doctrine...I had no need to give them instructions about morality...One followed as the sure and inevitable fuit of the other."

 

2:3 - 5 - Paul admits that he came to the Corinthians.  In weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  This is a healthy attitude in preparation for ministry.  Only the power of God can fill the Christian's heart and life with what is needed for effectiveness.

 

2:4 - The power Paul had in ministry was not found in his words but in his Spirit-filled life.  The word demonstration means "the most rigorous proof."  The Holy Spirit produces supernatural results in gospel preaching, in witnessing, and in the Christian life that prove the validity and authenticity of the message.

 

2:7 - 8  - The natural self cannot discern the things of Godf through its own resources; spirtiual things are a hidden wisdom (Job 11:7).  In the language of the NT, mystery means a truth that can be known only as God reveals it.  No one can reason his or her way to Jesus.  Evangelism and apologetics are valuable, but the work of the Spirit is what regenerates the heart and ushers unbelievers into the kingdom.

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2:8 - The cross is the proof that God's wisdom is not understood.  That the most prominent people in Jesus' day crucified the Lord of glory blatantly issustrates thed foolishness and ignorance of humanity.  They took the Wisdom of God and nailed him to the tree.

 

2:9 - 16 - God's Spirit reveals,k inspires, and illuminates Scripture, teaching those who read it (2 Pet. 1:21).  The Spirit indwelt community of faith (Heb. 10:24, 25) also helps to illumin ate what was revealed through divine inspiration.

 

2:9, 10 - This quotation from Isaiah 64:4 does not refer to what Christians will experience in heaven but to what the Spirit has already revealed to those who love God.  Through the inspired Scriptures, the Spirit introduces God's children to something beyond their ability to see, hear, or imagine-the glories of God!

 

2:11 - 13 - Paul uses humans as an analogy-no one can truly know another person's thoughts: only the individual knows his or her own thoughts.  Similarly, because the Holy Spirit is fully God  Therefore, He is able to teach believers the truth of God.  An unbeliever can study the Scriptures and learn certain facts about the Almighty, but only through the illumination of the Spirit does true understanding come.

 

2:14 - The natural man is a person who does not have the Spirit of God living within him or her and thus does not benefit from hearing the Word of God.  Receive means "to welcome, to embrace, to make something one's own."  The natural self cannot take in the things that are revealed by the Spirit.

 

2:15,16 - The one who is spiritual is indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit and can thus discern and comprehend spiritual things.  The unspiritual (those who dwel in the flesh, or their sin nature) cannot judge believers regarding spiritual things, but believers regarding spiritual things, but believers can certainly sharpen their brothers and sisters in Christ (5:9 - 12; 12:3).

 

2:16 - The quotation from Isaiah 40:13 explains how believers can be discerning and yet avoid assuming God's place as jusdge.  They possess that which the world can never acquire on its own -illumination of truth from the Holy Spirit, which gives them the mind of Christ.

 

3:1 - A new Christian who has just been born into the family of God is of the flesh (carnal) in the sense that he or she has not yet had the opportunity to mature spiritually.  Paul is not finding fault with them.  He simply says that when he came to them the first time, there was much to teach, but they could not yet bear that teaching because they were mere babes.

 

3:2 - 4 - Paul taught these new Christians the basics-the milk of faith - on his first visit (reminiscent of Jesus in John 16:12).  By now, the Corinthians should have moved on to the meat of spiritual maturity (Heb. 5:12 - 14), yet their behavior was till fleshly, marked by envy, strife, and division.

 

3:6,7 - For the Corinthians to elevate and celebrate Paul or Apollos as the center of their faith was ridiculous.  These men were merely instruments of the Spirit.

 

3:6 - Just as Paul planted and Apollos watered, so too can every believer serve. Some may preach, some may assist others in their serice; but it is God who gives the increase.  He can and will use the gifts of every one of His servants for His purposes and His glory.

 

3:9 - 11 -  The first reason that churches fail is because they violate their commitment to Jesus Christ as their foundation Churches must be built on Christ; then a community of believers can glorify Him through social justice or outreach or service.  To establish a church on any other foundation - even one comprised of seemingly virtuous causes - will not succeed.

 

3:12 - Wood, hay and straw are perishable; gold, silver, and precious stones are permanent.  The framework of the church must be carefully chosen for endurance.

 

3:13 -  Paul explains that the Day will declare the validityy of each person's work.  This is the Great White Throne Judgment were God will condemn unbelievers.  It is the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), where believers will be evaluated.  Test each one's work means that God will see His children as they really are - all their motivations, desires, and reasons for serving Him.

 

3:14, 15 - Believers will be given rewards based on the quality of their service.  Notice that it is not their service that saves.  Both the rewarded believer and the believer who suffers loss are saved.  Works can never earn salvation.  Faithfulness in service, however, will earn the right to give God even greater glory as the faithful lay their rewards at His feet (Rev. 4:10).

 

3:16 - In 6:19, Paul teaches that the believer's physical body is the temple, or dwelling place, of the Holy Spirit.  Here, Paul explains that the local church is the temple of God.

 

3:17 - This is God's harsh warning against people who try to tear down His church.  It is one thing to disagree if one's desire is what is best for a community of believers.  But those who are motivated to block or ruin what God wants to do - actions that marked the church in Corinth (1:10, 11)-are sinning.

 

3:21 - 22 - There are no limits to the believer's possessions in Christ (1:7; Eph. 1:3).  Pastors and teachers are fellow servants ministering the things of God.  How foolish to fight over an Apollos versus Paul versus a Cephas when they all, like every member within the church, are part of God's purpose for the body of Christ.

 

4:2 - 5 - The only valid judgment comes from the Lord, and He has said that the only thing for which a steward is responsible is to be faithful.  Fidelity is what matters.

