1 Corinthians 1-2, pt.1

This Tuesday we are beginning our summer study of First Corinthians. The format is simply for us to read through the text and discuss it within our gathering. I would encourage you to use a study Bible or a bible commentary as part of your reading. I am using N.T. Wright’s Paul for Everyone and William Barclay’s The Letters to the Corinthians. Amazon lists 48,000 results for “1 Corinthians” if you want to use something different.  Because there is no outside reading required, the summer is an easy opportunity to invite someone new to join us.

As part of our study this summer, we will look at different ways of reading the Bible. One way is to look at the context of the passage. In 1 Corinthians, we are reading someone else’s mail. Unlike the Gospels which were written for the whole church so that we would have an orderly account of what occurred (Luke 1:1-4) or so that we too may believe (John 20:30-31), in 1 Corinthians, Paul isn’t writing to us, but to a very specific church with very specific problems. Within this letter, we are listening to one side of a conversation between two intimate parties.  Therefore, as we read through this letter, we need to be constantly aware of the context and purpose of the document. Also, please remember, that Paul did not write using chapters, verses, paragraphs, or even punctuation. So try to read this letter without allowing the verse or chapter numberings to break up a complete thought.

The city of Corinth was the Las Vegas of the Roman Empire.  The Greek word korinthianzesthai (to live like a Corinthian) meant to live with drunken and immoral debauchery.  Corinth was located on a four-mile wide isthmus that bisects Greece. Therefore most trade in the northern Mediterranean between the Aegean and Adriatic Seas passed through the city, making it very wealthy and catering to the needs of sailors and merchants.  Corinth was also home to the Temple of Aphrodite (the Greek goddess of love) which employed 1,000 prostitutes in service to the goddess.  It is within this context that Christ, through Paul, called out the local Christian congregation in the city. Acts 18.  Soon after its founding, this congregation became overcome by division. These divisions revolved around congregational leadership, spirituality, theology, socio-economic class, and sex. So although Paul is writing to a specific congregation, the problems he encounters are still around today.  

For this week, please read 1 Corinthians 1-2.  Dinner is at 6. The menu is chicken mole. Discussion should begin around 6:45. And we will conclude with Compline.

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Corinthians 1:10

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