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Lesson Commentary
Editors Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
About the Writers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Lesson 1

The Problem of Church Divisions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

1 Corinthians 1:1-31

Lesson 2

The Problem of Limited Human Wisdom . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Lesson 3

The Problem of Carnal Immaturity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

1 Corinthians 3:1-23

Lesson 4

The Problem of Judgmental Criticism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

1 Corinthians 4:1-21

Lesson 5

The Problem of Lack of Church Discipline . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

1 Corinthians 5:1-13

Lesson 6

The Problem of Unresolved Personal Disputes . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

1 Corinthians 6:1-20

Lesson 7

The Problem of Inappropriate Relationships . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67

1 Corinthians 7:1-40

Lesson 8

The Problem of Abused Liberty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Lesson 9

The Problem of Inadequate Support of the Ministry . . . . . . . 88

1 Corinthians 9:110:15

Lesson 10

The Problem of Disorderly Worship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98

1 Corinthians 10:1611:34

Lesson 11

The Problem of Church Dysfunction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109

1 Corinthians 12:1-31

Lesson 12

The Problem of Childish Members . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 120

1 Corinthians 13:114:40

Lesson 13

The Problem of Forgetful Believers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 132

1 Corinthians 15:116:24


. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 144

ADULT LESSON COMMENTARY, Sunday School, Vol. 6, No. 1, issued June 1, 2005, is published quarterly. Prepared by Charles Law, Terry Parrish and H. L. Wilkinson. Cover design by Jeff Allen; Larry E. Clements, Editor in Chief, <>; Wayne Sewell, Business Manager, <>.
Copyright 2005, BAPTIST SUNDAY SCHOOL COMMITTEE of the American Baptist Association, 4605 N.
State Line Ave., Texarkana, TX 75503-2928. Phone: 1-800-264-2482.

Editors Note
Problem solving how to books abound these days. Volumes of easy solutions for repairing everything from cracked pots to fractured families are
available at any bookstore. But it is not easy to restore broken fellowship in a
church or to repair division brought into a church by sin or neglect among its
members. Because each church is a unique body of believers in Christ with
individual characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, no general cure-all
prescription will work. Since a church is a spiritual body of redeemed, but still
sinful people, true solutions to church problems must be spiritual as well as
practical. The only workable answers will be inspired ones. And one more
thingthese corrections may only be adequate when applied by the Holy
Spirit Himself.
Fortunately, God inspired the apostle Paul to write the book of 1 Corinthians!
An outstanding characteristic of this epistle is the way it deals with practical
problems that all churches face. Through a biblical study and genuine application of 1 Corinthians, God can work on a church that is in the midst of problems
or that may face problems. As teachers prepare each lesson, they should
earnestly, openly and honestly humble themselves before God, asking Him to
work the truth of the lesson through them into the lives of every class member.
This study is so appropriate for our day because the Corinthian Christians
were people like many of us. They lived in a corrupt society with dropping
moral standards, and they were constantly bombarded by worldly temptations. Also troublesome was that many of them were spiritual babes or immature Christians.
As is true anytime we deal with painful problems, it grieved Paul to write
this epistle. First Corinthians was written with heartbreak. In his second letter, Paul revealed the pain he endured as he wrote the first epistle: For out of
much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not
that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more
abundantly unto you (2 Cor. 2:4). It was his love for them that prompted his
corrective words! May we take these lessons with the same understanding.
God longs for us to live godly and victoriously in faith because He loves us!
This Adult Lesson Commentary is an in-depth study of the Scripture passages in each lesson. Every lesson consists of three elements: the narrative of
the Scripture passage; the manna, a discussion of interesting and informative
topics related to the Scripture passage; and the word studies, which are based
on specific words used in the Scripture text. The number following each word
study identifies the word by the numbering system of Strongs Exhaustive
Concordance of the Bible and is provided for the benefit of those who want to
examine the Word of God in greater detail.
For this issue of the Adult Lesson Commentary, we appreciate Charles Law
who wrote the lesson narratives, Terry Parrish who did the word studies, and
H. L. (Jinx) Wilkinson, who prepared the mannas.
Larry E. Clements, Editor in Chief
Baptist Sunday School Committee

About the Writers

Recognized for their knowledge, wisdom and understanding of the holy
Scriptures, the writers of the Adult Lesson Commentary are faithful pastors,
teachers and spiritual leaders among the Lords churches. Following are a few
biographical notes about these men.

Charles Law was reared in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where

he attended Central Baptist Church from early childhood.
He was saved and baptized as a teenager and announced his
call to the ministry at age eighteen. A year later he was
ordained by his home church.
Brother Law was educated at The College of the Ozarks
in Clarksville, Arkansas, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts
degree. He then earned a Master of Bible Languages degree
and a Doctor in Bible Languages degree from the Missionary
Baptist Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas.
Brother Law pastored churches in Arkansas for several years, after which
he entered the chaplaincy of the United States Air Force. For twenty years he
represented the churches of the American Baptist Association as an Air Force
chaplain. He has served as a writer of various curricula for many years. He
and his wife, Nancy, have two children, a daughter, Paula, and a son, Chancy,
and two grandchildren. Brother and Mrs. Law reside in Sherwood, Arkansas,
where they faithfully serve the Lord.

Brother Terry Parrish was born and reared in McDougal,

Arkansas. He was saved at the age of eleven and baptized by
the Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Success,
Arkansas. Upon graduation from high school Brother Parrish entered the Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little
Rock, Arkansas. He earned a Bachelor of Bible Languages
degree, a Master of Bible Languages degree and a Doctor of
Bible Languages degree from that school.
Brother Parrish served as pastor of several churches in Arkansas and is
now serving as pastor of Springhill Missionary Baptist Church in Alexander,
Arkansas. He is dean of students and an instructor at the Missionary Baptist
Seminary in Little Rock. He has served as writer for the Baptist Sunday
School Committee for several years.
Brother Parrish and his wife, Sandra, are parents of two children, Clay and

Brother H. L. (Jinx) Wilkinson was raised in Stamps,

Arkansas, where he graduated from high school in 1965. He
attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and
graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1969. While
attending the Missionary Baptist Student Fellowship there,
he was saved and baptized at Central Missionary Baptist
Church under the ministry of Dr. Gene Smith.
Brother Wilkinson served in the United States Marine
Corps during the Vietnam War, during which time he surrendered to the ministry and was licensed to preach at Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Anaheim, California. He attended Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock and earned the Master and the Doctor of Theology degree
from this institution.
After serving as pastor of two churches in Arkansas, he was called as a missionary to First Baptist Church in Monrovia, Maryland, which he organized
and pastored for eleven years. In 1988 he was called as missionary to Mayfield Drive Baptist Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, which he organized and
now pastors.
He served on the Baptist Sunday School Committee for nineteen years.
Brother Wilkinson also served as editor of the Vine Line for several years and
was a contributor to the History of the American Baptist Association.
He and his wife, Ann, have three children and live on a small farm at 2410
Oregon Road in Lascassas, Tennessee. Ann is the daughter of Frieda Goodwin
and the late Dr. Paul Goodwin.

1 Corinthians

Place. The city of Corinth is situated on an isthmus connecting the lower

peninsula of Greece with the mainland. Because of its setting, Corinth was in
Pauls day a thriving commercial city bustling with shipping and trade. Such
circumstances invited a mixed, cosmopolitan population. Corinths situation
also encouraged a pragmatic, anything-goes attitude. Consequently, immorality was rife in Corinth, so much so that to call anyone a Corinthian was one
of the greatest insults which could be inflicted.
Writer. The Holy Spirit used the apostle Paul as the human author of 1
Corinthians. Paul established the church in Corinth during his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-11). He had heard about some of the conditions in
that congregation (1 Cor. 1:11; 5:1; 11:18) and had learned about some other
matters from a letter from the church (1 Cor. 7:1; 8:1). Moreover, he evidently
had written at least one letter to that congregation before penning the epistle
known as 1 Corinthians (1 Cor. 5:9). That letter was not inspired in the same
sense as 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians were.
Purpose. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to address the problems that plagued
that church. Those issues involved matters of personal conduct, social conditions, domestic matters and doctrinal positions, the same kinds of problems
which confront churches today. Even though nearly two thousand years have
passed since Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, the problems he discussed
continue to be encountered.
Distinctives. Although the church in Corinth was similar to most other
congregations, the epistle to that church included some singularly distinctive
features. Included in this letter are the most detailed accounts in the Scriptures of such matters as church discipline, Christian liberty, marriage and
domestic relations, the Lords Supper, spiritual gifts and the resurrection.
Date. This epistle evidently was written from Ephesus toward the end of
Pauls third missionary tour (1 Cor. 16:5-8). Based upon chronological conjectures by various authorities, it seems probable that 1 Corinthians was written late in AD 57.
Organization. Since Paul addressed so many topics in this epistle, it is
difficult to ascertain a concise outline of 1 Corinthians. The following might
provide a helpful overview of the contents: (1) Divisions in the church (chapters 14), (2) Disorder in the church (chapters 5, 6), (3) Difficulties in the
church (chapters 716). An even briefer outline can be derived from a consideration of (1) the issues which were reported to Paul (chapters 16) and
(2) the matters which were raised by Paul (chapters 716).

Lesson 1

For Sunday, June 5, 2005

The Problem of
Church Divisions
1 Corinthians 1:1-31

Pauls general approach in his epistles was to address doctrinal matters

first, followed by practical exhortations; however, in writing to the church in
Corinth, he initially dealt with practical issues. The problem of factions or
divisions within that congregation was the first problem Paul tackled.
Although the church was divided over misguided loyalties to various preachers, the reasons for those divisions lay much deeper. The solution to the problem was to recognize the priority of Jesus Christ and His gospel.
Monday, May 30

Lesson 1


1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Although Paul began this epistle in the customary style, he quickly

acknowledged the sovereignty and grace of God. In doing so, he emphasized
that neither he nor the church was the focus of attention. The God who called
him and who called the Corinthian believers is over all and above all.
The Apostolic Call (verse 1). The opening words of this letter refer to two
men, Paul and Sosthenes. Paul was an apostle, a responsibility which he
assumed because God had called him to that office. The Greek word for apostle is actually a compound of two terms, which, when combined, essentially
means one who is sent forth. As an apostle of Jesus Christ, Paul belonged to the
One whom he encountered on the road to Damascus and was obligated to do His
bidding. Nothing more about the identity of Sosthenes can be known for certain
other than he was an associate of Paul at the time of this writing. If he were the
Sosthenes of Acts 18:17, he evidently had become a believer in Jesus Christ subsequently to the incident recorded in that passage.
The Nature of the Church (verse 2). Included in this verse is a partial
description of the nature of a scriptural church. A true church is one which
belongs to God. It is His church because He brought it into being and sustains it.
Since that is so, He is also entitled to govern and direct it as He pleases. The
church which Paul addressed was at Corinth and it stresses the local nature of
a church. That church, like all other true churches, was a separate entity. It

The Problem of Church Divisions / 8


Pauls Apostleship (1 Corinthians 1:1):

The word apostle means one sent forth, a
messenger of Christ. It is used in a dual
sense in the New Testament to simply designate any missionary sent by the Lord
(Acts 14:14) or of the apostolic office. This
included the twelve who were baptized by
John (Acts 1:21, 22), ministering for Christ
during His personal ministry and then
later among the churches.
Paul was a holder of the apostolic office
even though he was born out of due
time (1 Cor. 15:8) and an exception to the
rule of having been baptized by John.
Pauls ministry was unique in that he was
initially a Jewish leader who opposed
Christianity, but he was converted to the
faith and became its chief proponent. As a
missionary he was the apostle to the Gentiles and wrote much of the New Testament. With the death of the apostles, this
office was not passed on to others.


The City of Corinth (1 Corinthians 1:2):

Corinth, the city of two seas, is located in
Achaia, a province of southern Greece on
the isthmus between the Aegean and Adriatic seas. Corinth was the capital of Achaia
and noted for its strategic location between
these two bodies of water. Ships frequently
unloaded their cargoes and sent them overland to the other side of the city where they
were reloaded and sent on their way.
When Paul planted a church there (Acts
18:1-17), it was a wealthy city of about two
hundred thousand free persons and five
hundred thousand slaves. Being a seaport,
it was naturally given to vice; however,
Corinth was also strongly influenced toward
sin by the worship of Aphrodite, the goddess of sensual love. Her temple was on the
Acrocorinthus, a tall mountain overlooking
the city, that had one thousand priestesses
who were actually temple prostitutes.

Saints: this was the term used by

the early church when referring
to those who had been set
apart in service to God. It was
used to describe those who had
been saved or rescued from
their sin. It did not refer to an
office conferred upon people
for unusual activity in service to
God. Saints were those who
knew the Lord.Word Study

was not part of a universal,

invisible church. The members
of the Corinthian church were
said to be sanctified and saints.
Both of these terms suggest a
separation from the world since
they are from the same Greek
root, which conveys the thought
of being set apart or separated.
The expression sanctified in
Christ speaks of a believers status, or position, while the phrase
called to be saints denotes an
ongoing, progressive aspect of
sanctification. In the closing
phrase of this verse, Paul alluded to the family of God, all that
in every place call upon the
name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Some Divine Gifts (verse
3). The contents of this verse
were included in each of Pauls
church epistles. In the letters to
Timothy and Titus he added the
term mercy. Grace, the unmerited favor of God, characterizes all
of Gods dealings with mankind,
and this is especially so about
those who have trusted Jesus
Christ as Savior. Through divine
grace we receive what we could
never achieve or deserve. Peace

9 / 1 Corinthians 1:1-31
denotes the condition that results when the true God is our Savior and Lord and
all is well with us. Associated with this peace are such matters as rest, satisfaction and joy. It is a settled, abiding peace which cannot be given or removed by
the world (John 14:27; Phil. 4:7).
Tuesday, May 31

Lesson 1
1 Corinthians 1:4-9

This epistle is probably the most negative of all the inspired letters of Paul;
however, he was careful to preface the criticisms which he would have to write
with some positive observations. Despite the many shortcomings of the Corinthian believers, there was much for which Paul was thankful.
Enriched in Everything (verses 4, 5). Verse 4 provides an insight into the
prayer life of Paul. The churches to whom he had ministered were constantly in
his mind and on his heart. Divine grace is the basis for all of the goodness of God
which is bestowed so abundantly upon sinful humanity. Grace is also the highest and most comprehensive of Gods undeserved gifts. The donor is God, and the
avenue through which His gracious gifts are given is Jesus Christ. This means
what the Father does for mankind is based on what the Son has done through
His redemptive acts.
Through the grace of God, the Corinthian believers had been immeasurably
enriched, an enhancement which encompasses all utterance and all knowledge (verse 5). The Greek word for utterance is logos. Although often rendered
as word, logos actually denotes more than a word or even a collection of words.
It really indicates an organized expression or explanation of an idea or concept.
Knowledge is from gnosis, which essentially refers to intelligent comprehension,
understanding or perception. At least one of the means by which God provided
the church at Corinth with utterance and knowledge evidently was through
spiritual gifts. (Compare 1 Corinthians 12:8.)
Blameless Before Christ (verses 6-8). In these verses Paul began to
address one of the more serious problems that confronted the church at Corinth.
In effect, he reminded those believers they would be accountable to Christ for
the manner in which they had used all that had been entrusted to them through
the grace of God. The words and deeds of the Corinthian saints confirmed, to a
greater or lesser extent, the things which had been said about Jesus Christ, that
is, the testimony of [about] Christ (verse 6). Thus, their lives were a reflection,
even if sometimes it was a distorted image, of what Jesus did and taught and
what His followers are to do and teach.
If the members of the Corinthian congregation fell short of what they were to
be and do, it was not any fault of God (verse 7). In a time when spiritual gifts
were given to meet the needs of a congregationthe period when the New Testament was being writtenGod had provided the church in Corinth with any
and every gift that might have been needed. Later in this epistle, three entire

The Problem of Church Divisions / 10

chapters will be devoted to a discussion of
Testimony of Christ: the witness
spiritual gifts (chapters 1214). The fact that
of the Messiah is a literal transPaul associated the judgment of believers, an
lation of this phrase.The evievent which shall occur as part of the reveladence and proof of who Jesus
tion (coming) of Christ, with spiritual gifts
is can be seen in the words.
Our word for testimony if
should have been a reminder so that those
letter for letter into
gifts were not to be abused or regarded lightEnglish is martyr.The word for
Christ is the Greek form of
Verse 8 also alludes to the judgment of
Messiah. It means anointed
believers, indicated by the expression, the day
one. The evidence and proof
of our Lord Jesus Christ. Moreover, this sugof the Christ was important
for the church at Corinth.
gestion gives an insight into one of the most
Word Studies #3142 and
critical problems confronting the church in
Corinth, which was the misuseif not the
outright abuseof spiritual gifts. The
Corinthian saints were assured that Christ would confirm (that is, establish,
make sure) them unto the end. The term the end speaks of the end-time, during which the judgment will occur. If the Corinthians responded appropriately to
Christs confirmation, they would be blameless when they stood before Him in
judgment. If not, however, they had only themselves to blame.
Divine Fidelity (verse 9). As a reminder and an encouragement to the members of the church at Corinth, Paul referred to the faithfulness of God. He is
always predictable, and He always acts in accord with His consistent nature. In
keeping with His faithfulness, God calls believers into a fellowship with Jesus
Christ. The Greek word for fellowship is koinonia, a term which refers to things
held in common. The essential basis for this commonality is salvation. Beyond
that, believers are to be united in one faith, one baptism (Eph. 4:5). From this
it is easy to conclude that God wants each saved person to be part of a congregation of believers who acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord and endeavor to live
by His teachings and carry out the commission which He gave to His churches.
Wednesday, June 1

Lesson 1
1 Corinthians 1:10-17

The church at Corinth was a divided congregation. The problems regarding

the misuse of spiritual gifts probably contributed significantly to the division;
however, the most glaring expression of division seemingly centered around
some preachers who had been involved with that church. Paul called upon the
Corinthian believers to put their loyalties to men aside and focus on Jesus
Be United in Mind and Judgment (verse 10). This verse opens with a
demonstration of Pauls masterful use of tact. His plea for unity was expressed
by beseech, which is translated from parakaleo, which literally means to call to

11 / 1 Corinthians 1:1-31
ones side. Instead of sternly admonishing
the Corinthian saints, Paul appealed to them
as a concerned teacher, mentor or friend. That
spirit is seen further in the term brethren. As
brethren, those believers should have fervently wanted to be in harmony with one
another. To speak the same thing people
have to be in agreement. The Greek word for
divisions is schisma, which was used in Pauls
time to refer to rents in a garment or to factions among groups of people. The expression
be perfectly joined together is from a term
which suggests being repaired or restored to
usefulness, as fishing nets were mended
(Matt. 4:21).
Avoid Factions in the Church (verses 11-13). Paul had learned of the contentious state of the church in Corinth from some of Chloes family or servants.
Chloe was possibly a well-to-do woman in Corinth who had business interests in
Ephesus. On the other hand, she might have been a resident of Ephesus who
had been visited by some people from the Corinthian church. The nature of the
contentions in the Corinthian assembly revolved around preachers. Four parties
had developed (verse 12).
I am of Paul. This faction probably consisted mostly of Gentile converts who
quite possibly were attempting to turn liberty into license and were using their
newly found Christianity to do as they pleased, such as eating meat that had
been used in pagan worship (1 Cor. 8:1-13).
I [am] of Apollos. An eloquent man who was mighty in the Scriptures (Acts
18:24-28), Apollos apparently appealed to the intellectuals in Corinth. The danger of intellectualism in regard to Christianity is that human wisdom must not
be allowed to replace divine wisdom (1 Cor. 2:1-7).
I [am] of Cephas. Whether Cephas, or Peter as he was more commonly
known, ever visited the church in Corinth is not known; however, he most certainly was known by those saints, and he probably was held in particularly high
esteem by those who tended to be the legalists in the church.
I [am] of Christ. This faction was probably a smug, self-righteous group who
were critical of all the others. They might have insisted they belonged to Christ,
but they acted as if Christ belonged only to them. Of course, to be of Christ in
its most appropriate sense is needed by all believers.
In verse 13, Paul emphasized the need for unity by asking, Is Christ divided? Moreover, he emphasized the futility of exalting one man above another by
reminding the Corinthians that the crucifixion and baptism were about Jesus
only. Although Paul did not specifically mention Apollos and Peter in this connection, the implication is they, like he, did not die for sinners, nor are believers
to be baptized in their name.
Divisions: our word schism
comes from this word. It
means a division or a split. It
can mean an opposing group.
The history of the term refers
to a tear in a cloth. In the
church at Corinth, different
groups were coming to the
forefront.This tear or split
from within would weaken the
congregation and the effectiveness of its witness of Christ.
Paul had a desire that no division or tear would exist.Word
Study #4978.

The Problem of Church Divisions / 12

Christ Greater Than Any
Man (verses 14-16). On the suranna
face it might appear in these
Baptism (1 Corinthians 1:14-17): Scriptural
verses as if Paul were downplaybaptism is immersion in water (Matt. 3:16;
ing the importance of baptism;
Rom. 6:3-5). The candidate must be a
however, his purpose in this pasbeliever in Christ (Acts 8:37) and the act
performed by the authority of a New Testasage was to downplay the role of
ment church in the name of the Father, Son
the human agent in baptism.
and Holy Ghost (Matt. 28:19, 20).
Baptism is unquestionably a
Paul only baptized a few of the
momentous experience for any
Corinthians, but preached a message to the
Gentiles that Jesus had the power to open
believer, but the man who admintheir eyes, and to turn them from darkness
isters the ordinance is of far less
to light, and from the power of Satan unto
consequence than the reason for
God, that they may receive forgiveness of
and significance of the ordinance.
sins, and inheritance among them which
Crispus was one of the early
are sanctified by faith that is in me (Acts
members of the church in Corinth
Baptism is not necessary for salvation. It
(Acts 18:8). Although he had been
is the sign, but not the reality of salvation.
the leader of the synagogue in
The new birth occurs immediately when
that city, he became a believer in
the sinner repents of his sins and trusts in
Jesus Christ, and his influence
Christ for eternal life.
was undoubtedly instrumental in
the salvation of many other Corinthians. Gaius was the name of at least four
men who were members of the early churches. The other three are mentioned in
Acts 19:29, Acts 20:4 and 3 John
1, and it appears as if each of
these references designated a difPreach the Gospel (1 Corinthians 1:17):
ferent man. The Gaius in Corinth
The gospel, or message of good news, is
is also mentioned in Romans
defined in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 as the
16:23 where Paul referred to him
death, burial and resurrection of Jesus
as his host when he wrote the
Christ according to the Scriptures. Paul
wrote of the gospel, For the preachepistle of Romans, which was
the cross is to them that perish foolwritten from Corinth following
ishness; but unto us which are saved it is
the apostles departure from Ephthe power of God (1 Cor. 1:18). The power
esus. That Scripture also sugof the gospel had already been demonstratgests the church in Corinth met
ed by its dramatic effect upon Pauls life.
Faith in Christ also spectacularly changed
in Gaius house. In what almost
the lives of the two chief rulers in the synaseems to be an afterthought, Paul
gogue at Corinth (Acts 18:8, 17). Crispus
recalled he also baptized
was saved and his whole household came
Stephanas and his household
to know the Lord. Then Sosthenes, the
apparent successor to Crispus as chief ruler
(verse 16). As the firstfruits of
of the synagogue, was converted and
Achaia (1 Cor. 16:15), Stephanas
became Pauls helper at Corinth (1 Cor.
and his family possibly became
initially associated with Paul at

13 / 1 Corinthians 1:1-31
Athens and then moved subsequently to Corinth to fellowship with that congregation. The point which Paul promoted in this passage is that Jesus Christ is
more important than any man. Paul had no desire to become the leader of a cultlike faction among the members of the various churches to whom he ministered.
That attitude undoubtedly would have been shared also by the other men whom
the Corinthian believers esteemed so highly. The members of the church in
Corinth needed above all to acknowledge the primacy and supremacy of Jesus
The Priority of the Gospel (verse 17). Again, it must be understood here
that Paul was not minimizing the importance of baptism. Instead, he was
putting baptism and the gospel in proper perspective. No one is to be baptized
until he has been saved, which occurs when one trusts Jesus as Savior. The purpose of the preaching of the gospel is to lead people to trust Jesus, and the
essence of the gospel is that salvation is available to believers because of the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross. The simple message of salvation
must not be obscured by intellectual sophistry through which the actual death
and resurrection of Jesus are explained away.
Thursday, June 2

Lesson 1
1 Corinthians 1:18-21

Having underscored the centrality of the gospel and the relatively lesser
importance of baptism, Paul proceeded to explain how the preaching of the
gospel diverts all attention from men and worldly emphasis and focuses instead
upon the critical message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone.
The Peril of Worldly Wisdom (verses 18, 19). In verse 18 two contrasting
views of the gospel are set forth. The expression them that perish denotes
unsaved people. They are so described because in their natural state they are
under the condemnation of God (John 3:18). The word perish essentially means
to come to ruin. An unsaved person who never trusts Jesus as Savior will most
certainly come to ruin because he will be cast forever into the lake of fire (Rev.
20:11-15). Unsaved people regard the preaching of the cross as foolishness. The
Greek word for foolishness is from a term which denotes an inherent weakness
or deficiency because the expression have lost his savour in Matthew 5:13 is
from the same Greek root. As savorless salt has a deficiency that cannot be corrected, so is the preaching of the cross regarded by unsaved people to be totally
without logic or merit. Believers have a completely different view of the gospel.
Through their experience of salvation they have learned firsthand that the
gospel is indeed the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). The Old Testament Scripture to which Paul referred in verse 19 is Isaiah 29:14, the promise
of which is that God will bring to nought (destroy) the wisdom of the worldly
wise and abrogate or annul (bring to nothing) the understanding of the pru-

The Problem of Church Divisions / 14

dent. God fulfilled that promise through the
crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Foolish: this verb which depicts
The Primacy of Divine Wisdom (verses
the action without emphasis
20, 21). In these verses Paul sounded a trishows us God has made the
wisdom of the world foolish or
umphant note based on what God can do for
tasteless. Our word moron
believers because of the death and resurreccomes
from this root. It carries
tion of Jesus. Verse 20 is a series of rhetorical
the concept of flat, foolish or
questions by which the apostle emphasized
losing strength.The wisdom of
the ineffectiveness of worldly wisdom. The
the world loses its abilities
term wise speaks of the Greek and Roman
when compared to the wisdom
of God.Word Study #3471.
philosophers; the scribes were the Jewish
scholars who were regarded as experts on
Judaism; the disputer of this world denotes
those, whether Jew or Gentile, who were clever, skillful debaters. The theoretical
wisdom of the philosophers, the interpretative wisdom of the scribes and the eloquent oratory of the debaters cannot accomplish anything in regard to the salvation of lost humanity. The sovereign God has chosen to grant salvation to those
who believe (verse 19). Compared to worldly wisdom, this is utter nonsense and
folly; however, the nature of God and His purposes have to be accepted simply by
faith. The expression the foolishness of preaching does not imply that the act or
consequence of preaching is foolish. What is foolish as far as the world is concerned is that through the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the preaching of the
cross people can be saved. To acknowledge this is to concede that human beings
are lost by nature and completely unable to help themselves. This defies human
logic, but it fits perfectly with the purpose of God.
Friday, June 3

Lesson 1
1 Corinthians 1:22-25

In this passage Paul amplified on his previous thoughts about the power and
wisdom of God. The contrast between divine power and human weakness is
never so obvious as it is in the matter of salvation. Natural man insists on playing a role in salvation, but human depravity renders him impotent.
Stumbling and Bumbling over the Cross (verses 22, 23). For centuries
the Jews had longed for the coming of the Messiah. When Jesus appeared they
refused to accept Him as the One who had been promised for so long. They
demanded signs in addition to the miracles and other deeds which He performed. On the other hand, the philosophical Greeks resorted to endless speculation and debates in futile attempts to discover the meaning of life and the
role of man in the universe. Paul and the other apostles and early preachers
were not deterred by either Jewish doubts or Greek musings. Their message
was clear and simpleChrist crucified. Such a message was a stumbling
block (literally, scandal) for the Jews. It was simply too much for them to

15 / 1 Corinthians 1:1-31
acknowledge that their Messiah would suffer such a degrading experience as
being crucified on a Roman cross. They were looking for a conquering hero,
not a pathetic victim. As far as the Greeks were concerned, any talk about salvation through the crucifixion of Jesus was complete nonsense. How could
anyone be saved by one who could not save Himself? How could anyone be
justified by One who was condemned? How can life be given by One who died
andas far as the Greeks were concernedwas still dead? The arguments of
the worldly wise might make sense from the standpoint of human reasoning,
but such is foolishness with God.
The Power and Wisdom of God (verse 24). Despite the persistent doubts
of the Jews and the endless questions of the Greeks, there were some from
both groups who were saved. Those who respond by faith to the divine call to
repentance and faith learn Jesus is indeed the Messiah who overcame sin and
death, and they also realize He is the true Logos, the fleshly manifestation of
the invisible God. Thus, the power and wisdom of God are expressed fully in
Jesus Christ. The scandal of the crucifixion was made necessary because of
the helplessness of mankind, and the foolishness of the crucifixion was
explained by the resurrection. When one realizes human beings cannot help
themselves, what Jesus did on the cross becomes completely logical.
Human Weakness and Divine Might (verse 25). In this verse there is a
clear example of what is sometimes referred to as the language of accommodation. God is not foolish, nor is He weak, but He is sometimes regarded as
such by human reasoning. That is why Paul wrote as he did in this verse.
Both expressions the foolishness of God and the weakness of God refer to the
crucifixion of Jesus. Since there was no other means by which sinful mankind
could be saved, neither the wisest man nor an assembly of wise men could
devise a better or more effective plan of salvation than for the Son of God to
die willingly on the cross for the sins of all humanity, after which He would
be raised from the dead by the power of God so that He could become the
Intercessor for all who believe in Him.
Saturday, June 4

Lesson 1
1 Corinthians 1:26-31

The members of the church in Corinth were vivid examples of the power
and wisdom of God. With that being the case, these saints should have set
aside their petty differences and rejoiced in all that God had done for them.
No man, whether Paul or anyone else, is entitled to the glory that is due God.
Confounding the Wise and Mighty (verses 26, 27). As validation that
God does not depend upon human wisdom or abilities to accomplish His purposes, Paul directed the attention of the members of the Corinthian congregation to themselves (verse 26). None of these believers were among the intel-

The Problem of Church Divisions / 16

ligentsia; they were not among the shakers and movers of their society, nor
did any of them belong to the nobility. Men such as Crispus, Gaius and
Stephanas, who possibly enjoyed some measure of prestige, very likely found
themselves experiencing social and material loss because they associated
with Jesus Christ and His church. In verse 27, Paul once again referred to
foolish things and weak things in an ironic tone. The foolish and weak things
which he mentioned were the Corinthian saints themselves. Most unsaved
people regarded these believers foolish and weak, but God uses such people to
confound the things which are mighty. The Greek word for confound basically means put to shame, some examples of which can be seen in how this
same term is rendered in Luke 13:17 and Romans 5:5. The phrase the things
which are mighty refers to the people who are regarded by the world as influential and powerful, whether due to their intellect, wealth, position or accomplishments. The omnipotent God is able to do great and wonderful things
despite human frailty (2 Cor. 12:9).
Silencing the Wise and Mighty (verses 28, 29). In verse 28, Paul continued the line of reasoning he began in verse 27. In this verse he gave a
threefold description of the view which the world has of believers.
Base things of the world. The Greek word for base is the opposite of the
term which is rendered as noble in verse 26. All too often the world views with
contempt or scorn those through whom God has chosen to demonstrate His
own wisdom and power.
Things which are despised. Used in this instance, the word despised essentially means to have no regard for. Since so few believers are wealthy or
influential, the world generally views them as being insignificant and inconsequential.
Things which are not. This phrase is the ultimate insult regarding worldly
views of believers. Not only are we considered unlearned and weak, but we are
often held so ineffective that we will amount to nothing.
In the last part of verse 28, the expression the things which are denotes
that which the world esteems so highly; however, the omniscient, omnipotent
God is able to render ineffective all human wisdom and might. This is why
anything done through human might alone cannot glorify God (verse 29).
Since natural man has fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), all glory
must be given to Him.
Reasons for Glory (verses 30, 31). In verse 26, Paul directed the Corinthian saints to compare themselves with the people of the world, using human
standards of evaluation. In verse 30, he gave a fourfold description of what
these believers were through Jesus Christ.
Wisdom. The world seeks wisdom; believers receive wisdom. If the essence
of being a fool is to deny God (Psalm 14:1), then the essence of wisdom is to
trust Him (2 Tim. 3:15). True wisdom is to know about spiritual matters.
Believers do not learn immediately all there is to know about these things, but
they are in a position to learn about them. (Compare John 15:15.)

17 / 1 Corinthians 1:1-31
Righteousness. Through salvation believers receive the righteousness of
Christ (2 Cor. 5:21). Such righteousness is pleasing to God in contrast to selfrighteousness (Isa. 64:6). Human wisdom and ability might accomplish much in
the eyes of the world, but all of it is nothing apart from Christ.
Sanctification. Note the progression thus far: wisdom is associated with ones
faith in Christ; righteousness is received when one trusts Christ; sanctification
is the standing believers enjoy in Christ. Because of this standing we can grow
in grace, thus becoming progressively more Christlike.
Redemption. This term denotes the completion of salvation. The initial aspect
of redemption occurs when one trusts Jesus as Savior; however, redemption is
not fully realized until the body has been resurrected in glory (Rom. 8:23; Eph.
In verse 31, Paul reiterated what he had written in different words in verse
29. The Scripture to which Paul referred is an abbreviated form of Jeremiah
9:23, 24.
Lesson 1

1 Corinthians 1:1-31

Divisions within a congregation are likely to occur when its members lose
their focus. If personalities are extolled, God will not receive the glory to which
He is entitled. The power and wisdom of God can do for sinful mankind what
human power and wisdom could never accomplish. The misdirected energies of
believers who are focused on men would be better spent by the preaching of the

Lesson 2

For Sunday, June 12, 2005

The Problem of Limited

Human Wisdom
1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Having exposed the utter futility of human wisdom, a debacle which reaches its climax in the willful, deliberate rejection of the true God, Paul next
stressed the necessity of having spiritual understanding. Each believer should
want to deepen the basic wisdom of God which he has through faith in Jesus.
Such wisdom goes beyond that which can be grasped by the natural senses
and is taught by the Holy Spirit. The things of God are discerned by the spiritual man, that is, one who has the mind of Christ.
Monday, June 6

Lesson 2


1 Corinthians 2:1-3

To impress upon the members of the church in Corinth the futility of their
glorification of men, Paul reminded them of the manner in which he preached
and taught when he ministered to them. His focus was on the salvation that
is made available because of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Not Dependent upon Human Abilities (verse 1). Acts 18:1-4 gives the
account of Pauls arrival in Corinth where he spent the greater part of his second missionary tour. At the beginning of his time in that city, Paul went to the
synagogue each Sabbath where he taught both Jews and Greeks about Jesus
Christ (Acts 18:4). In those synagogue remarks, Paul did not follow the style
of the orators of that day. Instead, he intentionally chose not to resort to
excellency of speech or of wisdom (1 Cor. 2:1) because he did not want the
method of his preaching and teaching to overshadow the message which needed to be heard and heeded. Instead of impressing people with his oratorical
skills and persuasive abilities, Paul concentrated on declaring to the Corinthians the testimony of God. This expression does not simply refer to testimony about God, but also to testimony by Him. Paul was careful to declare the
testimony which God had imposed upon him. God was a witness for Himself,
but for His testimony to be made known to the Corinthians, Paul had to be His
witness, and, in doing so, he was more concerned about what he said than how
he said it.

19 / 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
Focused upon Jesus Christ (verse 2). Pauls determination to be focused
upon the cross of Christ is especially significant when one recalls that he
knew that such a message was scandalous to the Jews and utter foolishness
to the Greeks (1 Cor. 1:23). Paul could have used oratorical skills and clever
persuasion to soften the impact of the gospel on the sensibilities of his hearers, but he intentionally chose not to do so. Thus, he preached and taught
without any dilution or sugar-coating that which he knew was certain to be
offensive and objectionable to many of those who heard him. Pauls determination to emphasize the crucifixion of Jesus Christ among the Corinthians
should give pause to modern-day preachers and teachers who feel they should
color, soft-pedal or disregard completely certain teachings of the Scriptures in
hopes of securing a more favorable reception by their hearers. The cross of
Christ has never been palatable to human nature, and it never will be. People who respond to a diluted or distorted message are likely to feel as if they
have been misled if the preacher or teacher later tries to present to them the
whole truth.
Aware of Human Weakness (verse 3). Paul undoubtedly felt as if he had
been led by God to Corinth, and he probably felt equally certain that his
method of dealing with the Corinthians had been as God wanted; however, he
probably was apprehensive about how his message would be received. In
acknowledging his human shortcomings, Paul spoke of two kinds of frailties
physical and emotional. The Greek term for weakness essentially means
without strength. The same term is also rendered infirmity (John 5:5) and
impotent (Acts 4:9). Pauls references to fear and much trembling spoke of
his emotional misgivings. On his second missionary journey he had suffered
intense persecution; he had been mercilessly beaten and unjustly jailed in
Philippi (Acts 16:23) and had been forced to flee from Thessalonica (Acts 17:510) and Berea (Acts 17:13, 14). In Athens, Paul was not physically threatened
or abused, but his message was largely rejected (Acts 17:32, 33). Although his
simple, straightforward proclamation of the cross of Christ in Corinth was in
stark contrast to the eloquence and logic of the orators of that day, Paul
depended upon God instead of himself.
Tuesday, June 7

Lesson 2
1 Corinthians 2:4, 5

In this passage Paul reiterated the thoughts he set forth in the opening
verses of this chapter. In his preaching he did not seek merely to win converts,
but he wanted to persuade people in the right manner and for the right reason. It is important for converts to stand steadfastly in the truth.
Demonstrated in Spirit and Power (verse 4). Paul chose not to resort
to impressive oratory when he began his ministry in Corinth. Previously, he
had mentioned that God had not sent Him to Corinth to stir up people with
wisdom of words (1 Cor. 1:17), and here he made essentially the same point.

The Problem of Limited Human Wisdom / 20

Enticing Words: these two

words tell us not to use persuasive speech alone. Paul was
not using the pathos of words
to tell his story of Jesus. More
important was the power of
God.Words have power and
passion. Paul was determined
to use more than the words of
people. He would use the passion of God.Word Studies
#3981 and #3056.