 

4:3 -  Public criticism is fickle, feeble, uncertain, and should not tbe overvalued, thus Paul was not motivated by anyone's frown or favor.l  He also understood that self-judgment is too partial to be fair, too blind to be accurate, and too indulgent to be helpful.  Self-examination is important (11:13), but dwelling inordinately on one's identity, actions, and motives must be avoided.

 

4:4,5 - When Christians judge themselves, they either spiral down into self-lathing or climb to self-exaltation.  Either condition unsurps the authority that is reserved for Christ on the Day of judgment (2 Cor. 5:10).

 

4:5 - It is impossible to know the hidden things that others do wh en nobody is watching (Eccl. 12:14; Heb. 4:13), as well as the counsels (motivations) of the hearts.  The time to judge will be the day when God judges.  Anyone who tries to judgte others in the meantime will cause great hurt because they will be doing something God never intended for them to do.

 

4:6 - Pride leads people to think they know more than what has been given to them.  If no one is qualified to evaluate even him or herself completely, how dare a person self righteously judge anyone else?  Jesus alone is the Righteous One, capable of judging, yet He willingly became like a servant (Phil. 2:6 - 8).

 

4:7 - Everything a person has - their natural gifts and the ability to develop those gifts - is from God (John 3:27; James 1:17) so why...boast?  Pride steals from the glory that rightly belongs to the Creator.

 

4:8 - In an attempt to get the Corinthians to understand their problem, Paul resorts to sarcasm: You are already full!  You are already rich!  The Corinthian Christians were filled with smug satisfaction and self-sufficiency.  They were reigning with snobbish superiority, thinking they had arrived spiritually.

 

4:9 - Paul uses a rare phrase-condemned to death, referring to convicted criminals - in describing himself and the other apostles.  In antiquity , criminals would be paraded before the public as objects of derision.  While the Corinthians were boasting and living in complacency.  the apostles were living under the sword of persecution.

 

4:10 - The Corinthians claimed to be wise, strong, and distinguished, while the apostles were dishonored and treated as fools who were weak.  By drawing this sharp contrast, Paul sought to show the Corinthians how twisted their perspective was regarding their position.

 

4:11 - 13 -  In their pride, the church at Corinth forgot that honor in the Christian life comes from service and sacrifice, not knowledge or power.  Paul's expression of his Christian experience echoes Jesus' teaching that whoever wants to be the greatest of all must become the least of all (Luke 22:25 - 27).

 

4:14 - 17 -  Paul switches from a tone of severity to one of pleading.  As their spiritual father (I have begotten you through the gospel), he reminds the Corinthians of how they entered into God's family:by a humble profession of faith, admitting that they were sinners in need of God's deliverance.  Humility is a prerequisite for salvation.

 

4:16 - 20 - Paul urges his spiritual children to recall his performance.  Not only is he their spiritual father, he is their spiritual example.  Although he was a man of outstanding intellect and ability, he declared himself the least of all the apostles (15:9), the least of all the saints (Eph. 3:8), and the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) thoughout his ministry.  No one had cause to be puffed up if he was not.

 

 

5:1 - Here, the phrase his father's wife refers to a stepmother.  In addition, the man's father-the one who suffered wrong-was still alive.  This is not someone who fell into sin and had a repentant heart; this man was openly living in sin.  He had been approached repeatedly and told to repent, yet he refused.

 

5:2 - The central problem in the church is pride.  To openly condone sexual immorality without concern-to see oneself beyond the moral law (Rom. 6:15; Jude 4)-is pride.  Such deep-rooted sin should drop the mature believer to his or her knees in mourning, with a prayer for the restoration of the unrepentant brother.

 

5:5 - The shocking phrase to deliver one to Satan means to deny the unrepentant one fellowship.  What is the purpose of this?  The church does not send that individual out to die but sends him or her away so that the person's flesh, which is deeply corrupted by sin, might be destroyed.  This is another way of describing the process of sanctification-putting the flesh to death.

 

5:6 - 13 - Although churches rarely practice corporate discipline today, it was common practice in the early church to withdraw from the fellowship of evildoers.

 

5:6 - 8 -  By allowing a little immorality to go unchecked in the church, the entire commnity was tainted by this sin.  By pursuing discipline, the church both retards the contamination of sin in the assembly and demonstrates its sincerity in pursuing godly living.

 

5:8 - Bread without leaven represents a life of sincerity and truth.  When sin in the church is handled as God instructs, joy is restored.

 

 

5:9 - 11 - This epistle mentioned here has been lost to history, which serves as a reminder that not everything Paul wote was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  However, Paul's point here was divinely inspired:  Christians must not stand in judgment over the unbelieving world while ignoring sin in their midst.  Their goal is to be in fellowship for the sake of the gospel before the unbelieving world but to refuse fellowship with an unrepentant believer (anyone named a brother) for the purpose of restoration.

 

5:12, 13 - God judges those outside the fellowship.  Although believers should do everything they can to raise the moral consciousness of the world at large, their primary role is to promote godliness within the church.

 

6:2, 3 - Because the saints will one day judge the world with Christ they should be able to settle small squabbles among themselves.

 

6:5,6 - When believers take each other to court, they tarnish the reputation of the church before a watching world.  Paul is not teaching that Christians should never go before a court-he appealed  to a court (Acts 25:11).  His point is that believers should not take other believers to an unbelieving court (Matt. 18:15 - 20).

 

6:7 - 10 - Two things shocked Paul.  First, the Corinthians were unwilling to accept wrong or endure being cheated.  Second, these believers did these things to fellow believers!  It is far better to endure being wronged than to wrong another person.

 

 

6:11 - Praise God that He can cleanse His people from the wretchedness of their sin (1 John 1:9).  No Christian should take for granted the past from which he or she has been save and the future hope that he or she has been promised.

