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The Union of Christ with the Christian

An Expanded Outline of the book of First Corinthians

 

Copyright, 2003 by Gerald T. Johnson.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

 

MASTER THOUGHT: "The Union of Christ and the Christian."

 

BACKGROUND:

 

This book was probably written from Ephesus (16:8) before the Gospels began to circulate within 25 years of the ascension of Christ. It seems the Apostle Paul was writing about the time of the Jewish Passover and the Christian Easter (5:7) in his third year at Ephesus. We should note that Apollos spent time ministering in and around Corinth after Aquilla and Pricilla found him preaching "the baptism of John" in Ephesus and tutored him in accurate Christian teaching (Acts 18:24-19:7). Apollos was not in Corinth when Paul wrote this letter (16:12). First Corinthians was apparently the second in a series of letters Paul wrote to Corinth (5:9) -- a church he had founded during his stay of a year and a half on his second missionary journey (Acts 18:1-17). The first letter must have been an admonition to moral purity and a rebuke for immorality within the church. The city of Corinth was notorious for its debauchery and lustiness; even among the heathen there was a phrase, "to Corinthianize," which meant "to play the sexual wonton." This helps us understand how the enemy was able to infect the church there with such serious spiritual maladies as Paul has to deal with. This letter has two main divisions: 1) it is Paul's response to news from Corinth about serious problems there of sectarianism, immorality and legal wrangling among themselves. 2) It is also a reply to a formal letter the church had written him with questions about his first letter and other issues they wanted his input on. 

 

THEME SONG:

 

Know Ye Not Ye Are The Temple

Know ye not, know ye not,
Ye are the temple?
Know ye not, know ye not,
Ye are the temple?
Know ye not, know ye not,
Ye are the temple?
Ye Are the Temple of the Holy Ghost!

Filled with praise, filled with power,
Filled with glory.
Filled with praise, filled with power,
Filled with glory.
Filled with praise, filled with power,
Filled with glory.
Ye Are the Temple of the Holy Ghost

 

Major Concepts in First Corinthians

 

1 The faithful, effectual workings of God in the believer and on the believer's behalf. 1:4-9, 18, 30-31; 2:5, 9-12; 5:5, 7; 6:11; 8:6; 10:13; 15:45, 50-57
2 Sectarianism is Sin. 1:10-13; 3:1-4, 21-23; 4:6-7; 11:17-19; 12:21
3 The unity of the Body of Christ.  1:10; 3:5-11, 16; 6:17; 10:24; 12:4-30
4 We are the temple corporately, and the temples individually, of the Holy Spirit.  3:16-17; 6:19-20; 12:4-13, 27
5 We are bought with a great price. 6:20; 7:23
6 Influence no one to sin against their own conscience.  8:13; 10:28-29a, 31-32
7  The Lord's Supper. 11:23-26
8 The resurrection of believers. 6:14; 15:1-57
9 Do not seek your own, but others' well being. 6:7; 9: 18-23; 10:24, 33; 14:1-5, 12; 16:14
10 Do everything to the glory of God 10:31
11  "a carnal person", "acting like a baby", "behaving like unregenerate men" are synonymous; their antonym is "a spiritual person." 3:1-3
12 Pride 1:29; 3:2, 21; 4:6-7, 18; 5:2,6; 8:1-2; 10:12; 13:5
13 Gifts 1:4-7; 4:7; 7:7, 17; 12:4-11, 31; 13:1-2; 14:1, 12
14 Love 12:31b-14:1a; 16:14, 22, 24
15 The Trinity 1:2-3, 4, 9, 24, 30; 2:11-14; 3:16-17, 23; 6:11, 14; 8:6; 11:3; 12:3-11; 15:15, 24-28, 57


 

The Main Divisions of First Corinthians:

 

I.       Introduction  (1:1-9)

II.      Paul Addresses Reports about the Church at Corinth  (1:10-6:20)

A.      Sectarianism in the Church  (1:10-4:20)
B.      Immorality in the Church  (5:1-13)
C.      Cheating in the Church  (6:1-11)
D.      Harlotry in the Church  (6:12-20)

 

III.      Paul's Replies to Questions from Corinth  (7:1-15:58)

A.      Questions about marriage  (7:1-40)
B.      Questions about meat offered to idols  (8:1-10:33)
C.      Order in the Church  (11:2-16:4)

1.       The Source of the teachings of order  (11:2)
2.       Order in Appearances  (11:3-16)
3.       Order at the Table  (11:17-34)
4.       Order in the Body  (12:1-31a)
5.       Order in the Heart  (12:31b-13:13)
6.       Order in the Oral  (14:1-25)
7.       Order in the Meeting  (14:26-40)
8.       Order in the Message  (15:1-58)
9.       Order in Giving  (16:1-4)

 

IV.      Wrapping things up  (16:5-24)

A.       Paul's personal plans  (16:5-12)
B.       Final exhortation  (16:13-14)
C.       Commending the Brothers  (16:15-18)
D.       Greetings  (16:19-21)
E.       A Solemn Farewell

 

An Expanded Outline of First Corinthians

         

I. Introduction (1:1-9)

        

A. (1:1-3) The apostle greets the Corinthian Christians. Their connection to all saints, everywhere. His desire for their benefit of grace and peace from God.

B. (1:4-9) The evidence and consequence of God's grace poured out on them thru Christ. 

        

II. Based on the Reports, Paul Confronts the Corinthian Church (1:10-6:20)

        

A. Sectarianism in the Church (1:10-4:20)

 

1. (1:10-12) Don't split over personalities -- be outwardly and inwardly harmonized.

