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1 Corinthians Chapter 8

Issues relating to food sacrificed to idols

Now, concerning what is sacrificed to idols, [as you say,] “We all have knowledge [that idols are not really gods]”. However, knowledge puffs up [with pride making us feel we are superior], but love builds up [caring more about not wounding someone’s conscience than correcting their viewpoint]If anyone thinks he knows something, he doesn't yet know what he needs to know. But the person who loves God will actually be recognized by God [as his follower]. [So listen and I will explain God’s way of love to those of you that are willing to carefully reason this out.]

Issues relating to food sacrificed to idols

4 Now regarding food sacrificed to idols, [as you say], we know that idols are not real beings in the world, and that there is only one God. And whether or not what people call gods actually exist, and whether they are earthly or heavenly, in fact there are [in effect] many gods and many lords [to which people are bound through their belief]But for us [believers], there is one God, the Father, from whom all things came, and we exist for him, and there is one Lord, Jesus, the Anointed One, through whom all things came, and through whom we exist.

7 But not everyone has yet come to that knowledge [that there is only one God and therefore all other so-called gods are insignificant]. There are some who have eaten food sacrificed to idols in their past [and are used to thinking of the idol as having power]. So when they think of food offered to idols, their conscience is weakened because they have been defiled [by their past idol worship]In truth, what we eat has nothing to do with our standing before God. If we eat something, it makes no difference; if we avoid eating it, it also makes no difference.

But be careful that your own freedom doesn't cause you to offend a believer whose conscience is weak [due to their past history of idol worship]10 So if the former idol worshipper whose conscience is weak sees you, a man respected for his knowledge, eating food offered to idols, won't that encourage him to do what is against his own conscience? 11 Then hasn't your "knowledge" destroyed your brother, one for whom the Anointed One died? 12 In fact when you sin against your brother, the one with the weak conscience, aren't you sinning against the Anointed One himself? 13 My conclusion? - if I know that a particular kind of food might cause a brother to stumble, [meat sacrificed to idols for instance,] then I can totally avoid eating meat, so that I won't be the cause of his stumbling.

1. Does Paul think that idols are actually gods? Does he think believers need to act as though demons have any power (vs 4-6)?

1 Corinthians Chapter 8 discussion questions

Discussion questions

2. How would you compare people’s religious backgrounds in today’s world to the idol worshippers of Paul’s day? In what ways do these backgrounds affect their views? How does Paul say you should treat them (vs 7-15)?

1 Corinthians Chapter 9

1 Corinthians Chapter 9

The right to be paid for preaching the Good News

[Some of you have been asking what authority I have over you, and why should you take me seriously?] Aren't I a free man? [I can speak what I believe regardless of what authority you think I have.] Am I not an apostle [specially sent out by the Lord to proclaim his message, and therefore one given authority by the Lord himself]? Haven't I had the Lord Jesus appear to me [which is one of the marks of apostolic authority]? Aren't you the result of my work in the Lord [since it was my preaching that brought you to following Jesus]If I am not an apostle to others, certainly I must be to you. In fact, you are the seal proving my apostleship in the Lord.

The right to be paid for preaching the Good News

3 [You therefore should consider me an apostle to you, and] my argument for those who are examining me is this. Don't we [Barnabus and I] have the right to [expect financial support so we can] eat and drink? Don't we have the right to be accompanied by a wife who is a sister in the Lord as do the other apostles, and the brothers of the Lord [children of Mary], and Kephas [Peter]Or is it only Barnabus and I who must make our own living?

7 Have you heard of a soldier that pays his own wages? Or someone who plants a vineyard without eating some of the grapes that are produced? Or a man who cares for a flock of sheep but doesn't partake of the milk from the flock? Do you think it is just me, an individual, making these things up or does the Law not say the same things? For it is written in the Law of Moses [Deuteronomy 25:4], “Don't muzzle the ox that treads out the corn [to keep it from eating].” Is God concerned here about oxen? 10 Or doesn't this really apply to us men? Definitely it applies to us. Both the one who plants and the one who harvests should do their work with the hope of receiving a share of the crop!

11 If we [Paul and Barnabas] have planted spiritual seed in you, is it a big deal for us to gain our material needs from you? 12 If others already have the right to participate in your blessings, shouldn't we even more so have that right? Yet, we have never used that right, bearing with whatever we must, rather than holding back in any way your receiving the Good News of the Anointed One. 13 Surely you know that those who minister in the Temple receive their food in the Temple, and those who serve at the altar partake in eating what is sacrificed at the altar. 14 In exactly the same way, the Lord has determined that those who preach the Good News should make their living from the Good News.

15 But, personally, I have not made use of this right [to earn a living from you for my preaching], nor have I written this so that I can change my status. In fact, I would rather die than have anyone take away my basis for boasting [for serving you without compensation]16 Not that I can boast at all about preaching the Good News, for I have a great burden to do that. I would be miserable if I didn't preach! 17 If I did this as a volunteer, then I would deserve to receive pay. But if I do this not from my desire, but because it is a sacred duty given to me, 18 then what is my reward? Just that when I teach the Good News, I do it free of charge, without collecting on my right to make a living from it.

All things to all people to save some

[What can you learn from how I approach servant leadership?] 19 Even though I am free and owe nothing to anyone, I serve everyone so that I can win as many as possible [to the Anointed One]20 For the Jews, I lived as a Jew, so that I could win Jews. Even though I'm free from following the Law [because I follow the higher law of love], I followed the Law anyway, so I could win those who themselves were under the obligation to follow the Law.