 

6: 12, 13 - These two verses should be read as an imaginary conversation between Paul and the Corinthian church.  Paul seeks to set the Corinthians straight by reminding them that the pleasures of this world are corruptible and will pass away.  The Christian life is informed by that which is incorruptible and glorifies God (Romans 15:6).

 

6:15 - 17 - With this sobering reminder of the consequences of sin, believers must consider the implications of their actions for they are in Christ (12:27).  Adultery twists what marriage was created to be.  Christian couples are joined to the Lord (Gen. 2:24).  How dare they corrupt this mystical union for a moment of destructive pleasure (Heb. 13:4).

 

6:18 -  When Paul says to flee sexual immorality, he means, "Run for your life!" (2 Tim. 2:22).  Following the model of Joseph with Potiphar's wife (Gen. 39), the servant of God should not entertain sexual immorality for even a moment and must make no provision for the flesh (Rom. 13:4).

 

6:19, 20 - To permit anything to enter one's body outside of the boundaries God has established becomes a form of idolatry that defies the temple of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

7:1 - 9 - Paul answers a question posed to him in a letter by affirming that the celibate life is good - but it is not the only good.

 

7:1,2 - Verse 2 is not Paul conceding on the point of verse 1.  It is not better to be single and to marry only if you cannot handle the higher calling!  Paul's point in verse 2 is that monogamy is God's plan for marriage.  Both the celibate life and married life are equally viable paths.  And they both require fidelity.

 

7:3 - 5 -  Sex in marriage is a beautiful thing.  Because of the highly sexual aspect of pagan worship in Corinth, some in the church may have thought they should abstain from sex even with marriage.  Paul reassures the Corinthians of the necessity and divine beauty of sexual union with a godly marriage.

 

7:6, 7 - These verses are often misunderstood.  Paul's concession is not that one may marry; rather, it is that couples may agree to refrain from sex for a season (deprive one another...for a time) in order to devote themselves to prayer.  Celibacy is a gift from God, but not everyone has that gift  celibacy is for those God has giffted for the lifestyle.

 

7:10, 11 -  The Corinthians were confuse about marriage, and some were divorcing their mates because they thought the single celibate lifestyle was more spirtual.  But God designed marriage!  It is so precious in His sight that He allows this institution to be used as a picture of His relationship with the Church.

 

7:14 - Simply being married to a believer does not save the unbelieving spouse.  But that person is sanctified, that is , set apart as one who is privileged.  Because unbelieving spouses will be prayed for and are in the daily presence of a positive influence, they are more likely to be saved than if married to an unbeliever.

 

7:17 - Paul summarized the chapter thus far:  As you have been gifted, so .. walk.  If you are gifted to be celibate, do not covet marriage.  If you have been given a spouse, do not desire another or forsake the marriage for celibacy, either by divorce or denial.  Every Christian should live the life for which he or she has been equipped by God, and be content.

 

7:18 - 24 - Being a Christian is not about changing oneself externally to conform to the expectations of others; it is about being transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit into the image of the Son (2 Cor. 3:18).

 

7:25 - No commandment from the Lord is not an assault on inspiration.  Paul meant that this command was not one given by Jesus when He taught upon this earth.  Paul was offering it now.

 

7:26 - 28 - The precise nature of the present distress Paul mentions is uncertain.  It mayu have been a season of persecution or, more likely, an anticipation of the imminent return of Christ.  The bottom line is that marriage, whern entered into as God intended, honors God.

 

 

7:29 - 31 - Day to day life is but a blink in the eye of eternity.  Christians should live their lives and manage their priorities as though the Son's return could happen at any moment - because it can!  Every believer should live every moment fully for God.

 

7:32 - 35 - Those who are unmarried are freer to serve the Lord without distraction.  Those who are married must rightfully seek to please their spouse as well as the Lord.

 

7:36 - 38 - Here Paul presumably addresses certain fathers in his day who set ap,art their unmarried daughters (virgins) for celibacy.

 

7:39 - The Christian widow may remarry if she so chooses, but she must wed a believer (in the Lord).

 

8:1 - 3 - Mere knowledge of what is right and wrong can manifest itself as a sort of pride in the knowing that never makes the transition innto living.  Only the knowledge that is humbly applied and motivated by love makes any difference.  The Corinthians had knowledge, but was marked by arrogance and a lack of service.

 

8:6 - In this early creedal statement.  Paul beautifully asserts the  triune God as the only self-sufficient being upon whom all else depends.  As a people who have been given insight into this reality, why should Christians care about tin idols and the activity of pagan priests?  God is the Creator and Sustainer of all!

 

8:7,8 - Christians have a responsibility to look beyond what they know to be right and srong and examine how their exercise of freedom might influence the ministry and witness they have to hose around them.

 

8:9,10 -  There are two things to note about weaker brothers or sisters in Christ.  First, they are the ones who legalistically toe the line on doubtful things and judge those who do not follow the same rules (Rom. 14:2,3).  Second, they are exactly that brothers and sisters to fellow believers (Rom. 14:10).

 

8:11 - 13 -  Christian liberty must be tempered by love and concern for other believers.  The mature, or stronger, believers knows he or she has the freedom in Christ to do something-yet chooses not to for the sake of the one who has not yet found that freedom (Rom. 14:15).

 

 

9:1 - 3 - There were those who challenged Paul as an apostle.  The defense of his apostleship was two fold: he had seen the Lord, and the life change seen in the Corinthians as a result of his service (my work in the Lord) was undeniable (the seal).

 

9:4 - 6 - Speaking out against a spirit of entitlement, Paul had a right to exercise his spiritual freedom more than anyone.  But he relinquished the right to marry, and even to be paid for his service - all for the sake of Christ.