Mans Wisdom (1 Corinthians 2:4): Mans

wisdom descendeth not from above, but
is earthly, sensual, devilish (James 3:15).
This is why the preaching of the cross is
to them that perish foolishness (1 Cor.
Knowing the futility of relying on
rhetoric to reach people with the gospel,
instead, Paul depended upon the power of
the Holy Spirit who was sent to reprove
the world of sin, and of righteousness, and
of judgment (John 16:8). Reproof, or conviction, is the first step toward conversion
and is a work of the Holy Spirit in a sinners life that can only be accomplished by
the power of God; yet, if mans wisdom is
consulted about the reality of sin, righteousness and impending judgment, the
conclusion will be as satanic as it was in
the Garden of Eden, Ye shall not surely
die (Gen. 3:4).

The phrase enticing words of

mans wisdom does not allude to
deceptive speech but to persuasive arguments. The Greek word
for enticing is from a term that
is generally translated persuade. The phrase mans wisdom is in contrast to divine wisdom. Pauls message to the
Corinthians was not to be an
impressive display of oratorical eloquence and stunning logic but was in
demonstration of the Spirit and of power. The Greek word for demonstration,
which is not found anywhere else in the New Testament, denotes proof or confirmation of a proposition or claim. It is not known how the Holy Spirit gave
confirmation of Pauls message in Corinth. Since the Bible was not yet complete, that confirmation could have been demonstrated in spiritual gifts. The
Spirits intervention and involvement in the lives of the Corinthian believers
was demonstrated in a changed life-style for many of them. (Compare 1
Corinthians 6:9-11.)
Dependent upon the Power of God (verse 5). Paul knew the faith of the
Corinthian believers needed to be based on an unshakable foundation. If what
had occurred in their lives were the result of oratorical reasoning and human
argument, then a more skilled debater could lead them into another persuasion. That was why Paul did not depend upon human wisdom or logic. In fact,
he intentionally chose to avoid any use of oratorical manipulation and simply
preach Christ crucified, the power of God and the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24).
Since Pauls preaching was in demonstration of the Spirit and power, the
result was that the faith of the Corinthian saints was in God instead of in
some man or some human philosophy. The expressions wisdom of men and
power of God are in direct contrast to each other. The wisdom of men is something that is constantly changing; however, the power of God is steadfastly
fixed for all time and eternity. Nonetheless, the wisdom of men has a definite

21 / 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
appeal to unsaved people through the avenue of the pride of life (1 John 2:16).
The power of God, however, is something that has to be accepted simply by
faith. The power of God cannot become operative in ones life except through
faith (Rom. 1:16).
Wednesday, June 8

Lesson 2


Perfect: this term does not mean
without sin or sinless. It does
mean complete or finished.
The perfect are those who are
mature and able to hear and
comprehend the truth of the
Word of God.Word Study

1 Corinthians 2:6-8


The Prince of This World (1 Corinthians

2:6): The rulers of the age in which they
lived were not the ones who determined
the message Paul and his associates proclaimed. Very few of these wise men after
the flesh, not many mighty, not many
noble, . . . [were] called (1 Cor. 1:26). They
desired human wisdom that had no relationship to the gospel.
So, with a few exceptions, God sought
the lower classes of men both as the recipients of the gospel and its preachers that He
might be glorified instead of human wisdom and fleshly rhetoric. The princes of
this world or rulers of the age were especially opposed to the preaching of the
cross. They still are its enemies either by
open opposition (Acts 18:5, 6) or by nominally embracing it for selfish reasons as
Simon did (Acts 8:13, 18-23).

Even though Paul intentionally chose not to depend upon

human wisdom during his labors
in Corinth, he did not disregard
all wisdom. He was guided by the
wisdom of God, a wisdom which
was unknown to the worldly wise
and powerful, but was revealed
by God in His own time and
The Wisdom Proclaimed by
Paul (verse 6). One who has
trusted Jesus as Savior is perfect, or complete, in the sense that he is saved
forever. To be sure, a believer is first a babe in Christ and then should seek to
become a mature child of God through spiritual growth; however, a mature
Christian is no more saved than is an immature Christian. Thus, those whom
Paul designated as perfect in this verse are saved people regardless of the
level of their spiritual maturity. To such people the message of Paul was characterized by wisdom even though the learned men of that day would not have
deemed it so. In the opening part of this epistle, Paul repeatedly emphasized
that the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world are not synonymous or
even compatible. The designation princes of this world does not speak of civil
or political rulers necessarily, but of men who are powerful or influential
because of their worldly knowledge and wisdom. The expression come to
nought which refers to the princes of this world, essentially means to become

The Problem of Limited Human Wisdom / 22

of no avail. The wise men of this age and their wisdom will soon fade into
The Wisdom of God in a Mystery (verse 7). In contrast to the wisdom of
the world, Paul and his associates proclaimed the divine wisdom which he
described as wisdom . . . in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom. The word
mystery in biblical usage refers to a truth which is not revealed until the
appropriate time. There are several mysteries in the Scriptures, among the most familMystery: this term means something hidden. It is a thing that
iar of which are the mysteries of the kingis a secret. Some say it applies
dom of Heaven (Matt. 13:10, 11). The mysto religious ideas as those only
tery regarding the wisdom of God is also
for the initiated; however, it is
mentioned in Colossians 2:2, 3, 9 where one
more for those who are perlearns that the incarnate Christ embodies
fect or mature and can comprehend the truth. Jesus spoke
the fullness of the Godhead in whom all
of this in Matthew 13 with the
divine wisdom resides. That mystery was
parables.Word Study #3466.
hidden for many centuries and was not
revealed until the first advent of Jesus.
What was divinely ordained before the world was that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead, would assume human form and appear on earth
to die for mans sin. Those who accept by faith what the Triune God has done
regarding their salvation experience glory. Believers do not have any reason
to boast about this, except to glorify God because our glory is from and
through God instead of our own wisdom or goodness.
The Wisdom Unknown by the Worlds Leaders (verse 8). If the word
ignorant means not knowing, then the most ignorant of all human deeds
was the crucifixion of Jesus. The Jewish and Roman leaders who were drawn
reluctantly into complicity in that heinous crime were vivid examples of people who know nothing about divine wisdom, but rely heavily upon human
logic and reason. Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest, counseled the Jewish leaders that it was expedient for one man to die for the nation (John 11:49, 50).
The members of the Sanhedrin Court, men who were considered among the
most learned of all the Jews, eagerly sentenced Jesus to death. The Roman
officials such as Herod and Pilate did not see Jesus as a serious threat, but
they were unwilling to risk an uprising among the Jews to release Jesus
(Luke 23:4-12). All the leaders who were involved in the crucifixion of Jesus
religious as well as civilcould have argued that their decisions regarding
Jesus were logically determined in accordance with sound human reasoning;
however, there were two leaders, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, who
reached another conclusion because they knew firsthand the wisdom which
the others did not (Luke 23:50-53; John 19:38-40). (Compare John 7:50-52.)

23 / 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
Thursday, June 9

Lesson 2
1 Corinthians 2:9, 10

People who are wise in the ways and things of the world are people who are
perceptive of worldly matters; however, such perception is not necessarily of
any advantage in grasping spiritual truths. The wisest person on earth could
be spiritually ignorant. Spiritual wisdom is from God.
What Was Recorded (verse 9). The Old Testament Scripture that Paul
quoted in this verse is Isaiah 64:4. Three things were mentioned regarding
the manner in which human learning occurs: through the eye, the ear and the
heart. As used in this instance, the word heart actually refers to the mind.
Although human beings experience most of their learning through the eyes
and ears, all learning, whether through the eyes, ears or any of the other senses, must be processed through the mind. One should carefully note what this
verse and the Old Testament Scripture on which it is based says and does not
say. First, it does not say that human beings cannot understand the things
which God has prepared for them. What it does say is that human beings cannot understand merely through human perception the things which God has
prepared for them. (Compare 1 Corinthians 2:14.) The phrase the things
which God hath prepared for them that love him is very comprehensive in its
scope. Many people believe it refers only to Heaven; however, much more than
future bliss is included. God had some wonderful things for devout Jews
under the Law during their earthly sojourn, and the same can be said for
faithful believers of this dispensation as well.
What Was Revealed (verse 10). Although the things of God cannot be
perceived through human senses or natural reasoning, they can be known.
They are known because God
reveals them by His Spirit.
Essentially, the manner in
The Spirit Searcheth All Things (1
Corinthians 2:10): The Holy Spirit is not an which this revelation occurs is
through what is generally
it as He is sometimes called, but is the
known as inspiration. In the
third person of the Godhead. Evidence of
this is seen in that the Spirit has knowltime prior to the completion of
edge of all things, even the very deepest
the Scriptures, God inspired
mysteries of God. Matthew Henry points
men to write what would come
out in his Concise Commentary on the Whole
to be known as the Bible. During
Bible, No one can know the things of God,
the centuries that the Scriptures
but His Holy Spirit, who is one with the
were being written, God also
Father and the Son, and who makes
known Divine mysteries to his church
from time to time inspired
[scripturally baptized believers]. This is
mensuch as the patriarchs,
most clear testimony, both to the real Godprophets and apostlesto make
head and the distinct person of the Holy
His will known to His people.
Thus, in one way or another the

The Problem of Limited Human Wisdom / 24

deep things of God are revealed by the SpirRevealed: the word we know
it. The Greek word for searcheth conveys the
from this term is revelation. This
idea of evaluating. (Compare 1 Peter 1:10,
is the apocalypse or the uncov11.) The Holy Spirit evaluates what needs
ering of something. It is someto be made known and then reveals those
thing revealed and exposed to a
things to those who need to know them. The
complete knowledge or understanding. God will uncover and
expression, the deep things of God, refers to
disclose to us the truth we
the plans and purposes of God. Such matneed in life.Word Study #601.
ters are deep because they are beyond the
scope of human comprehension. The worlds
wisest men are unable to fathom the depths of divine dealings because they
do not have the necessary spiritual perception.
Friday, June 10

Lesson 2
1 Corinthians 2:11-13

In this passage Paul used an analogy to explain how spiritual matters can
be understood by human beings. If properly used and applied, the comparison
is completely valid; however, if the analogy is distorted, then meneven
unsaved peopleare likely to think they can understand all there is to know
about God.
The Spirit of Man and the Spirit of God (verse 11). Even though
human beings share essentially the same kind of feelings and emotions
pleasure, love, frustration and anger, no one can know exactly how another
person feels at any particular time or in any specific situation. Only the individual himself knows that. Such knowledge is said to be experienced through
the spirit of the individual. The human spirit deals with matters involving
ones emotions, feelings, will, thoughts and intellect. All such matters are the
most personal and private aspect of ones being. What is true to human beings
is also true concerning God. Only the Spirit of God knows what pertains to
Him. Thus, the only way in which man can know anything about God is
through the Spirit. Of course, the analogy reaches its limit at this point, since
there is an obvious difference between mans spirit and the Spirit of God. The
spirit of a man or woman was given by God, but no counterpart to this exists
regarding God. The Spirit of God is the very essence of God Himself. God has
always been a Triune Being, and He shall always continue to be such.
The Spirit of the World and the Spirit from God (verse 12). The spirits mentioned in this verse are not synonymous with the respective spirits
mentioned in verse 11. In other words, the spirit of the world is not the same
as the spirit of man, nor is the Spirit which is from God the same, in function

25 / 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
at least, as the Spirit of God as
described in verse 11. The spiranna
it of the world, while not the
The Spirit of the World (1 Corinthians
2:12): This phrase is the equivalent to
same as the spirit of man, could
wisdom, mans wisdom, the wisdom
be described as the collective
of men and the wisdom of this world in
spirit of mankind. In this sense,
verses 1, 4, 5 and 6 of this chapter. Neither
the word spirit refers to a motiis it, according to verse 6, the wisdom of
the princes of this world.
vating force instead of an inteThe spirit of the world is the principle
gral part of a living being. It
inspired by Satan and the flesh whereby
seems as if the term the Spirit
the present world system and its followers
are animated. It is opposed to and apart
which is from God is similarly
from God. The spirit of the world is
This Spirit is certainly the
incapable of receiving the teachings of the
but as used in this
Spirit of God because the natural man
receiveth not the things of the Spirit of
instance, it appears to refer to a
God: for they are foolishness unto him:
function of the Holy Spirit other
neither can he know them, because they
than the indwelling of individare spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14).
ual believers or the indwelling
of a local church. In this sense, the Spirit which is from God is also a motivating force as well as a personal Being who is the third person of the Trinity. The spirit of the world, directed by Satan and probably assisted by
demonic spirits, is certainly in marked contrast to the Spirit which is from
God, a force which is empowered and directed by the Holy Spirit, possibly
assisted by the holy angels and most certainly involving faithful believers.
The Teaching of the Holy Spirit (verse 13). The things of which Paul
spoke were the things which God had freely given to him (verse 12). In his
teaching and preaching Paul did not depend upon human wisdom, but he
taught as he was led by the Holy Spirit. Pauls insistence that he spoke the
words which the Spirit taught supports the principle of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures. This means the writers of the Scriptures were taught
by the Spirit exactly what they were to write. These men were allowed to
express themselves in their own words, but they were so guided by the Spirit that they recorded and passed on to others only what He wanted them to
know. The final phrase in this verse stresses that spiritual truths are to be
evaluated in the light of other spiritual truths. The Greek term for comparing literally means to judge together. Great harm to the cause of Christ has
been done throughout the centuries by those who have depended upon
worldly wisdom in their interpretations and applications of the teachings of
God. The Scriptures are not merely the words of godly men, but are instead
the specific words which the Holy Spirit uses to teach to people of all times
and places the things of God.

The Problem of Limited Human Wisdom / 26

Saturday, June 11

Lesson 2
1 Corinthians 2:14-16

In this passage and the one immediately following (1 Cor. 3:1-4) Paul mentioned three kinds of people. Here he briefly described the natural man and
the spiritual man. Spiritual things can be discerned only by spiritual people,
that is, by believers who are spiritually attuned and spiritually oriented.
The Natural Man (verse 14). In the closing part of verse 13, Paul mentioned how believers learn. This is done by evaluating spiritual truths in the
light of other spiritual truths; however, an unsaved persona natural man
is unable to make such discernments. The word natural is from psuchikos
which is based on psuche the term for soul. A natural, or soulish, person is
one whose orientation is completely nonspiritual. Such an individual relies
entirely on his natural senses to learn and process what has been learned.
James captured this thought exactly in his epistle when he wrote about the
wisdom which descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.
(James 3:15; compare Jude 19.) In James reference, the Greek word for sensual is psuchikos, and devilish is from the word for demonic. As an unregenerated person, the natural man is unable to grasp or comprehend spiritual
matters. Even if such teachings and concerns can be understood to any
degree, they fail the test of human logic and are consequently utter foolishness to an unsaved person. Note the Greek words for discerned and comparing (verse 13) are from the same basic term. The natural man cannot discern
spiritual truths.
The Spiritual Man (verse 15). He that is spiritual is the exact opposite
of a natural man. A spiritual man judgeth all things. The Greek word for
judgeth is the same term rendered discerned in verse 14, and the phrase all
things refers to spiritual things. As used in this instance, a spiritual man is a
believer who seeks to know the will and purposes of God. Such a person can
understand and interpret spiritual teachings and properly apply them in his
life. Of course, there are varying degrees of spiritual maturity, and, because of
this, there are greater or lesser levels of spiritual discernment among believers. The phrase yet he himself is judged of no man has received varying interpretations. The Greek word for judged is the same here as in the previous
instance in this verse. Thus, what Paul said, in effect, was that although the
spiritual person can discern all things, he is not understood so clearly by a
natural man. According to the wisdom of the world, people who are concerned
about spiritual matters and focus their lives on serving God are utterly foolish. The natural man is unable to judge, or discern, the values and motivations of spiritual people.
The Mind of Christ (verse 16). In this verse Paul alluded to Isaiah 40:13.
In both instances the basic premise is that no mere mortal knows the Lords

27 / 1 Corinthians 2:1-16
mind; consequently, there is no one anywhere who is wise enough to instruct
Him. By reminding his readers that believers have the mind of Christ, Paul
made a twofold implication. First, since believers have the mind of Christ,
they are able to understand God at least to a limited degree. Second, since
they have the mind of Christ, no unsaved personthat is, no natural man
can understand fully or evaluate correctly what they are and what they have
through Christ. Believers are frequently misunderstood by those who deem
themselves to be wise in the ways of the world; however, believers should
never let the worlds mockery and criticism disturb them or deter them from
living as God wants them to live. A good insight into what it means to have
the mind of Christ can be seen in Philippians 2:5-8. That passage sets forth
the selfless manner in which the Son of God set aside His glory, assumed the
form of man, became even the lowliest of men and finally died a voluntary,
shameful death on a cross.
Lesson 2

1 Corinthians 2:1-16

There are two kinds of wisdom, the wisdom from above and the wisdom
which descendeth not from above (James 3:15). Human wisdom is limited
because it is not from God who is the source of all knowledge and understanding. The complete revelation of the wisdom of God was given through
Jesus Christ, a mystery which was made known at the first advent of Christ.
Unsaved people, natural men, are unable to grasp the things of God; however, those who are spiritual are able to discern all things.

Lesson 3

For Sunday, June 19, 2005

The Problem of
Carnal Immaturity
1 Corinthians 3:1-23

The church in Corinth was probably one of the most vivid examples of a carnal congregation. Some of the consequences of that carnality are evident in
this chapter. On a more positive note, this chapter is rich in metaphors which
depict the relationship between Jesus and His people and the responsibilities
which believers should assume because of their standing in Christ. That God
will judge His people looms largely in the background in all of the issues
addressed in this chapter.
Monday, June 13

Lesson 3


1 Corinthians 3:1-4

Pauls reference to the carnal believers in the Corinthian congregation complete the threefold categorization of mankind which he began in the closing
verses of chapter 2. The immaturity of those carnal saints, described by Paul
as babes, manifested itself in strife and divisions over preachers.
Pauls Rebuke (verse 1). In 1 Corinthians 2:15, Paul referred to the spiritual person who can discern spiritual matters; however, in this verse he
rebuked the members of the church in Corinth because they, being carnal,
were unable to grasp spiritual concepts. The Greek word for carnal essentially means fleshly. It sometimes speaks of a
Spiritual: the root word here
human body, but often denotes human
means breath or wind. This
nature, which is how Paul used the term in
form means of or pertaining to
this instance. A carnal believer is one who
the spiritual person or thing.
has not experienced spiritual growth, hence,
Without a doubt, Paul desired
Pauls designation of the Corinthians as
to speak to a person who had
a spiritual attitude and desire
babes in Christ. In the physical realm an
to mature in that spirit.This
infant has a unique appeal in and of itself:
term refers to the part of a
however, this is not the case for believers
person which has a spiritual
who should have grown in grace. Pauls
capacity.Word Study #4152.
rebuke of the Corinthian babes was echoed

29 / 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
by the writer of the epistle of
Hebrews about some believers
who had failed to mature spiriBabes in Christ (1 Corinthians 3:1): Many
tually (Heb. 5:12-14).
of the believers at Corinth were immature
The Corinthians Plight
and self-centered babes in Christ. They
(verse 2). In verse 1, Paul indihad juvenile attitudes toward each other
and serving the Lord. As a result, during
cated that he could not address
his eighteen months of ministry there,
the Corinthian believers as
Paul had been unable to go beyond the
mature saints. The reason for
simplest teachings, or the milk of the
that was not because of his
Word, because of their unwillingness to
inability to do so, but because
accept stronger doctrine. In verse 3, he
the Corinthians were not able to
said they were still in this condition as
evidenced by the jealousy, strife and divibear such teachings. Paul had to
sion among their membership.
feed those saints on milk inThis same immature, Corinthian attistead of meat because of their
tude is found among many believers
lack of spiritual development.
today. The attitude of what can the Lords
Such distinctions were also
church do for me, rather than what can I
invoked by Peter and the writer
do for the Lord in His church, prevails
of Hebrews (1 Peter 2:2; Heb.
among many contemporary Christians. It
is no less acceptable today than it was in
5:12-14). Those designations
Pauls time.
probably refer to the manner in
which biblical truths are taught
as well as a categorization of the teachings of the Scriptures. For example,
new believersor immature believers as the case might beneed to be
grounded in basic teachings about salvation, security of the believer and baptism. (Compare Hebrews 6:1.) Other teachings such as divine foreordination
and predestination and the order of end-time events are more appropriate
topics for more mature believers.
Carnality Expressed (verses 3, 4). Carnality among believers presents a
twofold problem. First, it restricts the spiritual development of the individual.
Beyond that, carnality has detrimental effects on a congregation. In the
Corinthian church, there were envying and strife, which resulted in divisions
within the congregation. Such attitudes caused those saints to walk as men
(verse 3). By that expression Paul meant the
Carnal: this speaks of a person
Corinthians were acting like unsaved peowho has a nature that is
ple. The lives of carnal believers do not
depraved and in its natural elereflect that they have been saved. In the
ment. Having an animal desire
case of the church in Corinth, the carnality
in the sense of fleshly or sinful
of those believers was expressed in factions
underscores the word carnal.
When contrasted to the spiriwhich had developed over inappropriate loytual, it is the opposite. A carnal
alties to men. Paul and Apollos had been
person has the natural desire
instrumental in the organization and early
to indulge self and pay no
development of the Corinthian church, but
attention to the things of God.
neither of them was entitled to the kind of
Word Study #4559.
adulation which the carnal Corinthians

The Problem of Carnal Immaturity / 30

were giving them. Paul certainly did not want such recognition and probably
neither did Apollos. The problem was the carnal attitudes and actions of the
Tuesday, June 14

Lesson 3
1 Corinthians 3:5-7

The tendency of the members of the church in Corinth to exalt leaders is a

problem that has persisted through the centuries. Thus, believers need to be
reminded that congregational leaders are merely instruments of God whose
labors He uses to produce the spiritual growth He desires.
The Ministers of God (verse 5). The Corinthian saints, motivated by a
carnal, competitive attitude, had unduly elevated Paul and Apollos with each
faction insisting that its hero was the better
teacher, better preacher and more intelliMinisters: this is one of five
words translated servant in the
gent scholar; however, Paul sought to deflate
Testament.The best familsuch contentions by insisting that both he
is the word deaand Apollos merely were servants. The
con.The term deacon is not
Greek word for ministers is diakonos from
appropriate here because the
which deacon is derived. Diakonos speaks of
office is not under discussion.
a servant who serves in the masters houseThe sense here is that of a serhold as one who waits on tables. (Compare
vant doing the will of another
who sent him to do a specific
Acts 6:1-4.) The last phrase in this verse
duty.Word Study #1249.
indicates that God used the specific abilities
of Paul and Apollos as He saw fit. Undoubtedly, Paul was more effective in working with some people, while Apollos was
more appealing to others. Each was simply an instrument in the Lords hands,
however, to be wielded as He chose. (Compare 1 Peter 4:11.)
The Blessing of God (verse 6). In the preceding verse Paul suggested
that he and Apollos were each assigned a specific work by God in regard to
the church in Corinth. Here the apostle gave a more specific description of the
respective ministries he and Apollos rendered. Paul was used by God to establish the Corinthian church (Acts 18:1-11). After Paul left Corinth, Apollos
served that congregation (Acts 18:2419:1). Although Paul planted and Apollos watered, it was God who caused the growth (increase). The planting and
watering were both necessary, and in its own time and place, each was equally important; however, the men who did the planting and watering were not
as important as the work which they performed, and even more significantly,
the planting and watering, however diligently they might have been done,
would have been of no avail if God had not given the increase.
The Primacy of God (verse 7). In this verse Paul stated the inevitable
conclusion of his botanical analogy. Those who plant and those who water
amount to nothing. In fact men are nothing and God is everything. Although
human beings have made some great accomplishments during their time on

31 / 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
earth, no mere mortal can make a seed grow. Only God can do that because
such a feat is akin to creating, and the one and only Creator in all the universe is the omnipotent God. Man cannot do anything except what God
enables or at least permits him to do. Consequently, the members of the
church in Corinth needed to get their sights off men such as Paul and Apollos and focus them instead on God Himself. If those believers had done that,
there would have been a complete dissipation of the party spirit with its glorification of human leaders.
Wednesday, June 15

Lesson 3
1 Corinthians 3:8-10

In this passage Paul stressed that all efforts on behalf of the church in
Corinth were toward a common cause. Since that was the case, the Corinthian believers should have felt a deep sense of unity. Instead, they were divided over misplaced loyalties to former leaders of their congregation.
The Laborers Reward (verse 8). Pauls assertion that he, as the one who
had founded the church, and Apollos, as the one who had nurtured it, were
one does not mean they served in the same role or accomplished identical
results. Each had his own specific purpose in the life of the congregation. They
were one in the sense that they were both laboring for the same Master and
were working toward the same goal. Since they were one about those things
the members of the Corinthian church should have been one in spirit and
purpose. The differences in the duties and accomplishments of Paul and Apollos shall be recognized and rewarded appropriately by the Lord. That is a
matter which must be left entirely to God. The Corinthian believers did not
have sufficient understanding of all that was involved in the respective labors
of Paul and Apollos to make correct judgments.
Laborers with God (verse 9). This verse is a classic example of how Paul
used pungent, striking metaphors in his
writings. Note that everything mentioned
Gods Building: the building of
here revolves around God. The laborers are
God is a permanent and not a
temporary place.This term
His, the farm (husbandry) is His and the
does not mean tent or any
building is His. In the phrase labourers
other structure that will not
together with God, the word God is posseslast. It is a term that indicates a
sive in the Greek. Thus, the term labourers
permanent and occupied
refers specifically to Paul and Apollos and
dwelling. It is a dwelling with a
purpose and is cared for by
more generally to everyone who serves God.
the owner so it will be useful.
The word husbandry denotes an area of
We are the strengthening and
land that is tilled, and, as used here, depictencouragement of the work of
ed the church in Corinth. Building speaks
God. Word Studies #2316
of an edifice that is constructed according to
a plan. The reference here also applies to

The Problem of Carnal Immaturity / 32

the Corinthian congregation. The common factor in all these figures of speech
is that God is in complete control. He directs the work of the laborers; He
owns the farm; He is the owner and architect of the building.
The Wise Masterbuilder (verse 10). In this verse Paul continued with
the metaphor of the Corinthian congregation as a building. Here the apostle
described himself as a wise masterbuilder. The Greek word for masterbuilder is the term from which we get architect; however, in Pauls analogy
God was the architect as we understand the term today, and Paul was actually the construction foreman. God made the plan, so to speak, and entrusted
to Paul the responsibility of directing the construction of the building. Paul
described himself as a wise masterbuilder because he depended upon divine
wisdom instead of human wisdom in his decisions and undertakings. After he
had laid the foundation for the church in Corinth, another manApollos
built upon it, and there would be others to follow. Every builder needed to
heed how he worked on Gods building.
Thursday, June 16

Lesson 3


1 Corinthians 3:11-15

Paul expanded the building analogy in these verses. He dealt with the
foundation (verse 11), the superstructure that is built on the foundation
(verse 12), the assessment of the
laborers efforts (verse 13) and
the reward which will be given
based on the quality of work
The Foundation of Christ (1 Corinthians
3:11, 12): No building is any stronger than
done by the laborers (verses 14,
its foundation. If the foundation is unreli15).
able, the house will fall, but, if it is solid,
the building will stand any test (Matt.
(verse 11). Pauls assertion that
7:24-27). In verse 11, Paul said the foundathe Corinthian church, like all
tion of the church is the Rock, or Christ,
against which Jesus said even the power
true churches, was built upon
and authority of hell will not prevail
Jesus Christ reinforced the
(Matt. 16:18).
statement Jesus made in
In modern construction, there are variMatthew 16:18, Upon this rock
ous choices of materials that can go into a
I will build my church. The
foundation to make it strong. A type of
Rock upon which the church,
concrete has been developed with strands
of fiberglass in it to add to its strength and
institutionally speaking, is built
durability. In the kingdom of God, there is
is the same Rock which Paul
no foundation other than Christ that will
mentioned in 1 Corinthians
stand the test and none other name
10:4, that Rock was Christ.
under heaven given among men, whereby
Jesus provided the foundation
we must be saved (Acts 4:12).
for His church by dying on the

33 / 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
cross, thus purchasing the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). The principle which Paul declared about the foundation for a church also applies to
individual believers. For anyone to have any expectation of eternal life, he
must first trust Jesus as Savior. The apostle Peter addressed this matter
when he listed the Christian qualities that are to be added to ones faith or
salvation (2 Peter 1:5-7).
Building on the Foundation (verse 12). Once again, Paul
wrote specifically about the manBuilding Material (1 Corinthians 3:12):
ner in which Apollos and others
This verse describes two types of materials
who would follow him might
that went into building the church or
assembly of baptized believers at Corinth.
build up the church in Corinth;
One type is valuable and enduring (gold,
however, the principle he set
silver, precious stones) and the other is
forth also applies to all believers
temporary and relatively inexpensive
and the manner in which they
(wood, hay, stubble).
maintain their profession as a
The gospel that Paul preached in the
Christian. Paul mentioned six
initial stage of every church he planted
was valuable in that it was based on the
different building materials
blood of Christ, had the power to transwhich can be divided into two
form mens lives and added them to the
categories. Gold, silver and preeternal kingdom of God (1 Peter 1:18, 19;1
cious stones are not only valuCor. 1:17, 18; Rom. 1:16, 17). In addition,
able themselves, but they also
he taught doctrines that, if followed by the
can resist the test of fire. On the
church, would allow the Christians to
other hand, wood, hay and stubcome through the fiery trials of life and
stand unashamed before the Judgment
ble are relatively worthless and
Seat of Christ (1 Peter 1:6, 7; 2 Cor. 5:10;
will quickly burn if subjected to
Rom. 14:10).
fire. Gold, silver and precious
stones are highly and widely valued as treasures to be desired and cherished, but even more valuable, and
much more desirable for believers, are the treasures which are to be laid up
in Heaven (Matt. 6:19-21).
Judging the Laborers Efforts (verse 13). Having discussed the manner
in which ministers and other believers are to serve God, Paul mentioned next
that all of ones endeavors will be subjected to divine judgment. Three terms
are used to emphasize the certainty of this judgment: made manifest, which
essentially means to become known; shall declare, which basically means
to be set forth; and shall be revealed, which literally means to be uncovered. The expression the day speaks of the day of judgment. The judgment to
which Paul alluded in this verse is the Judgment Seat of Christ, at which
believers will be judged for all they doand possibly even refuse or fail to
dofollowing their salvation experience (Rom. 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10). Fire is an
apt symbol of Gods judgment because it is such an all-consuming force (Heb.
12:29). (Compare Malachi 3:2, 3.)
Rewarding the Laborers (verses 14, 15). When believers are judged at
the Judgment Seat of Christ, some will receive rewards while others will not.

The Problem of Carnal Immaturity / 34

The determining factor in receiving a reward will be the fact that ones work,
his service for God, will endure, or be approved, when subjected to divine evaluation. The Bible speaks of several different kinds of rewards, some of which
are as follows:
The crown of rejoicing, given to faithful soul-winners (Phil. 4:1; 1 Thess.
2:19, 20).
The crown of life, awarded to those who suffer for the cause of Christ (Matt.
5:12; James 1:12; Rev. 2:10).
The crown of righteousness, earned by those who eagerly anticipate the
coming of Christ (2 Tim. 4:8).
The crown of glory, won by faithful ministers of the gospel (1 Peter 5:4).
Rulership responsibilities, given to those who render faithful service to God
(Matt. 25:21, 23; Luke 19:17, 19).
A prophets reward and a righteous mans reward, awarded for assistance
given to those who promote the Lords cause (Matt. 10:41).
Believers who are unfaithful in their Christian lives will not receive any
rewards because their works will not stand the test of judgment; however, the
fact that they trusted Jesus as Savior assures them they will be saved despite
the lack of rewards. Salvation is a gift that one receives through faith in Jesus
Christ. Rewards are earned by the faithful service one renders following his
salvation experience.
Friday, June 17

Lesson 3


1 Corinthians 3:16, 17

In these verses Paul continued with the building metaphor, but with a couple of different twists, which was completely consistent with his line of reasoning. He depicted the church
at Corinth as a temple because it
was a dwelling place for the
Holy Spirit. Paul also warned
The Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16,
against those who would destroy
17): The church at Corinth was compared
the Spirits abode.
to the Temple in which the glory of God
The Temple of God (verse
dwelled in the Holy of Holies (1 Kings 8:116). Two Greek terms are ren11). After the resurrected Christ ascended
to the Father, He manifests and glorifies
dered temple in the New TestaHimself through the special presence of the
ment. Hieron refers to the entire
Holy Spirit in a New Testament church
Temple complex, including all
(Matt. 18:20; John 4:24; 16:7, 12, 13; Acts
the structures and courtyards,
2:1-4). Those who seek to glorify God to
while naos denotes the sanctuthe fullest worship in Spirit and truth in a
ary itself, which consisted of two
New Testament church even as dedicated
compartmentsthe Holy Place
Old Testament Jews worshiped in the Temand the Holy of Holies. The Holy
ple (John 4:24; Eph. 3:21; 2 Chron. 7:3).
of Holies, in which was the

35 / 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
mercy seat, was the special abode of God prior to the crucifixion of Christ. The
church in Corinth, despite all its faults and failings, was denoted by Paul as
the temple of God. This same idea is expressed in the epistle of Ephesians
where Paul described a church as a building which grows into a holy temple
in the Lord (Eph. 2:21). (Compare 1 Peter 2:5.)
The Indwelling Spirit (verse 16). The Holy Spirit indwells each believer, as Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthians 6:19 where he referred to the
Corinthian saints as individuals instead of a congregation. The Holy Spirit
also dwells in each true church. Paul underscored this truth by consistently
using the term naos in verses 16 and 17, thus indicating that the Corinthian
church was a temple of God because of the indwelling presence of the Holy
Spirit. What was true of that church is also applicable to all true churches.
The Greek word for dwelleth is from oikeo, which literally means to have a
house. The term is actually the verb form of the noun oikos, which means
Defiling the Temple (verse 17). In the first part of this verse Paul sounded a dire warning. Any members of the church in Corinth who might have
been set on causing trouble especially needed to heed Pauls words. The words
defile and destroy are from the same basic term in Greek. The essential meaning of those words is to mar or to bring to ruin. Defile does not suggest
making something filthy, and destroy does not indicate annihilation. A church
is defiled, or marred, when its testimony has become so compromised that it
is no longer an effective witness for God. Anyone who contributes to such
defilement will probably be chastened in this life and will certainly lose
rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
The Temple Is Holy (verse 17). The Greek word for holy is hagios, which
essentially means to be set apart. This word is also rendered sometimes as
saint. Paul reminded the recipients of his epistle that their church, as a temple or dwelling place of God, was holy. As a congregation those believers had
been set apart to serve and worship God. The fact they were holy did not
mean that they were sinless or perfect but they had a solemn responsibility
to be faithful to the One who had called them into a church relationship.
When Jesus was on earth, He cleansed the Temple in Jerusalem on two occasions, once at the outset of his ministry (John 2:13-16), and again just before
His crucifixion (Luke 19:45, 46) because the holy nature of the Temples purpose had been compromised. Churches that are compromising their purpose
and mission need to be cleansed.
Saturday, June 18

Lesson 3
1 Corinthians 3:18-23

In this passage Paul pinned down the root cause of the dissension and consequent divisions in the church in Corinth, which was the elevation and adulation of intellectual, worldly wisdom. The Corinthian saints needed to be

The Problem of Carnal Immaturity / 36

reminded that true wisdom is acquired by those who are humble enough to
True and False Wisdom (verses 18, 19). In the first part of this epistle,
Paul frequently contrasted the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world.
Some of the members of the church in Corinth boasted in worldly wisdom, and
Pauls admonition, Let no man deceive himself, was directed to them. Worldly wisdom has a definite appeal, as Satan knew when he tempted Eve by
telling her the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil could make
her wise (Gen. 3:5). Instead of succumbing to the lure of worldly wisdom, one
should seek the wisdom of God even if to do so is regarded by the world as a
certain indication of utter folly (verse 18). Since God considers worldly wisdom as foolishness, no believer should be concerned about the worlds estimate of him (verse 19). The Old Testament reference in the last part of verse
19 is from Job 5:13. Despite the cunning of those who are worldly wise, they
cannot avoid or evade the omniscient God.
Ineffective Wisdom (verse 20). The point which Paul made in verse 19 is
reiterated here by his reference to Psalm 94:11. Worldly wisdom is vain in
that it cannot meet the deepest needs of humanity. Eve thought the forbidden
fruit in Eden would make her as wise as God, knowing good and evil. She
learned, however, that even though she knew something about good and evil,
she certainly did not know all she needed to know. More importantly, she did
not know how to avoid the evil and embrace the good. Worldly wisdom can
enable people to make great accomplishments in the material and intellectual realms, but such wisdom is completely ineffective in dealing with spiritual
matters. Human logic and reasoning cannot plumb the depths of divine wisdom.
Do Not Exalt Men (verse 21). The first part of this verse is an emphatic
prohibition against exalting human leaders. The phrase let no man glory in
men is a natural follow-on to the admonition let no man deceive himself which
Paul emphasized in verse 18. Self-deception results in inappropriate and
improper glorification of those who appear to be learned and powerful in the
ways of the world. To glory in men is to boast about them and esteem them
in an undue measure. By their misplaced loyalties to Paul, Apollos and Peter,
the members of the Corinthian congregation were on the verge of giving to
those men the adulation and adoration that is due only to God.
All Things Are Yours (verses 21, 22). Many of the Corinthian believers
had a greater sense of loyalty to a man than to their church or to God. To
counter such thinking, Paul told them that, because they belonged to Christ,
all things were theirs. The respective ministries of Paul, Apollos and Peter
were not directed to a single faction in the church, but to the congregation as
a whole. Beyond that, those saints and all believers everywhere could regard
everything they might encounter in their earthly existenceincluding even
physical deathas something which could be beneficial to them because of
their relationships with God through Jesus Christ. Since Jesus has overcome
all these matters, we can be assured that He will use them in our lives in such

37 / 1 Corinthians 3:1-23
a manner to cause them to work together for our good and for the good of His
cause (Rom. 8:28).
All Are Gods (verse 23). When Paul mentioned the factions that had
developed in the church in Corinth (verse 22), he did not include Christ. Here
Christ is mentioned, but not in the same manner. Whereas Paul, Apollos and
Peter belonged to the Corinthian congregation, Paul stipulated that these
believers belonged to Christ. The Corinthians possessed all things, but they
themselves were a possession of Christ. Then Paul went on to say that Christ
belongs to God. Since God is an unitary Being expressed in Triune form, it is
difficult to understand how one of the persons in the Godhead can be a possession of another. Evidently, what Paul wanted to emphasize in making such
a statement is the predominant role of the Father in the various functions of
the Triune God.
Lesson 3

1 Corinthians 3:1-23

The carnality of the Corinthian believers kept them from becoming spiritually mature, and it also had a detrimental effect on their congregational
life. That church was the abode of the Holy Spirit, however, and as such it
deserved the best efforts of its members and ministers. To stress that solemn
reality, Paul reminded his readers that ones entire Christian life will be subjected to the fire of divine judgment. Through Jesus Christ believers can use
anything and everything to the glory of God.