All things to all people to save some

21 To those who live outside of following the Law [the non-Jews], I have lived as one not bound by the Law, so that I could win them [to the Anointed One]. It's not that I ignore God's law - I fulfill it by following the Anointed One in all things [and his standards are actually higher than the Law - he says in Matthew 5:28 it's not only our actions but our thoughts which violate the Law]22 To those who are weak [for instance someone who came out of idolatry or addiction], I acted as though I were weak as well [and avoided offending their conscience], so that I could win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all means possible I could win some of them to the Anointed One. 23 And I do all of this for the sake of the Good News, so that I can share in the enjoyment of your receiving it.

24 You know that in the stadium, everyone running the race competes, but not all win the prize. [Once we are saved, Christian life is about completing our assignments, for which we will be rewarded after this life with a crown.] So run to win the prize! 25 Athletes exercise self-control in everything, and they are seeking only a temporary crown. But we are seeking a crown that lasts forever. 26 That's why I don't waste any time when I am running and I don't just beat the air when I'm fighting. 27 I discipline my body and bend it to my will. I don't want to preach to everyone else, and then find that I myself have been disqualified from the competition.

Discussion questions

1. Does Paul have a good case as to why the Corinthians should be willing to financially support him and Barnabas (vs 3-14)?

1 Corinthians Chapter 9 discussion questions

2. What is the benefit of Paul not being dependent on the churches for his living (vs 15-17)?

3. How would you apply Paul’s concept of “becoming all things to all people to win some to Christ” to your own life and ministry?

1 Corinthians Chapter 10

1 Corinthians Chapter 10

Warning from the past to avoid rebellious attitudes

[I watch carefully over my attitudes because I see the dangers. Some of you may think that you are beyond the danger of being disqualified due to sin or wrong attitudes.] I don't want you to be ignorant how our forefathers all were under [the guidance and protection] of the [pillar of] cloud [that led them through the wilderness – Exodus 13:21-22] and all passed through the sea [when God parted the waters – Exodus 14:29][In fact,] they all were baptized into Moses [they became united with him and took on his faith in God] through [following] the cloud and [the path through] the water. And all of them ate the same supernatural food [the manna – Exodus 16:14-15]And they all drank from the same supernatural drink [the water that flowed from the rock when Moses struck it].

Warning from the past to avoid evil

For it was [actually] the rock that was [supernaturally] following them from which they drank, and that rock was the Anointed One. [In two different locations as they traveled, Moses struck the rock and they drank – Exodus 17:6 and Numbers 20:11. They were being taught how to depend on God who was with them in the person of the Anointed One, even though they did not know him yet. God revealed to Paul that the Anointed One has been with us throughout the history of his people.] But [even though they received supernatural provision,] not many of them pleased God [due to their rebellion, as evidenced by] their bodies ending up scattered throughout the wilderness.

6 The stories of our ancestors are warnings to us so that we will not be drawn towards evil things as they were drawn. Don't be worshipers of idols as some of them were, which is the meaning of the scripture [Exodus 32:6], “They sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to have a good time” [in honor of the golden calf idol they had made]And [don't let idol worship draw you into] committing sexually immoral acts as some of them did, and 23,000 fell in one day [Numbers 25:1-9]Nor should we test the Lord [by complaining] as some tested Him and were killed by poisonous snakes [Numbers 21:4-9]. 10 Nor should we grumble against the Lord's plan as some grumbled, and they were destroyed by [the angel of death called] "the destroyer" [Numbers 14].

11 These things that happened in the past are examples that serve as warnings to us who live at the end of the ages. 12 So if you are confident you will be able to stand [against temptation], [still] listen to my warning so you can [truly] avoid falling. 13 The temptations you are experiencing are common to all humanity. But God is faithful [if you will lean on him for help]. He will not allow you to be tested [tempted] beyond your ability, but he provides an escape route, so that you will be able to persevere. 14 But even so, [take the escape route before you are tempted, and] completely avoid the worship of idols [or the pursuit of anything that takes the place of God]15 I am speaking to “wise men”, so think hard about what I am saying.

Find the right attitude

16 [Let's talk about how to approach food and drink offered to idols.] The cup of blessing that we bless [the communion wine or grape juice], isn't it our corporate union with the blood of the Anointed One [and everything that was paid for by the pouring out of his blood on our behalf]? And the bread that we break, isn't it our corporate union with the body of the Anointed One [and everything that was paid for through his body being broken for us]17 The single loaf corresponds to a single unified body - even though we are many, we all have a part of the bread. 18 Now, think about the actual Israel, when they ate what was sacrificed at the altar, weren't they also in a corporate union with the sacrifice [and its purpose – deliverance from sins]?

Find the right attitude

19 I am not saying that the meat offered to an idol has special significance or even that the idol itself is important. 20 What I am saying is that the sacrifice is being offered to demons and not to God, and I don't want you to be in a “corporate union” with demons. 21 It's not OK to drink from the Lord's cup and the cup of demons. You can't share in the Lord's table and the table of demons. [Don’t try to straddle the fence where you think you are in unity with God’s people but you are trying to stay in fellowship with your former way of life at the same time. It doesn’t work that way.] 22 Are we trying to make the Lord jealous? I wouldn't do that unless you think you're stronger than God!

23 [You may say,] “All things are lawful,” [since a Christian is not under the Law][True], but not all things are beneficial. "All things are lawful", but not everything builds up [the body of believers]. 24 Let's not look out only for ourselves but for everyone else as well.