 

9:7 - 14 - In Paul's day, people did not vounteer to serve in the military; all soldiers were mercenariues.  When they went to battle, they were paid for it.  With these three illustrations - soldier, the farmer, and the sheperd - Paul argues that he has the right to give himself totally to the ministry of the gospel without having to work on the side.

 

9:8 - 10 - Following the three contemporary "witnesses," Paul cites a witness fom the Mosaic Law to support his point (Deut. 25:4; 1 Tim. 5:18).

 

9:11, 12 - Paul bolsters his defense by appealing to the witness of logic.  If the apostles give all their energy to minister to the church  spiritually and have no energy remaining to care for their own physical needs, is it not appropriate for those who benefit from their ministry to give materially?  As a body, believers meet one another's needs - physically and spiritually (2 Cor. 8:1 - 5).

 

9:13 - The next witness is the tradition of the Levites.  In the OT, God built into the system a way to care for the Levitical priests and those who ministered in the temple (Num. 18:8 - 24).

 

9:14 - The final witness is the Lord Himself (Luke 10:7).  This alone would be proof enough that the Corinthians should support Paul.  Clearly, believers should support their pastors and others who minister to their spiritual needs (Gal. 6:6).

 

 

9:15 - 19 - Although Paul had compellingly argued that he had every right to live off the gospel (9:7 - 14), he chose not to exercise that right.  Paul demonstrates that a art of leadership or maturity is the willingness to sacrifice one's rights for the well-being of others (8:13).

 

9:20 - 23 - The fact  that Paul varied his behavior depending on the audience does not make him a hypocrite.  On the contrary, he cdhose not to exercise certain freedoms in certain contexts in order to minister more effectiely to that community (Acts 16:3; 21:23 - 26).  Christians must be mindful of how their freedom (or perceived lack thereof)  might negatively color their witness for Christ.  Preferences should be set aside for the greater good - the receptivity of one's audience.

 

9:24 - Too often today, Christians are content to merely be in the race rather than diligently paying the price to win.  This was a foreign idea to Paul.  Every Christian should strive to win, just as the victor did in the Grecian games (Gal. 2:2).

 

9:25 - 27 - The price to be paid in the Christian life is that of disciplining one's mind, because the worldly war is for the dominion of the mind.  The victory is won in the study of the Word and the equipping of the Spirit through prayer (Rom. 6:18; 8:13; 2 Tim. 2:15).

 

10:1 - 4 - Paul's repetition of the word "ALL" is to drive home to the Corinthians that the entire community of  faith participated in the divine blessings of God.

 

 

10:2 - The phrase all were baptized into Moses simply means the people of Israel were identified with Moses through the Red Sea experience, just as Christians are identified with Christ in their own baptism (Ex. 14:21, 22, 29).

 

10:5 -  That God was not well pleased is a vast understatement.  How many Jews came out of Egypt?  Two million.  How many of the thousands of men of war who came out of Egypt entere the Promised Land?  Two, Joshua and Caleb.

 

10:6 - 12 - These verses elaborate on why God was not pleased.  The temptations of idolatry, immoraliity, infedelity, and disloyalty are as much a danger today as they were in the Sinai desert.  (Gal. 5:19 - 21).  God's people were disqualified and disciplined Christians do well to learn from history (Rom. 15:4).

 

10:11 - All that happened in the wilderness is the Christian's spiritual warning.  God has given the Isrtaelites as examples so that anyone who comes after them will not make the same mistakes (Heb. 4:1, 2).

 

10:23, 13 - Despite the many blessings, the Israelites became overconfident and commplacent, and they fell (Heb. 3:16, 17).  Christians are never impervious to temptation and sin.

 

10:13 - No Christian can use the excuse that a temptation is unique to him or her.  Even Jesus was tempted (Matt. 4:1 - 11); Heb. 4:15).  Thankfully, God does not allow His children to be tempted beyond borders of their limitations.  Unfortunately, people sometimes grow so enamored by sin that they become blind to the escape route the Spirit supplies.

 

10:16, 17 - The table of the Lord's Supper is central to the life of the church for so many reasons - in part, to identify believers with the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 26:26 - 28; Acts 2:42).

 

10:19, 20 - Even though the Corinthians knew that idols were not actually gods, they still needed to treat idol worship seriously.  Behind the worship of every dead idol is a very real and living demonic influence (Deut. 32:15 - 17).

 

 

10:21 - No one can serve two masters.  A person is either in Christ of the world.  Every person must ask themselves:  From which cup do I take my spiritual nourishment?

 

10:23, 24 - Christians should try to protect one another from influences that would wound or impede their growth in Christ.  More than that, they actively build up, or edify, one another to add to the strength of the church (1Thess. 5:11).

 

10:25 - 30 - Although eating the meat was lawful, Paul would not eat it because it did not edify (1Tim.4:4).  This is the goal of Christian restraint: to strengthen believers and cultivate relationships with unbelievers (Rom. 14:21; 15:2).  There is no sense in being resolute about debatable things if those might drive the unsaved away (9:19).  

 

10:31, 32 - In summary, Christians should do all to the glory of God, for the welfare of others (Rom. 15:7 - 9).  These two principles enbrace all of the other principles for exercising liberty and echo the two great commands according to Jesus (Matt. 2:36 - 40).

 

10:33 - Paul lived his life unselfishly, for others, so that God might be glorified, and men might be saved (9:19 - 23).  All Christians should have this motivatiion.

 

 

11:1 - This verse should be read as the conclusion of the section Paul began in 8:1.  The goal of the Christian life is to glorify God and imitate Christ in every word and deed (Eph. 5:1; 1 Thess. 1:6; 1 Pet. 3:13).

 

11:4 - In Jewish culture, the covering of the head signified the sin, shame, and unworthiness of the individual in the presence of God.  But the Corinthian believers had been changed - they were now in Christ! So instead of their sin, shame, and unworthiness.  God now saw the righteousness of Christ.

