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Monday, September 3 2012

The Epistles: First Corinthians

Studies in this complete Epistles series:
What Is An Epistle? Luke Acts Romans First Corinthians
Second Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians
First Thessalonians Second Thessalonians First Timothy Second Timothy Titus
Philemon Hebrews James First Peter Second Peter
First John Second John Third John Jude Revelation


Corinth was a Greek city located on the isthmus that connects the Peloponnesus (the southern peninsula of Greece) to the mainland of Greece. The city was visited during the apostle Paul's second and third missionary journeys (see Paul's First Missionary Journey, Paul's Second Missionary Journey and Paul's Third Missionary Journey) and the church (i.e. the Christian people; see Can You See The Church?) there were the recipients of two epistles from Paul.

Paul's Second Missionary Journey Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians was written while Paul was in Ephesus ("I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost"), a city in what is today Turkey. Paul later wrote an epistle to the church in Ephesus, "Ephesians," after he had left there (Ephesus was also recorded as one of "the seven churches of Asia" in the apostle John's Book of Revelation, which itself was also an epistle; see also Where Are The Seven Churches Of Revelation Today?).

"16:5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia. 16:6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go. 16:7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit. 16:8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost [see The Fruit Of Pentecost]. 16:9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

16:10 Now if Timotheus [see Timothy] come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do. 16:11 Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

16:12 As touching our brother Apollos [see Paul Or Apollos?], I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time." (1 Corinthians 16:5-12 KJV)

Paul's greeting was always inclusive, regardless of who or where he was writing to; the only people that Paul rejected were those who rejected Christ.

"1:1 Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God [see Straight Street], and Sosthenes our brother,

1:2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth [see Can You See The Church? and The Church In The End Time], to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

1:3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Corinthians 1:1-3 KJV)

The Corinthians had grown in their knowledge and understanding i.e. "in all utterance, and in all knowledge" - which was the good news.

The Isthmus of Corinth

"1:4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 1:5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 1:6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 1:7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ [see The Two Signs Of Christ's Return]: 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1:9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." (1 Corinthians 1:4-9 KJV)

The primary reason that Paul wrote the epistle however was to address the strife that they were experiencing due to people competing to be the "leader." Paul's plea to them, "that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment," wasn't merely talking about doctrine; it was to urge them to agree that Christ is the Head of His Church.

"1:10 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. 1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

1:12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 1:13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? [see What Do Leaders Do?]

1:14 I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; 1:15 Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. 1:16 And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other. 1:17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect." (1 Corinthians 1:10-17 KJV)

Paul then compared the struggle of some to be the "leader" of Christ's Church as a typical carnal struggle for one man to run over another.

"3:1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 3:2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3:3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 3:4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? [see Is Your Religion Your Religion? and Is Your Church A Cult?]

3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 3:7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 3:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 3:9 For we are labourers together with God [see Works Means Obedience and The Yoke Of Freedom]: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." (1 Corinthians 3:1-9 KJV)

"That Rock was Christ"

One of the most profound realities of the Bible, that is ignored or rejected by millions of people who claim to be Christian, is that "the LORD God" of the so-called Old Testament was in fact Jesus Christ i.e. "that Rock was Christ."

Corinth

"10:1 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; 10:2 And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 10:3 And did all eat the same spiritual meat; 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ [see Who Is The LORD?]. 10:5 But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness [see Israel In History and Prophecy: The Sinai Journey]." (1 Corinthians 10:1-5 KJV)

Many regard Jesus Christ to be like the mere human that He was for a little over 30 years, but He existed from eternity as the all-powerful LORD God, just as He exists today as the all-powerful LORD God. The Messiah does not accept those who refuse to obey Him.

"10:6 Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. 10:7 Neither be ye idolaters [see Mirror, Mirror, On The Wall], as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 10:8 Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. 10:9 Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. 10:10 Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall [see Christ Died For Repentant Sinners]. 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:6-13 KJV)

Speaking in tongues, other languages, is also widely misunderstood - millions think that it's just someone babbling, and then telling others what the babbling meant.