25 So, it’s OK for you to eat meat sold in the marketplace without raising questions of conscience 26 for [, as you say,] “The earth is the Lord's and everything that is in it” [Psalms 24:1]27 If a nonbeliever asks you for dinner, and you want to go, you can eat whatever is put in front of you without a question of conscience. 28 But what if someone tells you, “The meat was offered to an idol.” Don't eat the meat! - for the sake of the person who raised the issue. 29 Even though you have no issue of conscience, they may have an issue of conscience.

[You may say,] “Why should my freedom be limited because of someone else's conscience? 30 If I am thankful for being able to partake of the food, why should I be criticized for enjoying it?” 31 [But I am saying,] whether you are eating or drinking, or whatever you are doing, do it for the glory of God. 32 Avoid offending Jews, or non-Jews, or the church of God. 33 As I said before, I try to please everyone, not seeking my own benefit but the benefit of many, so that they can be saved. 11:1 And you should imitate me, just as I am imitating the Anointed One.

Discussion questions

1. Does the evidence of God’s supernatural gifts and blessing guarantee that a person or a church is following God and approved by him (vs 1-5)?

1 Corinthians Chapter 10 discussion questions

2. What is the relationship between idolatry and sexual sin (vs 6-15)?

3. What is your idolatry? What is your old way of life that you continue to participate in that coexists with your Christian life (vs 16-22)?

4. What examples can you think of where giving reign to your own freedom could be harmful to someone else’s weakness (vs 23-33)?

1 Corinthians Chapter 11

1 Corinthians Chapter 11

The different roles of men and women

[Paul's guidance is to provide both a Biblical and common sense framework for behavior in Christian worship gatherings that would not flout the cultural traditions of the host cultures but at the same time would distinguish it from idolatrous behavior. While it appears that Paul was laying down a very conservative role for Christian women in particular, actually he was trying to protect their newfound equality as Christians. Women could take part in worship, but he didn't want them to appear as brazen as the prostitutes who cut their hair like men as they took part in the ritual worship in the Temple of Artemis.] I commend you that indeed you have remembered me [and what I have told you] in everything [you do] and you have kept the standard practices just as I delivered them to you [about how worship is to be conducted and what customs should be followed]But I want you to know this [because it will guide you so that the Good News will not be discredited]. The Anointed One is the head of [and authority over] the man, the man is the head of [and authority over] the woman, and God [the Father] is the head of [and authority over] the Anointed One. [Everyone is under authority except for Father God, even the Anointed One. This is the structure in the church within which authority works and in which honor is to be shown.]

The different roles of men and women

4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered [with a headdress] dishonors his head. [A headdress or shawl in the culture of the time indicated serving someone else, but a Christian man is under no man's authority but is directly accountable to the Anointed One.] But a woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head [because the covering with a shawl is an indication of both protection and accountability for a woman to either the woman's husband or her father or other relative]For a woman without a head covering might as well have her head shaven [like the temple prostitutes in Corinthian society]. In fact, if she doesn't want a covering, it's just like having her hair cut short, so if she considers that to be shameful, let her remain covered. 

[Women in fact are encouraged to take an equal role to men in prophecy and prayer. Yet, it is also important for men and women to be distinct in appearance, because they have different roles and responsibilities in society, that are rooted in the created order. In Corinthian society, head coverings are symbolic of the different roles of men and women. Men are directly accountable to God and women are under men’s protection and authority.]

7 [Let me give you a Biblical reason to conform to the custom of Corinthian culture.] A man shouldn't cover his head, because he is the image and glory of God. [Man was made to be like God and is actually God's crowning achievement, and in the created order he is accountable to no one else. In fact, wearing a shawl indicates subservience to another man]. But a woman is the glory of a man [the greatest thing a man can have]For man wasn't created from the woman, but woman was created from the man [out of the man's side – Genesis 2:22]. 12 And the man wasn't created for the woman, but the woman was created for the man [to help him and to be his companion – Genesis 2:18]. 10 So the woman ought to wear [a sign of being under] authority on her head. And this is also for the sake of the angels [who are with us especially when we worship, and they care about divine order, especially since in the past they once trespassed that order (see Genesis 6:1-4, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6)].

11 However, in the Lord, men need women as much as women need men. 12 And [speaking of origins], though woman came from the man, so every man comes out of a woman. [Men and women are interdependent, and even though they have different roles, they are equally important.] And all things originated from God [both men and women]. 13 [I've given you my theological viewpoint why it is better to continue with the traditional view in Corinthian culture on how men and women should appear in public,] but judge for yourselves, does it seem appropriate for a woman to pray without her head covered? [Doesn't it seem brazen and embarrassing?] 14 Doesn't nature [your own instinctive reaction] itself teach you that if a man grows his hair long, it is disgraceful [because it makes him like a woman], 15 but a woman's long hair makes her more beautiful, for her hair was given to her as a covering [and so being covered is natural to her].

16 But if anyone still wants to argue about this, [just understand that] we have no [other] standard to back you up, and neither do any of the churches of God. [Policies for public dress and appearance in church should keep obvious distinctions between male and female, and avoid scandalous deviations from local customs, while making sense theologically. Christians might need to appear quite differently in different countries or societies. We are to be all things to all people, so that we might save some of them (1 Corinthians 9:22).]

The purpose and practice of the Lord's Supper

The purpose and practice of the Lord’s Supper

17 As I instruct you in this next subject, [concerning your gathering for the Lord's Supper,] I can't praise you, for your coming together as a church is more of a disadvantage than an advantage [it tears you down more than it builds you up]18 First, I hear that when you meet there are divisions among you, and I believe that partly 19 because it seems there have to be disagreements to make it clear who are the ones among you approved by everyone [because they are builders rather than dividers].