 

11:5, 6 - The pastor today functions as a "prophet" in the forthtelling of the Word of God.  Some think the word head refers to a woman's own head, but the context indicates she dishonors her husband.  When she comes to worship and flaunts her disregard for the rules of headship, she also dishonors the principles of God.

 

11:7 -The woman is the glory of man simply means that in a woman, a man manifest his delight.  The glory of the woman is a private, intimate thing revealed in the intimacy of mariage, not outwardly and publicly.  In the Corinthinan culture, this privacy was symbolized by a veil voluntarily assumed by the woman.

 

11:8, 9 - The order of creation (Gen. 2:18; 22) supports Paul's statement that woman is not indpendent from man.  Both are created in the image of God and equally valued, so this is not an issue of equality but rather, of divine desgn and intention.

 

11:10 -  The angels were present at creation when headship was established (Job 38:7).  Throughout the NT are allusions to angels being involved in the worship of God (1 Pet. 1:12; Rev. 2 - 3).

 

 

 11:11, 12 - Paul is not trying to argue that men are superior to women-the divine order God has established has nothing to do with superiority.  Both men and women are from God and have interdependent roles (Eph. 5:21,; 1Tim. 2:15).

 

11:16 - Christians are to strive for order within and among the churches-this is essential.  Contention, chaos, and confusion are not God's desire for His people (Eph. 4:1-16).

 

 

11:17 - 22 - Tragically, during Communion (or the Lord's Supper)-an event meant to be at the very heart of worship-was one of the places where the divisions within the Crinthian church were most evident.

 

11:23 - 25 - The Corinthians had forgotten why they gathered for this meal.  They used it for evelry and political advancement, causing division.  The purpose of the Lord's Supper is to consciously call to mind what Jesus has done for His own in His death on the cross.  The focus needs to be on Him.

 

11:26 -When believers partake together of the elements at the Lord's Table (the bread and the cup), they proclaim.  This ritual meal should be the most eloquent sermon preached, as the body of believers look back at what Christ has done and look forward to His return.  This meal is a time of joyous unity, reflection, and anticipation until He comes (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18).  

 

11:27 - 29 - To come to the table in an unnworthy manner means to come in a spirit of disunity or division.  Christians should first examine themselves-not to beat themselves up over personal sin but to determine if they are holding something against a fellow believer that could cause disunity in the body (Ps. 139:23).

 

11:33, 34 -  Churches should not be marked by egp, personality, or power plays.  Instead, a heart of humility and service, combined with a sound understanding of doctrine, keeps preferences and opinions from turning into convictions (Rom 12:10; 14:22.

 

 

12:1  The Corinthians had an abundance of spiritual gifts (1:7), so their trouble came, not from a lack of exposure to the gifts but a failure to appropriately use them.  Knowing one's spirtual gifting is important, but the most important thing is knowing how to use the gift to build up the body (1 Pet. 4:10).

 

12:3 - The Corinthians may have been afraid that those speaking in tongues were blaspheming the Lord.  Paul reassured them that a person who was truly regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit was incapable of cursing God.

 

12:4 - 7 - Note the explicit Trinitarian structure of these verses: diversities of gifts, one Spirit; differences of ministries, one Lord; diversities of activities; one God.  The doctrine of the Trinity is the bedrock upon which all other doctrines are built.  Paul here uses the beautiful mystery of the Trinity to demonstrate to the Corinthians that just as there is diversity within the Godhead (Father/Son/Spirit) yet only one God, there is also diversity in spiritual gifts but only one church.  The diversity of gifts should serve to promote unity within the church, not division and competition!

 

12:8 - 10 - Paul lists four broad categories of spiritual gifts, each with a specific purpose.  The special gifts are to equip God's people.  The speaking gifts are to explain God's truth.  The serving gifts are to enable God's work.  And the sign gifts are to establish God's authority.

 

12:9, 10 - In ancient times, before all of Scripture was written, God would give a sign gift - miracles, healings, tongues, or interpretation of tongues - to validate the word of His spokesmen (Heb. 2:3, 4).  But once the Word of God was completed, there was no further need for a word of revelation because God had said all that He intended to say.  So today, if someone announce "I have a word from God," ignore it; the canon of Scripture is closed. 

 

 

12:10 - The last chapter of Revelation pronounces a curse on anyone who would add to or subtract from Scripture.  People do receive further illumination about the word God has alreasdy given, but no one receives any additional, prophetic revelation.

 

12:14 - 19 -  Spirtual gifts come in many different forms.  The one who possessed a private gift or service.  Yet each gift is essential for the benefit of all believers.

 

12:20 - 24 - Throughout Paul's letter has been a theme of unity.  The Corinthian church had many issues, but their greatest problem was the lack of unity within the body.  In the previous section, th diversity of the body illustrated the diversity of gifts.  Here, attention is cast on the fact that many members are required to make up one body.l

 

12:25, 26 - One sign of unity is when all members equally care for one another.  Spiritual gifts are not just a matter of figuring out what one is good at so he or she can be satisfied in serving spiritual gifts are intended to promote unity.

 

12:28 - Prophets in the OT were those who proclaimed the very words of God before there was a written text.  A prophet today is one who proclaims the very words of God as revealed in the text of Scripture.  Paul listed apostles first and tongues last.  The Corinthians were putting tongues first and casting aspersion on the apostle!

 

12:31 - In light of what has gone before, Paul's exhortation to desire the best gifts may seem contrdictory.  But as the followning verses will reveal, what Paul considers the best gifts will be quite different than what the Corinthians had been pursuing.  The best gifts are those that edify the church the most.