Lesson 4

For Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Problem of
Judgmental Criticism
1 Corinthians 4:1-21

With this chapter Paul concluded his discussion of the divisions in the
church in Corinth. His remarks in this chapter might seem to be somewhat
anticlimactic in the light of the closing verses of chapter 3; however, there
were some matters which Paul needed to address before turning from the
problem of the factions which had developed within the Corinthian congregation. One of the most serious of those issues was the judgmental spirit which
some of these believers held.
Monday, June 20

Lesson 4


1 Corinthians 4:1, 2

In these verses Paul underscored the role which ministers such as he, Apollos and Peter were to fill. This was certainly timely and appropriate because
arguments over their respective merits contributed largely to the divisions
that had developed within the Corinthian congregation.
The Nature of Servanthood (verse 1). Some of the members of the
church in Corinth had elevated Paul, Apollos and Peter to an inappropriate
position. Paul sought to correct that unwarranted view by giving a symbolic
insight through the use of two significant terms into the status and duties of
ministers of the gospel.
Ministers of Christ. In this instance the word ministers is not from the same
term as in 1 Corinthians 3:5. Here the Greek word for ministers is a term
which literally means under rower. In ancient times the under rowers were
slaves who were confined usually by chains to the lowest galley in a ship. Such
ships had openings for a row of oars on each side along the entire length of the
hull. The under rowers were among the most badly treated of all slaves in
those days. They were rigidly restricted in their movements and were rarely
released from their chains.
Stewards of the mysteries of God. In Bible times a steward was a servant
who was in charge of an estate or household and stood in marked contrast to

39 / 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
an under rower. A stewards position was the most exalted among a masters
servants, while an under rowers position was among the most despised. Some
of the most notable stewards in the Bible were Eliezer, the servant over Abrahams household (Gen. 15:1-4; 24:1-4) and Joseph, the servant over the estate
of Potiphar (Gen. 39:1-6.) Note: Refer to the comments in Lesson 2, Wednesday, June 8 on 1 Corinthians 2:7 for information regarding the mysteries of
The Requirement for Stewards (verse 2). Having covered
the scope of spiritual servantThe Work of Stewards (1 Corinthians 4:2):
hood, Paul next focused on the
A steward is a man who manages or
most critical requirement for
supervises the use of another mans propstewards. Two essential matters
erty. Paul and his associates, including the
saints in the church of Corinth, were to be
were implicit to stewards in
stewards of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As
Bible times. First, stewards
such they were held accountable to God
were always accountable. They
for this privilege not accorded to unbemight have been allowed some
latitude in the performance of
In like manner, each of the Lords
their duties, but they always
churches is to be a pillar and ground of
had to answer to their master
truth, whereby the gospel is upheld in its
for the manner in which they
power and purity (1 Tim. 3:15). The church
discharged their responsibilidoes not save anyone, but it is called to
preserve and preach the truth that will
ties. (Compare Luke 16:1, 2.)
save everyone. As a long journey begins
Second, since stewards had to
with the first step, so making disciples is
answer for their decisions and
the first and most important step of the
actions, they needed to be
Great Commission given to the Lords
absolutely faithful to their maschurches (Matt. 28:19, 20).
ter in all they did. That is why
Paul emphasized that it is
required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. It is good to be talented,
but fidelity is even more important. Anyone can be faithful regardless of what
abilities he might or might not possess. A talented, but unfaithful steward is
far worse than a faithful steward with lesser abilities.

Tuesday, June 21

Lesson 4
1 Corinthians 4:3-5

The judgments to which Paul referred in this passage pertain to the manner in which he, Apollos and Peter performed their ministry. The service of
unfaithful ministers is not under consideration. Each of these judgments can
be appropriate in its own way, but Gods judgment is the most critical.
Human Judgment (verse 3). Under certain circumstances human judgment has some validity; however, the members of the church in Corinth were

The Problem of Judgmental Criticism / 40

evaluating the respective merits of Paul, Apollos and Peter on a comparative
basis, using subjective, personal standards for their evaluations. Such judgments pit personalities and other human traits against each other. That was
why human judgment meant nothing to Paul. Whether or not he won a popularity contest was of little consequence to him because he knew he was
accountable to God and not to any individual or group of people. What was
true for Paul, Apollos and Peter is also applicable for all believers. Each of us
is to be involved in serving God, and each of us is accountable to Him for the
manner in which we serve Him. No one should allow public opinion to determine the kind of service he renders to God. On the other hand, one should not
disregard the legitimate concerns and views of sincere believers regarding his
Christian testimony and service. Such expressions should be given some consideration, but only in the light of what one prayerfully regards as the will of
God for him.
Self-judgment (verses 3, 4). In the closing phrase of verse 3, Paul mentioned that not only did he disregard the critical judgments of other people,
but also he did not judge himself. Verse 4 includes the reason for such a statement. Paul did not exercise self-judgment because he realized he had incomplete understanding of himself and the circumstances under which he was
serving God. When Paul was acting under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
he was fully in harmony with the divine will; however, there were times when
he had to make decisions based on his best understanding of Gods will, an
example of which is given in Acts 16:6-9. Evidently, it was Gods objective will
on that second missionary tour for Paul and his companions to go into Macedonia and from there on to Corinth, but Paul first tried to go into Asia and
then into Bithynia before he finally arrived in Troas where he received the
vision of the man in Macedonia asking for Pauls help. Perhaps Paul thought
about that and how he ultimately arrived in Corinth when he acknowledged
that his judgment, when acting apart from divine inspiration, was imperfect
at best.
Divine Judgment (verses 4, 5). He
The Counsels of the Heart:
that judgeth me is the Lord (verse 4). This
the heart is our word cardiac.
is the judgment that really matters. JudgThe heart is the seat of emoments of public opinion and self-evaluation
tions and will in the figurative
speech of now and also the
cannot compare with that which shall be
first century. A heartache is
conducted by the Lord. This judgment will
not the muscle or organ but
occur in association with the return of Jesus
the emotions of life.The word
Christ and is denoted elsewhere in the Bible
counsel means will or purpose. It signifies the plan or
as the Judgment Seat of Christ (Rom. 14:10;
intention of the heart.What
2 Cor. 5:10). On that occasion Jesus will not
one decides to do and to carry
only judge ones actions but also the motivaout is the idea. Wordy Studies
#1012 and #2588.
tions and intentions behind ones deeds and
conduct. The expression before the time

41 /

1 Corinthians 4:1-21


Bringing to Light the Hidden Things of

Darkness (1 Corinthians 4:5): The Corinthians were warned against making premature judgments. They were to wait
upon the Lord to do the judging of their
fellow-believers. Paul said God would
openly judge all things including that
done in secret, even the motives of the
heart. So, His judgment will be final and
The phrase the Lord come is a reference
to the second coming. Then, according to
2 Corinthians 5:10: For we must all
appear before the judgment seat of
Christ; that every one may receive the
things done in his body, according to that
he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
Romans 14:10 states, But why dost thou
judge thy brother? . . . for we shall all
stand before the judgment seat of Christ.

Wednesday, June 22

refers to the time of judgment, and

the phrase until the Lord shall
come denotes the day to which
Paul referred in 1 Corinthians
3:13. Since Jesus is omniscient,
He will bring to light things that
might have been hidden from
other people, and He will unveil
things that might not be known
or understood. Only an all-knowing, all-wise God is capable of
such intense scrutiny, and such
evaluation will distinguish between what is gold, silver or precious stones, and wood, hay or
stubble. (Compare 1 Corinthians
3:12-15.) The divine judgment to
which Paul referred will include
not only ministers but all believers as well.

Lesson 4
1 Corinthians 4:6, 7

Paul tactfully reminded the Corinthian believers that he and the other
ministers, particularly Apollos, were by no means as conceited about themselves as their partisans were. He also implied that, if he and Apollos were
kept humble by the prospect of the Judgment Seat of Christ, all of the members of the church in Corinth should be characterized by a sense of humility.
The Lesson Illustrated (verse 6). The expression these things refers to
what Paul had written in verses 1-5 about the three kinds of judgments.
Although Paul had written specifically about ministers such as he and Apollos, his observations applied to the Corinthians and all other believers as
well. The phrase in a figure transferred is from a single Greek word which
essentially speaks of an altered form. The same term is used in Philippians
3:21 to describe the glorified body believers will receive at the resurrection
and in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 in reference to the deceitful activities of Satan
and his emissaries. The Corinthians needed to apply to themselves what Paul
had written concerning him and Apollos. He and Apollos were in full accord;
the problem was with those members of the church in Corinth who wanted to

The Problem of Judgmental Criticism / 42

give undue and inappropriate prominence to one of their former leaders. The
expression that which is been written denotes the Scriptures in general and
not to a specific passage.
The Lesson Reiterated (verse 7). To
emphasize the point he made in verse 6,
Differ: this word is compound in
the Greek language. It implies a
Paul asked a series of rhetorical questions, a
discerning through.The condevice which he frequently used in his writcept of variety comes here.
People are different.We have
Who maketh thee to differ from another?
distinctions in looks, personaliThe members of the church in Corinth tried
ty and character. No two people are the same.We are all
to make distinctions among the followers of
accountable to God.We differ
Paul, Apollos and Peter; however, God did
or are distinct one from anothnot establish any such distinctions. Thus,
er.Word Study #1252.
these believers were to be united and were
not to be divided into various factions.
What hast thou that thou didst not receive? The implication of this question
is that whatever the Corinthian believers had was received through the grace
of God. The ministry of Paul was through the goodness of God as was also the
ministry of Apollos. None of the Corinthians could claim credit for anything
God had done for them.
Why doest thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it [as a gift]? Since the
Corinthian believers were recipients of Gods bounty through His grace, they
could not legitimately commend themselves for anything. Among the divine
gifts which they had received were Paul and Apollos.
Thursday, June 23

Lesson 4
1 Corinthians 4:8-13

This passage includes another vivid example of the literary devices Paul
employed. He frequently used irony to cause his readers to stop and think. Of
course, when he used irony, he meant the opposite of what he actually wrote.
The haughty Corinthians needed to have their pride punctured.
The Apostles Disparaged (verses 8, 9). In the first part of verse 8 are
three parallel statements which lead to a sudden climax. In effect, Paul said
to the Corinthian believers, You are already full, you are already rich, you are
already reigning as kings without us. The implication is that the Corinthians
felt as if they had no spiritual needs to be met. Paul went on to say he wished
they were as well-off as they thought they were. If that were so, then he and
Apollos could benefit from their accomplishments and standing. The Corinthians had not reached the great heights which they imagined for themselves,
however. They were like the members of the church in Laodicea who were
needy in practically every spiritual matter. (Compare Revelation 3:17, 18.)

43 / 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
Pauls irony continues in verse 9. Notice the implied contrast between the
apostles and the Corinthian believers. The Corinthians had elevated themselves to a lofty height, at least in their own minds, but God had not yet so
exalted the apostles. Instead of reigning as kings, the apostles were often
threatened with death. Pauls statement that they were made a spectacle
unto the world, and to angels, and to men is a reminder that violent persecutionincluding flogging, stoning and even executionswas often inflicted
upon the apostles as public exhibitions. The angels viewed such spectacles
with deep concern, while humanity regarded them with derisive contempt.
Contrasting Views (verse 10). This verse consists of a series of we-you
contrasts by which Paul sought to deflate the haughty attitude of the
Corinthians. Pauls assertion that he and the other ministers were fools for
Christ was a reflection of how others viewed them. Worldly wisdom regarded
the apostles as utter fools, and Paul was willing to accept that verdict to bear
a testimony for Christ. Pauls statement that the Corinthians were wise in
Christ was not as complimentary as one might assume. What Paul meant
was those believers considered themselves to be wise in Christ. The same
principle applied to the other contrasts in this verse. The Corinthians used a
different set of standards to evaluate themselves and the apostles. Those who
acclaimed Apollos probably denigrated Paul and Peter and their devotees,
and the same thing probably held true for those who revered the other men.
That Paul accepted the estimate of the world regarding him and the other
apostles attested further to his humility. In doing so, Paul also implicitly
indicted the members of the church in Corinth because they did not have such
a humble spirit.
Contrasting Treatment (verses 11-13). In this passage Paul enumerated some of the sufferings to which he and the other ministers of that day were
often subjected. The unspoken, but obvious, contrast was the difference in
how the world treated the apostles and how the Corinthian believers were
generally treated by outsiders. The kinds of sufferings which were inflicted
can be categorized as follows:
Deprivationshunger, thirst, inadequate clothing;
Persecutionsbeatings with closed fists (buffeted);
Insecuritylack of permanent dwellings;
Material deprivationworking with our own hands to meet physical
Reproachharsh, unfounded accusations (reviled);
Persecutedrelentless harassment;
Slanderdefamatory accusations.
In addition to these abuses the early ministers were regarded as the filth
of the world and the offscouring of all things. The Greek terms for filth and
offscouring are practically synonymous and essentially denote that which is
cast aside and rejected. Despite the ill-treatment to which Paul and others
were subjected, they always responded in a positive, beneficial manner. When

The Problem of Judgmental Criticism / 44

they were reviled, they blessed; when they were persecuted, they did not
respond in-kind but patiently endured their harassment; when they were
slandered (defamed), they sought divine mercy for their oppressors (entreat).
There was a marked contrast in the kind of treatment which Paul and the
other ministers received and that which the members of the church in
Corinth generally experienced. Unfortunately, that difference seemed to have
made little impact on the Corinthian saints.
Friday, June 24

Lesson 4
1 Corinthians 4:14-17

Despite the attitude many of the Corinthian believers had toward Paul, he
had a fatherly concern for each of them. He reminded them of the role he
played in the establishment of their church and demonstrated his desire for
their well-being by sending Timothy to guide them in their Christian endeavors.
Begotten Through the Gospel (verses 14, 15). Although Paul had made
some harsh charges against the Corinthians, he did not do so simply to be critical or hurtful. There was a positive purpose for his remarks, cutting though
they might have been. While Paul did not intend to shame the Corinthian
believers, they might have felt ashamed. Such a feeling would certainly have
been in order because of the haughty attitude which many of them had; however, Pauls chiding was not done spitefully, but lovingly, like a father who is


Begotten Through the Gospel (1 Corinthians 4:15): Paul considered himself the spiritual father of the saints at Corinth whom
he had begotten by sowing the gospel
seed. Jesus said, The seed is the word of
God (Luke 8:11).
As recipients of the gospel, we should
be thankful to God for His Word because
it has brought us eternal life. I will never
forget thy precepts: for with them thou
hast quickened me (Psalm 119:93). Being
thankful for the precious gospel, we
should joyfully and compassionately share
the good news with others so they might
also be saved. They that sow in tears shall
reap in joy. He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless
come again with rejoicing, bringing his
sheaves with him (Psalm 126:5, 6). This is
our calling today!

Shame You: Paul wrote not to

shame you. He had no desire
to show a disrespect to the
people. He did not desire to
humiliate the Corinthians. He
had a regard for them and did
not wish to disparage them in
any manner.Word Study
Warn You: this word noutheteo
brings to mind a form of counseling, or a counseling of teaching and admonition.The word
means to warn, exhort and
admonish. Warn carries the
concept of danger and to stay
out of its way. Paul wanted to
write to the church and cause
them to understand the danger
of their actions and false teachings.Word Study #3560.

45 / 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
forced to correct unruly children. The Greek word for warn in verse 14 basically means to admonish and has a positive connotation. Paul wanted the
members of the church in Corinth to stop indulging in detrimental conduct
and engage instead in beneficial activities.
In verse 15, Paul reiterated the role he played in the establishment of the
church in Corinth. Not only did he lead to Christ the charter members of that
church, but he remained with them for at least eighteen months nurturing
and strengthening them in the things they needed to know and do for the
Lord. Pauls position regarding the Corinthian church was singularly unique.
Apollos and others might have been used by God to guide and assist those
believers in their Christian growth and maturity, but Paul was the one, and
only one, who had begotten . . . [them] through the gospel. This was another way of saying that he had laid the foundation of the church in Corinth (1
Cor. 3:10). Since he was their spiritual father, they should have given him the
respect to which a father was entitled.
A Fatherly Example (verses 16, 17). On the surface Pauls exhortation in
verse 16 seems unwise, if not outright audacious; however, a similar statement in 1 Corinthians 11:1 helps put this verse in perspective. The Corinthian saints were to follow Paul as he followed the Lord. In those days, most
believers were first generation Christians. Consequently, they did not have
the example of faithful parents, relatives, friends or other associates. Since
they had few role models other than the apostles and other ministers and
teachers, it was important for them to emulate such examples as they had.
Thus, Paul wanted to impress upon the Corinthian believers that they were
to follow him. To remind them about how they were to conduct themselves,
Paul sent Timothy to Corinth (verse 17). The apostle called Timothy his
beloved son. Timothy probably was already a believer when he first met Paul
(2 Tim. 1:5) and, consequently, had not been begotten through the gospel by
the apostle; however, he was Pauls son in the ministry and in the faith (1
Tim. 1:2), and, as such, he was one of Pauls most trusted associates. Timothy
had a good rapport with at least some of the Corinthians since he along with
Silas assisted Paul in establishing their church (Acts 18:5; 2 Cor. 1:19). The
reason why Timothy was sent to the Corinthian saints was so he could help
them remember the manner in which Paul had lived for Jesus Christ when
he was living among them and ministering to them. Pauls expectations for
those believers was nothing more than what he wanted also from the people
in all the churches where he had labored.
Saturday, June 25

Lesson 4
1 Corinthians 4:18-21

Some of the members of the church in Corinth were cavalier in their attitude toward Paul and his ministry. Paul intended to go to Corinth and

The Problem of Judgmental Criticism / 46

address the problem as soon as possible. In the meantime, he urged these
believers to correct their attitude so that he would not have to deal with them
so sternly.
I Will Come (verses 18, 19). Paul wanted to go to Corinth and help the
members of that church to settle their differences and focus their attention on
maintaining a positive witness for the Lord in their city. However, the situation in Ephesus was such that he needed to remain there for the time being.
(Compare 1 Corinthians 16:5-9.) Since he could not go to Corinth immediately, he sent Timothy in his stead. Apparently, there had been some previous
communications between Paul and the Corinthian believers because some of
the Corinthians insisted that he would not actually come and confront them
face to face (verse 18). They were puffed up with pride and most likely implied
Paul was afraid to return to Corinth and face them directly. Such people were
probably among those who boasted about their wisdom and possibly bragged
that they would defeat Paul in any debate; however, Paul declared emphatically, I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will (verse 19). The apostle was
ready and willing to go to Corinth as soon as the Lord gave him the opportunity to do so. Pauls caveat if the Lord will was not a hint of any doubts to
Pauls intentions, but an indication that he yielded even his deepest, most
intense desires to the purposes of God. If Paul were permitted to visit the
Corinthian church, he would quickly learn whether or not the words of those
who were puffed up had any power or merely consisted of hot air. Although
unstated specifically, the tacit implication is that Pauls words would have a
power of their own since he would speak with the authority of God.
How Shall I Come (verses 20, 21)? Whether Paul went to Corinth in a
spirit of chastisement or love was entirely up to the Corinthians; however, he
impressed upon them the fact that the operation of the kingdom of God is
based on power instead of mere words (verse 20). The word power is from a
Greek term which is the basis for dynamite and dynamic and denotes
strength, ability, force. As an apostle, Paul was a special agent in the kingdom of God. Consequently, he was endued with the power of the kingdom.
Paul had spent at least eighteen months in Corinth when he established that
church. During that time the Corinthian believers undoubtedly had several
opportunities for firsthand observations of instances in which Paul demonstrated the power of the kingdom.
Paul did not want his visit to Corinth to be an unpleasant one; however,
whether or not that would be the case was up to the Corinthian believers.
Pauls threat to come with a rod spoke of judgment. Essentially, such a judgment would have consisted of one of two measures. First, Paul probably would
have rebuked the Corinthians who were puffed up with pride and given them
the opportunity to repent of their sins. If that failed to solve the problem, then
Paul would have had to direct the church to exclude from their membership
the disobedient members. Later, in this epistle, Paul would remind the

47 / 1 Corinthians 4:1-21
Corinthian saints they had a responsibility to withdraw fellowship from
unruly members (1 Cor. 5:9-13). Pauls preference, of course, was to be able to
visit Corinth in a spirit of love and meekness.

Lesson 4

1 Corinthians 4:1-21

Where there are divisions within a congregation, there will be critical

remarks by the various factions. Apparently, much of the criticism by some of
the Corinthian believers was about Paul and his apostolic authority. As much
as possible, he disregarded such comments, deferring the judgment of his
ministry to the Lord; however, there were some remarks that would have to
be addressed, which Paul intended to do when he had the opportunity to visit
Corinth and deal with matters directly.

Lesson 5

For Sunday, July 3, 2005

The Problem of Lack

of Church Discipline
1 Corinthians 5:1-13

This chapter and the one following deal with the second primary division in
1 Corinthians, disorder in the church. One of the major reasons for the lack of
order was the lack of church discipline. An unfortunate situation had developed in the congregation that cried out for remedy. The solution was one which
the Corinthian saints refused to address. Unpleasant though it was, the matter needed to be resolved immediately. Otherwise, the testimony of those
believers, individually and collectively, would be impaired.
Monday, June 27

Lesson 5


1 Corinthians 5:1, 2

In addition to being beset with divisions, the church in Corinth was hampered by defilement. A serious matter of fornication seemingly had gone unopposedat least by the congregation as a wholeeven though the sinful association was known even beyond the church family.
Common Knowledge (verse 1). In the first part of this verse, Paul concisely stated the problem. A flagrant case of fornication had developed within
the Corinthian congregation, and what made the matter even worse was the
situation was common knowledge. The phrase it is reported commonly indicates there was widespread public awareness of the deplorable situation in
the church. The Greek word for is reported is from the general term for hearing. Commonly essentially means utterly, or in todays vernacular, to the
nth degree. The same word is rendered as at all in Matthew 5:34. The Greek
term for fornication is porneia, which is a common term for a variety of sexual sins. The word adultery is more specific. That sin is reprehensible enough
and so are its consequences; however, its scope is somewhat more limited in
that adultery is an assault against the institution of marriage. Porneia provides the basis for pornography, which has been throughout the centuries a
scourge upon all cultures and civilizations.

49 / 1 Corinthians 5:1-13
An Uncommon Sin (verse
1). Although the sin which the
church in Corinth harbored was
Behavior Unnamed Among the Gentiles
widely known, it was an offense
(1 Corinthians 5:1): A member of the
that was especially repugnant
church of Corinth was guilty of fornication
even among unbelievers. The
that was considered immoral even by the
Corinthians had a general repumost utterly depraved Gentiles of that city.
tation for loose morals and their
This mans sin was probably either incest
or an adulterous relationship with his stepcity was well known for its freemother.
wheeling, anything-goes attiTo add to the wickedness, the sin was
tude, but for someone to become
well known among the membership of the
sexually involved with his
church and no doubt in the community at
fathers wife was too much even
large. Paul was concerned that this mans
for the pagan Corinthians. That
behavior caused no sadness or drew no
was a sin which no religious culcensure from the church. Instead, the
Corinthians were proud of their spiritual
ture in Corinth approved,
gifts and divided among themselves. Their
whether Jewish, Christian or
pride also made them indifferent to the
pagan. Even Roman law forbade
moral teachings of Gods Word. Like many
such a perverted union. That a
in churches today, they were unashamed of
son would commit fornication
the open immorality within their number
with his stepmother was un(Lev. 18:8; Deut. 22:22).
thinkable! (Note: Since Paul was
not one to mince words, if the
relationship had involved a son and his natural mother, the apostle certainly
would have so indicated because such a relationship would have been even
more abhorrent.)
The Wrong Attitude (verse 2). Even worse than the sin which Paul condemned in verse 1 was the church in Corinth tolerated it. In fact, it seems as
if these believers had a twisted sense of pride regarding the situation indicated by Pauls charge that they were puffed up about it. The haughty boastfulness which had contributed so heavily to the party spirit that engendered
the divisions within the Corinthian congregation evidently caused these
believers to refuse to acknowledge the evil within their midst and deal with
it. Moreover, they possibly liked to think their worldly wisdom enabled them
to be broad-minded and accepting of other peoples weaknesses. The Corinthian saints were further indicted because they had not mourned. Among the
consequences of sin are sorrow and grief, as Adam and Eve learned to their
regret (Gen. 3:16, 17). The members of the church in Corinth should have
been bowed in grief.
The Wrong Action (verse 2). Since the Corinthian believers had the
wrong attitude, they failed to act properly. For too long they had ignored, tolerated, excused and even condoned the sin in their midst, when they should
have confronted it prayerfully and dealt with it firmly. Evidently, only the
man involved in the fornication was the church member, indicated by the
statement he that hath done this deed. Paul went on to say the man was to be

The Problem of Lack of Church Discipline / 50

put away from among the church membership. Since nothing is said about the
woman, it appears that she was not a member of the church. To allow such a
flagrant sin to continue without any attempt to deal with it was tantamount to
allowing a cancer to remain untreated in ones body. The cancer will continue to
grow until it destroys the body, and the same is true with a sin like the one Paul
addressed in this verse. A church body cannot long endure the devastating
effects of egregious sins within its membership.
Tuesday, June 28

Lesson 5


1 Corinthians 5:3-5

Since the church in Corinth refused to deal with the sin of fornication, Paul
gave them specific directions for doing so. It would have been much better if the
congregation had exercised its responsibility in this matter, but its failure to do
so meant that Pauls apostolic judgment had to be invoked.
Absent in Body, but Present in Spirit (verse 3). This expression has often
been used to excuse ones lack of attendance at a meeting or gathering, especially about church activities. While there might be some validity to such an
assertion, no one today can make the claim to be present in spirit though absent
in body with the same force that Paul did in this situation. He was present in
spirit in the sense that, through the aid of the Holy Spirit, he was given special
insight into the matter and was provided guidance in the verdict he proclaimed.
In effect, Paul was as inspired in
the decision he reached regardanna
ing the issue of fornication in the
Discipline in the Name of the Lord Jesus
Corinthian congregation as he
(1 Corinthians 5:4): Jesus outlined steps
was when he wrote this epistle to
whereby reconciliation could be accomplished among church members. If these
these believers. The Greek word
were rejected, the Lord spoke of the
for judged denotes a decision and
necessity of church discipline or the
not merely an expression of a
removal of the recalcitrant members from
feeling or inclination. Once
the fellowship (Matt. 18:15-19). Paul
again, note that Paul made no
applies the same principle here to the one
mention of the woman who was
who had committed fornication.
The Lords churches today are to lovinvolved in the matter. She was
ingly exercise discipline both for the good
guilty before God, to be sure, but
of the offender and for the moral wellsince she evidently was not a
being of the church body (1 Cor. 5:5, 6; 2
member of the church, these
Tim. 2:16, 17). Since the underlying princibelievers had no authority or
ple of the Lords Suppers being closed or
duty toward her.
restricted is church discipline, to ignore
this doctrine is to corrupt the observance
The Authority for Church
of the Lords Supper itself. It is also to be
Discipline (verse 4). Having
hypocritical of those who do not practice
announced that the church in
the ordinance as they should.
Corinth should discipline the

51 / / Corinthians 5:1-13
man who was guilty of fornication, Paul then explained the manner in which
that matter was to be undertaken. It was especially important for this congregation to understand that the authority for discipline was not from Paul,
but from the Lord Himself. The expression in the name of the Lord Jesus
Christ refers to His authority. (Compare Matthew 18:15-18.) The act of discipline was to be a congregational responsibility because it was to be done
when ye are gathered together. As a means of encouragement, Paul reminded these believers that he would be present in spirit when they undertook
the awesome responsibility of exercising discipline on their wayward brother. If the apostle could have been present in body, he would have urged the
church to do what needed to be done, however unpleasant the task might
have been. Not only would Jesus provide the Corinthian saints with the
authority to act in the matter of discipline, but He would also give them the
power, that is, the courage and strength of heart and mind to do so.
The Purpose of Church Discipline (verse 5). The ultimate purpose for
any act of church discipline should be to promote the spiritual edification of
the individual and the congregation as a whole. In this verse the edification
of the individual is addressed. An excluded church member is delivered unto
Satan in the sense that, when someone is removed from a congregation, he
no longer has the prayerful and moral supDestruction of the Flesh: Paul
port and encouragement of the members of
called for subduing of all the
that church and is consequently more vulinfluences of the lusts and sins
nerable to temptations. The expression
of the flesh.The flesh is the
destruction of the flesh speaks of the potenskin and tissue itself, and it is
also the nature of a person.
tial of ultimate chastisement, which is the
Paul asked for the destruction
sin unto death, that is, physical death.
of both. Bringing to ruin the
(Compare 1 John 5:16, 17.) If someone who
influences that cause actions
that harm the cause of Christ
has truly been saved is excluded from a
was the desire of Paul. Word
church and yet yields to satanic temptation
Studies #3639 and #4561.
thereby becoming even more deeply inSpirit Saved: the spirit is the
volved in sinful practices and pursuits, he
very breath of life.The spirit is
will most certainly come under the chasthat place where God lives and
tisement of God, possibly even to the extent
that which will go to God.The
of experiencing a premature death. On the
prayer of Paul was that the
spirit might be rescued.The
other hand, if an excluded person repents of
flesh needs to be destroyed so
his sin, then such a life is reclaimed and
that the spirit, the inner man,
can be a positive influence in the church.
can be rescued.The spirit has
value whereas the flesh does
Regardless of whether or not one who has
not.The spirit needs to be
been expelled from a church repents, he
brought to safety.Word Studies
will not lose his salvation because the spir#4151 and #4982.
it will be saved in the life to come.

The Problem of Lack of Church Discipline / 52

Wednesday, June 29

Lesson 5
1 Corinthians 5:6, 7

To emphasize the critical importance of exercising church discipline, Paul

used the illustration of how yeast works in a lump of dough. As the effects of
yeast will permeate an entire lump of dough, so can the flagrant, public sinful activities of a single individual detrimentally affect an entire congregation.
Inappropriate Glorying (verse 6). In the opening statement of this
verse, Paul again rebuked the Corinthian congregation for its failure to discipline the man who had committed fornication. Evidently, these believers
were prone to boast, and it seems as if they were especially inclined to boast
about their wisdom. Probably, they considered the matter of fornication in
their midst from the viewpoint of human logic and reasoning. If that were the
case, they probably commended themselves for being so understanding of the
mans weakness and for being so open to his need for acceptance and affirmation, but sin is sin, and any attempts to excuse, explain or exonerate sin is
wrong, even if it is done with eloquent words and specious reasoning. By
refusing to exercise the appropriate discipline, the Corinthian believers were
acting as if they knew better than God.
A Little Leaven (verse 6). In reminding the members of the church in
Corinth that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, Paul was invoking an
adage that was common in that time. Leaven, of course, is yeast, and yeast
consists of single-celled fungi that subsist on sugary solutions. When the fungi
consumes the sugar in a lump of dough, the breaking down of the molecules
of sugar allows air to be absorbed into the dough, thus causing the lump to
rise. By suggesting that the Corinthian congregation was characterized by
yeast or leaven, Paul wanted these believers to realize that they were puffed
up for the wrong reason. Yeast works quietly and unseen, but steadily. It is
also thorough in that a small quantity of yeast will permeate the entire lump.
So it is with sin. If unchecked, it will cause
everyone and everything it touches to
Purge Out: the thorough cleansbecome defiled and defected.
ing of an item is the meaning of
Purge the Old Leaven (verse 7). In givthis term. It is a compound
ing the Corinthian saints this exhortation,
word with emphasis on cleaning it out to the point that one
Paul alluded to a matter with which at least
does not associate it with a
the Jewish believers were familiar. All Jews
prior thing. No semblance of
knew what it meant to remove the leaven
stain or smell would be prefrom their homes because of the Feast of
sent if it were a pot or pan.
Unleavened Bread which was observed annuPurge out the old so that no
one can recognize its prior
ally, immediately following the Passover celecondition.Word Study #1571.
bration. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was
a weeklong observance during which the

53 / / Corinthians 5:1-13
Jews ate only unleavened
bread; no leaven was even to be
allowed to remain in their
Leavened and Unleavened (1 Corinthians
homes during that time (Ex.
5:7): Of the sinning church member
described in verse 1, Paul said in verse 6:
12:15). Thus, the significance of
Your glorying is not good. Know ye not
Pauls admonition for the memthat a little leaven leaveneth the whole
bers of the church in Corinth to
lump? Leaven was symbolic of sin, so
purge out therefore the old
ignoring the sin of this sinning member
leaven should have been obviwould affect the entire Corinthian church
ous. They were to remove from
adversely as yeast affects dough in the
bread making process. Others would foltheir midst the man who was
low his bad example.
guilty of fornication. In doing so
Even as all yeast was to be removed
they would become a new
from Jewish households during the Feast
lump, that is, a body which was
of Unleavened Bread (Ex. 12:15-20; 13:1, 6,
not defiled by public, flagrant
7), so all-known sin should be removed
from the house of God before the observance of the Lords Supper: Purge out
Christ Our Passover (verse
therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a
7). In the last part of this verse,
new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even
Paul expanded his illustration
Christ our passover is sacrificed for us (1
to embrace the significance of
Cor. 5:7).
the Passover celebration. The
Passover was an annual observance which the Jewish people had maintained for fifteen hundred years to
commemorate their forefathers release from Egyptian bondage, an event
which required the death of the firstborn of man and beast throughout all the
land of Egypt (Ex. 12:11-14). The Passover also had a prophetic aspect for the
Jews since it foretold the substitutionary, sacrificial death of their Messiah.
Thus, the Passover typified redemption from sin, and the fact that the
Passover was followed immediately by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, to
which Paul referred in the first part of this verse, signified that all those who
have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus are to have daily lives that are as
free from sin as possible.


Thursday, June 30

Lesson 5


1 Corinthians 5:8

In this verse Paul continued his metaphor by exhorting his readers to

keep the feast. The feast to which he referred was the Feast of Unleavened
Bread, and his admonition was threefold: (1) keep the feast free from leaven,
(2) keep the feast without malice and wickedness and (3) keep the feast with
sincerity and truth.
Not with Old Leaven. To the Corinthian believers, the Passover had been
observed in the sense that Jesus had been crucified, and these saints had
trusted Him as their Redeemer and Savior. Now it was time for them to keep

The Problem of Lack of Church Discipline / 54

the Feast of Unleavened Bread by avoiding sin in their daily lives as much as
possible; however, since the members of this congregation refused to deal with
the man who was publicly living in a state of flagrant sin, they also were
defiled by his sin. Specifically, the old leaven which they were to purge from
their midst was the sin of fornication, and, to remove that sin, they had to
exclude the man who was committing it.
Not in Malice and Wickedness. This part of Pauls exhortation addressed
from the negative standpoint the manner in which the church in Corinth was
to deal with the man who needed to be disciplined. Since that was a divided
congregation, there probably were some members who wanted to exclude the
man even though most of them apparently did not want to do so. At least some
in favor of excluding him wanted to do so for the wrong reason or in the wrong
spirit. Church discipline should never be exercised in a spirit of anger, resentment or revenge. The Greek word for malice is kakia, which essentially
denotes that which is not good; wickedness is from poneria, which is also a
general term for badness, but when used in association with kakia seems to
indicate intentional acts of evil. The members of the church in Corinth were
not to exclude the man because they were angry with him or with any who
might have been opposed to any disciplinary efforts. Even though expulsion
was in order, it needed to be done in the right manner and for the right purpose.
In Sincerity and Truth. This is the positive aspect of Pauls admonition
about church discipline. Sincerity and truth are in direct contrast to malice
and wickedness. The Greek word for sincerity is an especially graphic term, as
it literally means to judge in the sunlight. Thus, it denotes actions and activities that are undertaken in clear, penetrating light of ones motivations and
intentions. Truth is translated from a word, the root of which basically refers
to openness or that which is not concealed. If the members of the church in
Corinth approached the matter of church discipline in a spirit of sincerity and
truth, they would make the right decision in the right manner and for the
right purpose. Consequently, their congregation would be like an unleavened
loaf of bread which was no longer characterized by defilement or debasement
from the fermenting process of sin.
Friday, July 1

Lesson 5
1 Corinthians 5:9-11

Church discipline and personal associations are two separate issues.

Although in some instances there might be a relationship between these matters, it is possible that individuals can have personal dealings with people
whose activities or conduct would render them inappropriate subjects for
church fellowship.