2. (1:13-25)  Is Christ divided by doctrine?  No! The simple message of the Cross of Christ is central and all-inclusive.  Don't be taken up with human wisdom.  The message of the Cross is where the power is!  The power to live right, the power for hope, the power to open the door of everlasting life!  [Illustration of power in the Christian's life: a picture of a candle vs. a real, lit candle.]  Man's absolute best can't come close to the "worst" of God!  [ vs. 18: "being saved":  He has saved us from the pit of death and is leading us by the hand out of the wild jungle we had gotten ourselves into, one step at a time!  Holding His hand all the way, we are not growing into grace, we are growing in grace.  Note 1:8-9; 5:5; 6:11 and see poem at end of outline, "God Saves With All His Heart!"]

3. (1:26-31) Look around you . . . what types of folk does God call into His kingdom? We are really a humble lot. Therefore, glory in the Lord, not your intellectual abilities. 

4. (2:1-5) Power is not in flashy speech. Our faith should be in the power of God, who, by His Holy Spirit, enables His servants to minister and, by His Spirit, changes lives. 

5. (2:6-16) The wisdom of God, revealed by His Spirit, is foolishness to the unregenerate man. 

6. (3:1-4) Your envy, strife and divisions expose you as babes, carnal (natural minded) and unable to understand solid spiritual "food." 

7. (3:5-17) In erecting the church, the ONLY foundation is Christ. All teachers must beware how they "build the church" on it! 

8. (3:18-23) Boast only in the wondrous Gift of God in Christ Jesus! 

9. (4:1-5) Paul and Apollos are servants of God. Let Him judge them. 

10. (4:6-13) Paul and Apollos pour themselves out for the Corinthians -- sacrificially -- do not get puffed up in your exalting one of them over the other. 

11. (4:14-21) As your spiritual parent, I warn you to imitate my (Paul's) walk with the Lord and don't get puffed up behind my back! I am coming to you -- with harsh discipline if I have to, or love and gentleness -- it's your choice!

        

B. Immorality in the Church (5:1-13)

 

1. (5:1) Incest is reported in the church! 

2. (5:2) And you are inflated with pride to distraction! Rather, you should be mourning over the consequences of this horrible thing! [mourn: grieve over the sin present in the Body; grieve for the loss of fellowship of a brother; grieve over the suffering and judgment and con-sequences the sinner has brought on his own head; grieve over the dashed reputation of Christians.] 

3. (5:3-5) Under the authority of Christ, judgment must be carried out on the offender among you, for his own eternal good. [The head servant of Abraham in Genesis 24 is a picture of doing something in Jesus' name. He had everything Abraham owned at his hand and everything Abraham wanted as His own desire.] 

4. (5:6-8) Leaven

 

a) (5:6) Your puffed up pride is bad -- like leaven, it spreads insidiously in the Body. [How much arsenic should you eat?]

b)  (5:7) Clean out this blinding arrogance and become pure again -- which you are in Christ! The Christian Passover began at the Cross -- the feast of "unleavened" bread is now! [Deuteronomy 16:3 -- the precursor of our Passover.]

c) (5:8) Consequently, though the death angel will "pass over," every vestige of impurity, malice and sin must be rigorously excluded during the "feast" (the Age of the Church).

 

(1) Old leaven: the old nature, fleshliness. 

(2) Malice: malignant evil attitude that is not ashamed to break the law -- i.e. arrogance. 

(3) Wickedness: evil purposes and desires.

(4) Sincerity: purity, honesty.

(5) Truth: without pretence, hypocrisy or deceit.

 

d) (5:9-12) Like the evil pride, you've got to put away the evil person.

e) (5:9-10) Obviously, you have to mingle with ungodly folks in this world

f) (5:11-13) But, like the leaven of pride within, you must disassociate yourselves from Christians who have given themselves to outward evil behavior.

        

C. Cheating in the Church (6:1-11)

 

1. (6:1) How dare you drag each other before heathen judges?

2. (6:2-6) Don't you know Christians will someday judge the heathen and the angels? Can't you judge among yourselves?

3. (6:7-8) You lose the case before you ever get to court! . . . because, rather than trying a little forgiveness, you are doing wrong and cheating your own brothers!

4. (6:9-11) Don't be taken in by your own vain charade! Folks whose lifestyle is wicked will not spend eternity under the Lordship of God. And you WERE (that's right: WERE) like that. In the name of Jesus, and by the Holy Spirit within you, God has washed you, set you aside for Himself, and declared you clean in His eyes -- ACT LIKE IT! [Jeremiah 32:41, Zephaniah 3:17 -- Poem, "God Saves with all His Heart!"]

        

D. Harlotry in the Church (6:12-20)

 

1. (6:12-14) We are free in the Lord (6:11), but not given a license to indiscriminately do whatever we are lustfully drawn to do (10:3). Incidental bodily appetites will come and go, but immoral appetites have no legitimate place at all -- our bodies belong to God -- in their resurrected form He has a plan for them in eternity.

2. (6:15-17) Don't you know your bodies and your spirits are one with Christ? Should I drag Him into bed with a prostitute? NO!!! There is a universal principle: two become one flesh in sex. 

3. (6:18-20) Therefore, run, screaming for your very lives from sexual immorality! Sin is sin, but sexual immorality is sin that is ripping out your own guts -- Don't you know that your body is the Temple of God's Holy Spirit and it does not belong to you? God purchased you off the slave block for the price of His only begotten Son. By all your attitudes and all your deeds, adorn with splendor Him who has clothed Himself with you.

        

III. Paul's replies to the questions mailed to him from the Corinthians. (7:1-15:58) (These notes follow to a great degree the line of thought from the "Devotional Commentary" by Lawrence O. Richards.)    

Background: Though Paul did not spell out the circumstances behind this letter, the Corinthians knew exactly what he was talking about. The Christians in Corinth lived in a debaucherous environment. When he was in Corinth, Paul's teaching was very strict on moral issues. After he left, the folks got terribly confused on how to apply his teachings to their specific circumstances. In chapter 7, Paul is clarifying these issues for them, and, in so doing, answers many questions we ask today.

         

A. Questions about marriage. (7:1-7:40).

 

1. ( 7:1-12) What the Corinthians said in their letter: "It is good for a man not to touch a woman."