20 When you come together, is that the Lord's Supper you are celebrating [or some pagan feast]21 For you are coming early and eating, but not together, and some of you are going hungry, while others [have had too much and] are even drunk. 22 Don't you have homes where you eat and drink? Do you think so little of the purpose of the assembly [, which is to be one body, having all things in common,] that you bring shame to those in the church who don't have much? What can I say to you? Did you think I would commend you [for your "love" feast]? I can't praise you for this!

23 For what I received from the Lord is [exactly] what I delivered to you, that on the night Jesus was betrayed, he took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, saying, “This is my body, which is [given] for you. Do this to remember me [and everything I have done for you in the sacrifice of my life].” 25 Likewise, he also took the cup after the meal, and said, “This cup is the new testament in my blood. [This is the promise you will receive eternal life, forgiveness of sins, healing, and everything else I have guaranteed to you by my blood which is about to be poured out.] Whenever you drink this, do it to remember me [and remind yourselves of everything that you have received as my heirs].” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are presenting the Lord's death [certificate, as his heirs], until he comes [back]. [The death certificate is required to receive things in his name. So celebrating the Lord's Supper is a very serious matter, full of meaning and power, and not to be taken lightly.]

27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup with a wrong attitude is guilty of [sinning against] the Lord's body and blood. 28 Let a man test his own heart and only then eat the bread and drink the cup. 29 You actually eat and drink judgment on yourself if you eat and drink without recognizing the body. [“Recognizing the body” means 1) understanding that Jesus died, 2) that his death removed both my sins and my sicknesses, 3) that his death reconciled all believers and made us one body in him, and 4) we have a responsibility to treat the body of believers as something precious.] 30 That is why many of you are sick and weak and some have even died. [We don't gain the strength we would obtain from receiving the Lord's death and all its benefits, and we are weakened by the effects of God's judgment for our wrong attitude.]

31 If we would judge ourselves [with regard to our attitude concerning the Lord's Supper], we would not be judged [by God]32 But even if we are judged by the Lord, we [are glad to] receive his discipline [, even weakness or death,] instead of the condemnation the world will receive [, which is everlasting separation from God].

33 In conclusion, my fellow believers, when you came together to eat, wait for one another. 34 If you are [really] hungry, then eat at home [before you come], so that your coming together won't bring you condemnation [because of your lack of regard for one another]. As for the rest of your concerns, I will set them in order when I come.

Discussion questions

1 Corinthians Chapter 11 discussion questions

1. Why do you suppose it is important for men and women to be distinguished from one another in terms of clothing and hairstyle (vs 1-16)?

2. Concerning clothing and hairstyles, what if anything would seem improper for men and women in church within our own society?

3. When Paul is talking about “recognizing the body” in v 29, is he talking more about the other believers or Jesus’ body (vs 17-34).

4. Paul talks about the lack of caring towards others in the Corinthians’ love feast at the time of the Lord’s Supper. In what ways is your own church insensitive about differences of means and abilities between different believers?

1 Corinthians Chapter 12

1 Corinthians Chapter 12

The purpose and working of spiritual giftings

Now, I especially don't want you to lack understanding concerning the things of the Spirit [because these things are an important part of how God designed believers to work as one body, which is the very mystery I am describing in this letter]Before you were believers, you were worshippers of idols which themselves couldn't speak, but someone led you astray [by influencing you to believe in them][Well, this is how you can be sure never to be led astray again.] No one can be under the influence of the Spirit of God and say, "Jesus is cursed," nor can anyone say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit. [People may claim to be in the Spirit but you can tell what kind of spirit is in them by whether they follow Jesus as Lord.]

The purpose and working of spiritual giftings

[Even though there may be a variety of spirits behind the different idols that used to ensnare you, it's not the same with true spiritual giftings.] There are a variety of giftings, but the same Spirit, and a variety of ministries, but the same Lord, and a variety of operations, but the same God that energizes all [of the gifts, ministries, and operations] in everyone.

7 In fact, to each person is given an expression of the Spirit for the benefit of all. One person is given a word of wisdom [an inspired insight], and to another a word of knowledge [a revelation of hidden information] by the same Spirit. To another, faith [the knowledge God will accomplish what is intended], by the same Spirit. To another, gifts of healing [the abilities to cure people from various physical problems], by the same Spirit. 10 To another, workings of miracles [the ability to bring about a seemingly impossible change in the physical reality]. To another, prophecy [revelation of present or future truth]. To another, distinguishing of spirits [the ability to recognize what kind of spirits are present - the Holy Spirit, or different kinds of evil spirits]. To another, kinds of tongues [the ability to praise or speak prophetically in spirit-given languages]. To another, the interpretation of tongues [the ability to speak the meaning of what was spoken in a spirit-given language]11 But these all are energized by the same Spirit, who distributes them to each person as the Spirit intends.

12 For just as the body being a single unit is made up of many parts and all the parts of that body, no matter how many, still make up only one body, it's exactly the same with the [church, which is the body of the] Anointed One. 13 For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we are Jews or Greeks, slaves or free, and we have all been given to drink of the same Spirit [Ephesians 4:4-5].

14 [And each part is important. In fact, just as the human body,] the [church] body hasn't only one part, but many. 15 For instance, if the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I'm not part of the body,” is it really not part of the body? 16 And if the ear says, “I am not an eye, therefore I'm not part of the body,” is it really not part of the body? 17 For if the whole body were an eye, how would it hear, or if it were all an ear, how would it smell?

