Strength for the Journey--Bible Study

     
     
     
     

    Bible Study Pastor Eric C. Carson

                            Rev. Eric C Carson,  Senior    Pastor 

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                                                                                                Bible Study
                                                                                        1 Corinthians


     
    Introduction:
     
    Corinth was a prominent and important city in the Greek state of Achaia.  Athens held influence as the intellectual capital of the region (Acts 17:16-34), but when it came to the sensory and sensual life of Greece, Corinth was without peer.  It was the commercial capital of the area: land traffic from Achaia to Macedonia and points north passed through the city, and most sea traffic from the eastern Mediterranean bound for Rome stopped in Corinth’s port.  Corinth was rich and immoral, a city that lived without self-control. 
     
    In the world of the first century, if you talked about “living like a Corinthian” most everyone knew exactly what you meant.  It was code language for indulging in a wild and unrestrained life. Sadly, the Corinthians Christians often fit the stereotype of their pagan peers.  Somehow, perhaps because of their culture, or possibly because of some warped teaching they had received, the Corinthian believers felt that in Christ they had full license to do whatever they pleased. 
     
    Paul was concerned that the believers in the city were living more like Corinthians than like Christians, more like citizen of this world than citizen of the kingdom of heaven.
     
    Paul visited Corinth for the first time on his second missionary journey somewhere between AD 49 and 52 and stayed in Corinth for a year and a half.  He might not have stayed that long had the Lord not spoken to him directly in a vision, saying:” Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-11). Those “many people,” won to Christ during Paul’s 18 month stay, became the nucleus of the Corinthian Church.
     
    Paul visited Corinth and a church was born.  Three years later on his third missionary journey, he was headquartered in Ephesus for two to three years. During that period Paul received urgent and undoubtedly stressful information about problems in the Corinthian congregation.  Some communication from “Chloe’s household” alerted him to “contentions” in the church (1:11).
     
    Both of Paul’s letters to Corinth were problem-solving letters, indicating the level of remedial work needed to bring the church into alignment with principles of love, unity, sound doctrine, and respect for authority. 1 Corinthians deals primarily with interchurch problems.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    As Paul addressed things, He used the phrase “Now concerning” six times before offering specific guidance on each issue (7:1, 25; 8:1; 12:1; 16:1; 12). As a spiritual father to these immature believers, the apostle set out to tackle the troublesome areas one at a time, revealing his deep concern and perhaps his frustration, too. Knowing he would soon be visiting them after his stay in Ephesus he wrote, “What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” (4:21). He preferred the latter but was prepared for the former if the Corinthian believer failed to address their critical issues, which included divisions, immorality, lawsuits among believers confusion about marriage, eating food sacrificed to pagan idols, abuses of the Lord’s Supper, improper decorum in worship services, abuses of spiritual gifts, confusion about the Resurrection, and lack of discipline in finances.
     
    Where does one begin with a contentious, undisciplined, out-of-balance, problem filled church?  Deep into his letter, Paul seems to set aside his long list of church problems and headaches to write about agape love.
     
    Whenever there are problems in a church or a marriage or any significant relationship  the first thing to go out the back door is the steady, timeless, selfless, sacrificial  love that Jesus modeled.  When Jesus wrote His own letter to the church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1-5), He complimented them on their hard world and their accurate doctrine, but He also brought a serious charge against them:  They had lost their love as a result, they were about to lost everything else.
     
    Questions to Ponder
     
    Why was Paul so “hard” on the Corinthian Christians?
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    Why was Paul so serious about the church in Corinth being the church?
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    Why is the love that Jesus Christ modeled so important in the church today?
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