Saturday, 6 September 2014

Message in the Epistle

Message in the First Epistle Of Paul to the Corinthians

The book of 1 Corinthians is the second longest of the Pauline epistles, surpassed only by the book of Romans, which it follows in the traditional order of Scriptures.

Paul made it clear at the beginning of this letter that his reason for writing this epistle was because members of Chloe's household had informed him of divisions in the church (1Co 1:11). Paul mentioned three men by name who had come to him from Corinth (1Co 16:17), but it is not certain if these were the members of Chloe's household to whom Paul referred.

Paul's main purpose in this book was to correct the carnality that had damaged the unity of the believers and to answer specific questions. 1Co 1:10 sums up his intent: "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment."

Paul dealt with this disunity in three main areas. First, he countered the division caused over a difference of opinion as to whom the people should be following (1Co 1:10-4:21). Some of the church claimed Paul as their spiritual leader, some Apollos, and some Peter (1Co 1:12).

Second, Paul reprimanded the believers for the immoral conduct of certain individuals (incest, 1Co 5; lawsuits, 1Co 6; marriage relationships, 1Co 7; eating things sacrificed to idols, 1Co 8) and the passivity of the others in not dealing with these problems (1Co 5:1-11:16).

Third, Paul dealt with the conduct of the Corinthians in their church services (1Co 11:17-14:40). This section includes instructions for the Lord's Supper (1Co 11) and the operation of the gifts in the church (1Co 12-14).

Paul concluded this letter with the most complete arguments found in the New Testament on the resurrection of our bodies (1Co 15). 1Co 16 gives instructions for the collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem as well as miscellaneous instructions and salutations.

Spiritual Gifts
Three chapters of 1 Corinthians are devoted to the subject of spiritual gifts (1Co 12-14). This is the most information on spiritual gifts in one place in the entire Bible. This is the only place in the Bible that guidelines are set forth for the operation of the gifts in an assembly of believers.
Some people have tried to capitalize on the fact that these believers had all the spiritual gifts (1Co 1:7) and yet were carnal (1Co 3:3), to argue that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not necessary or that they are even of the devil. However, Paul never told these believers that their gifts were of the devil. Despite these flagrant abuses, Paul told them, "Covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues" (1Co 14:39). He taught them how to properly use the gifts, not to dispose of the gifts.

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