 

a) (7:1-2) Well, yes, in Paul's opinion, but this was not his official teaching for the church (see verses 6 and 7). Evidently, some Corinthians were promoting celibacy even IN marriage. As Paul goes on, it becomes very clear that this was not his formal position. Throughout the chapter, he is careful not to try to impose his personal preference on them as though it was what all Christians must think or feel or do. [And, incidentally, we should not allow others to con us or browbeat us into believing their personal preferences are binding on us.] Note monogamy in vs. 2: let each one have their own one, i.e.: one wife, one husband.

b) (7: 3-7) It is not spiritual to dislike sex. It is not spiritual to have celibate marriages. It IS spiritual to love your mate and pursue the privilege to meet their sexual and conjugal needs. If you want a spiritually intimate marriage, giving your body gladly and lovingly to your partner plays an important part. [on the subject of meeting your conjugal responsibilities in a loving atmosphere, I strongly recommend "The Five Love Languages" by Gary Chapman.] 

c) (7:8-9) To unmarried and widows: Paul's opinion: they do good if they follow his example of celibacy, but if the hormones are raging out of control -- marry for Heaven's sake!) (7:10-11) For those in the anti-sex clique in Corinth who were preparing to separate for "spiritual" reasons (NOT just Paul's preference here!): Jesus taught that we should not divorce. In the case of those who may have already done so, remain single or be reconciled.

 

2. (7:12-16) The next apparent question: "What about those of us "spiritual" Corinthians who are married to unsaved folk?

 

a) (7:12-14) If they chose to remain with you in the face of your new life, this is good: let the Lord's presence in your life touch your spouse and your children through you. It has a lasting, positive effect in the context of marriage.

b) 7:15-16) If the unbeliever departs, the believer is not bound -- not married in fact, and thus free. [Lawrence O. Richards: "It seems to me that Paul here takes a stand with grace. When a marriage simply cannot be maintained, and the relationship has in effect ended, let it go. The believer is "not bound" in such circumstances. In debates of this kind, where strong arguments exist for various interpretations of the biblical text, it's generally best to find yourself on the side of grace. That's where God usually is." p. 921.]

 

3. (7:17-24) A general principle: Whatever your situation when God called you into His Kingdom, you can stay right there and blossom in your new relationship with Him. There's a wonderful and important concept underlying this principle: we need not get caught up in the "if only" trap of the enemy. "If only I were not married to this deadbeat." "If only I were not working for this heathen." "If only I had a seminary degree." "If only I were in some other circumstance, I could serve God better." This wishful fantasizing blinds us to reality and steals our usefulness to God right where we are.

4. (7:25-40) Separate unto God without distraction. In the decision the unmarried face to marry or not to marry, Paul encourages the Corinthians to consider the single life as a chance to better serve the Lord. Certainly you can be more active in Christian work if you are single. This is not intended to make them prisoners to celibacy, but just to point out the obvious truth. Married folk have something singles do not have: legitimate, unavoidable responsibilities that consume time and energy. BUT, this is not a reason to label marriage as "evil." NO! If you are not given the gift of celibacy, then given the occasion, marry. By the way, Fathers are not doing wrong if they allow their daughters to marry.

        

B. Questions about meat offered to idols. (8:1-10:33)

 

1. (8:1-13) Though some of us know that "meats" are not "evil" in and of themselves even if they had been used in idol worship, others feel deep inside they are sinning to eat it. Therefore, do not publicly eat such meat so as not to sway them against their own convictions. Willfully deny yourself the meal (even though you know you have the "right" to eat it) in order to avoid sinning yourself by wounding their tender conscience. It is a terrible offence to Christ Himself to influence someone else to sin in their own heart and mind!!!

2. (9:1-27) Paul shares his own lifestyle of self-denial and discipline as an example for the Corinthians to follow in their effort to avoid sinning against their fellow Christian. [Lawrence O. Richards: This is "a powerful revelation of the motive that not only drove Paul, but also can energize us as we seek to serve the Lord." p. 923.]

[Discipline: Two-edged: self-control (self-discipline) and chastisement from the Lord -- take your pick! Self-discipline: the glass that holds the water of your life poured out each day by God in energy, opportunities, gifts, talents, aptitudes, family and friends, etc.  If you have no glass you can hold no water -- the water is wasted on the ground! God's chastening: a young mustang with porcupine quills in his nose must be hobbled, tied, penned, noosed, and made immobile in a stall to get them pulled out. He will die if they stay in, but the kind rancher is seen as a tormentor to the pony. None of the bruises, scrapes and wounds would be necessary if the animal would cooperate.]

 

a) (9:1-23) The things Paul voluntarily denied himself of.

 

(1) (9:4) He gave up his right (or his freedom) to eat and drink anything that he wanted whenever he wanted it.

(2) (9:5) He gave up the right to marry (I can imagine he had plenty of opportunities) and bring along his wife for companionship.

(3) (9:6-12) He gave up the proper right to be supported financially by those to whom he ministered.

(4) (9:19) He gave up his right to conduct himself as he pleased, according to the customs he chose. Rather, he lived as a servant to all. [In adjusting our lives to what Paul meant when he said "servant," we must consider that a servant was the personal property of another human being, existing and acting always on their behalf upon their whim, at their beck and call. In Roman law, the master had the say of life or death over his slave.]

 

b) The REASONS he gave up all these things.

 

(1) (9:18) To keep sinners from having to "buy" the Gospel. He did not want to be asking them for two things: "Give God your heart and give me your money!"

(2) (9:19-23) To be compatible with others so as not to distract them from the message of God's salvation that he was bringing them. 

(3) (9:24-27) In order to successfully complete the race for the prize of a joyful welcome into heaven! If you are going to bother running in the race, at least run to win!

 

3. (10:1-13) The examples of the Children of Israel in the wilderness giving in to sin because of their own lack of self-denial to their lusts.