55 / / Corinthians 5:1-13
Withdraw Fellowship from
(verse 9). The letanna
ter to which Paul referred in this
Keeping Company with Fornicators (1
verse was not the inspired episCorinthians 5:9-11): Paul had already
tle. Paul evidently maintained
warned them against fellowship with sin.
close contact with all the churchSpecifically, they were not to assemble in
es to whom he had ministered
official capacity with church members
who were involved in flagrant immorality
because he also wrote a letter to
or heresy. In verses 10 and 11, it is clearly
the church in Laodicea which is
explained this does not mean withdrawnot part of the New Testament
ing from all sinners in everyday social
(Col. 4:16). Since Paul had previinteraction, but that a sinning brother in a
ously written to the Corinthian
church should be denied church privileges
congregation, instructing these
for his immorality.
This especially applied to the obserbelievers not to allow fornicators
vance of the Lords Supper, which is the
to remain in their membership,
most intimate observance of a church.
it indicated that he was already
Paul was not speaking of a picnic or eataware of the problem in that
ing at a restaurant of his day when he
church; however, in that epistle
wrote in verse 11, With such an one no
Paul seemingly wrote in general
not to eat. He was speaking of the necessary exclusion of this brother from church
terms about not fellowshiping
fellowship for immoral conduct to protect
with fornicators, but did not
the purity of the assembly.
mention anything specifically.
Unfortunately, his counsel was
not heeded, so he had to be more explicit in the letter which we know as 1
Corinthians, pointedly asserting in no uncertain terms what the members of
that church had to do. Because these believers had refused to address the matter properly, the letter stressed the intensity of the divisions within their fellowship.
Maintain Personal Contacts (verse 10). This verse appears to be a
caveat to what Paul stipulated in verse 9. It seems that, when Paul wrote the
uninspired epistle in which he told the church in Corinth that they were not
to tolerate fornicators in their membership, they took that to refer to any and
all fornicators everywhere. By interpreting Pauls exhortation to such an
extreme position, they rendered it virtually impossible to obey in practical,
day-to-day situations. Many of the Corinthian believers failed to make the
distinction between personal associations and church fellowship, and at least
some of them probably used that as an excuse not to exercise discipline in
congregational matters. Sometimes, personal contacts with fornicators and
other sinners cannot be avoided. As long as such associations do not dilute or
distort ones testimony or witnessing effectiveness for the Lord, he can have
relationships with sinners in business, professional or social settings.
Church Discipline Reiterated (verse 11). The phrase now I have written unto you refers to the inspired epistle of 1 Corinthians. The expression
keep company speaks of a church relationship. Since Pauls instructions in his
previous letter had been misinterpreted, either intentionally or unintention-

The Problem of Lack of Church Discipline / 56

ally, he listed six specific sins for which church members should be excluded
from the fellowship of a congregation. Most of those sins are readily understood; however, perhaps some explanation should be given for a couple of
them. The word railer is from a Greek term that is generally rendered as
revile, which essentially means abusive or contemptuous language used in
speaking to or about someone. The Greek word for extortioner basically
means one who snatches away. An extortioner is not merely a shoplifter or
petty thief. One guilty of this sin is someone who threatens harm to another
person or abuses his authority to obtain what is desired. The sins which Paul
included in this verse are public sins which are widely known beyond the
church membership. The apostle pointedly stressed that church members
should not eat with any who were guilty of practicing the sins he stipulated.
That injunction about eating with sinners referred to the Lords Supper and
possibly also to the love feasts which many of the early churches held. The
only manner in which such an admonition can be obeyed effectively is for a
congregation to withdraw fellowship from one guilty of public sins.
Saturday, July 2

Lesson 5
1 Corinthians 5:12, 13

Paul concluded this discussion of church discipline by reiterating the areas

in which believers can and cannot pass judgment on the conduct of others.
The essential issue is one of authority. The members of a church have authority only over those within their congregation, while God has authority over
Judging Those Who Are Without. In the first part of verse 12 and the
opening statement in verse 13, Paul emphasized that anyone who is not a
member of a church is judged by God. It goes without saying that God judges
people who are church members and that people charged with crimes or other
wrongs can be judged by human courts or other appropriate venues. Someone
guilty of public drunkenness, for example, would be judged in a court of law,
but not by a congregation unless he was a member of the church. Even then,
the scope and purposes of the two judgments would be different. In the first
part of verse 12, Paul invoked one of his frequent tactics, the use of rhetorical
questions. The obvious answer to the question, For what have I to do to judge
them also that are without? is that he has no authority or obligation to exercise judgment in such matters. A more explicit response is but them that are
without God judgeth (verse 13).
Judging Those Who Are Within. Having set forth the scope and restrictions regarding church discipline, Paul summarized the churchs responsibility in the last part of verse 12 and the closing statement in verse 13. In verse
12 he posed a rhetorical question to remind these believers that, while they
had no obligation to judge anyone who was not a member of their congrega-

57 / / Corinthians 5:1-13

Put Away: this word is also compound. It has an intensive prefix which indicates that this
one is to be taken and lifted
away out from the congregation.The preference of Paul
was that the man be set out
away from this church so that
he could have no influence. No
one should recognize that he is
a part of them because he has
been put away.Word Study

Lesson 5

tion, they were expected to exercise judgment upon those who belonged to their fellowship. Because they had such a solemn
duty, the apostle emphatically told the
Corinthian saints to exercise their responsibility and put away from among yourselves
that wicked person (verse 13). Paul designated the man as a wicked person because
of the nature of his sin. The word wicked is
from poneria, which was previously considered in the comments on verse 8. The man
who was guilty of fornication had deliberately, intentionally chosen to pursue the sinful path which had become so widely known.
1 Corinthians 5:1-13

Church discipline is an unpleasant task under the best of circumstances;

however, the congregational relationship is such that church members who
are guilty of brazenly embracing public sins adversely affect not only themselves and their families, but the church as a whole also because a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. If such people choose to persist in their sinful
pursuits, the solemn duty of the church is clear: put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Lesson 6

For Sunday, July 10, 2005

The Problem of Unresolved

Personal Disputes
1 Corinthians 6:1-20

This chapter concludes the portion of Pauls consideration of the disorder in

the church in Corinth. Two matters are addressed heredisputes among the
members of this congregation and sinful conduct on the part of some of these
believers. The problem with settling disputes was that the Corinthian saints
went outside their fellowship for resolution. Those believers needed to remember they belonged to Christ in entirety, body as well as spirit.
Monday, July 4

Lesson 6


1 Corinthians 6:1-4

Settling disputes through legal disposition is not a relatively recent phenomenon. The Corinthian believers evidently were all too eager to submit
their differences to the civil authorities; however, this does not promote brotherly love, nor does it enhance the effectiveness of Christian witnessing.
Have Respect for Other Believers (verse 1). The Greek word for dare
essentially means to be bold, and is often
rendered durst in the King James Version of
Dare Any of You Having a
Matter: this phrase speaks of
the Bible. The same term is used in Mark
the smallest of lawsuits.The
15:43 as boldly. The Corinthian saints
word matter carries the conbrazenly disregarded their brethren by takcept of any trivial thing coning differences with other believers to court
cerning a question or dispute
instead of attempting to settle such matters
of the law. Paul did not want
the people of Corinth to take
among themselves. The judicial authorities
minute things to the law to
in those days followed Roman law in their
settle. He wanted them to be
deliberations and decisions. Those judges
mature enough to discern and
might have given a legally correct verdict,
handle small matters.Word
Study #4229.
but it would not have taken into consideration any of the teachings of the Scriptures,

59 / 1 Corinthians 6:1-20
nor would it have given any deference to what might have been best for the
cause of Christ. Sometimes, what is legal is not necessarily what is best or
appropriate. Worse still, the believers who were willing to appear in court
before unsaved pagans instead of consulting fellow Christians showed contempt for other believers.
Be Responsible as Believers (verse 2). In this verse Paul stressed believers who are capable of rendering sound, fair verdicts. This can be seen in that
the saints shall judge the world. The fulfillment of that assertion will be
during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ when believers are allowed to
share with Him subordinate judicial and governmental responsibilities over
the nations (Dan. 7:22; Rev. 20:4). If the saints ultimately shall judge the
world, they certainly are capable now of judging the smallest matters. The
Greek word for smallest is from mikros. Pauls use of such a term indicates
the Corinthian believers were not evaluating matters correctly. In fact, the
apostle seemed to imply that the matters in dispute were a reflection of covetousness. If the Corinthians thought themselves to be wise, they had an
opportunity to demonstrate their wisdom by settling disputes among the
members of their congregation.
The Responsibility of Believers (verse 3). In the first part of this verse,
Paul continued with the topic of believers responsibilities about judgment.
Not only are we to judge the world, but we are to judge angels, also. That
announcement by Paul has caused much speculation among students of the
Bible. Another reference to a judgment of angels is 2 Peter 2:4 in which the
apostle Peter mentioned that the angels who sinned will be judged. Although
it is not specifically stated when that judgment will occur, Jude announced that it will
Things That Pertain to This
occur at the judgment of the great day
Life: a term which refers to
the everyday part of living.
(Jude 6), an event which very possibly shall
What is an ordinary thing or
be in conjunction with the Great White
everyday thing? It is that which
Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). What
is so commonplace we pay it
role believers will play in the judgment of
no attention.This term is used
the sinful angels is not clear; however, the
in this manner.The things pertaining to life simple describe
obvious inference from this is, if saints are
the very everyday aspects of
capable of judging angels, they are certainlife.Word Study #9821.
ly able to judge in matters pertaining to disputes among believers. The expression
things that pertain to this life includesbut is not necessarily limited to
personal differences about material matters.
The Least Esteemed Among Believers (verse 4). This verse is difficult
to interpret, especially if one regards the expression least esteemed in the
church to refer to the least esteemed among believers. Such an interpretation
would be inconsistent with sound logic; however, if the phrase under consideration is applied to pagan judges, men whom the saints likely would not

The Problem of Unresolved Personal Disputes / 60

esteem highly, then the verse is more meaningful. With this understanding
this verse could be paraphrased to read something as follows: If saints have
judgment regarding matters in this life [see verse 3], why do you consult as
judges those [pagan, unsaved men] for whom you have such little esteem and
respect? If a matter is deferred to a church, the final decision should be made
by the congregation as a whole, even if a committee is delegated to determine
facts and make recommendations. Thus, the final verdict would be made by
the entire body, not only by the lowliest members of the congregation.
Tuesday, July 5

Lesson 6


1 Corinthians 6:5-8

In this passage Paul delved to the heart of the controversy of the lawsuits
which entangled the Corinthian believers. The crux of the problem was they
carried their differences to pagan judges, and the nature of their disputes evidently involved money because these saints were determined not to be
Discernment Is Available (verse 5). The church in Corinth had numerous problems, but this was the only instance in which Paul told these believers that they should have been ashamed of themselves. Their conduct about
the lawsuits was disgraceful. The problem was not that these believers did not
know how to deal with matters
properly but that they willfully
refused to do so. Many of the
Going to Law Before the Unjust (1
Corinthians prided themselves
Corinthians 6:1, 6): Some of the saints in
in their vaunted wisdom, but
the church of Corinth had become
they were not wise enough to
involved in lawsuits against each other.
deal with personal disputes
Instead of settling their differences privateamong brethren. Paul was
ly, they resorted to the court system which
brought their disputes before the already
astounded they were not willing
critical eyes of the unbelieving world.
to assume the responsibility and
Paul reminded them the saints will be
exercise the discernment that
used to rule the world in the Millennium
was available to them. In those
and are even now above the angels (Matt.
days when spiritual gifts were
19:27-29; Heb. 1:14). So they should be able
operative, the gift of discernto settle their petty differences even if it
means having mediation by a church or by
ment was sometimes given, and,
one appointed of the congregation. If
if it had been needed by any of
worse came to worst, they should be willthe Corinthian saints, God most
ing to suffer injustice instead of bringing
certainly would have given it.
dishonor to Christ by their public wranThe Detraction of Civil
gling over worldly matters. In their efforts
to do right, they were doing wrong.
Lawsuits (verse 6). The actions
of the Corinthian believers were

61 / 1 Corinthians 6:1-20
shameful for two reasons. First, Christians were taking other believers to
court. Moreover, they were taking their differences before unbelievers for a
resolution. What was involved in these matters were evidently civil lawsuits
since the Corinthians seemingly had a choice whether or not their issues were
submitted to a secular court. One can only imagine how detrimental it was to
the testimony of these believers, individually and collectively, to appear
before unsaved, pagan judges and officials. Even worse, one can only imagine
the damage done to the bonds of Christian fellowship and church fellowship
by the litigants because of the charges raised and the defensive responses. For
believers, every aspect of our livespersonal, family, educational, professional or socialinvolves and affects our Christian testimony. Thus, lawsuits
among brethren can indeed be harmful.
Be Defrauded Rather Than Discredited (verse 7). The gravity of the
problem regarding the lawsuits involving the members of the church in
Corinth is proven by Pauls description of the matter as utterly a fault. The
Greek word for utterly is holos, which literUtterly a Fault: whatever
ally means wholly, and the original term
comes to your mind as a comfor fault essentially denotes a decline or a
plete defeat or a total disaster
The same word is rendered diminishwill best illustrate this word.
Romans 11:12. Paul told the CorinthiPaul wanted them to know it
an congregation they were suffering a
was a complete defeat if a
lawsuit was allowed to come
decline in respect and esteem which outto fruition. A lawsuit should be
siders might have had for them. Then, the
avoided at all costs because it
apostle encouraged these saints to accept
will bring a total disaster to
what might even be an injustice (take
Christian living if it goes into
the court system.Word Studies
wrong), thus setting up an interesting play
#3654 and #2275.
on words in which he urged his readers to
allow themselves to be defrauded instead of
being discredited. The Greek word for be defrauded literally means to have
something taken, or kept, from someone. It would have been far better for the
Corinthians to lose things instead of their testimony.
Do Not Defraud Other Believers (verse 8). In this verse Paul chided the
Corinthian believers because in failing to do the right thing by their fellowChristians, they did the wrong thing and defrauded them. Instead of suffering wrong and deprivation, these saints actually had behaved unjustly themselves and inflicted loss upon their brethren. The verbs do wrong and defraud
are in the present tense in the Greek, denoting an ongoing course of conduct.
Thus, the problem was not an occasional instance of wrongdoing, but it was
instead a manner of constant action, which made the offense even worse. The
Greek word for do wrong essentially speaks of an injustice, and the term for
defraud here is the same as in verse 7. Paul emphasized how the error of the
improper lawsuits involving the members of the church in Corinth by
exclaiming, as if in unbelief, and that [to] your brethren.

The Problem of Unresolved Personal Disputes / 62

Wednesday, July 6

Lesson 6


1 Corinthians 6:9-11

In a further effort to impress upon the Corinthian believers how terribly

wrong were their litigations against one another, Paul associated their conduct with that of the most ungodly of sinners. Bringing a lawsuit against a
brother or sister is not as vile as committing fornication, of course, but a
greedy, uncaring spirit can lead to events which can be as detrimental to a
churchs well-being as those of an immoral person.
Inheriting the Kingdom (verse 9). The Greek word for unrighteous is
adikos, the most elementary
meaning of which is one who
does that which is wrong. This
Inheriting the Kingdom of God (1
term also is sometimes rendered
Corinthians 6:9, 10): An inheritance is a
unjust, as seen in 1 Corinthians
received as a result of birth into a
6:1. When describing someones
family. In the kingdom of God, those
nature, adikos denotes an
who have truly been born-again, or
unsaved person; when referring
saved by grace through faith in Christ are
to actions, the term could refer to
part of the family of God (John 3:3, 7;
a believer who is acting in an
Eph. 3:15). They are heirs of God and
have a joint inheritance with the Son of
unrighteous manner as well as to
God in Heaven (Rom. 8:17).
an unbeliever. Use caution with
Those who have not actually been
the expression inherit the kingborn again, even though they may be
dom to distinguish between being
religious by the worlds standards, will
in the kingdom and inheriting
not bring forth works of righteousness
the kingdom. One is admitted
considered good in Gods eyes. Even so
into the kingdom through the
faith, if it hath not works is dead, being
alone, James 2:17. So, they have no title
new birth (John 3:3-5). To inherto an inheritance in the kingdom. They
it the kingdom is to receive speare not legitimate members of the family
cial honors and recognition
of God (Matt. 7:21-23).
through rewards and other
means. (Compare 2 Peter 1:8-11.)
Forfeiting Ones Inheritance (verses 9, 10). In the last part of verse 9
and in verse 10 Paul listed ten kinds of despicable sinners. A believer whose
life becomes characterized by any of these sins likely will not inherit the kingdomthat is, he will not receive any rewards or special recognition in the
kingdomeven though such a one will be saved, yet so as by fire (1 Cor.
3:15). Most of the sins which Paul enumerated are generally understood by
most people. Some have been considered previously, such as fornicators and
adulterers (see comments on 1 Cor.inthians 5:1, Lesson 5) and revilers (or
railers) and extortioners. (See comments on 1 Corinthians 5:11, Lesson 5.)
Perhaps some special consideration should be given to the expressions effem-

63 / 1 Corinthians 6:1-20
inate and abusers of themselves with mankind. Both of these terms are related to homosexuality. The Greek word for effeminate essentially means soft or
delicate. Quite possibly, it refers to perversion involving children or to a relatively passivebut still harmfulform of homosexuality. Abusers of themselves with mankind denotes a much more aggressive sin. This expression is
from the Greek term arsenokoitai, a compound of arsen, meaning a male and
koite, from which we get coitus, a term for sexual intercourse. Clearly,
arsenokoitai refers to sodomy and an aggressive expression of it, such as the
men of Sodom exhibited (Gen. 19:4-11).
Washed, Sanctified and Justified (verse 11). Some of the Corinthian
saints had been, prior to their salvation and conversion to Christianity,
involved in some of the sins which Paul listed in verse 10; however, a dramatic
change had occurred in their
hearts, a change that should
have been reflected in their
daily lives. Paul used three
Cleansed by the Spirit of Our God (1
Corinthians 6:11): Some had been guilty of
terms to describe what the
the sins listed in verses 9 and 10. AccordCorinthian believers had experiing to the Greek text, they had been
enced, and the Greek tense of
washed, sanctified and justified in the
these verbs denotes completed
name of Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of
our God. The Spirit and blood of Christ
Washed. This word is from a
(Rev. 1:5) was the medium instead of the
term which speaks of a
administrator of this cleansing.
loosening or release. It describes
Similarly, Paul wrote to Titus, Not by
the cleansing one receives in salworks of righteousness which we have
vation through the forgiveness
done, but according to his mercy he saved
us, by the washing of regeneration, and
or release of his sins. It does not
renewing of the Holy Ghost (Titus 3:5). A
in any manner refer to baptism.
cleansing takes place as the power of the
Sanctified. The Greek word
Holy Spirit convicts the unbeliever of sin
essentially means set apart.
and enables him to repent and turn to
Through salvation a believer is
Christ in faith. Such is the gracious work
set apart for God. That is posiof God and not man (Eph. 2:8, 9).
tional sanctification. There is
also a progressive aspect to
sanctification, which denotes the believers daily growth in grace and Christian maturity. In light of the verb tense, Pauls emphasis here was on positional sanctification.
Justified. This term describes a saints legal standing before God. A believer is not sinless, but he is justified because God has declared it to be the case.
Because of the saints standing with God, that of having been washed,
sanctified and justified, he should live before the world in a manner that
reflects such an exalted position. Note that in the final statement of this verse
Paul mentioned the Triune God, suggesting that each of the divine persons in
the Godhead is involved in a believers salvation.

The Problem of Unresolved Personal Disputes / 64

Thursday, July 7

Lesson 6


1 Corinthians 6:12-14

Because believers have a salvation which is fully certain with abundant

benefits, we need to be mindful of our standing before the world as well as
with God. Although anyone who is saved cannot lose his salvation, one can
lose his testimony as a Christian. That is the practical reality which Paul
underscored by his reminder that some things which might be permissible are
not necessarily appropriate.
Be a Credible Witness (verse 12). A witness without credibility is ineffective. This is true in a court of law, and it also applies to ones Christian life.
When Paul wrote that all things
were lawful for him, he did not
mean he could do as he pleased
without any regard for what is
The Difference Between Lawful and
right or wrong. What he meant
Expedient (1 Corinthians 6:12): Some of
was that within the realm of
the Corinthians turned their liberty into a
license to sin. This attitude later gave rise
what God has not forbidden, he
to a form of moral anarchy called antinomicould do what he chose to do.
anism. This is the idea that, since salvation
Paul hastened to add, however,
is by grace, the believer is bound by no
that all things were not neceslaw moral or otherwise and can do as he
sarily expedient, that is, benepleases.
ficial, helpful, appropriate and
However, the statement, All things are
productive. The apostle also
lawful unto me is not unconditional. It is
pointed out that he was deterqualified by the understanding that Chrismined not to allow anyone or
tians have the responsibility to love God
anything in this life to gain
and others as themselves (Mark 12:30, 31; 1
power over him. He had become
John 4:19, 21). So, even if there are no laws
prohibiting specific behaviors being cona free man through the salvasidered, the believer is at liberty to do
tion which he had received from
nothing that will dishonor God or harm
God, and he was not about to
his neighbor. Instead of freeing the Christsubmit to any habit, craving or
ian, in practice this old heresy is a false libaddiction or to any individual,
erty that will return the believer into the
whether saved or unsaved, that
bondage of sin (Rom. 6:14-18).
might hinder his Christian testimony.
Maintain Proper Perspectives (verse 13). Evidently, some of the members of the church in Corinth maintained that, since a believer could eat any
kind of food without committing a sin, the body could be used for any purpose
desired. Those saints advocated a fallacious logic. They argued that fornication and the body are similar to food and the stomach. Eventually, food and
the various body components will be done away with. That is not the case with
the body, however, as it will be raised by God in a glorified condition after a
believer has experienced physical death. (See verse 14.) Since the body is so

65 / 1 Corinthians 6:1-20
intertwined with ones identity, it is in a sense representative of the individual. Thus, there is a vast difference between a body, which is indicative of
ones being, and one of the body parts, such as the stomach. Similarly, there
is a vast difference between ones diet, which is only a relatively minor function, and fornication, which has far wider and deeper consequences.
Remember the Omnipotent God (verse 14). The critical role which the
believers body has in the plan of God was underscored by Pauls reminder to
the Corinthian saints of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As Jesus was raised
by the power of God, so are believers assured that we, too, shall be raised by
the omnipotent God. Since the believers body is destined to be glorified, we
must not assume that we can do as we please with our bodies without any
regard for the purpose of God. Note the contrast between the Greek words
rendered power in verses 12 and 14. In verse 12 the Greek root is exousia,
which essentially means authority, while the term in verse 14 is dunamis,
which denotes strength or ability.
Friday, July 8

Lesson 6
1 Corinthians 6:15-17

In these verses Paul continued to stress the importance of the believers

body. Once again what is so important about a saints body is that in the view
of most people ones body is associated with his life, that is, ones conduct,
identity and testimony.
The Fact of This Union (verse 15). The bodies of believers are the members of Christ. How staggering are the implications of this statement. It
means each believer belongs to Jesus Christ, body as well as spirit, as a hand
or foot belongs to ones physical body. In the physical realm it is impossible,
except for organ transplants which are not the norm, for one to take a component of his body and make it part of another persons body. This same principle also applies in the spiritual realm. This further means the believer
should regard his body as unable to do anything displeasing to the Lord, even
as ones hand or foot cannot act independently of the individual of which it is
part. As an application of this line of reasoning, Paul emphasized that a
believer should not take his bodyone of the members of Christand make
it part of a harlot.
The Nature of This Union (verse 16). The principle to which Paul alluded in this verse is from Genesis 2:24 in which the essence of marriage is
declared. Of course, ones involvement with a harlot is not the same as the
marital relationship, but the sexual implications are the same. In view of
Pauls observations in this verse, it is apparent that a man and woman
become one flesh through the sexual union, the reality that a man who
becomes involved with a harlot is one flesh with her even if he is married to
another woman. The illegitimacy and immorality of the matter do not negate
the undeniable fact of the issue. The irony which Paul depicted in this verse

The Problem of Unresolved Personal Disputes / 66

that someone whose body is a member of Christ (verse 15) would become one
flesh with a harlotis inescapable. Something so utterly illogical should be
absolutely unthinkable.
The Conclusion Regarding This Union (verse 17). This verse is a stark
contrast to what Paul taught in the preceding verse. A man who has sexual
relations with a harlot joins himself to her, and, in so doing, descends to her
level of degradation. The same is also true for a woman believer who commits
fornication. In contrast to the union between a believer and a harlot is the
joining of someone with Christ. This occurs when one trusts Christ as Savior.
The union that is thus consummated is not flesh with flesh, as in the case of
a man and a harlot, but spirit with spirit. Thus, a believer is one spirit with
Christ even as a fornicator is one flesh with a harlot. All those who are
joined with Christ should be one with Him in thought, desire, will and purpose. Union with Christ involves ones body because the body is the abode of
the spirit, as Paul will point out in verse 19.
Saturday, July 9

Lesson 6
1 Corinthians 6:18-20

In this passage Paul reached the conclusion and application of the line of
thought which he started in verse 13. Each believers individual body is
important for two reasons: (1) ones identity, including his testimony and
influence is integrally associated with the body, and (2) the body of each
believer is an individual dwelling place for the Holy Spirit because of the new
birth experience.
The Nature of Fornication (verse 18). Because of the insidious nature
and consequences of fornication, believers are emphatically warned to flee fornication. Some sins must be faced, fought and conquered. With fornication,
however, it is far better to avoid any circumstances and situations where
temptations will be present. Fornication should be determinedly shunned
because this sin, as no other sin, violates the body. This unfortunate reality is
most graphically realized in sexually transmitted diseases, many of which
cannot be completely eradicated. AIDS is the most tragic example of the bitter consequences which fornication can inflict upon its perpetrators. Other
sins, such as drug and alcohol abuse and extreme gluttony certainly affect the
body, but not in the same sense and to such an extent as fornication does.
The Sanctity of the Body (verse 19). Previously, Paul told the Corinthian believers their church was the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16, 17).
In verse 19, however, Paul reminded his readers that each of them was
indwelt by the Spirit. Therefore a believers body is the temple or dwelling
place of the Spirit. The Greek word for temple in this instance is naos, which
refers specifically to the sanctuary instead of the overall Temple complex.
Thus, the body of each saint is a Holy of Holies for the Holy Spirit. This
solemn reality stresses what Paul meant when he wrote, Now the body is not

67 / 1 Corinthians 6:1-20
for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body (verse 13). Since
this is true, no one should assume it does not matter how he lives, what he
does, where he goes because ye are not your own.
The Cost of Redemption (verse 20). That each believers body is a sanctuary for the Holy Spirit has a twofold implication: (1) that He is ours and (2)
that we are His. The Greek root of the verb bought is from the word for market place. The tense of that verb denotes completed action. The Greek word
for price often denotes something which is particularly precious or valuable.
The price to which Paul referred was the precious blood of Christ (1 Peter
1:18, 19). All of this alludes to the act of redemption, a process with which the
Corinthians were certainly familiar. A slave who had been redeemed was not
subject to any former master. Similarly, those who have been redeemed by the
precious blood of Christ belong to God in entirety, body as well as spirit.
Lesson 6

1 Corinthians 6:1-20

Serious problems among the Lords people are likely to develop when
believers disregard or abuse their relationships and responsibilities concerning fellow Christians and their relationship with God as the abode of the Holy
Spirit and their responsibility to glorify Him in body and spirit. If all saints
will acknowledge that ye are not your own, the matter of unresolved personal disputes will be essentially resolved.

Lesson 7

For Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Problem of Inappropriate

1 Corinthians 7:1-40

This chapter begins the third major division of this epistle. The matters
which Paul considered in the remainder of the letter evidently were issues
about which the members of the church in Corinth had asked him to address.
The first of those concerns dealt with marital relationships. Spouses and single people, parents and children, virgins and widowsall these were included
in Pauls observations in this chapter. The apostles overriding concern was for
believers to be able to serve God in the most effective manner.
Monday, July 11

Lesson 7


1 Corinthians 7:1-5

The institution of marriage has always played a vital role in the purposes
of God. Although customs regarding marriage vary from time to time and
place and place, there are some basic marital principles that do not change,
some of which Paul addressed in the first part of chapter 7.
Marriage and Moral Purity (verses 1, 2). In stating that it is good for
a man not to touch a woman, Paul was referring to sexual contact. This is a
broad, general, sweeping statement. Like most such statements there are
qualifications and exceptions because of the stipulations which follow immediately. Pauls observation that a man should not have any intimate involvement with a woman indicates unmarried people are potentially able to devote
substantial amounts of their time, energy, money and other resources to the
Lords cause. It goes without saying that men and women who are not married should not have any sexual relations at all; however, human nature is
such that most people cannot be fully satisfied without having an intimate
relationship with someone of the opposite sex. That is why Paul quickly added
the observations noted in verse 2. The prevention of fornication is not the only
reason why God established the institution of marriage, but that certainly is
one of the most practical considerations. The principle which Paul stated in

69 / 1 Corinthians 7:1-40


The Case for Marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1,

2, 7-9): Paul addresses the responsibilities
of marriage. Likely, due to the lax attitude
toward morals prevailing at Corinth, many
had neglected their marital duties.
In verse 7, the apostle indicates he is
unmarried. Probably due to persecution
and other hardships of the ministry, it was
his belief this was the ideal state for all
Christian workers to share; yet, according
to verses 7 to 9, the ability to remain single
is a gift most do not have. Without this
gift, remaining single will often lead to
sexual immorality. So, for most, marriage
is necessary to maintain sexual purity.
Moreover, it is praiseworthy in Gods sight
and recommended for most Christians.
Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed
undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge (Heb. 13:4).


Fasting and Prayer (1 Corinthians 7:5):

The Scripture speaks here of fasting and
prayer being practiced by married couples during periods of mutually agreed
upon abstention from sexual relations.
Fasting, or temporarily refraining from
food and drink, is frequently mentioned in
the Scriptures.
In the Old Testament, the phrase afflict
your souls is used of the practice (Lev.
16:29-31; 23:27; 1 Sam. 7:6; 2 Sam. 12:16, 2123; Neh. 1:4; Dan. 10:2, 3). Jesus fasted
forty days in the wilderness (Matt. 4:2) and
no doubt observed the practice required by
the Law; yet, He spoke against it as a public display of piety (Matt. 6:16-18). His disciples were criticized by those of John for
not fasting (Matt. 9:14, 15). The church at
Antioch fasted and prayed before sending
out missionaries (Acts 13:2, 3), and elders
were appointed in the early churches by
the same method (Acts 14:23).

Defraud: this term means to

rob, deprive one of something
or refuse. Paul wanted the
men and women who were
married to understand their
duty one to another.They were
not to steal or take something
away from the other that was
not theirs. In the marital relationship a spiritual oneness
exists.This oneness does not
allow for selfishness.The pagan
world viewed marriage in a
unholy manner. Do not steal
from another is the meaning.
Word Study #650.

verse 2 is applicable in every

age, in every place and in every
Marriage and Conjugal
Obligations (verses 3-5). Having acknowledged the necessity
and propriety of marriage, Paul
proceeded to address some marital responsibilities, particularly
because one of the reasons why
men and women become married
is so they can legitimately
engage in intimate relations.
Husbands and wives are to render to one another due benevolence (verse 3). The Greek word
for due denotes an obligation,
that which is owed. Benevolence
is from a term which literally
means good mind. The same
word is rendered good will in
Ephesians 6:7. A related term is
translated agree in Matthew
5:25. In a marriage, both spouses
should come to an acceptable
meeting of the minds regarding
their sexual intimacy. This
understanding must be one that
is agreeable to both parties

The Problem of Inappropriate Relationships / 70

because the sexual relationship involves both spouses (verse 4). The word for
power in verse 4 essentially means authority. Even though the husband is
the head of the home, the authority for sexual intimacy in a marriage is to be
a shared responsibility. In the first part of verse 5, Defraud ye not one the
other, Paul stated the application of the principle he enunciated in verse 4.
Note that defraud is from a word which basically means deprive. (Compare
1 Corinthians 6:7, 8.) Temporary exceptions to this principle can be permitted
when there are concerns that need to be resolved through prayerful deliberations.
Tuesday, July 12

Lesson 7
1 Corinthians 7:6-11

Paul followed his general instructions for husbands and wives with some
amplifications. One should keep in mind Pauls purpose in giving these additional instructions was to help each man and woman understand his individual role and responsibility in the plan of God.
An Important Distinction (verse 6). Paul prefaced his additional
instructions with a statement that has been the subject of much speculation.
Some people have assumed since Paul did not write these words by the commandment of God, this verse is not inspired in the same sense as are the rest
of the Scriptures and instead consists merely of some suggestions which God
allowed Paul to interject into this epistle. Such an assumption falls short of
understanding what Paul means in this verse. It certainly is true that verses
7-11 reflect some personal opinions of Paul, but these opinions were fully compatible with the teachings and purposes of God about marriage and related
issues. Paul might have written by permission, but he was still guided by the
Holy Spirit.
The Gift of Celibacy (verses 7, 8). When Paul wrote, For I would that all
men were even as I myself, he was referring to his being unmarried. Whether
he had ever been married is debatable. Some scholars believe he had been
married, but his wife refused to stay with him after he became a Christian.
Other authorities suggest he might have been a widower. Still other commentaries say there is no credible indication Paul was ever married. No one
knows for certain; however, this writer feels it is probable that Paul was never
married. It is certain Paul was not married when he was engaged in his missionary endeavors, and he considered his celibate condition one which
enabled him to be the most useful to the Lords work. It is also obvious Paul
felt as if he was given celibacy as a gift from God. Such a gift was not a spiritual gift, as some have conjectured, but a disposition or an attitude which
God impressed upon Paul for the specific reason of enhancing his usefulness
in serving the Lord and His churches. Other believers might have such a gift,
but it is not one which God would forcibly impose upon everyone.

71 / 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
Marriage Preferable to Immorality (verse 9). Here Paul reiterated something he had mentioned previously (verse 2). If unmarried people cannot be content to remain celibate, they should get married. To do so is far preferable to
struggling with sexual temptations. The word burn used in this context refers to
the passions of ungratified sexual desire. One should not assume from this verse
that believers who remain unmarried are more devout Christians than those
who get married. It is instead a matter of how one is constituted in attitude and
disposition, or to express it as Paul did, it has to do with whether one has the gift
of celibacy. Those who do should remain single; those who do not should get married. Neither condition is more or less spiritual than the other.
Instructions Regarding Spouses Who Desert (verses 10, 11). In view of
Pauls observations regarding the possible advantage that some unmarried people could have in serving the Lord, some of the members of the Corinthian
church might have concluded that they should leave their spouses to make
themselves more acceptable in the service of God. Moreover, the people whom
Paul addressed in verses 10 and 11 were those with believing spouses because
in verse 12 Paul turned his attention to those who had unbelieving spouses.
What Paul set forth in verses 10 and 11 was specifically from the Lord and
included two basic provisions.
1. It is not necessary for a wife or husband to leave a believing spouse to serve
2. In the event someone feels he can serve God more acceptably separated
from a believing spouse, a separation is permissible. In such a case there should
not be any remarriage, but if desired, a reconPut Away: this is one of two
ciliation with the separated spouses would be
words translated divorce in the
in order.
Bible. Here it is translated put
It should be obvious that any separation
away. It is not the same as put
away in 1 Corinthians 5:13.
under the circumstances of these verses
(See Lesson 5 Word Study.) It
should be relatively rare and exceptional.
means to give up or let go or
Moreover, anyone contemplating such a sepato leave unhindered. It is used
ration is obligated to the other spouse and to
in the sense of divorce.Word
God to be absolutely truthful in declaring the
Study #863.
reason for the separation.

Wednesday, July 13

Lesson 7
1 Corinthians 7:12-16

To have a happy, successful marriage is sometimes difficult even under the

most favorable circumstances. Unions between believers and unbelievers can be
especially stressful. This is why it is far better for a Christian to marry someone
who is also a believer in Christ. Evidently, some of the Corinthian saints who
had unbelieving spouses wondered whether they should remain married.

The Problem of Inappropriate Relationships / 72

Divorce Not Required or Even Recommended (verses 12, 13). The
word rest refers to the married people who were not addressed in verses 10
and 11, which means that Pauls remarks in verses 12-16 were directed to
married people with an unbelieving spouse. The fact that the apostle said that
these words were his instead of the Lords does not mean that what Paul had
to say on this matter was not inspired by God. While these views were expressions of Pauls personal opinions, he still wrote as the Holy Spirit guided him.
(See comments on verse 6.) The substance of verses 12 and 13 is that a Christian who has an unbelieving spouse need not divorce him. In fact, Paul
encouraged such people to keep their union intact if possible. A mixed marriage is likely to have some problems, but for a believer to get a divorce simply because his spouse is unsaved could very well cause even more problems.
The overriding concerns in this matter, as in all the relations which Paul discussed in this chapter, are how can the Christian serve God most effectively
and what situation will enable the believer to witness for God most positively?
Unbelieving Spouse Sanctified by Believing Spouse (verses 14, 15).
In these verses Paul gave an excellent reason why a Christian should not seek
to divorce an unbelieving spouse. If any of the members of the church in
Corinth feared a union with an unbeliever might cause defilement in any
manner, Paul let them know such would not necessarily be the case. It is
entirely possible the unsaved spouse would be the greater beneficiary. That
was true whether it was the wife or the husband who was the unbeliever, and
the same is also true today. Because an unsaved spouse and the children of a
mixed marriage are sanctified does not mean they are automatically saved by
virtue of their relationship with
a Christian spouse or parent. It
means instead that the unsaved
by the Believing Spouse (1
members of a home, whether a
Corinthians 7:14-16): Even as Jacob blessed
spouse or children, enjoy some
the house of Laban and Joseph the house
measure of the blessings of God
of Potiphar (Gen. 30:27; 39:5), the unbelievsimply because of their relationing spouse may receive the blessings of
ship with a believer. They are
salvation by the witness and example of a
dedicated Christian mate. Accordingly, the
sanctified or holythese words
Christian woman is admonished to use her
are from the same basic term in
life to win her husband to the Lord. LikeGreekin the sense that they
wise, ye wives, be in subjection to your
are set apart for divine blessings.
own husbands; that, if any obey not the
To become saved, however, each
word, they also may without the word be
individual must trust Jesus as
won by the conversation of the wives;
while they behold your chaste conversaSavior for himself. If an unbetion coupled with fear. But let it be the hidlieving spouse is not content to
den man of the heart, in that which is not
live with a Christian spouse, the
corruptible, even the ornament of a meek
believer is not obligated to try to
and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of
keep the marriage intact (verse
God of great price (1 Peter 3:1, 2, 4).

