Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation - Lesson 11

1 Corinthians (Part 3)

Whether or not believers should eat food that had been offered to idols was an issue in the Corinthian church. The importance and role of spiritual gifts was a major topic of discussion.

Craig Blomberg
Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation
Lesson 11
Watching Now
1 Corinthians (Part 3)


A. 1 Corinthians Outline

1. Introduction (1:1-9)

2. Paul responds to news from Chloe (1:10-6:20)

a. Divisions in the Church (1:10-4:21)

b. Incest (5:1-13)

c. Lawsuits (6:1-11)

d. Sexual immorality in general (6:12-20)

3. Paul responds to the letter from Corinth (7:1-16:4)

a. Marriage (7:1-40)

b. Food sacrificed to idols (8:1-11:1)

c. Worship (11:2-14:40)

i. Head coverings – men and women (11:2-15)

ii. Lord's Supper – use and abuse (11:17-34)

iii. Spiritual gifts – (12:1-14:40)

d. Resurrection (15:1-58)

e. Offering for Jerusalem (16:1-4)

4. Conclusion (16:5-24)

B. The Results of a too Sharp Division Between Body and Spirit

1. Asceticism – denying desires/humanity

a. False sense of maturity

b. Claims to special wisdom

c. Advocating celibacy

d. Forbidding certain food and drink

e. Believing in only spiritual resurrection

2. Hedonism – indulging desires/humanity

a. Sexual sin

b. Lawsuits

c. Eating food without concern for others

d. Requiring pay for Christian work

e. Drunkenness at the Lord's Table

f. Disrespect for appearance of sexual propriety

g. Worship chaotic

C. Patron/Client (Rich/Poor) Problems Behind 1 Corinthians

1. Factions

2. Incest

3. Lawsuits

4. Prostitution

5. Idol meat

6. Not accepting money for ministry

7. Unruly women leaders

8. Abuse of Lord's Supper

9. Flaunting spiritual gifts

D. Divisions in the Church (1:10-4:17)

1. The problem: rival factions (1:10-17)

a. Exalting certain leaders (1:10-12)

b. The role of baptism (1:13-17)

2. The necessary center of the Gospel: the wise foolishness of the cross (1:18-2:5)

a. Destroying non-Christian "strength" (1:18-25)

b. Exalting Christian "weakness" (1:26-31)

c. Proclaiming Christ crucified (2:1-5)

3. Three kinds of People in 1 Corinthians 2-3

a. Natural

b. Carnal

c. Spiritual

d. But also…

i. Non-Christian

ii. Christian

4. The necessary growth: Christian wisdom (2:6-3:23)

a. Spiritual vs. natural people (2:6-16)

b. Spiritual vs. carnal people (3:1-23)

i. Milk vs. meat (3:1-5)

ii. God's field (3:6-9a)

iii. God's building (3:9b-17)

iv. Summary (3:18-23)

5. The right attitude of and for the Apostles (4:1-21)

a. Faithfully serving (4:1-5)

b. Scripturally based (4:6-7)

c. Unjustly suffering (4:8-13)

d. Specially related (4:14-21)

E. I Corinthians 5-6

1. Church discipline (5:1-13)

a. Presupposes Matthew 18:15-18

b. Hence no list of specially serious sins

c. Application especially requires contextualization

2. Lawsuits (6:1-11)

3. Sexual immorality in general (6:12-20)

F. Paul on Marriage (1 Corinthians 7)

1. To married Ascetics: do not deprive each other sexually (vv. 1-7)

2. To the widowed: remarry rather than lust (vv. 8-9)

3. To the married: don't divorce (vv. 10-16)

4. Preliminary summary (vv. 17-24)

5. To the unmarried: marriage is no sin (vv. 25-38)

6. Conclusion: marriage is a lifelong commitment (vv. 39-40)

7. Notes

a. These are the basic concerns of each section; in each case Paul permits certain exceptions.

b. Paul's own sympathies agree with the ascetics up to a point, but for different reasons.

