“Many have observed that the powerful pagan culture of the city of Corinth affected the values and behavior of these new Christians and that 1 Corinthians is Paul’s corrective to these pressures. In chapters 1-4 Paul engaged in debate over the “wisdom of this world”; in chapters 5-7 he addressed Corinth’s prevalent sexuality and lawsuits; in chapters 8-10 the issue is the city’s idol worship; in chapters 11-14 he confronted them for allowing worldliness into the church in the rich/poor division and the love of personal display in the church meetings; finally, in chapter 15, Paul responded to Greek skepticism about the resurrection of the body. In a sense, then, 1 Corinthians is about the clash in Greco-Roman Corinth between the gospel of the crucified and risen Christ and the multifaceted pagan culture of that day. Perhaps not so often noticed is the likely underlying problem in Corinth and the reason Paul needed to write: this was a young church, and Paul had now been absent from them longer than he had been with them.” (HCSB)

1:10, “Now I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all say the same thing, that there be no divisions among you, and that you be united with the same understanding and the same conviction.” This same understanding and conviction is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the fact of Him being Lord and Savior. Because we live in a fallen world, there will be disputes, even among Christians regarding certain interpretations of the Bible. There is nothing wrong with having such debates just as long as everyone is clear that salvation only comes from Christ and that any Biblical argument does not turn away anyone who does not have a personal relationship with Christ. A little later on, we read in 1:17, “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with clever words, so that the cross of Christ will not be emptied of its effect.” The way of salvation is simple; accept the gift of Jesus Christ who paid the price for all sins. There is nothing wrong with continuing education and becoming more intellectual. It is imperative not to let our intellect get in the way of showing others the simplicity of eternal life.

Paul Barnett provides some insight in regards to 1:18-25, “Paul’s theological response to the Corinthians’ self-absorption (vv. 1-17) was as offensive to religious people (“Jews”) and to intellectuals (“Greeks”) then as it is now. The former seek miraculous “signs” in the heavens, and the latter demand “proof.” God accommodates neither expression of self-centeredness. Rather, God has displayed His wisdom and power in the most unlikely place—the terrible crucifixion of the Messiah. In the message of the cross, God has reached down and dirtied His hands, revealing His inner character of love, mercy, and forgiveness and in the process humbling the proud and overturning human opinion about greatness. Ironically, God’s greatness is evidenced by the depths to which He is willing to go to rescue humans from sin. To use John’s language, the “lifting up” of Jesus (Jn 3:14; 12:32) in the literal sense (on the cross—a place of public shame and God’s curse) is also the exaltation or “glorifying” of Jesus (Jn 12:23) in a spiritual sense (the cross magnificently displaying God’s love).”

2:1-5, “When I came to you, brothers, announcing the testimony of God to you, I did not come with brilliance of speech or wisdom. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and power, so that your faith might not be based on men’s wisdom but on God’s power.” These verses provide a great example of humility that Christians should have. Paul clearly pointed out that he is nothing without God, would not be able to go anywhere without Christ, and would not be able to do anything without the Holy Spirit. 2:16, “For who has known the Lord’s mind, that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” A friend once made a statement, “No matter how much you THINK you are in control of a situation, you never are.” Who are we (the created) to tell God (the Creator) how things should go? The more tuned in we are to following His will, the better off things will be in the long run. It is our job to daily put on the mind of Christ and ask the famous question, “What would Jesus do?” in every situation we go through. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance to also ask such questions as: “What would Jesus say?” “What would Jesus think?” Fast forward to 8:2-3, “Knowledge inflates with pride, but love builds up. If anyone thinks he knows anything, he does not yet know it as he ought to know it. But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him.”

Barnett notes that in regards to 3:5, “The way forward for the “babies” in Corinth was to grow up by adopting sensible, godly attitudes toward their ministers, who were merely “servants through whom {not in whom} you believed,” according to the role God had assigned to them. Paul called the congregation “God’s field” in which he and Apollos had their important functions co-working with God while being utterly dependent upon God for the growth.” Barnett continues in regards to 4:8-13, “The Corinthians arrogantly believed their wisdom of speech was of such an order that (somehow) the kingdom of God had come already. They assumed no further need for Paul whose gifts and strength seemed to pale beside theirs. Paul had to return to the theme of Christ crucified, and applied that theme to himself as one who was suffering for the word of God. God’s servant represented his God in faithfulness and humility, not with showy bravado. Let them—his children—be like him, their only father in the gospel. When he came, their big talk would melt away.” 4:6, “The purpose is that none of you will be inflated with pride in favor of one person over another.”

What did turning over the sexual offender “to Satan” mean in 5:5? “It was Paul’s code for the exclusion of an unrepentant offender from the circle of redemption (the congregation) to the sphere where Satan dominated the children of Adam (the outside world), where this man indicated he really belonged. This exclusion, however, was redemptive in intent. Let the bitterness and darkness of the world outside bring its own impact on the man so that he might repent and be restored (cp. Especially 2 Th 3:6, 14-15).” (Barnett)

6:9-11, “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: no sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, homosexuals, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, revilers, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom. Some of you were like this; but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I would like to broaden Paul’s words here when he declared that “some of you were like this…” to the affect that ALL of us were like that, and we still are. We live in a sin-filled world, and we all have done things that would embarrass us if brought out in the open for everyone to see. It is important to keep in mind that as soon as a person accepts Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, they should act on that acceptance. With the Holy Spirit’s help, we will be able to grow in Christ so that we may become like-Christ. This growth will not happen overnight. As long as a Christian remains active in prayer, Bible study, and fellowship with other believers, then the growing process will continue and will not end until the Lord comes back or calls us home.

6:13, 19-20, 7:8-9, 32-35: “The body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. Do you not know that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body. I say to the unmarried and to widows: It is good for them if they remain as I am. But if they do not have self-control, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with desire. I want you to be without concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the things of the world—how he may please his wife—and he is divided…Now I am saying this for your own benefit, not to put a restraint on you, but because of what is proper, and so that you may be devoted to the Lord without distraction.” 7:17, 20,23-24: “However, each one must live his life in the situation the Lord assigned when God called him. Each person should remain in the life situation in which he was called. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brothers, each person should remain with God in whatever situation he was called.” Notice the emphasis Paul put on living our lives as God has assigned us and holding on to our faith in Him in every situation that arises.

Living a single life in this day and age is not easy. Paul provides instruction that it is important to stay focused on the Lord and serve Him with everything I have (heart, mind, spirit, body). If it is God’s will, then it will be done in His timing that I will find the right girl to marry. I should not be troubled with trying to find a girl, but should keep my mind on Christ and everything will fall in its place. Marilyn Monroe once said, “I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you can appreciate when they go right…and sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall into place.” I truly believe this and know that God continues to work behind the scenes in all circumstances for His will to be done for our benefit.

9:12, 19, 22, “However, we have not used this authority; instead we endure everything so that we will not hinder the gospel of Christ. For although I am free from all people, I have made myself a slave to all, in order to win more people. To the weak I became weak, in order to win the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some. Now I do all this because of the gospel, that I may become a partner in its benefits.” In regards to 9:19-24, “Paul was no chameleon, changing colors to adapt to different environments. His message in all contexts was the same but his manner of communication differed according to the understandings of his audience.” (Barnett) 9:27, “Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” In today’s fast-paced world, it is easy to get burned out, especially as Christians. In 9:27 Paul leads us as an example to continuously recharge ourselves by praying, meditating on God’s Word, having fellowship with other believers, whatever it takes to keep us motivated to move forward and keep fighting the good fight of faith.

10:12-13, “Therefore, whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.” There is no such thing as a new temptation. Everything the devil throws our way, he has thrown in the way of others. No matter what we may be going through, we can find strength, hope, encouragement, and peace in God’s Word as well as from other believers.

10:23-24, 31, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is helpful. Everything is permissible, but not everything builds up. No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person. Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.” Here are more verses that serve as examples of the importance of keeping God first in our lives. When we keep Him first, the rest will naturally fall into place. When we place Him in a compartment in our life, then chaos is just waiting to happen.

11:31-32, “If we were properly evaluating ourselves, we would not be judged, but when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord, so that we may not be condemned with the world.” Have you ever had one of those moments, when you are either studying the Word or listening to a sermon, and all of a sudden, you feel your heart twinge? It always seems to come suddenly out of nowhere. You are living your daily life, going about your business, and then you just fall under conviction. That, my friend, is the Spirit giving judgment; a blessing in disguise, telling you that change needs to happen.

In regards to 12:4-7, “Gifts are not evidence of spirituality or superiority. In fact, gifts not employed in other-centered, self-forgetting love are useless. Gifts are God’s provision for this present age only; love is what matters in the end (12:31-13:13). In fact, the displays of some of the believers were contributing to chaotic noisy meetings that failed to build up believers and scandalized visiting unbelievers (14:20-36).” (Barnett) Later we read in 12:18-20, “But now God has placed the parts, each one of them, in the body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body.” Christians must be able to use their gifts in unity to serve each other and the community to allow people to see the love of God at work in the lives of everyone.

13:1-13, “If I speak the languages of men and of angels, but do not have love, I am a sounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I donate all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for languages, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when the perfect come, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put aside childish things. For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, as I am fully known. Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

14:1, 3, “Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and above all that you may prophesy. But the person who prophesies speaks to people for edification, encouragement, and consolation.” It is interesting to note that this comes right after the chapter of “Love being the superior way.” If a person has an understanding of the concept of love, then that person is an excellent candidate for the gift of prophesy, which basically means speaking the truth in love. Pointing fingers at others and condemning them will turn them away from the church, but loving others will introduce them to a closer relationship with Christ. We must remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7 when He told us not to worry about the speck in another’s eye when we have a log in our own eye.

15:9-11, 33-34,56-58 : “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not ineffective. However, I worked more than any of them, yet not I, but God’s grace that was with me. Therefore, whether it is I or they, so we preach and so you have believed. Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals. Become right-minded and stop sinning, because some people are ignorant about God. I say this to your shame. Now the sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! Therefore, my dear brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” We live by God’s grace. Every thought, statement, and action we do is done so under His judgment. With that being said, I would rather live with God working His Spirit through me, than living my life with only fulfilling my personal desires.

Here is the final quote to ponder which is found in 16:13-14: “Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave and strong. Your every action must be done with love.”