The Book of 1 Corinthians is brutally honest in exposing the same church problems and sin patterns that still require wise insight and counsel from pastoral hearts today. The Apostle Paul reminds believers of their call to Christian holiness and unity as he exalts God rather than man as the focus for our boasting. The crucifixion and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ remain the key to living out the gospel in the challenging environment of a world awash in idolatry and pride and selfishness.
Divine wisdom is spiritually discerned and unites all believers at the foot of the cross. While the world places great weight on spectacular gifts and personalities and intellect, the church must boast in Jesus Christ alone. Self denial and love for the brethren should characterize the mindset and practice of each believer and contribute to a mutual ministry of edification and encouragement. Specific questionable practices are reviewed and clarified in an effort to keep believers on track in their pursuit of holiness.
The Gospel Message of Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection Brings God’s Wisdom to Bear on the Practical Problems That Are Rooted in Man’s Pride and Selfishness
1 Corinthians 1:31 “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord…”
1 Corinthians 3:21, 23 “So then, let no one boast in men. For all things belong to you… And you belong to Christ; and Christ belongs to God.”
(1:1-9) Introduction: Holiness and Giftedness Should Characterize the Local Body of Christ
I. (1:10 – 6:20) Addressing Problems Undermining the Unit and Holiness of the Church – The Crucifixion of Christ Reinforces the Wisdom of God Which Protects the Church from Prideful Divisions and Disorder
A. (1:10 – 4:21) Divisions in the Church – Exalt God Rather than Man
B. (5:1 – 6:20) Disorders in the Church – Replace Arrogance with God’s Wisdom
II. (7:1 – 14:40) Answering Questions Regarding Proper Personal and Church Conduct – The Glory of God Reinforces Self Denial and Love for the Brethren in All Areas of Conduct
A. (7:1-24) Concerning Sexual Practice in Marriage and the Appropriateness of Different Situations
B. (7:25-40) Concerning Advantages of Remaining Single
C. (8:1 – 11:34) Concerning Questionable Practices, the Voluntary Restricting of Our Liberties and the Unselfish Nature of the Ministry
D. (12:1 – 14:40) Concerning the Proper Exercise of Spiritual Gifts in the Church
III. (15:1-58) Arguing for the Necessity of the Resurrection of the Dead – the Resurrection of Christ Reinforces the Final Triumph of the Saints Which Motivates Perseverance in Faithful Service
A. (15:1 – 15:19) The Resurrection: Fact vs Futility
B. (15:20 – 15:34) The Resurrection: Victory vs Futility
C. (15:35 – 15:58) The Resurrection: Believable and Glorious
(16:1-24) Conclusion: Giving and Loving Should Continue to Bind the Believers Together
WHY STUDY THIS BOOK?
• To give proper focus to the unity of the church universal as opposed to the spirit of sectarianism and division that exalts prominent individuals and their giftedness
• To drive home the practical implications of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the problems of human pride and selfishness
• To combat idolatry and worldliness by maintaining the call of believers to holiness and a life separated to following Christ
• To deal with a series of church problems and misguided church practices that are still relevant today
• To provide a balanced theology and practice of spiritual gifts in the local assembly
• To exalt edification and love as goals of the mature believer
• To gain insight into the opportunities and challenges of both the single and married states
• To motivate disciplined Christian living in the context of a world characterized by wickedness
David Malick: Out of a heart of love, Paul exhorts the Corinthians to cease exalting themselves in accordance with natural wisdom, and to limit themselves in accordance with the wisdom of God – the Crucifixion.
Charles Hodge: The epistles to the Corinthians, therefore, reveal to us more of the personal character of the apostle than any of his other letters. They show him to us as a man, as a pastor, as a counselor, as in conflict not only with heretics, but with personal enemies. They reveal his wisdom, his zeal, his forbearance, his liberality of principle and practice in all matters of indifference, his strictness in all matters of right and wrong, his humility, and perhaps above all, his unwearied activity and wonderful endurance.
James Boyer: If Paul were to write a letter to the evangelical, Bible-believing churches of late twentieth century America, I believe it would be much like I Corinthians. Their world was like our world: the same thirst for intellectualism, the same permissiveness toward moral standards, the same fascination for the spectacular. And their church was like our churches: proud, affluent, materialistic, fiercely eager for intellectual and social acceptance by the world, doctrinally orthodox but morally and practically conforming to the world.
Morris: Paul’s purpose, then, in writing this Epistle, is principally to set right disorders which the Corinthians took lightly, but which he regarded as grave sins. Secondly, he wrote to answer some questions put to him. Thirdly, he wrote to give some doctrinal teaching, particularly on the resurrection.
John MacArthur: The most serious problem of the Corinthian church was worldliness, an unwillingness to divorce the culture around them. Most of the believers could not consistently separate themselves from their old, selfish, immoral, and pagan ways. It became necessary for Paul to write to correct this, as well as to command the faithful Christians not only to break fellowship with the disobedient and unrepentant members, but to put those members out of the church.