1st Letter of Paul to the Corinthians
Two of Paul’s letters that sometimes feel like he could be writing to me are his epistles to Corinth, an ancient city that received what are called 1st and 2nd Corinthians in the Bible. Corinth was located between Athens and Sparta on a narrow strip of land (called an isthmus) and was very important in ancient Greece and in Rome. It was such a wealthy city, that there was an ancient expression: “Well, not everyone can go to Corinth.” Paul visited there twice, once for 18 months and once for 3 months. He wrote these letters around the year 55 AD.
All passages today are from the book 1st Corinthians, so we just give chapter and verse.
1:17-25 Paul quotes Isaiah 29:14
1) Is God ever foolish? How can God’s foolishness be wiser than our wisdom?
2:10-16 Paul quotes Isaiah 40:13
2) This is one of the most direct teachings about the Holy Spirit in the whole Bible. What does the Holy Spirit do for us? What does not having the Holy Spirit make hard for other people?
In Chapter 5, Paul is dealing with a particular case, which for him seems to have a large lesson.
3) Since this was dealing with a particular case, does it have a meaning for us? Paul is making a big deal of in the church vs. out of the church; why do you think? What is the difference?
6:12 “I have the right to do anything,” you say-but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”-but I will not be mastered by anything. … 19-20 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
4) This is one of the big tensions in a Christian life. We’re forgiven, completely. So we’re free. Then why can’t we do anything? What does Paul say about that here?
8:9 Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. … 13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.
5) Is there anything that you’re free to do that someone else might get in trouble for doing?
Paul makes another analogy for how a Christian should lead their life: 9:24-27
6) Winning? What does winning have to do with living like a Christian? What is Paul trying to say?
The Corinthians were having weird problems with communion. Doing it in different ways, some people eating it as a full meal, etc. So Paul makes it simple: 11:23-29
7) So what is Paul’s bottom line about how we should take communion?
Chapter 12 is worth studying all by itself. It’s amazing in sharing how we all receive different gifts from God.
12:4-6 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
8) Paul makes it so clear that we are all supposed to be ourselves, to be different. Why is there so much pressure to all be alike? To be the same? Do you feel that pressure in church?
9) In other words, it’s not enough to do good things. Why you do them matters. Why would God care about why we do what we do, as long as we’re doing good stuff?
10) Is this Valentine’s Day love?
15:3-5 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. …12-14 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. … 19-22 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
11) Why is it not enough that Christ lived a great life, that he was a great teacher? How much does resurrection of the dead matter to your faith life?
15:51-57 Paul quotes Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14.
12) Even if everything else is uncertain, this is what it comes down to for Paul. If someone asked you why you are a Christian, what is your bottom line?