The Genesis To Revelation Bible Course
By WILLIAM M. GROOM, Th.M., D.D.
Lesson No. 47 – 1 CORINTHIANS
Copyright, 1921 BY THE BIBLE STUDY PUBLISHING CO.
* KEY VERSE–1Co 1:10.
* KEY PHRASE–“INSTRUCTIONS, AS TO ORDERS, GIFTS, DISCIPLINE, AND DOCTRINE.”
Read the whole of this book for its practical teachings. For family altar read:–
* Sunday–Divisions in the church,–1Co 1:10-17.
* Monday–An unspiritual state prevents growth,–1 Corinthians 3:1-11.
* Tuesday–Fornication rebuked,–1Co 5:1-3.
* Wednesday–Saints are forbidden to go to law,–1Co 6:1-8.
* Thursday–Disorders at Lord’s Supper,–1Co 11:17-34.
* Friday–Spiritual gifts should be used in love,–1Co 13.
* Saturday–The order of the resurrection,–1Co 5:13, 51-58.
TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING,–57 A. D. at Ephesus.
THE CITY OF CORINTH–Corinth in Paul’s day was the largest and richest city of Greece, with a population of about 400,000. It was a seething mass of Jews, Merchants, philosophers, and adventurers, but the Greeks stamped their own character upon the majority of the inhabitants. They became known all over the world for their readiness to quarrel, for their vain fancies in religion, and for their moral sins. Due to the debasing worship of the heathen goddess Aphrodite, there was much dishonesty, drunkenness, and immorality, and it was against these sins that the apostle so strongly preached and wrote.
THE CHURCH AT CORINTH–Paul preached at Corinth for eighteen months, at first to the Jews, until their hatred turned Him to Gentiles. In Acts 18, we see that Paul lived with Aquila and Priscilla, and joined them in the trade of tent-making. From the light thrown upon the condition of the church, we see that the evil practices of the city soon crept into the. church. Christian went to law with Christian before heathen judges, the sacredness of the Lord’s Supper was forgotten, the women of the church forsook the old standards of modesty in the name of Christian liberty, the members were divided on questions of marriage and spiritual gifts. They therefore wrote the apostle asking his advice on these matters, and he replied in two epistles, First and Sec and Corinthians.
PURPOSE–To correct divisions and disorders in the church and to show that the problems of everyday life should be decided by great Christian principles.
Great Facts I. Divisions in the Church
1Co 1; 2; 3; 4.
Paul here earnestly warns the church against the party spirit. The defeating and disputing spirit of Greek party politics had entered into the church, resulting in four separate parties, each striving for the mastery. The Paul, Apollos and Peter parties each adopted the name and views of their favourite preacher and leader, while the Christ party degraded into a party watchword the sacred name of Christ, claiming that they had an exclusive interest in that Name, which, in reality, is the precious possession of every true believer, 1Co 1:12-13. In astonished indignation Paul replies, “Can you follow a mere man as though HE had been crucified for you? Has Christ been parcelled into fragments? Is there a Pauline or a Petrine Christ?” “Your party spirit is a sin, and all the worse a sin because it is paraded in the name of the holy zeal!” Such trusting in human wisdom is foolish, and makes the cross of Christ of no effect. Christ alone is the power of God and wisdom of God, 1Co 1:24. Gospel truth owes nothing to human wisdom, but God revealed it to men who were prepared by His spirit, 1 Corinthians 2. Their divisions had made them weak, fleshy and childish, but Christian service is acceptable only when done in the spirit of Christ and for the glory of Christ, 1Co 3. Paul then declares that the one thing needed is not smartness, nor knowledge, nor success, but faithfulness, 1Co 4:2, and he then compares the inflated pride of the church with the humility and patience of the apostles, 1 Corinthians 4:9-13.
LESSON–The greatest danger to churches arises from within and is the danger of divisions and factions. If two ships at sea of the same squadron are scattered by storm from each other, how can they help each other, as they were so intended? If again they clash together, how can ones endanger the other without hurting itself? An old proverb says if we knock each other we sink together!
Great Fact II. Morel Disorders in the Church
1Co 5; 6.
Here is a case where a member actually married his own step-mother, which was socially immoral among the heathen, let alone among Christians. Yet the church was so unspiritual that it was utterly unconcerned about the matter. Paul, however, urges that no evil be tolerated among those who are Christ’s. Just as the Jew put away all leaven before eating the Passover, so all corrupt men must be excluded from the Lord’s table, for just as leaven spreads all through the dough, so a bad man’s spirit is contagious in the church. The church should, therefore, promptly exclude the wrong-doer as evidence that it does not condone the wrong, 1Co 5:13. The apostle next urges that it is a shame for Christians to go to law with each other in heathen courts, for in so doing they dishonour God and deny their relationship to Him. The proper way to settle such matters is given in Mt 18:15-17. The believer should abstain from over-eating and drunkenness and fornication, for the beds exists not for excesses, but for the Lord, and it is the temple of the Holy Spirit, 1 Corinthians 6:13-19.
