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1 Corinthians

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Not Just An Ordinary Meal

1 Corinthians 11:20-22

The Lord’s Supper was being desecrated in Corinth. It was certainly not the solemn and formulated service which we often experience today. The church did not meet in a church building but probably in a large home (Acts 18:7-8). The church, that is the people who believed in Jesus, arranged their meetings around a meal. It appears that the food was brought by those who came; the rich bringing much and the poor bringing little.

Not Just an Ordinary Passover

1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Although Jewish families had been celebrating God's rescue of His people from Egypt (Exodus 12:24-28) for almost 1500 years before Jesus, His Last Supper was different. Using the Passover bread and wine, Jesus explained what He had previously taught about His body and blood (John 6:53-56). The disciples experienced the poignancy of that meal just before His crucifixion (Matthew 26:17-30). But Paul was not present at the Last Supper, nor did he consult with the church leaders until after the Lord had taught him (Galatians 1:15-19; Galatians 2:1-2).

A Solemn Warning

1 Corinthians 11:27-30

The Lord's Supper is awesomely special. After the Holy Spirit came upon the church, the believers remembered Jesus when they met together and shared bread and wine (Acts 2:42-46). But in Corinth, this solemn reminder of the agonising death of our Saviour had been turned into a drunken party by some, while they ignored others and would not share their food with them (1 Corinthians 11:20-22).

See Yourself As God Sees You

1 Corinthians 11:31-34

Much of the world is preoccupied with making money, friends and fame. However good their achievements, 'It is the presentation which counts', they say. It is easy to carry that principle into the Christian life; play-acting holiness and worship ... like the Pharisees who earned Jesus' disgust (Matthew 23:27-28). They could not see themselves as God sees them because they did not listen to the Spirit of God.

Understanding Spiritual Power

1 Corinthians 12:1-3

New life in Christ brought new freedom to believers in Corinth. However, like children or immature adults, they did not know how to behave responsibly to each other or to God. They needed to be taught, which was why Paul wrote this letter. The Spirit of God had given special abilities to different people, but instead of treating God's gifts as tools (for serving the Lord and spreading the gospel) they used them as toys to feed their pride.

One God for Everything

1 Corinthians 12:4-6

In Corinth there were many gods in different temples. Each one was supposed to have power in a particular area: love, fertility, communication or war; but the stone statues had no personality and no power. But God who is a real person with real power, is in charge of everything. When Corinthians trusted in God the Son they received God the Spirit. Indeed, belonging to Christ is only possible because of the indwelling presence of the Spirit (Romans 8:9).

Many Gifts From One Holy Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:7-11

The gifts which come from God's Holy Spirit are tools for the growth of His kingdom. They are the ability to share the light and power of God's grace with other people. In these verses, seven gifts are mentioned: the list is not exhaustive and is complemented by others in Romans 12:4-8, Ephesians 4:11-13, 1 Peter 4:7-11. All the gifts enable God's people to be built up so that they can worship and serve Him. These abilities are distributed throughout the church so that nobody has all and no believer has none. The gifts are best understood through their biblical examples.

The Church is the Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:12-13

As people believed in Jesus, churches formed. But how should the believers relate with each other? Although Paul had been teaching in Corinth for a year and a half (Acts 18:11) the secular and pagan religious culture was still deeply rooted, giving rise to the problems which 1 and 2 Corinthians addressed. They were saved but immature and worldly, individualistic and self-seeking (1 Corinthians 3:1-3). They saw the church as a club for their enjoyment, rather than a family being coordinated together in worship, transformed lifestyle and service by Jesus Christ.

Unity and Diversity in Christ's Body

1 Corinthians 12:14-19

The 'Body of Christ' refers to three different, but linked, entities. It is His physical body which was crucified but then risen and glorified (Hebrews 10:5). It is also His symbolic name for the bread which was broken at the Last Supper; the meaning of the bread we share in communion (1 Corinthians 11:24). It is also Paul's metaphorical title for the church (Romans 12:4-5).

Many Parts But Only One Body

1 Corinthians 12:20

This verse is Paul's summary of the church. He writes dogmatically, proclaiming a truth which was always God's idea. His church (the 'called out' people) is the body of Christ in the world. There are many parts (1 Corinthians 12:12), but the parts do not make the character of the whole, because it is divinely shaped to be like the Lord Jesus Christ. The church is His intentionally-built Body: not the amalgamation of the spiritual experiences of many individuals, but divinely shaped to be like Jesus.