 

 

13:1 - 13 - This entire chapter presents a comprehensive explanation of biblical love, which is the priority commandment (Matt. 22:36 -40), the perfect gift (12:31), the preeminent grace (Gal. 5:22), the permanent virtue (13:8), the proof of sonship and daughterhood (John 13:34, 35), the prerequisite to faith, the path upon which Christians must walk (Eph. 5:1, 2), and the prescription for a happy home (Eph. 5:25).

 

13:1 - 3 - The "more excellent way" of 12:31 that surpasses all other ways is now seen in detail - God's love.  Human love is but a shadow, tainted by selfishness.  At the heart of this highest kind of love is the concept of sacrifice.  Agape love gives itself completely with not thought of anything in return.  It is the reasoning, esteeming, willful tyupe of love.

 

13:4 - 7 -  The Greeks used four words to refer to love (1) Eros is the sensual relationship; (2) storge pertains to fasmily relationships and obligations: (3) phileo is the love among friends, as close as brothers or sisters; and (4) agape is a totally unselfish love that comes from God alone - the type of love that chooses to continue selflessly sacrifice and His love model what it means to choose to love.

 

13:4 - Agape love is one of the rarest words in the Greek language and is found almost nowhere in Greek literature apart from the NT.  But is one of the most common words with the NT.

 

13:8 - It is human nature to put one's confidence in that which will fail instead of investing in that which is eternal.  This verse reforcuses Christian confidence.  Prophecies, tongues, and knowledge will all vanish once they have served their purpose (3:10 - 15), but love never fails becsause God never fails, and God is love.

 

13:13 - Why is love the greates of these?  When Christ makes all things new and His followers are ushered into the eternal state, faith will no longer be necessary because the redeemed will see face to face.  Hope will no longer be necessary because their hope will have been perfectly realized.  But love will remain, and it will finally be known without the taint of sin.

 

 

14:1 - 3 - Prophecy (In modern times, preaching) is the first means by which the body Christ is built up, encouraged, and comforted.

 

14:6 - The four ministries listed here benefit the whole church, whereas tongues do not unless they are interpreted.  The gift of tongues in the NT was always a gift to be used in public ministry, not in private worship.  A sign gift only swerves its purpose if people can observe it.  Otherwise, it is like hoping to be brought to a place of confidence by a healing that cannot be witnessed.  The very nature of a sign gift is that it has to be observable.

 

14:13 - 17 - The purpose of the gifts is for the good of the church.  How is the church built up if even the one exercising the gift has no idea what is being said?  Without one to interpret the gift is ineffective.

 

14:20 - Paul says Christians should be naive (like babes) about evil but mature in spiritual knowledge and understanding.  Unfortunately, the opposite is often true.  God's children tend to know more about sin and the ways of the world than they do the ways of God.

 

14:21, 22 - By using this example from Isaiah 28:11, 12.  Paul points out that tongues were given for a specific purpose.  In Isaiah's day, it meant the judgment of the Lord was drawing nigh.  On the Day of Pentecost, it meant the fullness of the gospel had come.

 

14:23 - 25 - Some people assert that only these supernatural gifts give evidence of the Lord at work.  But Paul disagrees.  He says that if unbelievers, come into a service where they do not understand what is being said, the opportunity for the gospel may be lost.  But if prophecy (the exposition of the Word of God) is taking place, they will be convicted and realize the secrets of their heart, which will draw them to respond in humble worship.

 

14:27 - 33 -  The Christians at Corinth were so undisciplined in their exercise of spiritual gifts during worship that chaos abounded, reflecting poorly on the Giver of those gifts.  Confusion can jeopardize one's ability to live according to the spiritual laws of God's kingdom.  It leads to indecision, frustration, passivity, and a lack of progres things that go against God's will.  God wants peace.

 

 

14:34 - 40 - The command for  women to keep silent reflects Corinthian culture in which women were not allowed to confront men in public.

 

15: 1, 2 - Paul challenges the Corinthians to stand in the gospel and to hold fast that word.  The gospel should have absolute preeminence and priority in the life of the Christian and the life of the church.

 

15:3 - 7 - Here is the standard by which every definition of the gospel must be measured.  It must include four elements:  Christ's death, burial, and resurrection as well as the testimony of the witnesses to the Resurrection.  The gospel cannot be preached the way it should be without proclaiming all four truths.

 

15:9 -  Paul wrote this letter fairly early in his ministry, and his attitude about being the least of the apostles would change in a surprising way as he became more famous.  Yerars later, Paul would write,  I am "less than the least of all the saints'" (Eph.. 3:8),  and very late in life.  "I am the chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15),  The more mature Paul became, the more he recognized his inadequacy before God.

 

15:10 -  Whatever Paul had become and accomplished for the cause of Christ, it was by the grace of God.  He is the same one who professed, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me"  (Phil. 4:13).  Everything the Christian does for Christ is through His power.

 

 

15:12 -Some people treat the Biblre arbitrarily, taking parts they like and rejecting others.  But if God's Word is the authority, one must believe all of it, even the stories and teachings that seem difficult to understand.

 

15:16, 17 - If Jesus Christ is in a grave somewhere in the Middle East, then Christians are still in their sins and the burden of their sin is no longer upon Him but on them.  Consequently, they would then someday have to stand before a righteous God and give an account for every sin that they have done - and they would be guilty of them all.  

 

15:18 - If the Ressurection is a lie, then Christ's promise for the future is a mockery.  If Christ is not raised, says Paul, then the believing who have died have perished, and all are eternally ruined (Acts 5:30, 31; Rom. 4:24, 25).

 

15:19 -Paul says the Ressurection  is not merely a doctrine for the future, but it affects how Christians live presently.  If the message of Christ is for this life only, no life has purpose (4:9; 2 Tim. 3:12).  These are convicting words from one who endured so much for the sake of the gospel and sacrificed everything to follow his risen Lord.

