1 Corinthians 1Edit
1 Cor. 1:1-9 Edit
1 Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: 3 Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; 5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; 6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: 7 'So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:' 8 'Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ'. 9 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Paul opens his letter to the congregation at Corinth with his customary greeting.
The first reference is Paul speaking of the church at Corinth "'waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ'". What in this context, though, indicates this "coming" is in Judgment against the Jews rather than at the end of time? Two things:
A. The most powerful indication that this coming relates to the coming in judgment against the Jews is that this coming that they waited for is directly tied to miracles, which means that the coming is also limited to the first century, just like the miracles were. We know that the gifts of verse 7 are miracles because the gifts were what confirmed the word in Corinth and that's what miracles did (Mark 16:20). We know that miracles are limited to the first century because of a number of passages, the most powerful of which is 1 Cor. 13. The purpose of this post is not to address that point, though I might address it when we get to 1 Cor. 13 because it is such a powerful point to make. It might even be its own post.
B. The second indicator that this coming is related to the Jews is that Paul writes that those people that were his immediate audience in the letter were the ones that were waiting. The way the introduction is phrase, it is the current state of the congregation that they are faithful, enriched, and so on. It is therefore the current congregation, not some potential congregation thousands of years later, that is waiting. They did not wait in vain.
The second reference is like to the first.
A. The confirmation (through miracles) would be through the end. This end is the end of the age, which contained the end of Judaism and completed when the last book of the Bible was revealed and penned, when miracles would cease.
B. The confirmation unto the end was so that "'ye' may be blameless" in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is still directly addressing a specific congregation and it is the people of that congregation at that time who would be found blameless. "The day" is the same "day of the Lord", "that day", or any other similar reference like we have touched on countless times before in this blog. It is the day of judgment when Christ would come with His messengers to judge the nations, the physical nation of the Jews and the spiritual nation of the church. Only one would be left standing after that judgment.
1 Corinthians 2 Edit
1 Cor. 2:1-8 Edit
1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3 And' I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.' 4 And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5 That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. 6 Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet 'not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought': 7 But we speak the wisdom of God 'in a mystery', 'even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world' unto our glory: 8 'Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.'
Paul speaks of the wisdom of the cross and the gospel. In so doing, he says that was with them in weakness, fear, and trembling. These are indicators of the corruption and persecution the church faced at the hands of the Judaizers and Jewish zealots, of who Paul is intimately familiar. He continues to say that he preached the wisdom not with enticing words of man's wisdom, true wisdom that is "not the wisdom of this age [aion] nor of the princes of this age [aion] that come to nothing". This is not just a general reference to the whole of society in the first century AD. It's not even a reference to spatial location like an empire or a planet. It's again the time unit, aion, the age. Contrast it with the word kosmos as found in verse 12 of this chapter. A little further down, Paul makes reference to "the princes of this world" and says that if they understood the wisdom of the gospel, they would not have crucified Christ. This is a direct relationship to the Jews.
- Jews = princes of this age
- this age = the Jewish age
The princes of this age, the "kings of the earth", the Jews are they "that come to nought" or nothing. They were ending, ceasing to be. What really seals this, is the idea that the wisdom of God Paul preached was a mystery to the princes of this age, hidden from them, but it was 'ordained before the age!' These are things set in motion before there was an Israel, before Moses was born. They were ordained in the promises to the patriarchs like Abraham, Noah, and even Adam (Gen. 3:15). The Jewish leaders (generally speaking) rejected Jesus because they did not understand and could not see past their self-righteousness, their bigotry, and their attachment to physical things.