73 / 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
An Opportunity for Witnessing (verse 16). This verse can perhaps be
understood better if verse 15 is regarded as a parenthetical passage. From
such an observation, it follows that the most critical reason for a Christian
spouse to stay with an unbeliever is that the believer might be able to lead
the unsaved mate to a saving knowledge of Christ. The apostle Peter
addressed this same matter in 1 Peter 3:1, 2. Two things about that reference
should be noted. First, Peters counsel to wives is also applicable to husbands.
Moreover, it is indeed significant that ones overall life-stylehis daily conductis likely to be what will win an unbelieving spouse to the Lord. The
same principle is also applicable for parents and children. The most effective
way to witness is by a consistent Christian testimony.
Thursday, July 14

Lesson 7
1 Corinthians 7:17-24

This passage is part of a set of instructions which Paul issued. The essence
of what he taught on this matter is that believers are to be willing to serve
God regardless of their status or standing in physical circumstances. No one
should use conditions or relationships as an excuse for not serving God.
No Legitimate Excuses (verses 17-19). The Greek word for distributed
in verse 17 essentially means to be divided into parts. Used in this instance,
it recognizes God is the ultimate sovereign in the universe and it is through
His permissive will that one occupies whatever station in life he might hold.
The calling which is mentioned in this verse is the summons to divine service.
Thus, the substance of what Paul taught in verses 17-19 is that one can serve
God regardless of his physical or material circumstances. The references to
circumcision and uncircumcision speak of Jewish identity or the lack of it. As
a whole, the Jews considered themselves to be more virtuous than the Gentiles; however, Paul wanted all the Corinthian believers to understand ones
physical background or heritage was of no advantage in serving God. Gentile,
or uncircumcised, believers could serve God as acceptably as Jewish, or circumcised believers. The reference to the commandments of God in verse 19
speak of Gods will for believers in this dispensation. Although the Law of
Moses was fulfilled by Christ and nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14), God still has
expectations for His people. These dos and donts are not essentials for salvation, but the means by which believers serve God acceptably.
Seize Opportunities for Improvement (verses 20-22). In the preceding
passage Paul exhorted believers to serve God regardless of their standing or
status in life. In these verses the apostle encouraged Christians to take
advantage of any opportunities that might arise by which their situation can
be improved. In so doing they would also be able to make their service to God
more productive or effective, at least potentially speaking. In Pauls time slavery was one of the most limited, restrictive conditions that could be imposed
on anyone; however, a slave who was a Christian was regarded by God as a

The Problem of Inappropriate Relationships / 74

free person. The restrictions of slavery did not keep anyone from serving God
because in Christ all believers are free. God certainly knows what one can or
cannot do, and He will not impose upon anyone an impossible task. Not only
are all believers free in Christ, but all believers are also the servants of God
through Christ. Each individual is obligated to accomplish the work God has
for him to do. In Gods sight we are all free, and we are all servants as well.
Neither group has any advantage or disadvantage over the other. Therefore,
we should abide in the same calling by serving God regardless of our circumstances (verse 20), but, like the slaves of Pauls day, we should seize any opportunity to improve our status, or standing, in life, thereby enabling us to serve
God even more effectively (verse 21).
Serve God, Not Men (verse 23, 24). In verse 23, Paul continued to address
the servant-master relationship which exists between believers and the Lord.
Pauls reminder that the Corinthian saints had been bought with a price
echoed what he had told them previously. (Review comments on 1 Corinthians 6:20 in Lesson 6.) People who had been purchased were slaves and as
such they were obligated to serve their master. Spiritually, believers belong to
Christ because of the awesome price which He paid. Since that is so, we
should not allow ourselves to become obligated to any other master. In verse
24, Paul emphasized once again what he had already mentioned twice in this
chapter (verses 17, 20). However, in this instance the apostle prefaced his
exhortation with the term brethren. In so doing he emphasized he was one of
them and the instructions he had for them applied to him as well. Even
though Paul had apostolic authority, he was still a servant of the Lord and
was on the same footing as all other believers. In the Greek version the
expression abide with God is literally abide beside God always remaining at
His side and always ready to do His bidding.
Friday, July 15

Lesson 7
1 Corinthians 7:27-35

In these verses Paul continued to urge his readers always to keep themselves in a position to serve God most effectively. Note that Paul was not
downplaying the importance of marriage, but was underscoring the importance of serving the Lord without any distractions. (Note: The commentary on
verses 25 and 26, which deal with virgins, will be included with the discussion
of verses 36-40.)
Stay the Course (verses 27, 28). Paul did not want any misunderstandings. Since he had emphasized it was better for a person to remain unmarried
(verse 8), some of the members of the church in Corinth might have concluded they should divorce their wives so that they could serve God more effectively; however, that was not what Paul advocated in his clarification in verse
27. He told his readers to stay the course. One who was married should con-

75 / 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
tinue to live with his wife and honor his marital commitments. One who was
not married should not seek a wife, unless, of course, he felt a strong compulsion to get married (verse 28, also see verses 2, 9). Paul encouraged unmarried people to remain single because he wanted to spare them the problems
which they were likely to encounter as a result of their marriage. This probably had a particular application for the Corinthians and their specific situation. Since the Christian movement was still relatively new, many of the family members of these saints continued to be unbelievers. To be a faithful
Christian meant these Corinthians had to make some significant changes in
the cultural and ethical aspects of their conduct. Opposition in such matters
from ones family could be intense and even more so from two families.
Stay Focused (verses 29-31). In these verses Paul urged the Corinthian
believers to keep their focus on serving God because the time is short (verse
29). The apostles reference to the brevity of the time probably had a twofold
implication. First, Paul, like the other writers of the New Testament, did not
know when Christ would return. As far as they were concerned, He could
have returned at any time, even during their lifetime. In addition, the members of the church in Corinth, like the other early Christians, were always
faced with the likelihood of intense persecution. Since any subsequent opportunities for them to witness for God and serve Him without serious opposition could have been considerably limited, they needed to focus on the work
God had for them at that time. Paul emphasized his point in this passage by
including a litany of five paradoxical statementsthey that have wives be as
though they had none, they that weep, as though they wept not. The purpose of these contrasts was to emphasize the transitory nature of this world,
its relationships and all that is associated with the world. Since we believers
have to continue to live in this world until God takes us to be with Him, we
should make the best we can of the earthly life. Such endeavors might or
might not include getting married and having a family.
Avoid Entanglements (verses 32-34). In these verses Paul returned to
the specific subject of the benefits of celibacy, especially for the Corinthian
believers (verse 32). The Greek word for carefulness essentially means to be
distracted. Jesus used this term to describe Marthas undue anxiety over
meal preparations (Luke 10:41). The fact that she was overly careful not only
caused her to become entangled with many things, but she also wanted Mary
to become similarly ensnared (Luke 10:40-42). Paul reminded the Corinthian
believers that married people had responsibilities involving their spouses as
well as regarding God (verse 33). Note again that getting married was not the
problem. The issue was how the responsibilities of marriage impacted ones
service to God. One might conclude from what Paul wrote in verse 34 that the
marital state is defiled while that of celibacy is not. An unmarried person can
be holy in body and in spirit because he can devote all his time and energies
to serve the Lord. A married woman has to be concerned about the things of

The Problem of Inappropriate Relationships / 76

the world in the sense that she has a husband, and probably children also,
who have physical and material needs and interests which she must help
meet. Marriage certainly obligates, but it does not necessarily defile.
Avoid Distractions (verse 35). Once again, Paul reiterated that his overriding concern in this entire discussion regarding marital relations was what
will enable one to serve God most productively. Each individual needed to consider privately and personally what Paul wrote, understanding clearly the
apostle did not intend to set anyone up to become ensnared in a situation
which was not right for him. Instead, what he wanted for each of the Corinthian believers was what was most appropriate (comely) for him. A consideration which evidently was not a factor in Pauls discussion of this matter with
the Corinthians, but is very much a factor in other settings and cultures, is
that for some people marriage enables them to serve God more effectively
than if they were to remain single.
Saturday, July 16

Lesson 7
1 Corinthians 7:25, 26, 36-40

Two primary issues are addressed in these verses: whether or not a virgin
should be married and whether or not one is free to marry again after the
death of a spouse. Pauls observation in both matters is consistent with what
he has maintained thus far, which is that it is all right to get married, but it
is better to remain unmarried.
Pauls Recommendation (verses 25, 26). Again Paul gave a recommendation regarding marriage. Even though this was an apostolic recommendation and not a divine commandment, the Corinthians should have considered
it very seriously because Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to offer it. Note
that Paul also stated his observation was based on the Lords having enabled
him to be faithful to his commitment to remain single and devote all his time
and energies to the service of God and His churches (verse 25). Once again,
there is the implication that Pauls recommendation had particular application to the situation in the city of Corinth, indicated by his mention of the
present distress (verse 26). Because of that situation a person who was not
married was encouraged by Paul to remain single. Undoubtedly, there have
been and are even today many other situations in which it is best for people
to remain celibate. Moreover, there have always been individuals who feel
they can serve God better by being unmarried. Pauls exhortation is certainly
valid for them.
To Marry or Not to Marry (verses 36-38). In this passage Paul addressed
the issue of whether or not a virgin should be permitted to get married. First,

77 / 1 Corinthians 7:1-40
note that in Bible times virginsand all unmarried women, for that matter
were throughout their entire lives under the guardianship of a man such as
her father, a brother or an uncle. That is why virgins had to get permission
from someone to marry. The substance of what Paul taught on this matter in
these verses is as follows:
1. If a virgins guardian thought he was acting inappropriately (behaveth
himself uncomely) by not allowing her to get marriedespecially if she was
getting older (pass the flower of her age) and desired to have a husband
(need so require)he should permit her to marry (verse 36).
2. If there were not the constraints mentioned in verse 36that is, the virgin had not passed the flower of her age, and she had no desire to marry
then it would be better for the girl not to get married (verse 37).
3. Either decisionto marry or not to marrywas acceptable as far as the
larger plan of God is concerned, but Pauls recommendation was that, due to
the particular situation at that time and place, it would be better for virgins,
like other unmarried people, to remain single (verse 38).
Free to Marry (verses 39, 40). These verses seem to constitute something
of an appendix or afterthought which Paul included before closing his discussion of marriage. In verse 8 the apostle had stated he felt widows should
remain unmarried; however, he wanted widows to understand that with the
death of their husband, they were no longer obligated to their marriage vows.
That meant they were free to marry again if they chose to do so. There was,
however, one stipulation upon which Paul insisted, which was that they were
to marry only in the Lord
(verse 39). To marry in the Lord
is to marry a believer. UnquesMarrying in the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:39):
tionably, it would be best if all
In the choice of ones life partner, the blessings of God are only assured to those who
Christians married other believseek Gods will and are willing to obey
ers, but this is even more imperHim in this most important decision. The
ative for older people because
widow was permitted to remarry whom
their attitudes and dispositions
she desired only in the Lord. By this it is
are not as open to changed cirmeant she would marry another believer.
This principle applies to all Christians
cumstances and situations. In
in their choice of marriage. Be ye not
closing this discussion Paul once
unequally yoked together with unbelievagain expressed his view that
ers: for what fellowship hath righteousness
widows like all other unmarried
with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what
people were better served by
agreement hath the temple of God with
remaining single. Even though
idols? for ye are the temple of the living
that was a personal opinion, it
God; as God hath said, I will dwell in
was an observation which was
them, and walk in them; and I will be their
guided by the Holy Spirit, and
God, and they shall be my people (2 Cor.
6:14, 16).
as such, should be considered
very seriously.

The Problem of Inappropriate Relationships / 78

Lesson 7

1 Corinthians 7:1-40

In conjunction with ones study of this chapter, four broad principles about
marriage need to be acknowledged.
1. Marriage was established by God, and each union should continue until
it is severed by death (Gen. 2:21-24).
2. It is best if Christians marry other believers. (Compare 1 Corinthians
3. Individuals are free to choose whether or not they marry; however, there
should never be any premarital or extramarital sexual relations (1 Cor. 7:2,
4. Every decision regarding marriage should be considered in the light of
what is best for the cause of Christ.

Lesson 8

For Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Problem of Abused Liberty

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

With the fulfillment of the Law by the life and death of Jesus, a new era
began in regard to the manner in which the people of God serve and worship.
The demands of the Law had been met, and there was a sense of liberty that
had never been known by believers. Some Christians were slow to grasp those
liberties and tried to cling to some of the provisions of the Law. Others eagerly embraced their new liberties and threw caution to the wind about what the
consequences of their actions might be. This lesson points out a middle ground
that can be beneficial to all believers.
Monday, July 18

Lesson 8


1 Corinthians 8:1-3

The freedom which believers enjoy in Christ is based on their knowledge of

the way, will and Word of God. Knowledge, however, could lead to an inconsiderate, self-centered attitude. In addition to knowledge there must also be a
concern for other believers.
Knowledge Puffs Up, Love Builds Up (verse 1). In addition to questions
about marriage, the members of the church in Corinth had asked Paul
whether a believer should eat meat that had been dedicated to an idol. The
apostle couched his response in a setting which emphasized the motivation
for ones action instead of the action itself.
Idols: an idol is anything made or
That is why his answer to the Corinthians
imagined that is worshiped in
inquiry seems to start in a circuitous manthe place of the Almighty God.
ner. These saints would have quickly assertThis term refers to anything
ed not only had they forsaken the worship of
offered by way of sacrifice to
idols, but they also no longer believed in the
an idol. It is the meat brought
existence of any false gods. Such knowledge
to the idols of the Greeks.This
meat would be unclean
was commendable; however, how some of
because its purpose was to
the Corinthian believers conducted themhonor a pagan god. Isaiah 40
selves about that knowledge was not so
45 tells of the emptiness of
commendable. They had become puffed up;
idol worship.Word Study
that is, they were inordinately proud of
their understanding and attitude regarding

The Problem of Abused Liberty / 80

the idols which some of them had once worEdifieth: see the word study on
shiped. Paul reminded his readers that
Gods building in 1 Corinthians
something in addition to knowledge was
3:9.The word edify means to
needed. They needed to deal with one anothencourage or build up. It is a
er in love. The Greek word for charity is
permanent building up comagape, which is love that is based on principared to a temporary building.
ple. Such love edifies or builds up because it
The sense here is the promotion of the good qualities found
is concerned about the needs of others, even
in a child of God which comes
to the point of being self-sacrificing.
because of love.Word Study
Insufficient Knowledge (verse 2). In
this verse Paul sounded a note of warning
regarding knowledge. The problem is that,
as far as human beings are concerned, ones knowledge on any given matter
is incomplete. God is the only omniscient Being in the universe. For humans,
the realization that ones knowledge is incomplete or insufficient is humbling
indeed. Seemingly, such a spirit of humility was in short supply in the church
in Corinth, as was reflected in
the many problems which had
beset this congregation. The
Knowledge and Charity (1 Corinthians
Corinthian believers were not to
8:1-3): While Christian love does not
consider their insufficient knowlrejoice in error (1 Cor. 13:6), knowledge
edge as a matter of little imporwithout charity leads to human pride and
tance. Paul told them they should
arrogance. This was the sin of the Pharhave known more than they did.
isees who knew much about God and the
They were spiritually immature
Law, but who did not know or care about
the love of God as it related to Christ,
and acted childishly because they
themselves or their lost neighbors ( John
did not know nearly as much as
3:16; Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:20, 21). On the
they thought they knew and they
other hand, when love is joined to knowlrefused to add to their knowledge, it builds others up instead of tearing
edge. Some of the members of the
them down.
church in Corinth knew what
Put in another way, knowledge that
they believed about eating meat
brings forth pride lacks the true love of
God. When a man humbly loves God, He
that had been dedicated to idols,
is known to others by this love. We need
but they did not know what othto know the Bible; yet, such knowledge,
ers thought about it. They knew
especially when dealing with young
that an idol is nothing and that
believers must be seasoned with love to be
eating food that had been sacripalatable and profitable to others.
ficed to the idol was of no consequence. What they did not know,
however, was that some of their brethren had tender consciences about this
Knowledge Guided by Love (verse 3). Unquestionably, knowledge is
important. Even more important than knowledge, however, is love. In most
interpersonal relationships, one is better off to be less knowledgeable and
more loving than to be more knowledgeable and less loving. Knowledge is best

81 / 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
when guided by love. Greek scholars are not in agreement about the
antecedent of the term the same in this verse. Some hold that the same refers
back to the word man and his love for God, while others insist that it refers
to God Himself. It seems to this writer that in view of the overall context of
this passage, which is that of interpersonal relationships among believers,
that Paul had in mind the love that believers have for God. If that is the case,
this verse could be paraphrased to read something like this: But if any man
loves God, the fact that he does so is known of him (that is, is evident to others). The church in Corinth was having some serious problems because some
of the members of that congregation were not guided by love in their dealings
with one another. If they truly loved God, they would have loved their
brethren as well, and their attitude and actions would have given evidence of
such love.
Tuesday, July 19

Lesson 8
1 Corinthians 8:4-6

By nature human beings are religious because there is an innate desire to

know God within each individual (thus, atheists are made not born). Unfortunately, the worship of the true God is not as universal as the desire to know
Him because Satan has distorted mans religious instincts and inclinations.
An Idol Is Nothing (verse 4). In this verse Paul actually began his
answer to the question about
eating food that had been dedianna
cated to idols with his discusThings Offered to Idols (1 Corinthians
sion of the relationship of
8:1, 4, 10): In the temple of the goddess
knowledge and love having proAphrodite on the Acrocorinthus, a tall
vided the basis for what he
mountain above Corinth, meat sacrifices
wanted to say on the matter.
were regularly made to this goddess and
That the apostle was especially
other pagan deities. Sometimes the porcareful in the manner in which
tions remaining after the sacrifices were
he responded is a clear indicaused in feasts to honor these gods. Those
who had made the sacrifices invited their
tion of how controversial the
friends to the pagan banquets. Meat left
matter was among the Corinthiover after these feasts was taken home by
an believers. Paul first wrote
the hosts and guests for their later conthat an idol is nothing. This does
not mean that there are no idols
This led to controversy in the church at
in the world, but that the idols
Corinth. Some of the believers felt at liberty to attend these banquets and others
which men have made are of no
were eating the meat sold in the shambles
efficacy. The true nature of idols
or market places in Corinth (1 Cor. 10:25),
can be seen in Isaiah 44:9-17.
without considering its effect on their felFrom this passage it is clear
low Christians. Even innocent mistakes
any idol or graven image is
can cause great harm.
the product of human hands.

The Problem of Abused Liberty / 82

The maker of a product is undeniably greater than that which is produced.
Whether the idol is of wood, metal or stone, its existence is evidence of a being
that has sufficient intellectual and physical capabilities to fashion such an
object. Once an idol has been constructed, it can be altered or destroyed by its
maker or by anyone else who might have possession of it. An idol could have
some value because of its components or craftsmanship, but it is nothing
No Other God (verse 4). In the last part of this versethere is none
other God but onePaul emphatically set forth the positive side of the issue.
On the one hand an idol is nothing; on the other hand, the true God, the God
of Heaven and earth, is the only God. In the matter of deities, it is not a question of which one is superior. Instead, the issue is which one of the many
deities that are acknowledged by human beings is real. That question was settled once for all in the days of the prophet Elijah when he challenged the
prophets of Baal to a prayer duel on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:17-40). The
prophets of Baal were unable to evoke a response from their god; however, the
true God answered Elijahs prayer by sending down fire from Heaven. The
people who witnessed demonstration of divine presence and power exclaimed,
The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God (1 Kings 18:39). That was
true in Elijahs time; it was true in Pauls day, and it is true today also.
Many False Gods (verse 5). In verses 5 and 6, Paul reiterated his assertion that idols are nothing, and there is only one true God. While it is true that
false gods do not really exist in the fullest sense of the term, they do exist in
the minds of many people. That is why Paul conceded there be gods many,
and lords many. The existence of these many false deities have validity only
in the minds of their adherents. Many of the people of Pauls time worshiped
the gods and goddesses of Greek and Roman mythology. Even though elaborate worship systems had been built around the veneration of Jupiter, Mercury, Apollo and Venus, there were no beings in existence that corresponded
to these so-called deities. Some of the false gods, such as Jupiter and the other
major deities, were considered to be in Heaven, while the minor gods, such as
those that inhabit forests, streams and fountains, were regarded as earth
dwellers. The false gods might have been many in number, but they were
nothing in reality.
The One True God (verse 6). In contrast to all the false gods is the one
true God. In this verse Paul stressed that, even though there is only one God,
He is manifest by different functions. As the Father, He is the Creator of all
things, including mankind. The expression by whom are all things indicates
that the one true God is the ultimate source for all that is in the universe. The
phrase and we by him refers generally to the fact that God created man and
that believers are a spiritual creation of God. In addition to His activities as
the Father, God is also the Lord Jesus Christ. Often considered the second person in the Trinity, Jesus Christ is the Savior of all who trust Him. Two statements were made about His functions which parallel what was said about the
Father by whom are all things, and we by him. The first of these expressions

83 / 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
indicate in the expressions the Son was the agent for the Father in the creation. All things are of, literally out of the Father, but are by, literally
through or by means of Jesus Christ. The phrase and we by him denotes
spiritual creation, like the rest of the creation, is through the Son. In the
minds of men there might be many gods and many lords, but in reality there
is only one true God who is the supreme sovereign in the universe and the
Savior of all who trust Him for salvation.
Wednesday, July 20

Lesson 8
1 Corinthians 8:7, 8

The membership of the Corinthian church seems to have consisted largely

of Gentile believers who had come to Christ out of paganism. In many
instances, the extended families of these saints were still involved with false
religion. Some of them evidently were not yet clear in their own minds
regarding the implications of idolatrous rituals, especially as they affected
Limited Knowledge (verse 7). On the surface it might seem as if Pauls
assertion in verse 1, we all have knowledge, was contradictory with his concession in verse 7, there is not in every man that knowledge. This was not a
contradiction, but another example of Pauls use of irony or gentle sarcasm.
His statement in verse 1 was what the people claimed for themselves while
his statement in verse 7 was what the situation really was. Although many of
the Corinthian saints boasted about how knowledgeable they were in issues
pertaining to idol rituals and other such matters, some of them were not as
knowledgeable as they tried to appear. They knew that idols were wrong and
it was wrong to worship them. They also knew Jesus Christ was the true God,
and they needed to worship Him. They were not certain, however, on how to
maintain a separated life-style in an idolatrous culture.
Weak Consciences (verse 7). It is not clear how the meat under consideration in this lesson had been sacrificed to idols. Perhaps some of the animals offered to the false gods were not actually consumed as sacrifices, but
were instead sold in the marketplaces to generate income for the idolatrous
temples. Possibly, some of those who operated the meat shops dedicated all
their merchandise to a false god with a portion of the proceeds designated for
the temple treasury. Regardless of how the meat got to the marketplaces, the
fact remained that at least some of it had some kind of identification with
idolatry. Some believers considered such meat unfit for Christians to consume. To do so would give some degree of acknowledgment to the idol with
which it had been associated. Paul said such people had a weak conscience.
The Greek word for conscience essentially means a knowing with oneself.
Generally speaking, the conscience is a reliable guide (John 8:9), unless it has
become seared (1 Tim. 4:2) or defiled (Titus 1:15). A weak conscience is one

The Problem of Abused Liberty / 84

that is not certain whether an act is right or wrong. One should not disregard
the impulses of a weak conscience because doing so is likely to make it a
defiled conscience.
Ones Standing with God (verse 8). In this verse Paul emphasized that
the problem with eating meat that had been dedicated to idols was not the
meat itself, but how the believers who
became involved in these matters were
Commendeth: the idea here is
affected. Whether one ate such meat or
that food will not bring us to a
place beside God.The fellowavoided it did not affect his standing with
ship one has with God
God. An open-minded believer might have
depends on faith and not the
claimed eating meat denoted a higher level
intimacy brought about by the
of spiritual understanding and maturity
eating or practicing of particuwhile someone with serious doubts about
lar food or rituals. Legalism
the matter might have insisted abstinence
does not bring one to a place
to stand beside God, instead it
from the questionable meat proved he was
is faith.The things of this world
the stronger, more dedicated Christian. Neido not commend us to God.
ther of these positions was necessarily corThis term tells of that drawing
rect because the true gauge of ones spiritunear.Word Study #3936.
ality was not reflected in his actions regarding meat that had been dedicated to idols.
This same issue was addressed by Paul in the epistle of Romans. He put matters in proper perspective by asserting that the kingdom of God is not meat
and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Rom.
Thursday, July 21

Lesson 8

1 Corinthians 8:9-11
Two critical lessons for believers to grasp are that Christian liberty does
not mean absolute freedom and personal privacy is not always inviolable.
There are times when ones actions might be completely acceptable under
some circumstances but not under others.
Do Not Offend the Weak (verse 9). The expression take heed indicates
that what Paul had to say on this matter was very serious. The Greek word
for liberty is exousia, a term which is usually rendered authority (Matt. 21:23)
or power (Matt. 9:6). We get such words as execute and executor from this term.
Probably Paul used this word because some of the Corinthian believers insisted they had a right to do as they pleased with meat which had been dedicated to idols. The apostle reminded them, however, that their right or freedom
was not the only issue that was involved. There was also the effect their
actions would have on other believers. The word stumblingblock denotes
something which lies in a pathway and can cause an unwary person to stumble and fall. The Greek word for weak literally means to be without strength.

85 / 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
The weak brethren to whom Paul referred
were believers who had remained babes in
Christ (1 Cor. 3:1-3). Their spiritual immaturity kept them from understanding fully
that, since idols are nothing, the meat that
had been dedicated to them could be eaten
by Christians.
Do Not Embolden the Weak (verse 10).
Evidently, some of the members of the
church in Corinth went beyond eating meat
which had been dedicated to idols and then
sold in the marketplace by attending activitiessuch as guild meetings or other social
functionsthat occurred in the pagan temples. Since such gatherings were
often held in open courtyards, the participants were likely to be seen by
passers-by. The conscience of a believer who was struggling with the issue of
idols and meat from the pagan temples could possibly be detrimentally affected if he saw another believer
participating in any temple
functions. The Greek word for
Causing the Weak To Perish (1 Corinthiemboldened is oikodomeo, which
ans 8:11): The Greek word rendered here
is usually rendered in a positive
perish and in Romans 14:15 as destroy does
sense as build (Matt. 16:18) or
not refer to the destruction of the eternal
(1 Thess. 5:11). The most
spirit of the believer. Since the believer
hath everlasting life, and shall not come
literal meaning of oikodomeo is
into condemnation; but is passed from
to build a house. Pauls use of
death unto life (John 5:24), the security of
the term in 1 Corinthians 8:10
the believer is not under discussion here.
is an exceptional instance. He
Instead the weak brother perish refers to
the testimony and possibly even to the
said that the Corinthian saints
physical life of the immature believer. They who disregarded the weak conmay be influenced by careless brethren
sciences of their immature
toward extreme conduct that would bring
brethren were helping them
great harm. Specifically, Pauls concern
build up a resistance to their
was the liberty exercised by some in eating
meat sacrificed to idols would cause
consciences. Eating meat that
immature believers to stumble when they
had been dedicated to idols was
observed mature brethren doing this. As a
likely to be only the beginning of
result, the younger Christian would possia series of detrimental attitudes
bly backslide into sin. Their witness would
and actions which could have
perish. This condition could even lead to
the loss of their physical lives as it had
serious, far-reaching consedone with others (Acts 5:5, 10; 1 Cor.
11:30). Mature believers have a great
Do Not Destroy a Brother
responsibility toward their younger broth(verse 11). In this verse Paul
ers and sisters in Christ (Gal. 6:1, 2).
couched an exhortation in the
Take Heed: this common term
means to see or perceive
something; to look and gaze
upon something until you discern it. We are to be aware of
the things around us.We are to
take heed to the sinister evils
that come into our world.We
must sense and know the
things that cause us to stumble.We must understand the
warning in this usage.Word
Study #991.

The Problem of Abused Liberty / 86

form of a rhetorical question. He told the members of the Corinthian church
they should not permit their assumed superior knowledge to cause any of
their weaker brethren to perish, especially because Christ had died for the
brother whom they regarded so disdainfully. The word perish, as used in the
Scriptures, generally means to come to ruin. In the case of an unbeliever,
perish denotes eternal separation from God. For a believer, perish speaks of
the failure to grow into spiritual maturity, and, if there is not an upward or
onward progression, it is almost certain there will be a regression. Thus, a
weak conscience is likely to become defiled (verse 7; Titus 1:15). (Note:
Whether the conscience of a believer can become so defiled to become seared
[1 Tim. 4:2] is debatable in view of the overall context of the reference in 1
Timothy; however, a defiled conscience is bad enough.) By referring to the perishing of a believer, Paul alluded to a downward spiral. For example, someone
who had not worked through the implications of eating meat dedicated to
idols might decide to participate in additional temple rituals, or he might try
to justify involvement in fornication or other serious sins.
Friday, July 22

Lesson 8
1 Corinthians 8:12

One of the most serious aspects of sin is that ultimately it is against God.
David acknowledged this reality in his prayer of confession following his sin
with Bath-sheba when he remorsefully exclaimed to the Lord, Against thee,
thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight (Psalm 51:4). David
had sinned against Bath-sheba; he had sinned against Uriah, Bath-shebas
husband, and he had sinned against his people, the Israelites, but his sin was
mostly against God.
Wounding Weak Consciences. As noted previously, the word weak essentially denotes something that is without strength. A weak conscience is one
which is unable to determine whether an action or activity is right or wrong.
The Greek term for wound is a strong word that denotes the effects of harsh
blows struck by a hand, fist and rod. For a supposedly mature believer intentionally to wound a brother or sister with a weak conscience is a serious
offense indeed. Eating meat that had been dedicated to idols was a critical
problem among the early churches because Paul also mentioned this matter
in the fourteenth chapter of his epistle to the church in Rome. This matter is
not a concern among todays churches; however, the principle of making certain that believers with weak consciences are not offended is valid in all times
and places.
Sinning Against Christ. When Paul reminded the Corinthian believers
that their abuse of brethren with weak consciences was actually a sin against
Christ Himself, one has to wonder whether he recalled the words which

87 / 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Christ pointedly directed to him at the Damascus Road incident, Saul, Saul,
why persecutest thou me? (Acts 9:4). Saul, as he was known then, was leading the Jewish Sanhedrins persecution against the churches in Judea and
the surrounding regions. The sufferings which Saul and his associates meted
out to the Christians were also deeply felt by Jesus, and that is true when any
of His followers are afflicted. In the case of the Corinthian believers, the sufferings were of a different nature and for a different purpose, but they
intensely affected Jesus nonetheless. The concern that Jesus has for immature Christians can also be seen in Matthew 18:6.
Saturday, July 23

Lesson 8
1 Corinthians 8:13

How wonderful it must have been for the early Christians who had come
out of the legalism of Judaism or the oppression of paganism to experience
the liberty they enjoyed as believers in Jesus Christ. Equally important was
the need for them to temper the exercise of their liberty with Christian love.
The Possibility of Offending a Brother. In the first part of this verse
Paul acknowledged that some people might be offended if other believers ate
food that had been dedicated to idols. The Greek for word offend alludes to the
triggering mechanism of a trap to which the bait is attached. When the trigger is tripped, the trap is sprung, thus ensnaring the victim. Paul taught that
certain actions of relatively mature Christians can cause weaker believers to
become caught in the sin of defiling their consciences. When such a situation
develops, the matter becomes escalated into something more serious and
more consequential than the original issues. In exercising Christian liberty,
one must always be concerned about the possible effects his actions could
have on other people.
Avoiding the Offense. As far as Paul was concerned, the solution to the
problem which he addressed in this chapter was simple: he would not eat
meat that had been dedicated to idols. This does not mean that Paul had
become a vegetarian. He was not swearing off all meat, but only the meat that
was questionable as far as weaker believers were concerned. For Paul, the
spiritual well being of other Christians was far more important than any
privilege or liberty he could have exercised. To have such an attitude is a
mark of spiritual maturity. Paul could have insisted on doing what was his
right as a believer who had been liberated by the blood of Jesus Christ, but
believers have not been set free to do wrong. The encouragement and
enhancement of spiritual maturity in weak Christians are even more important matters than eating whatever kind of food one chooses to eat. In the mat-

The Problem of Abused Liberty / 88

ter involving the Corinthian believers, the offense could be avoided by exercising Christian maturity and responsibility.
Lesson 8

1 Corinthians 8:1-13

No one has any right to claim a privilege, indulge in a pleasure or demand

a liberty which might be detrimental to the spiritual maturity of other believers. Although ones course of action could very well be safe enough for a
mature Christian, other considerations should be taken into account. Spiritually speaking, someone might have the strength of mind and will to keep his
actions in proper perspective, but he must also think how a course of action
or activity could affect weaker Christians.

Lesson 9

For Sunday, July 31, 2005

The Problem of Inadequate

Support of the Ministry
1 Corinthians 9:110:15

The support of the ministry has always been a necessary, yet, touchy matter among Gods people. Although sometimes not acknowledged or fulfilled,
provisions have always been made by God for such support. It has consistently been a universal principle that those who minister in the spiritual
realm have a right to expect to benefit from the material things of Gods people (1 Cor. 9:11). While Paul often did not insist upon his right of support, he
always taught that the ministry is to be supported.
Monday, July 25

Lesson 9


1 Corinthians 9:1-6

As an apostle, Paul had an authority that present-day ministers do not

have. Such authority no longer exists because the apostolic office was one of
the temporary gifts which God gave the early churches (Eph. 4:11-13). Paul
frequently had to defend his standing as an apostle, however.
Apostolic Credentials (verses 1, 2). Even though the specific subject
matter has changed from eating meat dedicated to idols to the support of the
ministry, the overall issue remains the same; ones rights as a believer should
be exercised only in the light of what is best for all those who are concerned.
In chapter 9, Paul stressed the principle of support for the ministry. In doing
so, however, he refused to exercise his right to receive such support, and he
undoubtedly hoped the Corinthian believers would follow his example and be
considerate of the tender consciences of their fellow Christians who might
have been somewhat spiritually immature. In establishing his credentials as
an apostle, Paul mentioned that he was free (verse 1). He meant he was free
to demand and receive, if he chose to do so, material support from those to
whom he ministered. For the Corinthian believers, the most convincing proof
of Pauls apostleship should have been their own standing with God and the
church of which they were a part (verse 2).
Apostolic Rights (verses 3-6). If Paul were truly an apostle, then he had all
the rights of the other apostles, and he was intent on emphasizing that fact. The
Greek word for answer is apologia, a term which denotes a formal defense of

The Problem of Inadequate Support of the Ministry / 90


Preachers with Two Hats (1 Corinthians

9:6): The Jews had a saying that the father
who fails to teach his son a trade makes
him a thief. Paul probably learned the
craft of tentmaking from his father as a
boy in Tarsus, a center for the trade and
manufacturing of cilicium, the goat-hair
cloth used in making the shelters.
Tents were in high demand among the
nomadic people of the region and Paul
supported himself by this trade when he
was at Corinth and elsewhere (Acts 18:1-4;
1 Thess. 2:9). Barnabas, his companion on
the first missionary journey (Acts 13:1
14:28), probably joined Paul in what today
is called a bi-vocational ministry. Pauls
purpose in using this method was that,
even though he could scripturally expect
fair compensation for his labors, his ministry might not be judged as being motivated by personal gain (1 Cor. 9:12; 2
Thess. 3:8, 9).
Most of the churches planted in frontier
America were established by preachers
with two hats. Even today such is an honorable ministry; however, this is not the
ideal method or to be preferred over the
shepherds being supported by the flock
as described below.

Working: this is the normal

word for work. It is the common understanding of putting
forth the sweat of the brow to
accomplish a task. It does not
imply undue hardship or toil.
Instead, Paul wanted the people to know it was the common labor he wrote about
concerning the support of the
ministry. Word Study #2038.

ones actions or standing. Examine is from a word which indicates a thorough, rigorousif not
formal, or even legalevaluation. Paul felt as if his apostleship was on trial, and he was
determined to defend himself as
vigorously as possible. The term
power in verses 4, 5 and 6 means
right or authority. Pauls reference to eating and drinking in
verse 4 was an assertion that he
had the right of material support
from others. Not only was Paul to
be supported by those to whom
he ministered, but he also was
entitled to receive support for
any of his family members (verse
5). Note that Paul specifically
mentioned the brethren of the Lord among those who were proper recipients
of ministerial support. Evidently, some, if not all, of the other physical brothers
of Jesus became ministers of the gospel, with James seemingly having become
the pastor of the church in Jerusalem. (Compare Matthew 13:55; Acts 1:14;
12:17; 15:13; 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9.) Paul and Barnabas, like the all other
apostles, were rightfully entitled to ministerial support (verse 6).
Tuesday, July 26

Lesson 9
1 Corinthians 9:7-12

In this passage Paul argued for the support of the ministry from a broad,
general perspective. To support ministers of the gospel is logical, fitting, proper and appropriate in every way. To do so is also scriptural, even though some
men, like Paul, might choose not to accept such support.

91 / 1 Corinthians 9:110:15
Some General Examples (verse 7). To
Charges: the term means
bolster his argument for the support of the
expenses or wages. No one
ministry, Paul cited three irrefutable exampays his own way in the miliples with which everyone of his day would
tary. A soldier counts the cost
of service but not the buying
be familiar. First, he mentioned the solhis own weapon or provisions.
diers. No one would expect a soldier to
The term carries the idea of
donate his time freely or to provide at his
support in every normal and
own expense the weapons and equipment
reasonable sense of the term.
he would need. Another example Paul used
Word Study #3800.
was that of a farmer. Anyone who planted a
crop, such as a vineyard, could rightfully expect to benefit from the harvest
that would be produced. The same principle was applicable for someone who
owned livestock. He had every right to profit from the increase or products of
his herds. No one would have questioned the validity of Pauls logic in referring to these examples and the conclusion which he drew.
Some Biblical Examples (verses 8, 9). In these verses Paul moved from
the realm of the secular to the sacred. In effect, he asked in verse 8 whether
the illustrations he mentioned in verse 7 had any application to the support
of the ministry. To ask the question, however, was to answer it. Moreover, to
teach that ministerslike soldiers, farmers and shepherdsshould benefit
from their labors not only made good sense logically, but scripturally as well.
Paul quoted from the Laws stipulation that oxen used in milling
the grain were to be allowed to
eat some of the grain (Deut.
The Ox and the Corn (1 Corinthians 9:9):
25:4). Then the apostle asked
Even though Paul personally declined
this rhetorical question, Doth
wages for his ministry, by inspiration and
God take care for oxen? (verse
the Law of Moses, he strongly argued the
9). What Paul really meant by
importance of generous compensation of
such a question was, Is God conministers for their labor. According to
cerned only for oxen? The obviDeuteronomy 25:4, an ox was not to be
ous answer to his question was
muzzled or prevented from reaching down
and eating part of the grain he was treading
No. God certainly did not want
out on the threshing floor. In 1 Timothy 5:17,
the Israelites to abuse their live18 Paul repeated this principle and added
stock, especially those from
that the minister who labored diligently in
which they directly benefited,
teaching was to receive double honor. This
but His primary concern was
was both the highest esteem of the hearers
that His people would grasp a
and what we call now an honorarium, or
vital principle regarding the
financial compensation for his labors.
importance of providing support
In verses 10 and 11 Paul applied this
for those who minister to their
standard to a farmer plowing and after the
harvest threshing out the grain. He had
The Application of the
the reasonable expectation of receiving
benefit from the harvest. So, the minister
Examples (verses 10, 11). In
should have the hope to share the financial
the first part of verse 10, Paul
bounty of the church.
confirmed that God was more

The Problem of Inadequate Support of the Ministry / 92

concerned for the Israelites than their oxen. Then, he gave another illustration of a farmer who cultivates his fields and harvests his crops with the
rightful anticipation of benefiting from his labors. That expectation is the
hope which Paul mentioned in verse 10. Once again, the apostle proceeded
from the natural realm to the spiritual, as can be seen in verse 11. To sow
spiritual things is to preach the gospel and teach believers what they need to
know to serve God properly. The word carnal, as used here, does not have a
negative connotation; as it simply refers to things that are physical or material in nature. To reap carnal things is to receive money or other kinds of
material support from people who have benefited from ones ministry.
Ministerial Support Declined (verse 12). Apparently, some ministers
among whom was possibly Apolloshad received material support from the
church in Corinth. Although that was certainly appropriate, Paul declined to
accept any even though he had argued so strenuously for the support of the
ministry. The reason for his refusal of such support was that he did not want
to hinder the gospel. Pauls actions thus provide a classic example of a Christian who has the perfect right to do something that is entirely appropriate, yet
declines to do so to keep from being a potential impediment to the progress of
the Lords work. The members of the Corinthian church would have done well
to have kept Pauls example in mind in their relations with one another.
Wednesday, July 27

Lesson 9
1 Corinthians 9:13-18

Those who preach the gospel have a right to live by it. Whether the minister
needs or even desires such support does not lessen the responsibility churches
have in this matter. The support of the ministry is not a new concept, but it was
taught by the Law and incorporated into the economy of this dispensation.
Even So (verses 13, 14). In verse 13, Pauls references to the Temple and
the altar spoke of the Jewish Temple and its rituals. Even though the
Corinthian church probably consisted mostly of Gentile believers, all of its
members were certainly familiar with the Mosaic worship system. The point
which Paul emphasized in verse 13 was that the Jewish priests and Levites
those who ministered about holy things and served, or waited, at the
altarwere supported by the tithes and offerings of the Israelites. Then, the
apostle concisely made the application in his argument by stating that ministry of the New Testament era is to be supported in the same manner (verse
14). The term even so essentially means in the same manner. The phrase
live of the gospel corresponds to live of the things of the temple and partakers
with the altar in verse 13. The principle of supporting the ministry by the
tithes and offerings of Gods people is still valid.
Nothing for Paul (verse 15). Once again, Paul reminded the Corinthian
believers that he had not asserted his right to ministerial support. Moreover,

93 / 1 Corinthians 9:110:15
he added he had not written about this matter to get anything for himself. As
the Corinthians knew well, when he ministered in their midst, Paul supported himself by working with Aquila and Priscilla making tents (Acts 18:1-3).
He was determined not to do anything that would give his opponents an
opportunity to try to hinder the effectiveness of his ministry. Pauls feelings
about this matter were so intense that he asserted that he would rather die
than allow anyone or anything to nullify his ministry. Paul did not glory in
his independence, but in his freedom to preach the gospel without any obligation to anyone (Gal. 6:14).
Pauls Compulsion (verses 16, 17). Paul did not want anyone to misunderstand his motivation for preaching the gospel. Even though he gloried in
the gospel, he did not consider that something for which he should have been
commended. He felt as if he had no choice but to preach the gospel, and, if he
failed to do so, something terrible might happen to himwoe is unto me
(verse 16). From the standpoint of human logic, Paul asserted, simply for the
sake of his argument or line of reasoning,
Necessity Is Laid upon Me:
that, if he voluntarily agreed to preach the
the combination of terms gives
gospel, he would have been entitled to some
the sense of the phrase.There
kind of remuneration (a reward). From other
was a compulsion laid upon
teachings, we know men are called to the
Paul to preach the gospel. It
ministry by God and no one should assume
was forced in the sense of
pressure being brought to bear
that solemn duty simply on his own volition.
for him to fulfill his calling.This
Since Paul had been called against his will,
was something that chose him,
that is, by the will and purpose of God
and he feels the constraint and
of his own will or purpose, he was as
pressure to carry out the duty
of preaching.Word Studies
obligated to preach the gospel as is a stew#318 and #1945.
ard in fulfilling the responsibilities of his
position. The Greek word for dispensation is
Without Charge: free! Paul
a term which basically refers to a stewoffered the gospel without any
ard or the slave who managed the household
charge, fee or feeling of guilt
on the part of the people.This
or estate for a wealthy man. (See comments
word means costing nothing
on 1 Corinthians 4:1, Lesson 4, regarding
or without any expense needStewards of the mysteries of God.)
ed to be forwarded. In truth
The Gospel Preached Freely (verse
Paul offers the gospel to all
without charge.Word Study
18). If Paul did not preach for money, then
what was his payment or reward? His remuneration was the satisfaction of knowing
that he had proclaimed the gospel without obligating himself to anyone or
without obligating anyone to him. As far as all parties involved were concerned, the gospel was freely made available and freely received. Paul was
careful to note he did not abuse his power [right or privilege] in the gospel.
The Greek word for abuse essentially means not to use fully. Even though
he had a perfect right to receive material support from those to whom he ministered, Paul did not make use of that privilege, choosing instead to preach
the gospel freely.

