Christians are servants of Christ. He is our Master; we are His slaves. Our lives must be spent in His service, doing His work to the salvation of souls with whom we come into contact. We should share Christ and His truth with everyone we meet.
Christians are stewards of God’s blessings. We do not own the truth, for example, but we have been entrusted with the responsibility to share it with others. God’s primary requirement for a steward is faithfulness. The apostle Paul said to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Faithfulness is always tested by persecution and trials. The apostles lived “as men condemned to death.” Stewards must be willing to be “fools for Christ’s sake.” In the first century, disciples were considered “the filth of the world.”
But the problem with the first century Corinthians (one of their many problems) was that they were arrogant and puffed up about their relationship with God, not humbled by their forgiveness through the grace and mercy of the Lord. They considered themselves to be full, rich, and to be reigning as kings. They could have been powerful, effective workers for God, if they had been humble and submissive to His will.
Paul shows them that he and others (the other apostles, primarily, but anyone who served God humbly) simply considered themselves to be servants of the Lord. Paul used his stewardship to instruct people about how to become and live as children of God, not to rule over and dominate as inferiors. Paul refers to “my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.” This is the pattern of God’s truth that is the same for everyone.
The New Testament is a pattern (many don’t like that word today) for both our personal lives (Philippians 3:17) and for the things we do collectively as a church, the family of God (2 Timothy 1:13).
The New Testament directs how the church is to worship. That is the pattern for us to follow today The New Testament teaches us how the church is to be organized (Philippians 1:1). That is our pattern. The New Testament shows us what the mission or work of a local church is supposed to be (1 Timothy 3:15). In all of these areas, God has not merely given us suggestions, but a pattern that we should imitate, in order that we might please Him.
The church at Corinth needed to grow and change a number of things so that they could be acceptable to the God of heaven and earth. This letter was written to help them and us please our God.
The basis for the trouble at Corinth was spiritual immaturity. Rather than growing spiritually, as all disciples should, they were still “babes in Christ.” This lack of spiritual growth led to envy, strife and divisions.
They had begun to divide the church (remember his warning about that in 1 Corinthians 1:10-15?) into various groups based on which preacher they liked the best. He reminds them again that this is proof of their lack of spiritual growth and development.
The preachers they were following, instead of Christ, were just ministers or servants of the Lord. We are all on the same team, all on the Lord’s side. Preachers plant and water the seed of the gospel, but it is God who makes the plant grow. The Lord, of course, uses human agents as “fellow workers,” but we are to worship God alone, not be divisive in following men.
There is only one true foundation for the church. It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died on the cross to purchase the church, who said He would build the church and who continues to make intercession for the church. He is the Savior; He is the way, the truth and the life. It is all about Jesus, not about preachers or elders or teachers or scholars. It is all about Him.
“God’s building” (verse 9) or “the temple of God” (verses 16-17) is the church. We are to build the church on the only solid foundation, Jesus Christ, not on human wisdom or the doctrines and commandments of men. That’s where true edification comes from. If we build on anything else, we will fail. As the song says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. All other ground is sinking sand.”
The apostle sums much of this up in verse 19 when he reminds us of the value of true spiritual wisdom. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.”
If we ever get the idea that we have a better way to do things than what God has revealed in His word, we will always be wrong, every time. We cannot improve on God’s ways, ever. Always remember, the Bible is right.
Human wisdom is never a good solution for spiritual problems. The problem of division among God’s people continues to be the subject of 1 Corinthians 2.
This chapter begins with Paul’s admission that preaching in Corinth made him nervous. He refers to “weakness” and “fear” and “much trembling.” This was an extremely immoral city and one could not be certain how the gospel was going to be received. The Lord spoke to Paul, while the apostle was in Corinth, in a night vision, to reassure him that he should continue to work in this city and not to be afraid.
Paul reminds the Corinthians that, even in his work among them, it was not his persuasive speech or superior wisdom that had brought them into a saved relationship with the Lord. What Paul brought to them that made all the difference was “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
If we try to convert people to anyone or anything other than Christ, we will not succeed. Jesus is the message and we must never shrink from sharing our confidence in the Savior with a lost and dying world. All that we do must be to His glory, not our own.
Jesus is the only Savior, not Paul or Apollos or Cephas (Peter) or any other gospel preacher.
