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Overview: 1 Corinthians

Apr 07, 2020
Paul's first letter to the Corinthians was addressed to a Christian community that Paul knew well. Corinth was one of the largest port cities in the ancient world and had many temples dedicated to Roman and Greek gods. It was an important economic center, so Paul strategically came here as a missionary. He spent a year and a half there meeting people and talking about Jesus. A large number of people became followers of Jesus and formed a Christian community. You can read about this in the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 18. After some time, Paul went further and established churches in other cities.
overview 1 corinthians
During this time he began to receive news that things were not going well in the Corinthian church. He was hurt by all kinds of problems and that's why he wrote this letter. The letter is divided into five main parts, along with a concluding salutation. And these five parts correspond to five main problems that Paul addresses. In this way, the document reads like a collection of short essays on different topics, but these central ideas tie all the pieces together. This is what he does in each section: he describes the problem, but then he answers that problem with one part of the gospel story, which is the good news about Jesus.
overview 1 corinthians

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And it shows that they are not really living what they say they believe. Therefore, this letter is about learning to think about every area of ​​life through the lens of the gospel. Let's dive in and see how he does it. In chapters 1 - 4 the problem is that there is division in the church. Several other teachers had come to town since Paul had left: a man named Apollos, then Peter. And the people had chosen their favorite teachers and then gathered supporters around a leader. So they started talking down and disrespecting people, who favored another leader or teacher.
overview 1 corinthians
Paul's response to this problem is somewhat sarcastic and biting. He says, "You're kidding!" The church is not a popularity contest. The church is a community of people who are focused on Jesus. Its leaders and teachers are simply servants of Jesus. Therefore, even if you prefer one leader over another, these things are not worth dividing, and you certainly shouldn't speak ill of each other. The center of the church is Jesus and the good news of who he is and what he has done. In chapters 5-7, Paul addresses various issues related to sex. There were some people in the church who slept with each other: one man slept with his stepmother and others still worshiped in the temples of the Greek gods and slept with the prostitutes who worked there.
overview 1 corinthians
Not only that, but there were people in the church who said it was perfectly fine. They said, "Hey, we're free in Christ! God's grace is infallible, isn't it? It's okay." And Paul said, "No, it's not okay." And with the gospel in hand, he shows them how wrong this kind of thinking is. He says, "Remember, first and foremost, that Jesus died for your sins, including the debris of broken relationships caused by inappropriate sexual behavior. So if you're a Christian, sexual integrity is one of the primary ways we respond .to the love and grace of Jesus". Paul also reminds them that just as Jesus physically rose from the dead, our bodies will rise again.
This means that if your body is being redeemed by Jesus now and in the future, then what you do with your body matters. It's very important! And it's not up to you to do what you want with it. Pablo is making it very clear. Being a follower of Jesus does not imply compromising sexual integrity. Chapters 8 through 10 deal with food, but not just food preferences, such as, "Do you like or dislike certain foods?" The issue on which the Corinthians were divided was meat, which came from animals sacrificed in the temples of the Greek and Roman gods. And there was a division between Jewish and Gentile Christians about how to respond to this problem.
Once again, Paul reminds you of some basic ideas of the gospel. He says that our allegiance is first and foremost to Jesus as Lord, not to other gods. So if you are in a situation where there is meat dedicated to another god and there are people around you who might be looking at you and come to the conclusion, "Oh look! Christians worship Jesus and they may worship other gods" . Paul says if it's such a scenario don't eat the meat. Your allegiance is to Jesus and you should love those people more than yourself and not lead them.
But Paul immediately qualifies this and says, “Listen, as Christians we believe that God is the Creator of all things, including the sacrificial animal. As for the idols in the temple, we believe that they are just a piece of wood and stone. So if there are no people around you to misinterpret your actions and you are hungry, eat! You are free as a new man in Christ to follow your conscience on these controversial issues. So what is okay to eat in one situation but not another? The basic principle is love. Love denies itself and cares about the welfare of other people.
And the love of God is at the heart of the gospel. It's what Jesus did when he died for us, and that's why Paul says this is what Christians should do for others." In chapters 11 - 14, Paul goes on to address the issues in his weekly worship gatherings. Some people they had very powerful spiritual experiences in the meeting, so they start praying out loud in unknown languages. There were other people who might start sharing a lesson or a word from God and then someone else would get up and interrupt them because they wanted to talk. Everything it was very messy and distracted people, especially guests, from hearing the gospel.
So, in these chapters, Paul helps them think first about the purpose of these gatherings, to help them see what behavior is appropriate. He says that the gathering is where the Spirit of God must be working through everyone and it must happen in a united way. So he elaborates a metaphor of the church as a human body. It is a body, p But it has all these different parts, and each part plays a unique and important role. Therefore, he goes on to mention a multitude of things that the Spirit does through various persons, all for the building up of the church (this is a key phrase in these chapters).
And Paul concludes that the highest value in the meeting must be a gospel-centered concept: the love of God. Love is the key word in these chapters as well. Love will move each person in the meeting to use their role to serve and seek the welfare of others. So Paul applies this whole principle to the problem of the Corinthians. Some people think that the purpose of meeting is to have fiery spiritual experiences or to have the opportunity to express their opinion. And Paul says, "Listen, I'm a big fan of powerful prayer experiences, but if it distracts other people or scares them, I have to stop because I love myself more than those people." The gathering around Jesus must be regular, so that everyone can learn, sing, worship and listen to God speak to them.
The last problem that Paul addresses is the issue of the resurrection and the future hope of the followers of Jesus. There were some people in the church who said that the idea of ​​the resurrection is ridiculous and that it has no weight in being a Christian. And Paul overreacts to this. He begins by saying that the resurrection is a necessary part of the gospel. We believe this because of the hundreds of eyewitnesses who saw Jesus alive in a physical body after he was publicly executed by the Romans. "If Jesus did not rise from the dead," says Paul, "his death of him would be meaningless, we are all still lost in our sin and selfishness, we just have to stop being Christians." Paul then shows in detail how the resurrection was Jesus' victory over death and evil, how it is a source of life and power for us now in the present, and a promise of future hope for the whole world.
It is because of the resurrection that we have reason to unite around Jesus. It is the reason we have motivation for sexual integrity. It is the source of the power to love other people more than ourselves and, ultimately, it is our hope of victory over death. So, Paul concludes, we believe that Jesus rose from the dead, which means that the gospel is not just moral advice or a prescription for self-righteousness. It is an announcement about Jesus, revealing a completely new reality. And that's what the first letter to the Corinthians is all about: seeing every part of life through the lens of the gospel.

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