The Problem of Inadequate Support of the Ministry / 94

Thursday, July 28

Lesson 9
1 Corinthians 9:19-27

Although Paul preached freely, he did not consider himself to be free from
obligation in the proclamation of the gospel. That sense of duty and responsibility was also expressed in Pauls epistle to the church in Rome, I am debtor
both to the Greeks, and to the Barbarians; both to the wise, and to the unwise
(Rom. 1:14).
Pauls Driving Force (verse 19). In this verse Paul described a striking
paradox. On the one hand, he was free from everyone because he did not
accept any material support for preaching the gospel. However, he considered
himself enslaved to everyone for the purpose of preaching the gospel to them.
The man who would be no mans debtor felt indebted to everyone. That compulsion was the driving force in Pauls ministry. That he occasionally received
offerings from people other than those to whom he ministered did not dilute
the intensity or sincerity of his desire. (Compare 2 Corinthians 11:7-9.) Paul
always wanted his situation to be such that he could preach whatever needed to be proclaimed to whoever needed to hear the message.
All Things to All People (verses 20-22). Three groups of people are
included in this passage, each of which needed to be approached somewhat
differently. Pauls desire to gain these people was twofoldhe wanted to lead
them to trust Christ in salvation and to follow Christ in Christian growth.
Those under the Law. Paul was always mindful of the high regard that
most Jews had for the Law. When it was appropriate to do so, he observed certain Mosaic requirements (Acts 16:3; 21:26).
Those without Law. Paul never insisted that any Gentile keep any of the
provisions of the Law. A classic example is he did not demand that Titus submit to circumcision (Gal. 2:3).
Those who were weak. This category possibly included both Jews who had
difficulty in turning completely from the Law and Gentiles who had problems
with a total renunciation of paganism. Paul was patient and considerate in
his dealings with such people (1 Cor. 8:13; 2 Cor. 11:29).
Sharing in the Gospel (verse 23). Paul made himself all things to all people for the sake of the gospel. He wanted the Corinthian believers to recognize
they also were to be involved in the ministry of the gospel. They could not do
that with any degree of effectiveness if they were insisting upon their own
rights and refusing to consider the needs of weaker brethren. If they could not
have a credible testimony among themselves, how could they witness to the
larger community? They needed to follow the example of Paul who did not
insist on his rights, but instead assumed awesome responsibilities. Even
though he sometimes had to endure injustices and indignities, Paul was
determined that, when he witnessed for Christ, his testimony would be
accepted without any reservation.

95 / 1 Corinthians 9:110:15
Striving for the Mastery (verses 24, 25). Beginning in verse 24 and continuing to the end of the chapter, Paul used metaphors from the athletic contests of his day to underscore the lessons which he sought to impart. The
Corinthians were certainly familiar with these events and the activities associated with them. The point which Paul wanted to emphasize was not that
people must strive relentlessly to be saved, but that once one has been saved,
he should be diligent in the manner in which he lives and witnesses for God.
The prize to which Paul referred speaks of the rewards which can be earned
by believers for faithful service to God. As an athlete must be dedicated to a
regime of vigorous, intense training, so should Christians be willing to do
whatever is necessaryeven to the extent of setting aside ones rights and
willing to be all things to all peopleto accomplish what needs to be done,
thereby gaining an incorruptible crown.
Maintaining Ones Effectiveness (verses 26, 27). To maintain his effectiveness in the service of his Master, Paul listed four things upon which he
1. He ran with certainty and pursued his course with the goal clearly in
mind, determined to do Gods will at any cost (verse 26).
2. He fought with purpose. He did not engage merely in shadowboxing
(verse 26).
3. He trained with intensity and by the grace of God kept his fleshly desires
and personal preferences in check (verse 27).
4. He maintained his effectiveness as a witness for God so that when he
preached to others, his message would not be disregarded (verse 27).
It should be noted that Pauls reference to his being a castaway (literally,
disapproved) was not a concern about the possible loss of his salvation, but
a concern about the possible loss of his influence as a Christian witness.
Friday, July 29

Lesson 9
1 Corinthians 10:1-11

This passage and the one following are associated with the subject matter
of chapter 9 in the sense that the believers personal conduct continued to be
Pauls primary concern. By citing significant examples from Israels past, the
apostle attempted to convince his readers to shun unworthy activities and
Baptized unto Moses (verses 1, 2). Many of the Corinthian believers
were certainly aware of the historical incidents which Paul cited in verses 111; however, they apparently did not grasp the significance of these events.
Paul began by reminding his readers of the circumstances that attended the
departure of the Israelites from their Egyptian bondage. When those Jews
passed through the divided waters of the Red Sea, they had an experience
akin to a baptism. They were essentially immersed in water in the sense that
they were under the cloud and enclosed by water on either side. The preposi-

The Problem of Inadequate Support of the Ministry / 96

tion unto is from eis, which basically means with reference to. The Israelites
were said to have been baptized with reference to Moses because he was their
leader in that experience. Believers are to be baptized into [eis, that is, with
reference to] Jesus Christ and His death, burial and resurrection (Rom. 6:3,
4). Thus, the Christian life is to be one of submission to the Lord.
Spiritual Food and Water (verses 3, 4). The next reminder from Israels
past which Paul brought to the attention of the Corinthian believers, was the
manner in which God sustained the people during their wilderness journey. He
gave them meat, or food, and drink, or water. The food was the manna on which
the Jews were fed for the forty years of their desert sojourn (Ex. 16:15), and the
water was provided from the Rock (Ex. 17:6; Num. 20:11). That food and water
were described as spiritual because they had a symbolic significance, not only
for the Israelites, but also for all generations that have followed. Note that Paul
asserted that the Rock from which those Jews obtained the water that sustained them physically was Christ. Of course, that rock was not literally Jesus
Christ, but the Rock represented Christ because He is the water of spiritual life,
the One who sustains spiritual life for all people of all times and places.
Divine Judgment upon Idolaters (verses 5-7). Despite all God did for
the Israelites during their wilderness journey, they were often disobedient to
Him. Their disobedience brought divine judgment upon them, and sometimes
they were so rebellious God punished them with physical death because they
were overthrown in the wilderness (verse 5). The judgment that befell the
Israelites was described by Paul as examples to believers of the New Testament era. The Greek term for example is tupos, which is the basis for the English word type. Thus, the Israelites experiences in the wilderness were types
from which we are to learn about the importance of fidelity to God (verse 6).
Perhaps the worst of the sins committed by the Israelites was idolatry, the
most vivid example of which was when they made a golden calf which they
claimed represented the gods that had delivered them from Egypt (Ex. 32:16). About three thousand idolaters perished on that occasion (verse 28).
Divine Judgment upon Fornicators (verse 8). The specific incident to
which this verse refers was the time when the Israelites committed fornication with the Moabites toward the close of their wilderness journey, an
episode recorded in Numbers 25:1-9. (Note: The difference in the number of
deathstwenty-four thousand in Numbers as opposed to twenty-three thousand in 1 Corinthiansis probably due to rounding, with Moses rounding the
figure up while Paul rounded it down.) That moral collapse by the Israelites
caused what was probably the most devastating incident of divine judgment
these people experienced during their journey to the Promised Land. However, fornication, like idolatry, is a serious sin which has such far-reaching and
long-lasting consequences that Gods attention is demanded.
Divine Judgment by Serpents (verse 9). This verse refers to a specific time
when the Israelites severely tested the limits of divine mercy and might. On this
occasion, they complained about the manna by which God had sustained them
for nearly forty years; as a result, they were subjected to venomous serpents

97 / 1 Corinthians 9:110:15
(Num. 21:1-9). It is certainly noteworthy that Paul wrote that these Jews had
tested Christ. Perhaps he linked that incident directly to the Second Person in
the Godhead because the manna, which was the focus of the Israelites complaint, was a type of Christ, the Bread of Life (John 6:48-51). Moreover, the antidote to the serpents venom, the serpent of brass on the uplifted pole, was typical of how Jesus would be lifted up on the cross (John 3:14, 15).
Divine Judgment a Solemn Warning (verses 10, 11). The Israelites
often murmured against the Lord and His chosen leaders, Moses and Aaron
(Ex. 15:24; 16:2; 17:3; Num. 14:2; 16:11, 41; 17:5). Murmuring is an audible
expression of deep dissatisfaction which is caused by ones lack of faith in the
goodness of God. One who murmurs says, in effect, God is not to be trusted.
Paul reminded his readers that the incidents from Israels past which he had
cited were ensamples (verse 11). The Greek term for ensamples here is the
same as for examples in verse 6. The examples of the Israelites rebellion and
infidelity against God were included in the Scriptures so subsequent generations of believers could learn from them and avoid the judgments which such
incidents incurred. The expression the ends of the world indicates the church
age is the final era before the consummation of the ages, with the millennial
reign of Christ to be the crowning climax of all the eras of time.
Saturday, July 30

Lesson 9
1 Corinthians 10:12-15

The litany of temptations which overtook the Israelites included different

kinds of sins. Even though these failures occurred in another era, believers of
this age, the time of the ends of the world, should take heed and be mindful
that we, too, are certainly to be subjected to enticing solicitations to sin.
Take Heed (verse 12). The word wherefore links this verse and the passage of which it is part of what precedes it. Paul had given several examples
of moral and ethical failures by the Israelites during their wilderness sojourn,
and it is certainly possible that such sins could also be committed by people
of other times and places. Thus, no one should be so smug as to think he can
remain oblivious to the spiritual problems which have beset believers in the
past. Two sets of contrasts are included in this verse. Standing and falling are
obvious opposites. Another pair of contrasts are thinking that one is doing
something (thinketh he standeth) and actually experiencing something (lest
he fall). One who mistakenly thinks he is standing firm is certain to fall.
The Commonality of Temptations (verse 13). In the first part of this
verse Paul followed his exhortation to take heed (verse 12) with an implied
warning about the certainty of temptations. The apostle also included a word
of encouragement, however, by assuring his readers that none of their temptations will be so powerful, or overwhelming, as to be irresistible. All tempta-

The Problem of Inadequate Support of the Ministry / 98

tions are such as is common to man. When reduced to the basic essence, any
temptation consists of one or more of the following: the lust of the flesh, the
lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16; compare Genesis 3:6). Temptations might assume different forms or settings, but they remain essentially
the same regardless of the time or place when they occur. While Satan is ultimately responsible for every temptation, he is limited in how he can entice.
The Way to Escape Temptations (verse 13). Even though God permits
Satan to tempt every believer, He does not leave one defenseless in the time of
testing. If the likelihood of temptation is certain, so is the opportunity to resist
the temptation through the way of escape which God provides. Ones escape
from temptation can occur through various means because while Satan is limited in the nature of temptations to which he can subject us, the omniscient,
omnipotent God is not limited in the ways he can deliver us from temptation.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember when one finds himself being
tempted is there is a way out. One does not have to succumb to enticements to
sin. Through the grace of God we can stand against temptations and not fall.
Flee Idolatry (verses 14, 15). On the surface it might seem strange that
Paul concluded his discussion of resisting temptation with a specific exhortation to flee idolatry instead of a broader admonition to avoid sin in general. The
address my dearly beloved speaks of the affectionate feelings the apostle had
for the Corinthian believers despite the problems they had caused for him, for
one another and for their congregational fellowship. The verb flee is a strong
term which denotes an intensity or dogged determination. Idolatry is a serious
sin because it strikes directly at the very nature and being of God. If people do
not have the proper regard for God, they will not see sin for what it really is.
However, Paul did not want the members of the church in Corinth merely to
accept his word in this matter. Instead, he wanted them to consider seriously
what he had written to them and to determine for themselves, as people who
had received wisdom from God, whether he had spoken well (verse 15).
Lesson 9

1 Corinthians 9:110:15

They which preach the gospel should live of the gospel (1 Cor. 9:14). This
is the divine plan for the support of the ministry. It is not a mere suggestion
which can be followed or disregarded as one might choose. God has always
had a method to support those who lead His people in worship and service. It
goes without saying that no one should enter the ministry for material gain.
The labourer is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:7), not because of who the laborer might be, but because of what the laborer does.

Lesson 10

For Sunday, August 7, 2005

The Problem of
Disorderly Worship
1 Corinthians 10:1611:34

The membership of the church in Corinth consisted of some believers who

had come out of Judaism and others who had worshiped pagan idols. While
the order of worship for the New Testament era includes some principles from
the Law of Moses, nothing from paganism has ever been valid for acceptable
worship in any age. The respective roles of men and women along with the
proper observation of the Lords Supper were controversial issues among the
Corinthian believers.
Monday, August 1

Lesson 10


1 Corinthians 10:16-22

Communion with Christ and communion with demons cannot coexist. The
Lords Supper should be a reflection, for individual believers as well as for the
congregation as a whole, of communion with Christ. This is why the manner
in which the Lords Supper is observed and the motive for it are so critical.
One Cup, One Bread and One Body (verses 16, 17). To emphasize the
need to guard against idolatry, Paul cited the example of the Lords Supper.
(Review comments on verses 14, 15, Lesson
In this passage, as well as all of Pauls
Communion: this rich word
references to the Lords Supper in this epismeans joint participation or
fellowship. One preacher
tle, his comments are to be interpreted that
defined it as two fellows in the
the observance of the Lords Supper is to be
same ship rowing the same
done only in a congregational setting. Referdirection. It is an apt meaning
ences to the one cup, one bread and one body
of the word.We are to be in
fellowship and intimate particispeak of the commonality of fellowship and
pation with Christ.The Supper
unity of purpose which should characterize
demonstrates the need for a
the observance of the rite. The cup denotes
spirit of fellowship with Christ.
the blood which Jesus shed; the bread symWord Study #2842.
bolizes His body; the body speaks of the con99

The Problem of Disorderly Worship / 100

gregation. The Greek terms for
blessing and bless basically
to speak well of. Ones
Communion of the Blood and Body (1
participation in the Lords SupCorinthians 10:16, 17): The Corinthians
were reminded that the Lords Supper was
per is a means of praising, or
a fellowship of the blood and body of
speaking well of God for His proChrist. The word fellowship means joint
vision of salvation. The word for
participation. Through faith they had a
communion is koinonia, which
common bond and union in the death of
essentially means that which is
Christ for their sins. They were to remember this important truth. Likewise, they
held in common. This term is
were reminded that, even as they were
often rendered fellowship (1 Cor.
many, each was also a member of His
body. So, at the Lords table, they symboliPartaking of the Sacrifice
cally shared this common bond.
18-20). In these verses
Therefore, they were to conduct their
Paul reminded the members of
lives with this in mind. In verses 18
through 22, they were told of the inconsisthe church in Corinth of the
tency of being a participant in the table
peace-offering which the Jews
of devils, or pagan feasts while also havwere to make under the Law of
ing fellowship at the Lords table. This
Moses (Lev. 3). According to the
was a double standard that provoked the
provisions of that sacrifice, those
Lord to jealously as well as bringing diviwho brought the offering shared
sion in the church.
in it by eating some of the meat.
By partaking of portions of the
sacrifice, those who presented the offering were, in effect, partakers of the
altar (verse 18). The implication from this to the Lords Supper is that those
who observe it are partaking of the altar of this era by commemorating the
sacrifice which Jesus Christ made on the cross. Pauls primary purpose, however, was to emphasize that, while involvement in rituals dedicated to idols
does not confirm the actual reality of false gods (verse 19), such participation
could be harmful because demonic activity is the ultimate motivating force in
idolatry (verse 20). The term devils is from daimonion, from which we get
demon. The demons are fallen angels who do the bidding of their master,
Satan. (Compare Revelation 12:7-9.)
No Fellowship with Demons (verses 20-22). Note again that the Greek
word for fellowship in the last part of verse 20 is koinonia, which is rendered
communion in verse 16. God does not want His people to have anything in
common with demons. That point is made even more emphatically in verse
21, in which Paul stressed there is no middle ground or room for compromise
whether one is identified with God or the demons. The Greek term for partaker is metecho, which is closely related in meaning to koinonia. Meta is a
preposition which means with, and echo is a verb which means to have.
Thus, to be a partaker is to have something with another or to have something in common with someone else. The answer to the rhetorical questions
in verse 22 is a resounding No! To become involved in idolatry is to be
unfaithful to God and thus be guilty of spiritual fornication. As spouses in a

101 / 1 Corinthians 10:1611:34

marriage are to avoid any intimate relationships with others, so are Christians to avoid any entanglements with idolatry.
Tuesday, August 2

Lesson 10
1 Corinthians 10:23-33

Perhaps it would be helpful to recapitulate what Paul taught in this epistle about a believers involvement with activities associated with idols and
idolatrous exercises. As noted in the study of 1 Corinthians 8, it was permissible to eat food that had been dedicated to an idol, and even to attend some
social functions at an idol temple as long as one understood that an idol does
not actually exist and as long as such actions did not cause any problems for
a weaker believer; however, it was an entirely different matter to become
involved in idolatrous worship activities, through which the presumed reality
of a false god would thereby be acknowledged even though no such deity actually exists (1 Cor. 10:20-22). That was why it was necessary for more mature
Christians to be concerned about how their actions would affect saints who
might be somewhat immature. Someone who was not clear on all aspects of
the matter might slip from eating meat which had been dedicated to idols to
partaking of the table of devils, which in effect would have been a lapse into
idolatry. In all these matters, the guiding principles for believers were (1) to
seek the edification of one another, and, what was even more important, (2) to
bring honor and glory to God. Of course, these principles are fully compatible.
Seeking the Benefit of Others (verses 23, 24). Verse 23 echoes something which Paul had previously asserted (1 Cor. 6:12). In this instance, however, he added an important stipulation. Even though what he might choose
to do would be permissible, he needed also to consider whether it was helpful
to others. Eating food which had been dedicated to an idol and attending
social functions at an idol temple might have been entirely permissible for a
mature Christian such as Paul, but the more important issue was how his
actions would affect other believers and his testimony as a Christian. That
was why he admonished his readers that no one should seek his own interest
without considering what impact such conduct would have on others (verse 23). The
Shambles: this is simply the marketplace.The meat offered to
word wealth in this instance does not refer
the idols would be taken after
to material matters, but to ones overall well
the sacrifice and sold to the
butchers in the area.This marEating with Praise to God (verses 25,
ketplace is the shambles.This
26). After having reiterated an important
term comes from a Latin word.
It simply describes the area
principle regarding ones conduct as a Chriswhere the meat was sold on a
tian, Paul then made some specific applicaday to day basis.Word Study
tions, the first of which is seen in these vers#3111.
es which addressed the matter of eating

The Problem of Disorderly Worship / 102

meat that had been purchased in the open markets (the shambles). Believers could buy and consume such meat without being overly concerned about
whether it had been dedicated to an idol (verse 25). Eating such meat was not
an act of idol worship. Even though the ultimate source of the meat might not
have been the most desirable from a Christians viewpoint, one could still
acknowledge the overall sovereignty of God in making it possible to obtain the
meat (verse 26; compare Psalm 24:1). If all the earth and all its fullness
indeed belong to God, then one can thank Him and praise Him for whatever
food is available.
Eating To Witness for God (verses 27-30). Two more of Pauls applications regarding the all things are lawful for me (verse 23), but all things are
not expedient principle are included in these verses. The first scenario is that
of someone who is invited to an unbelievers home for a meal. If one wanted
to accept the invitation, he should do so and not have any qualms about the
food that might be served (verse 27). On the other hand, if someonewhether
the host or another guest, and whether a believer or an unbelieverspecifically mentioned that the meat had been dedicated to an idol, then the more
mature Christian should not eat the meat (verse 28). By referring again to
Psalm 24:1, Paul said that one does not have to eat what is questionable
because the sovereign God is able to provide whatever might be needed.
Moreover, the mature Christian should be charitable toward a weaker believer for the sake of his conscience even though no one should be criticized (evil
spoken of) for exercising his liberty to eat whatever is desired
as long as God is acknowledged
as the bountiful provider of all
Doing All for the Glory of God (1
Corinthians 10:31): The question was
things (verses 29, 30). Thus, it
raised about what to do if invited to dine
can be seen that eating can be a
in a house where the origin of the meat
testimony for God, whether one
was unknown. Paul said not to question
consumes certain foods or
the host, but, if it were voluntarily
refrains from doing so.
revealed the meat came from the temple of
idols, not to eat it as this might cause
Giving Glory to God (versanother to stumble. This would also bring
es 31-33). In these verses Paul
reproach on God.
gave the conclusion to the
Then, Paul laid down the general prinentire matter of exercising
ciple that everything should be done for
Christian liberty. In verse 31,
the glory of God. This is a standard wherethe references to eating and
by all Christian conduct should be guided.
The believer should do nothing to hinder
drinking include ones particione from coming to Christ or cause him to
pation in the Lords Supper
fall by the wayside in his service to the
(verse 16) as well as the conLord. Romans 14:21: It is good neither to
sumption of food which had
eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing
been dedicated to idols. Regardwhereby thy brother stumbleth, or is
less of the setting and regardoffended, or is made weak.
less of whether one ate meat or

103 / 1 Corinthians 10:1611:34

refrained from doing so, he was to be impelled by a desire to glorify God. The
Corinthian believers were to be mindful of Jews whose consciences might be
especially sensitive to anything that involved idolatry of Gentiles who might
lapse back into idolatry if they had any association with activities that concerned the idol temples and of the overall well being of the church as a whole
(verse 32). It should be acknowledged that, even though no opportunity of
offense is given, some people will find an excuse to exhibit offense. In such
instances the mature believer is not at fault. When Paul stated that he sought
to please all men in all things (verse 33), he did not imply that he was open
to engaging in activities that were morally or ethically suspect, but that within reason he did everything he could to keep from giving any offense to those
he mentioned in verse 32.
Wednesday, August 3

Lesson 10
1 Corinthians 11:1-10

This chapter begins a section on the proper order of service for public worship. The first of these issues to be addressed is the respective roles of men
and women. Under the Law, public worship was almost exclusively led by
men. While that principle essentially holds true for this age also, under certain circumstances women can be more actively involved. Because there is a
likelihood this provision can be abused, Paul wanted to delineate clearly the
role of men and women in worship.
The Structure of Authority (verses 1-3). Some scholars believe verse 1
should be attached to chapter 10; however, this verse is just as applicable to
what follows as to what preceded it. Note that Paul desired people to follow
him only as he followed Christ (verse 1). In verse 2, the apostle commended
the Corinthian believers because they remembered and observed what he had
taught them. The Greek word for ordinances is usually rendered traditions.
That term, which essentially means that which is handed down, is used in
a positive sense here. Thus, the traditions, or ordinances, which Paul had
advocated, unlike other traditions (Matt. 15:1-9), had the force of scriptural
teachings. Having laid the groundwork for what he intended to teach, Paul
then set forth the boundaries into which his argument would fit (verse 3). The
structure of authority for religious teachings and activities is as follows: God,
Christ, man, woman. It is important to remember this structure deals with
roles that are filled in spiritual worship and service.
Respecting the Authority (verses 4, 5). Pauls reference to whether people should pray with their heads covered or uncovered alluded to the custom
of that day; however, the custom was important because it recognized the
structure of authority. Customs might change from place to place and from
time to time, but the principle of proper acknowledgment of authority does
not. Thus, Paul instructed the members of the church in Corinth to follow the

The Problem of Disorderly Worship / 104

custom of their day and conduct themselves in keeping with the generally
accepted manner of showing proper respect. A man who prayed or spoke
(prophesied ) in a congregational setting with his head covered dishonored his
head who is Christ. On the other hand, a woman brought dishonor to her
head, who would have been the man to whom she was subjectwhether husband or father by praying or speaking with her head uncovered. The issue
here was the proper acknowledgment of authority.
Reflecting the Glory (verses 6, 7). In verse 6, Paul said that a woman
who would participate in a church service with her head uncovered might as
well go ahead and cut her hair short, if she were going to act like a man and
resemble one. Since it was considered shameful for a woman of that day to
wear her hair short, the application which Paul made was that it was also
shameful for a woman to participate in a church service with her head uncovered. The situation was different for a man, however (verse 7). He should not
cover his head because he was created in the image of God and reflects the
glory of the Creator. Woman, as a human being, was also created in the image
of God, but, since she was taken from the side of man, she reflects his glory.
The conclusion from this line of reasoning, which is continued in verses 8 and
9, is that men and women each have their own respective roles to fill in the
worship and service of God.
The Example of Creation (verses 8-10). In verses 8 and 9, the apostle
set forth the indisputable facts about the creation of man and woman. Man
was a direct creation of God; thus, man is not of the woman (verse 8). On the
other hand, woman, although created by God, was taken from the side of man
(Gen. 2:21-23), hence she is of the man. Because man was created first, it is
obvious he was not created for the woman (verse 9); however, since God determined it was not good for the man to be alone (Gen. 2:18), it is just as obvious
the woman was created for the man. Pauls conclusion regarding these undeniable facts is given in verse 10. Because the woman was created for the man,
she should reflect that reality by having her head covered in the public worship services. The Greek word for power actually means authority. By covering her head, a woman indicated her submission to her man (husband or
father). The reference to the angels is a reminder that respect for authority
prevails throughout all the ranks of angelic beings, whether archangel, angel,
seraph or cherub.
Thursday, August 4

Lesson 10
1 Corinthians 11:11-19

The church in Corinth was a divided congregation. During the course of the
study of this epistle, note there were differences among the Corinthian saints
over preachers, the role of men and women in worship, the observance of the
Lords Supper and the use of spiritual gifts. Paul wanted the members of
church to resolve their differences so they would not be divided.

105 / 1 Corinthians 10:1611:34

All Things Are of God (verses 11, 12). Even though women have a subordinate role to that of men in the worship and service of God, both sexes
stand on equal footing before God in many respects. (Compare Galatians 3:2629.) Paul acknowledged this reality in these verses in which he sounded a
note of warning to counter any misunderstanding or misapplication of his
argument. Contrary to the views of the hyperfeminists and the advocates of
same-sex unions, men and women have mutual, reciprocal needs for each
other. Except in situations where someone chooses not to marry, men cannot
do without women, nor can women do without men. This is in accordance with
the divine plan. The expression all things of God (verse 12) refers to this
arrangement of the roles of men and women. According to some scholars, the
phrase could have been rendered all these things are of God. Gods plan does
not need to be modified or updated; it simply needs to be accepted.
The Shame and the Glory (verses 13-15). Previously, Paul had used the
Scriptures, specifically those describing the creation of man and woman, to
support his argument about the respective roles of men and women in public
worship. In this passage he referred to nature to substantiate his position.
First, he asked the Corinthian believers to consider the matter with logical,
commonsense reasoning (judge in yourselves). Then, he directed them to
evaluate the propriety (is it comely) of a woman praying in public with her
head uncovered (verse 13). Following that, Paul cited nature itself (verses
14, 15). If a man and a woman never cut their hair, the womans hair would
over a period of time be longer. Since this is a natural phenomenon, it is certainly appropriate for women to have longer hair than men, and it is inappropriate for the situation to be reversed. Under the Law of Moses, an exception to this rule was provided by the Nazirite vow (Num. 6:5). Thus, for a
woman long hair is her glory, while long hair for a man is shameful.
Seek Edification, Not Division (verse 16). Evidently, some of the members of the church in Corinth were insistent that it was acceptable for women
to pray and speak in the worship services with uncovered heads. Some apparently were very vocal in that view because the Greek word for contentious is
a strong term with a literal meaning of loving strife. Pauls reminder that
there was no such custom among the churches, apostles and other Christian
leaders of that day referred to the contention, not the matter of whether or not
women were to have their heads covered in the worship services. Thus, it
seems as if the overriding issue was the proper acknowledgment of the respective roles for men and women in worshiping and serving God.
Expose Those Who Cause Division (verses 17-19). In the strictest sense,
this passage is part of Pauls treatment regarding the manner in which the
Lords Supper is to be observed; however, since these verses are essentially a
warning against causing or perpetuating divisions in a congregation, they
link what Paul had to say regarding the respective roles of men and women
in a church and the proper observance of the Lords Supper. The underlying
divisions which plagued the church in Corinth were a matter of constant concern to Paul. Because some of those believers were especially contentious

The Problem of Disorderly Worship / 106

Divisions: our word schisms

comes from this term. It means
something that has been
ripped in two such as a garment. When it speaks of people, it refers to dissension or
problems that cause people to
respond in a manner not
becoming to the love of Christ.
The division is noticeable and
easily discerned.The tension
can be felt as well as seen.The
division tears violently at the
heart of the gospel.Word
Study #4978.

that is, lovers of strifethere were times

when the congregation would have been better off if they had not come together (verse
17). Even though Paul wanted to believe the
best about the situation, he had to concede
there was some validity to the reports about
the divisions (literally, schisms) in the
church (verse 18). These schisms, or divisions, resulted in factions (heresies) among
the members of the Corinthian congregation
(verse 19). Although divisions in a church
are deplorable, they do cause people to align
themselves with one side or the other, thus
making it apparent who is teaching the
truth and who is not.

Friday, August 5


Despising the Church of God (1 Corinthians 11:21, 22): Despise means to show contempt, scorn, or lack of respect. It was
said of Jesus, He is despised and rejected
of men. . . . he was despised, and we
esteemed him not (Isa. 53:3).
The Corinthians despised the Lord and
His church by the way they observed the
Lords Supper. They turned it into a
drunken party instead of a sacred memorial of His blood and body. Similar contempt
was recently reported in The Wall Street
Journal which told how many are rejecting
old-fashioned religion. One nondenominational group observed the Lords Supper
with soft drinks and cookies. Likewise,
opening the Lords Supper despises the
Lord and His church by inviting all to His
table without respect to the moral and doctrinal qualifications He has laid down, and
the church is to require (1 Cor. 5:1-13; Jude

Lesson 10
1 Corinthians 11:20-26

This passage and the one following deal with specific instructions regarding the observance of the Lords Supper.
Pauls comments were specifically made to correct some serious errors that had developed
within the membership of the
church in Corinth about the
Lords Supper.
Not As a Social Meal (verses 20-22). In these verses Paul
reversed the order which formal
because he first gave his conclusion (verses 20) and then listed
his reasons (verse 21, 22). What
the apostle said was that the
members of the church in
Corinth were not to observe the
Lords Supper as if it were a
social meal. In verse 20 the
expression When ye come togeth-

107 / 1 Corinthians 10:1611:34

er therefore into one place describes a congregational setting. The Corinthian
congregation observed the Lords Supper in a very disorderly manner. Seemingly, the Lords Supper was part of a fellowship meal, or love feast perhaps,
in which familiesor more likely factions within the churchmet together in
cliques and ate their meal, of which the Lords Supper was part, without
including the rest of the congregation (verse 21). Even worse was the fact that
some people became intoxicated at these meals. In his rebuke of that shameful practice, Paul told the Corinthians to use their homes for social meals
(verse 22).
In Remembrance of Christ (verses 23-25). After instructing the members of the church in Corinth about how they were not to observe the Lords
Supper, Paul proceeded to give them some positive directions. Although the
apostle was not present at the institution of the Lords Supper, he learned
from the Lord exactly what happened, and he faithfully relayed that information to the Corinthian believers. The Lords Supper was instituted following the observance by Jesus and His disciples of the Passover meal (Matt.
26:26-28)). Two elements from the Passover Supper, the unleavened bread
and the fruit of the vine, were selected by Jesus as the necessary items in the
Lords Supper (Mark 14:22-24). From Pauls recounting of Jesus words, it
should be abundantly clear that the Lords Supper is a commemorative observance and not a social function. The Bible does not indicate when or how often
the Lords Supper should be observed. The stipulation is simply, as oft as a
congregation chooses to observe it, it is to be done in remembrance of me.
Until the Lord Comes (verse 26). The Lords Supper points in two directions. It looks back to the crucifixion of Jesus, and it looks forward to the time
when He shall come again. As a reminder of the death of Jesus, the elements
in the Lords Supper symbolize the body and blood of the Lord. The unleavened bread speaks of His sinless life, and the breaking of the loaf denotes the
terrible anguish of the physical suffering which was inflicted upon Him. The
cup symbolizes the blood which Jesus shed as He died for the sins of all
humanity. The Lords Supper is not centered only on the death of Jesus, however, as it also proclaims triumphantly that He is coming again.
Saturday, August 6

Lesson 10
1 Corinthians 11:27-34

Having considered the proper setting for the Lords Supper and the manner of its observance, Paul next addressed the individual participants. In dealing with this topic, he was concerned about the attitude or motives which one
has when he eats the bread and drinks the cup.
Examine Ones Motive (verses 27-29). One of the most misunderstood
and misapplied stipulations regarding the Lords Supper is what it means to
eat the bread and drink the cup unworthily (verse 27). Many people have

The Problem of Disorderly Worship / 108


How Members Examine Themselves (1

Corinthians 11:27-31): The word unworthily is used with respect to the observance
of the Lords Supper. The suffix ly indicates this word is an adverb. So, unworthily refers to the manner in which the
Lords Supper is to be observed, a way
that shows proper respect to the Lord and
His church.
The Corinthians had observed the
Lords Supper in a careless manner. They
turned it into a social activity instead of a
holy memorial of the body and blood of
Christ. So, some were weak and sick; others had died being guilty of a lack of
respect for the body and blood of the
Lord. Paul also wrote in 2 Corinthians
13:5, Examine yourselves, whether ye be
in the faith; prove your own selves. If all
would examine their beliefs as well as
their conduct before observing the Lords
Supper, there would be no need for the
church to do this.

Unworthily: the word means in

a manner not worthy of something. Here the object is God,
and, when we eat in a manner
not worthy, it brings judgment
upon us (verse 29).This has to
do with attitude as well as
method.The terms of the
Lords Supper are given in
Scripture. If any of these are
violated, it is then eaten
unworthily. It has nothing to do
with whether or not you are a
sinner. It has to do with the
grace of God and the manner
of obedience you have.Word
Study #371.

interpreted this to mean they

must be worthy of participating
in the Lords Supper, and,
assuming they are not worthy,
they refuse to partake. The word
unworthily is an adverb, and, as
such, it refers to ones motive or
purpose for taking the Lords Supper. Verse 28 includes another misunderstanding or misapplication regarding the Lords Supper. Some people have
concluded that the exhortation about self-examination is the only restriction
to ones participation. Once again, however, this stipulation refers to ones
purpose or motive. Paul meant that each one who takes the Lords Supper
should examine his reason for doing so. In verse 29, the proper reason for
observing the Lords Supper is set forth, which is to discern (literally, to judge
thoroughly) the Lords body. From these three verses it is clear that the reason one should take the Lords Supper is to commemorate Jesus dying on the
cross and shedding His blood for the sins of all mankind.
Avoid Divine Chastisement (verses 30-32). To observe the Lords Supper unworthilythat is, for the wrong purposeis a serious offense which is
likely to invite divine chastisement. That was what Paul meant by his references to the sickness and physical death which some of the Corinthian believers had experienced (verse 30). Some were sickly and others had diedtheir
sleep was that of physical deathbecause of their abuses of the Lords Supper. The self-examination, which Paul advocated in verse 28, will help one to
observe the Lords Supper properly, thereby avoiding the chastisement which
would otherwise befall him (verses 31, 32). God is likely to judge strictly any

109 / 1 Corinthians 10:1611:34

abuses of the Lords Supper because such practices distort what the ordinance
Eating Properly at Church and Home (verses 33, 34). The members of
the church in Corinth needed to make a clear distinction between eating
socially and partaking of the Lords Supper. The occasion to which Paul
referred in verse 33 was the Lords Supper. The members of the church needed to assemble in a respectful, inclusive manner in which everyone felt welcome and no one felt isolated. They were to come together [and] . . . tarry one
for another. Social gatherings were to be held in private homes, on which
occasions people would be free to eat with whomever they chose (verse 34). By
making such a distinction in their functions, the Corinthian saints would not
fall under the judgment, or condemnation of God. There evidently were some
additional problems with the manner that the church in Corinth observed the
Lords Supper suggested by the fact that the rest would be addressed when
Paul could visit them; however, the corrective actions which Paul advocated
certainly would be helpful toward remedying the problem.
Lesson 10

1 Corinthians 10:1611:34

It has been nearly two thousand years since Paul wrote to the church in
Corinth about the problems of the respective roles of men and women in worship and the proper observance of the Lords Supper. These issues are still
controversial today among many churches. Although some customs might
have changed, the principles which Paul advocated have not. God is not
pleased with disorderly worship.