18 For God has placed every part of the body into the whole exactly as he intended. 19 And if they were all of one type, how would the body function?  20 But there are many different parts, yet still one body. 21 And the eye can't say to the hand, “I don't need you.” Nor can the head say to the feet, “I don't need you.”

22 [To take the metaphor a little deeper,] the parts of the body that seem weakest [like the brain and heart] are actually the most needed. 23 And those parts that are least respectable, we honor [by clothing them] with more respect. And those parts that are least presentable, we [clothe them the most to] make them presentable, 24 for the presentable parts don't need clothing. God has made the body [of the Anointed One] fit together also so the least presentable parts receive the most respect, that there would be no division in the body. 25 The parts [members of the church] need to show the same care [and protection] for each other [as the parts of our body]. 26 If one part [member] suffers, all sympathize, and if one part [member] is honored, all rejoice. [Therefore, we should look out for each other in the church, covering each other’s weaknesses, honoring each other’s' successes, just as we do in clothing the parts of our body.]

27 Now, you [together] are the body of the Anointed One, and each of you individually are members. 28 Among you God has set in place - first [in order of impact] apostles, second prophets, third teachers. Then [workers of] miracles, then [those with] gifts of healings, [ministers of] service, administrators, [speakers and interpreters of] various languages. 29 [But] not everyone is an apostle. Not everyone is a prophet. Not everyone is a teacher. Not all are miracle workers. 30 Not everyone has gifts of healings. Not everyone speaks a variety of [spirit-inspired] languages. Not everyone can interpret [spirit-inspired] languages. 31 But greatly desire the most important gifts. And I will show even a better way [to govern your use of the gifts God has given].

Discussion questions

1. Have you ever met someone who appeared to understand spiritual truth but definitely didn’t follow Jesus as Lord of their life (vs 1-3)?

1 Corinthians Chapter 12 discussion questions

2. Why is it so important that all the giftings, ministries, and workings are parts of one body and influenced by one Spirit? What was Paul seeing about how the Corinthians were using their gifts that seemed as though they didn’t understand this (vs 1-26)?

3. Is it important that all the giftings be in operation within the body of believers? Is it possible to receive a gifting that you don’t have? (vs 27-31)

1 Corinthians Chapter 13

1 Corinthians Chapter 13

The way of love

If I am able to speak the languages both of men and of angels [some of the languages we speak through the Spirit are recognizable languages and some are perhaps recognizable only by angels], and I don't have love, I have just become an echoing gong or a clanging cymbal [I am only making noise]If I have prophecy and see all that is hidden and have all knowledge, or if I have the faith that can move mountains, and I don't have love, I am nothing. And if I sell all my possessions to feed the poor or sacrifice my own body to be burned, and I don't have love, it gains nothing. [It is love that motivates spiritual gifts to be used for the God’s purposes and to build up the body. Without love, even a very great gift is likely to do more harm than good.]

The way of love

4 Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy, nor does it boast or think highly of itself. Nor does it behave improperly, or is it self-centered, nor easily angered, nor does it think negatively. Love isn't glad when someone makes a mistake but rejoices when the truth is upheld. Love suffers all things, believes all things, hopes all things, perseveres through all things.

8 Love never lets you down. There will be times when prophecies do let you down, when [Spirit-given] languages will be hushed [because they can’t solve the problem], and when knowledge will be insufficient. For our knowledge is partial, and our prophecy [insight into future destiny] is partial. 10 But when that which is complete comes, what is partial is irrelevant. [When the Anointed One comes, the one whose love never lets us down, we will have every answer, and nothing will be lacking - we will no longer care about our supernatural gifts that only give us a down payment of what we will have then.]

11 [It's just like] when I was a child - I spoke like a child, thought like a child, reasoned like a child. But when I became a man, I put away immature things. 12 For I now see as though looking at a dim reflection, but then I shall see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know [Him] just as well as I am known [by Him][Spiritual giftings as we experience them today are small potatoes compared to the full operation of what Jesus wants to bring to us.] 13 There are only three things that last - faith, hope, and love. [Faith, hope, and love are important now and will be just as important in the age to come.] But the greatest of these is love. [As important as faith and hope are, love is the most effective force on earth.]

Discussion questions

1. Why is love more important than giftings (vs 1-8)?

1 Corinthians Chapter 13 discussion questions

2. What do you think Paul means that faith, hope, and love last (v 13)?

1 Corinthians Chapter 14

1 Corinthians Chapter 14

The superiority of prophecy over spirit-given languages for public worship

Make love your [chief] aim and [, at the same time,] desire [all] the spiritual [giftings], especially prophecy. [Why prophecy rather than spirit given languages that seem more supernatural?] For he that speaks in a [spirit-given] language is not speaking to man but to God. For no man understands him, even though in the Spirit he is speaking mysteries [that express spiritual truths]But one who prophesies, speaks to men in a way that builds up, encourages, and comforts. The person who speaks a [spirit-given] language builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 

The superiority of prophecy over spirit-given languages for public worship

I want you all to speak in [spirit-given] languages, but even more I want you to prophesy. For the person that prophesies is greater [in his impact] than the one who speaks in [spirit-given] languages, unless he can also interpret the languages, for then the church [understands and] can be built up [from what he says]. [Some people receive inspiration to speak forth truth in a spirit-given language, and then give the meaning of what was spoken through them. This combination amounts to prophecy and is helpful to the church.] So brothers, [to sum up this point,] if I come to you speaking in a [spirit-given] language, how will it benefit you unless I also reveal hidden truth, share insight, prophesy destiny, or teach doctrine?