 

a) (10:1-6) NOTE: In the sense that they experienced Him supernaturally and experientially in the wilderness, they were partakers of Christ (vs. 4). They still reaped what they sowed. We are partakers of Christ -- and we will still reap what we sow (Gal. 6:7) [See the illustration of the wild, young mustang under 9:1-27.]

b) (10:6) They lusted after evil things. Not only were their desires out of control, the things they were so desiring were wicked. 

c) (10:7) They worshipped and played with false gods. [A man who covets is as an idol worshiper (Eph. 5:5)]

d) (10:8) They indulged by the droves in sexual immorality. [It is adultery for a man to look on a woman with lust in his heart (Matthew 5:28)]

e) (10:9) They tempted God by challenging His motives.

f) (10:10) They whined and complained against God like babies.

g) (10:11-13) Learn from these mistakes. Do not do these things. You may think, "Oh, I don't have the sick and whimpy problems the Israelites had." Upon honest reflection, you may come to the conclusion that your self-righteous self-esteem is a little inflated and this is harder than you think.

h) (10:13-14) Your temptations are not special and they do not require some special exceptions. Don't worry, God knows all about it and will provide you with an escape in the time of need. And when you escape, don't just tip-toe away -- FLEE those things that you lust after that would be a poor testimony before men and would dishonor God. FLEE those sins that you are particularly given to (Hebrews 12:1-2). [You know you are a whimp in the face of certain temptations. Nip them in the bud! A good form of fleeing: confess your faults and trespasses to one another (James 5:16), maintaining your participation in Christ-centered fellowship. Confessing to one another must be done in an atmosphere of loving relationships in which we are mutually accountable -- NOT "lording over" others or having an attitude of being holier than thou. No! All must be honest, genuine, and vulnerable. Another provision of God for escaping: put the armor on and STAND!!! (Eph. 6:10) In any case, walk with Jesus, hand in hand. Let Him lead you out of the swamp one step at a time. You spent years developing the bad habits and accumulating the bad memories and refining the lies that you believed, so don't give up!]

 

4. (10:14-22) Do not participate in pagan worship and new age practices. Think about it: What would you be doing then when you "take communion" with the saints. You would be tempting God to jealousy by "eating" with the demons that are behind that foolishness and then coming to church and eating with Him. To do this is suicide!

5. In summary, though we know we are free in Christ from legalistic religiosity, cause no one to fall into sin through their perception of your behavior! Rather than living just for your own pleasures and "rights," bring glory to God by living a lifestyle devoted to the salvation and spiritual profit of others, like Paul did and like Jesus did.

        

C. Order In the Church (11:2-16:4)

        

1. (11:2) The Source of the Teachings of Order, i.e., Keeping the Traditions of the Apostles. See vs. 16: "we (Paul and his fellow leaders) have no such custom" likewise the formal teaching throughout the Christian movement. As in 7:17, Paul is giving directions (ordaining) in all the churches; these teachings (doctrines) of Paul and the other Apostles are reliably preserved for us only in our Holy Scriptures. We too must strive to discern their message to us today, giving the teachings the weight they are due considering the source -- the founding leaders of the church under the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit. On this see: St. John 17:20; Acts 2:42, 20:24; Romans 11:13; 15:15-19; I Corinthians 14:37; 15:1-11; Galatians 1:8-12; Philippians 4:9; Colossians 1:25-26; I Thessalonians 2:4; 4:1; II Thessalonians 2:14-15; 3:6; I Timothy 1:11; II Peter 1:12-2:3; I John 1:1-4; 4:6
      
2. (11:3-16) Order in Appearances

 

a) (11:3, see also, 14:34) The Head (that which is supreme, chief or prominent; the cornerstone. Thayer's Lexicon) Christ is under the headship of God the Father, but He is not less than the Father, He is ONE WITH the Father. The wife is under the headship of her husband but she is not less than her husband, she is ONE WITH her husband. God, responsive to His own institution recognizes this order: God -- Christ -- Man -- Woman. "The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation." (From SBC.net, The Baptist Faith and Message.) [It is for the husband to love his wife as Christ loves the Church and gave his life for Her. It is for the wife to respect her husband as such a "servant-leader." Each is responsible for themselves -- it is NOT for the husband to love his wife IF she respects him to his satisfaction, and vice versa.

b) (11:4-16) Reflect this order in the context of the culture, nature and general customs of the Church. Vs. 10 -- "because of the angels": consider that the early Christians seemed to understand and accept the presence of attending angels in their gatherings of worship. Quoting John Chrysostom -- b. 347AD -- ". . .(angels) are present at our Christian assemblies and delight in the orderly subordination of the several ranks of God's worshippers in their respective places, the outward demeanor and dress of the latter being indicative of that inward humility which angels know to be most pleasing to their common Lord." Jamieson, Fausset and Brown; Zondervan, 1961; p. 1212.

        

3. (11:17-34) Order at the Table

 

a) (11:17) If done in the wrong way, coming together as a church can do more harm than good. We must gather (Heb. 10:25), but we must be careful in the way we conduct ourselves in the process.

b) (11:18-22) FACTIONS! A-GAIN!?! (See 1:10-17; 3:1; 10:17; 11:18; 12:4-30). Greek guilds and secular societies typically gathered around a common meal as part of their meetings. In the early church, the Eucharist (Communion -- partaking of the bread and wine as instituted by our Lord in the Last Supper) was combined with a meal often called a "Love Feast" or the "Lord's Supper." Each brought what he could, like a "covered dish dinner." Paul hears that they broke off into cliques and the richer were stuffing themselves and getting drunk, leaving the poor (who could not bring much) out of the "Love Feast" and letting them go hungry. This surely is NOT the "Lord's Supper!!!" He hangs a real zinger over their heads: the members with the right heart won't break off into cliques, therefore, we can tell the ones who are not right. If they are so hungry that they can't wait for the others, Paul tells them to take the edge off their hunger at home. The passage began with praise for them. Now, stopping short of condemning them, he tells them he withholds his praise in this. Note in this his moderation and restraint, even in disciplining.

c) (11:23-26) The Institution of the Lord's Supper. Paul establishes the solemnity of the ceremony and qualifies it as given to him by the Lord Himself.

 

(1) (11:24) Take the bread as a symbol of His Body broken for us. And in eating the bread, memorialize Jesus Christ and the price He paid for us. We are bought with a price 6:20; 7:23. [The judge paying the fine himself!]

(2) (11:25) Drink the cup symbolizing the NEW Covenant sealed in the Blood of Jesus as a frequent reminder of His sacrifice. [God cut a new covenant with the seed of Abraham. Gen 15:6-21. And He betrothed His Son to the Church! St. John 14:2-3 He's coming back!!!]

(3) These simple acts of obedience are an outward proclamation by the whole Church of the Gospel of Jesus Christ until He returns. d) (11:27-34) Don't play with this commemoration of the sacrifice of Christ's Body. God takes this very serious. There are grave consequences for presumptuously and blithely taking the bread and cup. These consequences are a process of the fruitful chastening of the Lord. Rather, examine yourself, cleaning the slate with the Lord, and then conscientiously participate in the Lord's Supper.

        

4. (12:1-31a) Order in the Body: One Body -- Many Parts

 

a) (12:1) Spiritual -- Paul is embarking on an informative discourse about practical spiritual realities treating both individual and corporate life. The issue here is not just about "gifts!" [The word, gifts, was added by the translators in this verse, as in 14:1.] The issue is about informing the Corinthians on some of the principles of the spiritual dimension of worship, ministry, life and relationships in the Body of Christ. "Spirituality" is not held up in these chapters as obtained by having some super gift. Rather, spirituality is the medium by which we have a growing personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

b) (12:2-3) My paraphrase: "As you know, there is demonic influence in idolatry that leads the deaf, dumb and blind unregenerate around with a ring in his nose. And don't think those demonic beings sleep in on Sunday morning! If anyone starts speaking or prophesying or swooning like they are in some great spiritual state and the tenor of their message maligns Jesus Christ, rest assured that the spirit "leading" them is not the Holy Spirit. Conversely, when you "hear" with your spiritual ear that anointed message, the tone of which exalts Jesus Christ as Lord, know for certain that that person is speaking under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit." 

c) For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. (Romans 8:14 KJV) This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ; if so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus… (Ephesians 4:17-21 KJV)

NOTE: The operation of the Holy Spirit leads and teaches as His children follow. In chapters 12 and 14, THIS is the common factor in the various expressions of gifts and ministries and activities. The focus is not on a technical formula or dictatorial schematic of "gift laws." No! The focus is on the Giver of the gifts and His will being performed (see vs. 11) as He harmoniously uses each member thru the way He sees fit in the building up of His Body! (Certainly, the listing validates these expressions of His ministry, but, in fact, the list is not complete here in First Corinthians -- e.g., see Romans 12:5-8 and Ephesians 4:11.) We must not put God in a box. And we must not quench His leading in our hearts. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. (First Thessalonians 5:19).

d) (12:4-31a) The way the Holy Spirit ministers through us.

 

(1) (12:4-7) He allots various kinds of spiritual gifts; the Lord has folks doing many different kinds of ministry; God assigns many different kinds of jobs in the fellowship of believers. But all this activity is actually being done by the same God (vs. 6b)!   And the reason He does all this varied activity thru so many different individuals is to profit the body as a whole (vs. 7). God is not a "higher power" whose powers we manipulate as we see fit! The gifts are not to be used like "Christmas lights" for decorating and adorning and exalting the gifted ones. The gifts are a tool, like a hoe, that we are given to use in the work God has chosen for us to do.

(2) (12:8-11) Examples of the types of things the Holy Spirit imparts through us for the nourishment of HIS Body:

 

(a) Wisdom

(b) Spiritual knowledge

(c) Great faith

(d) Healings of different kinds

(e) Miracles

(f) Prophesyings (discourse emanating from divine inspiration)

(g) Discernment (of the spiritual conditions of individuals)

(h) Different kinds of languages (glossa -- language or dialect of humans or angels -- 13:1) Heathen temples employed stammering and swooning and flaunted utterings in their manipulation of adherents. In fact, epileptics were considered especially attractive to the gods. No wonder then, that Paul had to set them straight particularly in the abuse of this gift.

(i) Interpretation (hermeneia) of the sense of what was being spoken of in glossa.

 

(3) (12:11) All by the same single Holy Spirit, dividing the gifts up among the individuals of the fellowship according to His own will. [Please note that some gifts are like an office or a job ( as in vs, 28, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4) while other gifts are spontaneous and appropriate to the specific circumstances. Some gifts are overtly expressed and obvious (as in tongues) and others are more intangible (as in faith)]

(4) (12:12-31a) The metaphor of "The Body." One body, many functioning members (not insignificant tiny cells -- but hands, feet, eyes, mouth, etc.) all nurtured and coordinated by the same Head. The ordinary gift is just as important as the spectacular gift. The contribution you make to the good of others is as completely miraculous, as indispensable, and as much a work of God, as the contribution of anyone else (Devotional Commentary, Larry Richards, p. 929). And, If you are going to seek after some gift, go for the ones that are the greatest blessing to others in the Body!

         

5. (12:31b-13:13) Order in the Heart: The Greatest Gift

 

a) (12:31b) And if you really want to be a blessing with all your giftings, let me show you the most excellent way to do it: the gift of love! (. . .the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:5) This is one gift available to all of us in the person of the third member of the Godhead!

b) (13:1-3) Having the gifts of glossa, prophecy, wisdom and revelation, spiritual knowledge, great faith, extraordinary, sacrificial giving, even martyrdom -- without the heart condition of love in them profits the gifted one nothing! Certainly, others may be blessed by "your" gifts, but there is total emptiness in the life of one using them in pursuit of self-aggrandizement.

c) (13:4-8a) The definition of love (agape)

 

(1) (13:4) Love is. . .