"12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 12:2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 12:8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 12:9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues [see The Word Of God In The Tongues Of Man]: 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ." (1 Corinthians 12:1-12 KJV)

Throughout the epistle, Paul contrasted the greatness of the LORD, and the salvation that He offers to those who live according to His Commands, with the mere human power struggle that they were experiencing.

Acrocorinth

"15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead [see Counting On The Resurrection], and become the firstfruits of them that slept [see What Does The Bible Really Say About Your Soul?]. 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming [see When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin]. 15:24 Then cometh the end [see The Eighth Day: What Does It Mean?], when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power [see The Church: Mission Accomplished]. 15:25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet [see What Is The Day Of The LORD?]. 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 15:27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all." (1 Corinthians 15:20-28 KJV)

Humans were made in God's own image. That will be fulfilled with salvation.

"15:35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 15:36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 15:37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 15:38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 15:39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 15:40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 15:43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.

There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 15:46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 15:47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 15:48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Corinthians 15:35-49 KJV)

"Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" was perhaps Paul's most dire statement to them that those who lust to rule in this life may not make it to eternal life.

"15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God [see What Was The Lesson Of John 3:16?]; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 15:51 Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 15:55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

15:56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 15:57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:50-58 KJV)

Fact Finder: How are the resurrections to salvation comparable to a series of harvests?
See The Harvest Prophecies


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This Day In History, September 3

36 BC: The Battle of Naulochus. Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, a naval commander of Octavian (Octavian later became known as Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor who declared the census that caused the Messiah to be born in Bethlehem i.e. Luke 2:1), defeated Sextus Pompeius, the son of Pompey, thereby ending Pompeian resistance to the Second Triumvirate (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars).

301: San Marino, one of the smallest nations in the world and the world's oldest republic still in existence, was founded by Marinus.

1189: Richard I (Richard the Lion-Heart) was crowned king of England.

1260: The Battle of Ayn Jalut, a decisive victory of the Mamluks of Egypt over the invading Mongols, which saved Egypt and Islam and prevented the western expansion of the Mongol empire.

1650: The Battle of Dunbar during the Third English Civil War. English Parliamentarian forces led by Oliver Cromwell defeated the forces loyal to King Charles II.

1658: Oliver Cromwell, "lord protector" of England, died at age 59.

1752: Britain and the New England colonies adopted the Gregorian calendar (named after Roman Catholic Pope Gregory XIII - see Pope Gregory's Calendar), replacing the less accurate Julian calendar (named after Julius Caesar). To implement the new calendar, 11 days were officially omitted that year i.e. September 2 was followed by September 14. Some people rioted, accusing the government of stealing 11 days of life from them.

1783: The Treaty of Paris was signed between Britain and the newly-created United States, officially ending the revolution of the New England colonies that had been built in the wilderness nearly two centuries earlier.

1855: During the genocide of native Americans by white Europeans, 700 U.S. troops under General William S. Harney massacred 100 Sioux men, women and children in their village in Nebraska - one of many such slaughters during "the Indian wars."

1939: Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, France and India declared war on Germany in response to Adolf Hitler's invasion of Poland 2 days earlier. The beginning of the Second World War in Europe.

1943: During the Second World War (1939-1945), Italy surrendered to invading Allied forces in a secret armistice, but German forces continued fighting in Italy.

1944: British troops liberated Brussels.

1969: Ho Chi Minh (real name Nguyen Tat Thanh), president of North Vietnam during most of the Vietnam War, died at age 79.

1976: The U.S. Viking 2 landed on Mars.

1978: Albino Luciani was coronated as Pope John Paul I. He died only 34 days later, some say under mysterious circumstances, at age 66. He was succeeded by Polish-born Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, 58, who took the name Pope John Paul II - the first non-Italian Catholic pope in 450 years.

1987: Burundi President Jean-Baptiste Bagaza was deposed in a coup d'état led by Major Pierre Buyoya.

1994: Russia and China agreed to no longer target nuclear weapons on each other.

1999: An 87-automobile pile-up occurred on the Highway 401 freeway near Windsor, Ontario, Canada after an unusually thick fog from Lake St. Clair blanketed the area. It was one of the worst traffic accidents in Canadian history; 7 people were killed and 62 injured.


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