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In my last post,  as we finished Chapter One of First  Corinthians, we learned that the Greeks used logic and the Jews used their understanding of the law  to understand everything. We learned that, because of their limited thinking, they did not understand God’s plan of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Today, in chapter two, we will discover how the Corinthians, and consequently, how we can develop wisdom of his powerful grace and love.

In the first few verses of this chapter (2:1-5) Paul refuses to take credit for the insights into God’s word that he gave them. He said that he was weak and fearful. I can imagine how he felt. I know that anytime I stand in front of an audience, my mouth gets dry, my hands shaky and sweaty. and i am afraid that I will make a serious mistake. But Paul did not depend on his own abilities.

Paul knew that he wasn’t the eloquent speaker. He depended on the Holy Spirit to guide him in all wisdom. Because he chose to follow the Holy Spirit, his  contribution to our understanding of God’s plan for humankind is outstanding. He wrote much of what became the New Testament. I believe this is in a large part, as he says in verse 2:2,  because he decided that he would put his focus on Jesus Christ and him crucified. I believe that if we also learn the power of Jesus and his crucifixion, our lives would be revolutionized as well.

In verses 6-9, Paul humbled himself to the wisdom of God. The wisdom of God is the gospel of Jesus Christ. None of the rulers of this world system recognized this revelation. If they would have known, they would not have had him crucified. The prophets, nor the angels understood, but God made clear the mystery of the gospel through the apostles. God gives his wisdom to those who love him.

We discover in the remainder of the chapter that we can only understand God through his spirit. Our puny little minds cannot possibly compare to God’s wisdom.

The closest comparison I can give concerning this is by comparing the processing capabilities of our personal computers with the the knowledge of the internet. Our home computers have memory and they are truly amazing at what they can do, but compared to the internet, our computers are very limited. When we plug into the internet, we have access to so much more. .

Think about how foolish God must see us when we try to rationalize and explain away God. That’s why our minds are not sufficient to understand God. We need his spirit guiding us and revealing his truth in our lives. Just as our computers are inferior to the internet in supplying us with knowledge, so is our minds are inferior to what God’s spirit has to offer us. By having God’s spirit, we gain the mind of Christ.


So far in our study of First Corinthians we have examined Paul–the author, we have looked at the church, and the city where the church was located. Today I would like to look at the rest of Paul’s introduction and discover what we can about how to look at others in the church with whom we may not agree.

In today’s study, we are going to examine I Corinthians 1:2 a little more closely, because there is an important jewel to be discovered here:

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.

I want to point out that the words  in my Bible “to be” are italicized. Whenever I see words in my Bible italicized, I know that those words were not in the original language (in this case Greek), but were added by the translator to help clarify the words meaning. However, in this case the words “to be” change the meaning of the passage. The phrase originally read:

” to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus called Saints“.

In other words, those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus are already called Saints. In order more completely understand what this verse means, we need to learn what a couple of words actually mean.

What does Sanctified mean?

The word sanctified here is haglozo (Strong’s 37) means to mentally purify, or to go through the process of making your mind holy. It is a process that you do in your mind. It is different than the spiritual change that occurs at salvation. Your spirit becomes a new creature at salvation (II Corinthians 5:17), but your mind is under a constant renewal process. (Romans 12:2).

Who are the Saints?

This Biblical term is not referring to the canonization of people by the Roman Catholic church. The word “saints” here (and all of the New Testament) in the Greek is hagios (Strong’s 40) which means consecrated thing, one who is held blameless. If you are a born again believer, you are called saint because if you remember from earlier lessons, your righteousness doesn’t come from your own merits. The righteousness that covers you comes from what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross. You are held blameless for your sins because of what he did for you.

Both of these Greek words haglozo and hagios come from the same Greek root hagos. As I pointed out, Haglozo refers to the fact that every day there is a renewal in our minds that should go on every day. Hagios is different in that we are made blameless through making Jesus Lord of our lives.

Paul still called them Saints because they called upon the name (authority) of Jesus Christ.

Let’s go on to Verse 3:

3) Grace be upon you, and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ,

Paul gave the church at Corinth a blessing in his greeting. He offered them grace and peace. Paul gave this blessing in all of his letters except for his letters to Timothy and Titus. He did not agree with everything they were doing, but he always blessed them anyway.

Perhaps we too need to learn to bless those in the church who we don’t always see eye to eye with or even those we believe are in error. We need to learn to pray grace and peace over them every time we think about them. When we pray grace and peace over other people, we are rewarded with the same thing. If we want more grace and more peace, we need to begin praying the same for others, especially those with whom we do not agree.

