A Review of the First Half of 1 Corinthians

Now halfway through 1 Corinthians, let’s get nostalgic and take a walk down memory lane.

(Quick editorial note: This is not exhaustive. But that’s why we read the Bible, not just summaries!)

Week 1 – 1 Corinthians 1:1-17

Memory Verse 1 Cor 1.1-3

Here we are introduced Paul, who writes with the authority of one who is sent by God, and to Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth and the saints every where who call upon Jesus Christ as Lord. It will be a letter tailored for Corinth, but in no way limited to this one group.

In this section we also find out one of the problems arising in this church, that is there is quarreling and divisions among the body as people are aligning themselves to certain teachers. Paul comes down clearly against this.

Week 2 – 1 Corinthians 1:18-31

Memory Verse 1 Cor 1.22-23

The response to the issues of Corinth is the cross of Jesus Christ. The cross is a message that is not always attractive, indeed it appears foolish to the world. But the “foolishness” of God is wiser than men. Therefore, we shouldn’t boast in any associations with a certain teacher, nor in ourselves. If we are to boast, we should only boast in the Lord.

Week 3 – 1 Corinthians 2:1-16

Memory Verse 1 Cor 2.12

The cross is the wisdom of God and in chapter two Paul writes how we receive this wisdom from God by his Holy Spirit. The natural person doesn’t understand the things of the Spirit, but we can have judgment and discernment because God has gifted it to us.

Week 4 – 1 Corinthians 3:1-23

Memory Verse 1 Cor 3.6

Having taught on the wisdom of God in the cross and from the Spirit, Paul returns to the issue of divisions in the church and seeks to correct Corinth’s view of Paul, and other teachers. Paul is just a worker, given a certain assignment, just like Apollos, but through it all it is God who truly is at work. They work together with a common goal, always building upon the one foundation of Jesus Christ.

Week 5 – 1 Corinthians 4:1-21

Memory Verse 1 Cor 4.7b

Paul continues on the topic of how the church should view its teachers, like Paul or Apollos. Their incorrect view has led to boasting and being puffed up. Instead Paul wants them to follow his example and make sure they do not go beyond what is written–which is an especially troublesome territory that lends to speculation and arrogance.

He doesn’t want them to think that they can continue in the way that they have gone without any oversight. Paul has some stern words about the manner in which he’d return with rebuke.

Week 6 – 1 Corinthians 5:1-13

Memory Verse 1 Cor 5.7

Corinth has had issues with divisions and quarreling and now Paul mentions the sexual immorality that has made its way into the church, like a leaven that is affecting the whole dough. To make matters worse, some think that their tolerance of sexual sin is to their credit and they boast (see a pattern?) in their behavior. Paul points them again to the cross, arguing that Christ sacrificed himself as our Passover lamb to remove the leaven–the sin–from our lives. He says the church shouldn’t embrace the sin, the very thing Christ died to remove. In fact, Paul says to cast the man who has committed the sin out of the church.

Week 7 – 1 Corinthians 6:1-20

Memory Verse 1 Cor 6.19-20

The wisdom the church ought to have received from the Spirit is not being manifested in the body as they are neglecting their call and responsibility and instead are taking their issues and submitting them to secular courts. This is a poor witness to the world about the call of God’s church to be judges of all things, and it is shameful that the world sees the sinful practices that should not be part of the kingdom of God.

Perhaps quoting the Corinthians’ argument, Paul confronts the notion that freedom in Christ makes all things permissible now. It is true that we have freedom in Christ, but we are freed from sin, not for sin. Some practices may be allowed, but that does not mean it is good for the person or for the body. After all, our body is not our own, rather we have been bought with a price. The believer is now, miraculously, a temple of the Holy Spirit, so we should glorify God with our bodies.

Week 8 – 1 Corinthians 7:1-40

Memory Verse 1 Cor 7.22

Having discussed sins, and specifically sexual sins, that are not in line with the kingdom of God, Paul turns toward some questions the Corinthians had and teaches about what sort of sexual relationships are appropriate. He relates these questions to the broader issue of our calling in Jesus Christ. Whether married or single, and Paul then goes on to include Jew or Greek and slave or free, we all have callings. Paul may encourage singleness, but to him it comes down to our ability to serve God wholeheartedly.