7 Even inanimate objects, such as a flute or harp, must make a sequence of distinguishable sounds, or how can you tell what tune is piped or strummed? And if the trumpet doesn't make a clear sound, who will prepare for battle? So when you speak in a [spirit-given] language, unless it is easy to understand, how will anyone recognize what you are saying. You might as well speak to the air.

10 There are without a doubt a great many different ways of expressing yourself [in different languages] in the world, and they all express something. 11 But if I don't know the meaning of what is expressed, then I am in essence a foreigner to the one who spoke, and he is a foreigner to me. 12 Therefore, since you are so desirous of having spiritual gifts, make sure you excel in those that effectively build up the church. 13 So he that speaks in a [spirit-given] language must also pray that he may be able to interpret it [so that those who hear will understand and be built up].

14 In fact, when you pray in a [spirit-given] language, it is your spirit that is praying but your understanding is not involved. 15 What then is the answer? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing with my spirit but also with my understanding. 16 Or else when you are giving thanks to God [in a Spirit-given language], how will someone new to the place know to agree and say, “Amen!” to your thanksgiving, since he does not understand what you have said. 17 For you have given thanks effectively enough, but the other one is not built up by it.

18 I thank God [by] speaking in [spirit-given] languages more than all of you. 19 However, in church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, and so teach others, than speak ten thousand words in a [spirit-given] language [no one understands].

20 Brothers, don't be children in your reasoning. It's good to be like children with regard to evil, but in your reasoning be grown up. 21 It is written in the Law [Isaiah 28:11], “With strange languages and through strangers' lips I will speak to this people, but even with that, they will not understand me,” says the Lord. [Because Israel never grew up, they didn't listen to God's prophets, with the inevitable result that they were invaded.  Hearing the foreign language of the invaders was a sign of judgment to them, but for unbelievers who are not stiff-necked like the Jews they may hear a language they understand and be built up as on the Day of Pentecost.]

22 [Spirit-given] languages, then, aren't a sign [- a revelation of God's reality and presence -] for believers but rather [they are more effective] for unbelievers [who may hear a word in a language they understand], but prophecy is [a sign] not for unbelievers, but for believers [who will be built up by what they hear]23 [Yet just the opposite can also be true depending on how wisely we arrange our worship.] If everyone is gathered together in one place and all are speaking in [different] languages [at the same time], and visitors or unbelievers come in, [they won't understand a word] and they will say you are out of your minds. 24 But if everyone is prophesying [in turn] and visitors or unbelievers come in, each thing they hear will convict them or touch their conscience. 25 The secrets of their hearts will be revealed, and they will fall on their faces before God, saying, “God is truly among you.”

The ideal order for a public gathering

26 [How we arrange our worship will determine whether people are built up or not.] Let me describe to you how it should work when you come together. Each one of you may have a Psalm, or a teaching, a revelation, a [word in a spirit-given] language, an interpretation. Let it all be done in a way that builds each other up. 27 If any speak in a [spirit-given] language, let it be only two, or at most three [in a row], each in turn, before someone interprets [sharing what has been said in spirit-given languages]28 But if there is no one [with the gift of the Spirit] to interpret [a Spirit-given language], let him [who speaks in Spirit-given languages] be quiet in the gathering, and rather speak in his language only to himself and to God.

The ideal order for a public gathering

29 Let two or three prophets [those speaking a Spirit-given word or instruction] speak while the others weigh what is said. 30 If one of those sitting gets a revelation, let the first one stop speaking [and the second one share next]31 That way, each of you in turn can prophesy so that you all learn and all be encouraged. 32 For the exercise of the spiritual gift of prophecy is under the control of those who prophesy. For it’s not confusion but peace that comes from God.

In all the gatherings of believers, 34 the women should refrain from speaking out, just as in public assemblies of the believers. For under [Corinth’s public] law it's not permitted for them to speak - they are to remain submissive. 35 If they have questions [because they can't follow what's going on], they should ask their husbands or fathers at home, for it's shameful for women to be disruptive in any gathering. [Again Paul is seeking for Christian assemblies to be acceptable in Corinthian society, which required wives to be in submission to husbands. Women were used to asking questions and expressing their opinions, which was considered inappropriate in public assemblies. However, women were allowed to prophesy and contribute to public worship as long as they dressed and acted under the authority of their husband or father.]

36 What[, are you thinking that there should be more freedom in our churches]? No one should believe that a word of God came from them or is for them alone. 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or has a spiritual gift, let them understand that what I have written you [concerning order in the church assembly] is instruction from God. 38 If they don't want to recognize this, let them not be recognized [allowed to speak in church].

39 In conclusion, [I want you to] enthusiastically pursue prophecy and don't restrict [speaking in Spirit-inspired] languages, 40 but do things courteously and in order.

Discussion questions

1. Why do you think speaking publicly in tongues was more attractive than prophesying to the Corinthian church, to the point where Paul had to talk about the greater value of prophecy (vs 1-25)?

1 Corinthians 14 discussion questions

2. Is Paul concerned about private tongue-speaking? What is the value of speaking in tongues? (vs 4, 13, 39)

3. What is Paul’s goal for the order of public worship (vs 26-38)?

4. What is Paul concerned about when he says “women should speak out” (vs 34-35)? Is he actually wanting women not to participate in the exercise of worship or spiritual gifts (1 Cor 11:5)?

1 Corinthians Chapter 15

1 Corinthians Chapter 15

Our common set of beliefs

Now, I want to bring your attention to the facts of the Good News I already preached to you, and which you received [as true], and in which you are now standing. And you were also saved [, healed, and set free] by this doctrine if you have been holding to it, or else your belief was to no purpose.

Our common set of beliefs

3 The most important thing I brought to you which I received [from God] was that the Anointed One [Jesus] died [to pay] for our sins [Isaiah 53:5, 11-12], fulfilling [what was written] in the scriptures, and that he was buried [Isaiah 53:9] and rose again the third day [Psalms 16:9-10], [also] fulfilling the [prophecies contained in the] scriptures. Following that, he was seen by Kephas [Peter] [after Jesus was resurrected] and then by the twelve [disciples, though this did not include Judas who had killed himself by then]After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at the same time, many of them still alive now, though some are sleeping [no longer living]He was seen by James [his brother] and the rest of the apostles [in fact they are called apostles because they have been sent out as witnesses of his resurrection]Finally, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me [Acts 9:1-6].

9 However, I rank lowest among the apostles - really some might exclude me from being an apostle - because I persecuted God's church. 10 But it's through the unearned gifting of God that I am what I am, and that gifting has been put to good use, since I have been able to work harder than all the others [apostles], but really, it's not me - because by his God’s divine gift, I never get tired. 11 Even so, whether it was me or someone else, we preached the same thing [basic doctrines of the Good News about Jesus], and you believed.

The truth of the resurrection from the dead

[Apparently, some of those among the believers, even though Jesus was the center of their faith, had concluded the Apostles were mistaken about Jesus rising from the dead in bodily form. For them, believing in the resurrection was too hard to swallow.] 12 Now, if we have been preaching that the Anointed One was raised from the dead, how can some of you be saying that there is no resurrection from the dead? [If you believed in the Anointed One, what was it you believed, if not that he was raised from the dead?] 13 But if [you are right that] there is no resurrection from the dead, then it can't be true that the Anointed One has risen. 14 And if the Anointed One has not risen, then all of what we have been preaching is of no use, and your faith is useless too. 

The truth of the resurrection from the dead

15 And, furthermore, we have given a false testimony, for we have testified that God raised the Anointed One, which he couldn't have done if the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead aren't raised, then the Anointed One didn't raise either. 17 And if the Anointed One didn't raise, your faith is misplaced, and you are in fact still responsible for your sins. 18 Then also those who died in the Anointed One are totally lost. 19 And if our hope in the Anointed One is only for this life, then we are the most miserable people in the world. [Mortality was part of the penalty when Adam and Eve sinned. Jesus' resurrection is the proof that he removed all the penalties for sin for those who believe. If you don't believe in the resurrection then you don't believe in salvation either.]

20 But, in fact, the Anointed One has been raised from the dead, the first fruit [harvest offering to God (Deuteronomy 26:10)] of all who have died [as believers]21 For by a man came death, so by [another] man came resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die [the curse resulting from Adam's sin was that all men would have a limited lifespan], so in the Anointed One all are made alive [unbelievers will resurrect to judgment and believers to reward], 23 but each at their assigned time, the Anointed One, who is the first fruit [the first to be resurrected], and then those who belong to him [by their confession of faith] at his return [1 Thessalonians 4:13-17].

24 Right after that will be the final action [of this age on earth], where the Lord will turn over his kingdom to God the Father. First, he [the Father] will overcome every ruler, authority, and power [on the earth and in the spirit realm], 25 for he [Jesus] must rule until he [the Father] has put every enemy under his feet. 26 And the last enemy to be destroyed is Death [once all are resurrected]27 For it is the Father who puts everything under our Lord's feet, since when the scripture [Psalms 110:1] says, “Everything will be put under his feet,” obviously “everything” does not include [Father God,] the one who [has the power to] put things under our Lord's feet. 28 When all things have become submitted to the Son, the Son himself will submit all things to God [the Father], so that God [the Father] can be over all.

29 [Now, back to the discussion about resurrection.] What about those who are baptized for the dead [on behalf of believers who were martyred and died before they were baptized]. If the dead are not raised, why would people be baptized for them? [Paul is not recommending we follow this practice, only that it was done because of people's confidence in the truth of both Jesus' resurrection and each believer's future resurrection.] 30 And why do we [Paul and his team] expose ourselves to danger every hour? 31 I declare in the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One - and you can rejoice in this - that I face death every day [trusting in the future of every believer that we will live forever in our resurrected bodies]32 What do you suppose I gained from fighting with the [human version of] wild beasts at Ephesus, if the dead are not raised? [We might as well say,] “Let's eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” [Isaiah 22:13]

33 Don't be deceived - good intentions are corrupted by [listening to such] evil talk.  34 Arouse yourselves out of sin into righteousness. Some of you don't even know God [the ones who are talking nonsense about there being no resurrection], I have to tell you to your shame.

Differences between the earthly body and resurrection body

Differences between the earthly body and resurrection body

35 But some will say, “How will the dead be raised?,” and “What kind of body will they have?”[, wondering why anyone would want to have their old, sick, dead body raised up]36 But that's foolish! Anything sown into the ground has to die first before new life springs up. 37 But what you sow is not the same as the body that will grow from it. It’s a simple seed, whether it's wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it the body he has chosen, and each seed gets its own body. [The body of a seed and the body that grows from it are quite different in appearance.]