There is a section of the chapter which deals with the process of inspiration. Given through the Holy Spirit, the Bible came from God to man so that we might understand what God would have us to do, as we seek to serve Him in this earth life.
Verse 13 affirms that we have, in the New Testament, all that God wants us to know and that He has revealed His covenant with man, not in words of human wisdom, but as the Spirit taught, a message directly from our Creator. He says that the Bible combines “spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (NASV).
True spiritual wisdom comes from a deeper and fuller knowledge of God’s revelation. Mankind can only know God’s mind when He reveals it to us. And He did that in what we now call the Bible. It is a spiritual message for people who want to know and obey God’s will.
The letter begins by addressing the congregation as “the church of God which is at Corinth.” The Christians who comprised the local church were “sanctified in Christ Jesus” and “called to be saints.”
The author of the inspired epistle was Paul (1 Corinthians 1:1), a bondservant and an apostle of Jesus Christ.
He had several more faithful Christians with him when he penned the letter and they sent their love and greetings to these disciples also (1 Corinthians 16:21, 23). One of them, named Tertius, was the scribe who actually literally did the writing, as instructed by Paul (1 Corinthians 16:22).
The church in Corinth has often been referred to as a dysfunctional church. They certainly had a number of problems which the apostle deals with in the letter.
Some of these problems had been described to Paul by members of the congregation, in the hope that these struggles could be corrected (1 Corinthians 1:11; 5:1; 11:18, for example).
Other problems had been mentioned to Paul in a letter which he received, in the form of questions that some of the disciples there had asked him to clarify for them (see 1 Corinthians 7:1).
The first problem dealt with is the issue of division. Various disciples were claiming to be of Paul, of Apollos, of Cephas, or of Christ. And beyond the idea of having favorite preachers, they were dividing into groups that would only listen to certain messengers, while rejecting the teaching of any others.
What could reunite the Christians in Corinth and all believers today is the message of the cross of Christ. To the Jews, it was a stumbling block and to the Gentiles it was foolishness. But to the faithful, it contains the power of God to salvation.
It is unimportant whether one is wise, mighty and noble or foolish, weak and despised. In Christ, anyone can have righteousness, sanctification and redemption.
Therefore, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” We must follow Jesus, not a human teacher.
Starting on March 1, Lord willing, we will be posting a daily (for 16 days) chapter summary of the book of 1 Corinthians.
I am really enjoying reading Cory's posts on the book of Judges. He has given all of us some really important spiritual lessons to learn and apply to our daily lives.
Thanks so much for checking the blog every day and keeping up with these series. We hope you will find the summaries of 1 Corinthians to be helpful and encouraging. May God richly bless your sincere efforts to learn and obey His will.
A strong local church is made up of Christians who have close, loving, godly relationships with one another.
The first 15 verses of Romans 16 list one Christian after another for whom Paul held special affection.
Priscilla and Aquila (verses 3-5) are mentioned elsewhere in Scripture (see Acts 18; 1 Corinthians 16; 2 Timothy 4:19). But the rest of the people in verses 1-15 are unknown outside of this chapter.
Notice the kinds of things that Paul says about each of those first century saints. What was it that made them so special? They…
*were firstfruits of Achaia to Christ
*were in Christ before (Paul)
*were beloved in the Lord
…among other things. All of these descriptions speak of the spiritual work that these faithful disciples performed for the Lord. Paul noticed when people work for God and so does the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
In verses 17-20, Paul issues a warning about false teachers who would deceive weak brethren. They were to be noted and avoided. In spite of what some thought, these were not serving Christ, but their own desires. And ultimately, Paul wanted them to know that God would crush Satan and the great deceiver would be destroyed eternally in hell.
Chapter 16 ends with a reminder that what pleases God is “obedience to the faith.”
Chapter 15 continues the theme of unity in the church.
One of the greatest challenges in the early church was to unite Jews and Gentiles together in one body. It is true that Christ broke down the middle wall of separation between the two (Ephesians 2:14-16). Jesus was, after all, the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
However, the reality is that this unity was not easily accomplished. After centuries of enmity between Jew and Gentile, those hard feelings did not die quickly.
But Paul’s statement is verse 7 is clear: “Therefore receive one another, just as Christ has received us, to the glory of God.”
Paul also speaks of his future plans to travel to Spain with the gospel (verses 17-24). He hoped to visit Rome during that trip.
