Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Monday, November 28, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Nov 29, 1 Cor 5-8

Today's readings are 1 Cor 5-8. Tomorrow's are 1 Cor 9-11.

Paul's first letter to the church at Corinth is a corrective to remind them of who they are, what their witness to the world around them is and how they should meet. It seems they have strayed from the original teachings of Paul. It falls right in the middle of Acts 18 & 19, around 55 AD, toward the end of Paul's three years in Ephesus.

Taking a look at the big picture, this first letter to the Corinthians makes it clear that the brand new church is struggling to define itself and get organized. Many of the problems we'll see in the rest of Acts and the other epistles are centered on refining doctrine and weeding out things that are not consistent with Christ's teaching. Meanwhile, we'll get a good look at how the leaders and congregations navigated uncharted waters and began to come together as the body of Christ.

Paul starts to get specific about the problems in Corinth in 1 Cor 5. Sexual immorality of an ugly sort is being tolerated in the church. Paul urges the church to remove the offenders from the assembly, warning that "a little leaven leavens the whole lump." If they tolerate this sin, more will follow. Worse yet, it causes the world to see no difference between the body of Christ and the lost.

We see that believers are suing believers in 1 Cor 6. Paul condemns this practice as well. The church has been given structure and authority to handle the affairs of its members. Going out into the world to settle disputes only puts man's authority (the civil courts) above the authority of God and the elders of the church. It shows the church's need for the world rather than exhibiting the world's need for the church.

Intimacy in the marriage is addressed in 1 Cor 7. The bodies of the husbands and wives are not their own but each others'. Paul makes it very clear that this level of intimacy is reserved for marriage. Paul discourages divorce. He gives godly counsel to the unmarried, the widowed and the betrothed.  
Paul uses a curious phrase in this chapter. To paraphrase his words, "I say, not the Lord." Some have used that to imply that this is Paul's opinion and doesn't have the authority of Scripture. That is errant thinking. If we believe that the Bile is inspired, then what Paul writes here is Scripture.  What we should see here is something more like this, "The Lord taught you this. Under the influence of the Holy Spirit, I'm expanding on it or clarifying it."

Paul rails at them in 1 Cor 8 for causing weaker brothers to stumble by engaging in worldly and questionable activities. This is what eating the food offered to idols is all about. Today it might be taking a weaker brother to a bar or causing a weaker sister to gossip.

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