In the letter known as 1st Corinthians, Paul continued answering questions from his Corinthian friends (292).
Members were being inconsiderate of one another.
Specifically, some were abusing freedom from Jewish dietary laws, by eating food that had been “sacrificed” to pagan idols. Paul admitted that Christians have that freedom, but his main emphasis was to warn against exercising that freedom in a way that might confuse a new believer.
Members were becoming hypocritical. Specifically, they were regularly participating in the fellowship meals of the body of Christ. But outside the church worship services, they were regularly quarreling with one another, gossiping about one another, and cheating one another. Paul was appalled.
Members were trying to demonstrate gifts of the spirit in the power of the flesh. Paul listed numerous gifts of the Spirit, or ways in which the Holy Spirit works in & through faithful believers. But then he insisted that such gifts were worth nothing at all, unless exercised in the spirit of Christ-like self-sacrificing love.
(In other words, as a famous preacher once said, if you don’t love ‘em, you can’t bless ‘em.)
Members were allowing public worship to become a public circus. Paul considered two spiritual gifts — testifying about Jesus in foreign tongues, and prophetically speaking forth the word of God — preferring the latter. His main point was that public worship services need to be inviting to those who are lost & trying to find their way to God.
The Corinthian church members were also confused about the promised resurrection of the dead.
They were failing to emphasize that this would effect all faithful believers. There were two related questions:
- Will believers be raised from the dead in the way that Jesus was raised from the dead? Paul said that we will indeed.
- If we’re going to be raised from the dead, what will our bodies be like then? Paul said that, in the resurrection, we will have glorified, perfected bodies, just like Jesus.
In this letter, it is also evident that Paul was committed to denying his independent self-life, in order to do the job that Jesus had given him.
Paul understood that Jesus was for everybody, so he wanted to share Jesus with everybody – regardless of their age, sex, class, race, income, religious background, residence, or any other thing. Everybody was to be welcomed into the body of Christ.
Despite the different roles we may play as members, Paul emphasized that we comprise the body of Christ together. We need each other in order for the church to do its job for Jesus in this world.
(292) 1 Corinthians 8-16