G. Marriage and Divorce in Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7

1. Forming a marriage

a. Leave and cleave

b. Become one flesh

2. Rupturing a marriage

a. Physical presence but sexual infidelity

b. Sexual presence but physical desertion

c. Other items equivalent in destructiveness

H. On Food Sacrificed to Idols (1 Corinthians 8:1-11:1)

1. The problem: Christian liberty can become license (8:1-3)

2. The main application: food inherently neutral, but avoid hurting weaker brothers (8:4-13)

3. A second application: ministers earning their living by the Gospel (9:1-18)

4. The motive: all things to all men so as to save some (9:19-27)

5. The danger of license: the havoc sin can wreak (10:1-13)

a. The warning (10:1-12)

b. The promise (10:13)

6. An absolute prohibition: no feasts dedicated to idol worship (10:14-22)

7. Summary (10:23-11:1)

a. Freedom from legalism

b. Voluntary curtailment of freedom

c. Only if clear another would be hurt

I. On Spiritual Gifts (1Corinthians 12-14)

1. Recognition: acknowledge Jesus' Lordship (12:1-3)

2. Distribution: diversity in unity (12:4-11)

a. Not all have the same gifts (vv. 4a, 5a, 6a)

b. All come from triune Godhead (vv. 4b, 5b, 6b)

c. All have at least one (v. 7a)

d. To be used for mutual edification (v. 7b)

e. Given by Spirit as He determines (vv. 8-11)

3. Importance of all the gifts (12:12-26)

4. Hierarchy of gifts (12:27-31a)

a. In importance?

b. In chronology?

5. Love: without it the gifts are worthless (12:31b-13:13)

a. Examples (vv. 1-3)

b. Positive and negative qualities (vv. 4-7)

c. Timelessness (vv. 8-13)

6. Comparing tongues and prophecy (14:1-40)

a. The superiority of prophecy (vv. 1-25)

i. Understandable without interpretation (vv. 1-19)

ii. Tongues as a sign of judgment (vv. 20-25)

b. The proper exercise of both (vv. 26-40)

i. Tongues (vv. 27-28)

ii. Prophecy (vv. 29-38)

iii. Conclusions (vv. 39-40)

J. Classification of Spiritual Gifts (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4)

1. Virtues commanded of all Christians

a. Wisdom

b. Knowledge

c. Faith

d. Service

e. Exhortation

f. Giving

g. Sharing

h. Mercy

2. Special roles for leadership

a. Apostles

b. Evangelists

c. Pastors

d. Teachers

e. Administrators

3. "Supernatural" charisma

a. Healing

b. Miracles

c. Prophecy

d. Distinguishing spirits

e. Tongues

f. Interpretation of tongues

K. The Resurrections of Jesus and Believers (1 Corinthians 15)

1. The fact of Christ's bodily resurrection (15:1-11)

a. Support from tradition (vv. 1-7)

b. Support from revelation (vv. 8-11)

2. The implications for the general resurrection (15:12-34)

a. The credibility of Christian faith rests on it (vv. 12-19)

b. The chronology of the coming resurrection is established (vv. 20-28)

c. The concern for those who are dead and dying proves it (vv. 29-34)

3. The nature of Christian resurrection (15:35-58)

a. Continuity and discontinuity (vv. 35-49)

b. The need for this re-creation (vv. 50-58)

  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.

  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.

  • Paul was trained as a Pharisee and persecuted Christians because he considered them enemies of God. After his conversion experience, he travelled in Asia Minor and Europe preaching the gospel and planting churches. Many of the letters in the New Testament are ones that he wrote to these churches.


  • Correlation of the accounts in Galatians and Acts on Paul's trip to Jerusalem. 

  • Galatians as a model of apologetics supporting Christianity.

  • Comparing faith and works in Judaism and Christianity. 

  • Paul faced persecution when he preached in Thessalonica. The return of Christ is a central theme in the letters to the Thessalonians.

  • One aspect of the subject of biblical eschatology is the timing and nature of the tribulation. 

  • Paul addresses the extremes of asceticism and hedonism, as well as concerns regarding marriage, spiritiual gifts and the resurrection.

  • Divisions in the Corinthian church were caused by both theology and lifestyle.

