Although the names of Paul’s letters are named after the specific early Christian churches they represent, they are written to all Christian believers “called as saints… in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ”. 1Cor1:2 Therefore every one who reads the bible, including these letters should read the words as if they are individually written to him or her .
Chapters 1 and 2: Friends of God and the Problem of Worldly Wisdom
Through faith in Jesus we are called to fellowship with God. In other words, through Jesus Christ, we become friends with God. As friends, there is nothing we will lack for. Knowing this, there is no reason for believers to argue with one another. There is no reason that the body of believers should be divided. We all believe in the same Lord, so why should we be divided? It doesn’t matter specifically who does the preaching, teaching or baptism, it is the message, not the messenger that we should be concerned about- that is what brings unity. Don’t get overly pre-occupied with the messenger whether it be Paul, Cephas (Peter), Apollos or whoever! It doesn’t matter.
For those who are perishing the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power. 1Cor1:18 Sums up the reason why non believers disregard the message of the Lord. The world’s wisdom and the world’s people: teachers. Philosophers, scientists, politicians, writers, atheists, secularism, the media, communists…all of this means nothing to God. Such respected worldly individuals dismiss the wisdom and truths of God as foolishness. In turn, all of this worldly wisdom is simply worthless in God’s eyes. So therefore, when you hear the message of God’s good news, though it may not be delivered in the elegant words of an orator, the message itself through the Holy Spirit conveys the power and wisdom of God. The truths of God cannot be discerned through worldly wisdom but only through the Holy Spirit. How can anyone hope to understand the mysteries and the ways of the lord except through the Holy Spirit which is freely given to all believers. Just as a man’s own min and conscious knows the mind of the man, the Holy Spirit of God is the only one that can comprehend the concerns of God. Natural man, otherwise known as worldly man, does not welcome the Holy Spirit of God, and rejects anything that is spiritual. He sees the ways of the Holy Spirit and God as foolishness. Therefore how can he hope to even understand the ways of God? On the other hand the spiritual person can understand the ways of God and evaluate God’s message through faith and the Holy Spirit which he receives as a believer by faith.
Chapters 3 and 4: The Importance of the Message and God’s Messengers
In his letter, Paul refers to the non believer as a natural, worldly, ordinary, typical or fleshly man. Whatever expression is used to describe the non believer, the meaning is the same. The non believer acts based on human nature: envy, revenge, greed, selfishness, immorality, pride and other fleshly desires rather than with faith and love. As discussed earlier, the message of God, and not the messenger is what is most important. When you concentrate on the messenger to the exclusion of God’s message, then you are acting based on the worldly, human nature. The messengers, also known as the servants of God simply deliver the message. The delivery of the message of God is considered to be an important task- an important work! This work of delivering the message of God is comparable to a builder who lays a foundation and then builds a building. The degree to which the messengers or servants of God obey and spread the word of God may vary: some put in their full efforts to evangelize and win souls for Christ, while others put minimal work into sharing the saving message of God. Eventually, each person’s work will come to light, there are no secrets before God. Such a believer who spends little to no effort in sharing the message of the good news may be summed up by the following verse: “If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he himself will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.” 1Cor3:15 In sum, the wisdom of this world is nothing but foolishness to God. No one, no matter how clever or crafty he may be, can get away with any sort of scheme or dishonesty. The Lord evaluates everyone! Put aside pride. “Nothing beyond what is written” matters. 1Cor4:6 What this means is this: the only important thing is the saving message of God. In fact those who are teachers and messengers of God should be even more humble than those who are the hearers of the message. They need to be extra prepared in this way, because frequently they are rejected by the world. Oftentimes the messengers are persecuted, and slandered. The messengers endure hardships as well, “like the world’s garbage”. In writing this letter, Paul includes himself as a messenger- in fact, succumbing to some of the worst of all hardships. Nevertheless Paul calls all believers in Christ to imitate his ways.
Chapters 5, 6 and 7: Expectations of Believers and Church Members
Deplorable and filthy behavior is not a problem that is exclusive to nonbelievers alone. Apparently at the church in Corinth, (as well as in other churches both ancient and modern), sexually immoral behavior was an ongoing problem which Paul felt the need to address and condemn. Furthermore, instead of being remorseful of such behaviors, the perpetrators were actually proud of it and flaunting it! In response, using the analogy that a little yeast can cause an entire loaf of bread to rise, Paul explains, that even a little bit of sin or wrong doing can permeate a Christian congregation and negatively affect the other believers. As a result, Paul tells the congregation of believers to “turn that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” in order to save his spirit. In other words, the hypocrite should be reprimanded and if he doesn’t change his ways, then he should be excluded from the congregation. The reason for this is that the other believers may also get caught up in the same actions if it is not properly rejected. A church and believers should not condone or put up with that sort of behavior.
If you have a problem with a fellow believer in your church, do not take it to court! In court, you are dragging out your problems to be settled by a non believer. It is better to approach the church, and perhaps there are some wise arbitrators within the congregation that may settle the matter in a more peaceful and just way. If all else fails, “why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you act unjustly and cheat- and this to brothers1” which are your fellow believers within your church. 1Cor6:8
Respect for our Bodies:
Remember the behaviors that exclude people from the kingdom of God! We are no longer slaves to our sinful desires anymore because we have been justified in the name of Jesus. A common slogan that many people live by: “Everything is permissible for me”, is very dangerous to put into practice. In fact, Paul points out the folly of following such worldly advice. Not everything is helpful, and is it worth it to do anything you want and to be brought under the control of sinful and selfish desires? You should not believe it is permissible to act in any way you wish without concern or care. The body is not to be used for sexual immorality and other out of control, sinful, fleshly pursuits. Your body is part of the members of Christ, a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, therefore take care with what you use your body for. “The person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body” 1Cor6:18 Therefore we must run away and take guard from sexual sin.
Sometimes the married life is more trouble than its worth. The married believer must be concerned about pleasing his or her spouse and other worldly concerns but the single believer can dedicate his or her life to the Lord. Its okay to get married, if you feel the calling of single-hood (as noble as it is), to be too difficult to follow. If you are so preoccupied with getting married then do it! Its better to marry than to be involved in sexual sin as a single person. If you are married, don’t get a divorce no matter what! Even if your spouse is not a believer, you should stay married. Consider this, even if your spouse is not a believer, your actions may sometimes be enough to win over your husband or wife to God. Therefore if you are married to a non believer don’t give up, and don’t despair. However, if your spouse divorces you, and it is beyond your control, you obviously have no choice. But no matter what, if you divorce, do not remarry. Reconcile with your estranged spouse if it is possible- if not, stay single.
No Need To Change:
If you became saved as a slave, then do not pre-occupy yourself in seeking freedom. If you were an uncircumcised gentile, there is no need for you to perform a ritual or a medical procedure to become circumcised. If you were a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, salesperson, construction worker, ditch digger or a pauper, no need to change your profession or lifestyle if it has nothing to do with sin. If you wear glasses, have long hair, have warts etc… why change? If some one tries to get you to change something- why should you listen? God accepts you as you are.