If this has blessed you or if you have any questions or comments about this post, please comment below. If you have any questions about any matter regarding salvation or growing in Christ, please contact me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com. I would love to help.


So far, In our study of First Corinthians we have learned that Paul wrote the book. We studied that the word church meant “to be called”, and we discovered that those who were “called”, also had to choose to accept the invitation. We also learned that we had to accept the provision of righteousness that only Jesus Christ can give us, Today, we will learn about Corinth,  the city to him this book (actually a letter) was addressed in this book. We will also learn how this city is a mirror of our society today.

Corinth had originally been part of the Greek empire before the Romans’ conquered the region in 146 BC. The Romans under Julius Caesar rebuilt it in 44 BC. When Paul wrote this first letter to the church at Corinth, the city had again become a cosmopolitan city of wealth and trade.  First century Corinth was an environment of varying social classes, numerous and varied spiritual influences and with a culture shaped primarily by both Greek and Roman historical influences.  Situated in a key geographical location that supported prosperity, Corinth developed a wealthy economy but a significant divide between rich and poor, resulting in a social elitism. It had a varied polytheistic approach to religion, but also supported a Jewish population and the emerging Christian movement. All of these factors contribute interpretation of First Corinthians, but understanding Corinth can also help us in understanding what we need to do as the church in today’s society.

Culture

By the time, Paul wrote this letter, the city supported diverse cultural influences. As a Roman colony, Rome’s influence upon culture, economy, and religion were in evidence, but the re-habitation of the city under Julius has included Italians and “dispossessed Greeks”, then later Hellenistic Jews. This multicultural society became a virtual melting pot. We can say the same for our culture. As our society becomes more globally influenced, our culture becomes a melting pot of cultures where cultural tolerance rules.

Economy

Economically Corinth’s society ranged from wealthy elite down to the lowest social classes. The city sponsored the Isthmian Games that brought revenue into the city.  Merchants and traders supported other occupations in the city. Not all inhabitants of the city lived well. The socially disadvantaged and slave class, prostitutes, and a criminal element also lived there. Diseases amongst the population caused a high turnover of staff which warranted employment opportunity to newcomers. Our world culture also has the extremely rich, and the extremely poor.  In extremely poor countries around the world, 25  thousand die of starvation every day, whereas  in the United States, approximately 40% of food is thrown away because food’s overabundance.

Spirituality

Corinth was one of the most religious diverse cities of the Roman Empire. Roman Gods, Greek Gods, gods of new religious, philosophers, and  Jewish Rabbis developed a religious society that sported a “just in case” spiritualism. Corinth was also known as the cultural center for the fertility goddess Aphrodite. Her temple in Corinth was rumored to be home to a thousand prostitutes. Some may have participated in church activities. This cult is said to have contributed to Corinth’s reputation  for licentiousness.  As we look at these religious issues, we get a better understanding about what Paul was up against. He certainly had serious issues to confront when we consider all the religious practices, associated with a plethora of pagan religious entities, including eating foods dedicated to other religious gods. In our culture religious ideologies also abound.

According to David Barrett of the “World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions – AD 30 to 2200,” there are 19 major world religions which are subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups, and many smaller ones.”

Paganism is probably the fastest growing religion in the west, paganism, and it is becoming a widespread cultural phenomenon. Anchored in ancient culture, paganism is the result of many different anti-establishment ideologies uniting and providing a pliable, culturally rich spiritual system seemingly suited to life in the modern, western world.

Whether Isis or Ma’at to Kemetic practitioners, Freyja to the Asatru, the Lady to Wiccans, or Artemis, Athena, or Hecate to Hellenic Reconstructionists, some aspect of the feminine Divine has become central to most if not all neo-pagan religions. Though individual practitioners may not choose to follow or honor a particular goddess, especially those who follow a henotheistic path, the religion that they identify with is still loyal to certain images of feminine divinity. The same goddess centered system is thriving in our current society.

The Church

As recorded in Acts 18, Paul brought Christianity to Corinth. He propagated the good news that Jesus Christ was Lord while Paul worked as a tent maker. Paul exploited the opportunity influence the spiritually insatiable hunger of the citizens of Corinth. He became socially imbedded into the culture. At this time the Church of Corinth was just a small seed beginning to sprout.

Today the churches of the world are divided on a number of fronts. Barrett states that 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world. “Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with the big denominations.

Just as the Church at Corinth squabbled over social issues, the church of today does the same. Even those sitting next to you in church on the same pews may not have the same social ideology as you do. The church is divided along the lines of  women in ministry, capital punishment, the homeless and refugees, abortion, nuclear deterrence, medical technology, public education, homosexuality just to name a few. Some groups believe that congregations should be homogenous. In other words, they believe that everyone should be alike. They believe that churches should be divided by social class, by culture, or by whatever societal denomination you choose. (Personally, I think that if we did that, we’d each eventually find ourselves sitting alone), but as we read I Corinthians, we will discover that Paul had a different idea about how the church in a culturally diverse place like Corinth should conduct service.

