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1 Corinthians

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The Gospel which is only about Jesus Christ Crucified

1 Corinthians 2:1-2

Unlike the travelling philosophers who lectured publically in Corinth, Paul refused to make any claim about himself.  His only concern was that the Lord Jesus Christ should be overwhelmingly more important than anybody else.  The Apostle did not want to exalt himself, or the church or its leaders: his message was about Jesus alone.  It was Paul's clear decision, although he had been a leading Rabbi with good intellect and education; he refused to confuse the message about Jesus, the Son of God who came to die on a cross so that sinners could be saved.

Preaching Without Trying To Be Clever

1 Corinthians 2:3-5

It is good to do things excellently (Philippians 4:8), and for Bible teachers to work hard in understanding the Bible and presenting God's truth faithfully (2 Timothy 2:15).  However it is never right to manipulate people or to use techniques which exalt the preacher.  That was what some visiting preachers did in Corinth; but Paul vowed that he would never abuse his apostleship.  He did not want people to follow him but the Lord Jesus Christ.

Wisdom for Mature People

1 Corinthians 2:6-7

Wisdom knows what is true, and how to use that information.  Worldly wisdom is based either on 'progressive wisdom' (building on the experiences and understanding of the past), 'inspirational wisdom' (a sudden awareness or 'eureka moment') or 'collective wisdom' (used in committees or teams). It is generated by humans for humans.   But God's wisdom cannot be unravelled using any of those methods.  He keeps to Himself all that we do not need to know, but reveals enough so that we know how to work with Him obediently (Deuteronomy 29:29).

God Reveals What Humans Cannot Even Imagine

1 Corinthians 2:8-10

Human pride believes in itself.  That is its problem: because human beings are not God, they do not know everything and they do not have the power to fulfil their own promises.  So it is a relief to know that the Lord is in command and His Word is at work.  The men who plotted to crucify Jesus, and the crowds who supported them, had no idea that they were working for God.  

Taught by the Spirit

1 Corinthians 2:11-13

Understanding anything requires an open mind which is willing to ask simple questions.  Paul was explaining that God's logic and wisdom was different from the corrupted wisdom of the world, so he asked, "Who knows what somebody is thinking?"  The obvious answer is – only the person who is thinking.  In the same way, nobody can know what God is thinking, except God.

Spiritual Judgement

1 Corinthians 2:14-16

Every day, we hear, watch and read things.  We accept some and reject others on the basis of trust.  That trust is based on our confidence in the integrity of the person or organisation, on shared values and beliefs.  Therefore it is obvious that a person who does not know God, and has not received God's Spirit, will not be able to understand, value or trust what He is saying.  They assume that the words and works of God are foolish.

Spiritual Immaturity Exposed

1 Corinthians 3:1-4

The human race has an inbuilt blindness (2 Corinthians 4:4), thinking that we are better than we are; and as believers in Jesus we can fall into the same trap.  We may presume a greater spiritual wisdom than is true.  The Corinthian church was like that and it had become a den of ungodly spiritual arrogance.  Yes, they were in Christ, but behaved much as they did before they were saved, but with a spiritual gloss.

Understanding Different Ministries

1 Corinthians 3:5-7

Believers were quarrelling.  Some thought that Paul, who founded the church, was right; and others considered that Apollos, who gave further teaching, was right.  The church was divided, some supporting one man, and some the other.  That had developed into a sort of ugly tribal warfare (1 Corinthians 3:3-4).  So Paul rebuked them, and then showed them why they were wrong.

Work Which Has Lasting Results

1 Corinthians 3:8-9

Despite their worldly habits and spiritual misunderstandings, the believers in Corinth had been blessed by God.  They had received the gospel message and had started to function as a local church.  Although they may not have always appreciated the ministry of Paul and Apollos, they had spiritually benefitted from both of them.  But neither needed praise from the church.  Their reward was with the Lord and would be revealed when He returns. Jesus spoke about that in Matthew 6:2-4, 5-6, 16-17.  

Wise Builders

1 Corinthians 3:10-11

Building is a complex business.  Many different skills are needed from architects to accountants and surveyors, and all the building trades.  God gave Paul the task of laying the foundations of Christ’s 'building', the church.  He was the evangelist missionary who presented the gospel about Jesus, who had risen from the dead.  Many believed in the city of Corinth.  Like new born babies they needed the 'milk of the Word' (1 Corinthians 3:2).  Paul started teaching them the 'Christian Basics';  and then others, including Apollos continued the spiritual feeding programme.