1 Corinthians 3 Edit
1 Cor. 3:1-11 Edit
1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 2 I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. 3 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? 4 For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. 10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
Referring back to his words in chapter 1, Paul admonishes them about their focus on the physical. He says that they are like children because of their division over these physical things. From there, he offers a contrast to their division by showing the unity of the church, how each member functions within the singular whole. The first metaphor is workers in a vineyard who are simultaneously the vineyard itself. As workers they plant, water, and do all they can to tend the vineyard, yet it is God that grants the increase, it is God that adds to the church. That is where they are simultaneously part of the vine, as Christians added to the church themselves. The second, though, is where I would like to focus. Remember that Paul is speaking of the church as a whole working together. In this second metaphor he speaks of the Corinthians (and all Christians) as God's building (singular, not plural). This is extraordinarily important for two reasons:
- it relates to the overall picture of the apocalyptic material and the picture of the Temple,
- it helps when we get to chapter 6 which is often misunderstood and misused to teach that there are multiple temples of God in the New Testament. This is wrong. There is only one, the church as a whole.
Read the specifics of what Paul says about the Christians at Corinth:
1 Cor. 3:12-17 Edit
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 'Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.' 14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. 16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17 If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
Like the metaphor of the workers/vineyard, Paul speaks of Christians (himself, Apollos, and the Corinthians) as those who have a part in building the building. In this next section, though, Paul also refers to the materials used to build that building and indicates those converted to Christ. Some are good material, some not. The quality of the material would be shown, though, in "the day". This is "the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" from 1:8.
The fire is the coming judgment against the nations, not the end of time. The reward is the same as that of Matthew 25 and the parable of the stewards. This building, then, is revealed to be the temple of God. In speaking to the Corinthians of this singular building Paul says "know you [plural] not that you [plural] are the temple [singular] of God?" This is the foundational understanding of the temple that Paul provides for them in this letter. Christians are all parts of the building together, not individual temples. This is paralleling what we see in the Old Testament with the physical temple. First there was a Tabernacle, but that was then replaced by Solomon's Temple. There was never multiple temples of God. There still is not. More on this in chapter 6.
1 Cor. 3:18-23 Edit
18 Let no man deceive himself. 'If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world', let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20 And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. 21 Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22 Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, 'or things present, or things to come'; all are yours; 23 And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.
This thought of wisdom of the age wraps up by Paul saying that if you seem to be wise in this age (with specific regard to the Jewish state), its better to become a fool with regard to this age, which allows one to be really wise. The wisdom of the age that was coming to an end led to foolish things, the rejection and crucifixion of the Savior, the persecution of the church, rebellion against Jehovah, and ultimately death. He quotes Job 5:13 here and I am reminded of Romans 10:1-2 where the Jews were zealous, but it was a self-righteous jealousy. Paul then says don't put your stock in temporal things, especially in men (which the Jews were very guilty of, putting stock in themselves as descendants of Abraham). God had delivered all things into their hands, things present (this age) or things to come (the age that followed after Judaism ended - see my post on 2 Pet. 3).
1 Corinthians 4 Edit
1 Cor. 4:1-5 Edit
1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 'Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. '
Just pointing out some more timing issues for broader study of this letter. These timing issues give a deeper meaning to the passage. We know that in a couple of chapters Paul will say that Christians are to judge the world so we know that he isn't providing a general teaching here. What he is referring to is them judging the things he has written about imminent events. We see again the references to light and darkness (1 Thess. 5; John 1:5 ; 2 Pet. 1:19) , knowledge and ignorance. In this context, the ignorance of placing faith in temporal/physical things (like men, even messengers such as Paul and Apollos) rather than in spiritual things. The same message of Romans 7-8.
1 Cor. 4:6-13 Edit
6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. 7 For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it? 8 Now ye are full, now ye are rich, 'ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.' 9 For I think that 'God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. '
The reigning is of the same type referenced throughout Revelation, the idea of reigning as children of God, a royal priesthood, dispensing the law of Christ throughout the world. It's why we have the authority and the duty to judge the world (1 Cor. 6:2-3). Then we see that the Apostles suffered the greatest persecution. A lot of this was to draw the focus away from the young congregations, to insulate them for a time. Remember, a third of the 12 stars of the woman's crown in Revelation 12 fell. The apostles saw the worst of the persecution at the hands of the Jews.
In Truth and Love.
1 Corinthians 1-4