As we will discover later in this first chapter of First Corinthians (verse 10), Paul wanted no divisions in the church. He desired that we believers be united having the same mind and judgment. We will see however,  that He did not think that all churches should be clones of one another. We will discover that he wanted The Church to be relevant to their overall society, and he knew that in order to do this, the church had to be united. This is a lesson of which we can all benefit.

What is your viewpoint concerning our diverse social structure? Do you think the church should be more tolerant?  Do you feel that the church should be diverse or do you think that we should divide up into “relevant” social groups? Feel free to comment below.  If you have any questions, feel free to email me at cygnetbrown@gmail.com. I am here to assist you in any way I can.

 


For the next few weeks, I am going to be doing an intense study out of I Corinthians. As we’ll notice in the first verse of I Corinthians, we see that the writer of I Corinthians is Paul. He wrote this book in about 59 AD at the close of his three-year residence at Ephesus (Acts 20:31). This book is the 46th book of the Bible, has 16 chapters, 5 Old Testament prophecies, 13 new prophecies, 377 verses of history, 55 unfulfilled verses and 5 verses of fulfilled prophecy.

In I Corinthians we will learn about the human spiritual condition, what false doctrine needed to be corrected in the church, Standards Christians are expected to live by, Christian marriage, Christian liberties, Christian Worship, Spiritual Gifts and their exercise as well as the Resurrection. The reason I feel that this is an important book to study is that I see a lot of correlation between the Church at Corinth and the church today. i pray that you get as much from this study as I pray that I do.

As we mentioned, in verse one, it talks about who Paul is. He is an apostle. Apostle is not a term we use much any more except in reference to the twelve disciples of Jesus and Paul . So what exactly is an Apostle? Apostle comes from the Greek word: which means one sent by God. An Apostle has power from God to go into a place as God’s representative. Paul was letting the people of Corinth know that he was sent by God, and was appointed by God to give them the message of the Good News that Jesus Christ came give himself as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.

To make sure that the Corinthians knew that he was who he said he was, he dropped the name Sosthenes. Who is Sosthenes? In Acts 18:17 in mentions that there was a Sosthenes who had been the ruler of the synagogue. Could this have been the same person? I don’t know, but I can tell you that whoever he was, the Corinthians knew who the man was and if Paul was good enough for Sosthenes, then he should be important enough for the church at Corinth.

In verse two of I Corinthians, we learn that this book was written to the Church of God at Corinth. We get the word church from the Greek word (Strong’s 1577) ekklesia which was a popular meeting especially religious. At the time of the early church it was used as a reference to Jewish synagogues, but became a word that referred to members of the new sect, the religious congregation of Christians both still living on earth and those who had died.  The origins of this word interests me because it comes from two Greek words (1537) ek which refers leaving a point of origin. And (25640 kaleo which means whose name is called. So the word ekklesia literally means ones who have been called out from where they were originally.

To me prayer is talking with God. When i say talking with God, I don’t just mean monologues where I run down my laundry list of things I want God to deal with. Rather, I have dialogs with God. I’ll ask a question and I’ll get an answer. Often I know it is God and not me because what I am hearing back is NOT what I want to hear, but I also know that what is said is meant to help me grow. One day I was talking with God about life and I suddenly asked him, “How do I know I belong to you?”

The words were as clear as day, “My sheep hear my voice. You hear my voice, so you are one of mine.”

I knew that what he was doing was quoting John 10:14-16. He was telling me that because I could hear his voice, I was following him.

Today i ask you if you know that you have been called? Do you hear the Shepherd’s voice? Do you know that you belong to him?

When I worked at a drug and alcohol rehab center, one of the clients asked me how I knew what I knew about God. I didn’t quote scripture to him. Instead I told him to ask God to reveal himself to him. Then I prayed. I prayed that God would in fact reveal himself to him. Two days later, the young man came to me. He was excited because he had asked God to speak to him and that morning, God did speak to him and called him by name. One note about this young man, he never came back to the center as a client. He became a Christian counselor.

How about you? Are you not sure that God exists? Don’t take my word for his existence. You can know. You can be as sure as I am that he exists. Just ask him, and he will reveal himself to you. He will speak to you. You will discover that he is already calling you. Will you answer him?

Has God has spoken to you and his words have been a catalyst for your faith? I would love to hear about it. Would you be kind enough to share your experience in a comment?

 

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