 

15:20 - Praise God that Christ is risen from the dead, and every believer can have the same hope for future resurrection Jesus Christ as the firstfruits of those who fallen asleep means He is the first of many - more resurrections will come afrter Him (15:23; Acts 26:23; Rev. 1:5). 

 

 

15:21, 22 - There are two races in the world: the natural man and the spiritual man.  Adam is the federal head of the natural race, which comprises everyone who has ever been born.  Jesus is the federal head of the spiritual race - all those who have accepted Him.  To be in Adam is to be alive naturally (in the flesh), but to be in CDhrist is to be alive spiritually (Rom. 5:12 - 19).

 

15:24 - 28 - Then comes the end speaks of the time when Christ will take control of this earth.  Much will happen at this time: the millennial reign of Christ on earth, a terrible resurrection of the damned, and then the eternal kingdom delivered to the Father and the Son. 

 

15:26 - When the end comes, death will die.  No one escsapes death, but the resurected King will wrap the chains of eternity and the strength of His glorious power around death and He will cast it into the lake of fire (Dan. 2:44; 7:14, 27; Rev. 20:14).

 

 15:29 - Baptized could simply be referring to those who are saved.  Literally, Paul is asking:  If the dead are not raised, then why so many Christians being baptized because of the testimony of those who died?  The witness of the faithful, the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the certainty that Christ has come back from the grave all pave the way for bringing people to salvation.

 

15:34 - Those who do not have knowledtge of God refers to the faction (some) within the church who are wolves in sheep's  clothing, not the unreached people groujps of the world.  Pastors must be mindful of what is being said within their churches and guard the flock (1 Tim. 4:16) against those who would deceive.

 

 

15:37 - 41 - Paul attempts to answer questions about the bodies that the saints will have in the resurrection.  They will be the same yet fundmentally different.  People will be themselves, but as they should be, not as they are.  This clartified in the following verses.

 

15:42 - 44 - The bodies in which Christians now live are still marked by the Fall, and eventually they die.  The resurrected bodies of believers will be raised in incorruption!  The redeemed will still be human, but without the corruption of sin.

 

15:51,52 - Every Christian who has been born into the family of God during this church age will be changed and raised when the last trumpet sounds.  When Christ returns at the Rapture, the graves will be opened and believers will ascend to b e with the Lord.  That is the resurrection of this age.

 

15:58 - With the Resurrection as their confidence, Christians can conduct their service for the Lord with strength.  Ressurrection hope should inspire work and ministry rather than passivity.  The redeemed are truly a people with something to live for (Luke 10:1 - 3).

 

16:2 - Giving should be both a thoughtful process and one that is organized.  God's people should prayerfully consider what they have been given and how they in turn should give-and then follow His leading, for all that they have is His.  Christians worship God through their disciipline giving.

 

16:3, 4 - When one is entrusted with money on behalf of the church, he or she should build in accountability, not just for the protection of the funds but also of his or her reputation.  If impropriety, the name of the Lord is shamed and the church loses credibility-even if the accusation is false. Paul models wisdom in having others travel with the gift to Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8:4, 19).

 

16:5 - 9 - Paul let the Corinthians know his itinerary and when they could expect him.  By saying, I will come to you, Paul was instilling some accountability-they now knew he would come to see them and collect the money.  Paul's approach teaches much about ministry fundraising: it should be conducted responsibly and with oversight.

 

16:10 - 12 - Paul mentions two of his gifted young associates: Timothy and Apollos.  An excellent orator and teacher (Acts 18:24), Apollos was well-known to the Corinthiaqns (Acts 19:1) and had many supporters in the city (1:12; 3:4 - 6), but he probably would not return any time soon.  Timothy, however, was apparently new to the Corinthians.  So Paul introduced him, making sure the community of believers respected him as someone who does the work of ther Lord.

 

16:13,14 - The current situation within the contemporary church is not vastly different from that of Corinth.  The body is under atttack from the culture, from false teachers, and from the old sin nature of its membersl.  So Paul's admonition is for today!

 

16:22 - 24 - Paul concludes with a final warning to those who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ.  This letter would be read to the gathered assembly, and there was no place for insincere faith.  With his salutation, he in effects says, Love, Paul.

 

 

 

2 CORINTHIANS - BOOK INTRODUCTION

 

If you find yourself being lied about or slandered in today's world there are any number of ways to set the record straight-group e-mails, social media, blog posts, or video conference calls.  But in AD 55, the apostle Paul could not track down the leadrs of Corinthian church on their phones.  This was an era when all communication was either face-to-face or by letter, and to get anywhere you had to rely on four-legged transportation, a perilous sailing vessel, or your own two sandaled feet.  In the meantime, you enemies could have a field day portraying you in distorted, unflattering terms or attacking your character with outright lies.

 

In human terms, Paul was saddened and frustrated-bordering on indignant and angry-about what was happening at the church he had founded just four years before.  He was viciously slandered by a particularly arrogant group of adversaries, but what could he do?  He could write letters to the congregation making his defense, he could plan face-to-face visits to tackle the issues head on, and he could also give himself to prayer-the original "wireless communication."

 

His second letter to the Corinthians was essentially a document to prepare them for an imminent visit.  Would it be a happy reunion of brothers and sisters in Christ, or a tense standoff?  The answer was up to them.  One thing was for sure:  Paul could not let the situation continue as it was-not when his very authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ was being challenged.

 

Paul had first brought the gospel to Corinth on his second missionary journey, probably in AD 51.  After facing bitter opposition from the Jews of the city, he dramatically shook out his garments in their presence, declared that he was done with them, and turned to the Gentiles instead (Acts 18:6).  He stayed a year and a half in Corinth, teaching the gospel and establishing a church.  

 

 II CORINTHIANS

 

1:1 - Paul's claim to be an apostle of Jesus Christ carries special significance in this epistle where he defened himself against those who quesioned his authority.  Paul might have given up in the face of such extreme opposition had he not been sent by the will of God during his Damacus road experience (Acts 9).  His example encourages Christians to persevere according to their godly calling.