39 Likewise not all flesh is the same flesh. Humans have one kind, animals another kind, birds another, and fish another. 40 Also, there are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, and there is one kind of glory for the heavenly and a different kind of glory for the earthly - 41 one kind of glory for the sun, another glory for the moon, and another for the stars - in fact, each star differs from other stars in its glory.

42 It's the same way with the resurrection from the dead. 43 What is sown mortal [subject both to decay and death], is raised up immortal [subject neither to decay nor death]. It is sown contemptible but raised into glory. It is sown weak but is raised into power. 44 It is sown a natural body but is raised a spiritual body. [The final state of every believer will be everything we are not on the earth.]

45 [In case you didn't realize it,] there is a natural body and there is [also] a spiritual body [, and they are far different]. So it is written [Genesis 2:7], “The first man, Adam, was made a living being.” The last Adam [Jesus] became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual, which is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual [follows]47 The first man was made from the earth, the second man from heaven.

48 The man made from the earth has the characteristics of the earth, but the man from heaven has the characteristics of heaven. 49 And as we [who are currently of the earth] bear the image of the earthly man, we will [when we are resurrected] bear the image of the heavenly man. 50 Now, I tell you, brothers, flesh and blood can't inherit the kingdom of God. Likewise, what is mortal cannot inherit what is immortal. [That's why we need a resurrected, immortal body.]

51 Look! Let me let you in on a secret! Not all of us will fall asleep [die], but every one of us will be changed 52 in an instant, in an eye-blink, at the final trumpet blast. For at the trumpet, the dead [who know Jesus] will all be raised imperishable [transformed into their resurrection bodies], and we [who follow Jesus and have not died] will be changed [transformed into our resurrection bodies]. 53 The perishable must put on the imperishable, and the mortal the immortal.

54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable and the mortal puts on the immortal, that's when the saying [from scripture] is fulfilled, “Death is swallowed up in [God's] victory.” [Isaiah 25:8] 55 “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” [Hosea 13:14] [Until now death was the end of every person's life, but now death itself has ended.] 56 But the sting of death is sin [for unrepented sin separated us from God as we entered into eternity], and the power of sin is the Law [for in any way that we didn't keep the Law we were in sin]57 But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus the Anointed One [who became a curse to remove the curse of not being able to follow the Law and who overcame both sin and death for all of us who believe].

58 Therefore, my brothers, whom I love, stand firm, unmovable. Be overflowing with the Lord's work, especially since you know that your labor is not in vain because you are in the Lord [and your eternal future is assured].

Discussion questions

1 Corinthians Chapter 15 discussion question

1. Why was it so important that there were many witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection (vs 1-11)?

2. Jesus’ death on the cross took away our sins, but why then is the resurrection of Jesus so important (vs 12-34)?

3. What are some of the ways our resurrected bodies will be different from our earthly bodies (vs 35-57)?

1 Corinthians Chapter 16

1 Corinthians Chapter 16

Receiving an offering for the believers in Jerusalem

Now concerning your collection for the believers [in Jerusalem], do the same as I have instructed the churches of Galatia. On the first day of every week [Sunday], every one of you is to set aside savings according to the prosperity God has given you, so that you won't wait until I am there with you to take up a collection. And after I come, I will send whomever you approve with a letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. And if it makes sense for me to go, they can go with me.

Receiving an offering for the believers in Jerusalem

Paul’s plans for his next visit

I will be coming to you after I pass through Macedonia, for I must pass through Macedonia [at some point, because I have churches to visit there, such as Philippi]And it may be that I will stay with you awhile through the winter, and then you can help me on my way wherever I go next [either Jerusalem or another destination]For rather than a quick visit now I would rather spend some time with you, if the Lord allows. But for now I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a door has been opened wide for effective work, even though there are many who oppose it.

Paul’s plans for his next visit

10 Now, if Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear from you [treat him with respect], for he is doing the work of the Lord just as I am. 11 Let no one look down on him [because of his youth]. [After his time with you,] send him on his way in peace [help him have no financial worries] so that he may come to me, for I am expecting him with the other brothers [accompanying him]12 Concerning brother Apollos, I have often urged him to come visit you with the brothers but he didn't choose to at this time but will come when he can.

13 Make sure you stand in faith.  Be men - be strong!  14 Do everything with love.

Greetings from various friends and fellow workers

15 I ask of you, brothers, knowing that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia [Greece], and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of believers, 16 that you submit yourselves to people like them and to those who, along with them help with the work [of the Good News]17 I am grateful for the arrival of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, for they have supplied anything that was still lacking after what you provided [for meeting my needs]18 For they have refreshed both my spirit and yours. Give recognition to such men. [Treat them as leaders, worthy of respect.]

Greetings from various friends and fellow workers

19 The churches of Asia [the western part of modern Turkey – see Revelation 1:4,11] send their greetings. Aquila and Priscilla and the assembly that meets in their house all send their greetings. 20 All the brothers greet you. Greet each other with a holy kiss. 21 And here is my greeting in my own hand. PAUL.

22 Anyone who does not love the Lord, let them receive the curse [that's due them at the end of this life if they reject the one that gave his life for them]. Come, Lord [return and bring justice]23 The favor of the Lord Jesus the Anointed One be with you! 24 My love to you all in the Anointed One, Jesus!

Discussion questions

1. What is the relationship between the weekly offering in your church and what Paul instituted (vs 1-4)?

1 Corinthians Chapter 16 discussion questions

2. What was the importance of Paul sending others like Timothy to represent him from time to time? How should a church treat these apostolic representatives (vs 5-16)?

3. What do you think is the purpose of the sentence near the end of the letter about people “receiving the curse” (v 22)?

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