Notes from 1 Corinthians 1.10-17 and 3.1-17.
Questions to think about as we start:
Who are your favorite communicators? Preachers? Bible study leaders? Any that you just don’t like? Any that rip others?
That seems to be the case at Corinth, we have many house churches following their favorite apostle.
Verse 1 – all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in my and thought.
How practical is this? Is it possible? What are the absolutes that you think we should hold to? What are some things that we can let there be some disagreement?
We are going to look at the heart of the Corinthian dissention. How much room in this church was there for disagreement: different religious backgrounds; economic backgrounds; even free or slave status. Yet, in Christ we are supposed to be equal.
Read vv. 11-12 –
The source of the quarrels: who was the one that they held up as their champion. It was very important in the both the Jewish and the non-Jewish worlds for a disciple to be identified by their master.
The choices: Paul – some people in Corinth were partial to Paul because he founded the church in Corinth. They felt a loyalty to him. They felt that they belonged to him, so that was their slogan: “I follow Paul.”
Apollos – Read Acts 18.24-28
Now why would you choose Apollos over Paul? More than likely because Acts describes him as very educated and a good speaker. To the non-Jews, this would have been very attractive because they were often drawn more to a teacher’s delivery or style than their message. Paul, admittedly, was not a good speaker.
Cephas – this is the Aramaic term for rock. The man’s given Hebrew name that Paul is describing is Simon. Jesus called him Cephas, which in Greek becomes Petros or as we know him, Peter. We are not sure if he ever journeyed to Corinth or not. Most likely he did. It would have been attractive for Jewish Christians to follow him because he was the “apostle to the Jews.” He was also Jesus’ right hand man.
Christ – we don’t know exactly what Paul was saying. Was he saying that some groups have it right and they know who they belong to or is he saying some groups or very arrogant and say that we belong to Christ, we’re better than you.
Paul gets right to the heart of the matter immediately. He uses graphic language, saying in verse 13 – Is Christ divided? It is a picture of Christ being divided up, his body being split up.
For Paul, the literal body of Jesus and the church as an organization were to be equated. Where did he get that understanding?
When Paul persecuted the Church he was persecuting Jesus himself. If people were splitting the church, they were also splitting Jesus as well. A dismembered Christ can do nothing. A disunited church can do nothing as well.
Next Paul gets into the subject of who baptized who: verses 15-16.
What was the point for Paul? The point for Paul as we will see in chapter three is, it is not important who gets the credit but that people perform their roles and God gets the credit because it is under his power that we do anything worthwhile.
Paul knew his role:
Verse 17 –
Move to chapter 3
To Paul, the issue of spiritual maturity was not a matter of how much you know but how you behaved. To the Corinthians, their maturity was tied hand in hand with how much knowledge they had and they deep level of religious experience they had.
Paul points out that their failure to get along was a sign that they were not spiritually mature: verse 3.
Paul puts everybody in their place (including himself) with the following:
God creates the body of Christ. He brings us into his body, the church and gives us gifts and roles to perform. When we perform our role, we get rewarded. Now, what happens if we get a boring role? If we get a role that does not attract attention? Then we are questioning the wisdom of God.
When we build according to God’s call on our life, then we are building on the foundation that God poured, with the proper material. What may be hay and stubble may be gold for someone else.
How do you build with costly stones that will survive an inspection by fire? You build doing things by examining the eternal significance of your work. What is going to last? When you build according to your gifts and call, your work will last.
Next up is, I think, one of the most sobering passages in the entire NT.
Many times this verse is used to teach people that suicide will send a person to eternal damnation. That is not the case. This verse is address to the church as a body, not necessarily individual believers.
Temple was familiar to both Jews and former pagans.
God’s temple refers to the dwelling place of God. God does dwell within our bodies when we believe in Jesus as our savior. But, the passage is referring to the importance of unity in the church. God’s temple here is the church body. If that is the case, and I think it is, how important is it for us to get along. How important is it for us to resolve our differences without bringing dishonor to God? I am not going to explain this verse any further than what it say:
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him…
Paul does not tell us how that punishment will be afflicted, but rest assured that it severe.
Now, I will ask again, how important is it for us to prevent dissention and for us to get along.