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1 Corinthians Final Assignment

June 25, 2017

Perspectives on 1 Corinthians

This epistle was written by Paul to the church in the Greek city of Corinth around AD 51 while he was
in Ephesus. Originally, Paul wrote this epistle as one long treatise. In the 13th century, this treatise was divided
into 16 chapters. While Paul’s writing was clearly divinely inspired, the chapter divisions cannot be said to be
divinely inspired. Particular themes are sometimes located in individual chapters while at other times they
span several chapters.

After greeting and thanking the Corinthians, the section of chapters 1-4 describes the divisions and
contentious atmosphere that had been festering in the Corinth church (and possible solutions). These
problems were serious enough for Paul to pay attention to. They were caused primarily by factionism. Some
church members were more popular and more followed than others (e.g., Apollos, Cephas, Paul, Christ). The
solution for these problems was that the Corinth Christians should rely on divine wisdom instead of relying on
common sense or human understanding. Only spiritually-discerned answers would truly solve Corinth’s
problems. The church needs to follow divine wisdom more sincerely. Also, church members had to think of
themselves as servants that are assigned to serve ALL other church members (not themselves or just their
friends).

The next section (chapter 5) deals with the problem of sexual immorality in the Corinth church. This
was a serious problem that was not being properly addressed. If left unchecked, this problem could grow and
infect the whole church with an immoral or overly permissive atmosphere. Instead of growing to become
mature disciples, many Christians in the Corinth church were getting too involved in the world (and thereby
corrupted by it). This was the underlining cause for this pervasive permissiveness evident in the church. The
solution was to become separated from the world and, instead, become more devoted to the gospel and
following Jesus’ teachings.

Another problem in the church is outlined in the subsequent section (chapter 5): Corinth Christians
taking each other to court over money disputes. The underlining issue was greed and “me-consciousness”
(instead of “neighbour-consciousness”). Money and hoarding were such priorities for some Corinth Christians
that they were taking each other to the secular court. They were dragging the “flag” (i.e., the image and
reputation of the church and Christ) in the ground. Paul’s solution was for the Corinth Christians to change
their hearts. Put others before themselves – become “neighbour-conscious”. Of course making money was
necessary as a life goal but this goal should be subservient to the life goal of serving others.

The next section (chapter 7) deals with principles of the all-important institution of marriage.
Marriage transforms a man and woman into the union of husband and wife. The subsequent step is this union
becomes a father and mother of children. This helps to develop a world-beyond consciousness. This union is
so important that it must be the strongest human bond that exists. While agape is the strongest form of love,
the love between a husband and wife should be the strongest non-divine love. One way this love is expressed
us through sexual intimacy. This sexual intimacy must be limited to between the husband and wife and not
extended to third parties. This is because sexual conduct makes such a large impact on the person – a good
impact if it is between the couple and a bad impact if it involves a third party.

The next section (chapters 8-11) deals with different aspects of Christian liberty. It answers the
question “How much liberty does a Christian have?” The first aspect is whether Christians should eat food
offered idols (chapter 8). It appears to be permissible for the mature Christian who is surrounded by other
mature Christians to eat this food. Any other combination of people present (e.g., immature or new Christian
with a mature Christian) requires that the food not be eaten by the mature Christian. This is to prevent the
immature Christian from being confused and develop misconceptions. Thus, the mature Christian must not
leverage his Christian liberty in such a way that causes others to stumble. Yet again, “neighbour-
centeredness” should replace “me-centeredness”.

In chapter 9, Paul continues this theme of the Christian being careful about using or exploiting his
Christian liberty. He uses the example of himself as someone who watches what he does in the name of

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Christian liberty. He identifies himself as a pastor who has certain rights. For the sake of the gospel, he does
not demand these rights.

Chapter 10 continues this theme of Christian liberty by reminding Christians that they should get
involved in anything resembling idolatry – in any form. This warning or challenge uses the Israelites as
examples that should not be followed. In this case, the testimony is not a model but a warning. Instead of that,
Christians need to do things and develop the character that glorifies God.

Chapter 11 ends this section off with another application: head coverings. Christians must not
exploit Christian liberty to promote having any head covering they choose. Instead, the Christian should wear
the suitable head covering that brings glory to God. The Christian needs to develop his Christ-centeredness.

The next section deals with the Lord’s Supper and it should be celebrated. This covenant is
something that all sincere Christians should be regularly involved in (with a good attitude). This attitude is
defined as the Lord’s Supper being a time to commemorate the cruxification of Jesus. It should not be another
opportunity to cause more divisions and snobbiness.

The next major section (chapters 12-14) deals with spiritual gifts in different ways. First, it lists and
briefly describes them. Next, it describes their purpose and how they should operate (in unison and to serve
others). Third, it describes how important love is when using the gifts. Fourth, it provides more detail about
certain kinds of gifts (prophecy and tongues). It shows how the gifts should be applied in both daily life and
during an orderly worship service.

Paul leaves the best for last by discussing the key doctrine of Christ’s resurrection (among other
issues) in the final section. Chapter 15 outlines the power and importance of the resurrection in the believer’s
life. The rest of this section deals with immediate and practical issues at the time: collecting money from the
church, Paul’s travel plans, and ending instructions.

I learned many important matters after studying and reflecting on 1 Corinthians. First, I better
understand how problems start and to resolve these problems before they grow out of control and give the
church a bad witness. I saw 1st-hand how important it is to install an early warning system so catch these
problems right when they conceive. Also, the development of an authentic and godly, put-your-neighbour-first
atmosphere in the church is needed to nurture godly and brotherly attitudes (among the brothers and sisters in
the church). Thirdly, I saw the imperative of developing transparency between the believers. This is not a
secular idea but a practice Paul encourages to ensure they develop trust and respect for one another. Lastly, I
see that a Christian is not born but made. That is not to say he is not born again. Of course he is born again.
After that conversion experience, though, spiritual growth is an imperative for the Christian to develop. Both
daily discipline from life events (i.e., the school of hard knocks) and the Holy Spirit help the developmental
process of a Christian (i.e., sanctification). Christians need to be open to accepting the guidance or discipline
that is brought into their lives.

This course is excellent but there is always room for improvement. First, an outline in table format of
the book’s content should be given at the start. Sometimes I felt lost in the details of 1 Corinthians without
seeing the big picture of a verse or passage. Second, I would have learned more if the classes were divided
into chapters (or groups of chapters if they were related). Thus, the 15-week semester could cover one
chapter a week of the 16 chapters of 1 Corinthians. Then, the various topics related to that chapter could be
outlined during the lecture. This chapter-based curriculum would be clearer than a theme-based curriculum.
The latter often ends up being a hodge-podge of somewhat related concepts being included in one class. The
overall theme of the lecture may be lost on the students. On a related note, not enough titles were used in
lectures. The professor would dive into listing details of a concept without labeling the concept. Spontaneity is
an essential skill for instruction but it needs to be tempered with scaffolding. Scaffolding is providing a
framework, background, or introduction to the topic before diving into it.

Another course that this instructor could do is a similar course on the gospel of Mark. This shorter,
more concise gospel packs a big punch. It covers stuff all the way from John’s ministry to the cost of
discipleship to the cruxification. Another course that would be a blessing quite informative is pastoral
counseling.