1 Corinthians 

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1 Corinthians

Last Updated November 28, 1998

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Chapter 1: 18 (KJV) (Matthew Henry)

1:18 "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."

This text focuses on Paul as he writes to the church at Corinth about the wisdom of preaching about the cross of Christ.

Paul explains that those who are saved recognize the Christ as a symbol of the power of God. To those outside of the faith the church is involved in foolishness. There are several key words in this single verse which should be noted for fuller understanding:

PREACHING:(Greek: Logos) Preaching is the expression of divine truths through the spoken or printed word. It takes on various forms such as: sermons, lectures, talks, narratives, speeches, drama, commentaries. Sometimes when we do not hear the words, situations preach to us. Jonah tried to avoid his mission from God, but his three journey in the belly of a fish let him hear a long sermon. The situation preached to him. Actions preach much louder and more effectively than spoken or printed words. A sermon lived is better than one preached any way. Preaching, according 1 Corinthians 14:3 has three purposes: edification, that is to build them up, enlighten and improve them; exhortation, that is to inspire and life them; and comfort. To those out of the faith preaching is unnecessary, foolish and wasteful. However Romans 10:14 reminds us that the first step to releasing the power of God is through hearing the preached word: "How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?" Singing, praying, testimonies and other forms of worship are inspiring but preaching is the source of our power, because in those moments we hear inspired expressions that direct us in the Godly path.

CROSS:(Greek: Stauros) Is simply a stake, pole or post in the ground that was used for capital punishment. When Paul spoke of the cross as the power source of Christians, he was not referring to the wooden stake itself, but the entire range of ideas associated with symbolized by the cross which include the sacrifice of Christ, his blood shed, his death, burial and resurrection. Some denominations teach that the cross should not be a Christian symbol because it symbolizes death, but the word of God says it is a symbol of the power of God. The crucifixion of Christ transformed the cross from a symbol of shame and embarrassment to a symbol of the power of God. The cross has this symbol because Christ's death on the cross blotted out our sins and obligation to ritual, in effect, nailed them to his empty cross. (Col 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;)

Moreover, the cross is the means by which we are able to make peace with God. (Col 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.) Christ, because of Calvary is able to justify us, to make peace for us before God.

The cross symbolizes the establishment of the Lordship of Christ and therefore his ability to intercede and mediate for us before God.( Phil 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11.)

Paul said the preaching, teaching, and promoting the cross and the power it symbolizes believers glorify God because we recognize the cross as a symbol of the power of God himself.

--PERISH, (apollumi) FOOLISHNESS ( moria ): Those who do not share the faith of believers think that the inordinate amount of time spent studying the word, listening to sermons, attending classes, and otherwise sharing in the expression of the word is a literal waste of time. When Paul preached about Christ and his crucifixion the Jews considered it a stumbling block or an obstacle the interrupted their routine and threatened the status quo. The Greeks simply considered the possibility of the resurrection from the dead, a risen Lord, and divine intervention by a once crucified leader as absurdity and "foolishness." (1 Cor 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;) Those who perish are those who reject the power of the cross. They have heard the story but they do not accept it as truth, therefore they consider preaching in all of its forms, is a waste of time.

It is not foolish to talk about God!

It is not foolish to preach and teach about his wondrous works! It is not foolish for us to believe that God hears and answers prayers It is not foolish for us to believe that God performs miracles It is not foolish, it is faith, that God is the same today as he was yesterday!

POWER:(Greek: Denims) Those who are believers know that the cross is the source of ability, energy, inspiration, and imagination. However, the word "Denims" suggest more than the ordinary. It suggests miraculous power supplied by God. The word Denims is talking about the spiritual Energizer! The spiritual "bunny rabbit" that just keeps going and going and going! Those who are anointed with the power of God act in miraculous ways! Abilities are expanded when anointed by the power of God! Energy seems endless, inspiration flows, and imagination seems boundless when anointed by the power of God.

Chapter 2: 9 (KJV) (Matthew Henry)

2:9 "But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."

Little is known about how we shall look in the life to come. While we don't know every detail as to how we will look, how we will get around and what we will do every day, we do know that when Jesus makes his appearance we shall understand many things that we don't understand now. Today, it is difficult for any of us to visualize all that God ha in store for us. We cannot picture it. We cannot imagine it because there is nothing in this life comparable. There is no scene so beautiful that it can approach a description of the heavenly life. There is no thrill or joy in this life that can adequately equal what we can expect in the kingdom of Heaven. There are no words that paint us a mental picture of our heavenly estate. That is why Paul wrote: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him." We can only imagine caricatures of what will be. Even these are just dark images of what God is planning. Paul summed it this way: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." 1 Corinthians 13:12

Chapter 3: 10 (KJV) (Matthew Henry)

3:10 "According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."