 

1:2, 3 - The idea of Father is significant here.  God is every believer's Father, God is Jesus' Father, and God is the Father of mercies and all comfort (Eph. 1:3; Col. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:3).  God comforts like a Father!

 

1:3 - 7 - By giving thanks for God's comfort in affliction, Paul sets the stage for the theme of this epistle: God's glory shines in suffering (2 Tim. 2:10).

 

 

1:8,9 - Paul forgoes the details about the trouble he and his companions experienced in Asia, but it mmay have occurred when he stayed behind in the Lycus Valley or in Troas (2:12, 13; Acts 19:22).  Or he may be referring to the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:23 - 41).  Rather than the details, what is important is the extent of the suffering that led Paul to such despair.

 

1:9, 10 - Through Paul's experience, which weighed on him like death, God provided a deliverance that lifted Paul like ressurrection!  His deliverance should remind fellow believers of their hope:  Death is not the end.  God's resurrection power is a reality.

 

1:10 - Delivered... from so great a death could also be translated "delivered from a deadly peril."  Paul no doubt intends both meanings in this verse.  God rescued him from the danger of death, but because of the work of Christ (justification), God also saved him from the curse of death itself (Rom. 8:28 - 39).  What's mmore, in transforming His children into the image of His Son (sanctification), God does deliver them from the power of sin day after day.  And just as He can deliver His own from suffering in this life (glorification), so will He ultimately (still) deliver every believer in the resurrection to come.

 

1:12 - Christians willl lean on God when communicating with the unbelieving world will discover, like Paul, that God's grace supplies uncommon strength and confidence beyond anything within themselves (1 Cor. 2:4).  Paul's sincerity and integrity in his dealings with the Corinthians were revealed in his writings and conduct.

 

 

1:15 - 18 - Paul intended to approach the Corinthians in the confidence of a true apostle whose integrity was beyond reproach.  His opponents used his unexpected change of plans to accuse him of being untrustworthy.  But just as God does not promise one thing while intending to do another (Yes and No), so Paul was not intentionally misleading the Corinthians when he said he planned to visit them.

 

1:18, 19 - Paul defends the integrity of his word, his message, and his Master: in Corinth (JActs 18:5), Paul and his companions preached the Son of God who never vacillates (James 1:17).  He then appeals to the hnighest authority in protesting the charge - a faithful God (1 Cor. 1:9).  Paul could not preach such a God and then be unfaithful in his own word.

 

1:19, 20 - It was through the teaching of aithful men like Paul, Silas and Timothy that the Corinthians claimed the promises (Yes, and...Amen) that were theirs in Christ.  Paul's opponents called him deceptive and insincere.  Could the words of a fraud and liar produce such life-changing work in the lives of the Corinthians?

 

1:22 - In antiquity, official seals pressed in wax secured information or property and authenticated ownbership.  God's seal of ownership for His people is the Holy Spirit, placed in believers' hearts as a guarantee of their future riches in Christ.  They are securely His!

 

1:23, 24 -  Paul's visit to Corinth would have been one of judgment (13:1 - 10) had his plans not changed.  This letter is a call to repentance, a voice of comfort, and a gift of mercy.  Sometimes mercy in the moment renders the need for future judgment unnecessary (10:8; 12:19 - 21; Cor. 4:21).

 

1:24 - The apostle was not a spiritual despot holding dominion over the Corinthians, as some of his accusers claimed; he was a fellow worker (1 Pet. 5:3).  All of God's people, regardless of their responsibilities, are in the Lord's work together and should move forward in the faith and for one another's joy.

 

2:1 - 4 - Some scholars suggest that as many as four letters to the Corinthians existed at this time.  The letter mentioned has been lost to history (it quite possibly came between 1 and 2 Corinthians), but Paul exemplified how to handle discipline in a godly manner: address the issues that cause sorrow hoping the result will be joy (Heb. 12:11).  Discipline may cause affliction and anguish of heart, but its purpose is always restoration (Matt. 18:15;2 Thess. 3:14, 15).  This is the goal that demonstrates love.

 

2:5 - 9 -  The one who had offended Paul had offended the entire church.  Yet once the church (the majority) had disciplineed the man, it was time to forgive and comfort him so that he would not be swallowed up with....sorrow.  As difficult as it may be to corporately discipline a brother or sister in Christ, it is often hard to welcome them back, despite their repentance.  Christian love is re3affirmed through the restoration that follows repentance (1 Tim. 5:20; Gal. 6:1).

 

2:10, 11 - The church must be diligent to forgive when godly sorrow is exhibited; the presence of Christ makes this possible.  Otherwise, Satan will neutralize their witness by sowing discord and allowing accusations to fester.

 

2:11 - Devices are schemes of devious tactics.  When God's people refuse restoration, church discipline becomes retributiion, and the enemy gains an advantage.

 

2:12, 13 - Even though the Lord opened a door (Acts 14:27; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:3) for the spread of the gospel to Macedonia, Paul's concern for Titus and the church in Corinth was so great.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Colossians 1

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:

25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.


Colossians 2

1 For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;

2 That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;

3 In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

4 And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.

5 For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.

6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:

7 Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:

11 In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:

12 Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

16 Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,

19 And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.

20 Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,

21 (Touch not; taste not; handle not;

22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

23 Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.


Colossians 3

1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

5 Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

6 For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:

7 In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.

8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.

9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;

10 And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

19 Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

21 Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.

22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;

23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

25 But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.


Colossians 4

1 Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

2 Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;

3 Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:

4 That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

5 Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.

6 Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:

8 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;

9 With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.

10 Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)

11 And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.

12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

13 For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.

14 Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.

15 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.

16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.

17 And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.

18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen.