1st Corinthians Part 5
Lecture 11: 1st Corinthians Part 5
This is the 11th lecture in the online series of lectures on New Testament Survey by Dr Thomas Schreiner. Recommended Reading includes: Article on Divorce and Remarriage – Craig Blomberg, Trinity Journal, 1990; The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross by Leon Morris; Are there Two Will in God by John Piper; Two views on Women in Ministry by James Beck and Craig Blomberg; Word Bible Commentary: Pastoral Epistles, Volume 46, by William D. Mounce and Recovering Biblical Manhood and Biblical Womanhood, by Wayne Gudem and John Piper (article by Vern Poythress entitled, ‘The Church as a Family’)
(Any slides, photos, notes or outlines that the lecturer refers to should be down loaded separately. If they are not available, you may be able to find something similar using the Google© search engine.)
Since this lecture is missing here, I have endeavored to provide a basic introduction along the same spirit of Dr Schreiner. This will provide you with at least an idea of the missing content of the material for study and give you a starting point to have a discussion about what the Bible teaches on these subjects and how God wants you to apply it in your life. (Phil Smith)
I. 1st Corinthians – Chapter 12-16
A. The Spiritual Gifts
Some in church have raised one spiritual gift to be more important than others, thus creating divisions over these gifts. Paul is answering a question posed by the Corinthians concerning these spiritual gifts. But Paul makes it clear that yes, there are different kinds of gifts and makes it clear that all of them are provided by the Spirit of God. He makes an effort not to single out gifts and confirms that there are different kinds of service with the same Lord along with workings. He emphasizes that all are given for the common good of the church. Those in the church are indeed given different gifts such as wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues. Each gift works like arms, legs, mouth, eyes, ears etc of the body. So they are given these gifts so that the body can work together. Wisdom and Words of knowledge are supernaturally given by God for particular situations. Some understand these as natural gifts to be wisely used in particular situations. For faith, Paul seems to say that some have it and some don’t. It is not the faith we are saved by or is it? I think it as from the same root actually. Jesus pressed upon the disciples that if we had faith of a mustard seed we could move mountains so I think this is the same faith. But there is obviously a sense that everyone’s faith isn’t the same. The more experience we have in dealing with faith, the more our faith grows.
We shouldn’t be surprised or even wonder about the gift of miracles. We see in Acts 8:13 Simon and Philip performed great miracles. Interestingly, Paul and Barnabas when at Lystra healed a crippled man. But here it says that he had faith to be healed. In other situations, it was said that your faith has healed you. In Acts 19:11 it says that God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Galatians seems to say that these miracles are linked to faith in 3.5. For prophecy, this is generally referred to words of information that God gives to us somewhat spontaneously. Some that he reveals to us which we speak in whatever language we speak in; English, Spanish, etc. But these words have to be tested and weighed against what the Bible says and teaches. We have in 1st Thessalonians 5:19 which instruct us not to quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil. Some think that the gift of prophecy is preaching the Word of God with the authority equal to the Old Testament prophets equal to that of Scripture. There seems to be a special gift for distinguishing between the Spirit of God and demonic spirits in a person’s life. Some believe that these gifts are not for today but this is not really what the Scriptures say. These gifts are given by the Holy Spirit for the church to be edified. We certainly don’t often see miracles of healings performed in our western churches today. We hear of them happening in other churches around the world. Perhaps it is not necessary since we have hospitals for people to go to. Or perhaps it is due to our lack of faith. We have certainly learned to trust in the things around us, the physical as in our bank account, our job and our life style instead of God. This takes away from the need to trust in God. This affects our faith.
B. Tongues and Prophesy
The next two spiritual gifts include that of speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues. This seems to be the problem with the Corinthian church. Some are saying that their gifts are more important than other gifts, particularly tongues. Paul goes into some depth talking about these in chapters 13 and 14. He doesn’t dwell too much on the other gifts, unfortunately. As a church, I believe we need more understanding of these gifts. As I have mentioned the gift of faith I think is all in one but has different levels of faith. And faith is certainly dealt with throughout the New Testament and in fact the Old Testament as well. For the gift of tongues, we first encountered this at Pentecost where we see that tongues and languages were one and the same. But here in 1 Corinthians, the meaning and demonstration of tongues seems to have changed to angelic languages or some sort of supernatural language and not just a language of the world. This is indicated by 1st Corinthians 14:19 when Paul says that he would rather speak five words that people understand than ten thousand words in a tongue. He further teaches that this is for self-edification and if someone speaks in tongues in the church it should really be interpreted. 1 Corinthians 14:2 says that the one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. But it is obvious in this chapter that Paul teaches that this gift is not as important compared to prophesy for example. Tongues as Paul insinuates is just not essential in church. He certainly places prophesy before it and again the indication is that it is the least of the gifts. He places the pursuit of love before anything and encourages us to desire the spiritual gifts, especially of prophesy. Interestingly, in 14:11 Paul goes back to relating tongues to languages by referencing himself speaking to a foreigner. But then he says, thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. ‘If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders are unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? So we see that tongues are not an essential gift and when used it is for self-edification and also for unbelievers but not in church unless there is an interpreter. Paul says that all things are to be done for the building up of the church. In 14:26 he again warns the Corinthians only to use tongues in a controlled fashion. And if there is no one to interpret, keep quiet!
