1 Corinthians Chapter 1

September 22, 2011

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on 1 Corinthians. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

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In 1 Corinthians Paul deals with a series of problems that existed in the young church in Corinth. Near the end of his second missionary journey, while he is in Ephesus (Acts 18 and 19 for context), Paul writes this letter which was apparently sparked by a verbal report from people from Chloe’s household as well as a delegation arriving from Corinth asking Paul to address certain issues in the church. Noted for its lax morals and scandalous lifestyle, Corinth was a completely pagan society, a society that created many difficulties for the believers who lived there. Even though the members of the believing community were richly gifted, they were not maturing in the faith the way that they should have been. Part of the problem is that they had mistaken their giftedness, which comes from God, as somehow validating their sinfulness. The issues include the following:

• Division in the church(1 Cor. 1-4).
• Discipline(1 Cor. 5-6).
• Marriage and divorce(1 Cor. 7).
• Doctrinal disputes(1 Cor. 8-10).
• Misunderstanding of spiritual gifts(1 Cor. 12-14).

Fortunately, we no longer have to deal with any of these issues (extreme sarcasm).

1 Corinthians 1:1-31 (NIV)
1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes, 2 To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ–their Lord and ours: 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way–in all your speaking and in all your knowledge– 6 because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful. 10 I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14 I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized into my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. 26 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:1-3

Paul begins this letter with a greeting and a description of who is writing it and who it is being written to. There is a subtle reminder in verse 2 that it is the “church of God” in Corinth, not the “church of the Corinthians”. If the Corinthians were a more aware of this the problem of “divisions” might not have arisen.

1 Corinthians 1:4-9

It is interesting to note that Paul is thankful for the church in Corinth even though they have so many problems. But Paul is aware that God is at work in them and God is able to move into and use the situations and with that in mind Paul is able to be thankful. In our own lives, if we believe that every problem we face can only be handled by our own resources, we will find little to be thankful for. But God is God and we can trust Him with our day today, moment by moment lives.

Paul is thankful for all that God has done in the Corinthians and all that He will continue to do, because God is faithful.

With all that being said Paul starts dealing with the division in the church in Corinth.

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

People from Chloe’s household have come to Paul and told him that there are “quarrels” among them about who they followed. Some Paul, some Appolos, some Cephas (Peter) some Christ.
Paul tells us that Christ is not divided. It is important to note that Paul is appealing for harmony among the believers, not the elimination of diversity. As we continue on in our study of 1 Corinthians we will see that Paul desires a unity of all the parts, like a quilt of various colors and patterns all blended together in harmony. This unity is found in the message of the gospel, in the cross.

1 Corinthians 1:18-25

From a natural point of view, the message of the gospel, about a suffering and dying Savior, seems foolish. But this message has the power to save and change lives.

The Corinthians needed to understand that they could not live their Christian lives based on their own self-seeking, self-preserving thought processes which had not yet been renewed. They were looking at their Christian lives from a worldly viewpoint.

The message of the cross cuts to the heart of self-centeredness. It is not all about me, what I can do, what gifts I have. It is all about Him, what He can do, and how He can empower and use me for His purposes. The message of the cross is one of self-renunciation, which may lead as it did in Jesus’ case to humiliation and death, but which ultimately leads not to self-destruction but to life, real life, everlasting life. This message of the cross demonstrates that man could not bridge the chasm of our sin with our own intelligence or good works, but that God did it at the cross.

1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Paul reminds the Corinthians here, that if things were being based on human wisdom, influence and position, the people in the church in Corinth would have been passed by. But this is not how God sees us. Remember, that He sees the beauty of our potential. That realization should keep us from ever boasting about our selves, any boasting we do should be about the Lord. This will help us to stay selfless, and less judgmental and critical.

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