  • Whether or not believers should eat food that had been offered to idols was an issue in the Corinthian church. The importance and role of spiritual gifts was a major topic of discussion.

  • Paul updates the people in the church in Corinth about his travels. He also follows up on relationships and defends his apostolic ministry.

  • Paul responds to specific situations in the Corinthian church including emphasizing a correct perspective on giving and encouragement to see God's redemptive purpose in our suffering.

  • Knowing the key places as backgrounds for Romans, the timeline and the outline of the book are helpful to understanding the context and message.

  • Paul wrote Romans as a systematic exposition of the gospel.


  • In Colossians, Paul emphasizes the deity of Christ. Philemon was written to a gentlema Paul knows to encourage him to welcome back Onesimus, his runaway slave, who became a disciple of Christ and was returning.

  • Paul addresses how to live in different roles: husbands and wives, masters and slaves, elders and others in the church.

  • Paul describes the blessings of salvation and encourages believers to live in unity that transcends cultural and racial barriers. 

  • Paul describes to the followers of Jesus in Ephesus, who they are in Christ, and the ethical implications for how they should live their daily lives.

  • Paul contrasts the condescention and the exaltation of Christ, and addresses specific situations in the Philippian church.

  • Paul writes to encourage and instruct Timothy and Titus, both of whom are young pastors. It is important for Titus to identify and train elders and deal effectively with factious people. 

  • Paul instructs Timothy about how to pastor a church and turn it away from heresy.

  • Both 1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians contain key passages addressing the roles of men and women in the local church. Some of them address conduct when gathering for corporate worship.

  • 1 Timothy 2:11-15 gives some direction for gender roles in a worship service.

  • Key themes and catchwords in James include trials, wisdom, temptation, speech, doubt and perseverance.

  • James discusses the roles of faith and works in a believers life and the importance of prayer.

  • A prominent theme in Hebrews chapters 1-5 is the superiority of Christ to the angels and to Moses.

  • Hebrews 6:4-8 is a key warning passage. Christ's priesthood is superior to both the Levitical priesthood and also to Melchizedek. Chapter 11 remembers the heroes of the faith.

  • A major theme of 1 Peter is perseverance despite persecution.

  • The outline of 1 Peter has similarities to other letters of the first century that emphasize a high view of Christology.

  • Jude and 2 Peter both emphasize refuting false teachers.

  • In his epistles, John emphasizes themes that refute gnostic doctrines. He outlines the tests of life as keeping God’s commandments, loving one another and believing in Jesus as the God-man.

  • As you study and preach from the epistles of John, note the passages that Dr. Blomberg describes as, “gems from John.”

  • Revelation was written by the apostle John in the late first century using apocalyptic, prophetic and epistolary genres. A possible structure by time line would be the past (chapter 1), the present (chapters 2-5) and the future (chapters 6-22). 

  • In addition to the framework of eschatology, Revelation chapters 1-6 develops themes of Christology including a description of Jesus as the lion who is a lamb, as well as the spiritual condition of some of the churches in the first century. 

  • In both of the possible scenarios for the tribulation, believers are exempt from God’s wrath but they are not exempt from Satan’s attacks.

  • Revelation chapters 12-22 cover themes of salvation and judgment of nations, Armageddon, the millennium and the new heavens and new earth.

Using the English New Testament, this course surveys the New Testament epistles and the apocalypse. Issues of introduction and content receive emphasis as well as a continual focus on the theology of evangelism and on the contemporary relevance of the variety of issues these documents raise for contemporary life.


Dr. Craig Blomberg
Introduction to the New Testament: Romans to Revelation
1 Corinthians (Part 3)
Lesson Transcript


This is the 11th lecture in the online series of lectures on understanding the Epistles and Revelation, in complement with the textbook by Craig Blomberg’s Book, Acts through Revelation, An Introduction and Survey. 


(Any slides and photos that the lecturer mentions or uses should be down loaded if they are available, otherwise you may be able to find something similar through the Google© search engine.)


The next issue in Paul’s sequence of topics that the Corinthian church wrote to him about concerns the idea of eating food sacrificed to idols. At first glance, it is seemingly largely irrelevant to a modern western society, except for some parts of the world perhaps and within some sub-cultures. Yet the principles dealing with morally neutral issues here can be applied in a very wide spread fashion in different situations. When we examine the principles in the following PowerPoint slide, one can find numerous situations and contexts in which these principles are quite relevant, such as that of Christian liberty and freedom can very easily turn into a license to sin, as in eating food sacrificed to idols without any regard for anyone else because one has the true knowledge that there is indeed one God in the World. It is true, Paul stresses, the main application of this initial problem that food is inherently neutral since God has cleanse all foods implicitly in the teachings of Jesus and explicitly in the vision that Peter received enabling him to minister to Cornelius in Acts 10. It is never a sin in and of itself to part take of a particular kind of food. But one should be sensitive to hurting one’s weaker spiritual brother or sister. Here, we must note carefully in what Paul writes in 8:4-13. These are individuals if they see those who understand the freedom believers have in Christ to do morally neutral things, would be tempted and perhaps succumb to that temptation to imitate them without a similarly clear conscience which then becomes a sin, in and of itself and or go beyond the morally neutral action to something which is inherently sinful. It is in that sense that we are called not to be a stumbling block to others. Paul is not in this context simply talking about some morally neutral practice that might cause offence to a fellow Christian even though that person would not be remotely tempted to imitate us. That isn’t to say that Christians should glibly go around offending one another; principles for addressing those kinds of situations must come from other Scriptures but not this one. 


Perhaps in an even less noted point in1st Corinthians 8 comes almost in passing as Paul in 8:4-6 acknowledges that an idol has no real concrete existence because monotheism rather polytheism is the true nature of the universe indirectly as if he can assume rather than argue for something that all in his audience would have taken for granted, he writes in verse 5, even if there are so called gods, things that other people worship as god or lord, yet for us (verse 6) there is but one God which means that we know it to be the case. There is but one God, the Father from whom all things came and one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom all things came in whom we live. There is one Kyrios (Greek Κύριος means lord, master) one ultimate master, God, Jesus Christ. There is no God but one, verse 4, one plus one equals one. In Paul theology, if not Trinitarian theology, certainly binotarian (meaning two), yet, left unexplained but presumed to be already agreed on at a remarkable early stage in Christian history. 


In Chapter 9, one could be forgiven, thinking that Paul had changed topics altogether and that Paul had moved on to the next item of the list from the Corinthian letter. Talking about those who devote a full time effort to proclaiming God’s Word having to write, based on Jesus’ teachings in Luke 10:10 and Matthew 10:7 where the worker is worthy of his or her wage. Paul insists that church should support those who devote their full time to spreading the Gospel. He also says with respect to Corinth, he has never availed himself to insist on any support, undoubted as we alluded to it briefly earlier on, because of the system of patronage so entrenched there.  Paul felt that this could hinder and even limit his teaching and ministry there. On closer scrutiny, this is yet another application of the larger issue of freedom in the Christian life that must be restricted or limited voluntarily under certain situations for the larger benefits of the Kingdom or as Paul puts it so memorably in 9:19 and following, including in five consecutive verses in the beginning of this passage, he wants to put as few stumbling blocks in front of people becoming Christians, short of things sinful so as to be all things to all people thus by all possible means saving at least some. 


Chapter 10, however, makes it still clear that he has not switched topics altogether and that the issue of liberty verses license is very much in the foreground using an analogy from the Israelites festive celebration and eating and sacrifices and worshipping in regards to the episode of the golden calf at Mt Sinai as described in the Book of Exodus. He makes it clear that there are instances in which eating food sacrificed to idols is in fact absolutely wrong. But the lengthy warning of verse 1 – 12 is mitigated in the equally lengthy though individual verse, verse 13 in reminding Christians that no temptation to sin are unique to any individual Christian or Christian community and God always provides a way out if we are fully yielded to Him whereby we can avoid sin. Applying these principles to the situation of meat offered to idols in Corinth, Paul concludes that no feast dedicated to idol worship should ever be celebrated and their food consumed by believers. But when there is a case of buying meat sold in the market place with the Greek equivalent kosher stamp of approval, namely it had been sacrificed to a god and bless by that god’s priest. There is nothing inherently wrong with buying such meat or even eating it with families and particular with unbelieving families who serve it to you. So where is the balance between freedom and restraint? For many conservative Christians, explicitly or implicitly, the impression given that one always errs on the side of restraint. 