Week 9 – 1 Corinthians 8:1-13

Memory Verse 1 Cor 8.6

The topic of freedom in Christ comes up again and this time in relation to the eating of food offered to idols. Here Paul urges people to consider sacrificing their “right” to do what is greater: to love their brothers and sisters. If they use their knowledge to disregard the needs of others, they are puffed up and sinning not only against their fellow believer, but against Christ as well, since we are all members of his body.

So there you have it. Eight chapters down, eight more to go. If I missed something that stood out to you, don’t let me get away with it!

Paul now in chapter nine continues the discussion of our freedoms and rights, and how we at times ought to sacrifice our rights for a greater purpose.

Take the Time to Review What You’ve Read in 1 Corinthians

Having now finished eight chapters of 1 Corinthians we are right in the middle of Paul’s letter and it is a great time to look back at the first half.

I was going to give a bit of a review in this post, but it’ll have to wait for tomorrow. But perhaps that’s serendipitous. It’ll give you time to see what you can remember on your own. See if you can remember something from the beginning, the next couple chapters, and then the most recent ones. Do certain themes stand out? Can you especially remember a certain passage? Did God bless you by your reading and study in some way?

In terms of the memory verses, do you have any of those stored away? As you review the verses from each week, which you could do visually here, does that help you recall more from the chapters that the verses are in?

As you take the time to do this, I’d absolutely love to hear how it goes. What has helped the most, what has stuck with you, what more can we do or what can we do differently? Let me know in the comments or via email or if you’re in the neighborhood, stop on by the office.

I hope that in reviewing, you get excited at what God has been teaching you and you can get a dose of excitement as we look ahead to the last eight chapters. (Maybe, if you’re so excited, you’d want to share this with a friend and invite them to read with you.)

A Fill in the Blank Review of 1 Corinthians

A good way to look back and review our readings is with our memory verses. I’d encourage you to reread the previous sections as much as you can as we work our way through 1 Corinthians, but these short verses can be a fine short cut.

If you haven’t memorized it, but have glanced as the visualizations and read through a few times, you may know more than you realize.

I’m going to put the verses below, but missing about half of the words. See how you do and if you’re able to fill in the blanks. I’ll leave it up to you to find your Bible and check your answers!

Week 1: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3

1 ________, called by the ________ ________ ________ to be an ________ of Christ Jesus, and our brother ________,
2 To the ________ of ________ that is in ________, to those ________ in Christ ________, called to be ________ together with ________ ________ who in every ________ ________ upon the name of ________ ________ ________ ________, both ________ ________ and ours:
3 ________ to you and ________ from ________ ________ ________ and the ________ ________ ________.

Week 2: 1 Corinthians 1:22-23

22 _______ demand ________ and ________ seek ________,
23 But we ________ ________ ________,
A ________ ________ to the ________ and ________ to the ________.

Week 3: 1 Corinthians 2:12

Now we have ________ not the ________ of the ________,
but ________ ________ who is from ________,
that we might ________ the ________ freely ________ us by ________.

Week 4: 1 Corinthians 3:6
I ________, Apollos ________, but God ________ ________ ________.

How’d you do?

Looking Back on Chapter 1 and Preparing for Chapter 2 of 1 Corinthians

As we close the first chapter and begin the second, it is important to take account of what we’ve read. A goal of reading the way we are is to really get a sense of the whole of the letter. What is Paul saying start to finish?

You could go back and review any highlights or underlines. As you read you can jot down short summaries in the margins. At least, if your Bible has them, review the section headings–I hope those will remind you of what is in them.

I thought I’d provide a few short questions to review. See if what you are reading is being retained and understood. If so, fantastic! If not, maybe slow down or read it a few more times this week.

Who is it from?
And the answer is more than Paul.

Who is it to?
And the answer is more than the Corinthians.

What was going well in the church?
And who is really responsible for that?

What was going wrong in the church?
And who really deserves the church’s loyalty?

