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1 Corinthians 1-8
I’m sure you noticed that this letter deals with some very adult themes! It also covers a great deal of ground, moving from one issue to another. In that sense, 1 Corinthians may be the most practical of Paul’s letters. It’s certainly a fascinating read, and a nice break from the deep theology of Romans.
The church in Corinth has divided into factions, each supporting a different Christian leader. Some follow Peter, others Paul, others Apollos. That’s not too different than today - some follow Luther, others Calvin, others Wesley, others the Pope. Unfortunately, in Corinth, following those different leaders has eclipsed following Jesus for many believers. Do our denominations today sometimes run the same risk? How do we avoid that pitfall?
In 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, Paul describes the process of building upon the foundation of Christ. We are saved by Christ; but what we build upon that foundation has the potential to go with us to the next life (gold, silver, precious jewels), or be burned up in the fire (wood, hay, straw). What do each of these materials represent? Is your life designed to build with those materials, or with materials that burn up?
In his conversation about sexual morals, Paul states that “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own. you were bought with a price; therefore honor God with your body.” For most of us, our bodies are our most personal possessions. What would it mean to be convinced that even our bodies and our sexuality belong to God?
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul discusses the merits of singleness vs marriage. What did you think of this conversation? How does this change your view of singleness?
1 Corinthians 9-16
Paul tackles some even more challenging topics in this section of his letter. We will reflect on his instructions around conscience together next Sunday, but I’ve always found 1 Corinthians 11:1 particularly challenging. Do you feel comfortable making this statement to others?
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 stands out as some of the most beautiful words found in the New Testament. How does the context of that chapter (sandwiched in between an argument about spiritual gifts) affect our understanding of Paul’s intent?
Finally, notice that in chapter 15 we hear Paul’s explanation of the resurrection bodies we will receive after Jesus’ return. It’s an exciting, but confusing, passage, that confirms to us that “the last enemy to be destroyed is death."
I came across this excellent video clip (below) summarizing 1 Corinthians in just 9 minutes. Check it out.