Lesson 11

For Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Problem of
Church Dysfunction
1 Corinthians 12:1-31

The abuse of spiritual gifts was among the many problems which beset the
church in Corinth. Consequently, a discussion of spiritual gifts constitutes a
substantial portion in chapters 1214 of the epistle of 1 Corinthians. In chapter 12, Paul provided some basic information regarding the nature and purpose
of spiritual gifts. Except for faith, hope and love, the spiritual gifts served a temporary, but critical purpose in helping the early churches while the New Testament was being written and compiled.

Monday, August 8

Lesson 11


1 Corinthians 12:1-3

In the ensuing discussion of spiritual gifts, Paul would emphasize the sovereignty of the Spirit; however, he wanted the readers to understand clearly that
over and above the person and work of the Holy Spirit is that of Jesus Christ.
The Spirit guides believers into all truth and glorifies Christ instead of the Spirit (John 16:13-15).
Spiritual Gifts (verse 1). The opening words of this chapter are reminiscent of those of chapters 7 and 8, all of which indicate Paul was answering
inquiries that had been asked him in the letter which the church had sent him.
The word gifts is in italics, which means that it was supplied by the translators
of the King James Version. In the Greek version the term rendered spiritual is
pneumatika, which is the plural form and is accompanied by the definite article. Thus, Paul actually wrote, Now concerning the spirituals, brethren, I would
not have you ignorant. The pneumatika were special abilities which were given
to certain believers for the overall advancement of the cause of Christ, particularly in and through His churches. Spiritual gifts should be distinguished from
talents. Those who had gifts could use them without any preparation or development, while natural endowments, then as now, needed to be developed.
Dumb Idols (verse 2). Seemingly, the membership of the church in
Corinth consisted largely of Gentile believers who had come out of paganism.

111 / 1 Corinthians 12:1-31

The idols upon which their worship was focused were dumb because they
were unable to speak. Not only were these idols voiceless, but they were lifeless as well; however, the Corinthians had been led astray by their infatuation with inanimate deities which had been fashioned of gold or silver or
carved from wood or stone, a point which Paul made in anticipation of his discussion of the active role which the Holy Spirit had played in the lives of the
members of the Corinthian church. As pagans, the Corinthian believers had
been led into the depths of demonically influenced false religion. As Christians, they could be led to great heights of spiritual achievements. The difference was the Holy Spirit by whom they were influenced since they had turned
from their idols to embrace the true and living God.
The Supremacy of Christ (verse 3). In contrast to the lifeless, voiceless
idols is the work of the Holy Spirit who enables believers to acclaim Jesus
Christ as Lord. In Pauls time
there were thosesuch as the
Jews who continued to embrace
Calling Jesus Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3):
Judaism, the adherents of GnosThe Greek word kurios translated Lord in
ticism and possibly others as
this verse means master or owner as one
wellwho were willing to
who has possession and authority over
acknowledge the reality of God
property or persons. So, to call Jesus Lord
is to acknowledge His rightful possession,
but were blasphemous in their
authority and control of our lives. For our
attitude and remarks concernlove of God and others, we voluntarily
ing Jesus Christ. The Greek
concede that we are His servants, which in
word for accursed, used in this
the Scriptures refers to bondslaves (Ex.
instance, essentially means
devoted to destruction. An
Even as obedient slaves were chained
example of something which was
side by side to oars beneath the upper
deck of ancient trireme sailing vessels,
accursed was the city of Jericho
being obedient to our Lord means we are
in the time of Joshua (Joshua
willing to voluntarily humble ourselves to
6:17). To call the Son of God
become bondslaves of Christ. We do this
accursed would be the height of
because we love Jesus and trust Him to
blasphemy. The Holy Spirit will
bring us to the heavenly port (Phil. 2:5-8).
not lead anyone to speak in such
Christ is the captain of our salvation (Heb.
2:10). We are passengers, but we all have
a manner. On the other hand, no
one can call Jesus Lord except
through the convicting and convincing work of the Spirit. Today, as well as in apostolic times, the Holy Spirit is careful to lead people to speak of Jesus Christ appropriately.

Tuesday, August 9

Lesson 11
1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Having laid a foundation for his discussion of spiritual gifts, Paul proceeded to explain the nature of the gifts and, more specifically, the manner in

The Problem of Church Dysfunction / 112

which the Holy Spirit bestowed them. Although spiritual gifts were varied in
their nature and purpose, they were given through the sovereignty of the
Different Gifts, Different Administrations, Different Operations
(verses 4-6). The words diversities in verses 4 and 6 and differences in verse
5 are from the same Greek term, the verb form of which means essentially to
divide. (Compare Luke 15:12.) Gifts (verse 4) is from charisma, the root term
from which we get grace; administrations (verse 5) is from diakonia, which is
related to the word for deacon, servant or minister. Operations (verse 6) is
from energema, the basis for energy and energize. Some scholars have sought
to use the terms charisma, diakonia and energema as headings for categories
into which the various spiritual gifts can be grouped. While it might be helpful to classify the spiritual gifts into certain categories, it seems probable that
these terms describe various features of all the spiritual gifts. Charisma
denotes their source as gracious gifts, diakonia indicates their purpose as
benefiting others and energema describes their power as being full of spiritual energy. All three of the persons in the Triune Godhead are included in this
passage. Paul referred to the Holy Spirit in verse 4, to the Son in verse 5 and
to the Father in verse 6. The verb worketh in verse 6 is from energo, which is
from the same root as the term operations in that verse. The various spiritual gifts which were imparted to the members of the church in Corinth were
given by God and empowered by Him (all in all).
The Common Good (verse 7). The gifts of the Spirit were distributed to
various individuals for the benefit of all. The Greek word for manifestation
speaks of demonstrating something or making something apparent or obvious. By exercising their spiritual gifts, the members of the church in Corinth
demonstrated the power of the Spirit. The phrase to profit withal does not
translate smoothly into English. Basically, it means toward the end of bringing all things together. Spiritual gifts were given to believers, one to this person, another gift to another person, and so on, for the purpose of edifying the
entire congregation. The fact that someone had a particular gift was nothing
about which he should boast. Since these special functions and abilities were
gifts, no one earned them or deserved them, and it appears no one had more
than one spiritual gift at any one time. Although exercised by individuals, the
gifts were for the common good.
A Variety of Gifts (verses 8-10). This passage includes a partial list of the
gifts of the Spirit. Additional listings are found in verses 28-30 in this chapter, in 1 Corinthians 13:8, 13, in Ephesians 4:11 and in Romans 12:6-8. Once
again it should be noted that each of these gifts was given by the Spirit (verse
The word of wisdom. The recipient of this gift had a supernatural endowment of being able to take what was revealed by God and apply it correctly to
prevailing circumstances and situations.

113 / 1 Corinthians 12:1-31

The word of knowledge. Through this gift one had a God-given comprehension of the facts of a particular matter or situation. This ability appears to
have been used by Peter in Acts 5:1-10.
Faith. This is one of the three gifts that remain to this day (1 Cor. 13:13).
As a spiritual gift, faith is the ability to see beyond the present circumstances
and confidently anticipate the fulfillment of the divine purposes.
Gifts of healing. The plural is used with this gift to indicate that each healing was a specific act of endowment by the Spirit. No one had an indefinite,
ongoing gift of healing.
Working of miracles. The Greek word for working is plural, thus suggesting
that the enabling for each miracle was given as determined by God. The term
miracles is somewhat broad in scope, denoting any situation in which the natural order of things was suspended, set aside or overridden.
Prophecy. This gift was the ability to make known to others the will of God.
Those who exercised this gift were often the public spokesmen for God. Sometimes, but not always, prophets foretold future happenings.
Discerning of spirits. This gift was related to the gift of prophecy in that one
who could discern spirits could determine whether or not one who was prophesying was speaking the truth. (Compare 1 John 4:1.)
Tongues. This word simply means languages. Through this gift one could
speak in a language which he had never studied. This ability was given only
when there was a need for someone to speak in another language.
Interpretation of tongues. This is the other side of the gift of tongues. In
such a situation God would enable someone to interpret for other people what
had been spoken to them in another language.
The Sovereign Spirit (verse 11). After having enumerated several of the
gifts of the Spirit, Paul tied them all together in this verse by reminding the
members of the Corinthian church that each gift was exercised through the
power of the Holy Spirit (these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit)
and was given by the Spirit to whomever He chose (dividing . . . severally as
he will). Such a manner of distribution and enabling meant the Holy Spirit
was completely in charge. Consequently, none of the Corinthian believers had
any reason to deem his gift above any of the others; however, that was the
very essence of the problem regarding spiritual gifts, as will be noted later.
Those gifts were given for the common good of the entire congregation (verse
7), and each believer was entirely dependent upon the Spirit for the exercise
of his gift (verse 11).
Wednesday, August 10

Lesson 11
1 Corinthians 12:12, 13

In his discussion of spiritual gifts, the apostle Paul consistently emphasized these gifts were given for the common good of the entire congregation.

The Problem of Church Dysfunction / 114

Thus, there was no reason for individuals to prize one gift above the others or
to take pride in whatever gift one might have been given.
The Body and Its Members (verse 12). As an illustration of how the various gifts of the Spirit were to be used in an edifying manner, Paul used the
analogy of the human body. One of the most impressive features of the human
body is its unity in diversity, or its oneness in multiplicity. Each member of a
body differs in form and function from all the others, except for members that
are in pairs, or constitute a unit or set. Despite such differences, however, the
various members of a body are part of an organism that nourishes and nurtures its many components. No member of a body can exist on its own when
separated from the body. While organ transplants might seem to be an exception to this, the exception proves the rule, indicated by the extensive counteractive measures which are required.
Christ and His Members (verse 12). In the last part of this verse Paul
made the application of his illustration to the body and its members. As the
human body is onethat is, a single, unified, integrated organismwith
many members, so is Christ one with many members. It would be difficult, if
not impossible, to grasp what Paul meant by this comparison if he had not
continued with his illustration. In verse 27, it becomes apparent what Paul
meant in his statement that the Corinthian saints were the body of Christ.
This point will be amplified later. For now, however, it should be noted that
Paul associated the church at Corinth with Jesus Christ, and he likened the
individual members of that congregation to the members of Christs physical
Baptized into One Body (verse 13). To understand what Paul meant by
his statement baptized into one body one must carefully consider the significance of two prepositions in the first part of this verse. In the phrase by one
Spirit the Greek word for by is en,
which does not denote instrumentalanna
ity. The Holy Spirit is not something
Baptized in One Spirit (1 Corinthians
with which one can be baptized. To
12:13): This was a call to unity for a
be baptized by [in] one Spirit is to
church divided. The verse should be
be immersed in water in union with
translated for in one Spirit which
the Spirit, or in vital connection with
makes the Spirit the medium instead
Him by virtue of the new, or spirituof the administrator of this baptism.
The believer is indwelt by the Spiral birth (John 3:3-8). The Greek term
it when saved, water baptism and
for into is eis, which means with refchurch membership actually come
erence to, and the antecedent for
later. Paul was calling the Corinthians
one body is Christ (verse 12). Believto the same unity that existed in the
ers are baptized with reference to
church at Jerusalem when it was figuthe death, burial and resurrection of
ratively baptized in the Spirit and
later many were literally immersed
Christ (Rom. 6:3, 4).
into the body (Acts 2:1-4, 41-47).
Drinking into One Spirit
(verse 13). Baptism not only identi-

115 / 1 Corinthians 12:1-31

fies a believer with Christ, but it also makes it possible for one to be part of a
church fellowship. Such a relationship is one in which each member
whether Jew or Gentile, bond or freeis on an equal footing with one another. Thus, Paul emphasized the critical need for congregational unity and
integrity. The last statement in this verse to drink into one Spirit also has the
Greek preposition eis rendered into. When the Corinthian saints were
reminded that they had been made to drink with reference to one Spirit, they
should have recalled the experience of their forebears when the Israelites
drank of that spiritual Rock in the wilderness. (See 1 Corinthians 10:4;
review comments on this verse in Lesson 9.)
Thursday, August 11

Lesson 11
1 Corinthians 12:14-19

Previously Paul had stressed the critical need for unity and integrity in a
church body. In these verses the apostle stressed how each individual member of a congregation makes a valuable contribution to the overall ministry of
a church. Like a human body, a church is a unified organism with many members.
The Body and Its Members (verses 14-17). The church in Corinth, like
many other early churches, was a congregation that consisted of believers of
different races and socioeconomic standings. There were men and women,
Jews and Gentiles and slaves and masters. The members of that church also
had different spiritual gifts, some of which were deemed, at least by some
individuals, to be more spectacular than others. In this passage Paul wanted
to emphasize that the overall well being of the bodyor congregation
depends on how well its members function. If some parts of a human body are
missing or unable to function properly, the body might still exist, and perhaps
even do quite well, but it is impaired nonetheless, and other members often
have to compensate to some extent. This principle also applies to the life and
effectiveness of a congregation. A human body has to have a brain, but it cannot be all brain; some additional members are necessary.
The Members Set in the Body (verse 18). In this verse Paul underscored
the sovereignty of God in His creative act. When God made man, He chose of
His own volition to make the human body as it is. The different organs and
parts of the body, when functioning properly, are a marvel of creative design
and efficiency (Psalm 139:14), and, when there are problems, it is because of
the presence of sin as a working principle in the human race. God saw fit to
provide the body with some parts that come individually (heart, brain and
stomach), others that are in pairs (lungs, hands and ears) and still others that
are in sets (teeth and fingers). God set each member of the body in the organism as it pleased Him. Similarly, God gave different spiritual gifts to the members of the early churches, and He gives different talents to present-day

The Problem of Church Dysfunction / 116

believers as it pleases Him.
Instead of complaining about
what God did not give us, we
In the Body at Gods Pleasure (1 Corinthishould be determined to use
ans 12:18): The rebellious spirit of many in
what He has provided.
the church at Corinth can partially be seen
One Body, Many Members
by some who sought gifts they were not
supposed to have. This especially applied
(verse 19). Previously in his
to those who sought the gift of tongues
analogy, Paul had stressed how
which was being misused and desired
absurd it would be if the membecause of the spectacular nature of the
bers of the body could choose
gift. This gift, if, falsely used, drew attenwhat they wanted to be. A body
tion to the users instead of Christ (1 Cor.
needs two arms with a hand
12:11; 14:26; John 16:13).
The Corinthians were reminded that
attached to each arm, but a
their sovereign God had placed them in the third arm or hand would cause
body of Christ as He determined and not
some serious problems. If ones
themselves. So, as obedient servants of the
brain were to have an additionLord, their labor was at the discretion of
al lobe, it would be too large for
their Master instead of their own choice.
We are to serve in the body of Christ where the space provided for it. To
our Lord places us rather than where our
have the best possible situation,
carnal desires would put us.
each body needs all its members, and each member needs to
function properly. This principle also applies to the congregational life of a
church. A church is one body, but it needs to have a variety of gifts and talents among its members. If the members of a human body could choose what
function they want to serve, there would be no bodydissatisfaction would
end in self-abolishmentand, if there is no body, neither will there be any
members. Thus, it is to each members benefit to function as God intended.

Friday, August 12

Lesson 11
1 Corinthians 12:20-26

In this passage Paul continued to use the body and its members as an analogy of a church and its members. Having established the twin principles of
bodily unity and the diversity of functions within the body, Paul was ready to
take his argument to the next level, which is the interdependence of the members of the body.
Interdependent Members (verses 20, 21). Each of the members of the
body need to work together harmoniously for the body to function properly.
With the eye an individual can see something that is desirable, but the eye
cannot grasp the object; the hands are needed for that. There is no need for
either the eye or the hands to try to do the function of the other. In fact, that
would be an utter impossibility; however, the eye and hands do need to fulfill
their respective duties. The head and the feet denote the two extremities of a
human body. They are as dissimilar in function as they are in appearance,

117 / 1 Corinthians 12:1-31

and neither can assume the function of the other. Moreover, if either could
replace the other, the result would be a body that is monstrous in appearance
as well as dysfunctional in operation. In a church there is no need for each
member to have the same spiritual gifts or, as in our case today, the same natural talents. Instead of wanting to imitate or replace one another, the members of a congregation should desire to be complementary to one another in
the service they render.
The Body and Its Less Regarded Members (verses 22, 23). In these
verses the point of Pauls analogy regarding the human body becomes even
sharper. Not only should the members of a church recognize their need for one
another, but there should also be the utmost respect for the gifts or talents
God has bestowed on each believer. Paul used three designations in these
verses to describe the members that may be less regarded by others: (1) the
more feeble [weaker] members, (2) the
less honourable members and (3) the
UncomelyAbundant Comeuncomely members. As far as a church and
liness: one is uncomely if he is
its members are concerned, the less regardnot presentable or is indecent.
ed ones seem to be so only to the prideful.
When one is out of order and
seeks to be formed into someThey seem so, but are really not such.
thing that is unattractive or a
Because someone cannot sing or teach as
failure, then he is uncomely.
well as others does not mean that he is of
Abundant in this verse is the
less value or importance to the ministry of
same as in the previous study.
the church. In a human body the parts
Having abundant comeliness is
an order and formation that is
regarded as more feeble, less honourable
presentable and decent. In fact
and uncomely are probably some of the
it would be the special work of
most vital organs in the body because of
one who would strive hard to
their functions in the health and well being
be a success.Word Studies
of the organism.
#809, #4055 and #2157.
An Undivided Body (verses 24, 25). In
verse 24, Paul continued to address the attiLess HonorableAbundant
tudes people have toward the various parts
Honor: the comparisons here
of the human body. The members that are
are between no honor or
esteem and abundant honor.
more comely, that is, more attractive or
Honor is a sense of value and
more pleasing in appearance, have no need
usefulness.When one has rank,
of being made to seem more comely. Basiit is the reverence given to the
cally, this means the parts of the body which
position.When it is money, it is
should not be seen are covered with cloththe value. Gold has more
honor than copper. Abundant
ing, while the more comely members, such
honor is that which exceeds a
as head, arms, hands, feet and so forth do
particular number. Abundant
not need to be so treated. Verse 25 is the
means uncommon and over
application of this line of reasoning. In
and above a norm. Word
effect, Paul told the members of the church
Studies #820, #4055 and
in Corinth they should have the same
regard for one anotherespecially those

The Problem of Church Dysfunction / 118

believers who might seem to be weaker in
faith or spiritualityone has for the more
feeble, less honourable or uncomely
parts of the human body. The members of a
congregation of believers should have the
same care for one another as one has for
his or her own body. Such concern and
respect for one another will help assure that
there will be no schisms, or divisions, in the
Members Help or Hurt One Another
(verse 26). The human body is a highly
intricate organism which functions best
when all its members are at their best. If one body part becomes adversely
affected in some manner for whatever reason, the entire body is likewise
affected. This is why a period of rest and recuperation is needed after one has
sustained an illness or injury. On the other hand, when ones health is excellent, the entire body, including all its various parts, is the beneficiary. Once
again, Pauls application is apparent. If the members of the Corinthian congregation were disdainful or critical of one another, the unity and integrity of
their fellowship would be adversely affected; however, if they demonstrated
respect and appreciation for each other and whatever spiritual gift one might
have, all the members could rejoice together because they were all benefited.
Tempered the Body Together:
the word is a compound which
intensifies the meaning.The
idea is to combine something
together into a unit in and of
itself.The body is to be commingled or mixed together to
be better than the sum of its
parts. It is important for us to
understand the body is better
in this form and when alone.
Word Studies #4786 and

Saturday, August 13

Lesson 11
1 Corinthians 12:27-31

In this passage Paul concluded his argument based on the analogy of the
human body and a congregation of believers, with special emphasis on the
role of spiritual gifts in the individual lives of the church members and the
corporate life of the church. While the gifts and needs were different, the overall purpose for the bestowal of spiritual gifts was to enhance the ministry of
the church.
Members of the Body of Christ (verse 27). With this verse Paul completed his analogy. In a very pointed manner, he likened the church in Corinth
to the body of Christ, and by application, the same can be said for every scriptural church. One must not assume that all churches together constitute the
body of Christ. Instead, each individual congregation is, in and of itself, a body
of Christthat is, a body of baptized believers which belongs to Christ. Noteworthy also is that Paul not only stressed the importance of the church, but
the critical role of individual believers as well, indicated by the stipulation

119 / 1 Corinthians 12:1-31

and members in particular. A
church without members is not
merely an absurdity, but an
Ye Are the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians
absolute impossibility. It was of
12:27): In the Greek Paul referred to the
utmost importance, therefore,
church at Corinth as a body of Christ.
Each local assembly of baptized believers
for the Corinthian believers to
may be so described if it is organized
have the proper respect for one
according to the New Testament and its
another. They were not to disorigin is in the ministry of Christ (Matt.
dain anyone, especially those
16:18; 28:19, 20; Jude 3). By His omniwhose spiritual gifts might have
present Spirit, Christ is the head of each
New Testament church (Matt. 18:20; Eph.
been considered less important,
5:23; Col. 1:18); yet, He is not the head of a
or less significant.
conflicting conglomeration of false docDifferent Gifts for Differtrine allegedly made up of all the saved
ent Members (verse 28). Once
and falsely called the church.
again, Paul listed some of the
All believers may properly be called the
family of God, but they are not the body of
spiritual gifts which God providChrist, or the Lords church (Gal. 3:26; Eph.
ed during the time of the early
3:15). The so-called universal church is a
churches. The fact that God set
ghost church. It does not exist.
the gifts in the church echoes
how He set the various members of a human body in their proper place. Because of the divine design for
the human body, all the parts function in a precise order. Similarly, the various gifts of the Spirit enabled the early churches to operate efficiently even
though the New Testament had not been completed. The gifts enumerated in
this verse differ somewhat from the ones in verses 8-10, with the gifts of
prophecy (or prophets), miracles, healings and tongues included in both lists.
The gifts not mentioned previously are as follows:
Apostle. This was a very special gift which was given to all the churches in
general. Paul and the other apostles went from place to place as God directed
them and ministered as the needs dictated.
Teachers. Those who received this gift had the special ability to interpret
and present Gods truth in an especially understandable manner. Teaching
differed from the gift of prophecy in that the teachers seemed to have taught
in a regular, systematic manner and covered a broader range of subject matter than the prophets.
Helps. This gift was most likely similar to that of ministry (Rom. 12:7);
however, those gifted with helping possibly focused their attention more on
people who had specific needs, such as widows, orphans, the poor and those
Governments. The gift of government was the ability to provide administrative direction to a congregation. This gift is likely the same as that of ruling (Rom. 12:8). The gift of governments probably enabled its recipients not
only to determine a proper course of action, but also to convince people accordingly.

The Problem of Church Dysfunction / 120

The Best Gifts (verses 29-31). Strictly speaking, there is no better or best
spiritual gift; however, many of the Corinthian saints regarded some spiritual gifts as being more desirable than others. Evidently, among the most highly prized were the ones which Paul listed in verses 29 and 30. These gifts certainly were some of the most noticeable, but they were not necessarily better
than any others because the obvious answer to each of Pauls rhetorical questions is no. Then he followed with an
observation which could have been renThe More Excellent Way:
dered in paraphrased form as follows: But
hyperbole is the word. It is not
while you are coveting strongly what is
an exaggeration as it means in
English. Rather this word
regarded as the best gifts, I show you a
implies throwing beyond or
more excellent way.
going beyond the normal. It
The More Excellent Way (verse 31).
implies excellence in every
scholars hold that the last part of
sense of the word.This is best
should be the opening statement in
with cream and cherries on
chapter 13. Whether that is so or not, Pauls
top.This word allows Paul to
express that he wants them to
reference to a more excellent way is cerunderstand that what he is
tainly a springboard to his essay on love.
about to write is far better
Not only is love the best of the spiritual
than what they have.Word
gifts, as will be noted in the following lesStudy #5236.
son, but it was also the best way to exercise
any of the gifts. Those with the gift of
prophecy should have spoken in love; those with the gift of knowledge should
have acted in love.
Lesson 11

1 Corinthians 12:1-31

Among the members of the church in Corinth, spiritual gifts might have
abounded, but they were seriously abused. The proper role of the spiritual
gifts was vividly illustrated by Paul in his comparison of a church with the
human body. As members of a congregational body, each believer is dependent
upon one another. There might be diversity in gifts, but there must also be
unity in purpose.

Lesson 12

For Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Problem of
Childish Members
1 Corinthians 13:114:40

In chapters 13 and 14, Paul continued to deal with the matter of spiritual
gifts. Chapter 13 is often regarded as the great love chapter of the Bible. It is
the more excellent way to which Paul referred in 1 Corinthians 12:31. Chapter 14 also gives directions for the proper use of spiritual gifts, especially some
which were esteemed so highly by the members of the church in Corinth.
Whether one is considering the exercise of spiritual gifts among the early
churches or exercising the use of natural gifts in this day, one of the most critical guidelines is, Let all things be done decently and in order (1 Cor. 14:40).
Monday, August 15

Lesson 12


1 Corinthians 13:1-7

Perhaps no other passage in the entire Bible has been more widely quoted,
profoundly cherished or completely severed from its context than 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. The principles
which Paul so eloquently set forth in this
Charity: this is one of the best
chapter can indeed apply to a variety of cirknown words in Greek by Engcumstances and situations; however, one
lish speaking people.This is the
should understand the setting of this chapword agape. It means love,
affection, good will. It implies
ter to avoid making any improper applicathat it is an action not an emotions.
tion.The word charity implies
Love As a Motivator (verses 1-3). It is
actions of kindnesses and good
certainly worth repeating that Pauls purdeeds done out of a heart of
pose in 1 Corinthians 13 was to stress the
compassion and care.This is
the love of God for man, and it
ideal way to exercise the spiritual gifts. The
is the love we are to return to
apostles mention of the tongues of men and
God. It asks for nothing in
angels was a reference to the gift of tongues,
return.This is the highest form
or the ability to speak in a language which
of love we know.Word Study
one did not know (verse 1). Angels generally
spoke in the language of the people whom

The Problem of Childish Members / 122

they addressed; however, in
Pauls vision of paradise, he possibly heard a heavenly language
The Central Place of Charity (1 Corinthians 13:1-3): Paul spoke of seven great gifts
(2 Cor. 12:1-4). The gift of
admired by the Corinthians (tongues,
prophecy enabled one to underprophecy, wisdom, knowledge, faith, giving,
stand the mysteries of God, that
and faithfulness unto death) and their subis, things which God would
ordinate importance to the gift of charity.
reveal to mankind at the proper
Many no doubt sought the more temporary gifts because of their obvious needs,
time (verse 2). Through the gift
values and spectacular qualities as comof knowledge, one could grasp
pared to the central importance of faith,
what he needed to know about a
hope and love. While all properly used
specific matter or situation
gifts were useful in the work of the early
church, they were never compared to the
(verse 2). Faith is a gift which
abiding gifts whose need would endure
enables one to believe firmly
unto the return of the Lord And now
that God will fulfill His purposabideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but
es (verse 2). Because of the spirthe greatest of these is charity (1 Cor.
itual gift of giving, some were
It is an understatement, but nonetheless
constrained to contribute genertrue, that the work of the Lord still greatly
ously, even sacrificially, to meet
needs these three gifts of the Holy Spirit.
a critical need (verse 3; Rom.
12:8). Each of these gifts was
important in its own right, but the ideal motivation for using them was charity. The Greek word for charity is agape, which is often rendered love in the
New Testament. Agape is love based on principle instead of emotion.
Loves Qualities (verses 47). In these verses fifteen qualianna
ties of love are specifically enuThe Attributes of Charity (1 Corinthians
13:4-7): The attributes of love are (1) it is
Love suffers long. Love does
patient; (2) it is kind; (3) it is not jealous;
(4) it does not promote itself or seek its
not forbid anger, but it is not in
own advantage over others; (5) it is not
a rush to be angry.
proud or puffed up; (6) its behavior does
Love is kind. This is gentle
not reflect negatively on Christ; (7) it is not
the flip side of not
easily made angry; (9) it does not keep a
record of wrongs to seek revenge; (10) it
being swiftly moved toward
finds no joy in sin but is made glad by
truth and righteousness; (11) it endures
Love does not envy. It is satiswrong; (12) it does not automatically think
with its own portion or lot in
ill of another nor does it quickly surrender
to unfavorable circumstances.
life, and is not resentful of what
Like a precious jewel, charity has many
others have.
facets. It is likewise rare and not only
Love does not vaunt itself.
beautiful, but invaluable in human associaLove
does not boast about what
tion and for the spread of the gospel.
it is or what it does.

123 / 1 Corinthians 13:114:40

Love is not puffed up. This is related to the preceding trait. One who boasts
is puffed up with pride.
Love does not act inappropriately (behave itself unseemly). Love is forgetful of self, mindful of others.
Love seeks not its own. Love does not demand its own way, its own pleasure
or its own profit.
Love is not easily provoked. It is not embittered or enraged by abuse,
wrongs, insults or injuries.
Love thinks no evil. Love does not keep a record of injustices that have been
done against one.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness (iniquity). Anything that is
wrong in Gods sight grieves the heart.
Love rejoices in the truth. While firmly shunning all that is wrong, love
gladly embraces all that is true.
Love bears all things. It willingly and freely gives of itself to benefit others.
(Compare 1 Corinthians 9:12.)
Love believes all things. Wanting always to believe the best, love refuses to
yield to suspicions or doubts.
Love hopes all things. This hope is not directed toward God, but toward fellow believers in expectation of what is best from them.
Love endures all things. Love unflinchingly perseveres in the face of discouragement and persecution.

Tuesday, August 16

Lesson 12
1 Corinthians 13:8-13

Not only did agape love enhance the quality of the spiritual gifts when they
were exercised in love, but such love has great value of itself. In fact, it is far
superior to any of the traits believers possess or exhibit. After everything else
has passed away, true love will continue.
Love Endures Beyond Temporary Gifts (verse 8). In these verses the
references to prophecies, tongues and knowledge indicate these spiritual gifts.
Even though Paul specifically mentioned only three gifts, the implication is
that all the others are included, except for those listed in verse 13. Thus, all
the spiritual gifts except for faith, hope and love were temporary gifts. The
verbs used in referring to the gifts of love, prophecy, tongues and knowledge
are especially noteworthy.
Love never fails. The Greek word for fails is ekpipto, which means to fall
from. Love never falls from its place.

The Problem of Childish Members / 124

Prophecies shall fail. The Greek word for fail is katargeo. This term means
to become inoperative, or to be abolished (Eph. 2:15).
Tongues shall cease. The Greek word for cease is pauomai, meaning to
stop, or to leave off.
Knowledge shall vanish away. The Greek word for vanish away is katargeo,
rendered as fail in regard to prophecies.
Love Continues When the Scriptures Are Completed (verses 9-12).
Verses 9 and 10 present contrasting thoughts. The temporary and partial contrast with that which is perfect
or complete. The spiritual gifts
of prophecy, tongues and knowlWhen That Which is Perfect is Come (1
edge were stopgap measures
Corinthians 13:10): The three temporary
and would be replaced by the
gifts mentioned in verse 8 are prophecies,
tongues and inspired knowledge. With the
permanent arrangement. What
ending of inspired knowledge whereby the
was done gradually and progresBible was written by men such as Paul, the
sively through the temporary
other inspired writers in the New Testaspiritual gifts was the unfolding
ment and the prophets of the Old Testaof the will and purposes of God
ment, this and the other temporary gifts
such as tongues ceased.
for His churches and their minHence, that which is perfect, or the
istries during this dispensation.
perfect law of liberty (James 1:25),
With the completion of the
replaced the primitive gifts in the early
Scriptures, which closed the
church in much the same way ancient tools
have largely been set aside for newer
apostolic era, there was no furequipment. Today, we minister with the
ther need for the type of confirabiding gifts left in the church, the most
mation and guidance which the
important of which are faith, hope, charitemporary gifts had provided.
ty, these three; but the greatest of these is
The time of the temporary gifts
charity (1 Cor. 13:13).
was likened by Paul to ones
childhood which is followed by adulthood (verse 11), and to an experience of
looking in a mirror (glass), but seeing a reflection that is not entirely clear
(one sees darkly). With the completion of the Scriptures, however, each
believer has the opportunity to study for himself and determine the plan and
purposes of God (verse 12).
Love, the Greatest of the Spiritual Gifts (verse 13). In verse 12, in the
expressions, for now we see, and now I know, the word now refers to the time
when the temporary spiritual gifts were operative, while the phrase but then
in both instances denotes the time when the temporary gifts would cease. In
verse 12, Pauls references to now and then were chronological in nature; however, in verse 13, the term now refers to the present time, that is, the time
when the Scriptures have been completed and are serving as the rule of faith
and practice for the Lords churches. In verse 13, now denotes the point which
Paul had reached in his argument or line of reasoning. Of the three continuing gifts, love is the greatest because it will never cease. In the eternal ages

125 / 1 Corinthians 13:114:40

faith will become sight and hope will be fully realized, but there will always
be a place for love.
Wednesday, August 17

Lesson 12
1 Corinthians 14:1-11

The final portion of Pauls discussion of spiritual gifts is chapter 14, which
consists largely of a contrast between the relative values for a congregation of
the gifts of prophesying and speaking in tongues. In verses 1-11, Paul emphasized how beneficial prophesying could be to a church.
Speaking for the Benefit of Others (verses 1-4). After what Paul said
about love, only one exhortation would be in order: Follow after charity
[love] (verse 1). The Greek term for follow after is a strong verb which essentially means, run after, or pursue vigorously. However, since the Corinthian believers were living in a time when temporary spiritual gifts were operative, it was certainly acceptable for them to want to receive a gift which could
be helpful to the edification of the congregation. The two gifts which seemed
to be desired by many of the Corinthians were prophecy and tongues. Of these
gifts the one which could be most easily counterfeited was tongues, and that
seems to have been what was occurring in many instances. To discourage the
Corinthian saints from abusing the gift of tongues, Paul told them prophecy
was more beneficial to the
greater number of people. The
expression unknown tongue does
Prophesying in the Early Church (1
not refer to an unintelligible spirCorinthians 14:2-5): In speaking of the
itual language which God entemporary gifts existing immediately prior
abled the speaker to utter as an
to the completion of the Bible, Paul pointindication of great spirituality,
ed out the gift of prophecy was superior to

speaking in tongues because according to

verse 3, the gift of prophecy invariably
brought edification, instruction and
encouragement to the church. Yet, the gift
of tongues sometimes left the majority in
the dark because there was no one present
to interpret the meaning of what was being
said. Today, it would be like a large group
attending the worship service of a small
church in a foreign country. In Corinth,
when people spoke in tongues or languages they had not learned, most did not
understand and profit from what was
being said; yet, if properly used, the gift of
prophecy had great benefit since many
were instructed.

Prophesieth: one who prophesies

is one who proclaims the truth
of the Word of God.This is not
just a predictor of the future. In
fact, this has very little to do
with the word.The term means
the person that God chooses to
proclaim to the world the truth
God has given. A gift of prophecy was the gift of proclaiming
the truth of the gospel with
boldness to the world.This person built up the message and
the Christ.Word Study #4395.

The Problem of Childish Members / 126

but it refers to a language which no one in the congregation could understand. Perhaps the best example of the proper use of the gift of tongues
occurred on the day of Pentecost when people from many different nationalities heard the apostles preaching in their own languages (Acts 2:1-11).
Using the More Edifying Gifts (verses 5, 6). Having indicated that the
gift of prophecy was more beneficial to a congregation than the gift of tongues,
Paul conceded that the valid use of tongues was appropriate. The only time
when it was acceptable for anyone to speak in another language was if the
speaker interpreted his remarks or if someone else in the congregation was
given the gift of interpreting. The reason for such a stipulation was that the
church may receive edifying (verse 5), which was the guiding principle for
the use of all the temporary gifts. If someone spoke in another language during a worship service, the people who were present would not have been edified by what was said since they could not understand the speaker. It seems,
therefore, that Paul was discouraging the use of tongues, except in bona fide
instances when that gift was used appropriately. If a speakers remarks were
not instructive or encouraging in some manner, they were not helpful.
Avoiding Uncertain Sounds (verses 7-9). In these verses Paul emphasized the futility and senselessness of speaking words which no one else could
understand. He used the illustration of identifying the respective sounds of
various instruments (verse 7). If one cannot distinguish how one instrument
sounds in comparison to another, then nothing that is heard is meaningful.
Even more critical was the need to recognize the trumpet commands during
a time of battle (verse 8). If the soldiers were unable to decide whether to
attack or retreat, there would be certain chaos, followed probably by utter disaster. A sound that cannot be identified or understood is meaningless, if not
dangerous, and so it was with the improper use, or abuse, of the gift of
tongues. The lesson for the Corinthian believers should have been obvious:
speaking in tongues was not beneficial to the church unless someone could
provide an interpretation of what had been said.
Speaking with Understanding (verses 10, 11). In verse 10, Paul used
an intriguing play on words to emphasize the proper use of the gift of tongues.
The Greek word for voices is phonos, from which we get phonics or phonetic
thus indicating that phonos generally refers to the sound or tone of a voice.
The term for without significance is aphonos, which literally means, without
voice. On the surface it seems as if Pauls statement is paradoxical, if not
downright nonsensical. How can a voice or sound be voiceless or soundless?
What Paul actually means, however, is that no voice or language, is without
significance or meaning as he indicated in verse 11, in which he invoked the
commonly held view that anyone who could not speak Greek was regarded as
a barbarian. (Compare Romans 1:14.) The conclusion from this argument as
far as the Corinthian believers were concerned was that, if they could not be
understood, they should remain silent.

