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Friday, February 10 2017

Contributor: Alex Alajiki

INTRODUCTION

Last week, we started with the introduction of the books of 1&2 Corinthians. 1 Corinthians was written by Paul in respond to the moral failures of the Corinthian Church. He provided an important model on how the church should handle the problem of sin and other important issues which was misunderstood by the Church. We must have it behind our mind, as we progress in this studies, that the Corinthian Church was a gentile (Non Jewish) Church.

Today, we are looking at the first seventeen verses of chapter one. Paul started with salutation to the Church, followed by commending them that they came short in no spiritual gifts. He then addressed the issue of division in the Church.

  1. Greeting: 1 Corin.1:1-3

Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul, by the will of God, was the apostle to the gentiles (Non-Jews) and brought the gospel to Corinth (Acts 18:1-8,11). The Church in Corinth was the fruit of his ministry (1 Corin. 9:2;             2 Corin. 3:1-4). He wrote with full authority. His words were not to be ignored.

Paul defined the Church as;

(a) “those who are sanctified (Made Pure) in Christ Jesus, called to be saints (Holy),”

(b) “all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”

We clearly see that the Church consist of those who are sanctified in Christ (Blood washed) and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Pray in the name of Jesus our Lord). This is the best way to define those who are members of the Church of Christ and not just members of a local assembly.

Paul emphasised their connection with other Christians, both in Corinth and elsewhere. Some groups in Corinth were acting as if they were the only real Christians (Corin.1:11-12, 14:36).

Paul’s epistle, though addressed to the saints at Corinth, was also written to the church at large (all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours). That is, Paul’s teaching to the saints at Corinth is just as applicable and just as authoritative for the church at Philippi, Ephesus, London, Dublin, Lagos and anywhere in the world (1 Corin. 4:16-17).

  1. Spiritual Gifts at Corinth: 1 Corin.1:4-9

I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus, 5 that you were enriched in everything by Him in all utterance and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will also confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

The normal expectation, based on the reports Paul got about the Church, will be to start with rebuke, but Paul was kind to them and he wrote to them in a gentle manner. He knew that they had not been Christians for a long time. Here is a church that has begun to listen to false teachers and who is challenging Paul’s authority. Here is a church which condones immorality and “unconditionally accepts” a man whose sin shocks the unbelieving pagans of that city. Here is a church whose personal conflicts are being aired out before unbelieving eyes in secular courts. How can Paul possibly give thanks?

This should be our attitude toward baby Christians. We should correct them in love (Gal.6:1 “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”)

God’s grace to the saints in Corinth and everywhere was boundless. He enriched them in everything. They were enriched in all speech and all knowledge. The Corinthians had no critical need for which God had not made provision through the apostolic preaching of Christ. God had already provided all that was necessary for “life and godliness” in Christ (2 Pet.1:2-4). No gift was lacking in the church. God had provided just the right gifts for the growth and maturity and ministry of the saints in Corinth. If the church at Corinth was failing, it was not due to any failure on God’s part to provide for their needs, but rather a failure on their part to appropriate these means.

God had begun to do his work in their lives. And Paul was confident that he could trust God to complete that work (Phil. 1:6). God had given them a real relationship with Christ.

  1. Arguments about who leads the church; 1 Cor.1:10-12

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.”

There are problems of division in the church which are wide spread and widely known. The quarrels and dissension are due to a party spirit on divisions which focus on personalities—individuals with which certain members have identified—to the exclusion of others. Every one of Paul’s examples is of a person who identifies with a particular person, and thus who stands aloof from others. Each says, “I am of Paul or of Apollos or Cephas or Christ.”

The problem as it is introduced here is a “follower problem” rather than a “leader problem,”

The root problem underlying the Corinthian quarrels and factions is pride. We see this clearly stated by Paul in 1 Corin.4:6. Paul reminded the people in all these groups that Christians belong to Christ. It was Christ who died to save them.

  1. Paul’s Correction for Corinthian Conflicts; Cor.1:13-17

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. 16 Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect.

Paul takes us to the core question: Is salvation about the work of men or about the work of Jesus Christ? All four of the groups mentioned by Paul in verse 12 were man-centred. The fourth group was a little more subtle about it, but all of these individuals took pride in themselves, based upon their perceived allegiance. Paul wants to make the point clear and unmistakable: Our salvation is totally about Christ’s work. Those who are man-centred need to be reminded of the gospel and of their salvation, to recall that salvation is Christ-centred. Christ has not been divided, so how can His body, the church, be divided? It was not Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or any other mere man who died on the cross of Calvary; it was Christ whose shed blood cleansed us from all sin.

Conclusion: Jesus assigned each of us to specific assignments in the body like Paul, Apollos and any of the leaders in the Church. They are not to be hero worshiped or become sources of division

Posted by: Isekhua Evborokhai AT 05:02 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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