C. The Resurrection – Chapter 15
Paul stresses that the Resurrection of Christ is essential. Many people in the ancient Greco-Roman world believed that death was final. There was no afterlife. This was a great error in their beliefs. So Paul goes into great detail not only of Christ’s death but his resurrection. Paul provided examples of appearances to the Apostles during the forty days he was on earth; this was before his ascension into heaven. So Jesus’ resurrection is grounded in proof by those who saw him. Paul challenges them by saying how can you say there is not resurrection? He says that our very faith in Christ depend on this. If this were not true, our preaching would be in vain and your own faith would be in vain! Even those who have died in Christ will have perished. Paul explains to them in 15:23 that when Christ returns, all his people from all time will receive resurrection bodies, never again subject to weakness, illness, aging, or death. And when this happens, the destruction of death will be finished. Paul compares our resurrection bodies with that of our earthly bodies. Our resurrection bodies will be imperishable and immortal. We exist in weakness here on earth but we will be raised in power. Heavenly bodies will be different that our earthly bodies. The body of the resurrected Christ is a body animated and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Paul further instructs them that those Christians who are alive at the time of the resurrection will be transformed so that their bodies will become spiritual and immortal like the bodies of those who are resurrected from the dead.
D. Paul’s Instruction and Plans – Chapter 16
Paul ends to book by providing some final instructions. There was to be a collection for the church in Jerusalem that they were to organize before he arrives. He will first visit Macedonia on his way to Corinth. Part of his plans includes a time in Ephesus until Pentecost. Paul tells them to accept Timothy in peace. Paul hopes that Apollos will also visit them. He admonishes them to stand firm in the faith, to be strong and to do everything in love.
II. 2nd Corinthians and Romans chapter 1
A. 2nd Corinthians
Historical Review: This is a bit of a recap in Paul’s chronology with Corinth. His first visit was around 50-52 AD during his second missionary journey, living there for almost two years with Aquila and Priscilla who were forced to leave Rome during the time of Emperor Claudius in 49 AD. Paul along with Aquila and Priscila left Corinth for Ephesus where he stayed for about three years. Paul first wrote to the Corinthians then warning them about immoral people. Apollos visited Corinth on Paul’s instruction and then he sent Timothy and Erastus to Corinth. He received a letter from Chloe telling him about the quarreling that was happening in the church. Paul wrote another letter from Ephesus which was 1st Corinthians. It was about this time that Titus and Timothy returned to Paul form Corinth. Shortly after a visit to Corinth which is described as painful, he wrote another letter which was lost also. We saw that in 1st Corinthians, they were encouraged to be united with one another. Paul sent another letter via Titus, who oversaw the collection for Jerusalem and prepared for Paul’s visit. Paul wants the church to get behind him in his ministry. There were those who were undermining Paul’s work. This book also encouraged holy living.
Paul’s Ministry: The letter seems to be one of the most personal of all his letters and talks mostly about his own ministry. He opens himself up to the church in tender love. Paul’s ministry is summed up in words such as comforting and sincerity and concerning. He talks about his suffering but yet remaining steadfast in his the objective of sharing Christ with others. There is the self-sacrificing character of Paul that comes out. Other words that describe his ministry could be reconciliation, spirituality, God’s love for others, and the authority and triumph over evil by God. Paul goes into some detail about his suffering in Asia which is somewhat unusual as Paul hardly ever talks about the things he faces in his travels. It seemed to have been so severe that he came close to death. Paul says in 4:7 that we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, stuck down, but not destroyed. We carry within us the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. So in spite of his suffering he does not lose heart because the same power that raised Jesus from the dead enables him to endure adversity. In 5:1 he continues, for we know that if our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Paul is talking about our bodies here. In our suffering we still have so much in Christ, his Spirit given to us as a guarantee. We are to fear the Lord because the love of Christ controls us. He has died for us in order for those who live might no longer live for themselves but for Christ.
False Apostles: Paul warns them not to walk according to the flesh. There are some who still reject him and his apostolic authority. He says in 10:3, though we walk in the flesh, we are waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare is not the flesh but having divine power to destroy strongholds. Paul doesn’t want to appear to be frightening to them. He quotes something that he has obviously heard, ‘for they say, his letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account. But he tells that they were the first to come such a distance to share the Gospel with them. He warns them again not to be fooled by false teachers and not to accept another Gospel than the one that has already been preached to them. These people are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. These false apostles were designated as super-apostles who opposed Paul. They overemphasized their own righteousness and boasted about special revelations that had acquired. There were others that Paul had to deal with over times such as the Judaizers who preached the need for circumcision. The Gnostics came later who said that the material world was by nature evil and that by knowledge one could ascend to the pure spirituality of the heavenly realm. Other heresies that denied the central Christian message included Docetism, Ebionism and Arianism. Paul tells the Corinthians in 12:11 that he was not in the least inferior to these super-apostles, even though he was nothing. He also reminds them that the Gospel was preached to them through signs, wonders and miracles which are a mark of an apostle.
B. Romans 1
Paul wanted to visit Rome for many years perhaps to use it as a base of operations. He wanted to preach the Gospel in Spain and some think that he actually went to Spain but we have no clear indication of this. The major concern of the Book of Romans was the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. We might say the theme of the book would be the righteousness of God, his faithfulness and reconciliation. He explains in 1:16 why he is so exciting to preach the Gospel; for it is the saving power of God, in which the righteousness of God is revealed. In the often quoted verse in 1:16, Paul says that he is not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the gentile. The righteous shall live by faith. There will be God’s wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. This will be continued in the next lecture.