The Unity of the Body and Diversity of Gifts

This chapter is on the diversity of the gifts the church is given by the Spirit, but while it highlights diversity, it does so in the context of the oneness of the body of Christ. Whatever differences there are, we aren’t to esteem some higher than others. We are brought together into one body that is to work together, weep together, and mourn together. These varied gifted all share the same source, the Holy Spirit, and are all to work for the common good. The one Spirit unites us, and this is a gracious work that only God can do.

Memory Verse for 1 Cor 12.12-13

Our memory verse for this week seeks to lift up and remind us of this unity that we have as a people all baptized into the same Spirit and who daily must drink of the one Spirit.

Memory Verse for 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 for iPhone

Racing In Order to Receive the Prize

Memory Verse 1 Cor 9.24

Paul loves his illustrations and sports are metaphors are not under-represented. Here in 1 Corinthians 9:24 he talks about runners. Running is a sport that I just don’t get. I see running as a means to an end, such as running in order to get to a soccer ball. But my personal opinion aside, running certainly has its fans and it most certainly has an ancient history.

Running is not just something you can do without any work involved. Paul’s audience knew how athletes, even ones with natural gifts, had to train themselves. If you were to enter a race, you prepare for it and put your body through intense workouts. That is Paul’s image here, but he of course, is alluding to something greater than a race. Nonetheless, that image is powerful and deserving of some thoughtful meditation and even memorization.

What race is God calling us to? What does it mean for a Christian to hit the gym in preparation for God’s work?

Memory Verse 1 Corinthians 9:24 for iPhone

Memory Verse and Bible Visualization for 1 Corinthians 9

1 Cor 9:12b

Paul continues in chapter nine on the theme of rights and freedoms, and again stresses that in this case he has given up his right. Instead of demanding support from Corinth, he labors for free among them doing so because he is willing to sacrifice his right in order to better preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Memory Verse for 1 Corinthians 9:12b for iPhone

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.

Memorizing the Message of Christ Crucified

Each week with our memory verse we have the chance to really focus in on one small portion of Scripture. That one or two verse segment may contain some core truth found in this letter. It may help us remember helpful background, like the first week’s memory verse during which we memorized the key players in 1 Corinthians (from whom, to whom). These short lines also help us recall the larger points and arguments that Paul makes. For instance, this week the verses are 1 Corinthians 1:22-23:

Jews demand signs and Greek seek wisdom,
But we preach Christ crucified,
a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles…

These verses lift up the centrality of Jesus Christ and his sacrificial death on the cross. They also reminds us that God coming to die for us was not what people were looking for and it seemed utterly foolish to the world. But these verses also can remind us of the surrounding passage. These lines fall in the center of a larger message Paul is writing that begins with the cross (v. 16), returns to the cross here in verses 22-23 and then ends again with Paul preaching Jesus Christ crucified (2:1-2). If we can memorize the center or crux or Paul’s argument, then we are better able to recall this whole section from 1:17-2:2.

Again here are some visuals to help you out. First a letter sized graphic. Second is something I made for those of who you use your smartphones all day long. Make it your lock screen and every time you glance at your phone, you’re given the chance to repeat the memory verses.

Memory Verse 1 Cor 1.22-23

Small sized for your iPhone

The Value of Memorization

Have you ever quoted your mother in giving advice? Has a famous line of some presidential speech made its way into your conversation? How did you do it? Do you carry around a quote book, organized by topic, to pull out and read from at just the right time?

Of course not. These nuggets are stored deep down in your brain. They live alongside movie lines you could recite in your sleep, sports statistics such as a starting lineup of a decades old baseball team, and your childhood street address. We commit all sorts of things to memory. Some clearly of more value than others. But value is what gets it there.

What we value we focus on, we repeat, we talk about, and eventually we memorize–often without even knowing it.

As Year in the Bible slows down to focus on 1 Corinthians, I want memorization to take a central role. God’s Word has tremendous value, therefore we should take the time and energy to store it in our hearts. Since we are reading fewer verses each week we have more time to dig deep, we’ll have the time to meditate on these verses, reading them over and over. As we do so, God’s Spirit will strengthen the roots that Scripture has within us.

Each week we’ll have a couple of verses to memorize. Think of it almost like a parallel to last year’s focus passages. I’m working on ways to encourage and make it easier, but it will still take dedication. We’ll have verses printed on paper the size of business cards to tuck away in your pocket. I’m often thinking of visual aids, and have already worked on one for our first memory verses: 1 Corinthians 1:1-3 (Paul’s Opening Lines).

My hope is that by the end of these several months, we’ll have a great storehouse of Scripture in our minds, ready to be used by God in us, for us, and through us.

Something New for Year in the Bible

So I was talking with someone this morning in my small group about scripture memorization. It seems like that is something many do when we’re young, but as we get older it we stop. I wonder if subconsciously we think memorization like that is childish.

If I remember getting prizes for knowing my memory verse along with stars for attendance, and then have few instances where I memorize later in life, it’d be easy to think it is something for children. But that would be a failure on our part. We are to store up God’s Word in us. We should meditate on the Bible. It’s as though we should marinate our minds with it, taking on its flavor. (How’s that for a fun mental image?)

When we do so, and the words dig their roots deep into us, God will use it to continue to shape us after the likeness of Jesus Christ. When such life-giving words saturate our minds our entire personalities will come under their influence.

So in light of this, and in light of the conversation I had this morning in which I said I wanted to do something about it, I’m going to put up some verses on the right hand side of the site as memory verses. Every week we read many chapters, then we focus in on one passage during our focus passage, and now (if you’re so inclined) we can try to commit one even smaller selection to memory.

This is new, ie. easy for me to forget, so if it doesn’t get updated regularly–OR if you have suggestions for the verses for the week, let me know. For this week I thought we’d use:

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21