Great Facts III. Liberty in the Church
1Co 7; 8; 9; 10; 1
Here the apostle discusses the relation of the Christian to marriage, and to things offered to idols, and of the Christian woman’s head-dress. Some in the church sought to discredit marriage and would divorce a heathen partner, the apostle. however, because of the evil conditions existing in the city, advised every man to have his own wife, and every woman her husband. He further declares that a believer should not divorce a heathen partner, for the association of that unbeliever with Christ’s people will likely lead to his or her salvation, 1Co 7:16. 2Co 6:14, however, forbids mixed marriages. He declared that when a Christian bought meat that had been offered to idols, because he realized that the idol was a mere lifeless, powerless image and not a god, then he was free from sin, but if his action was misunderstood by those who did not have this perfect knowledge, then the strong Christian should not let his liberty by a stumbling block to the weak in the faith, 1Co 8:9. Again some of the women of the church were inclined to carry their Christian liberty too far by discarding their veils, which with the Greeks, were signs of womanly modesty. This created a wrong impression among unbelievers, and reacted against the church, so the apostle argued against the practice, 1Co 11:5-16.
LESSON–It is remarkable that the scriptures do not lay down petty little rules as to conduct, but allow all the scope of action that a devout heart could wish. However, Christian liberty does not mean the right to do as we like, but rather to do as we ought. Because we are members one of another, and our example harms or blesses, we should not do a questionable thing because we think it does not harm us. The question is, does it harm younger or weaker Christians? Does it harm the church? Does it hold back the coming of the kingdom in the world?
Great Facts IV. The Lord’s Supper in the Church
It was the custom of this church to eat a meal in connection with the Lord’s Supper, and this led to excesses and to the unworthy observance of the Supper itself. Paul, therefore, reminds them of the deep spiritual meaning of the hallowed ordinance.
1. It is a remembrance of Christ’s dying love.
2. It is a spiritual feasting upon Christ, 1Co 10:16.
3. It proclaims to the world, not a new sacrifice, but the ever-new sacrifice of Calvary.
4. It is a pledge of His coming again, 1Co 11:26.
Therefore, we should not eat or drink in an unworthy manner, and what is very important never eat without self-Judgement, spiritual Insight, thankful love, and holy resolves.
Great Facts V. Spiritual Gifts of the Church
1Co 12; 13; 14.
In Paul’s time, some ignored and sneered at gifts, while others thought them to be everything, especially the showy gifts, like speaking with tongues. The apostle teaches that the possession of a gift makes a believer a doubter to others, and he mentions nine gifts of the Spirit. Gifts like healing, miracles, and tongues, we believe were sign gifts (2 Corinthians 12:12) to prove to the world that Jesus was the true Messiah and that the apostles were His divinely appointed representatives. These are retired now, for although we hear of some speaking with tongues, the divine accompaniments of the rushing mighty wind, the cloven tongues of fire, and foreigners hearing the gospel preached in their own language, are lacking, and in 1 Corinthians 14:19; the apostle warns against the over-emphasis of the gift of tongues. Before the New Testament was completed miracles and signs were given to commend the apostles and their preaching. Since then we have had no more miracles, nor prophecies, nor visions, nor coming of angels. Man is to believe, to trust, to walk by faith. We must covet earnestly the best gifts, the spiritual gifts of wisdom, knowledge and faith, 1Co 12:31. Also, these gifts must be used in love, 1 Corinthians 13.
Great Facts VI. The Resurrection of the Body
Some members of the church doubted the resurrection of the body, but this denial made of no effect the greatest truths of the gospel. It made preaching, faith, and hope all vain. In fact, no resurrection meant no gospel. The apostle, therefore gives the many proofs of Christ’s resurrection, 1Co 15:4-9 ; then the order of events.
1. Christ’s resurrection.
2. His second coming 1Co 15:23.
3. Resurrection of believers.
4. Overthrow of Christ’s enemies and His glorious reign, 1 Corinthians 15:24-25.
Also, we shall leave behind. our material bodies and be given spiritual bodies which are fitted for a spiritual state. These will resemble the old bodies in appearance, but without defects, and with new powers and new glories.
Questions on the Lesson
1. Give the key word and key verse.
2. Give author and time and place of writing.
3. Tell about the city of Corinth.
4. Tell about the church at Corinth
5. Give the purpose.
6. Name the great facts.
7. Tell of the divisions in the church.
8. What is Paul’s teachings about a party spirit.
9. What is the greatest danger to churches?
10. Tell of moral disorders.
11. What should the churches do with wrong-doers?
12. What the teaching about marriage, about divorce?
13. How must we watch our Christian liberty?
14. What questions should we ask about questionable things?
15. Give the four spiritual meanings of the Lord’s Supper.
16. Distinguish between sign gifts and spiritual gifts.
17. Give proofs of Christ’s resurrection in 1Co 15:5-8.
18. Give the order of events.
19. Explain the difference between material end spiritual bodies.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. — Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV