yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
In putting together a visualization, it didn’t come out as the most readable, but I think the flow of the text can help us remember the meaning. You can read the graphic left to right, as the verse is in the Bible, or you can follow the arrows and get a different ordering. If you do that you’d read something like, “All things are from the Father and through our Lord, Jesus Christ. We exist through through the Lord, Jesus Christ for the Father.”
I hope this helps. And as you work on memorizing this, think of how startling this would be for people to hear of Jesus Christ as one through whom are all things. Jesus didn’t just enter the scene on Christmas. He is one with the Father, co-eternal and who is before creation.
As you read chapter eight of 1 Corinthians, keep this short passage in mind. It is the opening two paragraphs from NT Wright’s commentary, Paul for Everyone: 1 Corinthians. As usual, Wright opens with a short anecdote that relates to the passage, in this case about food that is sacrificed to idols and just how prevalent this practice would have been. It provides background on the ancient world that will be helpful for this week’s Bible reading:
There is a restaurant in Rome which is built around the ruins of an old temple. Two of the pillars are still visible. The restaurant makes a feature of them, and is proud of the ancient origins of the building where they now serve excellent pasta, great local cuisine, and fine Italian wines.
But what people don’t normally realize is that in the ancient world the temples normally were the restaurants. Each town or city had plenty of shrines to local gods and goddesses, to the great divinities like Apollo or Venus, and, in Paul’s day, more and more to the Roman emperor and members of his family. And what people mostly did there was to come with animals for sacrifice. When the animal was killed, it would be cooked, and the family (depending on what sort of ritual it was) might have a meal with the meat as the centrepiece. But there was usually more meat than the worshippers could eat, and so other people would come to the temple and share in the food which had been offered to the god.”
Moving into chapter eight we are going from a chapter with 40 verses to one with only thirteen. So again, this reading plan takes a bit of self-direction. How do I best use my time throughout this week to not just check off reading 1 Corinthians, but how do I read it well? How do I study it? How do I pray through it? How do I open myself up to hear what God has to say to me? It’s short so you get creative.
I had the opportunity, due to a bit of a road trip today, to listen to 1 Corinthians in the car. I listened starting in the beginning and then went through chapter eight. Then I listened to chapter eight again. (Either to gain more emphasis for our current chapter, or maybe because it is easy to let my mind drift as I try to pay attention to driving.) This is a great way to spend some extra time this week. As I listened I could better detect the themes coming up again and again–words like puffed up and calling jumped out more than they have before. Also, as I went through the chapters I paid close attention to the memory verses, verses that now I can (almost) recite along with the reader of the audio Bible. It was great to be reminded of the context in which these verses fall.
If you need help in doing something like this, ie. listening to the Bible, let me know. There are websites for it such as biblegateway as well as phone apps like the youversion Bible.
So, with the shorter chapter, try rereading old chapters, or even listening to them. Also work on memory verses, either as a refresher or for the first time. It’s never too late to start.
And if those ideas aren’t enough, you could try writing me (or posting in the comments) some really hard questions about this chapter. I always like a challenge. Maybe your question will work its way into Sunday’s sermon!
There is a word that beyond 1 Corinthians 7 is used 11 times in the New Testament, and each of those times it is used to reference God’s calling of us in Jesus Christ. But in 1 Corinthians 7 it is translated as “condition.” For example, here is 1 Corinthians 7:20
Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called.
This can cause the reader of this chapter, and specifically the section from verses 17-24, to think that God’s calling in our life means that we remain where we are, or that we remain in some social status. But Paul is telling the church that they should remain in their calling to which they are called. Ken Bailey in Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes paraphrases the section, focusing on one of the examples of slavery:
If you are caught in slavery, try to get free. If you are free–do not become a slave. Yet, if you are caught in this (horrible) institution you can yet find and carry out an assignment. You can exercise your gifts and respond to your call. If you are a slave do not look wistfully at me with my freedom and the privileges of Roman citizenship and say, “Of course the Lord can use him. But I am a slave–I can do nothing!” Don’t forget your calling, and never imagine that there is no calling for you because you are a slave. (Bailey, 219)
To the slave, Paul doesn’t want them to think that their slavery is the condition to which they were called. Don’t equate status to calling. They have a calling to which they were called, and even in slavery it is a calling that can be expressed.
On the site Out of Ur, Jim Gilmore has a great article in which he argues for reading “bigger chunks of bread.” He writes:
It has dawned on me: we claim to be a people “of the Word.” But we read the Bible in chunks that are too little. We read slices of our daily bread, when we ought to digest whole loaves.
I’d encourage you to read the whole piece here on Out of Ur. He makes some good points that are very challenging. A hope for this 1 Corinthians plan is that we do read in big chunks, but in a way that adds more each week, slowly increasing the amount. Each week we can read the new chapter (or part of a chapter), but also all that has come before it.
If we spend five months reading and re-reading Paul’s letter, we will learn and retain so much of what God has to show us.
Many people have wondered what was Paul’s marital status. Given his role within the Jewish community it is likely he would’ve been married. But what we read in his letters indicates he was single. That’s just about as much as my previous studies have shown me. Then I read this in the commentary I’ve been studying during our 1 Corinthians reading plan:
Orr and Walther [two biblical scholars] make a strong case that Paul was a widower. They write, “Jewish leaders holding the position attributed to Paul in the New Testament ordinarily were married.” But Paul is clearly traveling without a wife (9:5). Apparently his wife had died. Greek has a word for “widowers” (kheros), but that word does not appear in the New Testament time period when Koine Greek was in use. Later in this passage when Paul discusses the “unmarried,” (7:25) he uses the traditional Greek word for “virgin” (parthenos). In the present text [1 Corinthians 7:6-9] he discusses “a-gamois and widows.” The natural way to read the text is to see these two words as a pair and understand that Paul is writing about “widowers and widows.” Orr and Walther translate a-gamois literally as “de-married” and explain that in this passage it means “widowers.” Paul uses this word three times in this chapter. All of them can best be understood as mean, “once married, now not married.”
Ken Bailey, Paul Through Mediterranean Eyes. 204.
I thought this was pretty convincing. What do you think?
While it’s always good advice to take notes and write down summaries of what you’ve read, this passage is especially suited for that method of Bible study.
First off, chapter seven is a long chapter. With anything that we read, our minds can easily wander even while our eyes continue moving from word to word. If we stop to make notes in the margins or in a journal, we are keeping ourselves accountable to reading in order to understand, not reading to get it done (and out of the way).
This chapter also covers lots of different topics and within those topics Paul will go back and forth between his views. Try to break it down in parts, step back and ask yourself what is he trying to say and how does this fit in the broader themes of 1 Corinthians? If nothing else, this practice will at least reveal the questions you may have and that is the first step to finding some answers.
This last week I had multiple conversations about how the language we use tends to reflect the language and words we around–both the speech we hear and text we read. This is all the more reason to devote ourselves to God’s word. We should let it sink deep within us and allow it to then flavor our own speech.
Memorization is a wonderful means to accomplish this goal.
That being said here is this week’s memory verse for chapter seven.