Updated 15 Jan 2019
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1 Corinthians 1
The church at Corinth was vibrant, active and moving in spiritual gifts but it was also facing a number of moral challenges. It seems that some people may have come from Corinth to visit Paul and they had informed him that there were divisions within the church. The church had also written to Paul for advice on a number of doctrinal matters. This letter was intended to address these issues and answer their questions.
Paul is writing to those who have been set aside in Christ, showing how, as God's people, they should be different to others in the world.
Paul thanks God for these people, who know His grace through the Lord Jesus Christ. They move freely in spiritual gifts, they wait for the Lord’s second coming and Paul assures them of the faithfulness of God and God’s ability to keep them strong to the very end.
It seems that there was considerable division in the church at Corinth and there were quarrels which seemed to centre around different personalities, including Paul himself, Apollos and Cephas. Some people were following these different personalities and others were claiming simply to follow Christ. However, we can see that their attitudes were spiritually bankrupt, because they were causing division. We understand that leaders have different personalities but it is foolish to choose one over another. Christ is not divided. He raises up leaders to share their gifts to build the body of Christ, rather than to split the church. Paul teaches that we should focus upon the gospel, which is the message of Christ crucified. He suffered in our place and, even though he was God, he gave himself fully for us!
Jesus gave himself for us because of the wisdom of God. God saw that surrendering His Son to crucifixion and death, would destroy the power of the devil and defeat the proud and stubborn hearts of men. Jesus was sent, not to crush rebellion in a military fashion but, rather, to destroy the roots of sin through his humble, selfless sacrifice. To the world, the cross appears to be a sign of defeat but, in the heavenly realm, it stands for the demolition of Satan and all of his kingdom! It seems foolish to come and be slaughtered like a lamb but Christ's suffering has destroyed Satan’s kingdom and made a way for men and women to be reconciled to God. We can only be humbled and rejoice at God’s wonderful plan!
Our Status before God
Paul reminds the Corinthians that, in the eyes of the world, many of them did not have high standing and appeared to have little influence or power. However, the church of Jesus confounds the ways of the world. In particular, Jesus builds his church with those that the world despises, those who are weak and those who are considered foolish. In Christ, we have been lifted up and we have become sons and daughters of God. We discover that we are valued and precious to the Lord and that we are now viewed very differently by God, who is the one that matters. Nevertheless, although we enjoy our wonderful new position in Christ, it is very important that we should always remain humble and dependent upon him.
What Christ has Done
Christ is our understanding. He has brought true wisdom into our lives, which gives us a true and accurate perception of how things really are. Christ is our righteousness. He has shown us the way to live and has covered our sins, so that we are acceptable to a Holy God. Christ is our holiness. He has made us unique and precious and we are now dedicated to serve the living God and to put him first in every area of our lives. Christ is our redemption. He paid the price that set us free from Satan, we are no longer under his control and we belong to God. Christ is our assurance. In ourselves, we have nothing to boast about but we have much to boast about in Christ!
Points to Consider:
- It is important to remember the good things that are happening in people’s lives, not just the problems. How ready are we to do that, when we pray for the body of Christ?
- How can we overcome the problem of people following a personality rather than Christ? Are we treating people in the body of Christ equally or do we have favourites? Do we rely on our personality to attract God's people or are we consciously pointing people to Christ?
- How do we keep the message of Christ crucified central in our lives and ministry? Do we proclaim the great cost of our salvation as a challenge to our pride and selfishness?
- When we reflect upon ourselves and the body of Christ, do we appreciate the difference that Christ has made for us? Are we aware that, in ourselves, we are nobody? It is only in Christ that we are a special and valued people.
- In verse 30, Paul makes it clear to the Corinthians what Christ is for them. Do we appreciate that, for us, this same Christ is the one that we can confidently boast about?
God bless you!
Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 1
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