First Corinthians Sidebar: Do You Not Know?

January 15, 2008

The Corinthians were infatuated by worldly wisdom and knowledge. They took pride in what they thought they knew. So when Paul had a message to deliver to them, he began by acknowledging that God had indeed supplied them with knowledge:

1Co 1:4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,
1Co 1:5 that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge

But as Paul corrected them on a long list of deficiencies, he repeatedly pointed out that their supposed wisdom was lacking. Did they not know?

1Co 6:2 Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?

1Co 6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

1Co 6:9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders

1Co 6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!

1Co 6:16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”

1Co 6:19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;

1Co 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Paul was speaking their language when he reasoned like this. They wanted to know. They wanted to be wise. The Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, crafted the message in terms that would most readily reach their hearts and values, where they were. As Paul said in 1 Cor 9:22, “I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.

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