I Corinthians 1-3
We are starting a new book in the Church Stream! We are reading from the Easy-to-Read Version this week.
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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis
God, thank you for caring for us enough to walk us through such matters as we read about today. Church and Christian Fellowship is the best place on earth to find support and comfort, safety, strength, discipleship, and teaching. You certainly love your bride; the church. And we are grateful – because it is us you love. Amen.
Paul wrote this letter from Ephesus to the Corinthian church after he had left the first time. Corinth was along a busy trade route. It was a cultural and wealthy city of influence. Paul was spurred to write the Believers in Corinth because leaders from there had come to visit him in Ephesus as they were in duress and vexed with how to handle troubles, sin, misconduct, plus relational and doctrinal matters back in Corinth. [btw, Olympic trials were held here before Paul arrived and shortly after he had left.] There was an Aphrodite Temple above town. It had been closed by the New Testament era but there were residual effects from it in Corinth, Paul ended up addressing this issue also. It became an influential church and Paul was fervent to see them “aright their ship”. For within a century there would be a population of 3/4Million people in the area, so now was the time to set the church straight.
1 – Paul encourages them that they are holy because they belong to Christ Jesus. The Greek culture had a goal of attaining a perfect body and a perfected mind. [E.g. the muscle-bound statues, the ‘thinker’, etc.] We can still view this art today. This was a Grecian’s grid of value. and Paul wanted them to know that their value was that they belonged to Christ. This was news!
Churches here (as elsewhere) had not built central meeting places. That happened a couple of centuries after Rome had committed to stop harassing and executing Christians. Churches met in homes, halls, fields, caves and were therefore almost never “all together” as a unified group. The tendency was to become competitive. They were following different factions they had created. Paul reminded them that they were all following Christ, together, so stop bickering. And it was vital that they understand the Cross. Greeks didn’t like it because they felt, “why follow a man who surrendered himself to die? I don’t want to die. I’ll follow Apollos! He’s alive…”
[or we’ll follow Peter or Paul or Aquila]. And then there were the Jews who were taught for 1400 years that a lamb was to be sacrificed, not a human. That was too much like Molech or the pagans in Rome. yuck! As you see, Paul needed to explain the Cross to them….[and to us!] And because of this Cross, Jesus is your strength, your mind, your justification, your freedom.
2 – It was important that their confidence switch from being rooted in human thinking (mind worship) to confidence in Christ. THIS is the root of true wisdom. The Greek mind and language structure was a rather brilliant system – it still affects the way we think and talk even today. But it is the wisdom of God, found in Christ Jesus, that we access through His Holy Spirit that leads to true wisdom that transforms us and the world. This is the wisdom that Paul mentors us into finding and living by. God has such marvels and wonders to share with us and bring us to, but we won’t find this life in Him via a human path or cranial activity. We will find it by surrendering to Him, His wisdom, His Spirit.
3 – Paul takes the time to tell them that the teachers that pass through their live are God’s Servants – not Their Masters. Follow Christ, let the teachers guide you, and the arguing and comparing would simply cease – as it needed to! The Greeks (and Corinth is a city in Greece) were very immersed in learning and growing and perfecting and building. There are structures from centuries before Christ that are still matters to marvel over today. Paul, amid this thinking, asserts to them that THEY are a temple, Christ is at work on this temple. They must bring Christ into all their thinking and building and activity and hobbies and obsessions. Christ would then therefore be their “obsession”. <– We’re saying what Paul is implying though he doesn’t word it this way. Paul simply wants Corinthians to latch on to a totally higher way of thinking, and wisdom and operating that supersedes anything they have ever known before. Christ owns you and has so much to bless you with. Let Him.
The Thread Through the Streams
:You will all follow a higher wisdom, what God has laid out, or you will end up killing what you think it is you love.
In Exodus, God laid out the plan; the “Decalogue” and numerous subsequent laws. Each persons impulses and passions were not to rule the day. God’s Law was the law. What happens in the world, in villages, in families where God’s law is not followed? Eventually murder rules and worse.
-In II Samuel David is feeling the affects of not following God’s 6,7,8, & 10th Commandments. He repented and was restored, yes. But it ends up terrorizing and killing his children however.
-In Psalms, the Sons of Korah are at a crossroads many times. They are so down-hearted. Thankfully they choose to look up to God, and His higher wisdom, and to be encouraged and not let their feelings override their faith.
-Jeremiah is urging them to follow God’s laws and wisdom. But they follow their own vices and darkness – what they think they love. And it’s going to kill them, their towns, and Temple too.
-Hosea tells them that they are living wrong (teaching their children wrong too), Your idols, your judges – it’s all poison and you will lose everything and be destroyed for turning against God.
-Jesus, in Mark, asserts definitively that He must die (so that you/us/we can live. This is higher wisdom – the plan that God laid out. This must be loved more than our own lives or we won’t find life ever. Our life is found in Jesus’ death. [born once/die twice – born twice/die once]
-The Corinthian Church will follow Paul’s higher wisdom and the Corinthian Church will turn from their selfishness or there is going to be no Christian testimony in this city or this region. Their love for Greek culture and argument and body and mind will be surrendered to Christian codes for living or this church is going to devour itself.