 

(a) Patient

(b) Kind

 

(2) (13:4b-6a) Love does not. . .

 

(a) Envy others

(b) Make a display of itself

(c) Get arrogant

(d) Behave rudely

(e) Seek its own advantage

(f) Get angry easily

(g) Keep an account of grievances

(h) Rejoice in the hearing or telling of others' faults or follies -- love doesn't gossip.

 

(3) (13:6b-7) Love does. . .

 

(a) Rejoice in the spread and victory of truth and right

(b) Hold up under difficult circumstances without breaking down

(c) Naturally put things in their best light

(d) Hold on for the most optimistic outcome in the most tragic of circumstances

(e) Endure no matter what the circumstances

 

(4) (13:8a) Love never. . .fails! Love is ETERNAL

 

d) (13:8b-12) Other gifts are temporary and imperfect because we can only see and hear and feel the spiritual dimension imperfectly and partially in our natural bodies; and other gifts are only a means to an end. Like: the things of childhood are used on the path to adulthood, but we put those "toys" away when we come of age. Love will ever be the completion and perfection of our existence. [A glass or mirror to the Corinthians meant polished metal, certainly an imperfect reflection.] There will come a day when the veil is taken away; when we shall see perfectly, when we shall know spiritual things with a knowledge that is like that of God

e) (13:13) These three are eternal:

 

(1) Faith -- the parable of the circus ball.

(2) Hope -- the parable of the shoebox of one- thousand dollar bills.

(3) Love -- Love is the mainspring of faith and hope. God is love! Love God with chapter 13 love! Give and it shall be given unto you!

        

6. (14:1-25) Order in the Oral: Prophesying and Tongues

 

a) (14:1) Seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire the love of God in your life and exercise that love in your desire to experience the "spiritual" of the Holy Spirit, and that you pass that love along thru His giftings in your life, especially to speak forth His loving message under His inspiration.

b) (14:2, 4-6, 13-19, 21-23, 27, 39; 12:30) Glossa: speaking a language unlearned by you under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

 

(1) (vs. 2a) Speaks to god

(2) (vs. 2b) Speaks mysteries in the spirit

(3) (vs. 4) Builds the speaker up spiritually

(4) (vs. 5) Would be good if everybody spoke in tongues (IF the Lord so endowed us)

(5) (vs. 13, 23, 27, 40) Not appropriate for general gatherings unless accompanied with the gift of interpretation, and then done in a moderate, clear, orderly fashion. The gift of interpretation will build up the body of Christ as does prophecy.

(6) (vs. 14-16) Glossa is spiritual prayer to God, singing to God, blessing God, and giving of thanks to God -- ALL to God. (A good guideline for verifying the interpretation.)

(7) (vs. 20-21) Validated in the Old Testament

(8) (vs. 39, Do not forbid those gifted with glossa to use their gift in the context of Paul's guidelines

 

c) (vs. 3, 5, 22, 24, 29-33, 39-40) Prophesy: Gk: propheteuo (prof-ate-yoo'-o). Thayer's Dictionary of the New Testament: to prophesy; to be a prophet; to speak forth by divine inspirations, to predict. To prophesy with the idea of foretelling future events pertaining especially to the kingdom of God. To utter forth or declare a thing which can only be known by divine revelation. To break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or praise of the divine counsels and to do so under such prompting in order to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, and comfort others. To act as a prophet, discharge the prophetic office. This discussion in chapters 12-14 does not lend itself so much to a description of the "office" of prophet, but rather the random, spontaneous speaking forth under divine inspiration.

 

(1) (vs. 3) Speaking prophecy

 

(a) Builds the listeners up in their spirit

(b) Challenges and corrects the hearers in their thoughts and their behavior

(c) Comforts the hearts of the listeners

 

(2) (vs. 5, 22, 39) Prophecy is a better gift to exercise in the church because it builds the Body of Christ up

(3) (vs. 24) Prophecy can convict a nonbeliever

(4) (vs. 29) Should be exercised in the Church with verification by the more experienced

(5) (vs. 30-31) Defer willingly and freely to one another as revelation moves about the room

(6) (vs. 32-33) Be courteous and under self-control in the discharge of the gifts -- your spirit is like a turtledove to your soul, not a brash bully trouncing all over others

        

7. (14:26-40) Order in the Meeting

 

a) Tongues spoken out in the service should be exercised moderately and always with interpretation

b) Prophecy should be done in an orderly, non-competitive manner

c) Folks (in this case, particularly, women) stirring up confusion in a general meeting should be quieted. --Obviously, a much debated passage--

        

8. (15:1-58) Order in the Message -- THE GOSPEL   In this chapter, Paul is responding to the false teaching among some in Corinth that there is no resurrection of the dead. Though there does not seem to be a challenge to the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul shows that to be wrong on the lesser issue will eventually lead to the demise of the greatest fact of our faith!

 

a) (15:1-3a) The faithful maintenance of the message is vital to salvation. Getting it right is absolutely important on these essential issues. If we are going to die for something, let it be on these truths! For these truths construct the foundation of our life in Christ. Believing in vain speaks of giving your assent to a tenet of the Gospel without due consideration and therefore wavering in your adherence to it.

b) (15:3b-4) The Three-fold Facts

 

(1) Christ took on the punishment of death and separation from God (to which we are all eternally condemned for our own sinful nature) and in so doing, as the only human being who ever lived a sinless life, provided the Father with the only possible acceptable sacrifice to atone for us in our stead. And the sacrifice of the Lamb of God took place exactly as it was foretold in the Old Testament (Gen. 3:15; 12:3; Deut. 18:5; Psalms 2:2-3; 22:1-2, 12-18; 69:21; 118:22; Isaiah 7:14; 28:16; 49:6-7; 52:14; 53:1-12; Zechariah 11:12; 12:10; 13:7) .

(2) Christ was buried. His body was dead, carried to a tomb and sealed inside under armed guard.