What does Paul preach?
And how might the world react to it?

Now in chapter two, read it with an eye toward retention. Read it knowing that we’re not just checking off a "to-do" list, but we are approaching God in his word to us. By the Spirit we are blessed with understanding. Read it knowing that God has something to say and it is worth remembering.

And if you want to remember just one thing, our memory verse this week is 1 Corinthians 2:12:

Now we have received not the spirit of the world
but the Spirit who is from God,
that we might understand the things freely given by God.

Again, I know memorization is hard and if you are like me, you are out of practice, so here again is a visualization to help you remember it:

1 Corinthians 2:12

Here is a size for your iPhone, to make it your background.

And don’t forget the Bible study, which we cover on Wednesday night at 6pm at the church, or look at it with a friend or on your own. You can find it here.

Preaching on the Story of God and His People Throughout the Bible

I’m not sure whether this will encourage you to check out this coming Sunday’s sermon or do the opposite, but my intent for Palm Sunday is to preach on the whole Bible. On that day we should be done with Year in the Bible and how else should we cap off the year but by looking back on it all?

There are different ways to preach on God’s history with his people. Many confessions follow a fall, redemption, gratitude pattern. Since it will be Palm Sunday where we look at Christ’s triumphal entry, I wanted to lift up the kingship of Jesus Christ–what that means and how that is a fulfillment.

So that is what’s in store for Sunday. The only other wrinkle is that I didn’t want to preach about what is in the Bible. I want to preach using scripture. I want to do so using as much of the text that I could. Here is an outline and the references for what (at this point, at least) I’ve come up with:

Creation, Call, and Covenant

Genesis 1:1
Colossians 1:16-17
Genesis 1:26-28
Genesis 2:16-17
Genesis 3:1-4
Ephesians 1:4-5
Genesis 3:15
1 Corinthians 15:24-25
Galatians 4:4-5
Genesis 11:4
1 Corinthians 1:27
Genesis 12:1
Genesis 22:2
Genesis 22:7-8
Genesis 22:14
Exodus 1:8-9
Exodus 6:7
Lamentations 3:22-23
Exodus 15:1-2

Pattern of Disobedience and Deliverance

Numbers 14:2.4
Revelation 3:19
Joshua 1:5
Psalm 73:26
Deuteronomy 9:6-7
Leviticus 26:11
Ezekiel 37:28
Isaiah 5:6
Isaiah 33:14
Psalm 106:19-22
Romans 1:25
Psalms 120:6
Psalm 51:4
Hosea 1:2
Hosea 11:8-9
Judges 17:6
1 Samuel 8:19-20
Psalm 4:3
Jeremiah 11:10
Amos 7:11
2 Chronicles 30:10
Galatians 1:6
Psalm 136:1
Joel 2:25

God’s Great Intent Fulfilled in Christ

Romans 8:21-23
Ephesians 1:10
Galatians 4:4
Mark 1:14
Matthew 1:23
John 1:14
Matthew 5:17
Hebrews 9:26
Hebrews 8:5
Colossians 2:17
Luke 24:27

Christ the Victorious King

Matthew 2:2
Revelation 19:16
Hebrews 2:9
Romans 5:8
Galatians 3:13
Ephesians 2:4
Titus 3:5
Romans 5:6-7
Mark 15:32
Acts 2:32-33
Romans 5:17
Joshua 24:15
Romans 10:9
Daniel 7:27
1 Peter 2:4
Colossians 1:17-18
Galatians 3:29
Romans 8:17
Hebrews 7:26
2 Corinthians 1:20
2 Timothy 2:3,8
Acts 7:55-56
2 Timothy 2:10
Colossians 2:14
Revelation 11:15

Awaiting His Return

Philippians 1:20-21
2 Timothy 1:9
John 16:33
Revelation 21:6
Revelation 21:1-5
Revelation 21:22
Revelation 21:25
Isaiah 60:11
Romans 8:1
Romans 8:22-23
Luke 19:38

Coming back to something familiar

Back in the winter our church began a church-wide small group which had as one of its theme verses Colossians 3:16. If you were a part of that study, did you notice it when you came back around to it? It’s only taken us a little over 6 months to stumble upon it again.