A case can, however, be made, that it is wrong and that if one must err in one direction or the other, very similar to the lengthy Peterson quote and the Swindol comment on that quote that we used to conclude our lecture on Galatians, one should rather err on the side of freedom, freedom from legalism so that a watching world in keeping with the spirit of becoming all things to all people so that by all means we may save some, would not reject Christianity for all the wrong reasons, thinking that it is about do’s and don’ts rather than a liberating relationship with Jesus Christ. There certainly is a voluntary curtailment of one’s freedom that Paul enunciates, parenthetically in these closing verses but he likewise stresses that when it is only clear that another person would in some way be harmed by it, suggesting that the general overarching principle for the Christian remains one of freedom or liberty. 


1st Corinthians 11 presents us with several key texts of Paul dealing with gender roles and because of the inter relationship between a number of these texts, I have chosen to devote an entirely separate lecture to all of the gender role passages in Paul, grouped together and dealt with at once after we have completed the individual lectures on the Epistles of Paul and before we proceed to the lectures on the non-Pauline writings to the end of the New Testament. So we skip over head covering for the moment. We have already commented briefly on 1st Corinthians 11 and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. We may add that the central point of Paul’s warning here, have very little to do with the debates and teachings that Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches alike over the centuries have stressed but has everything to do with those that might be imitated by sins of omission or commission, as in the Corinthian failure to be concerned for the poorer among them making sure that they have enough food to eat and drink to consume. That is the problem which Paul has to address and that is presumably what he still has in mind when he writes in verse 29 for those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ, eat and drink judgment on themselves. The body of Christ here as in chapter 12 refers to the Christian Church in all of its many diverse members and segments much like the different parts of a body. It would appear that everyone and only those people who are adequately concerned for the poor among them. 


The next slide, we turn to the much more extensive discussion that occupies chapters 12 to 14 on the topic of spiritual gifts. In just touching on highlights, Paul begins with the criterion that may not seem to go very far with debates that Christians have regarding this topic but nevertheless remains a very fundamental issue that only those that genuinely acknowledge God’s lordship in Christ, saying Jesus is Lord, just a Paul will put it in Romans 10:9 of what many view as the earliest Christian confession, only those people can ever be said to be exercising what Paul calls the Charismata or true grace given in spiritual gifts. Secondly in verses 4 – 11, he discusses their distribution, noting that there are different kinds of gifts but the same spirit, the same Lord, the same God and at this point, it would appear that we have moved from incipient binotarianism to Trinitarianism on the assumption that the Lord here refers to Jesus. But again, his main points are diversity within unity, not all have the same gifts but all come from the same triune God head; all do, however have at least one gift because these manifestations of the Spirit in verse 7 are given to each one or each believer, and they are to be used for the common good, for the building up of the church, for mutual edification and not for selfish or merely private functions. They are not gifts that we choose though they may well combine natural abilities we have been born with or talents which we have cultivated, together with much more dramatically or supernaturally bestowed abilities and powers. But the point is, it is God’s Spirit who decides who receives what. Paul will later say that it is perfectly appropriate for us to ask for the greater gifts, but no Christian ever has the right to assume that anyone else must have a certain gift must less that anyone gift is a requirement for salvation or Christian maturity. God’s gives them as he see fit. 


As a result, they are all important and all needed just like all the parts of the body are needed and here Paul elaborates through most of Chapter 12, his well-known metaphor of the body. The chapter, it appears, however, at first glance, that he contradicts this point of equalizing and relative equal value of all the gifts when he writes in verse 7, ‘now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is part of it and God has placed in the church, first of all: apostles, second – prophets and then teachers and then all of the rest. Is this a hierarchy of importance that would appear to contradict what he has just described? More likely, it is a hierarchy in Chronology. The apostle and in Paul’s terminology, he will use the word much more broadly for just the twelve closest followers of Jesus, not least because it is a spiritual gift continuing to be used. An apostle as the etymology of the word in both Greek and Hebrew suggest that it is someone sent out on a mission. And in today’s vernacular, it is best represented by one who has the gift of functioning well as a missionary or when they don’t go as far away from home, we often call them church planters. 


The prophet was a very broad category in Jewish, Greek and Roman background for anyone who proclaimed a message from God or from the gods. It could include very immediate, seemingly, natural revelation. It could include carefully thought out and prepared messages, but the one thing that all prophecy had in common was a message believed to come from a divine source directly relevant to an audience to which is was delivered. Teachers, on the other hand, much more narrowly use of the term today were those who had the responsibility of passing on, often by rote memory, the fixed bodies of tradition that were the instructional heart or core items of information that initiates into a new philosophy, religion or world view needed to master and understand. It makes sense there to speak of a chronological hierarchy that before any church with all of the gifts to bestow on them, one needs one who is sent to plan the church, one needs one or more people who will proclaim God’s word and one needs those who will come and instruct those in smaller groups the fundamentals of the faith, then the nucleolus of a small church is in existence and all of the other gifts will come into play. 


1st Corinthians 13 is one of the best known chapters in the entire Bible but even among long time Christians, it has often never been observed, that it is not an isolated quasi poetic rhapsody to the love of God but intrudes right in the middle of Paul’s three chapter discussion of spiritual gifts. Indeed, the opening paragraph compares and contrasts the value of love to a representing sampling of the spiritual gifts such as tongues, prophecy, faith, and giving. Without love, Paul says, all the spiritual gifts in the world are worthless and then come by means of positive and negative attributes, particularly appropriate for the Corinthian Context. What, if not, a formal definition of love is certainly a very full characterization of what it does and does not involve. Chapter 13 ends, verses 8 – 13 with the reminder of the timelessness of love over against the spiritual gifts and even perhaps over against faith and hope or that all three of those attributes remain timeless but love proves most important and central of all. 


A huge debate in theological terms are cessationist and non-cessationist has affected the history and particularly in the 20th century and beyond with the rise of Pentecostal and Charismatic movements concerning whether all of the gifts that Paul discusses and elsewhere is meant for the entire church age, that is until Christ returns. One argument in this debate focuses on the fact that the gifts of prophecy, tongues and knowledge can all be understood as the more charismatic of the gifts are said to cease, be still or pass away at a given time in a way that Paul doesn’t apply to the other gifts. He goes on after verse 8 and talks about how we prophecy and know and think only partially but a time is coming when we will understand more fully and from the mid-1st century perspective, one can understand how the suggestion has been made that Paul could be thinking about a time when the completion of God’s revelation of Scripture made further supernatural revelation un-needed. On the other hand, there is no hint anywhere else in the corpus of Paul’s letters that he had the conscious sense of writing works that would be including alongside the Hebrew Scriptures as a New Testament. It is certain not true with the completion of the Canon, we now see face to face as verse 12 now describes that coming day, that would appear to be a more appropriately descriptive of when Christ himself returns and the entire church age is completed and back in chapter 1:7 tucked into Paul’s opening thanks giving, we read, therefore you, the Corinthians do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 


It is not difficult to extrapolate from this the inference that as long as the Christian church and more generally a wider audience that is in fact explicitly addressed in verse 2 beyond the Corinthian congregation, as long as the Christian church more generally waits for Christ to return, they will not lack any spiritual gift. It makes it difficult for this speaker and writer to see how a balanced interpretation to Paul’s words to the Corinthians can support cessationism. But that does not mean that everything that passes for a spiritual gift from God’s spirit is the real thing, not in Corinth and not today and not at all unlike thorny questions in many parts of the Christian church today, Paul proceeds in chapter 14 to isolate the two gifts of tongues and prophecy as meriting further comment because they were proving particularly divisive in this church racked by division. His main point in the first half of the chapter is in essence to argue for the superiority of prophecy because unlike tongues, no interpretation is requires and is immediately understood. All of that makes very good sense of the first 19 verses of the chapter but then verses 20 – 25, it would appear that Paul contradicts himself when he proceeds to say, specifically in 22 that tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers but how can unbelievers understand and come to Christ and not be put out of put off, as Paul has said earlier in the chapter with this at times seemingly very bazaar phenomenon. However, in verse 22, prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers. But what about the evangelistic potential of the proclamation of God’s word that Paul has also stressed in the previous half chapter. 


The key would appear to be in the Old Testament quote of verse 21 immediately preceding this puzzling passage and according to Isaiah 28:11 – 12, Paul writes with other tongues and lips of foreigners, I will speak to this people but even then they will not listen to me. Referring to the coming judgment on Israel by means of the non-Hebrew speaking Assyrians, tongues are in verse 22, understood in some context namely where there is no interpreter or where people find the practice as the British would, off putting, a sign of judgment on a Christian congregation that would prove counterproductive to their mission and ministry in a way that prophecy doesn’t. Should tongues therefore be avoided altogether? No, Paul has already thanked God that he speaks in tongues more than all of the Corinthians but that in the church, he would rather speak five intelligent words than ten thousand in tongues (verse 18 & 19). In other words, tongues should take a very, very low place and subordinate role in the exercise of spiritual gifts because they can so easily prove so misleading and harmful. But they remain a gift from God and when used privately, in what is called the prayer language, the testimony of countless Christians who has received this gift, can be very edifying. The proper exercise of both tongues and prophecy in verses 26-40 therefore is to regulate and limit them in a public worship context to two or three people at most with an interpreter. 


Tucked into this section is the second of our controversial gender role passages in Paul 14:33 or 33b to 38 and again we will wait and combine this with the other information in a lecture by itself. But it is very telling to observe here that this occurs what at first glance seems to be the unrelated context of a discussion of spiritual gifts. In fact, we will suggest that the context is very relevant for determining the specific meaning for Paul’s teaching here. The passage closes and the chapter ends with the two commands, obedience to which could go a long way toward narrowing the gap between factions within any time in church history, including our own that at times pit those overly exalt tongues or others so called supernatural gifts and those who rule them out altogether. Verse 39 without a single new word that is grammatical and lexically ambiguous says, therefore my brother and my sisters, be eager to prophesy and do not forbid speaking in tongues but the balancing truth, everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. That is to say according to the restrictions and guidelines laid down in the chapter. 


In addition, in preparation for our discussion for the other two texts in Paul where individual gifts are listed and discussed, we present one of possible all classifications of spiritual gifts. Those which are commanded of all Christians and recognized that God has given to his spirit what we might call a special measure of these virtues as a spiritual gift to collect believers: wisdom, knowledge, faith, service exhortation, service, giving, caring and mercy. A second category of gifts enable certain people to function in leadership roles: apostles, teachers, evangelists and administrators and that a third selection of gifts in our modern world where we readily distinguish between the natural and supernatural, may be considered more supernatural, Kairos (καιρός), the Greek term for God’s Grace: gifts, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing of spirits, tongues and interpretation. The term supernatural should be in quotes because the very natural/supernatural distinction is largely the product of the scientific enlightenment of 18th century. Paul would have seen all of the gifts as supernatural and recognized the possibility of a natural component even to the more blatantly supernatural gifts, noting that  the means of healing appear in two of Jesus’ situations and one of Paul’s, noting that the line between what is a genuine supernatural miracle verses some other kind of fuzzy miracle. Noted that we have already mentioned, a carefully prepared message believed to be given from God, can be viewed as prophecy more so than a spontaneous utterance, given that it is possible and has been the experience of Godly spirit filled Christians down through the ages to become trained and improved in distinguishing spirits and interpreting tongues, even while at the same time, not being something that can never be manufactured among those to whom the spirit has simple not chosen to bestow the gift.


With those comments, we turn to the finial topic that Paul addresses at any length in his survey of the numerous concerns besetting the Corinthian congregation, namely the question of the resurrection, firstly, Jesus and then in keeping with the Jewish hope of all believers. Verses 1 – 11, chapter 15 stress the truthfulness, the facticity of Christ bodily resurrection and here we have one of the earliest and most remarkable, creedal or confessional types of statements listing those who had seen the resurrected Lord and describing the basic facts of his death, burial and resurrection that form one of the earliest Christian confessions, but addition to support from Christian tradition that Paul would undoubtedly learned about immediately upon becoming a believer and thus within a year or two of the very beginning of the Christian movement, he notes how God gave him that special audience on the Damascus road that we discussed in some detail in our introductory lecture of Paul.  Tradition was an important source of knowledge but divine revelation and personal experience brought it home in a way that other teachings could have never done on its own. The implication of this undeniable fact for Paul is that of Christ’s bodily resurrection and therefore the rest of humanity will indeed be resurrected also. The new age has begun and all that has not yet been fulfilled in the new age will indeed happen. What is more, the very creditability of the Christian movement rests on the bodily resurrection of Jesus. For if he was not bodily resurrected, we have no promise or guarantee of the resurrection to come and because of what Christians so often must endure and certainly what Paul endured and gave in terms of comfort of human existence for the sake of his beliefs, if his message is false, he and all others who share it are among all people most miserable. 


Not only does the creditability of the Christian faith rest on the resurrection but the chronology of the coming general resurrection of all believers is established. First comes Christ, then all the others who themselves are the first fruits of the re-creation of the entire cosmos. Finally, in the most opaque section of 1st Corinthians 15, Paul declares that the Corinthian’s own concern for those who have died in the Lord or perhaps, are dying in the Lord demonstrates the reality of the coming resurrection. Here in verse 29, he eludes to a practice seemingly mentioned nowhere in Scripture.  If there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead. There is however, from the middle of the second century, testimony to Christian practice in which unbaptized Christian believers were baptized by proxy after their death by living Christians believing that this bestowed some spiritual benefits on those individuals. Whether or not, what is happening here a century earlier, the important point to stress is Paul in no way commends much less does he command the baptism of the dead. He is merely created an ad hock argument from an existing practice neither censoring it neither approving of it, any more than in the very next verses, is he commending that believers deliberately put themselves in danger of death every year, day or hour. Even though that has been his experience and those others in the Christian community perhaps referring to verse 32 of fighting wild beast, perhaps a metaphor for personal hostility sense at this period there is no evidence of Christians being thrown to animals in the arena and Romans citizens would have been exempt at any rate. But no more is Paul commending that one deliberately seeks out prosecution and hostility, than he commends being baptized on behalf of the dead person.  His point is simply that every one of those practices whether good or bad, right or wrong are simply happening because Christians tolerate it, because Christians don’t renounce their faith as a result of it, shows that there is a lively hope for a resurrection life to come. 


Finally, Paul turns in this chapter to the nature of Christian resurrection, after detailed discussion, the most that he can say it will be the same body but that body will be radical different. It will be perfected and glorified. There will be continuity just as there is continuity in the same living organism, for example, a seed planted in the ground and springs up as the plant God had created it to become but the discontinuity may be even greater in terms of it appearance, in terms of its nature and it can be described in verse 44 as being raised a spiritual body rather than in its earthly state as a natural body. And it is interesting here that we find in the original language the identical contrast we discussed back in chapter 2 what could also be translated or interpreted as it is raised as a heavenly supernatural re-created and or redeemed body. 


Finally, Paul stresses the need for this recreation or perhaps we should say re-creation. Because flesh and blood in verse 50 cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. That is not a tradition of everything he has just said about the bodily resurrection of Christ and believers but rather another way of saying what he goes on in the second half of that sentence to repeat nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. ‘Adam’, the Hebrew word for blood, influenced the New Testament writers, the idiomatic usage of a fallen finite humanity. Sinful humanity cannot co-exist in the presents of a holy God and finite entities cannot last for an eternity so there will be the re-creation that will lead to eternal and heavenly and perfect re-creation. In chapter 16, Paul introduces the topic of the collection for the saints in Jerusalem ever so briefly.  We will explore that theme in much great detail in 2nd Corinthians 8 and 9 where he comes back to it again and he elaborates at length, he then turns to his person requests and closing greetings and this rich and encouraging and challenging epistle comes to an end.