This text focuses on Paul as he explains his role in the kingdom building process as being that of the master builder, laying the foundation.

The immediate circumstance addressed by this text involved the relationship between Paul and Apollos. Apollos had gained fame among the Corinthians for his oratory and some considered him greater than Paul. Addressing this sentiment in his first epistle to the Corinthians, Paul made it clear that his work in the kingdom was that of laying the foundation, setting the tone, and pointing the direction. Others who would follow him had the task of building upon that which he began and expanding. He warned however, that any that should attempt to follow him should attempt nothing short of leading the people in the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

In explaining his relationship, Paul constantly characterized himself as a master builder, who followed the plan given to him by the grace of God. As a master builder he recognized that he was not the architect or designer of the plan, but the one who saw to it that the plan was carried out in all of its finest details. The master plan he received was that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was to be spread throughout the known world. It would apply to both Jews and Gentiles, breaking down racial and sexual barriers, forgiving sins and helping believers to build new lives. During his life he moved from church to church with this message, building the spiritual strength of believers at every stop, according to the master plan. Even while imprisoned he spent his confinement writing letters to believers, constantly encouraging them to build, build and build! 

Chapter 5: 6, 7 (KJV) (Matthew Henry)

5:6-7 "...Know ye not that a little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump. Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened."

There are persons in the church who do not hold the faith dear and who openly live contrary to principles of God's word. But how did they get among us? First, they came among us because they came in without our knowing. Jude 4

The fact that we were unaware of the kind of person they were, does not mean that we could not have known. Our standard for membership in the fold is slack. Often we require no more information about a person than their name, address, and phone number. We don't interview as we should. A person can be a teacher, preacher, deacon or leader among us, with little training, and less strength of character. Too often we elevate before we evaluate and the results is that we degenerate our flock.

Secondly, they get among us by our indifference. 1 Cor. 5:1-2 speaks of the impurities of the Corinthian congregation. A variety of impurities had set in which were generally described as "fornication". The Church stands guilty too often of indifference. Because we are indifferent, all kinds of sins are indulged by the weak members of our congregation without fear of reprimand by the congregation of Christ. 

Chapter 6: 11

6:11 "and such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

  This text focuses on Paul as he reminds Christians of the power of God to transform lives.
  In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul addressed the subject of immorality, focusing particularly upon incest. Chapter 6 begins by changing the subject to: "Christians and lawsuits", then at the latter part of the chapter he resumes his explanations of Christians and immorality.
  Verses 9-11 mark the transition  from the explanation of Christians and lawsuits back to the discussion of immorality.  Paul urged Christians to avoid airing their civil disputes in public courts, demanding satisfaction, payment and control. He made this warning because the world, which perceives Christians to be above disputes that reach the litigation level observes their feuding nature and questions whether their lives are truly transformed as they claim. Moreover, Christians who resort to the courts for revenge or personal gain exhibit worldly attributes that place them in the ranks with those in the world. He suggested that Christian resolve differences among themselves, privately with other Christians as arbitrators using the Word of God as they guiding principle. All of this would be a way to draw a line of distinction between the Christian that is today and the person he "used" to be.
    Paul begins to address morality again when he offers a truncated list of practicing sins that indicate that a person is not a part of the kingdom of God. The list given here is not all inclusive because there are places that he includes more items. These are samples of deviant lifestyles not practiced by people who are part of the kingdom of God.
    Remember, the "kingdom of God" is a reference to God's spiritual kingdom that exists at the present. The "kingdom of heaven" is a physical place that will be occupied by the kingdom of God once it comes into being. A person who claims to be a part of the kingdom of God cannot be a practicing sinner. "Practicing" means a person who repeatedly sins, without remorse and has adopted a particular sin or sins as an acceptable part of his or her lifestyle. That does not mean that a person in the kingdom of God does not sin, for all have sinned, but it does mean that the sin committed is not a part of the lifestyle of the believer because the holy spirit will convict and the righteous will repent once convicted.
    Under the general category of "unrighteous" Paul points to those who abuse the privilege of sex as a matter of lifestyle as not being a part of the kingdom of God. This includes those who involve themselves in sex without benefit of marriage or adopt a preference for same sex relationships or even adopt physical habits and mannerisms of the opposite sex as a matter of lifestyle. Also included in this category are thieves, drunkards, greedy, and those who cheat and rob others. In 1 Timothy 1:9-10 the list also includes: people with rebellious hearts, those who curse and swear,  those who attack their parents and murderers. The list of "unrighteous" activity, if enumerated would be endless. Certainly it is not limited to just the activities listed in these two verses.
     The believer has reached a point in life where he or she has evolved from the "unrighteous" state into the full knowledge of God as they live and walk in the spirit. Having once been a practicing sinner, the believer has moved to a higher level, that of knowing Christ fully. He or she has stepped forward and up to a better life. Thus Paul says "and such were some of you!" He seemed to say you have been there! You have done that! You have the tee-shirt! But you have stepped out of darkness into the marvelous light!
      Paul indicates the  three fold state of every believer who is a part of the kingdom of God. He gives a list of the three states, which actually incur in the reverse order. 1)A person is justified, meaning that God's affirmative action program has made up for his short comings and
mistakes. 2) A person is sanctified, that means he or she has changed their life  path and modified their list of concerns to include only those things which would be pleasing to God. They become special and set apart. 3)A person who is washed by the spirit of God is no longer of the world but is a new creature.
      The believer's best testimony to a non-believer is that we have not always lived in an isolated world of bible classes, hymns and church services, but that the believer has experienced the world enough to know that God offers a better way. The believer's testimony to a non- believer is simply Where you are I have already come from, I've "been there, done that and I've got the tee shirt!"