The segment that we memorized (can you still recall it?) was: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. The entire verse is: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Here is a snippet on this verse taken from a sermon that kicked off Year in the Bible back in March, focusing on what it means for God’s word to dwell richly:

If you dwell richly in your home, how is that different from dwelling poorly? To dwell richly would mean having the best. You wouldn’t live in a closet, but in the finest room. To dwell richly wouldn’t mean to spend an afternoon there. To dwell richly would mean to abide, to live into the space, to make it your own permanently.

The word of Christ dwelling richly in us is not too different. It is too be firmly established in us, given the best of our time. Christ’s words are to be a favored guest in us, not an unwelcome visitor. Christ’s words are to be a centerpiece of our lives, like the big fish hanging over your fireplace. Christ’s words are to be given your favorite chair, the place of honor at your dinner table. To let the word dwell is not so different from truly delighting in it, like in Psalm 1. We are pleased to spend time with God in his Word. We enjoy him in it, we seek him there. We ask him to dwell with us and we never show him the door.

I hope having spent these times with God in the Bible, you are learning more and more what these passage means. I hope your experience of dwelling in God’s word continues to bear fruit, and may it lead to our being clothed in the character of Christ, which we read in the verses just before 3:16.

Romans, David, and Love for Enemies

The Death of Absalom, Gustav Dore

This week I read our Old Testament passages first before moving into the New, so by the time I read Romans, parts of 2 Samuel kept coming to mind. One part especially struck me from Romans 12 in the way we are to relate to our enemies.

David was by no means a perfect man, but he did display character unlike those around him. Starting back in 1 Samuel David has had many enemies, such as Saul, Abner, and Absalom. To these so-called enemies, David showed great respect and grace. In chapter 19 he is criticized for showing too much grief at the death of Absalom, who was his son, and his military commander complains and says David loves those who hate him.

But Romans 12 teaches us to bless those who persecute us and not to repay evil with evil. We are to love those who hate us. This certainly must be one of the most difficult commands placed upon us. We wish it could just stop at not repaying evil with evil. Couldn’t we just turn the other cheek and move along? Can’t I just walk away? To most such actions are commendable. But we’re called to do more.

It is too easy to support and encourage a perspective that views others as enemies (and not in a way to help target who we should love). We want a foil, a villain, an antagonist–someone or something to compare ourselves to and come out looking good. We’d rather demonize the enemy than sacrifice for their sake and show them love. This is not the way of the Christian.

Christ shows us a greater way, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” When we were enemies, God showed his love for us in sending Jesus Christ.

We won’t be able to match his demonstration of love, but one simple way we could start is to hold our tongues when it comes to labeling others as ‘enemy.’

Making progress through Samuel and Romans

So we’ve finished the first half of 2 Samuel and it has read much like a soap opera. We have David’s contested rise to power, political maneuvers, adultery, murder, and high risk confrontations. And that’s just the first half. Hope you enjoy the second.

Prophet Nathan rebukes David for adultery with Bathsheba, Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld

I wanted to talk more about Nathan’s rebuke of David this past week, but I made a bit of a mistake. In writing a focus passage for next week, I misread the chapter breakdowns and focused in on chapter 12, which actually falls during this week. So week 8 of Year in the Bible will have a focus passage from week 7. My apologies. At least it will be easy to make sure you’ve read that part.

As I had mentioned yesterday, I’d love to hear any feedback about what we’ve been reading. Romans is a long letter that we’ll be finishing next week, but 1 & 2 Samuel taken together is another long block of that goes together. Given that we’ve spent so much time in them, I’d love to hear what is standing out most to you. Each week’s focus passage begins by asking what stands out to you. So I’m asking that in regards to four weeks. What has jumped out from Paul’s letter? What are you learning from 1 & 2 Samuel and seeing David become king? Whether you want to send me a reference to a verse, a few sentences, or a long essay as an answer, I’m open to it all.

I hope as you read you are taking something away from it.