One of the things Paul mentions in connection with his travels has to do with his evangelistic strategy. His aim was “to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build on another man’s foundation.” Paul’s plan was to preach in unreached areas, as part of Christ’s commission to reach all nations with the gospel of salvation.
He also makes reference to his plans to deliver benevolent aid to “the saints who are in Jerusalem.” The early church took care of her own, whenever those needs arose.
And he asks the Christians in Rome to pray for him and his work in the Lord.
How to differ with other Christians without dividing was a controversial subject in the first century and it continues to be an important question for disciples today.
Romans 14 was written to show us that it is possible for followers of the Christ to have different views on some issues, but to remain in fellowship with one another.
The first thing we need to understand about Romans 14 is that Paul is dealing with matters of judgment in areas where God is indifferent, that is, where either decision is acceptable.
There are two specific issues that Romans 14 mentions. One was the question of eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols (verses 1-4). Some Christians thought they could; others believed they should not. Another was the practicing of “observing days” (verses 5-6). This probably was speaking of the practice of Hebrew Christians who continued to respect Jewish holidays, not as “holy days” but as civil observances. Some thought it to be a compromise (because the Old Law was finished), while others believed they could still observe those days without the religious or spiritual implications they formerly held.
There are many similar subjects today on which brethren differ, such as the woman’s head covering, the observance of Christmas as a national holiday, the Bible version one uses, whether a Christian can serve in the military or as a policeman or woman, and whether Christians should go to movies or not. Paul writes, “Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind” (verse 5).
The second consideration in the chapter is the effect that such decisions would have on other Christians. One of the key parts of the chapter is verse 7 – “For none of us lives to himself, and no one dies to himself.” Paul is reminding us that our actions can affect the conscience of others and we ought not to dismiss the views of others just because they disagree with us about a particular subject.
If brethren love God and one another, we can find a way to work together that pleases the Lord and does not violate His Holy word.
The relationship between followers of Christ and the governments of men has long been discussed.
One of the major lessons from the book of Daniel is that “the Most High rules in the kingdoms of men” (Daniel 4:25).
When Jesus was asked by the tax gatherers about paying a temple tax, He performed a miracle with a fish to pay the tax for Himself and Peter (Matthew 17:24-27).
In Mark 12:13-17, the Pharisees and the Herodians (normally at enmity with each other) joined forces as they attempted to trap Jesus in an inconsistency. Christ’s response to them was, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”
We have, therefore, the responsibility to obey the laws of the land. And we must obey all of them, even ones we don’t like, such as speed limits and paying taxes. The single exception is if a law would require us to be disobedient to God (see Acts 5:28-29, for an example). No human relationship has the authority to cause us to disobey the Father in heaven. The Lord must always be first in our lives.
Romans 13:1-7 tells us that God appointed civil government for the protection of citizens and that only wrong doers need to fear those in authority.
Verses 8-10 teach Christians that we are to love others.
Verses 11-14 reminds Christ’s disciples to “cast off the works of darkness” by removing all ungodliness from their lives and to “put on the Lord Jesus.”
Romans 12 begins what many have referred to as “the practical part” of the letter. Some would define chapters 1-11 as “doctrinal,” while calling chapters 12-16 as “practical.” It would be more accurate to say that the first 11 chapters of Romans have laid the foundational principles upon which applications are then made in the final 5 chapters.
Romans 12 is one of the most challenging chapters in all of the New Testament. It presents us with one responsibility after another in discussing our relationship with God and with each other as disciples. It is entirely possible that a Christian could spend his entire life, just trying to obey the duties outlined in this chapter.
Paul begins by telling us to present our bodies as living sacrifices to God. We are not to allow the world to pressure us into conformity, but rather to be changed or transformed into the image of Christ.
He points out that we are not all the same. We all have different abilities and opportunities. But whatever our unique circumstance may be, we are to do all we can to serve God and our fellow man.
The apostle speaks of many of our personal obligations before God, including brotherly love, honoring one another, being hospitable, being a blessing to others, rejoicing and weeping with each other and remaining humble in our service to Him.
The chapter ends by reminding us that we are not to be vengeful, angry people. Rather we are to be at peace with others, in every way we possibly can. God will avenge all wrong doing. We have a responsibility to overcome evil with good, not to repay evil with evil. Two wrongs never make a right.