(3) Again, as was clearly predicted in the Old Testament, our Lord rose from the dead on the third day (Psalms 16:10; 49:15; 71:20; 68:18; 110:1; 132:11; Isaiah 25:8; Hosea 13:14).

 

c) (15:5-11) The eye witness accounts of those who saw Jesus in bodily form after the resurrection. Note in vs. 11 the "we preach." This message was universal among the leadership of the Body of Christ.

 

(1) Peter.

(2) The gathered 12 Apostles.

(3) A large crowd of over 500, most of whom were still alive at the time of Paul writing this letter (about 25 years later).

(4) James (the Lord's brother -- Gal. 1:19; Acts 12:17; 15:13).

(5) All the apostles (possibly the "70" of Luke 10:1).

(6) Paul himself saw Christ in bodily form.

 

d) (15:12-19) Seven terrible things must be true if we deny the resurrection of our bodies:

 

(1) (vs. 13, 16) Christ is not resurrected!

(2) (vs. 14) The message of the Church is impotent!

(3) (vs. 14, 17) Our faith in Christ is useless!

(4) (vs. 15) We are bearing a lie from God! -- He has lied to us!

(5) (vs. 17) We are still unforgiven and unredeemed in our sins!

(6) (vs. 18) Our loved ones who have passed on are forever lost to us!

(7) (vs. 19) We are among humanity the most pitiful beings because we hang our whole lives on a myth!

 

e) (15:20-28) THE FACT IS: CHRIST IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD!!!!!!! As by Adam all came under the realm of eternal death, even so, through Christ all (who accept His invitation) shall be made eternally alive unto God the Father. Vs. 28: note the preeminence of the Father over the Son. 

f) (15:29-32) Practical motivations afforded us thru the doctrine of the Resurrection:

 

(1) (vs. 29) It seems some in Corinth were being baptized for others who had died before they had a chance to be immersed. Those being baptized for the deceased were possibly also teaching that there would be no bodily resurrection. Paul points out (without necessarily giving doctrinal approval of their rite) that it would obviously be senseless to do so if there were not a bodily resurrection after death.

(2) (vs. 30) Our future resurrection is an adequate motivation for running the risk of death in Christian work.

(3) (vs. 31-32)   Our future resurrection is an adequate motivation for abstaining from a life of self-indulgence.  ["I die daily" -- the parable of the cork in the bottom of the rowboat.  We sit in our little dinghy clinging to our old life as the Lord encourages us to pull the cork in the bottom of the boat; when we finally relent, we discover we were really fish all along!]

 

g) (15:33-34) A severe warning against this false teaching. Bad apples make good apples bad. False teaching is unrighteous, sin. Some who spout out words are not speaking out of a personal relationship with God. To give them space is shameful! 

h) (15:35-49) What goes in the ground is not what comes out. Principles:

 

(1) (vs. 36) A seed does not produce new life until its practical life is ended -- rotted -- dead.

(2) (vs. 37-38a) What is sown into the ground is not the same thing in particular that comes up -- not just another lonely seed.

(3) (vs. 38b-49) The seed that is sown into the ground brings forth a fruit-producing plant after its own kind. Those who die under the curse of the first Adam, exist in the next world under the effects of that same curse. Those who die under the atonement of Jesus Christ, the second "Adam," are raised as He was raised -- heavenly beings in His image!

 

i) (15:50-58) The final victory. Only heavenly bodies can inherit heaven, where there will be no more corruption -- no more death, sickness, emotional maladies, loneliness, etc. (Rev. 21:4). At the last trumpet, the dead in Christ will rise first in their heavenly form, then we who remain alive will be changed ourselves into our heavenly form. Mortality shall put on immortality because Christ has made us free from the law of sin and death! (Romans 8:2).
Therefore…dear family, firmly sit down on this teaching; be unceasingly persistent in your resistance to false teaching; and thus be always eternally fruitful in the work the Lord inspires.

        

9.  (16:1-4) Order in Giving.  A collection is being taken from the gentile churches for the believers (primarily Jewish) in Jerusalem who are enduring hard times. The principle of giving: each week, take account of what the Lord has blessed you with and share as you are able in blessing others, esp. our fellow believers. (The "first day of the week" is Sunday, already the day for general Christian gatherings -- a fit time for an act of Christian charity.) On Christian giving see also Matt. 5:42; 6:3; 19:21; Luke 6:38; 11:41; 12:33; Acts 11:29; 20:35; Second Corinthians 8 and 9 and Romans 12:8; 15:25-28.

        

IV. Wrapping Things Up (16:5-24)

        

A. (16:5-12) Paul's Personal Plans. The door the Lord opens is often not without adversaries (vs. 9). Note the care Paul gives to soften Timothy's visit at Corinth in transit to where Paul was. No doubt, Paul knew how cantankerous they could be with visiting preachers!
      
B. (16:13-14) Final Exhortation.

 

1. Watch: take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake you.

2. Stand fast in the faith: don't be fickle in your faith.

3. Be brave: do not be morally feeble and whimpish.

4. Be strong: be growing in spiritual strength.

5. Do everything with love -- kindness and patience (perseverance) -- "agape" chapter 13 kind of love.

        

C. (16:15-18) Commending the Brothers.

 

1. (vs. 15) Stephanas -- maybe the jailer of Acts 16:33 -- they have "addicted" themselves to ministering to the saints. It must be remembered that there is a great emphasis in the Epistles for nurturing the saints, not just evangelizing the lost.

2. (vs. 16-18) Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus -- submit to them and recognize the leadership of such men.

        

D. (16:19-21) Greetings.

 

1. (vs. 19) Maybe the first husband/wife pastoral team?

2. (vs. 20) A holy kiss: a gesture of brotherhood in their day; maybe like the "right hand of fellowship" today. In our culture, certainly we would need to be careful going around kissing each other each time we gather.

3. (vs. 21) ". . .my own hand" -- The letter was probably penned by a secretary, maybe Sosthenes, (1:1), and Paul signed the document to authenticate it.

        

E. (16:22-24) A Solemn Farewell

 

1. (vs. 22) Love the Lord Jesus Christ -- "phileo," familial love; to treat affectionately or kindly, to welcome, befriend. Emphasizing the focus of Christianity on the only begotten Son of God, the Father.

2. (vs. 22) "accursed" -- "anathama" -- those who do not love Christ are devoted to the direst of woes like a flayed animal sacrificed to a god and nailed up in a conspicuous place.

3. (vs. 22) "maranatha" -- of Aramaic origin meaning "Our Lord has come." Also, translated, as here, "O, Lord, come!"

4. (vs. 23) "Grace. . .with you." There is no greater prayer, for in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is all the power, all the mercy, all the salvation, all the love, all the strength, all the resources for proper, normal Christian life!

5. (vs. 24) Paul's "agape" love be with them all despite the severity with which he has had to write, and though some of them prefer other leaders.  See the poem at the end of the outline commenting on the wrong focus that often overtakes those in formal "ministry,"  "Jesus at the Playground Fence."

 

POEMS:

 

Referred to in 6:9-11:      

God Saves With All His Heart

by Jerry Johnson

 

"Yes, I will rejoice over them to do them good,
and I will assuredly plant them in this land,
with all My heart and with all My soul."  
Jeremiah 32: 41

 

Tho racked in the howling surge of demonic constructs and circumstances;
Under the weight of all the unholy contradictions of "luck" and chances;
When bathing in the muck of endless, mundane, boring chores;
In the face of satan's fiendish screaming, screeching unrelenting lures;
O, yet I clutch the cause to trust our loving, gracious Lord:
For no weapon formed against it can survive the mighty slash of His Holy Sword!
And no mischief of the evil one can destroy what His Word decrees restored!
I share with many being the object of His affection and His unfailing love,
For Christ has placed in me the Holy Seed from His Father up Above.
No matter what the temporal circumstances, what I feel or what I see,
I rest secure to know the Eternal Word of God is effective and resident in me!
And tho the journey continues, someday I will see Him and I will be as He!
And because of the beauty of His handiwork He will dance and sing over me!

 

The Lord God is in your midst!
The Mighty One will deliver you!
He will rejoice over you!
You'll find peace in His love,
And He will sing,
And be joyful about you!
Zephaniah 3:17

 

Copyright, 2003 by Gerald T. Johnson.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

 

Referred to in 16:24:      

Jesus at the Playground

by Jerry Johnson

 

Tootlin' in his mighty caddy
Headin' for the battle of important work,
The wholly man slammed on brakes
And gave the wheel a jerk:
Was that really Jesus?
Back at the school playground?
As he threw the car door open
His crusty heart began to pound.

He ran up to the Saviour thinking,
"What is He doin' here?
"Good Master, can I ask you?"
He blurted without fear,
"Why in this everlovin' world
would YOU, of all, be found
"Leaning on this chainlink fence
By this vacant school playground?"

"Shhhhhhh," He whispered,
And with a gentle motion of His calloused hand,
He gestured, authoritatively, to the man
Beside Him there to stand.

"I looked all over town for You.
After a while I just plain quit!
"You know all the church work I do.
I figured You'd show when You saw fit.
"Who'd of ever guessed you'd be leaning
 on this empty playground fence?
"I'm running my fool head off for you,
But you're not even tense!"

"Shhhhhhh," again, He whispered,
Taking the wholly man's hand,
"Quietly wait here beside me.
In a moment you will understand."
Wait!?! You say? Wait?  Man . . . !
Who is going to save the hoards out there lost?
"I've got all Your nagging sheep to feed!
And fund raising to cover YOUR costs!

A lingering gaze from the Master's eyes,
A squeeze upon his anxious hand,
And the wholly man got the point:
Not suggesting, Christ was giving a command.

So . . . they stood there, One, patient;
The other stewing over wasted time.
It happened without warming:
The recess bell began to chime!

With a CRASH! the school doors opened
As though they had been kicked! 
A horde of balls of energy
In all directions, lickity-split.
As He watched the playing children 
Jesus' face lit up with pure delight.

Amazement turning to disgust,
The wholly man could not believe his sight:

Here was Jesus all intense
Watching these foolish children play.
Not a soul was being witnessed to;
Not one kid knew how to pray!

"Jesus, these young'uns have no understanding
About hard work or sin or evil or hate;
"And the tithes would amount to nothing
If we passed the offering plate!
"No church buildings would ever get built
If we left it up to them to do!
"And rather than making an improvement
The place'll be worse off when they're thru!"

Jesus looked down on the wholly man,
"Would you please listen to yourself?!
"My children are not commodities
For you to count sitting on the shelf!
"My work is not just about new buildings
Or homilies on the psychology of hate.
"Now consider the end of your religiosity.
Stand quietly there.  Watch . . . and wait."

The preacher knew Christ might be right.
He accepted that he'd been put in his place.

The Master's attention returned to the children,
Love beaming from His face.

Just then, the wholly man saw her
A little girl, sitting on a motionless swing:
Other children's games did not amuse her,
Their toys, right now, were not her thing.
She looked where they were standing,
And in a moment, time joined eternity:
When she saw Jesus, she called to Him:
"Daddy, will you come swing me?"

His whole body beaming with joy,
As seeing no other sight, hearing no other sound:
The Master ran to swing his child
Two hearts with infinite love together bound.

The wholly man stood there in shock
As he took in the stark, cold reality:
That Jesus would rather play with His child
Than toil and struggle and jerk and fight with he!

That old crusty heart began to melt.
He ran, clerical garb flailing in the wind,
Joyfully took a swing beside the little girl, 
His religious war was over, fighting at an end.

 

Copyright 2001, Gerald Thomas Johnson, Norfolk, VA.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

Content - © Copyright 2010, 2011, 2014 Christian Concourse Ministries, Inc.  All rights reserved.

 

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