Chapter 10: 10 (KJV) (Matthew Henry)

10:10: Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.1 Corinthians 10:10

Murmuring is defined by Vines as "indignant complaining" Indignant means: angry, incensed and offended. Indignant complaints are those rooted in anger or are in response to feeling of having been offended. Paul, writing to the Corinthians urged them not to murmur. He referred them to their history, showing them how the Israel constantly murmured and complained in the wilderness.(Numbers 14) They complained of no water and God provided them water. They complained about a lack of meat and bread and God provided them these needs. Their clothing, health, and all other physical needs were provided for, despite the fact that there were 600,000 people wandering in a dessert without vegetation or animal life to feed, nourish and sustain such a large army of people. When they reached the Jordan river, again they complained. Some wanted to go back to Egypt. Some complained and murmured against Moses, Aaron and God. Many were destroyed in their anger and anxiety as the Lord opened up the ground to swallow some and caused snakes to destroy thousands of others.

Their murmurings did not stop at the Jordan. In the promised land they complained that the crops of the Canaanites were more prosperous than theirs and began to worship idols. They complained that they did not have a king like all other nations and God gave them exactly what they asked for when he named Saul their first king. They complained in their prosperity under King Solomon because the taxes were too high. They complained in their exile, weeping for the deteriorated condition of Jerusalem. Their complaints were endless. Almost always, the underlying sentiment of all of their complaints was their feeling that God had wronged them in some way.

So, Paul warned New Testament Christians against complaining. The tone of his teaching was simple: God will always do that which is best for us, even when we don't understand or appreciate the circumstance. Therefore, we should labor with a spirit of gratitude for what we have while we strive to reach higher heights. Whether we have an abundance of material things or whether we get along with meager fare, in "every thing give thanks!"

The attitude of perpetual thanks supersedes and overrides complaining because complaining by nature requires us to believe that God has wronged us, while gratitude comes from an attitude that God cannot and will not wrong us in any way because it is against his nature. Therefore, the believer is urged to give thanks "in every thing."

Chapter 11:28

11:28 But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup

  Spiritual table manners in the Old Testament focused on the table and  making sure it was pure, but table manners in the New Testament focuses not so much on having a pure table as it does insuring that those who
sit at the table are pure at heart.
  Paul, writing to the Corinthians reminded them about their manners at the Lord's supper. Paul reminded them that the Lord's supper was not the place for feasting or drunkedness. If any man was hungry, Paul said,
let him eat in his own house; drunks were warned to stay at home!
  In the 10 verses of 1 Corinthians 11:20-30 where he gives detailed descriptions of the Lord's supper, he never once emphasized the importance of the table, but rather he talked about what the table represented.
  He never mentioned that the table had to be made of pure gold, but what he talked about was the purity of those sitting at the table. I hear him declaring "let a man examine himself, before he eat of that bread and drink
of that cup."
  He wasn't concerned about a pure table as he was with a pure heart.
  What Paul said in so many words was that good table manners at the Lord's table requires that you wash up before you eat. Not just our hands, but we should make sure that our lives have been washed in the blood of the lamb.

Chapter 13: 12 (KJV) (Matthew Henry)

13:12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

This text finds Paul writing to the Corinthians concerning maturity in the faith.

The 13th Chapter of Corinthians is the second of three in which Paul examines the gifts of the spirit and compares them to spiritual graces. The Corinthian church had been divided into four parts over issue acquiring and use of gifts of the spirit.

  In chapter 12 Paul listed nine categories of gifts that believers received, each having the purpose of expanding the kingdom. Those who had one gift or another suggested to other members of the body of Christ that they had achieved or received something that made them spiritually superior to others.
  This prompted Paul, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, to write chapters 12-14 noting that all gifts come from the same spirit but have different functions. Since gifts will one day fade and diminish in use, acquiring the graces should be the goal of every believer, not gifts. Even the idea that some believers have something that others don't have divides the body of Christ but the graces of God form the basis of real Christian living.
  Paul discussed the full range of graces in Galatians 5:22-23. Here he notes that the "fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Without these qualities, commonly described as graces, the Christian life is empty.
  Thus Paul, in the 13th Chapter focuses on one of the graces "love" showing how it is superior to any of the gifts such as tongues, prophecy or knowledge. He noted that some gifts, like tongues, or prophecies would cease to exist (13:8) but the real strength of the Christian life would never be diminished by time or condition. He showed how the grace of love, for example is far more important to acquire than gifts. As he detailed how love operates he noted that if he had all of the gifts but didn't have the grace of love, instead of operating on a higher level, he would be empty. His words in verse two " And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing."
   Many in Paul's time were unable to understand the differences. They were caught up and divided over the issue (1:10-13). They were blinded by false teachings and could not see otherwise, especially those who had received the gift of speaking in foreign languages.
   Paul noted, that a time would eventually come when every believer would be able to see clearly the truths of God's word. Diminished perspective is common, but those who come to know God fully get a new perspective. The new perspective gives them a new appreciation of what is truly important, lasting and most effective in the service of God. He compared the new perspective to that of a mature person over a child. Perspective makes the difference.
   The carnal man sees life as though looking through a dark glass. The perspective is not godly. However, Paul reminds us that the time is coming when all will share the same perspective and see the same things. That day will come when all see Jesus face to face!
   This passage is generally remembered for its emphasis on the importance of love in all we do. The Corinthians like other Christians were moving from their Old Testament experience to their new covenant life in Christ. They had been accustomed to gauging every act by the standards of the law. Paul, however, suggests that charity rather than the law should be the guide. Charity, which means love, is the guiding principle now, the law was the guiding principle then. Then, one's only responsibility was to speak in a tongue, give to the poor and obey the strict letter of the law. Now, the criterion has changed, we must love.
   Paul concluded from his comparison that then he was a child, he thought like a child and spake as a child, but when he grew up in the faith, he put away childish things.
   The principles that guide the here are now may appear dark and unclear, as if we were looking through a foggy mirror, but when we see Jesus, face to face, then we will understand it all.

Chapter 15: 57,58 (KJV) (Matthew Henry)

15:57-58:"But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

In Corinthians Paul reassures believers that each has a right to expect victory over every enemy and foe. This was written in the context of great persecution of Christians by both Gentiles and Jews. They were ostracized, humiliated and suffered great losses of freedom and property. Many lost their lives. Many worried about whether their sacrifices were in vain.

Repeatedly, Paul reminded all believers that no obstacle they encountered would stop them from achieving victory because Christ had insured it through his life, death and resurrection. That even applied to death. When the Romans were concerned about the same problem Paul wrote in Romans 8:35-37 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us."

He encouraged the Corinthians to continue doing the work of the Lord with the full knowledge that their labor is not in vain, but would be rewarded by Christ who has guaranteed the victory to every believer.

Saint John, in his epistle, identifies those who are guaranteed the victory. Generally, those individuals that are "born of God" are the victorious. To be born of God is to have the mysterious rebirth that Christ spoke of to Nicodemus as he reminded him that to enter the kingdom of God he must be "born again."

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