Listening for God's Voice
Beginning the Journey (for new Christians).
1, 2, and 3 John
1 & 2 Thessalonians
1 & 2 Timothy
2 Peter, Jude
7 Last Words of Christ
Christ Powered Life (Rom 5-8)
David, Life of
Glorious Kingdom, The
Jesus and the Kingdom
Lamb of God
Names of God
Names of Jesus
Rebuild & Renew: Post-Exilic Books
Sermon on the Mount
Eduard Burne-Jones, detail of Apostle Paul (1881-1898), mosaic, the Apse of St. Paul's within the Walls (American Episcopal Church), Rome.
How can the church be authentic in the midst of a pagan culture with sharply contrasting values? That's the issue that the Apostle Paul tackles in 1 Corinthians, of all his letters the one most devoted to correcting church life to conform to a gospel of love and repentance.
The Church at Corinth was planted in the midst of a city known for its immorality and pagan temples. If you were to make a list of the church's problems, it wouldn't be short. Problems include:
- Factions from competing allegiances to various leaders (1:10-17; 3:1-23; 4:1-7).
- Criticism of Paul's simple preaching style (1:18-2:16; 3:18-32).
- Rebellion against Paul's apostolic authority (4:8-21).
- A tolerant attitude towards sexual immorality and going to prostitutes (5:1-13; 6:9-20; 10:1-13).
- Misunderstanding of the church's authority to settle disputes (6:1-8).
- Confusion about marriage and celibacy (7:1-40).
- Idolatry and eating of food sacrificed to idols (8:1-13; 10:14-11:1).
- Faultfinding with Paul's tent-making support for his ministry (9:1-27).
- Rebellious women in worship services (11:2-16).
- Desecration of the Lord's Supper (11:17-34).
- Confusion over spiritual gifts, especially over speaking in tongues and prophecy (12-14).
- Disorder in church worship gatherings (14:26-40).
- Disbelief in the resurrection of the dead (15:1-58).
Quite a list! The wonderful thing is, however, that from Paul's response to the problems of this troubled church you and I learn a great deal!
If you were to assess our churches today, however, you'll find a host of problems also. They'll be different, to be sure, from this troubled first century church. But many of our problems are very much the same.
- Helping disciples make a clean break with a pagan lifestyle, while at the same time keeping open communication with our pagan friends and neighbors.
- Keeping unity in churches that are corrupted with unholy factions led by immature leaders.
- Worship services that are orderly and inviting, but lack the spontaneity of the Spirit that was found in New Testament congregations.
- Low appreciation for the Lord's Supper and what it means to partake of it.
- Struggling marriages, while at the same time, sexual immorality is viewed lightly by a newer generation.
- An almost total lack of appropriate church discipline of members.
It is my prayer that a fresh look at 1 Corinthians will help you rethink what a Christian congregation should be like, and, as you apply the principles set forth in this epistle, a fire will be ignited within you to see reform in the twenty-first century church as we prepare for Christ's coming.
Yours in Christ's service,
In-depth Bible study books
You can purchase one of Dr. Wilson's complete Bible studies in PDF, Kindle, or paperback format.
- Listening for God's Voice
- 1, 2, and 3 John
- 1 Peter
- 2 Peter & Jude
- 1 & 2 Thessalonians
- 1 & 2 Timothy
- 1 Corinthians
- 2 Corinthians
- Abraham, Faith of
- Christ Powered Life (Romans 5-8)
- Christmas Incarnation
- Colossians and Philemon
- David, Life of
- Glorious Kingdom, The
- Great Prayers of the Bible
- Jacob, Life of
- Jesus and the Kingdom of God
- JesusWalk: Beginning the Journey
- John's Gospel
- Lamb of God
- Lord's Supper
- Luke's Gospel
- Moses the Reluctant Leader
- Names and Titles of God
- Names and Titles of Jesus
- Rebuild & Renew: Post-Exilic Books
- Resurrection and Easter Faith
- Sermon on the Mount
- Seven Last Words of Christ