Christian Basics Bible Sampler - Page 12

page 1302
1 Corinthians
Letter to a problem church
First Corinthians is a letter written by the apostle Paul to a church
with big problems. The Corinthian Christians were enthusiastic, but
immature, believers; and the church was troubled by quarreling,
immorality, and disunity. They exercised many gifts of the Holy Spirit,
which Paul was pleased about, but they used them in a very immature
and arrogant way, which he most definitely was not pleased about.
We are meant to use the Spirit’s gifts for the good of others, not just for
our own benefit, he reminds them. Paul had founded this church (Acts
18:1-18), and he knew it was his responsibility as their founding apostle
to set them straight. In this letter he corrects them, disciplines them,
clarifies some misunderstandings, and answers their questions.
What’s it all about?
Knowledge was a fashionable word in the
Introduction and greeting
busy and cosmopolitan city of Corinth. All
sorts of religious groups there claimed to
Divisions over the nature of true
have “knowledge” of spiritual truths that
wisdom ⋅ 1:10–2:16
others didn’t have. And the church there was
no different. Different groups were claiming
Divisions over favorite apostles
superior knowledge of one kind or another
and were becoming arrogant because of it.
Moral and legal problems within the
Paul therefore opens his letter by addressing
church ⋅ 5:1–6:20
the issue of real knowledge, or wisdom. This
Answers to their questions about
has nothing to do with intelligence or worldly
marriage ⋅ 7:1-40
values. Real wisdom, he says, is found only in
the cross of Christ (chapters 1–2).
Answers to their questions about
Paul then reprimands them for their ungodly
food offered to idols ⋅ 8:1-13
attitudes and behavior. They were dividing into
The meaning of true freedom
opposing factions based on their preferences
for different apostles (chapters 3–4). There
Divisions over worship
were examples of immorality (including the
case of a man having an affair with his motherin-law—which some in the church were actually
Using spiritual gifts
proud about), strange ideas about marriage,
and confusion over eating meat offered to
Christ’s resurrection and ours
idols (chapters 5–10). The Corinthians were
abusing their freedom because of their idea
that in Christ they were free and so could live
Personal requests and greetings
however they wanted to. It was even affecting
the way that they shared the Lord’s Supper.
Paul warns them that true freedom is about living in love and caring for others,
not ignoring them.
In chapters 12 to 14, Paul reminds the Corinthians that they form one body,
the body of Christ. It is only when the various parts are working in harmony

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