127 / 1 Corinthians 13:114:40

Thursday, August 18

Lesson 12
1 Corinthians 14:12-19

In this passage Paul reiterated some stipulations about the use of the gift
of tongues, and he expanded his exhortation to include praying and singing as
well as speaking in other languages. Although Paul exercised the gift of
tongues on numerous occasions, he did not boast about the matter.
No Unknown Tongue (verses 12-14). Once again, Paul stressed that
the spiritual gifts were for the overall well being of the congregation. To
intensely desire a gift was entirely acceptable as long as the intent was the
edification of the church and not for elevation of the believer (verse 12); however, if one wanted to speak in another language, he should also pray that he
would be given the interpretation of what he would say (verse 13). If the ability to interpret were lacking, there would not be any benefit from what was
said (verse 14). On the basis of all Paul had to say regarding the use of the gift
of tongues, it should be obvious there is no such thing as an unknown tongue.
Some people claim they are enabled to speak in a spiritual language or a
heavenly language because of their depth of spirituality or spiritual maturity. Such a belief is a reflection of spiritual misunderstanding or immaturity,
however, for two reasons. First, the gift of tongues no longer exists. Moreover,
when that gift was operable, it consisted of the ability to speak in another
human language, one which could be understood by those familiar with that
With the Spirit and with Understanding (verses 15-17). It appears
from Pauls argument in these verses that some of the members of the
Corinthian church were faking the gift of
tongues, which reflected how highly some of
Unknown Tongue: first there is
no word for unknown. Unknown
these people regarded that gift. The apostle
is not in the text, and as you
told them, however, they needed to speak
can see in your Bible, it is in
with understanding as well as with the spiritalics.This is added by the
it. Thus, under such a stipulation, those who
translator.The word for tongue
means language.What Paul
counterfeited the gift of tongues also had to
writes about here is not a lanlie about being able to understand what
guage no person knows, but
they were saying. Paul consistently and
instead, the speaking of a
relentlessly adhered to his guiding principle
known language that one has
not studied.This gift of tongues
for the use of the spiritual gifts, which was
is the ability to speak in a recthat they were to be exercised for the beneognized language of the world
fit of the congregation. Instead of arguing
so that the people of that lanwith those who claimed untruthfully to
guage can understand the
have the gift of tongues, Paul simply said, if
gospel.Word Study #1100.
they could not sing, pray and speak with

The Problem of Childish Members / 128

understanding, they should keep quiet. The fact that other believers were to
be edified by the use of the gift of tongues is indicated by Pauls reference to
those who would respond with an Amen to what was said (verses 16, 17).
Teaching with Effectiveness (verses 18, 19). Lest any of the members
of the church in Corinth think Paul was being unduly critical of those who
claimed to have the gift of tongues, he told them that he too had spoken in
other languagesin fact, he had done so more than all the Corinthian believers combined (verse 18); however, Paul was not boasting about his gift. In fact,
he said it was far more beneficial to a congregation for him to speak five
wordsa brief, simple statementwhich could be understood by everyone
than to speak ten thousand words that could not be understood by anyone
(verse 19). That observation by Paul should have silenced permanently those
who falsely claimed to have the gift of tongues, and it should have reminded
all the members of the congregation that any and all of their spiritual gifts
were for mutual edification.
Friday, August 19

Lesson 12
1 Corinthians 14:20-32

In this passage Paul set forth some guidelines which, if followed, would
provide the greatest benefit for all who were involved in the matter of spiritual gifts. The gifts of tongues and prophecy were highly impressive gifts, and
they needed to be exercised with great care.
Tongues, a Sign for Unbelievers (verses 20-22). In verse 20, Paul gave
the Corinthian believers a kind admonition which he prefaced with the term
brethren. The fact that such an admonition was necessary indicates how
touchy the matter of speaking in tongues had become in the church in
Corinth. Pauls appeal was for the Corinthians to be mature (not children)
in their understanding regarding the spiritual gifts in general and that of
tongues in particular; however, they were encouraged to be childlike (in malice be ye children) in their attitude toward each other. The Greek word for
men in this instance actually means mature or complete. Verse 21 is based
on Isaiah 28:11, the lesson that the sovereign God can use people who speak
an unfamiliar language to accomplish His purposes. This thought led to
Pauls conclusion in the first part of verse 22 that the gift of tongues was a
sign for unbelievers, of which the marvelous phenomenon that occurred on
the day of Pentecost is the classic example (Acts 2:1-11). However, the
Corinthians who were counterfeiting the gift of tongues were trying to
impress other believers.

129 / 1 Corinthians 13:114:40

Prophesying, a Sign for Believers (verses 22-25). If the gift of tongues
was a sign for unbelievers, prophecy was a sign for believers, as Paul indicated in the closing part of verse 22 (prophesying serveth . . . for them which
believe). The contrast between the manner in which the Corinthians were
exercising the gifts of tongues and prophecy is implied in verses 23 and 24.
Verse 23 depicts a scene in which various people are supposedly speaking in
other languages, but there is no one present who can understand any of these
languages. Paul said such a situation was not helpful to the unlearned or
unbelievers (verse 23). That statement was an indictment of the Corinthians
abuse of the gift of tongues. When the Corinthians tried to counterfeit the gift
of tongues, they simply spoke meaningless gibberish which was not beneficial
to anyone; however, when people could hear the will and purposes of God
explained through the gift of prophecy, everyoneunbelievers as well as
believers, the unlearned as well as the learnedstood to profit from the experience (verses 24, 25).
The Guiding Principle for All Gifts (verse 26). Once again, Paul prefaced his remarks with the respectful designation brethren. He stressed to the
members of the church in Corinth the need for order in their public worship
services to promote the overall edification of the congregation. That principle
was to be the guiding light for all the Corinthian believers regardless of ones
spiritual gift. Whether someone was impressed to lead the congregation in a
song (psalm), was given a doctrine to teach, was enabled to speak in another language, had received a revelation setting forth the will or purpose of God,
or could interpret for someone speaking in another languageall of these
were to be done to build up the congregation and not to elevate the individual
exercising the gift.
The Proper Use of Tongues (verses 27, 28). Despite the abuses of the gift
of tongues by some of the members of the Corinthian church, there could have
been situations when the exercise of that gift was in order. Consequently, Paul
set down some instructions for the proper use of tongues. First of all, he told
the Corinthians to establish a limit so that no more than three people would
speak in tongues during any one service. In addition, the speakers were to
speak by course, that is, one after the other. Finally, no one was to speak in
tongues unless someone was present who could interpret what had been said.
Unarguably, by following strictly these instructions, the Corinthian believers
would have completely eliminated the abuse of tongues in their worship services. These guidelines also emphasized that much of what was claimed to be
an exercise of the gift of tongues was not directed by the Holy Spirit, but it
was instead self-generated, possibly for the purpose of making the speaker
appear to be more spiritually minded or spiritually mature than others.

The Problem of Childish Members / 130

The Proper Way To Prophesy (verses 29-32). Just as Paul gave instructions for the proper use of tongues, so he did for the gift of prophecy also. Generally, the order for prophesying was the same as for speaking in tongues
no more than two or three speakers, and, although not specifically stated, it
seems certain they were to prophesy one at a time. The prophets who were
not speaking were to exercise the gift of discernment, indicated by the exhortation let the other [prophets] judge (verse 29). The Greek word for judge
essentially means to judge thoroughly. Thus, the consensus of the other
prophets would assure that the will of God was being proclaimed. (Compare
1 John 4:1.) If the Spirit revealed anything that needed to be corrected, the
speaker was to yield to whomever the Spirit had moved (verse 30). In any
event the gift of prophecy was to be exercised in an orderly, respectful manner for the edification of the entire congregation (verse 31). Even though the
prophets were directed by the Holy Spirit to speak, they were in control of
their own spirits, so they could speak or refrain from speaking as the situation warranted (verse 32).
Saturday, August 20

Lesson 12
1 Corinthians 14:33-40

With this passage Paul concluded his extended discussion of the spiritual
gifts. One matter he addressed in these verses which he had not considered
previously was that women were not to exercise any spiritual gifts in the public worship services. Throughout these final verses, Paul emphasized the
importance of conducting church matters in an orderly manner.
Avoid Confusion (verses 33-35). The entire universe attests to the wonderful fact that God is associated with order and harmony. On the other hand,
when disorder intrudes the result is tumult, commotion and chaos. What is
true of the universe as a whole is also true for a church. God is not responsible for confusion in a church, nor is He pleased with such a situation (verse
33). It was possible to exercise spiritual gifts in such a way to cause disorder
and disharmony in a congregation. Thus, the apostle Paul gave yet another
stipulation regarding the use of spiritual gifts. That exhortation, which was
applicable to all the churches, was that women were not to speakthat is,
they were not to exercise any spiritual gift such as prophecy, speaking in
tongues or interpretation of tonguesin the churches (verse 34). If any
woman wanted to discuss a matter or obtain additional information, she was
to consult her husband in private (verse 35). The principle which Paul
invoked in this situation was that women are to be subject to men, an issue
which was addressed in Lesson 10. (Review comments on 1 Corinthians 11:119).

131 / 1 Corinthians 13:114:40

Obey Godly Instructions (verses 36-38). The rhetorical questions in
verse 36 were posed by Paul as a means of emphasizing what he had said
regarding the role of women in the public worship services. Evidently, some
people, possibly those who were also abusing the gift of tongues, were insisting they had some new instructions from God on the matter; however, subsequent revelations from God will not contradict principles that had previously
been set forth because Pauls reference to the teachings of the Law about the
relative roles of men and women in public worship. Verse 37 includes an especially remarkable statement, which is Pauls assertion that the epistle of 1
Corinthiansthe things that I write unto youwas inspired by God and
was to be accepted as such by the members of the church in Corinth and by
all other believers as well. Anyone who refused to acknowledge what Paul had
to say about that matter was to be left alone, and anything such an individual might venture to proclaim about the subject was to be ignored (verse 38).
Respect Each Believers Gift (verse 39). In some of his final remarks
regarding spiritual gifts, Paul implied that prophecy was to be encouraged,
while the gift of tongues was to be tolerated. The Greek word for covet basically means to be zealous for. As used in
this instance, the term covet has a positive
Decently: this word is compound in the Greek language.
connotation. Because Paul urged the
It tells us the word has at its
Corinthian believers to desire intensely the
roots the idea of a good
gift of prophecy. It indicates how highly he
scheme, like a schematic that
regarded that gift. On the other hand, Paul
will be precise in its plan.This
word speaks that we are to do
conceded that the exercise of the gift of
things in a decent and proper
tongues was not to be forbidden. It is apparmanner. It carries the idea of
ent, however, that he regarded the gift of
proper and respectable as well.
prophecy as being much more beneficial to a
Living for God should be a
congregation than that of tongues since the
good plan that carries out in a
proper manner the scheme of
latter gift was intended to be a sign of conGod for our lives.Word Study
firmation to unbelievers.
Do Everything Decently and Orderly
(verse 40). Pauls conclusion regarding the
In Order: the rank and file order
use of spiritual gifts was a reiteration of
of something finds its root
what he had previously implied. In setting
here in this word. A fixed sucforth this principle, Paul did not intend to
cession reveals the meaning of
restrict the work of the Holy Spirit within a
this term. Paul wanted us to
congregation. Instead, his purpose was to
understand there is an order
in serving God.We cannot
encourage an atmosphere in which the Spirstep out of that order and
it can work even more effectively. If people
please God no more than we
are distracted by confusion and disorder,
can arrange numbers as we
they are not as likely to be responsive to the
like in a math quiz.There is an
prompting of the Spirit in their worship serorder. Word Study #5010.
vices. The Greek term for decently conveys

The Problem of Childish Members / 132

such ideas as honorable, becoming, respectable. The phrase in order
essentially means according to an established procedure. A disorderly worship service can impede the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit.
Lesson 12

1 Corinthians 13:114:40

In the church in Corinth the childish behavior of some of its members

seemed particularly to have involved abuses of the gift of tongues. Pauls
instructions on that matter, if applied, would act as regulators to prevent misconduct in their public worship servicesespecially inappropriate actions
which might have been attributed to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Pauls
overriding principle of doing everything decently and in order is as valid for
todays worship services as it was for the first century.

Lesson 13

For Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Problem of
Forgetful Believers
1 Corinthians 15:116:24

The apostle Paul closed his epistle to the church in Corinth with two critical reminders. First, he brought to the minds of his readers some wonderful
truths regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and, based upon that great
accomplishment, the assurance that believers shall enjoy ultimate victory
over sin and death. Finally, Paul reminded the Corinthian saints they were to
be mindful of the needs of others. How one treats less fortunate people can
provide telling insights into his spirituality.
Monday, August 22

Lesson 13


1 Corinthians 15:1-11

Paul began his discussion of the resurrection with a reference to the gospel,
after which he quickly proceeded to cite some witnesses who had firsthand
knowledge of the risen Lord. The acceptance of the gospel had brought some
remarkable changes in the lives of the Corinthian believers.
The Essence of the Gospel (verses 1-4). In stating, I declare unto you the
gospel, Paul reminded his readers of the gospel which he had preached to
them previously (verse 1). Although they accepted by faith the message of salvation which the apostle had proclaimed, he wanted them to understand that
they needed to keep in mind what they had heard and to live in such a manner to give a positive reflection of the salvation which they had received (verse
2). The phrase unless ye have believed in vain did not suggest they could lose
their salvation, but it was an encouragement to maintain an effective testimony for Christ. In verses 3 and 4, Paul set forth the essence of the gospel,
that it is the message of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Since the
word gospel essentially means good news, it is a message of hope and assurance for all who accept it. The good news about Christs death is that He died
for others; the good news about His burial is that His tomb is empty; the good
news about His resurrection is that He was victorious over death, a victory
through which all believers shall also be triumphant.

The Problem of Forgetful Believers / 134


Defining the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15:14): The gospel is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ according to the
Scriptures. To Paul and the Corinthians,
the according to the scriptures (verses 3,
4) formula attached to the end of the statement indicates the happening was not just
a New Testament heralded event.
That which is perfect (1 Cor. 13:10)
was in the early stages of being completed.
So, at the time Paul wrote to the Corinthians, the Old Testament was still their primary, if not only inspired record of the
gospel. Such is reflected in Pauls method
of first preaching from the Old Testament
in the synagogues when entering a city
(Acts 17:1-3). The passion and resurrection
of Christ is the central theme of the entire
Bible from Genesis to Revelation! Likewise,
the gospel is the premier message of the
Lords churches today.


The Gospel Authenticated by Witnesses (1

Corinthians 15:5-8): According to the Law
of Moses, some parts of which Paul also
applied to the work of the church (Deut.
19:15; 2 Cor. 13:1), important issues were to
be established by multiple witnesses. Nothing was more important than verification of
the reality of the resurrection of Christ.
Paul said eyewitness accounts of the
resurrected Christ included: (1) Cephas, or
Simon Peter (Luke 24:34); (2) the twelve,
possibly a collective term to describe the
apostolic office instead of a specific number
(Luke 24:33, 36); (3) five hundred brethren
simultaneously saw Him; (4) James, possibly the Lords brother (Matt. 13:55; Gal.
1:19); (5) the apostles, possibly some of
those who later became missionaries such
as Barnabas (Acts 14:14); (6) and finally by
Paul himself (Acts 9:4, 17).

Appearances (verses 5-8). Following His resurrection, Jesus
made several appearances to
various individual believers and
groups. It is difficult to ascertain
the exact order of these appearances, but the following list gives
the likely sequence of events.
1. To Mary Magdalene (Mark
16:9; John 20:11-18).
2. To the other women (Matt.
3. To Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Cor.
4. To the Emmaus disciples
(Mark 16:12, 13; Luke 24:13-32).
5. To the apostles and others,
but not Thomas (Mark 16:14-18;
Luke 24:33-48; John 20:19-25).
6. To the apostles, with Thomas
present (John 20:26-29).
7. To the seven disciples by the
Sea of Galilee (John 21:1-23).
8. To the apostles in Galilee
(Matt. 28:10, 16-20).
9. To more than five hundred
believers (1 Cor. 15:6).
10. To James (1 Cor. 15:7).
11. To the apostles at the ascension (Luke 24:49-52; Acts 1:4-12).
12. To Stephen (Acts 7:55).
13. To Paul near Damascus
(Acts 9:3-6; 1 Cor. 15:8).
14. To Paul in the Temple (Acts
15. To Paul in Corinth (Acts
18:9, 10).
16. To Paul in Jerusalem (Acts
17. To John on the isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:10-20).

135 / 1 Corinthians 15:116:24

Changes Wrought by the Gospel (verses 9-11). By associating himself
with the apostles and others who had been privileged to see the resurrected
Lord, Paul was overwhelmed with shame and humiliation because of the
intense persecution he once led against Gods people (verse 9). Through the
wonderful grace of God a tremendous change had been wrought in Paul. He
who formerly persecuted believers had become a fervent believer himself, and
not only that, but he also had become a faithful minister of the gospel which
had once resisted so strenuously (verse 10). What had happened in Pauls life
had also occurred in the lives of many others. Consequently, there were many
who were preaching the gospel, and some in addition to Paul had preached in
Corinth. Apollos was one of those who once ministered in Corinth, and possibly Peter had visited that city. (Compare 1 Corinthians 1:12.) Regardless of
who the messenger might have been, the message was the same, and, when
people accept the gospel by faith, the result is the same (verse 11).
Tuesday, August 23

Lesson 13


1 Corinthians 15:12-28

Throughout the centuries death has dogged the steps of mankind.

Although physical death continues to be a reality for humanity, it is an enemy
which has been defeated by Jesus Christ. The reality of the resurrection is an
expectation which all believers can anticipate with the utmost assurance.
The Assurance Provided by the Resurrection (verses 12-14). The conjunction if in the first part of verse 12 does not indicate there might have been
some doubt about the matter of the resurrection of Christ. Instead, the term
denotes a fact. We might say, Since it is
preached that Christ rose from the dead.
Resurrection: this is the normal
Next, Paul gave the reason for this extended
word for the raising of the
treatment of the resurrection, which was
dead. Resurrection carries the
that some of the members of the church in
presumption of death and the
Corinth were teaching there was no resuroutstanding quality that life
rection (verse 12). Apparently, these miscomes again to the dead one.
This was the one doctrine that
guided people held that Christ might have
electrified the first century
been resurrected, but that was no assurance
pagans.They found it difficult
that believers would be resurrected; howevto believe, but it is not a revival
er, the resurrection of Christ is inseparably
of a person in a coma; it is the
linked to the resurrection of all those who
bringing to life of one that is
dead.Word Study #386.
trust Him. Thus, if there is no resurrection
for believers, then Christ Himself was not
resurrected. There cannot be one without
the other (verse 13). Moreover, all the messages by Paul and the other preachers were nothing but exercises in futility, and the Corinthians faith in Christ
was in vain as well if Christ is not risen (verse 14).

The Problem of Forgetful Believers / 136

False Witnesses: this combination of two words tells us we
have a witness or martyr that
is a liar.The pseudo person
gives a testimony where the
facts are as they want them to
be and not as they should be.
This term is one of the
strongest in the New Testament for someone who lies.
Word Study #5575.
Vain: empty and devoid of truth
catches the essence of this
word. It can also mean fruitless
and not productive. It implies
lack of purpose and destitute
of help. Faith would be without
its object and trustworthiness
if it is vain. If faith is vain and
empty, the pagan knows that
he has ideas that work. Our
faith and preaching is not vain.
It is full, not empty. Word Study


If There Is No Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12-19): If, as the Sadducees

taught (Matt. 22:23), there is no resurrection, then Christ is not actually raised. So
the following results would be true (1)
preaching the gospel is a useless exercise
because the resurrection, a vital part of the
gospel, has not actually occurred (1 Cor.
15:4); (2) faith in Him is worthless as the
gospel itself is false being without the resurrection it claims has happened; (3)
believers are false witnesses testifying to a
fictitious event; (4) the sins of those who
have trusted in Christ are still unforgiven;
(5) all who have died trusting in Christ
have actually gone to hell; (6) believers are
the most miserable of men as their having
peace with God is based upon justification
because of a resurrection which has not
happened (Rom. 4:255:2).


The Resurrection Makes

Christ the Firstfruits (1 Corinthians 15:20,
Faith Viable (verses 15-19).
23): As a sign of thanksgiving in June at
In continuing his argument
the Feast of Pentecost, the Israelites offered
against those who denied that
a sacrifice of the grain that had first
ripened (Ex. 23:19; Lev. 23:10, 17; Deut.
Christ had been raised from the
26:1-11). This was an earnest or promise of
dead, Paul asserted that, if such
the coming greater harvests later in the
were the case, he and other
summer and fall.
preachers of the gospel were
The resurrection of Jesus was the firstfruits of them that slept. It is the earnest
liars (false witnesses), and not
of what will take place at the second comonly were they untruthful to
ing of Christ. For the Lord himself shall
men, but they also testified
descend from heaven with a shout, with
against God (verse 15). In the
the voice of the archangel, and with the
phrase we have testified of God
trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall
rise first: then we which are alive and
the Greek term for of essentialremain shall be caught up together with
ly means against. That was
them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the
certainly a chilling accusation,
air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord
but it was in essence what the
(1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
false teachers advocated. In
verse 16, Paul reiterated the
point he had made previously in which he emphasized the vital connection
between the resurrection of Christ and that of believers. (See verse 13.) More-

137 / 1 Corinthians 15:116:24

over, if Christ has not been raised, there is no basis for a viable faith. The
Greek word for vain in verse 17 has the sense of useless, inoperable,
opposed to the Greek term in verse 14, which basically means empty. If faith
is not viable, there is no hope for mankind. Any profession of faith in Christ,
whether by people who are still living or by those who have died (fallen
asleep in Christ) is of no efficacy because it is a dead faith (verses 17, 18). If
there is no resurrection from the dead, the only meaningful existence is ones
earthly life, which is indeed a hopeless outlook (verse 19).
The Order of the Resurrection (verses 20-24). Having established with
irrefutable logic the certainty of Christs resurrection, Paul proceeded to give
additional information about what His resurrection means to believers and
the divine purposes, some implications of which are suggested in verse 20.
The reference to the firstfruits alludes to an offering which the Jews gave
under the Law (Lev. 23:10, 11), while the term slept denotes physical death.
That the resurrection can be obtained through one individual is certainly
credible when one recalls that physical death is a reality for each person
because of the fall of Adam (1 Cor. 15:21, 22). If the resurrection is a certainty, so is the order of that phenomenon, illustrated by the sequence of harvest
events in Bible times (verses 23, 24).
Christ the firstfruits. This included Jesus Christ and those who were
raised following His resurrection (Matt. 27:52, 53). (Note: The offering of firstfruits consisted of a sheaf of grain, not a single stalk, hence the raising of
those saints in association with Christs resurrection.)
Afterward they that are Christs at his coming. This will be the main harvest, the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
Then cometh the end. This will be when the unsaved are raised to appear
at the Great White Throne Judgment and be consigned forever to the lake of
fire (Rev. 20:5, 12-15).
The Defeat of Death (verses 25-28). One of the most remarkable features
of the second coming of Christ will be the Millennium, the worldwide kingdom
which He shall establish when He returns to earth in power and glory. By the
conclusion of that one thousand year reign, every kind of opposition to God,
His purposes and His people will be defeated (verse 25). The last of those enemies will be death itself which will have been destroyed when death and hell
are cast into the lake of fire (verse 26; Rev. 20:14). Death, the essence of which
is separation from God who is the ultimate source of all life, will not be a
working principle in the new Heaven and earth. The victor over death is the
Son of God, the second person of the Godhead, who is also the Son of Man, as
indicated by verse 27, the opening statement of which alludes to Psalm 8:6.
Paul was careful, however, to keep the line of divine authority in clear focus.
The Father, the first person in the Godhead, has made all things subject to the
Son; however, the Son is always subject to the Father and will demonstrate
that subjection when He turns the kingdom over to the Father following His
millennial reign (verses 27, 28).

The Problem of Forgetful Believers / 138

Wednesday, August 24

Lesson 13
1 Corinthians 15:29-41

This passage includes some matters that are difficult to understand. It will
be helpful, however, to keep in mind that the overall subject which is being
addressed is the resurrection, and the topic of more immediate consideration
is how the dead are raised. Having clearly established the reality of the resurrection and some of the consequences, Paul then set forth some features
regarding the manner of the resurrection.
Baptism and the Resurrection (verses 29-31). Verse 29 has generated
all manner of debate and controversy. To understand what Paul meant by the
phrase baptized for the dead one needs to recall what baptism symbolizes. It
depicts the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the fact that
the believer has died to sin and has been raised to walk in newness of life
(Rom. 6:2-11). Thus, baptism gives a twofold emphasis to death: the literal
death of Jesus and the believers symbolic death to sin. Baptism is also a pictorial promise that believers will be resurrected even though they will experience physical death. The likelihood of physical death was something which
Paul and others like him had to face each day (verse 30). If there is no hope
for resurrection, why would people put themselves in constant jeopardy of
their lives, Paul asked. The threat of physical death was so constant and so
real that Paul exclaimed, I die daily; however, despite that fact Paul was
always ready to affirm (protest) how pleased he was with the Corinthian
saints (verse 31). The Greek term for your rejoicing actually means our glorying.
Awake to Righteousness (verses 32-34). Verse 32 is another controversial Scripture. Did Paul literally fight with wild beasts in Ephesus, or did he
use that expression to describe the fierce resistance he encountered from
wicked opponents to the gospel? This writer believes that Paul spoke figuratively in this matter. If he had actually fought wild beasts in the arena, it
seems he most certainly would have included that experience in the lengthy
list of sufferings he had endured. (Compare 2 Corinthians 11:23-28.) The last
part of verse 32 is the Epicurean philosophy, which holds that, since there is
no existence beyond this life, we should enjoy our time on earth to the fullest.
(Compare Luke 12:16-21.) Paul continued to warn against worldly philosophies of life in verses 33 and 34. The expression evil communications in this
instance means bad company. The word manners is from ethos which is
related to ethics or ethical. Bad company is likely to have a detrimental effect
on a Christian life-style. Thus, Paul called on the Corinthian believers to
awake to righteousness.
The Method of the Resurrection (verses 35-38). In this passage Paul
answered the objections of those who reasoned that once a physical body has
decomposed it cannot be restored. The Greek word for fool literally means
mindless one (verse 36). This is not the same term that Jesus used in

139 / 1 Corinthians 15:116:24

Matthew 5:22, which is a much more derogatory expression. Paul compared
the resurrection of a body to a plant that springs forth from a seed (1 Cor.
15:36). When a seed is planted, it begins to decompose; however, from the
innermost part of the seed new life emerges, and the plant that is produced is
completely different in nature and form from the seed that was planted (verse
37). While there is a relationship between the seed and the plant, neither
bears any resemblance to the other. The kind of plant which comes from a
seed is determined by its nature which was given by the omnipotent, omniscient Creator (verse 38). Although tremendous strides have been made in
botanical knowledge, the fact that a tiny seed possesses the germ of life which
can produce a plant with indeterminate possibilities continues to baffle the
most learned scientists.
Different Bodies for Different Conditions (verses 39-41). In explaining
the kind of body believers will have in the resurrection, Paul expanded his
illustration from nature. The primary lesson of this is that God is able to raise
dead bodies in a form of existence that is utterly different from before. In creation the Almighty God gave different kinds of bodiesdifferent in nature
and composition as well as in appearance and functionto various creatures
(verse 39). The specific flesh provided for humans, beasts, fish and birds is
what is most suitable for each kind in its own setting and environment. Then
Paul reached further and spoke of the heavenly bodiesthe sun, moon and
starseach of which shines with a distinctive light and radiance (verses 40,
41). Paul was not addressing the molecular or atomic structure of those bodies, but he was simply reminding his readers of what they could observe with
their own eyes. On a star-lit night, one sees a dazzling array of varying intensities of light. The God who created such a spectacle can certainly fashion resurrected bodies.
Thursday, August 25

Lesson 13
1 Corinthians 15:42-58

Paul concluded his discourse on the resurrection with a description of the

body that believers will have and an assurance that the purposes of God will
be fulfilled. While the first Adam failed, the second Adam will not. The anticipation of ultimate victory should be an incentive for faithful service.
A Spiritual Body (verses 42-44). In these verses Paul again used the
seed-plant metaphor to explain the resurrection (it is sown . . . it is raised).
Four critical changes in the nature of the body are included.
From corruption to incorruption. Decomposition of the body begins immediately when anyone dies; however, the resurrected body will not be subject to
such processes.
From dishonor to glory. One of the meanings of the Greek word for honor
is worth. A corpse is worthless because it has no further use. The resurrected body will serve a valuable purpose.

The Problem of Forgetful Believers / 140

From weakness to power. The natural body, always susceptible to disease
and infirmity, will eventually succumb to death. The resurrected body will
never be afflicted with suffering or death.
From a natural body to a spiritual body. The resurrected body, raised incorruptible, glorified and completely resistant to infirmity and death, is a spiritual body in the sense that it will house the believers spirit.
The Second Adam (verses 45-49). In this passage Paul proceeded from a
reference to the natural and spiritual bodies to a brief explanation of the difference between the human and spiritual natures. In verse 45, the phrase it
is written refers to Genesis 2:7. As the first Adam was the head of a physical
race, so is Christ (the last Adam) the head of a spiritual race (verse 45). The
order of the two Adams reflects the experience of believers concerning salvation (verse 46). When one is born, he has a sinful (natural) nature that is
received from the fallen Adam; however, upon experiencing the new birth
through faith in Christ, one receives a spiritual nature. In continuing his contrast between Adam and Christ, Paul described Adam as earthy, and Christ
as the Lord from heaven (verse 47), and then went on to speak of the descendants of these two in similar terms (verse 48). In verses 47 and 48 the spiritual nature is described as being heavenly in the sense that it is received
from above even as Christ is the Lord from Heaven. By virtue of the physical
birth everyone has the image of Adam (the earthy). This means our nature
is fallen and depraved, subject not only to sin, but to disease, infirmity and
death as well. Through the new birth believers will have the image of the
heavenly when our bodies are resurrected.
The Great Change (verses 50-53). For believers to bear the image of the
heavenly, a great change will have to occur in the nature and composition of
our bodies. The term flesh and blood speaks of the natural body which is not
constituted for the eternal ages (verse 50). In verses 51-53, Paul gave a concise account of the change that will fit the body for eternity. It is called a mystery because it was a truth which God kept hidden until the appropriate time
had arrived for its disclosure.
We shall not all sleep. The word sleep
Twinkling of an Eye: this phrase
means in an instant. The time
refers to physical death. Many believers will
it takes to blink describes this
still be living when Christ returns.
term at its best.The brief
But we shall all be changed. Whether
moment of time that this
one has died or is living when Christ
reveals leaves no time for a
returns will not matter because all believers
person to repent and trust
Christ before His return.This
will receive a body that is incorruptible, glocommon phrase uncovers for
rified and completely resistant to disease
us the urgency of the message
and death.
and the necessity of repenThe dead shall be raised incorruptible,
tance at this very instant.Word
and we shall be changed. The fact that the
Study #4493.
dead shall be raised speaks of the resurrec-

141 / 1 Corinthians 15:116:24

tion of departed believers, and we shall be changed describes what will happen to believers who are still living.
Corruptible . . . incorruption, . . . mortal . . . immortality. The term corruptible describes the bodies of deceased believers, while mortal refers to the
bodies of living believers.
The Ultimate Victory (verses 54-58). For believers victory over death will
be realized when their bodies are either resurrected in glory or changed into
a glorified state (verse 54). The Scripture to which Paul referred is Isaiah
25:8. The exultant chant of victory which Paul expressed in 1 Corinthians
15:55 was based on Hosea 13:14. Death has a temporary sting and the grave
a brief victory, but believers are assured of ultimate victory over death and
the grave through the resurrection. Death inflicts pain because it is the product of the sinful nature; sins strength is in the Law in the sense that the Law
reveals ones sinfulness and his inability to please God (verse 56). Despite the
failings and frailties of the physical nature, however, there is the certainty of
victory over sin, the Law, death and the grave through Jesus Christ (verse 57).
He resisted sin, kept the Law, conquered death and defied the grave through
His sinless life, sacrificial death and victorious resurrection. While believers
can anticipate ultimate victory through their faith in Christ, we can live victoriously even now by being stedfast, unmovable, always abounding in the
work of the Lord (verse 58). Our efforts to serve God will not be vain
(empty) if we are living and worshiping with our faith confidently in Him.
Victory, whether now or in the future, is through Jesus Christ.
Friday, August 26

Lesson 13
1 Corinthians 16:1-12

God has always intended for His people to be mindful of the needs of others. Under the Law, the Jews were directed to help the poor (Lev. 19:9, 10;
Deut. 24:19-22). During the time of the early churches, material support from
congregations for impoverished believers seems to have been an established
and widespread practice. (Compare Acts 2:45; 4:35; 6:1; 11:27-30; Galatians
2:10; 1 Timothy 5:9.)
Instructions for the Collection (verses 1-4). The collection for the
saints was an offering which Paul was raising for the poor saints in the
church in Jerusalem. He also solicited contributions from the other churches
with whom he had labored, such as those in Galatia (Gal. 2:10) and Macedoniaspecifically, Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea (2 Cor. 8:1-4). Paul directed the members of the Corinthian congregation to set aside a special offering
each Sunday (verse 2). The specific amount to be given was to be determined
by each individual, but it was to be based on as God hath prospered him.
Thus, by contributing beforehand, the Corinthian believers would have their

The Problem of Forgetful Believers / 142

offering ready so it could be sent to Jerusalem without any delay (verse 3).
Apparently, a committee from each congregation was to accompany the offering (compare Acts 20:4), which Paul designated here as the Corinthians liberality, or gift (charis, literally meaning grace), and if it seemed appropriate for Paul also to go with the group, he would do so (verse 4).
Another Visit to Corinth (verses 5-7). From all indications it seems as if
Paul wrote this epistle toward the end of his ministry in Ephesus, which was
where he spent most of his third missionary tour. In looking ahead, he evidently planned to go from Ephesus to Macedonia, thus giving him an opportunity to check on the state of the churchesand their progress toward the
offering for the Jerusalem saints, as wellin Berea, Thessalonica and Philippi. Paul intended to make his stay in Macedonia brief, but he planned to
remain in Corinth for the winter, which would have given him an opportunity to address more fully some of the problems he had discussed in 1 Corinthians. From Corinth, Paul planned to go on to other placesto Jerusalem with
the other brethren and the offering if that seemed to be desirable (verse 4), or
on to wherever the Lord might lead him (verse 6). In verse 7, Paul reiterated
his intention to go first to Macedonia and then to Corinth.
A Great Opportunity in Ephesus (verses 8, 9). In verse 8, Paul gave a
time frame regarding his plans for his departure from Ephesus, from which
he had planned to go to Macedonia and then on to Corinth. Paul probably felt
a need to go to Corinth as soon as possible to help that congregation with its
many problems, but he felt an even stronger impulse to remain in Ephesus
because of the great opportunity for an effective ministry in that city (a great
door and effectual, verse 9). Note that, when Paul arrived in Jerusalem, it
was in time for Pentecost (Acts 20:16), which indicated that he was making
his overall plans a year in advance. He was also permitted to remain three
months in Corinth, during which he most likely wrote the epistle of Romans
(Rom. 15:25-33), which were evidently the winter months between the two
Pentecosts (Acts 20:1-3).
Commendation of Timothy and Apollos (verses 10-12). The two men
mentioned in these verses were well-known to the members of the Corinthian church. Timothy was an associate of Paul when the church in Corinth was
established (Acts 18:1-5). He continued to assist Paul in his missionary
labors, and on this occasion had quite possibly been sent to Macedonia to
check on the status of the churches in that region. Pauls apprehension
regarding the reception Timothy might receive in Corinth was that he probably would have been viewed as Pauls representative, and any hard feelings
the Corinthians might have had toward Paul could have been projected to
Timothy (1 Cor. 16:11). As for Apollos, Paul probably felt as if he could be helpful in dealing with the Corinthians problems, but Apollos apparently did not
agree (his will was not at all to come at this time, verse 12).

143 / 1 Corinthians 15:116:24

Saturday, August 27

Lesson 13
1 Corinthians 16:13-24

All who serve the Lord are to be treated with proper respect and their
endeavors appropriately acknowledged and supported. Moreover, among
believers there should always be mutual love and prayerful concern for one
another. All Christian relationships should be pursued in the light of Christs
Stand Fast in the Faith (verses 13, 14). Verse 13 consists of a fourfold
exhortation that is reminiscent of a series of military commands.
Be watchful. In days prior to radar and other electronic means of detection,
sentries played a critical role for the military. Vigilance was absolutely essential for the troops safety and success.
Be firm. This admonition is directed against wavering, uncertainty or
doubt. Believers are to stand fast in the faith, the teachings and practices
which Gods people and His churches are to maintain.
Be manly. The term quit, used in this instance, refers to the manner in
which one acts or conducts himself. To be manly is to be courageous despite
any threats or opposition which one might encounter.
Be strong. This exhortation means that one is not to accept defeat. In the
Christian warfare there is no place for retreat. The armor of God is designed
for attack and advance (Eph. 6:13-18).
The admonition of 1 Corinthians 16:14 tempers the foregoing commands so
that believers will not act harshly or be abrasive in their dealings with either
other Christians or nonbelievers (1 Peter 4:8).
Encourage Other Laborers (verses 15-18). The exhortation in verses 15
and 16 is awkward in construction; however, what Paul said was that the
members of the church in Corinth were to honor Stephanas and his family.
Stephanas had been a faithful member of that congregation from its inception. (See comments on 1 Corinthians 1:16, Lesson 1.) Pauls statement that
Stephanas and his family had addicted themselves to the ministry of the
saints sounds more intriguing in English than it really is. The Greek word
for addicted basically means to be completely in line with or to be firmly
inclined toward. Stephanas and his family were fully committed to serving
other believers. Stephanas and the two men who accompanied him were evidently the ones who had brought the letter from the church in Corinth to
Paul, and they probably were the brethren of whom Paul wrote in verse 12.
If that is so, then these men would have taken Pauls reply, the epistle of 1
Corinthians, back to Corinth. Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus were a
great encouragement to Paul, and he urged the Corinthian saints to acknowledge what they had done (verse 18).
Salutations in the Lord (verses 19-21). In keeping with his custom, Paul
included greetings from various groups and individuals in the closing of this
epistle. The term Asia denotes a province which corresponds to the western

The Problem of Forgetful Believers / 144

third of modern day Turkey. There were several churches in Asia. (See Colossians 4:13, 15, 16; Revelation 2, 3.) While Paul was in Ephesus, the provincial
capital of Asia, he undoubtedly had contacts with believers throughout the
region. Aquila and Priscilla had helped Paul establish the church in Corinth
(Acts 18:1-3). They left Corinth with Paul when he went to Ephesus, and upon
his return to Antioch, they remained in Ephesus (Acts 18:18-22). The Ephesian church evidently met in the home of Aquila and Priscilla. Paul included greetings from all the believers in Ephesus and then gave a personal salutation with his own signature, which served as an authentication that the
epistle was from him. (Compare 2 Thessalonians 3:17.)
The Final Words (verses 22-24). Pauls closing words in this epistle are
both a warning and an encouragement. Anyone who does not lovethe
Greek word is phileo, essentially meaning likeJesus Christ is reserved for
the judgment (Anathema) of the coming Lord (Maran-atha). That was a
solemn reminder for the Corinthian believers to be mindful of their attitude
and actions in their relationships with one another. Pauls benediction, The
grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you, spoke of the unmerited favor of
God and all the benefits that flow from divine grace. Those who have received
Gods grace should be gracious in all their dealings with others. The apostle
closed this letter with the assurance that his love (agape, the highest
expression of love) was with all the members of the church in Corinth, even
though some of them acted in an unloving manner. The final word is Amen,
which is an affirmation of the truth, and, as such, is a fitting conclusion to the
Lesson 13

1 Corinthians 15:116:24

Christians are sometimes called, The People of the Book, meaning that
our lives are to be governed by the Bible. Unfortunately, we sometimes forget
how we should conduct ourselves. Pauls epistle to the church in Corinth was
a reminder of some things which the members of that congregation should
and should not do. The resurrected Lord gives assurance that Christians can
live victoriously, a practical demonstration of which is revealed by believers
concern for one another.

145 / Bibliography

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