First Corinthians

December 12, 2007

I am preparing a class on the book of 1 Corinthians which I will be teaching at church beginning in February. So, in a tradition that I began last year with Romans, I will be blogging a series of articles on the book as I prepare the class.

If I had to boil the message of 1 Corinthians down to a single short pithy saying, it might resemble this one (but in this case, it’s all about the gospel rather than the economy!) In chapter after chapter, Paul corrected the Corinthian church by reminding them of the gospel, and calling on them to live out an appropriate response to that gospel. I cite as evidence the following verses:

1Co 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

1Co 2:2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.

1Co 3:11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.

1Co 5:7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
1Co 5:8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

1Co 6:19b You are not your own;
1Co 6:20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

1Co 7:23 You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.

1Co 9:23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

1Co 10:16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?
1Co 10:17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

1Co 11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,
1Co 11:24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
1Co 11:25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
1Co 11:26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1Co 12:13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.

1Co 15:1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.
1Co 15:2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
1Co 15:3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
1Co 15:4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

1Co 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

1Co 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1Co 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

I believe that every problem Paul addressed in 1 Corinthians can be traced back to an inappropriate and immature response to the gospel. And in each case the solution was to put the gospel back in its rightful place, and to live an appropriate response to that gospel. I suspect the same thing is true of all the problems we face in churches today.

I am looking forward to this series. Come with me on the study and let’s see what we can learn about the gospel and about ourselves.


  1. Alan-Best of luck on the study. Should be good. You probably already know this, but Gordon Fee’s commentary on 1 Corinthians is the best I have found. Not only does he break down the texts very well but he does an application section at the end of each text he treats that is really good. Merry Christmas,Kent

  2. I’ve also heard positive things about his commentary, though primarily from the pentecostal crowd. I’m a little put off by his conclusion that 1 Cor 14:34-35 is not authentic, in part because he finds it difficult to reconcile with 1 Cor 11. That’s a pretty extreme remedy for that kind of problem. The NET Bible translation notes have a better treatment of those verses IMO. Not surprisingly, I also have a problem with his conclusions about spiritual gifts.

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