Over the last few weeks, I have been reading and studying First Corinthians. There is so much wisdom packed into this letter for the Church today. I have especially enjoyed the timeless applications of these scriptures written by Alan Redpath in The Royal Route To Heaven. Over the next few weeks, I am going to be giving some of my thoughts and reactions as I have studied these Scriptures. It is my hope that in reading these posts you will be blessed as I have by the truths contained in God’s Word.
Studies in First Corinthians
Corinth was a proud and wealthy city. It has been called the “Vanity Fair” of the Roman Empire. In fact, the word “Corinthian” had become synonymous with loose living. The Corinthians were famous for their fleshly appetites, their love for arguing, and the pride of their knowledge.
It is here that Paul plants a seed of the Gospel and works to build a church for approximately eighteen months (Acts 18). Even though the church at Corinth had many problems, there is no doubt that Paul considered these people to be the “ekklesia” (called out) of God. As Raymond Woodward points out, “Paul calls them “sanctified” (1:2) in spite of their many problems. They were genuinely saved (1:4), generously endowed with teaching (1:5), securely established by preaching (1:6), spiritually gifted (1:7), and prophetically alert (1:7-8). Yet they were carnal, and were at risk of forfeiting it all!”
Paul deals with this carnality in the first eleven chapters. He exposes the tragedy of their living in sin and worldliness, and applies the positive remedy of the cross of Jesus Christ. For carnality, Paul prescribes the full message of the Gospel of Christ.
There are many today who do not follow Paul’s example here. We must preach and practice the gospel of forgiveness of sins but it must be accompanied by the gospel of deliverance from sin. We must move beyond pardon to purity!
Rather than lashing out at the Corinthians, Paul begins by lifting them up and reminding them of the glory of their salvation and of the great privileges that are theirs in Christ. He reminds them that they are “the church” (1:2), the “called ones”. They have nothing to be ashamed of. They were to live godly in the midst of an ungodly people. He called them “sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1:2). This is what they were in the sight of God, and not them only, but every member of His Church. We are God’s separated, called-out ones to a position of authority; a position in which we know what we believe, live it, and proclaim it.
In verse three, Paul begins to list a few of the things that God has given us for the journey; “Grace and peace” (1:3). There is grace to make me like the Master, grace to give me triumph when I would fail, grace to enable me to glorify God in every situation. His peace brings perfect harmony. It brings balance and unity to every part of my life.
Not only has He given us grace and peace, but we are “enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge” (1:5). We have a message to proclaim! God has given us His Gospel to preach, His Word to live by, and His life to live out.
Finally, in verse nine, Paul completes the list of the Christian’s great privileges: “you were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1:9). The Greek word for “fellowship” here is koinonia, which means having everything in common. This is your victory over flesh and carnality, all He has belongs to you! His victory is at your disposal now. All He asks is that all you have be at His disposal in return.
Let us not forget who we are. We are the Church!