A Letter Addressing Problems in Corinth (Part 1)
NOVEMBER 9 Nº 313 1 Corinthians 1:1 – 6:11
While he was in Ephesus, Paul heard that there were serious problems in the church he had started five years before in Corinth (see #309 - November 5). Not long after getting that report, he received a letter from some of the church leaders that was filled with questions they could not answer on their own. So, Paul sat down and wrote them a long letter. His primary goal was to convince the believers that they needed to live in unity. He started by reminding them that God had blessed them in amazing ways. There was nothing they needed that He had not provided. Paul challenged them to use these gifts to honor Jesus and be at peace with each other. The letter addressed serious divisions that had resulted from arguments over which apostle or teacher church members should follow. Some championed Paul, who had started the Corinthian church. Others spoke up for Apollos, who was a great orator (see #312 - November 8). A third group defended Peter (Cephas), the leader of the church in Jerusalem. Still others piously claimed that they were loyal only to Jesus—implying that the others were not. Paul insisted that these divisions were caused by pride and that bickering over these matters would destroy the church. He told them that they should not revere certain men over others. He explained that only God is sovereign. The apostles were merely His servants—nothing more and nothing less. “As servants, our job was to plant seeds of faith in your lives,” he continued. “I didn’t come to you with scholarly words. You believed because you saw the power of the Holy Spirit despite my weakness. He helped you see and understand things that are far beyond what most human beings will ever experience! Later Apollos was sent by God to water the plants that grew from those seeds. But God is actually the One who made them grow. Only He should receive any credit!” Paul reminded them that none of the apostles were looking for glory or earthly reward. Quite the opposite. What they received on earth was hunger, homelessness, and persecution. “But we are willing to be seen as fools for Jesus Christ,” he said. He urged the believers to get rid of their pride and imitate him—after all, he was their spiritual father—and to listen to Timothy who would be coming soon to teach them more. Then Paul addressed two more issues that were causing divisions. The first had to do with sexual sins that they knew were taking place among their members—sins that no one had been bold enough to confront. “You should not be associating with people who claim to be Christians but are living immoral lives,” he insisted. “These people should be removed from the church! They will just divide it!” The other issue had to do with taking each other to court. “Instead of allowing non-Christian judges to settle your cases,” he told them, “find godly people in the church to help you resolve your disputes.” Paul reminded them that their lives should look different from those of non-believers. Not only had they been set free from sin, but the power of the Holy Spirit now lived inside them!
Are there issues that keep you from enjoying fellowship with other believers? Is there something you need to say or do to help resolve any of these issues? One of the unique characteristics of believers is the unity we can and should experience through the Holy Spirit.