Servants of Christ

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians

Hilda Bright

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


About this letter


Corinth was an important city. It was on a very narrow section of land (called an ‘isthmus’) in the southern part of Greece.

1. It was the capital city of the region called Achaia.

2. It had two harbours. The harbour on the east coast was 4 miles (6 km) from the harbour on the west coast. Today a canal joins the two harbours. In Paul’s time, people pulled small boats across from one harbour to the other one. They dragged them on a kind of ship railway. Porters carried goods from large boats to the other side. They put the goods on a different boat. The journey would otherwise have been over two hundred miles round a very dangerous part of the sea.

3. As it was a busy centre for trade, Corinth was a good place for the *gospel to spread. Merchants and travellers would hear the message and take it with them. There were many different people in Corinth. There were *Romans because it was a *Roman colony. (A colony is a city or country that another country controls.) There were Greeks, *Jews, people from Asia and from further east. There were rich people and many slaves.

4. There was a *temple to Aphrodite, the Greek female god of love. There were thousands of *prostitutes in the city. Many of them belonged to this *temple. Corinth became well-known for bad *sexual behaviour. To live ‘like a Corinthian’ meant to become a drunk often or to visit *prostitutes.

5. The Isthmian Games took place near Corinth. They were famous and only second in importance to the Olympic Games.

Paul’s first visit to Corinth Acts 18:1-17

On his second journey to take people the good news about Jesus, Paul arrived in Corinth from Athens. He had only very little success in Athens and he did not stay there for very long. But he stayed in Corinth for 18 months. He spent longer there than in any other city apart from Ephesus. He stayed with Aquila and Priscilla, who were tent makers like himself. He *preached first in the *synagogue. When the *Jews opposed him, he used the home of Titius Justus. Titius Justus lived next door to the *synagogue. Paul *preached very successfully. Crispus, the ruler of the *synagogue, became a Christian. When a new *Roman ruler arrived, the *Jews took Paul to him. They said that Paul was teaching ‘against the law’. But the ruler refused to listen to the *Jews. This happened in about AD 51. Paul later went to Syria.

Paul’s letters to Corinth

1. The ‘previous’ letter. Paul said, ‘I wrote you a letter. In that letter, I told you to have nothing to do with men with bad character’ (1 Corinthians 5:9). This letter is either lost or it may be in 2 Corinthians 6:14–7:1.

2. 1 Corinthians. When Paul was in Ephesus, he received news about troubles in the church at Corinth. This news came from people who were living in Chloe’s house (1 Corinthians 1:11), and from Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (1 Corinthians 16:17). A letter also came from the Christians in Corinth. They asked for Paul’s advice about various problems. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians.

3. The second ‘painful’ visit. Paul heard that problems in Corinth were worse. So he made a second visit. There is no record about this. But Paul writes about when he visited Corinth for the ‘third’ time (2 Corinthians 12:14; 13:1-2). So there must have been a second visit.

4. The ‘severe’ letter. Paul’s visit was not successful. So he wrote a letter when he was feeling very hurt (2 Corinthians 2:4). He was almost sorry that he had sent it. Some writers believe that chapters 10-13 in 2 Corinthians are the ‘severe’ letter.

5. The letter to show that the Christians at Corinth and Paul were friends again. Paul was so worried about his ‘severe’ letter that he went to meet Titus. Titus had taken the severe letter to Corinth. Paul met Titus in Macedonia and learned that all was well. So, he wrote chapters 1-9 in 2 Corinthians. It is possible that someone put the severe letter and the next letter together in the wrong order.

The contents of 1 Corinthians

1:1-9 ~ Greetings and *thanksgiving

1:10–4:21 ~ Quarrels about leaders in the church

5:1-13; 6:9-20 ~ Bad *sexual behaviour

6:1-8 ~ Christians at the law courts

7:1-40 ~ Marriage

8:1-11:1 ~ Meat that people have offered to *idols

11:2-34 ~ Problems in Christian *worship

12:1-31 ~ *Spiritual gifts

13:1-13 ~ Love

14:1-40 ~ *Prophecy and tongues

15:1-58 ~ *Resurrection

16:1-24 ~ Money for Jerusalem; Paul’s plans and greetings

Chapter 1

The Greeting 1:1-3

v1 This letter is from Paul. It was God’s plan to choose me to be an *apostle of Christ Jesus. This letter is also from our Christian ‘*brother’ Sosthenes. v2 We are sending this letter to you, the members of God’s church in Corinth. God has chosen you to be his holy people because Christ Jesus has made you holy. He has done the same for all those everywhere who *worship our *Lord Jesus Christ. He is their *Lord and ours. v3 We pray that God our Father and the *Lord Jesus Christ will give you *grace and peace.

Verse 1 ‘Christ’ is the Greek word for *Messiah. It means the king that God would send to his people. Paul emphasises that he is an *apostle because of God’s plan. He describes himself in this way in other letters. But it was important for him to state his authority to the Christians at Corinth. Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 9:1-23 show that some Christians at Corinth doubted whether he was an *apostle. They doubted his right to tell them the truth and to give them advice.

Sosthenes may have been the same person as the ruler of the *synagogue in Corinth. People had hit him in front of the ruler Gallio (Acts 18:12-17). Sosthenes had become a Christian and he had travelled with Paul to Ephesus. He may have acted as Paul’s secretary. Paul calls him ‘our *brother’. So, the Christians at Corinth must have known him.

Verse 2 Paul had written to the church ‘of the people in Thessalonica’. Here he speaks about the ‘church of God’ in Corinth. Paul did not want the Christians at Corinth to feel proud about themselves. So, he reminds them that the church belongs to God. They are like God’s field, God’s building and God’s workers (3:9).

The Greek word for ‘church’ is ‘ecclesia’. It means the people whom God ‘called out’ to be his own people. Their behaviour must be different from the way many Christians at Corinth were behaving. God has made them ‘holy’ because they trusted Christ. Paul says to them what he has said to Christians everywhere. The Christians at Corinth are only one part of God’s church.

Verse 3 Paul does not use the usual greetings that began and ended letters. He prays that they will know peace. This peace comes as people know the *grace of God. *Grace is God’s love that they do not deserve. And they cannot earn God’s love. God has shown his love by Jesus. When they know that love, they will feel safe. God has forgiven them. So they will have inner peace.

Paul here unites Jesus Christ with God the Father. Jesus really is God. And Jesus works with God the Father to *save his people.

*Thanksgiving 1:4-9

v4 I always thank God for you. I thank him because of his *grace. He gave this grace to you by means of Christ Jesus. v5 God has blessed you in every way because of him. He has made you speak and understand the truth more completely. v6 You know very well the message that we gave you about Christ. v7 Therefore there is no *spiritual gift that you do not have. You wait eagerly for our *Lord Jesus Christ to come again. v8 God will keep you strong in your *faith to the very end. Then you will be without blame on the day when our *Lord Jesus Christ returns. v9 You can trust God. He has chosen you to share life with his Son, Jesus Christ our *Lord.

Verses 4-7 Paul thanks God because they have accepted *salvation as God’s gift. And that gift comes by Jesus Christ. Paul speaks about God’s *spiritual gifts to the Christians at Corinth. He mentions how they speak. And he mentions how they understand. The letter shows that the Christians at Corinth had become very proud of these gifts. Paul writes about understanding or knowledge in chapter 8 and ‘speech’ in chapter 14. Here, he says that their gifts show that they have believed the good news about Jesus. The words ‘*grace’ and ‘gift’ show that they have no right to praise themselves.

Verses 8-9 Paul also reminds the Christians at Corinth that God will keep their *faith strong. He will do so until Christ returns. God has chosen them to share Christ’s life.

Arguments in the Church 1:10-17

v10 *Brothers and *sisters, I appeal to you all to agree with each other. I appeal on behalf of our *Lord Jesus Christ. Then there will not be divisions among you. You will be in complete agreement in all that you think. v11 My *brothers and *sisters, some people from Chloe’s house have told me that there are quarrels among you. v12 Here is what I mean. One of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’. Another person says, ‘I belong to Apollos.’ Another person says, ‘I belong to Peter’. And still another person says, ‘I belong to Christ.’ v13 We cannot divide Christ. Paul did not die on the *cross for you. I did not *baptise you in the name of Paul. v14 I am grateful to God that I did not *baptise any of you except Crispus and Gaius. v15 No one can say that I *baptised you in my name. v16 (Yes, I also *baptised those who live in the house of Stephanas. I do not remember if I *baptised anyone else.) v17 Because Christ did not send me to *baptise. He sent me to *preach the good news. He told me not to use words of human wisdom. Clever words would take the power away from the *cross of Christ.

Verses 10-11 Paul uses the word ‘*brothers’ twice. He speaks as one who loves them. They should love each other, because they are Christian *brothers and *sisters. They belong to the same *spiritual family. God is their father.

‘In complete agreement’ translates a medical word. It is about a way to join bones together that are broken. So, they must mend the broken unity of the church. Then the ‘body’ of the church will be healthy.

Chloe may have been a business woman whose servants had travelled from Ephesus to Corinth. They had brought back news about the quarrels in the church at Corinth.

Verse 12 Paul speaks about four groups:

1. Those who used Paul’s name. They may have been *Gentiles. They were perhaps using Paul’s teaching about Christian freedom as an excuse to behave badly. One group liked Paul. But other people opposed him.

2. Those who used Apollos’s name. Apollos was a *Jew from Alexandria. He knew the *Scriptures and he could speak very confidently. He had visited Ephesus. Aquila and Priscilla had taught him more about the Christian *faith. The Christians in Ephesus then encouraged him to go to Corinth. There he was very successful when he *preached the *gospel (Acts 18:24-28).

3. Those who used Peter’s name. We do not know whether Peter ever visited Corinth. But the people there knew that he travelled with his wife (1 Corinthians 9:5). His supporters probably said that he had been the leader of the 12 *apostles whom Jesus chose. Jesus had called him a ‘rock’. Jesus had made a special *resurrection appearance to him (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5).

4. Those who used Christ’s name. Those people probably said that they were the only real Christians in Corinth. But the words may be Paul’s own remark about the situation. ‘I, Paul, belong to Christ’.

Verses 13-16 Paul uses the word ‘Christ’. He wants to make the Christians at Corinth understand about the church. It is like Christ’s body in the world. The church cannot act as Christ’s body if it is in pieces. A body in pieces is not alive.

Only a few people could say that Paul had *baptised them. Crispus had been the ruler of the *synagogue in Corinth (Acts 18:8). Gaius must have had a large house. He could be Paul’s host and welcome ‘the whole church’ (Romans 16:23). As he wrote, Paul remembered Stephanas. He was the first person to become a Christian when Paul came to Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:15, 17). But Paul could not remember anyone else that he had *baptised. He did not want anyone to think that a person had decided to belong to him. *Baptism was not ‘in his name’, but ‘into the name of Jesus’.

Verse 17 Paul’s work was to *preach the *gospel. Who *baptised whom was not the most important point. It was important for the Christians at Corinth to know the real nature of the *gospel. The message was simple. Christ died on the *cross. To speak with clever words and ideas would attract attention to the speaker. Then the message of the *crucifixion would lose its power to *save people.

The *gospel and human wisdom 1:18-25

v18 The message of the *cross seems foolish to those who are dying. But it is God’s power to us whom he is saving. v19 Because God said by Isaiah (Isaiah 29:14), ‘I will destroy the wisdom of those who are wise. I will bring to nothing the clever ideas of those who are clever.’ v20 Find me the wise person. Find me the expert in the law. Find me the great thinker of this time. God has made the wisdom of the world foolish. v21 God in his wisdom planned that the world would not know him through its own wisdom. But God was pleased to *save those who believe. They believe through the foolish message that we *preach. v22 *Jews demand wonderful signs. Greeks look for wisdom. v23 But we *preach about Christ’s death on the *cross. That offends *Jews. And *Gentiles think that it is nonsense. v24 But Christ is God’s power and wisdom to those whom God has called, both *Jews and *Gentiles. v25 The foolish things of God are wiser than human wisdom. The weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Verses 18-21 The world considers that some people are wise. But these wise people cannot use their human wisdom to understand God’s ways. They think that the message about a *crucified *Messiah is foolish. They want God to act in ways that seem wise and powerful to them. But God *saves those who are willing to trust him.

Verses 22-23 The *Jews thought that the idea of a *crucified *Messiah was an insult to God. The *Romans *crucified only slaves and dangerous criminals. And the *Jews believed that anyone who hung on a tree as a punishment would suffer God’s anger (Deuteronomy 21:23). They did not think that the message in Isaiah 53 was about someone who would suffer for other people.

The *Jews also expected wonderful signs when the *Messiah came. In the past, God had done wonderful *miracles for their nation. So they expected him to perform even greater *miracles by his *Messiah. Therefore the *Jews kept on asking Jesus for a sign to ‘prove’ that he was the *Messiah. But he refused (Matthew 12:38-39; John 6:30).

The Greeks thought that God does not feel human emotions. And they thought that he cannot change. Therefore, God could not become a man on earth. The idea that ‘the word became a *physical person’ (John 1:14) was impossible. The Greeks also liked to discuss ideas. And they liked to speak in clever ways. The message about the *gospel was simple. Paul *preached it in plain words. A *crucified God seemed to be the mad idea of people with little education.

Verses 24-25 But God’s plan was to *save all those who believe in Christ. No human wisdom or great effort can bring anyone into a friendship with God. *Sin has spoiled that friendship. However, Christ’s death on the *cross was not ‘foolish’ and ‘weak’. ‘God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways’ (Isaiah 55:8-9). The *crucifixion was a sign of God’s wisdom and power. They are greater than any wise efforts that people can make.

The Christians in Corinth 1:26-31

v26 *Brothers and *sisters, God called you. Remember what you were then. Not many of you were wise in the opinion of people in this world. Not many of you had power over other people. Not many of you were born into families with an important social position. v27 But God chose what the people in the world call foolish. That makes ‘wise’ people humble. God chose what the people in the world call weak. That makes ‘strong’ people humble. v28 He has chosen those who have no value in people’s opinion. The people in the world think that God’s people and his plans are worth nothing at all. But God will use his plans to destroy the ideas in the present age. v29 God does all this so that no one can *boast about himself to God. v30 Because of what God has done, you belong to Christ Jesus. Jesus has become for us the real wisdom from God. He makes us right with God. He makes us holy and he sets us free from *sin. v31 So, in the words of *Scripture, ‘Perhaps someone wants to *boast about something. If so, he should *boast about what God has done.’

Verse 26 Paul reminds them that the church in Corinth has only a few important members. A few of them had more important places in society. Crispus had been the ruler of the *synagogue (Acts 18:8). Erastus was an official in the city (Romans 16:23). Gaius had a large enough house to act as host to Paul and other Christians (Romans 16:23). But many of the Christians were slaves. Some of them had once been slaves. Other Christians were ordinary workers.

Verses 27-29 Slaves had no rights. They were ‘things’ that their owners could use as tools. They were ‘nothings’ until the Christian *faith made them into persons. Then they gained respect. God chose people like these. He did this to show that he had defeated the world’s false ways to think. God does not depend on what people can offer him. Everyone needs God’s forgiveness. No one can be satisfied with himself in front of God.

Verse 30 God has acted by his Son. Jesus Christ’s death on the *cross is God’s wise plan. So those who believe accept God’s plan. By the *cross, Jesus sets us free from the *sin in our past. He makes us right with God. He helps us to live in a holy way.

Verse 31 Therefore what Jeremiah wrote (Jeremiah 9:24) is true. No one has any reason to *boast about himself. He should only be proud about what God has done.

Chapter 2

What Paul *preached 2:1-5

v1 Christian *brothers and *sisters, when I came to you I did not come with clever words or great ideas. I *preached to you the truth about God’s love. v2 I decided to concentrate on only one thing while I was with you. That was Jesus Christ and his death on the *cross. v3 When I came to you, I was weak and afraid. I was trembling. v4 I did not *preach my message with clever words to persuade you. As I *preached, the *Holy Spirit showed his power. v5 That was so that you would not believe because of clever human ideas. But you would believe because of God’s power.

Verses 1-2 Paul calls the Christians his ‘*brothers and *sisters’ because they are all in God’s family. Paul decided that in Corinth he would only use plain words. His ‘foolish’ message would be about Jesus’ death on the *cross. There may be two reasons for this decision:

1. Paul had come from Athens. There he had explained his message in a way that used philosophy. And he referred to Greek writers (Acts 17:22-34). But only a few people had become Christians.

2. Some people in Corinth were disappointed about the way that Paul *preached: ‘His words amount to nothing’ (2 Corinthians 10:10). Paul knew that clever words might attract attention to the speaker rather than to his message.

Verse 3 He said that he was ‘weak’. He may have meant a *physical weakness. We know that he had a problem of some kind. It made him suffer (2 Corinthians 12:7). He may have been emphasising that his message was about the ‘weakness’ of God (1:25). He was afraid and trembled. Paul did not fear for his own safety. He was anxious to carry out his work well. He probably thought about the enormous task to *preach the *gospel in a city like Corinth. Its people came from many countries. There were many gods. Everyone knew about the bad behaviour of those who lived in the city. Paul would tremble as he thought about all these problems.

Verses 4-5 Paul’s plain words had results. The *Holy Spirit’s power convinced people that the message was true. People changed and became Christians. The *Holy Spirit also showed his power in the gifts that he gave to the Christians at Corinth.

The wisdom from God 2:6-9

v6 However, among those who have grown in the *faith, I do use wise words. But these words are different from those of the wise people or rulers in this age. People like these will not succeed. v7 We speak about God’s secret wisdom, which has remained hidden until now. It is a wisdom that God planned before time began. He planned to bring us the *glory of *eternal life. v8 None of the rulers of this world understood God’s wisdom. If they had understood it, they would not have *crucified the *Lord of *glory. v9 The *Scripture says,

‘God has prepared things for those who love him. But nobody has seen those things and nobody has heard about them. And nobody knows what they are.’

Verse 6 Those who had become Christians would know the main facts about the *gospel. These facts were that Jesus died and became alive again. God forgives those who trust Jesus. But Paul could teach more about God’s wise plans to those whose *faith was strong. Some people thought that they were wise. But Paul was not talking about their kind of wisdom. Their wisdom would have no results.

Verse 7 Paul was speaking about the way that God had planned to *save his people. God planned it, even before the beginning of the world. God’s plan was that people should finally share in the wonderful life of heaven. God’s plan was ‘secret’. Only humble people can understand what God has shown us by Jesus.

Verse 8 People cannot understand by an effort of their minds. That is why the rulers could not understand that Jesus was the *Lord. So they *crucified him. But those who love God will receive *blessings from him. Those *blessings are impossible to imagine. Paul used a verse that comes in part from Isaiah 64:4.

The *Holy Spirit understands 2:10-16

v10 But God has shown his plans by his *Holy Spirit. The *Holy Spirit understands all things. He understands even the thoughts of God that are most difficult to understand. v11 We cannot know what another person is thinking. Only the person himself can know that. In the same way, only the *Spirit of God can know what God is thinking. v12 We have not received the *spirit of the world. We have received the *Holy Spirit from God himself. The *Holy Spirit helps us to understand how generous God has been to us. v13 This is what we speak about. We do not use words that people taught us. We use words that the *Holy Spirit taught us. We use *spiritual words to teach *spiritual truths. v14 A person who does not have the *Holy Spirit cannot believe the ideas that come from God’s *Holy Spirit. They sound foolish to him. He cannot understand them. People need the Spirit’s help to understand these ideas. v15 Everyone who has the *Holy Spirit can make right decisions. But no one can really understand those who have the Spirit. v16 We can never know what is in the *Lord’s mind. No one can teach him. But we have the mind of Christ.

Verses 10-12 No one can know what another person is thinking. No one can know God’s thoughts except God himself. God’s *Spirit knows them. And he can lead us to know God. God’s people have received God’s *Spirit. So they can understand his plan to rescue people by the *crucifixion of Jesus.

Verse 13 Paul says that his message comes from the Holy *Spirit. The Holy *Spirit taught Paul what to say.

Verse 14 The person who lives only for the things in the *physical world cannot understand *spiritual things. He cannot understand *spiritual truths. They seem foolish to him. He needs God’s *Holy Spirit. The *Holy Spirit will help him to understand God’s ideas.

Verse 15 Those without the *Holy Spirit cannot understand those with the Holy Spirit. The person with the Holy Spirit belongs the present age. But that person belongs to the future age as well. With the *Holy Spirit’s help, he can understand how to make decisions about right and wrong actions. He can understand what is wicked. But a person who thinks only about his present life cannot understand anything holy. For example, a greedy person cannot understand how to be generous. The person without the *Holy Spirit cannot judge the person who has the *Holy Spirit. He will not understand the way that a *spiritual person thinks.

Verse 16 Paul says that ‘we’ have the mind of Christ. So he includes himself with the Christians at Corinth. So they understand Christ’s thoughts. But Paul would talk next about the quarrels of the Christians at Corinth. And he would talk about the fact that they were so satisfied with themselves. These things showed that they had not completely understood ‘the mind of Christ’. Christ had made himself humble in order to do what God wanted. He was the servant who obeyed God (Philippians 2:1-5).

Chapter 3

God’s workers 3:1-9

v1 *Brothers and *sisters, I could not speak to you as if the *Holy Spirit was guiding you. I had to speak to you as if you were following the ways of people in the world. You are still only like baby Christians. v2 The words that I spoke to you were like milk. They were not like solid food. You were not ready for solid food. And you are still not ready for it. v3 You are still following the ways of people in the world. Some of you are jealous. Some of you are quarrelling. So, it must be clear to you that you are following the ways of people in the world. You must know that you are acting like ordinary people. v4 One of you says, ‘I belong to Paul’. Another person says, ‘I belong to Apollos’. You are acting like ordinary men and women. v5 Apollos is not important. Paul is not important. We are only servants. We helped you to believe. The *Lord has given each of us our own work to do. v6 I ‘planted the seed’. Apollos ‘watered’ it. But God made it grow. v7 So the one who plants is not important. The one who waters is not important. It is God who makes things grow. He is the only one who is important. v8 The one who plants and the one who waters have the same purpose. The *Lord will give each person a reward for his own work v9 because we work together with God. You are like God’s field. You are like his building.

Verses 1-2 The Christians at Corinth were not behaving as if the *Holy Spirit was guiding them. They were acting in the same ways as people who thought only about their *physical nature. Paul could not give them the kind of teaching that was like solid food. They were still behaving like babies.

Verses 3-4 The Christians at Corinth were acting as if they were no different from non-Christians (people who were not Christians). Some were jealous. Perhaps they were jealous of the wealth or social position of other people. They quarrelled about which leader they belonged to.

Verses 5-9 Paul spoke about himself and Apollos as servants. There was no quarrel between him and Apollos. Each man did his job as together they brought people to believe the Christian *faith. They were like farmers. Paul planted the ‘seed’ of the *gospel when he *preached. Apollos helped. He was like someone who waters seed. But only God could make it grow. God is the only one who is important. Neither Paul nor Apollos was important. Each man had his work to do, and God would reward him. God uses people to work together with him. Paul and Apollos were servants who were working for the same master. The Christians at Corinth were like a field in which God was working. They were also like a building.

God’s building 3:10-15

v10 God kindly taught me how to lay a *foundation like an expert builder. Now someone else is building on it. But each one must be careful how he builds. v11 No one can lay any other *foundation than the one that God has already laid. That *foundation is Jesus Christ. v12 A person may build on this *foundation. He may use gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw. v13 But whatever the material, on judgement day, God will show the quality of each person’s work. The fire of judgement will test how good each person’s work is. v14 If the person’s work passes the test of judgement, God will reward him for his work. v15 If a person’s work has no good result, it will be like a burnt building. It will be like a building that the fire has completely destroyed. The builder will be safe. But he will be like someone who just escapes from a fire.

Verse 10 Paul worked for 18 months in Corinth (Acts 18:11). He spent three years in Ephesus (Acts 20:31). Usually he stayed in a city for a much shorter time. But wherever he went, he laid the same *foundation. He told the facts about Jesus Christ. He let other people continue God’s work and help the church to grow.

Verses 11-12 Jesus Christ alone is the *foundation of a Christian church. Those who help it to grow must make sure that their work will last. Then it will be as valuable as precious metals or stones. Wood, hay and straw are Paul’s picture language for weak efforts that do not last.

Verses 13-15 Fire can test how pure a metal is. Fire can also destroy. God’s judgement is like fire. On the day when Christ returns, God will judge the value of each person’s work. He will reward those whose work was valuable. God will destroy what has no value. The bad builder will only escape God’s judgement like someone who just escapes from a fire. The bad builder will not lose his *salvation. But he will not receive much reward in heaven.

God’s *temple 3:16-23

v16 You should know that you are God’s *temple. You should know that God’s *Spirit lives in you. v17 If anyone destroys God’s *temple, God will destroy him. That is because God’s *temple is holy. And you are that *temple.

v18 Do not make a mistake about this. Perhaps one of you thinks that he is one of the world’s clever people. Then he should learn how to become a ‘fool’, so that he may become really wise. v19 In the *Scriptures, there are these words: ‘God catches wise people in their own clever plans.’ v20 Again, it says, ‘The *Lord knows that the thoughts of wise people have no value.’ v21 So then, you must not be proud that you have a particular human leader. God has given you everything that you need. v22 He has given you Paul, Apollos and Peter as your helpers. He has given you the whole world. Life and even death are your servants. God has given you all of the present and all of the future. v23 You belong to Christ. And Christ belongs to God.

Verses 16-17 Paul uses the words ‘You should know’ ten times in this letter, and only once in other letters (Romans 6:16). The Christians at Corinth were very proud about their ‘knowledge’. But they had not really understood the nature of the Christian church.

There were many *temples in Corinth. They all had *idols but none of them contained a real god. The Christians in Corinth had God among them by means of his *Holy Spirit. Therefore they were like a *temple. Because there is only one God, there was only one true *temple in Corinth. The *spiritual *temple of Christians existed to show that the only real God is holy. But the bad behaviour of the Christians at Corinth was stopping the work of the *Holy Spirit. Their jealous quarrels were destroying God’s work. The Christian church was becoming like a weak building. God would punish those who were destroying his church. Paul does not say how God would punish them. But he is probably thinking about the day of judgement.

Verses 18-20 Some people thought that they were wise. Paul repeats what he had already said about those people. In 1:18-25, he said that people thought that God’s wise actions were foolish. Some people were proud about their wisdom. But God thinks that those people are foolish. If they want to be really wise, the Christians at Corinth must become ‘fools’. That is, they must become humble. Paul uses two verses from the *Old Testament to show that his words are true. In Job 5:13, there is the picture of someone whom God has caught in a trap. The Christians at Corinth think that they are like a clever person. But God has shown that they are foolish. They are as foolish as an animal that someone has caught in a trap. They do not realise that they will destroy themselves. (Esther 5:12-14; 7:9-10 shows us a good example of this.) Psalm 94:11 emphasises that human ways to think are of no use.

Verses 21-23 Therefore they must not be confident about their own ways to think. They must trust Christ rather than trust people. They had said, ‘I belong to Paul’ or ‘I belong to Apollos’. ‘I belong to’ was the kind of language that described the relationship of slaves to their master. The Christians at Corinth were making themselves the slaves of people. They do not belong to Paul, Apollos or Peter. Instead, Paul, Apollos and Peter belong to the Christians at Corinth. Those *apostles were servants to the Christians.

The whole world belongs to God. So the world belongs to the Christians as well. Christians believe in Jesus’ death and *resurrection. Therefore, Christians have the real life from God that never ends. They can have *eternal life now in the present time. They may suffer *physical death, but they can never lose this real life from God.

Paul ends with words of praise. Christians possess ‘all things’ because they belong to Christ. And Christ belongs to God. God has a plan. ‘He will bring everything together, things from earth, and things from heaven. Christ will be the head of them all.’ (See Ephesians 1:10.) Paul wants the Christians at Corinth to understand that only one person is finally in charge. This person is Jesus.

Chapter 4

Paul the servant 4:1-5

v1 This is how people should think about us. We are Christ’s servants. We are *stewards (keepers) of the secrets that God shows to his own people. v2 Now people who have received a trust must prove that they are loyal people. v3 It matters very little to me what you or any human court thinks about me. I do not even judge myself. v4 I do not feel that I have done anything wrong. But that does not mean that I am innocent. It is the *Lord who is the only true judge. v5 Therefore judge nothing before the time that God has decided. Wait until the *Lord returns. He will bring to light everything that people have hidden in the dark. He will show the real reasons for people’s actions. At that time, each person will receive his praise from God.

Verse 1 Paul uses two words to describe how the Christians at Corinth ought to think about him and his friends. The words are ‘servants’ and ‘*stewards’.

1. The word in this verse for ‘servants’ meant slaves who had to work very hard in a *Roman ship. Paul was like a slave. He wanted to work hard to please his owner.

2. A *steward was responsible to the owner of a big house. He was responsible for his affairs. He ordered supplies. And he told the slaves what to do. But he himself was responsible to the owner of the house. So whatever position of authority a Christian may have in the church, he is still Christ’s *steward.

Verses 2-4 The master must be able to depend on his *steward. Paul speaks about three judgements:

1. Other people may judge whether someone has worked well. Some of the Christians at Corinth did not like what Paul said. Some people had refused to believe that he was an *apostle (2 Corinthians 10:7-10). But Paul says that he does not worry about their opinion about him.

2. A person may judge himself. However, he may feel satisfied with his own behaviour even when he has made a mistake.

3. God is the only true judge. God knows what circumstances have affected someone’s actions. God also knows the intentions that caused a person to act. Someone may do a good action but have a selfish desire. They may want someone to praise them. Or they may want some other benefit.

Verse 5 So people should not judge other people before the time when Jesus returns. Then God will show whether someone has done his duties in a loyal way. God alone is the perfect judge. He will reward the people who have been loyal *stewards in his ‘house’, the church.

The need to be humble 4:6-13

v6 *Brothers and *sisters, I have used myself and Apollos as examples. I want you to learn to live as *scripture tells us to live. I do not want you to be proud that one person is your leader instead of another person. v7 You are not different from anyone else. You received everything that you have from God. And if you received things you should not *boast. You speak as if you achieved it yourself. v8 Already you have all that you want! Already you have become rich! You have become kings - and you have left us outside the *kingdom! How I wish that you really had become kings. Then we could rule with you! v9 I think that God has put us *apostles on display at the end of the procession. We are like men that a ruler has chosen to die in front of a crowd. We have become a show. The whole of what God has created will see. We are a show to *angels as well as a show to people. v10 We are fools for Christ. But you are so wise in the Christian *faith. We are weak, but you are strong. People give you honour. But they think that we have no value. v11 Up to this very hour, we are hungry and we have nothing to drink. We have no clothes that can keep us warm. People behave badly towards us. We have no homes. v12 We work hard with our own hands. When other people insult us, we bless them. When they hit us, we suffer patiently. v13 When they say bad things about us, we answer in a quiet way. Up to this very moment, we have become like dust that people walk on. We are everyone’s rubbish.

Verse 6 Paul and Apollos were humble. They knew that they were God’s servants. God would judge them. In the same way, the Christians at Corinth must be humble. God’s word makes it clear that false pride is wrong. They should not go beyond God’s word. They should not *boast about who was their leader.

Verse 7 It was God’s love that had *saved the Christians at Corinth. They had forgotten that. Any gifts that they had came from God. They were no different from anyone else whom God had blessed. They were behaving as if they earned their own *salvation or their *spiritual gifts. They were not grateful to God.

Verses 8-9 Paul makes fun of the opinion that the Christians at Corinth have about themselves. They think that they have no need to learn any more *spiritual truths. He says ‘You have all that you want.’ He means that they are like people who have eaten more than enough food. They think that they have all the *spiritual gifts that they need. They think that they have already begun to rule in God’s *kingdom. Paul knew that the *kingdom is in the future as well as in the present.

Paul used the picture of a procession. The *Romans had a procession after they had defeated an enemy. The prisoners were at the end of the procession. The *Romans used them for public entertainment before they died. The prisoners would have to fight wild animals. Crowds of people would come to watch them. Paul and the other *apostles were like those prisoners. They were ready to die for Christ. The people in the world and the *angels were like the crowd who watched.

Verses 10-13 Paul contrasts the life of the *apostles with the life of the Christians at Corinth. The Christians at Corinth thought that they were wise. Paul was ‘foolish’ because he believed the simple truth of the *gospel. The Christians at Corinth believed that they were powerful. They did not like the way that Paul *preached. He did not use clever words. So they decided that Paul was ‘weak’. They were very proud about themselves. They imagined that people respected them. The Christians at Corinth did not give honour to Christ. So they did not give honour to the *apostles.

Paul describes the difficulties that real *apostles had to suffer. He had often been hungry and wanted a drink. His clothes were poor. He had often had nowhere to sleep at night as he travelled from one place to another place. He had worked hard with his own hands. He had earned money so that he could live. We know that he was a skilled worker with leather. He made tents and other goods (Acts 18:3; 20:33-34). Paul shows in 1 Corinthians 9:14-18 that the Christians at Corinth did not agree with his decision to do this. So he says, ‘We work hard with our own hands’, in this list of difficulties. He therefore emphasises that he was a *disciple of Christ. Christ had also suffered so that he could serve other people.

The Greek word for ‘hit’ describes the way that a master might hit his slave. Paul took the position of a slave to please Christ his master.

Paul then replies to those who had behaved badly towards him. Paul knew what Jesus taught. And he knew what Jesus did (Luke 6:28; 23:34). So, when people insulted him, he prayed that they would be happy. He forgave them. Paul was like Jesus. During his *trial and *crucifixion, Jesus had accepted patiently the cruel attacks. People told lies about Paul. But he made a humble appeal to them. He asked them to stop and to be like Christ.

Finally, Paul says that the *apostles are like the dust. People swept up dust from the floor. Or they are like the dirt that someone washes from the body. This picture language is similar to Lamentations 3:45. It described anything that people thought had no value at all. Isaiah said that people would think that God’s servant had no value (Isaiah 53:2-3). Paul and the other *apostles were like this. People thought that they had no value.

Paul’s love as a *spiritual father 4:14-21

v14 I am not writing these things just to make you ashamed. Because you are my dear *spiritual children, I want to warn you. v15 You may have ten thousand Christians who are looking after you. But you do not have many fathers. I became your *spiritual father when I told you the good news about Jesus Christ. v16 So I am urging you to be like me. v17 For this reason, I am sending Timothy to you. He is like a son that I love very much. He is loyally serving the *Lord. He will remind you about my way to live as I serve Christ Jesus. And that way to live agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. v18 Some of you have become proud. So, you behave as if I were not coming to you. v19 But I will come to you very soon, if the *Lord wants me to come. Then I will find out what these proud people are saying. But I will also find out what power they have. v20 The *kingdom of God is not a matter of words. It is about how Christians live. v21 I could come to blame you with angry words. Or I could come to you with gentle love in my mind. I would like to know which you would rather have.

Verses 14-16 Paul was writing like a father. A father wants his son to do what is right. Paul described other Christians who taught them. They were like the slave who looked after a child. He took the child to school. He taught him how to behave. A child might have more than one of these slaves to look after him. But he could have only one father. Paul was like a father who loved his child. He had become the *spiritual father of the Christians in Corinth. He had helped them to trust in Jesus Christ. He told them the good news about *salvation. So, he wanted them to behave in the same way as their ‘father’ behaved.

Verse 17 Because he loves them, Paul is sending Timothy to visit them. Timothy is Paul’s *spiritual son whom he loves. He knows that Timothy is a loyal servant of Christ. Paul practised what he taught. Wherever he went, he behaved in the same way. This was how he lived while he was at Corinth. Timothy will remind them about that.

Verses 18-21 Some proud Christians in Corinth did not believe that Paul would visit them himself. But Paul intended to visit Corinth as soon as possible. He would go if Christ wanted him to go. Then Paul would discover whether the Christians had the power to live in the right way. They had plenty to say. But they must show by their actions that they belonged to God’s *kingdom. Jesus had said, ‘You will know them by their fruit’ (Matthew 7:16). A person might say that he belongs to Christ. But his actions will prove whether his words are true. Paul asked whether he should come to punish them. He could be like a father whose child had not obeyed him. Or they could change their behaviour because of Paul’s letter and Timothy’s visit. Then Paul could come gently to share his love with them.

Chapter 5

The problem of a serious *sexual *sin 5:1-5

v1 News has come to me that there is *sexual *sin among you. A man has been having sex with his father’s wife. Even people who do not know God do not *sin like that. v2 And you are proud! You should be very sad instead. You should have made the man who did this leave your church. v3 Although I am not there with you, my *spirit is with you. And I have already judged the man who did this. I have done so just as if I were there. v4 When you come together in the name of our *Lord Jesus, my *spirit is with you. The power of our *Lord Jesus will also be with you. v5 When you come together like that, hand this man over to *Satan. This is in order to destroy his *sinful nature. And it is to *save his *spirit on the day when the *Lord returns.

Verse 1 The law does not allow sex between two people who are very close relatives of each other. In the church at Corinth, a man was having sex with his father’s second wife. It was against *Jewish law (Leviticus 18:8). Even *pagans thought that it was a terrible *sin. It was against *Roman law as well.

Verse 2 Paul felt disgusted that the members of the church allowed the situation. They even seemed to have been slightly proud of the man’s action. They may have said that Christians had freedom from the law. They thought that this action did not matter for a really *spiritual person. Instead, they should have felt as sad as someone whose close relative had died.

Verses 3-4 Paul was not there. But he was thinking about them as if he really were present. He had already decided that the man was *sinning. When they met as a group of Christians, Paul felt as if he was *spiritually with them. They also had the *Holy Spirit with them. The *Holy Spirit would give them the power to act in the right way.

Verse 5 The Christians must punish the man. They must tell him that he must leave the church. He would then be in the world, where *Satan rules people’s lives. There the man would learn the difference between the company of Christians and the ways of the world. Paul intended that this punishment would make the man realise his *sin. Then he would ask for God’s forgiveness. Then on the day of judgement, when Jesus returns, God would not shut him out of heaven. The Christians had to punish him in this way. This would be better for him in *eternity. And it would show that they loved him.

The effects of this *sin if it continues 5:6-8

v6 You are wrong to be proud about your church. You must know that only a little *yeast spreads through the whole lump of *dough. v7 Remove the old *yeast. Be like a new lump of *dough without *yeast. That is what you really are. That is because Christ is our *Passover *lamb. He has become a *sacrifice for us. v8 So let us keep the *Feast, but not with the old *yeast. I mean that hate and wicked behaviour are like*yeast. Let us keep the *Feast with bread that is honest and pure.

Verse 6 Paul uses a picture from *Jewish practice. It shows why the man should not stay in the church. *Yeast is a tiny substance. People put it in *dough to make bread grow bigger. It affects the whole lump of *dough. The *Jews thought that *yeast was a picture of an evil *influence. *Yeast spreads through *dough. In a similar way, the man’s *sin would affect the whole church.

It is possible that Paul was writing his letter near *Passover time. The *Jews used to remove every tiny bit of *yeast from their homes before *Passover began.

Verse 7 The Christians must remove the guilty man. But the ‘old *yeast’ can also mean that they must clean out every bit of *sin in their own lives. That is, they must be like a new lump of *dough with no *yeast in it. They had to be a group of Christians with no *sin among them. They had received God’s forgiveness for their past *sins. God forgave them by means of Jesus’ *sacrifice as the *Passover *lamb. Now they are free to live in a new way. So they must behave like the new people that God has made them.

Verse 8 The *Passover *feast lasted for a week. During those seven days, the *Jews did not eat anything with *yeast in it. Christians must also be happy that God has forgiven them. Because of this, they must live in a holy way. ‘Hate and wicked behaviour’ means that they were to remove any kind of *sin in thought and action. They must not hide their real attitudes. Their actions must be the result of honest and pure thoughts.

The church and the world 5:9-13

v9 I told you in my letter to stay away from people whose *sexual behaviour was wrong. v10 I did not mean people of this world who *sin in that way, or greedy people of this world. Or they may cheat or *worship false gods. To stay away from them, you would have to leave this world. v11 But now, this is what I am writing to you. Some people say that they are Christians. You must stay away from any of those people if they behave in these wrong ways. Stay away from anyone whose *sexual behaviour is *sinful. And stay away from anyone who is greedy. Stay away from him if he *worships false gods. Keep away if he tells lies about other people. Stay away if he drinks too much alcohol. Stay away if he cheats. Do not even eat with a person like that. v12 It is not my business to judge those outside the church. You are supposed to judge those who belong to the church. v13 God will judge those who do not belong to the church. Throw the wicked man out.

Verses 9-10 The Christians in Corinth had misunderstood Paul’s advice. Perhaps they wanted to say that Paul’s advice was stupid. It is impossible to stay away from everyone who *sins. This was especially true in a city like Corinth. It was well-known for *sexual *sins.

Verses 11-12 Paul explains that he was talking about people who called themselves Christians. He meant Christians who continued to *sin. He spoke about:

1. *sexual *sins. These were *sins against a person’s real nature. They made people behave like animals. It was selfish and wrong for someone to use another person to satisfy his *physical needs.

2. those who were greedy. They had forgotten that other people were like brothers and sisters. They must not steal from them. Instead, they must love and serve them. The Christian *faith should make it a joy to give rather than to get.

3. the *worship of false gods. This is a *sin against the only real God. If a person does not *worship God, he will *worship something or someone else. He might trust in things that he thinks will bring him luck. He might make another person, like a singer or a man who is good at sport into an *idol. A person who does all this is not a real Christian. The other Christians should not even share a meal with him. To share a meal would make it seem as if they agreed with his bad behaviour.

Verses 12-13 Only God can judge those who do not belong to the church. God alone knows their hearts. But the members of the church must judge someone in the church who does wrong things. The people outside the church must see that the Christian *faith is a different way to live. If Christians refused to punish such a serious *sin, they were a poor witness to their new *faith. Paul gave a definite command, ‘Throw the man out’. He used words from Deuteronomy 17:7; 24:7. The Christian church in Corinth must put out evil people.

Chapter 6

Christians and the law courts 6:1-8

v1 Suppose that one of you has a reason to complain against another Christian. You may take your problem to the *pagan law courts. But you should go to God’s people. v2 You must know that one day God’s people will judge the world. And if you are to judge the world, you should be able to deal with such small matters. v3 You must know that we shall judge *angels. Then we should be able to judge the things of this life even more. v4 If you have such arguments, appoint members of the church to be judges. They should not be very important members! v5 I write this to make you ashamed. There must be a single wise man among you able to judge matters between Christians. v6 Instead, one Christian goes to court against another Christian. And this happens in front of people who do not believe! v7 Because you have taken another Christian to court, you have already lost the battle. It would be better to suffer wrong instead. It would be better to allow other people to cheat you. v8 Instead you cheat and do wrong. And you cheat your Christian *brothers and *sisters.

Verse 1 The Greeks very much liked to go to the law courts. It was like entertainment for them. Some of the Greeks had brought this habit into the Christian church. Paul heard that a Christian in Corinth was taking another Christian to a *pagan law court. Paul was disgusted. The *Jews usually settled things in front of the important men in their village. Or they took the problem to the important men in a *synagogue. They thought that it was wrong to go to a *pagan law court. As a *Jew, and even more as a Christian, Paul believed that this legal action was wrong.

Verses 2-3 Paul said that one day Christians would judge both other people and *angels. So it was not sensible to use human law courts to deal with small quarrels.

Verse 4 Christians should appoint other members of the church to decide what was right. They should choose Christians who were not important. Paul’s words seem like a command. So he is probably reminding them that they should be humble. They are wrong to think that one Christian is more important than another Christian. But other people have translated the sentence like this: ‘I do not know how you can let people outside the church judge. Their opinions are not very important for Christians.’

Verse 5 Paul makes fun of the Christians at Corinth who are so proud of their wisdom. He wonders if they can find even one wise man to make a decision about the quarrel.

Verse 6 *Pagans will see that Christians are going to court. Then, the *pagans will think that Christian behaviour is no different from their own.

Verses 7-8 Whatever the result of the matter, the legal action means that people will have a bad opinion about the church. Jesus had said that Christians must defeat evil things with good deeds (Matthew 5:44). So, the person who has gone to court is failing as a Christian. To go to law courts at all was to forget that they were *brothers and *sisters in the Christian family. Paul uses the word ‘cheat’. So the quarrel may have been about a business matter. But any quarrel should give the opportunity to show the power of Christian love.

A list of *sins 6:9-11

v9 You must know that wicked people will not have a place in the future *kingdom of God. Make no mistake. None of these will possess the *kingdom of God:

          those guilty of *sexual *sins and those who *worship *idols;

          those who break their marriage promises, male *prostitutes and *homosexuals;

v10   thieves, greedy people and those who drink too much alcohol;

          people who tell lies and cheat other people.

v11 And that is what some of you were. But God has made you *spiritually clean. God has set you apart to live in a good way. The *Lord Jesus Christ has made you right with God. The *Spirit of God has made this change in you.

There are other lists of wrong acts in other letters. They all show the kind of society in which Paul lived. They show what some people are like. People are like this when they do not accept God and his laws.

Verse 9 Paul warns the Christians in Corinth about their behaviour. If they continue to *sin, they are in danger of judgement. God will judge them in the same way as he will judge non-Christians. God will refuse to keep them in his *kingdom.

In Corinth, people *worshipped Aphrodite, the female god of love. Their worship included much wrong *sexual behaviour. Also, many people did not remain a loyal husband or a loyal wife.

‘Male *prostitutes’ translates a Greek word that means ‘soft’. Probably it describes boys and young men who acted like women. They allowed older men to use them for their *sexual pleasure. ‘*Homosexuals’ describes people of the same sex who have sex with each other. In the *Roman world, both these forms of behaviour were common. Even the *Roman rulers did these things.

Verse 10 Greedy people can become thieves or those who cheat other people. There were many people like this in Corinth.

In those days, the water was not good. So the Greeks mixed wine with their water. In Corinth, there were people who drank too much alcohol. They thought only about their own pleasure.

To tell lies and to speak evil words about other people are serious *sins. They make it difficult for people to trust each other and to be part of society.

Verse 11 Some Christians had been like all these wicked people. But they had become better. The water used to *baptise them had shown that they wanted to change. God had made them his own people. The *Lord Jesus Christ, by his death on the *cross, had brought them into right relations with God. God’s Spirit had caused them to become new people. So, Paul uses these words to encourage them to live properly as Christians. That would show that their *faith was sincere.

Wrong *sexual behaviour 6:12-20

v12 You say ‘I am free to do anything.’ Yes, but not everything is good for me. ‘I am free to do anything’. But I, myself, will not let anything control me. v13 ‘Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food’, you say. But one day God will destroy them both. God did not intend the body for *sexual *sins. He intended it for the *Lord. And the *Lord is for the body. v14 God raised our *Lord from death by his power. He will also raise us up. v15 You must know that your bodies are parts of the body of Christ himself. I can never take parts of Christ’s body and unite them with a *prostitute. v16 Everyone who joins himself with a *prostitute becomes one body with her. You must know that. *Scripture says, ‘The two people will become one body.’ v17 But he who unites himself with Christ becomes one person with him in his *spirit.

v18 Keep far away from *sexual *sins. Every other *sin that a person practises is outside the body. But the person who is guilty of a *sexual *sin acts in a wrong way against his own body. v19 You must know that your body is a *temple for the *Holy Spirit. The *Holy Spirit in you is God’s gift to you. You do not belong to yourselves. v20 Christ paid a great price to *save you. So, use your body in a way that gives honour to God.

Verses 12-13 The Greeks taught that the *spirit alone mattered. The body was not important. So they could act in any way at all and it would not hurt their *spirit. It was natural to eat. And it was natural to satisfy their *sexual desires. Paul had also taught that Christians are free from the law’s demands. So some Christians were continuing to visit *prostitutes after *baptism. Corinth was a city so well-known for *sexual *sin that a ‘girl from Corinth’ meant a *prostitute. So it was very easy for Christians to *sin in this way. And it was very easy to find excuses for this behaviour.

Christian freedom does not mean that Christians are free to *sin. Paul reminded them about that. What they chose to do must be helpful to them. It must also be helpful to other people. It was wrong to be like a slave to their former way to live.

Verse 14 The body belongs to God. By his power, God raised Jesus from death. By the same power, he will raise both *spirit and body to be alive. God intends the whole person for *eternal life in the future.

Verses 15-17 *Scripture says in Genesis 2:24 that a *sexual act between two people makes them into one united body. Christians are part of Christ’s body, the church. So for a Christian to give his body to a *prostitute was a terrible *sin. He must unite himself with Christ in a permanent unity of *spirit.

Verse 18 The Christians at Corinth may have said that *sin was in the mind rather than in the body. Paul said that *sexual *sin was against the person’s own body. It is true that to drink too much alcohol or to take drugs are *sins against the body. But God wants to *save Christians’ bodies and *souls. So Paul explained that other *sins do not affect a person’s body in the same way as *sexual *sins do.

Verse 19-20 The body is the *temple of the *Holy Spirit whom God has given us. Therefore, the body is holy, set apart for God. Christ died to *save a person’s whole nature, both body and *soul. So, a person is not free to do as he likes with his body. It belongs to Christ. Therefore, he must use his body in the way that God wants. He must give honour to God.

The second part of Paul’s letter, chapters 7-15, deals with problems that the Christians in Corinth had asked Paul about.

Chapter 7 deals with various questions about marriage and *sexual relations.

Chapter 7

Advice about whether to marry 7:1-2

v1 But now I will deal with the matters that you wrote about. It is good for a man not to marry. v2 But there is so much wrong *sexual behaviour. So, each man should have his own wife. Each woman should have her own husband.

Verse 1 Some Christians believed that their body was *sinful. So they thought that their natural desires were wrong. They believed that they should not marry at all.

Verse 2 Paul was honest and practical. He knew that there was much *temptation in Corinth. It would be better for a man to marry than to give in to his natural desires in wrong ways.

Advice about *sexual relations between husbands and wives 7:3-7

v3 The husband must give his wife the *sexual pleasure that she needs. The wife must give her husband his *sexual rights. v4 The wife’s body does not belong to her alone. It also belongs to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone. It also belongs to his wife. v5 Do not stop having sex with each other except when you both agree to do so. Do so for a time in order to be free for prayer. Then come together again. In that way *Satan will not *tempt you because of your lack of control. v6 I say all this as my advice. But it is not a command from God. v7 I should like you all not to marry, but to remain single like me. But each person has his own gift from God. One person has this gift; another person has a different gift.

Verses 3-4 Some Christians in Corinth thought that it was more ‘*spiritual to live as married people without sex. Paul said that sex was a duty of both man and wife to each other. In a Christian marriage, the husband and wife belong to each other. The *sexual act is a special part of their life together.

Verses 5-6 Both husband and wife may agree to stop their *sexual relations. But this must be for a short time only so that they can spend more time in prayer. Then they should come together again. Then *Satan cannot *tempt either husband or wife to look for *sexual satisfaction outside marriage. Paul was not giving an order from God; he was offering his advice.

Verse 7 Paul wished that Christians would remain single, like him. But he recognised that people are different from each other. God gave some the gift to remain single. He gave other people the gift to be married.

Single people and widows 7:8-9

v8 I say this to widows or those who have not married. It would be good if they remained single, like me. v9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry. It is better to marry than to let strong *sexual desires destroy them.

Verses 8-9 Paul thought that there was only a short time left before Jesus returned. So, it would be sensible to remain single. But Paul warns them not to stay in a situation where they would find it easy to *sin. It all depended on the character of the person. If they had very strong desires, they should marry.

Questions about divorce 7:10-16

v10 I give this command to married people. (It is not my order, but a command from the *Lord.) A wife must not leave her husband. v11 But if she does, she must remain single. Or she must be willing to live with her husband again. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

v12 For the other matters, I say this. (It is my advice; it is not the *Lord’s command.) Suppose that a Christian has a *pagan wife. If she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. v13 And suppose that a woman has a *pagan husband. If he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. v14 This is because the *pagan husband has become holy by his Christian wife. And the *pagan wife has become holy by her Christian husband. If that were not true, your children would not be included in God’s purposes. But as it is, they are holy. v15 But if the *pagan leaves, let him or her do so. In such circumstances, a man or woman does not have to stay married. God wants us to live in peace. v16 Wife, it is not clear whether you will *save your husband. Husband, it is not clear whether you can *save your wife.

Verses 10-11 Paul said that it was wrong to divorce. This was not his opinion. It was the *Lord’s command. Jesus said, ‘A man must not separate what God has joined together.’ (See Mark 10:9.) If a wife did leave her husband, she must not marry again. Or she must be willing to go back to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.

Verses 12-14 Some people believed that a Christian should not continue to live with a *pagan husband or wife. Paul had to give his judgement about mixed marriages. There was no direct command from Jesus to which he could refer. Mixed marriages could cause problems. (They still do cause problems.) Christians like to go to church meetings. They like to serve other people. But this would mean that a husband and wife would spend less time together. The kiss of peace with which Christians greeted each other (1 Corinthians 16:20) could easily have caused a quarrel. The *pagan husband or wife might feel jealous and worried. They might not be sure whether they could trust their partner.

Paul’s advice was practical. When the non-Christian partner wanted to stay in the marriage, there should be no divorce. Because the Christian was ‘holy’, the partner and the children would be ‘holy’. The blessings that come from God do not only affect Christians. A Christian’s belief would also benefit the partner who is not a Christian. And it would also benefit their children.

Verse 15 The *pagan might be so much against the Christian *faith that there would be quarrels all the time. If he or she wanted to leave, the Christian should allow the *pagan to go. Paul thought that it was reasonable for a marriage like this to end. God wanted peace in a family, not constant war.

Verse 16 The non-Christian might stay. Then there was the opportunity to persuade him or her to become a Christian. Peter also believed that this was possible. ‘Wives, obey your husbands. There may be some husbands who do not believe God’s message. But if their wives obey them, those husbands may believe. They may decide to believe God, even if their wives have said nothing to them about God’s message’ (1 Peter 3:1).

Changes that are not necessary 7:17-24

v17 But each of you should remain in the place in the world that the *Lord has given to you. Stay as you were when God chose you. This is the rule that I order in all churches. v18 A man might have been *circumcised when God called him. He should not try to undo his *circumcision. A man might have been *uncircumcised when God called him. He should not want *circumcision. v19 *Circumcision is nothing. To be *uncircumcised is nothing. To do what God commands is what matters. v20 Each one should remain in his situation when God called him. v21 You might have been a slave when God called you. Do not let it worry you. But if you can persuade your master to set you free, do so. v22 Someone may have been a slave when God called him. Now he is the *Lord’s free man. Someone may have been a free man when God called him. Now he is Christ’s slave. v23 Christ paid the price for you. So do not become slaves of people. v24 *Brothers and *sisters, you are responsible to God. So, each person should remain in the situation to which God called him.

Verse 17 Paul believed that a Christian should practise his *faith wherever he was. He did not need to change his place in society. God had called him, whoever he was.

Verses 18-20 Paul chose as his first example *Jews and *Gentiles. Some men were *Jews when they became Christians. Some were *Gentiles. A *Jew should not try to change his *circumcision. A *Gentile need not think that *circumcision was important for him. It did not matter whether a man had the mark of *circumcision or not. What was important was to obey God’s commands.

Verses 21-23 Some people thought that slaves were ‘things’ rather than people. But when God called a slave, he became the *Lord’s free man. Instead, he had become the slave of Christ, but with the freedom to serve him. A slave could save enough money to buy his own freedom. Christ had bought human freedom by his death on the *cross. Paul encouraged slaves to gain their freedom from their masters on earth. But some people thought that slaves had no value. Slaves should take no notice of those people. Whether someone is a slave or free person, they are ‘all one family in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28).

Verse 24 It is God’s opinion about a person that matters. So there was no need to change a person’s situation after he became a Christian. The important thing is to obey God.

The problem of two people who have agreed to marry 7:25-28

v25 Now I will write about *virgins. I have no command from the *Lord. But because of the *Lord’s *mercy, you can trust my opinion. v26 The present times are difficult. So, this is what I think: It is good for you to remain as you are. v27 If you are married, do not divorce. If you are single, do not look for a wife. v28 But if you do marry, you have not *sinned. And if a *virgin marries, she has not *sinned. But those who marry will have many troubles in this life. And I do not want you to have those troubles.

Verse 25 Paul was probably writing about young women who were engaged. Some Christians at Corinth were trying to persuade engaged people to remain unmarried. They believed that sex was wrong. Paul says that the Christians can trust his opinion on the matter. He does not say ‘because I am an *apostle with Christ’s authority’. They can trust him because the *Lord has shown *mercy to him. Paul is thinking about what is good for them.

Verse 26 The Christians were already having difficulties because people were opposing them. Paul believed that Jesus would return soon. Before that happened, there would be a time of even greater danger and trouble. So, it was not the time to make important changes in their lives.

Verses 27-28 Married people should not divorce. Single people should not want to get married. But it is not a *sin to marry. It is not wrong for a young engaged woman to marry. But marriage would bring extra problems. Paul did not say what these ‘troubles’ were. But it is not always easy for even a loving husband and wife to share each other’s needs and emotions. Children take up a lot of time and they are not easy to train.

The time is short 7:29-31

v29 *Brothers and *sisters, I mean that the time is short. From now on, those with a husband or wife should live as if they did not have one. v30 Those who are sad should live as if they were not sad. Those who are happy should live as if they were not happy. Those who buy something should live as if it were not theirs to keep. v31 Those who use the things of the world should not become too interested in them. Because this world as it now exists is passing away.

Verses 29-31 Paul believed that Jesus would return soon. There was not much time left to do God’s work. Paul wanted them to stop and think. So he wrote in such a powerful way because he wanted them to be serious about God’s work. He did not expect them to understand his examples in their exact meaning. But he expected husbands to continue to love their wives. People would continue to be sad or happy. Trade would go on. But these things should not control their lives. Because of their *faith they already belonged to the world of *eternity. So, their relationship to the present world was not the most important one. The present world is in the process of passing away. God has already decided the course of future events. Therefore, their hope for the future should free them from too many worries about the affairs of this life.

Freedom from worry 7:32-35

v32 I want you to have nothing to worry about. A single man thinks about the *Lord’s affairs. He wants to know how he can please the *Lord. v33 But a married man is involved in the affairs of this world. He wants to know how he can please his wife. He finds it difficult to serve the *Lord completely and to think about his wife’s needs. v34 There is a difference between a wife and a *virgin. A single woman worries about the *Lord’s affairs. She wants to serve the *Lord with both body and *spirit. But a married woman is anxious about the affairs of this world. She wants to know how she can please her husband. v35 I am saying these things to help you. I am not trying to limit you. I want you to give yourselves completely to the *Lord.

Verses 32-35 Paul wanted married men and women to think about the demands of the *Lord’s work. This could be difficult when they also had their wife’s or husband’s needs to think about. Those who were single were free to concentrate on the *Lord’s work. For the woman to ‘serve the *Lord with body and *spirit’ means ‘to serve him in every way’. Body and *spirit are not separate. Together they mean the whole person. Paul used similar language to describe the whole person in 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

Paul pointed out this problem because he did not want anyone to be anxious in their Christian lives. He thought that to remain single would avoid the difficulty of divided responsibility. But he did not want his words to be like a thick piece of string round people’s necks to control them. They had the freedom to choose marriage. He wanted them to do whatever would help them to serve the *Lord best.

Advice to men about *virgins 7:36-38

v36 Suppose that a man has promised to marry a girl. And he thinks that he is not acting in the right way towards her. Suppose that she is getting older. And he feels that he ought to marry her. He should do as he wants. He is not *sinning. They should get married. v37 But perhaps the man has decided not to marry the *virgin. And perhaps he has no urgent need to get married and he can control his own desire. If he has made up his mind not to marry, he also does the right thing. v38 So the man who marries the *virgin does right. But he who does not marry her does even better.

Paul began to talk about engaged people in 7:25-28. Here he continues his thoughts about the subject.

Verse 36 Some Christians in Corinth were making this man anxious. He had promised to marry a girl. But they said that he should not marry her. She had passed the age when she could easily find a husband. So, he would be failing in his promise, if he did not marry her. The man should follow his own desires and marry her. He would not be *sinning.

Verse 37 But a man with a strong control of his *sexual desires need not marry. The man and woman can live their Christian lives as single people.

Verse 38 The man who marries is doing the right thing. The one who decides not to marry will do better. That is not because marriage is wrong. Paul’s opinion is in verse 26. It is better because of the difficulties that he has spoken about.

Marrying again 7:39-40

v39 A woman must stay married to her husband as long as he lives. But her husband may die. Then she is free to marry anyone else that she wants to. But the man that she marries must belong to the *Lord. v40 In my opinion she is happier if she stays single. And I think that God’s Spirit has led me to say this.

Verse 39 The strict *Jews called the Essenes allowed only one marriage. They thought that the unity of husband and wife continued after death. Paul believed what Jesus taught. He taught that marriage was for life. But a widow could marry again after her husband died. Women usually lived longer than men, so Paul speaks about widows. But this same advice would be true for men whose wives had died. In some ways, a second marriage is a way to praise the first one. The first one had been so happy that one is not afraid to begin a second one. The only limit to the choice to marry again was that the new partner should be a Christian. This is a wise command. A marriage between a non-Christian and a Christian could create great difficulties.

Verse 40 Paul reminds the Christians at Corinth that he has the *Holy Spirit. He has the *Holy Spirit as well as they do. The *Holy Spirit helped him when he gave his opinion about the widow. The widow would be happier if she remained single. That is Paul’s opinion.

Chapters 8-10 deal with the problem of meat that someone had offered to a *pagan god.

Chapter 8

The problem 8:1-13

v1 Now I want to deal with the question about food that someone has *sacrificed to *idols. We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes people proud. But love helps them. v2 A person may think that he knows. Then he still does not know as he should. v3 But God knows the person who loves him. v4 So then, someone may have offered meat to *idols. Here is what I say about that meat. We know that an *idol is nothing at all in the world. We know that there is only one God. v5 There may be so-called gods either in heaven or earth. (There are in fact many ‘gods’ and many ‘*lords’.) v6 But, for us, there is only one God. He is the Father. All things come from him, and we live for him. And there is only one *Lord, Jesus Christ. All things came by him, and we live by him.

v7 But not everyone knows this. Some people still think about it as food that someone has offered to a real god. Because they have a weak sense of right and wrong, they feel guilty. v8 But food does not bring us close to God. We are no worse if we do not eat. We are no better if we do eat. v9 But be careful how you use your freedom. Make sure that it does not cause a weak person to *sin. v10 Perhaps you, who have this knowledge, are eating in an *idol’s *temple. And suppose that a person with a weak sense of right and wrong sees you. That person will probably start to eat meat that someone has *sacrificed to *idols. v11 So your knowledge destroys the weak *brother or *sister for whom Christ died. v12 When you *sin against your *brothers in this way, you wound their weak conscience. When you do this, you *sin against Christ. v13 What I eat may cause my *brother or *sister to *sin. If so, then I will never eat meat again. In that way, I will not cause him to *sin.

Verse 1 The Christians at Corinth had asked Paul about this problem. Meat was expensive. But it became available when *Jews or *pagans offered *sacrifices. The priests burnt a small part of the meat on the *altar. Then the priests kept some. They gave the rest back to the person who offered it. He would often make a *feast for his friends. This would be a pleasant social occasion. Sometimes it was a public *sacrifice by the state. Then they sold the rest of the meat cheaply in the market. So it was difficult to get meat that did not involve *worship. There was no problem in Jerusalem because the meat was a *sacrifice to God. But in other cities, the meat had been offered to a *pagan god. Christians were not sure if it was right to eat that meat. Some people in Corinth worried about it. Other people were proud of their superior knowledge. They thought that there was no problem. They thought that they could eat such meat. Paul’s answer was especially for those people.

The Christians at Corinth said that they had ‘knowledge’. Paul told them that ‘knowledge’ can make people proud about themselves. Real knowledge comes from love. Love thinks about the needs of other people and it makes their *faith stronger. Paul prayed for the Christians at Philippi: ‘I pray that you will continue to love each other more and more. I pray that you will continue to know God more and more. Then you will understand things more completely. You will understand why things are right or wrong.’ (See Philippians 1:9.)

Verses 2-3 The Christians at Corinth thought that they had real knowledge about the way to behave. But they did not possess real knowledge. The one who really ‘knows’ is the one who loves.

Verse 4-6 Paul uses words from their letter. They know that there is only one God. And they know that *idols are not alive. *Pagans believed that there were many ‘gods and *lords’. ‘*Lords’ was the word that *pagans used to describe some of the special gods in their religion. But Christians believe in one God and one *Lord. God is the Father. We can be his children. He created all things. He created us to carry out his plans. Jesus is the one *Lord. ‘*Lord’ was the name for God in the *Old Testament. God created everything. It was by Jesus that God rescued people from their *sin. These words about God and Jesus are like the beginning of a statement about Christian belief.

Verse 7 Some Christians at Corinth did believe that *idols are not alive. But they could not completely forget their belief that the *pagan gods had power over their lives. They had believed in them for a long time. So it worried them to eat this meat. It worried them because someone had offered it to an *idol. So, they thought that it would be better not to eat it. Some new Christians find it hard to stop *worshipping their *ancestors.

Verse 8 These may be the words of the Christians at Corinth, with which Paul would agree. To eat or not to eat food makes no difference to God. They are like Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:19 that *circumcision or lack of *circumcision was not important.

Verses 9-10 To eat food that *pagans had offered to *idols might, however, cause a problem for someone with a troubled conscience. The ‘weak’ Christian may copy the ‘strong’ Christian if he sees him eat in a *pagan *temple.

Verse 11 Now the weak Christian has eaten food that someone has offered to an *idol. So now the weak Christian may lose his *faith completely. He is a *brother for whom Christ died.

Verse 12 The ‘strong’ Christians had forgotten that they were part of a Christian family. Anything that made a Christian ‘*brother’ *sin was a *sin against Christ himself.

Verse 13 Paul was willing to limit his own freedom. He would never make it difficult for another Christian. His action might be good in itself. But it would be wrong if it caused another believer to *sin.

Chapter 9

The rights of an *apostle 9:1-27

Paul is a real *apostle 9:1-2

v1 You know that I am free. You know that I am an *apostle. I have seen Jesus our *Lord. After all, you are the result of my work in the *Lord. v2 I may not be an *apostle to other people. But I certainly am to you. Because you are the *seal that I am the *Lord’s *apostle.

Verse 1 Paul continued to speak about his own freedom. Some Christians at Corinth denied that he was a real *apostle. This was because he did not expect to receive pay for his work. So Paul mentioned two facts. They showed that he was an *apostle.

1. He had seen Jesus. Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus was an appearance of Jesus after his *resurrection. ‘Last of all, he appeared to me also’ (1 Corinthians 15:8).

2. The Christians at Corinth themselves showed that Paul was an *apostle. Paul calls them his ‘*seal’. A *seal was an official stamp on a legal record. It showed that it was genuine. The church at Corinth was the ‘*seal’ that Paul was a genuine *apostle. Paul’s successful work in Corinth was a proof that God’s power was working by him.

Paul compares himself with other people 9:3-6

v3 This is my defence to those who are trying to judge me. v4 We must have the right to food and drink. v5 We travel. We could take a wife who is a believer with us. I suppose that we have that right. The other *apostles do it. The *Lord’s brothers and Cephas do it. v6 It cannot only be Barnabas and I who must work for ourselves.

Verse 5 Paul does not say who he means by the ‘other *apostles’. The ‘*Lord’s brothers’ were James, Joseph (also called Joses), Judas (or Jude) and Simon (Mark 6:3). They were sons of Joseph and Mary after Jesus was born. (However, some people think that they were Jesus’ cousins, or sons from a previous marriage of Joseph.)

James and the other brothers did not believe in Jesus until after his *resurrection. Jesus made a special appearance to James (1 Corinthians 15:7). Later, James became a leader in the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:13-21; 21:18).

Cephas is the Aramaic word for Peter. Aramaic is the language that Jesus spoke. Jesus also made a special appearance to Peter (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5). We know that Peter had a wife, because Jesus healed his wife’s mother (Luke 4:38-39). Paul may have met her when he first visited Jerusalem (Galatians 1:18).

Verse 6 Barnabas had introduced Paul to the Christians in Jerusalem. They sent Barnabas to help the church in Antioch. He brought Paul from Tarsus to work with him there. He and Paul worked together in Asia Minor (Acts chapters 13-14). But they could not agree that they should take Mark, a relative of Barnabas, on a second journey. So Paul and Barnabas separated. Barnabas went to *preach in Cyprus, the country where he was born. And Paul went to Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:36-39).

Examples from ordinary life 9:7-12a

v7 You do not hear about a soldier who does not get any pay. Nor does a man plant a *vineyard and not eat any of its fruit. No one looks after the sheep and the goats and does not use their milk. v8 You must not think that I depend on these human examples alone. v9 In the law of Moses we read this: ‘You must not prevent a male cow from eating some of the corn that it is *threshing.’ I do not believe that God was only thinking about male cows. v10 I believe that he was also thinking about us. Of course he was. Yes, these words were for us. A farmer ploughs and someone separates the grain from the straw. They both do so because they hope for a share in the harvest. v11 We have planted *spiritual seed among you. We expect from you some of the things that we need. I suppose that it is not too much to expect that. v12a Other people have the right to receive help from you. Then we should have even more right to do so.

Verses 7-8 The example in verses 1-6 could mean that his right to receive help was because of his position in the church. Paul mentions important *apostles. He makes it clear that their right to receive help was because they spread the *gospel. So he had the same right. A person deserves a reward for his work. He used the examples of a soldier, a farmer and a person who looks after sheep. They all expected a reward for their work. Paul was Christ’s soldier in the war against *Satan. He was like a farmer because he was spreading the *gospel like seed. He was like a person who looked after sheep because he was looking after God’s people. The Bible often compares God’s people with sheep (Acts 20:28).

Verses 8-9 Someone in Corinth might say that these examples were nothing to do with God’s work. So Paul also used words from the Law. In Deuteronomy 25:4, there is a law about animals that were working on a farm. A male cow is called an ox. It would drag a wooden board with nails in it over grain. The nails would separate the grain from the straw. The ox must not have anything over its mouth to stop it from eating some of the grain. If God cares about animals, he must care about people as well.

Verses 10-11 The farmer who ploughs expects to receive a reward for his work. So does the person who prepares the grain. Paul had acted like a farmer because he spread the *gospel like seed in Corinth. They had received a *spiritual harvest by becoming Christians. So it was normal for Paul and other people to expect to receive things that they needed for *physical life.

Verse 12a Other *apostles had the right to receive help. Paul may mean Apollos and Peter. Paul had spread the *gospel in Corinth. Therefore, he had an even greater right to receive help from them.

Two more reasons for help 9:12b-14

v12b But we did not use this right. Instead, we accept any difficulties rather than prevent the good news from spreading. v13 You must know that those who work in the *temple get their food from the *temple. Also those who serve at the *altar share in the *offering on the *altar. v14 In the same way, those who *preach the good news should receive enough to live on from their work.

Verse 12b Paul begins to say that he did not use the right that he had spoken about in verses 1-12a. Then he thinks of two more reasons why he has the right to receive financial help.

Verse 13 1. Priests in the *Jewish *temple and in *pagan *temples get part of what people offer on the *altar.

Verse 14 2. Paul uses Jesus’ words when he sent out the 70 *disciples. Jesus told them not to take money with them. They should let people invite them into their homes. That is because ‘the worker deserves his wages’ (Luke 10:7). This was not a command. It was probably a well-known sentence.

Why Paul did not ask for help 9:15-18

v15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I do not hope that you will do such things for me. That is not why I am writing this. I would rather die than let anyone take away my pride in my work. v16 I *preach the good news. But I cannot praise myself when I do so. I have to *preach it. I would be very miserable if I did not spread the good news. v17 If I chose to *preach, I could expect to receive a reward. But I have to *preach because God has chosen me. So I am only doing my duty. v18 I have the satisfaction to *preach the *gospel free of charge. I can *preach but not use my rights. That is my reward.

Verse 15 Paul had worked for himself when he went to Corinth. He had used his skill to make tents and other leather goods (Acts 18:3). When he was in Thessalonica, he had worked. He worked so that he would not make things hard for the people there (1 Thessalonians 2:9). He had also provided for himself so that lazy Christians could see the right way to live (2 Thessalonians 3:8).

In Corinth, he did not want people to think that he was teaching in order to become rich. Also, there were people who might have helped him for the wrong reason. It would be a way to gain honour for themselves. While Paul was in Thessalonica, he had received gifts from the Christians in Philippi. It seems from 2 Corinthians 11:7-9 that the Christians at Corinth discovered this. And they were not pleased when they discovered it.

Verse 16 Paul was like Jeremiah. Jeremiah said that God’s message was like a fire inside him (Jeremiah 20:9). Even if he wanted to, Paul could not stop *preaching. To stop would have made him miserable.

Verse 17 Paul might have expected a reward if he had chosen to *preach. But he had no choice, because God had trusted him with this work. So he was only carrying out his responsibility.

Verse 18 His reward was to receive no reward! People do not have to pay for their *salvation. *Eternal life is God’s gift. So, when he refused to accept pay, Paul was acting the message of the *gospel. He was showing that he was free to choose not to make them pay.

Paul’s freedom 9:19-23

v19 I am free and I do not belong to anyone. But I make myself a slave to everyone. I do so to win as many as possible to Christ. v20 To the *Jews, I became like a *Jew to win the *Jews. To those with the law, I became like someone with the law. (Although I myself am not under the law.) v21 There are those who do not have the law. To those people, I became like someone who does not have the law. (I am not free from God’s law. I am under Christ’s law.) v22 To those who are weak, I became weak. That was to win the weak. I have become all things to all people. This is so that in all possible ways I might *save some. v23 I do all these things because of the *gospel. I want to share in its *blessings.

Verse 19 Paul had shown that he had a right to receive help. But he was free not to accept it. He is free to do what he feels to be right in other situations too. He shows that now. This freedom is always so that he can help the *gospel to spread.

Paul was free to act as he decided. But he thought about himself as everyone’s slave. His purpose was to win people to be followers of Christ. He described four different groups of people:

1. *Jews (verse 20). Paul did not believe that *circumcision was essential. He refused to let anyone *circumcise Titus (Galatians 2:3). But in a different situation, Paul *circumcised Timothy. (Timothy had a *Jewish mother and a Greek father.) Timothy was going to work with Paul and Silas. So it was necessary for him to be allowed into *Jewish *synagogues. This was where they usually began to *preach the *gospel (Acts 16:3).

Later, Paul returned to Jerusalem. Then James asked him to take part in a *religious promise that four men were making. This was to show that Paul did not expect *Jews to give up all their *religious practices (Acts 21:23-26). So Paul agreed with some *Jewish customs. But he taught that these customs were not necessary for *salvation.

2. Those with the law. These words usually meant ‘*Jews’. But Paul was not speaking about a person’s nationality. He was speaking about the person’s attitude to the law. Paul may mean *Gentiles who were interested in the *Jewish religion. Or he may mean *Gentiles who had believed the *Jewish *faith.

3. Those who do not have the law (verse 21). Paul here refers to *pagans. The Christians at Corinth might misunderstand what Paul said. They might think that he was saying, ‘I am free to behave in a wicked way.’ So, he explained that he was not free from God’s commands. Christ’s law was the law of love towards other people (John 13:34-35). Paul’s speeches at Lystra (Acts 14:14-17) and Athens (Acts 17:22-31) show how Paul tried to explain the *gospel. He chose to talk in a way that those without the law would understand.

4. The weak (verse 22). Paul meant all those who had no power in society. Some people were anxious about meat that someone had offered to an *idol. He included those people. He would give up his own freedom to eat it if this might cause them to *sin.

Verses 22-23 Paul tried to understand all kinds of people. When he acted differently with some people, it was to help them to become Christians. He was not hiding his true character. His great desire was to use every opportunity to spread the *gospel. Paul hoped to share in the *blessings of the *gospel. He wanted everyone else to share in its *blessings too.

Christians should control themselves 9:24-27

v24 You must know that in a race all the runners run. But only one gets the prize. Run in such a way as to get the prize. v25 Everyone who competes in the games trains himself strictly. They do it to get a crown that will not last. We do it to get a crown that will last for ever. v26 So I do not run as if I were uncertain. I do not fight like a man who hits the air. v27 No, I beat my body and I make it my slave. I do not want to lose the prize after I have *preached to other people. That is why I do this to my body.

Verses 24-25 Paul knew about the games at Isthmia near Corinth. They happened every two years. Paul was in Corinth on one of these occasions. The games happened every two years in a *pagan *temple. There were great numbers of visitors and they had to live in tents. So, Paul was able to use his trade. And he knew what happened. Those who took part in the games had to train hard for about ten months before the event. Christians must be as serious as someone who is training himself. They must control their desires to live an easy life. The reward for a winner in the games was a crown that people made from a wild plant’s leaves. However, these leaves soon died. They must learn to control their desires to live an easy life. But Christians look forward to an *eternal reward. It will not be a reward that lasts only for a very short time.

Verses 26-27 A runner has to keep his attention on the line at the end. A man who boxes must not waste his efforts. He must aim at the one that he is fighting. Christians must remember that they are aiming for heaven. Nothing should take their attention away from their *eternal home.

Paul spoke about the way that he trained. ‘Beat’ is a word from boxing which means ‘give a black eye to’. Paul meant that he controlled his own body. He made a great effort. He was the master of his body. Paul practised what he *preached. His fear was not that he might lose his *salvation. But he might fail to satisfy his *Lord and then he would lose his ‘crown’. By this, he probably meant his reward in heaven.

Chapter 10

*Warnings from Israel’s history 10:1-13

*Spiritual food and drink 10:1-5

v1 *Brothers and *sisters, I do not want you to forget that all our *ancestors were under the cloud. And all of them passed through the sea. v2 They all received *baptism into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. v3 They all ate the same *spiritual food. v4 And they drank the same *spiritual drink. Because they drank from the *spiritual rock that went with them. That rock was Christ. v5 But God was not pleased with most of them. Their dead bodies lay all over the desert.

Verses 1-2 The book of Exodus (chapters 13-17) and Psalm 105:39-41 record the escape of the *Israelites from Egypt. They had been slaves. But Moses led them out and through the desert. The ‘cloud’ was a sign that God was with them to guide and to protect them (Exodus 13:21-22; 14:19-20). They were able to go through the Red Sea on dry land. God sent a strong east wind to push back the water. So they could cross safely (Exodus 14:21-22).

Perhaps the ‘cloud’ was a picture of the *Holy Spirit as he guides the Church. Some writers think that it was. Christian *baptism is like the *Israelites as they went through the sea. This is what Paul is saying. God used Moses to rescue the *Israelites from being slaves in Egypt. In the same way, God used Christ to rescue us from being slaves to *sin. ‘*Baptism into Moses’ is a phrase similar to that in Romans 6:3. Believers receive ‘*baptism into Christ’. ‘*Baptism’ meant that the *Israelites accepted Moses as their leader. ‘*Baptism into Christ’ means that we must be loyal to Christ. He is our leader.

Verses 3-4 The *spiritual food was manna. It was a special kind of bread that God gave the *Israelites during their time in the desert (Exodus 16:11-15). When they were without water, Moses struck a rock. Water came out (Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:1-11). Moses got water from a rock at the beginning and end of their time in the desert. There was a popular *Jewish belief that the rock followed the *Israelites. It always gave them water to drink.

Christ is like the rock in the desert. He gives Christians a continuous supply of *spiritual water to keep them *spiritually alive. To call Christ the rock is a way to show that Christ is God. It is a name for God in the *Old Testament, for example in Psalm 18:2, 31.

Verse 5 Although God had done so much for them, the *Israelites did not obey him. So they died in the desert. Only Joshua and Caleb and the very young people entered the promised land. Paul was warning all Christians. They may have received *baptism. They may take the bread and wine during the *Lord’s Supper. But they must trust and obey God. Otherwise, there is a danger that they will lose their *spiritual life.

The examples of Israel’s *sins in the desert 10:6-10

v6 Now these things happened as examples. They are to stop us from wanting evil things as they did. v7 Do not *worship *idols as some of them did. The *scripture says, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink. They got up to dance.’ (See Exodus 32:6.) v8 We should not be guilty of *sexual *sins as some of them were. And in one day, 23 000 people died. v9 We should not test the *Lord’s patience as some of them did. Snakes killed them. v10 Do not complain about your leaders. That is what some of the *Israelites did. The *angel of death destroyed them.

Paul described four different occasions when the *Israelites *sinned. They are a warning to all Christians. God will punish those who do not obey him.

1. The *worship of *idols, verse 7

While Moses was up the mountain, Aaron made a gold *idol in the shape of a young cow (Exodus 32:1-6). Many of the people *worshipped it. As a punishment, the *Levites killed three thousand people. Other people died from a disease (Exodus 32:28, 35).

2. *Sexual *sins, verse 8

‘They got up to dance’ was a way to describe wild behaviour that included *sexual *sins. Paul must have thought also about the time when the *Israelites had sex with women from Moab (Numbers 25:1). This led them to *worship the gods of the people from Moab. Because of a disease that followed, 24 000 *Israelites died (Numbers 25:9). Paul said ‘23 000’. Perhaps the other 1000 did not die on the same day. Or perhaps the number was between 23 000 and 24 000 and is given approximately in each place.

3. Testing the *Lord’s patience, verse 9

The *Israelites began to complain about the *manna that God had given to them and the lack of water. They said that Moses had brought them out of Egypt to die in the desert. Poisonous snakes then bit the people and many people died (Numbers 21:5-6).

4. Complaining, verse 10

The *Israelites complained against Moses as their leader (Numbers 4:1-38). They complained because Moses had spoken about God’s punishment of Korah and those who followed him (Numbers 16:41). This time, many people died from a disease. Then God said that only Joshua, Caleb and the very young people would enter the promised land (Numbers 14:20-31). All the rest would die in the desert. Paul used words from Exodus 12:23 when he spoke about the ‘*angel of death’.

The Christians in Corinth had complained about Paul. When they did this, they were complaining about God. Paul was warning them by these examples. They must be careful. If not, they would fail to receive what God has promised to Christians.

Warning and promise 10:11-13

v11 These things happened to them as examples for us. They are in *Scripture to warn us who are living now. The world is near to its end. v12 So be careful. You may think that you are standing firm in your *faith. If you think that, you might easily *sin. v13 All other people have the same *temptations as you. God is *faithful. He will not allow you to suffer a *temptation that is too strong for you to deal with. But when *temptation happens, God will also give you a way out. He will do this so that it does not defeat you.

Verses 11-12 Paul believed that God told Moses to write these *scriptures. Then, in the future, people could avoid the *sins of the *Israelites. The Christians at Corinth lived after the death and *resurrection of Jesus. They were in the new age that leads to the final time of God’s plan for the world.

Verse 12 Although God had done so much for them, the *Israelites failed. It can be easy for someone who is too confident to *sin. Peter said that he would be loyal to Jesus, whatever happened. Instead, he said three times that he did not even know Jesus.

Verse 13 After the warning, Paul encourages the Christians in Corinth:

1. They are not the only people who suffer *temptations. Other people also suffer *temptations. And they defeat them with God’s help.

2. God does not allow anyone to suffer a test that is beyond his *spiritual strength.

3. There is always an end to a *temptation. Christians can defeat it with God’s help. They are like an army in a narrow mountain route who find a way to escape from their enemy.

The reason that they should avoid *pagan *temple *feasts 10:14-22

v14 Therefore, my dear friends, run away from the worship of *idols. v15 I am talking to sensible people. Judge for yourselves what I say. v16 We give thanks for the cup of wine at the *Lord’s Supper. It is then that we are sharing in the blood of Christ. When we break the bread, we are sharing in the body of Christ. v17 We all eat from the one loaf. So, we, who are many, are one body.

v18 Think about Israel’s people. Those who eat the *sacrifices share in the *offering on the *altar. v19 I do not mean that what the *pagans give to a god is of value. I do not mean that the *pagan god is real. v20 No, I do not. But the gifts of *pagans are to *demons, not to God. And I do not want you to share with *demons. v21 You cannot drink the cup of the *Lord and the cup of *demons as well. You cannot eat bread at the *Lord’s table and at the table of *demons. v22 We are not trying to make the *Lord jealous. We are not stronger than he is.

Verses 14-15 In 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, Paul had warned the Christians at Corinth by reminding them about events in Israel’s history. Now he gives them a strong order. They must keep far away from the worship of *idols. They are sensible people. So, they should be able to understand that his words are true.

Verses 16-17 They share the *Lord’s Supper. The *Lord’s Supper has a special meaning. They eat the bread and they drink the wine together to remember Christ. This shows them that there is a unity between them and Christ. There is also unity of Christians with each other. This is because they share the cup of wine and eat the bread together. They become like one body because they share one loaf.

Verse 18 When the *Israelites shared a meal after a *sacrifice, they became united in their *worship of God.

Verses 19-21 When *pagans offer a *sacrifice, they are not offering it to a real god. The Christians at Corinth had agreed that *idols do not really exist (8:4). But they were wrong to think that they could therefore share a meal in a *pagan *temple. It was not just a social occasion. Paul gave two reasons why they were wrong:

1. To share a meal in a *pagan *temple united them with *pagan guests. Therefore Christians would appear to believe that the god of the *pagans was real.

2. People were really *worshipping non-human evil *beings (usually called ‘*demons’) when they *worshipped *idols. So because they were sharing a *pagan meal, Christians were becoming partners with *demons. These Christians had shown by their actions that they were carrying out the purpose of *demons. They were doing the *demons’ work because they were destroying the *faith of other Christians (8:11). They were preventing *pagan guests from knowing the proper *faith. It is not possible to *worship Christ and also to *worship *demons.

Verse 22 Paul includes himself in his statement because he says ‘we’. He warns them about the danger of making God ‘jealous’. The second *commandment forbade the worship of *idols because God is a ‘jealous’ God (Exodus 20:4). God is holy and powerful. He will not allow anything to take his place. In the song of Moses, God blamed the *Israelites for their *worship of *idols (Deuteronomy 32:2). By their actions, the Christians in Corinth showed that they doubted God’s right to punish them. They were quarrelling with God as if pieces of a broken pot could question the maker of the pot (Isaiah 45:9-10). They would fail to please God.

The problem of meat from the market 10:23–11:1

v23 You say, ‘Everything is allowed!’ But not everything is good for us. Again, you say, ‘Everything is allowed!’ But not everything builds us up *spiritually. v24 No one should look out for his own advantage. Instead, we should look out for the advantage of other people. v25 Eat anything that they sell in the meat market. Do not ask any questions because of your conscience. v26 Because *Scripture says ‘The earth belongs to the *Lord. And so does everything in it.’ v27 Suppose that a non-Christian invites you to a meal. And suppose that you want to go. Then eat anything that your host puts in front of you. Do not ask any questions about it. v28 But someone may say to you ‘This food has been part of a *sacrifice to an *idol.’ Then do not eat it. Think about the man who told you. Think about what is good for him. Do not eat it, because of his sense of what is right and wrong. v29 I am talking about the other person’s feeling about it, not yours. What someone else thinks should not affect my freedom. v30 Perhaps I give thanks when I take part in the meal. I am eating food that I thank God for. People should not blame me for that. v31 So eat and drink and do everything else for the *glory of God. v32 Do not cause anyone to *sin. It does not matter whether they are *Jews, Greeks, or members of the Christian church. v33 I try to please everyone in every way. I am looking out for what is best for other people. I do it to help them to accept the way to heaven. (Chapter 11) v1 Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.

Verses 23-24 The Christians at Corinth are emphasising their freedom to act as they choose. But not everything that they are free to do will be good for their *faith. It will not help their Christian *faith to become strong. And Christians should think about what is best for other people rather than for themselves.

Verses 25-26 They can eat any meat that they buy in the market. They need not ask where it came from. Paul uses the words from Psalm 24:1 to remind them that all food comes from God. So, they can be free to enjoy his gifts.

Verses 27-28 Then Paul gives his opinion about meals in private houses. It is possible to accept an invitation from someone who is not a Christian. Then the Christian should accept whatever his host provides. He should ask no questions about it. But he may hear that the meat has been part of a *pagan *sacrifice. If so, he should not eat it. It should not matter to him. But the person who told him might have been trying to show respect for the Christian’s belief. Then the Christian should not eat the meat. He should not offend someone who was trying to be helpful. It might also offend another Christian who was there. The other Christian might have found it difficult to understand that an *idol was not real. So, for this reason as well, the Christian should not eat the meat. He should not worry another Christian whose *faith was weak.

Verses 29-30 Paul is emphasising his own freedom. He should be free to eat food for which he has thanked God. But, in verses 31-32, he shows why he limits his own freedom. And he shows why they should limit theirs.

Verses 31-32

1. Everything that they do should be for the *glory of God.

2. They should think about other people. They must do nothing to cause other people to *sin. It does not matter whether the other people are *Jews, *Gentiles or other Christians. Paul himself behaved in a way that would attract people to the good news about Jesus Christ. He would not take advantage of his freedom. He wanted other people to become Christians, and to be strong in their *faith.

Chapter 11 verse 1 Paul invited people to see how Christ made a difference to him. Christ affected the way that he acted. So, he urged them to imitate his behaviour. He himself imitated Christ, who always put the needs of other people first. Paul was not being proud. But he was eager that the Christians at Corinth should correctly understand Christian freedom.

Chapter 11

v1 Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.

Problems about *worship 11:2-34

1. Men and women in *worship 11:2-16

v2 I praise you because you remember me in everything. And you are holding firmly to the things that I taught you. You kept them just as I taught them to you. v3 Now I want you to realise that Christ is the head of every man. And the man is the head of the woman. And God is the head of Christ. v4 Every man who prays or *preaches with a cover on his head brings shame on his head. v5 And every woman who prays or *preaches with no cover on her head shames her head. It is just as if her head were shaved. v6 If a woman does not cover her head, she should cut her hair off. People do not respect a woman with her hair cut off or shaved. So she should cover her head.

v7 A man ought not to have long hair because he is the image and *glory of God. But woman is the *glory of man. v8 Because man did not come from woman. But woman came from man. v9 And God did not create man for woman, but woman for man. v10 For this reason and because of the *angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. v11 However, for those who belong to the *Lord, woman cannot live apart from man. And man cannot exist apart from woman. v12 Because, as woman came from man, so also man is born from woman. But everything comes from God.

v13 Decide for yourselves. Surely, it is not right for a woman to pray with her head not covered. v14 The very nature of things teaches you that it is shame for a man to have long hair. v15 If a woman has long hair, it is her *glory. This is because she has received long hair as a cover. v16 But if anyone wants to argue about this, we have no such custom. Nor do the churches of God.

There were problems when the Christians at Corinth met for *worship. Paul probably learned that from Chloe’s servants. First of all, they did not agree on the way that men and women showed their respect to God.

Verse 2 Paul praised the Christians at Corinth because they were keeping the basic facts of the Christian *faith. He had taught them and they remembered him. Then he went on to deal with the first problem.

Verse 3 ‘Head’ means a part of the body. But here it has two possible meanings:

1. authority or superior, for example, the head man in a village has authority over the people.

2. source, for example, the head of the river is where the river begins.

So, writers explain Paul’s words in one of these two ways:

1. Christ has authority over every person. The man has authority over the woman. God as Father has authority over Christ the Son.

2. Christ is the source of new life for the believer. Man was the source of woman (Genesis 2:22-23). God was the source of Christ’s body when he came to earth.

Verse 4 In Paul’s time, people thought that a man with long hair was trying to look more like a woman. This is because he wanted to behave like a woman. He wanted to have sex with other men. So to pray or *preach with his head ‘covered’ would be shameful.

Verses 5-6 It is not certain what ‘cover’ means. It could be a piece of clothing. Many bibles use the word ‘veil’. It could have been the usual way for a woman to arrange her hair. This was to make a kind of ‘hair cap’ on the top of her head. People would not understand if a woman removed her veil. They would have the wrong idea if she let her hair down in public. They would think that she was imitating women who *worshipped *pagan gods. Or they would think that she was a woman with bad moral behaviour.

Paul said that if she removed her ‘cover’, she might as well cut off her hair. And she might as well shave her head. She would then become more like women who had wrong *sexual relations with other women. So, a woman should avoid public shame; she should keep her head covered.

Verse 7 God created man in his own image (Genesis 1:26-28). Man exists to give praise and honour to God (Revelation 4:11). Woman is the *glory of man, because God created her as the one suitable companion for man (Genesis 2:18-23).

Verses 8-9 Paul refers to the way that God created people. Man did not come from woman, because God created him first. Woman came from man, as part of him (Genesis 2:21-22).

Verse 10 Because God created her from man, the woman should keep her head covered to show man’s authority over her.

‘because of the *angels’. Writers have suggested several different reasons for these words:

1. Some people think that the story in Genesis 6:1-2 is about *angels who *sinned with human women. In Paul’s days, there was a *tradition that the beauty of women’s long hair attracted these *angels. Paul might have been thinking about this story.

2. Paul believed that his Christian life was on display in front of *angels (1 Corinthians 4:9). So he thought about *angels as present at public *worship. Women should not offend them. They would offend them if they had no cover on their head.

3. Paul said that Christians would judge *angels (1 Corinthians 6:3). So Christians ought to be able to decide the right way to show respect when they *worshipped.

Verse 11-12 The *Jews believed that men are superior to women. God created man first and woman second. But every man is born from a woman. So, the argument about who is more important has no meaning. God created everything. So, it was a part of his plan for people that men and women should be equal.

‘For those who belong to the *Lord’ suggests a contrast between believers and other people. In the world, people may have thought that women should take second place to men. But in the Christian church, women have equal value.

Verses 14-15 Paul appeals to the way that they felt about things in their society. Paintings and *statues from Paul’s time show that it was normal for men to have short hair. People thought that it was shameful for men to have long hair. It was not natural. For a woman, it was the opposite. Long hair was not shameful. It was a cover that God had given to her. And it gave her honour. Paul was comparing the natural appearance of a woman with that of a man. He was not thinking here about the way that women should appear in public.

Verse 16 For anyone who wanted to argue about the matter, Paul did not give a command. He just told them that, where he was (at Ephesus), women did not pray without a cover on the head. This was true in other churches as well.

The problem that Paul talked about was important for the church in Corinth in his time. But it is still true that for both men and women there are ways to show respect in public *worship. These ways will vary with local customs in different countries.

2. The wrong way to carry out the *Lord’s supper 11:17-22

v17 In the following instructions, I do not praise you. This is because your meetings do not make things better. They make them worse. v18 First, people tell me that there are divisions among you. There are divisions when you meet as a church. And I partly believe it. v19 No doubt there are differences among you to show which of you God agrees with! v20 You do come together. But it is not the *Lord’s supper that you eat. v21 As you meet, each of you starts to eat. You do not wait for anyone else. One remains hungry and another person drinks too much wine. v22 You have homes to eat and drink in. Do not cause shame for those who have nothing. If you do, you insult God’s church. I will say this to you. Perhaps you expect me to praise you for this. I certainly will not praise you!

Verses 17-18 Chloe’s servants had given Paul news that disgusted him. He could hardly believe the news about the behaviour of some people at their meetings. In those days, Christians shared a meal before they carried out the *Lord’s Supper. They brought food and wine to share with each other. Christ removed social differences between rich and poor people. But some Christians were selfish. They did not care about the poorer people. So, the meeting was not a sign of Christian love and unity. Instead, it had no value.

Verse 19 The differences among them showed that some were living as God wanted. But other people were not.

Verses 20-21 The Christians who arrived first had the most comfortable seats. They did not wait for the Christian slaves who came later, after their work. Instead, they started their own meal. They ate and drank more than their fair share. So there was little or nothing left when the poor Christians arrived later.

Verse 22 Their attitude showed that they did not care about the unity of God’s church. So, they might as well stay at home for their meals. Paul’s severe words show what he thought about their greedy and selfish behaviour. He had to go on to remind them about the meaning of the *Lord’s supper.

3. The meaning of the *Lord’s Supper 11:23-26

v23 I passed on to you what I received from the *Lord. On the night that Judas handed Jesus over to his enemies, Jesus took bread. v24 When he had given thanks, he broke the bread. He said, ‘This is my body, which I give for you. Do this in memory of me.’ v25 In the same way, after supper, he took the cup of wine. He said, ‘This cup is the new *covenant in my blood. Whenever you drink the wine, do it in memory of me.’ v26 You eat the bread and you drink the wine. Whenever you do that, you are telling everyone about the *Lord’s death. You will do this until he comes again.

Verse 23 Paul’s account of the Last Supper is the earliest record of this event. He wrote it before the *gospel records. ‘Received’ and ‘passed on’ were special words for *Jews, which meant to give instructions in *religious matters. ‘Received from the *Lord’ means that Jesus himself had told this to Paul. The night was the night of the *Passover Meal. Jesus had warned his *disciples that one of them would hand him over to his enemies. Later, in the garden of Gethsemane, Judas showed the soldiers which person was Jesus.

Verses 23-24 Jesus said that the bread that he had broken was a sign for his body. He would die for their *salvation. Then, whenever they ate the bread in a meeting for *worship, they would remember him. They would remember that he died for their *salvation.

Verse 25 The *Israelites promised that they would obey God’s Law. Moses signed the *covenant by putting the blood of an animal on the *altar and on the people (Exodus 24:8). Jeremiah spoke about a new *covenant that was necessary. The people had not obeyed the one that they made in the time of Moses. This new *covenant would mean that God would forgive their *sins. They would want to obey God because he loved them (Jeremiah 31:31). The blood of Jesus would be the *sacrifice that made the new *covenant final.

‘Whenever you drink it’ shows that Jesus intended believers to have a regular time to remember his *sacrifice. The *Passover took place once a year. But Christians need more than an annual event to remind them about Jesus’ death. ‘Whenever’ could refer to a daily meal. Every supper that Christians share can be called ‘the *Lord’s supper’. Jesus was the *Lord’s servant who ‘took the *sin of many’ (Isaiah 53:12).

Verse 26 The meal would be a sign of the *Lord’s death. A person should accept what Jesus has done for him. His death brings *salvation to any person who accepts that. Jesus’ death also brings a new unity of people. There is now nothing between *Jew and Greek, men and women, free people and slaves. But the Christians at Corinth were not showing this unity. At every meal, Christians should remember Christ’s death until he comes again. That meal could be in a special *religious service or it could be an ordinary meal.

4. Preparation for the *Lord’s Supper 11:27-34

v27 Therefore it is wrong to eat the bread and drink the cup of the *Lord without proper respect. Anyone who does so will be *sinning against the body and blood of the *Lord. v28 A person should check his *spiritual health before he shares the bread and the wine. v29 Anyone who eats and drinks must recognise the meaning of the *Lord’s body. If he does not, God will judge him. v30 That is why many of you are weak and ill. That is why some of you have died. v31 We should examine ourselves. Then we would avoid God’s judgement. v32 When the *Lord judges us, he corrects us. Then we will not receive the same judgement as the rest of the world. v33 So then, my *brothers and *sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for each other. v34 If anyone is hungry, he should eat at home. Then when you come together, God will not judge you. When I come, I will give you more instructions.

Verse 27 We should remember what the *Lord’s Supper means. It is wrong to eat it if we do not remember that. The bread and wine are signs of the death of Christ. To eat and drink carelessly is to be guilty of Christ’s death. A careless person is as much to blame as those who *crucified Jesus.

Verses 28-29 A Christian eats the bread and drinks the wine. He must prepare himself before he does that. He must not forget that he is part of the body of Christ. The body of Christ is the church. Christ’s death was an act of love. Therefore, the members of his body, the church, must show love to each other. If they do not, God will judge them.

Verse 30 Paul understood the illnesses and even deaths at Corinth as God’s judgement on the whole church.

Verses 31-32 They should decide whether they have right relations with other Christians. Paul had already told them that they were ‘one body’ (10:17). God will judge them if they have the wrong attitude to each other. God is like a father who corrects his children. God judges in order to correct his Christian children. Then they will not have to face the final judgement like non-Christians.

Verses 33-34 They must wait for each other and welcome each other. Those who cannot wait to eat should do so at home.

Paul does not say what instructions he will give them. He may mean more teaching about the *Lord’s supper. He may mean other matters that affect their progress in the Christian life.

Chapter 12

*Spiritual gifts 12:1-31

1. Jesus is *Lord 12:1-3

v1 Now about the *Holy Spirit’s gifts, *brothers and *sisters, I do not want to leave you in any doubt. v2 You know that at one time you were *pagans. You felt a power that you could not oppose. It led you to *worship *idols that could not speak. v3 So I tell you something. Anyone who is speaking with the help of God’s *Spirit cannot say, ‘Let God *curse on Jesus.’ And without the help of the *Holy Spirit, no one can say, ‘Jesus is *Lord.’

Verse 1 The Christians at Corinth had asked Paul about *spiritual gifts. They may also have asked how to recognise the difference between evil *spirits and the *Holy Spirit.

Verse 2 Before they became Christians, they *worshipped *idols. *Idols are not real. But people were really *worshipping *demons when they *worshipped *idols. That is what Paul said. The *demons had led them to believe that wild cries were messages from the gods.

Verse 3 There was a way to decide whether a *spirit was good or bad. Those who spoke a *curse on Jesus could not have spoken by God’s Spirit. *Jews would use a *curse like this because Jesus died on a *cross. This was because of the Law in Deuteronomy 21:23. It said that God would *curse anyone who hung on a tree. Paul had tried to make Christians *curse when he was opposing them (Acts 26:11). This was before he became a Christian. Later on, *Roman rulers attacked Christians. Then Christians had to *curse Jesus or die.

‘Jesus is *Lord’ was probably the earliest statement of Christian belief. It meant that a person obeyed Christ as his master. The *Holy Spirit would help him to love other people. The selfish Christians divided the church. They were as bad as those who *cursed Jesus.

2. A variety of gifts 12:4-11

v4 There are different kinds of gifts. But the same *Holy Spirit gives them all. v5 There are different ways to serve. But they all come from the same *Lord. v6 There are different ways to work. But the same God is giving all of them to people. v7 The *Holy Spirit gives each person a special gift to use for the benefit of everyone.

v8 The *Holy Spirit’s gift to one person is the power to speak with wisdom. To another person, the same *Holy Spirit gives the message of knowledge. v9 To another person, the same *Holy Spirit gives *faith. To another person, that one *Holy Spirit gives the power to heal. v10 To another person, he gives the power to do *miracles. To another person, he gives the gift of *prophecy. To another person, he gives the power to see the difference between *spirits. To another person, he gives the power to speak in different tongues. And to another person, he gives the power to explain what people said in those tongues.

v11 All these gifts are the work of the same *Holy Spirit. He gives these gifts to each person exactly as he has decided.

Verses 4-7 Paul wants to emphasise the unity of the church. He also wants to show that in the church there are different gifts. But these gifts are for the benefit of the whole church. They are not just for the benefit of the person who received the gift. Paul speaks about God (verse 6), the *Lord (verse 5) and the *Holy Spirit (verse 7) as the source of *spiritual gifts. He did not mean that each gift had a different origin. The same God gives every gift.

Verses 8-10 Paul gives a list of the *Holy Spirit’s gifts. He did not intend to write a complete list. There are other gifts in similar lists (1 Corinthians 12:28-30; Romans 12:6-8). Paul was just giving examples of the *Holy Spirit’s gifts to Christians.

There are nine examples. Writers try to put them into different groups:

1. wisdom and knowledge, verse 8.

Paul probably began with these because the people in Corinth emphasised them. ‘Wisdom’ comes from God. In 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 Paul speaks about God’s plan to give us *salvation by Christ. By ‘wisdom’, Paul means that we understand this with the help of the Holy Spirit. And we speak it. The *Holy Spirit speaks to us. And he shows us what God is like. Then we can share *spiritual truth with other people. ‘Knowledge’ is to understand God’s message for a particular situation.

2. *faith, power to heal and *miracles, verses 9-10.

‘*Faith’ means great *faith that the *Holy Spirit gives. Someone with this *faith believes that God will show his power or *mercy in a special situation. Elijah on Mount Carmel had this *faith (1 Kings chapter 18). A hundred years ago in England, a man had a home for hundreds of children without parents. He had the *faith to believe that God would supply their needs. God did supply their needs, sometimes in very wonderful ways.

‘Power to heal’ The book of Acts shows that the early *apostles healed the sick in the name and power of Jesus (Acts 3:6). Today God continues to heal the sick. He does so through prayer and the *faith of particular Christians. He also works through doctors and medical discoveries.

‘*Miracles’ These would include power to heal and other works of power. The *exorcism of evil *spirits would be one example.

3. ‘*prophecy’, verse 10.

By *prophecy, Paul means a message that the *Holy Spirit gives. It is to call people to live in God’s way. Like the *Old Testament *prophets, a Christian could warn those who were not obeying God. He would urge them to change their ways. He would show them the behaviour that God expected.

4. ‘the power to see the difference between *spirits’, verse 10.

God’s Spirit would tell members of the church who was speaking the truth. Other *spirits came from the *devil.

5. The gift of tongues and the power to explain their meaning, verse 10.

‘Tongues’ are sounds usually in no known human language. Other members of the church could not understand what the speaker was saying to praise God. It needed someone with a special gift to explain the meaning. It seems that the Christians at Corinth emphasised this gift very much. In parts of the Christian church today, to speak in tongues is important to the members. Paul shows his own attitude in chapter 13. In chapter 14, he also gives advice about what should happen in church meetings.

Verse 11 All the gifts that Paul has mentioned are the work of God’s *Spirit. The *Holy Spirit decides what gift or gifts each Christian should have. He gives them to help all the Christians to work together. Then they can spread God’s *kingdom.

3. The body of Christ 12:12-31

v12 A human body is one body. But it has many parts. Although it has many parts, they make up one body. It is the same with Christ. v13 The *Holy Spirit *baptised us all into one body. It was the same for *Jews or Greeks, slaves or free men. Now we all drink from that same Spirit.

v14 Now it is not only one part that makes the body. It has many parts. v15 Suppose that the foot says, ‘I am not a hand. So I do not belong to the body.’ It would still be part of the body. v16 And suppose that the ear says, ‘I am not an eye. So I do not belong to the body.’ It would still be part of the body. v17 If the whole body were an eye, it could not hear. If the whole body were an ear, it would have no sense of smell. v18 But God has arranged the parts of the body. They are just as he wanted them to be. v19 It would not be a body if all the parts were the same. v20 As it is, there are many parts. But there is only one body.

v21 The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I do not need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I do not need you!’ v22 It is the opposite. We cannot do without the parts of the body that seem to be weaker. v23 And we give special attention to those parts that we consider less important. We give special care to the private parts. v24 The parts that we can see do not need special care. But God has joined together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honour to the parts of the body that had no honour. v25 In that way there should be no divisions in the body. All of the parts will look after each other. v26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part receives honour, every part shares its joy.

v27 You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of it. v28 First, God has appointed *apostles in the church. Second, he has appointed *prophets. Third, he has appointed teachers. Then he has appointed people who do *miracles. And he has appointed those who have the power to heal. He has also appointed those who are able to help other people. And he has appointed those who are able to organise things. He has given some the power to speak in different kinds of tongues. v29 Everyone cannot be an *apostle. Not everyone can be a teacher. Everyone cannot work *miracles. v30 Nor does everyone have power to heal. Not everyone can speak in tongues or explain the meaning of tongues. v31 But you should be eager to have the better gifts. And now I will show you the best way of all.

Verses 12-13 Paul has already said, ‘We, who are many, are one body’ (10:17). The *Holy Spirit had *baptised them all into one body. There was no difference between those from different nations, or in different places in society. Christians are like Christ’s body on earth. They should speak and work for him.

Verses 14-21 Some Christians in Corinth thought that they were superior to other people. Their gifts were easier to see and other people noticed them. Other people thought that they had no gifts. Or they thought that their gifts were less important. So there was false pride in the church. And some people became jealous. A human body is only healthy if all the parts work together. Every part is essential. Each limb is important. It would be stupid for the foot to be jealous of the hand. The word for ‘foot’ in Greek is very similar to the word for ‘ear’. So, Paul chose the ear as his second example. Both the ears and the eyes are important parts of the body. One without the other would stop the body from being whole. Paul shows that there would be no sense if a body had only one part. God has created a body with many different parts. But it is still one body.

Verses 22-24 The ‘weaker’ parts are the internal parts like the heart. Although they are not in view, no one can live without them. The ‘private parts’ means the parts of the body that are for *sexual functions. People make sure to be modest because they cover them with special care. There is no need to give special honour to the parts of the body that we can see.

Verses 25-26 God has arranged the parts of the body so that they all work together. One part that suffers makes the rest of the body suffer. An ache in a tooth affects the whole body. A pleasant meal satisfies the stomach. And it makes the whole person feel good. When believers are really like the body of Christ, they respect each other. They sympathise with each other. They are sad when something or someone hurts another Christian in any way. They are glad when something makes another Christian happy.

Verses 27-28 Paul describes the functions of different parts of the body of Christ. He seems to give them in order of their importance because he says ‘first’, ‘second’ and ‘third’. But Paul has been writing about the importance of all parts of the body. So, he is probably thinking about the way that people become Christians. Then he thought about the way that people make progress in their *faith. ‘*Apostles’ gave the message about Jesus Christ. ‘*Prophets’ continued the work because they made them *spiritually stronger. ‘Teachers’ gave them more information and helped them to understand their *faith better.

Paul has already mentioned *miracles and power to heal (12:9-10). He adds the power to help other people. Christians can help in all kinds of practical ways. A person who organises things is like a person who guides a ship into harbour. It is the same word as the modern Greek word for a pilot who makes his aircraft land safely. A person with this gift gives wise advice to the whole church.

Paul mentions ‘tongues’ last of all because it was a problem in the church at Corinth. He wanted to show that it was only one of many different gifts. Therefore, he spoke about other gifts first.

Verse 31 This command seems to oppose what Paul says in verses 29-30. There he emphasises the variety of gifts. And, in verses 21-26, he shows how each person’s gifts are necessary for the rest of the Christian ‘body’. He is not saying that some people are more important than other people. But he will explain in 14:1-25, which are the greater gifts. They are those that benefit the church. But he first shows that no *spiritual gift has any value without love.

Chapter 13

Love 13:1-13

1. The absence of love 13:1-3

v1 Suppose that I speak in the languages of people and *angels. If I have no love, I am only like a loud gong (a kind of musical instrument). Or I am like another noisy musical instrument. v2 Suppose that I have the gift of *prophecy. Suppose that I can understand all God’s secrets. And I know everything about him. And suppose that I have enough *faith to move mountains. If I do not have love, I am nothing at all. v3 Perhaps I give everything that I have to poor people. Perhaps I allow people to burn my body. If I do not have love, I get nothing at all.

Verse 1 The languages (tongues) of people would be foreign languages. But the language of *angels can only mean speech that people cannot understand. The Christians at Corinth were not using this gift in the right way. Without love, their speech would be only a noise. Their speech would also be like a musical instrument that produces a loud crash, but no harmony. *Pagans would use such instruments in their excited *worship. A gong is a metal plate. It makes a loud noise when someone hits it with a stick.

Verse 2 The Christians at Corinth also emphasised ‘knowledge’. But the person with the deepest knowledge and the greatest *faith is worth nothing without love. ‘To move mountains’ was a way to say ‘to overcome a very difficult problem’.

Verse 3 The most generous act to help poor people would be of no use without love. When he spoke about allowing people to burn his body, Paul may have thought about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (Daniel 3). He was probably using picture language for *sacrifice that was the result of pride. This would be of no advantage.

2. The nature of love 13:4-7

The special *New Testament word for ‘love’ is ‘agape’. It is not the natural love for a friend or a relative. It is the kind of love that God shows to people. We do not deserve it and we can never earn it. So, when we know God’s love, we should show that same love to other people.

v4 People with love are patient. They are kind. They do not feel jealous. They do not *boast. They are not proud. v5 They do not behave badly. They do not look out for their own interests. They do not easily become angry. They do not keep a record of how people have hurt them. v6 They take no pleasure in anything that is evil. But they are happy with the truth. v7 They always protect. They always trust. They always hope. They never give up.

Verse 4a What love is like:

Patience and kindness show God’s attitude to us (Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Jesus showed great patience with his *disciples. They were slow to understand what he taught. The ‘fruit of the Spirit’ includes patience and kindness (Galatians 5:22).

Verses 4b-7 What people with love do not do:

The first five examples refer to the way that some Christians at Corinth were behaving.

1. They do not feel jealous. In Corinth, people were jealous of each other’s *spiritual gifts. There were also groups who were competing with each other. They said that their leader was superior to the leader of other people. Paul had to show that leaders were all God’s servants. They were working together to make his *kingdom grow (1 Corinthians chapter 3).

2. They do not *boast. There was a *Pharisee in the story in Luke 18:9-12. He told God what a good person he (the *Pharisee) was. Some of the Christians at Corinth were *boasting that they had wisdom and knowledge. It is not possible to *boast and to love at the same time. To *boast is to make people notice you. To love is to think about other people. And it is to work for the whole church.

3. They are not proud. A proud person thinks too much about his own importance. A Christian who shows love is humble. William Carey was a shoe-maker who went to India about 200 years ago. He translated parts of the Bible into many different languages. But he did not think about himself as more than someone who mended shoes.

4. They do not behave badly. To behave well means more than to be polite. Some Christians at Corinth were not respecting other people. Some people were greedy and they were not thinking about other people at the *Lord’s Supper. They were without shame. To love means to think about other people’s feelings.

5. They do not look out for their own interests. Paul has already said that Christians should not use their freedom to act only for their own benefit (10:24). He repeated this advice to the Christians in Philippi (Philippians 2:4).

6. They do not easily become angry. Paul began his description of love with the word ‘patient’. One kind of patience is to be able to keep calm when other people are angry. It does not answer insults with anger.

7. They do not keep a record of how people have hurt them. God in Christ does not keep a record of our *sins (2 Corinthians 5:19). So, the person who loves does not keep remembering an action or insult against him. Some people say, ‘I will forgive but I will not forget.’ This statement means that the person has not really forgiven his enemy.

8. They take no pleasure in evil things. They are happy with the truth. It is a sad fact that people like to hear about the failures of other people. Newspapers, television and radio often encourage an interest in other people’s *sins. A loving Christian does not try to find fault in other people. ‘Love covers over a great number of *sins’ (1 Peter 4:8). Gossip can ruin a person’s life. But a loving person is happy when anyone succeeds.

9. Verse 7 Paul ends his list by emphasising that love never changes. People with love do not talk about other people’s faults. They do not give in to insults and difficulties. Christians can trust God’s promise to give them ‘hope and a future’ (Jeremiah 29:11). Christians can live with courage in every circumstance. This is because of their trust in God’s love for themselves and for other people.

3. Love is permanent 13:8-13

v8 Love never comes to an end. But where there are *prophecies, they will become of no use. Where there are tongues, they will become silent. Where there is knowledge, it will no longer be necessary. v9 We know only part of the truth now. And our *prophecy is only partly accurate. v10 But that which is complete will come. And then what is not complete will disappear. v11 When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child. I used to reason like a child. When I became a man, I did not behave like a child any longer. v12 Now we see only a poor image in a mirror. Then we shall see face to face. Now I know only part. Then I shall know completely. v13 And now, these three remain - *faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Verse 8 In verses 1-2, Paul spoke about three gifts. They were *prophecy, tongues and knowledge. He said that without love they had no value. Here he contrasts love with these gifts. Love is permanent. These gifts will all become unnecessary.

Verses 9-10 In this life, our knowledge of God can never be complete. One day, we will no longer need anything that is not complete. That will happen in *eternity when Christ comes again.

Verses 11-12 Paul uses two examples to show what he means:

1. An adult does not speak or think like a child. And he does not reason like a child. The behaviour of a child is only suitable while he remains a child. *Spiritual gifts are necessary for the growth of the church. But they will no longer be necessary in *eternity.

2. Corinth was famous for good mirrors. They did not have clear glass then, so they made them out of metal. But highly polished metal is not as good as a modern glass mirror. It would reflect the image of a person, but not a perfect image. John said, ‘We know that when Jesus appears, we shall be like him. Because we shall see him as he is’ (1 John 3:2). God already knows us completely. In the next age, we shall understand God’s ways. We cannot understand them completely in this life.

Verse 13 *Faith, hope and love seem to have been a well-known group of qualities. Paul speaks about them in other letters. For example, 1 Thessalonians 1:3; Colossians 1:4-5. These three words explain the whole of the Christian life in this world. Christians have ‘*faith’ that God will forgive them because of Christ’s *sacrifice. They have ‘hope’ for the future, because of Christ’s *resurrection. They live a life of *faith and hope among Christian *brothers and *sisters whom they ‘love’. Of these three, only love will remain into *eternity. *Faith will no longer be necessary. Hope will become knowledge. Love is the greatest, because God himself is love (1 John 4:8). A friendship with him will never end, but it will continue into *eternity.

Chapter 14

*Prophecy and tongues 14:1-40

1. The effect of *prophecy 14:1-5

v1 Follow the way of love. You should be eager to have the gifts of the *Holy Spirit. Most of all, you should want the gift of *prophecy. v2 Anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people. He speaks only to God. In fact, no one understands him. What he says with his *spirit is a mystery. v3 But anyone who *prophesies, speaks to people. He says things that make them stronger. He encourages and comforts them. v4 The one who speaks in a tongue benefits his own *spiritual life. But the one who *prophesies benefits the church. v5 I would like all of you to speak in tongues. But I would prefer that you *prophesy. Those who *prophesy are more important than those who speak in tongues. But maybe those who speak in tongues explain what they have said. Then the whole church can receive *spiritual help to benefit it.

Verses 1-5 The Christians in Corinth were emphasising the gift of ‘tongues’. Paul possessed the gift himself (verse 18). But he was thinking about how all the members of the church could grow in their *faith.

Verses 1-2 He urges the Christians at Corinth to desire *spiritual gifts. But especially they should want the gift of *prophecy. A Christian who praised God in a tongue was helping himself. He was using sounds in no known human language when he could not find words to use. But other people could not understand him.

Verse 3 To give a message from God benefited the church. People could understand, so their *faith would grow. *Prophecy encouraged and comforted members of the church.

Verse 4 Paul makes the contrast clear. To speak in a tongue will help one person. To give a message from God for a particular situation helps the whole church.

Verse 5 So Paul would prefer the Christians to *prophesy. It was more important for the church to understand what God wanted. Unless someone explained the tongues, the church would not become stronger.

2. Without meaning, speech is no use 14:6-12

v6 Now, *brothers and *sisters, suppose that I were to speak in tongues to you. I would be no use to you. I would be no use unless I came with some truth, knowledge, *prophecy or teaching. v7 Think about certain things that make sounds. Musical instruments are examples. No one will know the *tune unless they play different notes. v8 If the *trumpet does not make a clear call, no one will get ready for battle. v9 It is the same with you. You must speak words that people can understand. If not, no one will know what you are saying. You will just be speaking into the air. v10 It is true that there are all kinds of languages in the world. They all have meaning. v11 But I may not understand what someone is saying. Then I am a foreigner to that person. And he is a foreigner to me. v12 So it is with you. You want to have *spiritual gifts. So, try to do your best. Use gifts that benefit the church.

‘Tongues’ are not helpful in church meetings, unless someone explains them. Paul uses four different ways to show this:

1. Verse 6 The church would not benefit if Paul spoke to the Christians at Corinth in tongues. He would help them only with messages that they could understand.

2. Verse 7 If musicians do not play distinct notes on their instruments, nobody will listen. Because they are not playing a proper tune (a pleasant series of notes), nobody will enjoy the music.

3. Verses 8-9 The army used a *trumpet to call people to battle. They must prepare for battle. But if the sound was not clear, no one would get ready. Christians are fighting a battle against *Satan. So, they must be able to make people understand the dangers in their *spiritual lives. They are wasting their breath if people cannot understand their words.

4. Verses 10-11 There are many different languages. Each has its own meaning. But two people cannot talk to each other if they do not understand each other’s language. The Greeks described foreign languages as ugly noises like ‘bar, bar, bar.’

Verse 12 Paul tells the Christians in Corinth that they too are preventing people from understanding them. They are like musical instruments that are not playing in harmony. They are like a *trumpet that does not warn about danger. It is as if they are speaking a foreign language. They must not be selfish. Instead, they should use the *spiritual gifts that make the whole church strong.

3. The need to pray for understanding 14:13-19

v13 For this reason, anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to explain his words. v14 Because if I pray in a tongue, my *spirit prays. But my mind does nothing. v15 So this is what I shall do. I will pray with my *spirit. But I will also pray with my mind. I will sing with my *spirit. But I will also sing with my mind. v16 Suppose that you are praising God with your *spirit. And perhaps there are people among you who do not understand. These people cannot say ‘*Amen’ when you give thanks. They do not know what you are saying. v17 You may be giving thanks well enough. But the other person is not receiving help to grow in his *faith. v18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you. v19 But in the church, I would rather speak 5 words that people can understand than speak 10 000 words in a tongue. That is because I would then be teaching other people.

Verses 13-15 It is important to use the mind as well as the *spirit when a Christian prays or sings. The Christians in Corinth thought that only the *spirit is important.

Verses 16-17 Perhaps Christians were speaking in tongues as they were giving thanks to God. Then some people who were present would not understand. So, they could not add ‘*Amen’ to the *thanksgiving. ‘*Amen’ is a *Hebrew word. It means that the speaker agrees with the prayer.

Verses 18-19 Paul himself had the gift to speak in tongues. But in a church meeting, he would only use words that people could understand. He wanted to teach other people so that their *faith would grow strong.

4. Visitors to the church 14:20-25

v20 *Brothers and *sisters, stop thinking like children. Be like babies who are innocent about wrong behaviour. But think like adults. v21 God warns his people in the Law: ‘Through people who speak strange languages and by the lips of strangers I will speak to these people. But even then they will not listen to me.’ This is what the *Lord says. v22 So tongues are a sign. They are not for believers, but for those who do not believe. *Prophecy, however, is for believers. It is not for those who do not believe. v23 Maybe the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues. And suppose that some *pagans come into the meeting. They will think that you are all mad. v24 But suppose that a non-Christian or someone with no understanding of the *faith comes to the meeting. If everyone is *prophesying, he will realise his *sin. What everyone says will help him to understand that he is guilty. v25 The secret things about his life will not be secret any more. So he will fall down and *worship God. He will say, ‘God is really among you.’

Verses 20-21 Paul has already urged the Christians at Corinth to stop behaving like children (3:1-4). Now he wants them to think about the gift of tongues in a mature way. Children think that anything unusual is exciting. But they must not be like children. Paul uses words from Isaiah 28:11-12 to make his advice clear. The words ‘in the Law’ here mean ‘in the Old Testament (the first part of the Bible)’.

Verses 21-23 Priests and *prophets who had drunk too much wine made fun of Isaiah’s message. They spoke nonsense. (The *Hebrew words are ‘sav lasav, sav lasav, kav lakav, kav lakav’.) So Isaiah warned them. The soldiers from Assyria would come into their land and defeat them. Then the priests and *prophets would hear a language that sounded like nonsense to them. So the Christians’ use of tongues may sound like nonsense to someone else. Suppose that they use this gift at the wrong time. Visitors to the service will think that they are mad. ‘Mad’ does not mean the behaviour of someone with a mental illness. In *pagan religions with secret ceremonies, people sometimes behaved in mad, excited ways. They believed that a god had power over them. The visitors may have been interested in the Christian *faith. But they will decide that the Christian *faith is no different from these *pagan religions. So, they will go away and probably they will never return.

Verses 24-25 *Preaching helps those who are already in the church (verse 22). But it is also a powerful witness to visitors. A person’s conscience will tell him that he is *sinful. His *spiritual state will become clear. He will declare that God is really present in the church. Paul believed that this was coming true. At a future time, people from every nation would want to learn from the *Jews. Paul uses these words from Zechariah 8:23: ‘Let us go with you. We have heard that God is with you.’ When visitors would listen to Christian *preaching, they would want to know more about Jesus.

5. The need for control in *worship 14:26-36

v26 *Brothers and *sisters, we must be clear about what we say. When you come together, everyone brings something. You bring a song to praise God or words to instruct people. You bring a message from God, a message in a tongue or an explanation of such a message. All these things should happen in order to make the church strong. v27 No more than two or three people should speak in a tongue. They should speak one at a time. Then someone must explain what they have said. v28 If there is no one to explain, the speaker must keep quiet in the church. He should speak to himself and to God. v29 Only two or three *prophets should speak. The other people should decide whether their message is true. v30 A message from God may come to someone who is sitting down. If it does, the first speaker must stop. v31 Those who *prophesy can speak in turn. In this way, everyone can learn. The *prophets can encourage everyone. v32 The gift to declare God’s message must be under the control of the *prophet. v33 This is because God is not a God of confusion, but a God of peace.

As in all the churches of God’s people, v34 women should remain silent in the meetings. They must not speak. But they must obey those in authority, as the law says. v35 If they want to ask a question about something, they should ask their own husbands at home. This is because it is shameful for women to speak in church meetings. v36 The word of God did not begin with you. You are not the only people that it has reached.

Verse 26 Paul believed that in a Christian meeting each person had a gift to share. These gifts would help the church to grow strong. But he had heard that the Christians’ *worship in Corinth was confused. Christians wanted to display their own gifts. They were competing for attention with each other. So there was noise, but no proper *worship of God. God loves control and peace (verse 33). The meetings also went on for far too long. So Paul gives advice to three different groups:

1. Those who speak in tongues, verses 27-28

There should be a limit to the number. They must speak one at a time. If there is no one to explain the message, the speaker must keep quiet. He can speak to God but not speak aloud.

2. Those who had a message of *prophecy, verses 29-32

The number of *prophets should be limited. They too must control what they have to say. A speaker must stop and allow another person with a message to take his place. If they speak in turn, everyone will benefit. But Christians must hear all the messages with careful thought. They must decide whether a message is true.

3. Women, verses 34-36

Paul had made it plain that women could pray and *prophesy (1 Corinthians 11:5). So it seems that he is saying the opposite. Here he is telling them to remain silent. Some writers are worried about this. So, they suggest that Paul did not write these verses (34-36). Perhaps someone else added them at a later date. But there may be several good reasons for the difference.

1. Some women were becoming too proud about their new freedom as Christians (Galatians 3:28). ‘In Christ there is neither male nor female’. Some of them would have had little freedom before they became Christians. So, they were speaking at the wrong time and they were interrupting the meeting.

2. At that time, some religions with wrong beliefs gave women a very important role. The woman called ‘Jezebel’ in Revelation 2:20 had caused Christians to have wrong *sexual behaviour. So, Paul may have been warning against women teachers with bad morals.

3. The women may not have understood what someone was saying. They might have had little teaching before they became Christians. So they interrupted. They asked the men what the speaker meant. But men and women sat apart in public meetings then. So the women had to shout or walk about. Paul said that they should ask their own husbands to explain at home.

4. They may just have been gossiping to each other. They were not trying to take part in the meeting. This is possible even in some church services today!

Verse 36 The Christians at Corinth allowed confusion in their meetings. But they were proud of themselves. So Paul made fun of them in an angry way. He said that the Christian message did not come only from them. They were not the only Christians in the world. They should pay attention to what happened in other churches (verse 33).

6. Last words 14:37-40

v37 Some may think that they are *prophets. Or they think that they have gifts from the *Holy Spirit. They should agree that my message is the *Lord’s command. v38 No one should take notice of anyone who does not take notice of the *Lord’s command. v39 My *brothers and *sisters, you should want to *prophesy. And do not stop people from speaking in tongues. v40 But you should do everything in a proper way, and under proper control.

Verse 37 Paul emphasises his authority. It comes from the *Lord. So those with *spiritual gifts should recognise the authority of his advice to them.

Verse 38 Paul plays with the words ‘take notice’. He means this: ‘Nobody should follow the advice of any person who does not believe in Paul’s authority.’

Verse 39 Paul had no wish to prevent anyone from using his *spiritual gifts. He had spoken about the need to use ‘tongues’ with care. But he did not forbid their use.

Verse 40 Public *worship is important. So everything should happen in a way that gives honour to God. And it should happen in a way that benefits the church. Public *worship should bring peace because God is a God of peace (verse 33).

Chapter 15

*Resurrection 15:1-58

The reason that Paul was writing about the *resurrection is in verse 12. Some Christians were saying that there is no *resurrection from the dead. They may have denied this vital part of the *gospel for any of the following reasons:

1. Greeks believed that the *soul is in the body. It is as if it is in prison. This world is only like a shadow. Death sets the *soul free to live in the real world. So some Christians may have believed that a ‘*soul’ could live for ever without a body.

2. Some Christians believed that the *resurrection had already happened. At *baptism they had received every *blessing that they needed. So they did not look forward to a *resurrection of the body. In another letter, Paul mentions Hymenaeus and Philetus, who had this false idea (2 Timothy 2:17, 18).

3. Some *Jews may have tried to explain the empty grave. This may have tested a person’s belief in the *resurrection of Jesus.

Paul dealt with these beliefs. He wrote about the facts about the *resurrection (verses 1-11). Then he gave the serious results if people deny the *resurrection (verses 12-19). He then shows the results if people believe in the *resurrection of Jesus. He shows the results for the future and in the present (verses 20-34).

The facts of the *resurrection 15:1-11

v1 Now, *brothers and *sisters, I want to remind you about the *gospel. It was the *gospel that I *preached to you. You received the good news and you believed it. v2 Because you believed the good news, God has *saved you. But you must make sure that you hold on to the right message. It was the message that I *preached to you. If you do not, you have believed for nothing.

v3 What I received, I passed on to you. It was most important. It is that Christ died for our *sins. The *Scriptures said that he would. And that is what happened. v4 Friends buried him. God raised him on the third day, as the *Scriptures said. v5 Christ appeared to Peter and then to the 12 men. v6 After that he appeared to more than 500 believers at the same time. Most of them are still alive, but some have died. v7 Then he appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the *apostles. v8 Last of all, he appeared to me also. I was like someone who was not born in a normal way. I was like someone who was born at the wrong time.

v9 Because I am the least of the *apostles, I do not even deserve to have the name ‘*apostle’. I tried to destroy God’s church. v10 But by the *grace of God, I am what I am. And his *grace to me was not in vain. No, I have worked harder than all of them. But it was not my work. It was God’s *grace that was with me. v11 So whether I or the other *apostles *preached to you, this was our message. And this is what you believed.

Verse 1-2 Paul said that they had received the good news. The *apostles passed on the facts about the *crucifixion and *resurrection. Paul himself received a *revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:11). He had also seen Peter and James in Jerusalem. He would have received further teaching from them (Galatians 1:18-19).

Verse 3 Christ died ‘for our *sins’. Isaiah 53:5-12 speaks about a servant of God who died on behalf of other people. He ‘carried the *sin of many’.

Verse 4 Jesus had really died. This fact is clear, because his friends had buried him in a tomb (a grave that was like a cave). Some *Scriptures suggested that he would not stay in the grave. God would raise his servant from death. Psalm 16:9-10 was one of the *scriptures that Peter used in his speech on the day of *Pentecost (Acts 2:24-28).

Verse 5 Jesus appeared to Peter. Jesus really did appear. It was not something that Peter imagined. The *angel in the empty tomb had said, ‘Go, tell his *disciples, and Peter’ (Mark 16:17). The two who had returned from Emmaus found that the *apostles already knew about Jesus’ *resurrection. ‘He has appeared to Simon (Peter)’ (Luke 24:34).

‘the 12 men’ may refer to the 11 *apostles without Judas. It was a way to describe the special group whom Jesus first called. But they may not all have been present. John recorded an appearance of Jesus (John 20:19-20). Thomas was not present (John 20:24-28).

Verse 6 The appearance to five hundred people is important. Five hundred people were not likely to make a mistake. As some of them were still alive, it would be possible to question them about their experience.

Verse 7 James was one of the four brothers of Jesus (Mark 6:3). He had not believed in Jesus during his life. He thought that Jesus was mad (Mark 3:21). He suggested that Jesus should go to Jerusalem (John 7:5). But after the *resurrection, James was among the *disciples (Acts 1:14). He became a leader of the church in Jerusalem, where he met Paul (Galatians 1:19). He believed that *Gentile believers need not accept *circumcision (Acts 15:13-19). Paul went to see him on his return from his third journey (Acts 21:18). There is no other record in the Bible of Jesus’ appearance to James. But it is clear that something important made him change. He had doubted about Jesus. Now he had accepted him as *Saviour.

‘All the *apostles’ means that not one of them was missing. It may refer to the appearance of Jesus recorded in John 20:26-29. Perhaps it is his appearance at the time of the Ascension (Acts 1:4). (The Ascension was the time when Jesus returned to heaven.)

Verse 8 The last appearance of Jesus was to Paul himself. It was on the road to Damascus (Act 9:1-5). Paul’s *spiritual birth took place after the Ascension. The other *apostles lived with Jesus for a long time. They slowly realised that he was God’s Son, the *Messiah. The way that Paul became an *apostle was quite different. It was sudden. He only saw Jesus long after the other *apostles did. So, it was as if he was born at the wrong time and not in the normal way. People sometimes used the Greek word for this kind of birth as an insult. A baby that is born early can be very small. And it may sometimes look ugly. Paul was not handsome. He may have been quite small. Some Christians insulted him (2 Corinthians 10:10). People may have used the word as an insult because he emphasised God’s *grace. Some Christians said that he was not born again. He was like a baby that leaves its mother’s body too soon to remain alive.

Verses 9-11 Paul emphasises that he has become a Christian through God’s *grace. He did not deserve to have the name ‘*apostle’, because he had attacked God’s church. God’s *grace gave him the desire and the strength to work harder than all the other *apostles. But whoever *preached the *gospel gave the same facts about the *resurrection as Paul gave. These were the facts that the Christians in Corinth had believed.

The results if people deny the *resurrection 15:12-19

v12 We have *preached that God has raised Christ from the dead. Some of you say that no one rises from the dead. v13 If no one rises from the dead, then not even Christ has risen from the dead. v14 And if God has not raised Christ, our *preaching does not mean anything. And your *faith does not mean anything. v15 More than that, we would be telling lies about God. We have given witness that God raised Christ from the dead. v16 But God did not raise Christ if he does not raise the dead. v17 And if God did not raise Christ, your *faith does not mean anything. God has not forgiven your *sins. v18 Then those who have died as believers in Christ are lost. v19 Some people think that we have hope in Christ only in this life. Then people should pity us more than they pity anyone else.

Paul gives seven results if people deny the *resurrection:

1. Verses 13 and 16 God has not raised Christ. Death and hate will have defeated life and love.

2. Verse 14 Those who *preach the *resurrection are wasting their time.

3. Verse 14 Those who have trusted in Christ will be disappointed. He said that he was the truth. What he said would all have been a lie.

4. Verse 15 Some people have *preached that God raised Jesus. Those people are giving false ideas about God. They are breaking the law about false witnesses.

5. Verse 17 God will punish Christians for their *sins. God has not forgiven them.

6. Verse 18 Those who have died as believers in Christ have no future.

7. Verse 19 If Jesus has not risen from death, his promises about the future *eternal life make no sense. We have no hope for the future. Other people should pity Christians. Because Christians believe someone who could not keep his promises.

The results of the *resurrection of Jesus 15:20-34

v20 But Christ really has come back from death. He is the first person to rise of all those who have fallen asleep. v21 Death came because of what a man did. *Resurrection from the dead also comes from what a man did. v22 Because of Adam we all die. So, because of Christ, God will make everyone alive. v23 But each will be in turn. Christ is the first of those who rise from the dead. When Christ comes back, God will raise Christ’s *spiritual *brothers and *sisters. v24 Then the end will come. Christ will destroy all rule, authority and power. Then he will hand over the *kingdom to God the Father. v25 Christ must rule until he has put all his enemies under his control. v26 The last enemy that he will destroy is death. v27 This is because *Scripture says, ‘God has put everything under his control.’ It says that God has put ‘everything’ under his control. But it is clear that this does not include God himself. God puts everything under Christ’s control. v28 When he has done that, the Son will also be under God’s rule. In that way, God will have everything in heaven and earth in his love and power. He will be ‘all in all’.

v29 Suppose that no one rises from the dead. There are people who go through *baptism for the dead. Suppose that God does not raise the dead at all. Then these people cannot accept *baptism on their behalf. v30 We would not put ourselves in danger all the time. v31 I die every day. I really mean that, *brothers and *sisters. I am proud about what our *Lord Jesus Christ has done for you. You can be sure about that. v32 I did not fight ‘wild animals’ in Ephesus for only human reasons. I would have gained nothing as a result. If God does not raise the dead, ‘Let us eat and drink, because tomorrow we die.’

v33 Do not let anyone persuade you to do wrong. ‘Bad companions make a good person bad.’ v34 You should come back to your senses and stop *sinning. Some of you do not know anything about God. I say this to make you ashamed.

Verses 20-28 Future results of the *resurrection

Verse 20 ‘First’: Paul used a word that described the first grain of the harvest. *Jews had to offer this first to the *priest in the *temple before the grain went into the shops. It was a sign of the future harvest. So the *resurrection of Jesus was the sign of the future *resurrection of all believers.

‘those who have fallen asleep’ means ‘those who have died’. Jesus himself used the word ‘sleep’ to mean death. He said that he would wake Lazarus from ‘sleep’ (John 11:11-13). ‘Sleep’ describes a state that will not last for ever.

Verses 21-22 Adam’s failure to obey God brought *sin into the world (Genesis 3:17-19). *Sin was responsible for death. As people, we all have the same tendency to *sin. Everyone has *sinned. Therefore all will die. We cannot avoid death.

But Christ is the new Adam. He came into the world as a real person. He came into the world to rescue us from *sin and its results. Christ gives life. We can choose to share in his life. If we belong to him, we are part of his completely new human family. We have God’s gift of *eternal life. This life begins on earth. It continues beyond *physical death. Our spirit will live with God.

Verses 23-24 Events will take place in the right order. Christ is the first to rise from the dead. Christ will come again. Then, God will raise all those who belong to Christ. Then the end of human history will come. Christ will destroy the power of everyone and everything that opposes him. ‘Rule, power and authority’ can refer to both human and *spiritual *beings that are against God. Christ will give to the Father those who belong to his *kingdom.

Verses 25-28 Paul uses two Psalms to explain that Christ will defeat his enemies. Psalm 8:6 describes the authority that God gave to man. God gave this authority to men when he created them. God has ‘put everything under his feet.’ Christ was the perfect man. So these words perfectly refer to him. In Psalm 110:1, God gives honour to Christ. Christ will rule until he has defeated all his enemies. God raised Christ from death. And he will raise those who belong to Christ. So death, which is our final enemy, will suffer complete defeat.

Christ finished the work that God gave him to do. So, God will be ‘all in all’. These words of Paul mean that nothing in heaven or on earth will be able to act against God’s power. Then nothing will want to act against his love.

Results of the *resurrection for the present, verses 29-34

1. Some members of the church at Corinth were having *baptism on behalf of friends or family. They had died before they became Christians. Or as Christians they had died before *baptism. If there is no *resurrection, there was no sense in ‘*baptism for the dead’. They would be wasting their time.

The later Christian church has never used this practice.

2. Verses 30-32 Paul then spoke about himself. He suffered and put himself in danger every day to *preach the *gospel with its good news about *resurrection. At Ephesus, he had been in great danger. ‘To fight with animals’ was a way to describe the very dangerous situation there. The angry crowd were like animals and could easily have killed Paul (Acts 19:23-31). There was no reason for him to go through such hard times if there is no *resurrection. He might just as well follow *pagan advice: ‘Let us eat and drink, because tomorrow we die’ (Isaiah 22:13). Instead of the daily struggle, he could enjoy *physical pleasures. And he could live without care.

3. Verses 33-34 Some people think that there is no future life. So, they live as if this world is everything. They easily behave badly. The rich man in Jesus’ story forgot about *eternity. So he planned to live selfishly (Luke 16:19). A Greek poet had written, ‘Bad company ruins good characters.’ This was a well-known thing that people said. Paul says that those who deny the *resurrection are the bad company. They behave badly and they will cause other people to behave badly too. So, Paul tells the Christians at Corinth to come back to their senses. The words that Paul used mean that they are like confused people. They are like people who have drunk too much alcohol. The Christians at Corinth must make sure that they can think clearly. They must stop *sinning. To deny the *resurrection is not a sign of their superior ‘knowledge’. It is a sign that they are like *pagans. They do not know God. And their lack of love for other people is also a sign. They do not know what God wants. Paul wanted to make the Christians at Corinth ashamed about their wrong behaviour. Their behaviour was the result of their proud, false ideas. Paul hoped to make them change their behaviour.

The nature of the *resurrection body 15:35-50

v35 But someone may ask how the dead become alive. And they may ask what kind of body they will have. v36 That is a foolish question. What you plant does not become alive unless it dies. v37 When you plant something, it is not a mature plant. You only plant a seed. Perhaps it is a seed of wheat or of some other crop. v38 But God gives it a body, just as he has planned. And he gives its own body to each kind of seed. v39 Not all created bodies are the same. People have one kind of body. Animals have another kind. Birds have another kind. Fish have another kind.

v40 There are also bodies that belong to the heavens. And there are bodies that belong to the earth. The bodies that belong to the heavens are splendid in one way. The bodies that belong to the earth are splendid in another way. v41 The sun has one kind of *glory. The moon has another kind. The stars have another kind. And the *glory of one star is different from the *glory of another star.

v42 It will be like that with bodies that God raises from the dead. The body is like a seed that someone buried in the earth. It does not last for ever. The body that God raises lasts for ever. v43 The present body is weak and it has lost some of its honour. The risen body will be *glorious. The present body is weak. The risen body will be powerful. v44 God will raise the natural body to become a *spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a *spiritual body. v45 The *Scripture says ‘The first man Adam became a living *soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving *spirit. v46 The *spiritual body did not come first. The natural body came first. After the natural, the *spiritual came. v47 The first man came from the dust on the ground. The second man came from heaven. v48 People are like the man from earth. People will be like the man from heaven, so that they can live in heaven. v49 We have been like the man from earth. So, in the same way, we shall be like the man from heaven. v50 I declare this, *brothers and *sisters: The bodies that we have now cannot have a place in the life of heaven. These bodies do not last. So they cannot become part of the *kingdom that lasts for ever.

Verse 35-41 The Christians at Corinth then asked a question about the kind of *resurrection body that anyone would have. The question was a foolish one. The word ‘body’ describes many different kinds of bodies. The human body is suitable to live on earth. A fish has a body that is suitable to live in water. The bird’s body is right to live in the air. The sun, moon and stars are all different in the splendid light that they give out. So, God will give each Christian a risen body that is suitable to live in heaven.

Verses 42-44 Seeds have to ‘die’ in the ground before they grow into plants. A seed that we bury in the earth produces something much more beautiful. A tiny brown seed dies and a splendid flower with bright colours grows from the seed. In the same way, when the human body dies, the risen body will be much more wonderful. It has a relationship with the human body, but it is different. When Jesus rose again, his friends could recognise him. But his appearances were sudden. He could enter a room, although the *disciples had locked the doors. As soon as the two people who had walked to Emmaus recognised him, he disappeared (Luke 24:31).

The risen body will not die or have any *physical weaknesses. The human body has lost some of its honour because of *sin. ‘All people fall short of the *glory of God’ (Romans 3:16). But the risen body will be *glorious. ‘The *Lord Jesus - - - will change our weak human bodies. He will make them like his *glorious body’ (Philippians 3:20-21). In the *Lord’s prayer, we say that ‘the power and the *glory’ belong to God. Our risen bodies will have both power and *glory. They will be more like God. And so they will be suitable bodies for us to live in heaven.

Verses 45-50 The first man, Adam, was a ‘man of dust’ (Genesis 2:7). All of us are like Adam. God raised Jesus, the ‘last Adam’, from the dead. The *resurrection of Jesus showed that he was the man from heaven. All those who belong to Jesus will receive his life. Jesus is a *spirit who gives life. These human bodies cannot enter heaven after death, because there is no death in heaven.

The time of the *resurrection body 15:51-57

v51 Listen! I tell you a mystery. We will not all die, but God will change us all. v52 That will happen in a flash, as quickly as an eye shuts and opens again. It will happen when the last *trumpet sounds. The *trumpet will sound and God will raise the dead to live for ever. And God will change us. v53 Our natural bodies do not last for ever. They must put on the clothing of a body that lasts for ever. What dies must have the clothing of what does not die. v54 That is what will happen. The body that does not last will receive the clothing of a new body. It will be a body that lasts. The body that dies will receive a new body. It will be a body that will never die. Then what *Scripture says will come true: ‘God will destroy death completely.’ v55 ‘Death will have no *victory. Death will have no ‘sting’. v56 The ‘sting’ of death is *sin. And the power of *sin is the law. v57 But we give thanks to God. He gives us the *victory through our *Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 51 Christians who have died will receive a *resurrection body. Paul has explained that. Now he speaks about other Christians. Those Christians will still be alive when Jesus comes again. The *Holy Spirit has shown Paul what nobody knew before. Those still alive will need a different body. It must be suitable for heaven.

Verses 52-54 ‘In a flash’ translates the word ‘atom’, which is something very tiny. So it will be in the very shortest time. The change from a human body to a *spiritual body will happen very quickly. A *trumpet gave a signal that the enemy had lost the battle. In the *Old Testament it is often one of the signs of the ‘Day of the *Lord’ (for example Joel 2:1). The sound of the last *trumpet will tell everyone that Jesus has defeated death. It is the time of Jesus’ return. Then God will change our human bodies into *spiritual bodies. It will be like when a person changes his clothes. Paul used the words from Isaiah 25:8 to show that God’s *victory over death was complete.

Verses 55-56 The *prophet Hosea spoke about death as if it were a person. He asked where its *victory came from (Hosea 13:14). Paul used these words to show that there is no longer a need to fear death. A ‘sting’ is the painful and poisonous attack from an insect or a snake. The law showed what *sin is like. And it made us all guilty in front of God. *Sin is like the poison that leads to death. It makes us afraid to meet God.

Verse 57 Christ’s last words on the *cross were ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). He had destroyed the power of death. God raised Christ from the dead. So he will also raise those who belong to Christ. So Paul ends his teaching about the *resurrection with words of praise.

The demand for action 15:58

v58 So my dear *brothers and *sisters, stand firm. Do not let anything move you from your *faith. Always do the *Lord’s work with all your power. Your work will not be without worth. Since you belong to the *Lord, you can be sure about that.

Verse 58 Paul ends by encouraging his Christian *brothers and *sisters. They have the promise of the *resurrection. So they should not let anything disturb their *faith. They should not let anything destroy their *faith. They should do all that they can to work for Christ. Anything that they do for the *Lord will certainly be worthwhile.

Chapter 16

Plans about the money for Jerusalem 16:1-4

v1 Now I will write about the money for God’s people. Do what I told the churches in Galatia to do. v2 On the first day of every week you should put some money away. The amount of money should be in proportion to the amount that a person earns. Save the money. Then, when I come, you will not have to collect money. v3 Then, when I arrive, I will recommend some people to take your gift to Jerusalem. They will be men that you consider to be honest. v4 If it seems right for me to go as well, they will go with me.

The reasons for the collection

1. Paul had promised the leaders of the church in Jerusalem that he would remember the poor people in Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9-10). There had been a great lack of food (Acts 11:27-30). There were many Christian widows (Acts 6:1-6). There was probably a lack of paid work.

2. Paul wanted Christians to realise that *faith must cause us to act practically. They could show their love for each other if they helped poor people by gifts of money. Paul used the word ‘charis’ to show that their money was a gift (1 Corinthians 16:3). He also talked about this gift in 2 Corinthians 8:4. There he used the Greek word ‘koinonia’ to emphasise that they were sharing with each other. It was an honour to give this help (2 Corinthians 9:12).

3. Paul was eager to unite *Jewish and *Gentile Christians. They were part of one church, with responsibility for each other.

The questions

Verse 1 ‘Now I will write about’ shows that Paul was replying to questions from Corinth. They may have asked him

1. how to organise the collection of money;

2. what the arrangements were to send the money to Jerusalem.

Paul’s advice

Verses 2-3 ‘The first day of the week’ was the day of the *resurrection of Jesus. So it was a day on which Christians met for *worship (Acts 20:7). So to set aside money on that day was part of their *worship. It was a way to thank God. A single collection would produce some money. But regular collections over a period of time would produce more money. If one Christian was not as rich as another Christian, he would give less. The rich Christians should give more. But they all had the opportunity to share.

A number of people together would make travel safer. They would be carrying a large sum of money. They should be men that the local churches approved of. That would remove any idea that Christians were not honest. Acts 20:4 gives the names of some of these men.

The Christians in Corinth took more than a year to make their collection. We know that from 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9. So Paul had to urge them to complete it. But the collection did reach Jerusalem. Later, Paul told Felix that he had come to Jerusalem to bring gifts to his nation (Acts 24:17).

Paul’s plans 16:5-9

v5 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you. I will be travelling through Macedonia. v6 So perhaps I will stay with you for a while. I might even spend the winter with you. Then you can help me on my journey wherever I go. v7 I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit. I hope to spend some time with you, if the *Lord allows it. v8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until *Pentecost. v9 That is because there is a very good opportunity for me to do some good work here. And there are many people who oppose me.

Verses 5-6 Some Christians in Corinth had doubted whether Paul would visit them (4:19). Paul’s plans were not certain. But he hoped to visit Corinth after he had gone through Macedonia. He intended just to make a quick tour of the churches in Philippi and Thessalonica, but not to stay long. Perhaps he was worried about whether they were believing the right things. Some *Jewish Christians were trying to say that *Gentile Christians should keep *Jewish laws, including the law about *circumcision. Maybe that is why Paul needed to visit them.

But Paul hoped to spend some time at Corinth. He might even spend the winter there. People did not usually travel during the winter.

Verses 8-9 Paul thought that there was a great opportunity to *preach the *gospel at Ephesus. So he would stay there until *Pentecost. Other churches in Asia were the result of Paul’s stay in Ephesus for two years. People who had become Christians visited other places. They started churches there. For example, Epaphras had probably started the church at Colossae (Colossians 1:7). These churches were probably the ones that John named as the ‘seven churches in Asia’ (Revelation 1:11).

Paul was the *Lord’s servant. So his plans always changed if the *Lord guided him. Paul had many enemies in Ephesus. Acts chapter 19 tells us how *Jews spoke out against him. And so did Demetrius and other workers, who made money from the *worship of Diana. Because they were losing trade, they began a public protest against Paul. He could easily have died. Acts 20:1-3 shows that Paul carried out his plan to go through Macedonia to Corinth. He stayed in Corinth for three months.

Timothy and Apollos 16:10-12

v10 Timothy might come. If he does come, he will be staying with you. Make sure that he has nothing to worry about. He is doing the *Lord’s work, just as I am. v11 So nobody should refuse to accept him. Send him on his way happily, so that he can return to me. I am expecting him along with the *brothers.

v12 Now I want to speak about our *brother Apollos. I wanted him to go to you with the *brothers. I tried hard to persuade him. He did not want to go now. But he will go when he has the opportunity.

Verses 10-11 Paul had said that he would send Timothy to visit them (1 Corinthians 4:17). From Acts 19:22, we learn that he sent Timothy with Erastus before him into Macedonia. Timothy was young (1 Timothy 4:12). Paul thought that some of the Christians in Corinth might not behave in a loving way towards a young man. So, he reminded them that Timothy was doing the same work as himself. They should help Timothy as they would have helped Paul. It is not clear whether Paul and some Christians with him were expecting Timothy. It could be that Timothy and Erastus would be returning from their journey with some other ‘*brothers’ to meet Paul.

Verse 12 ‘Now I want to speak about’ suggests that the Christians in Corinth had asked about Apollos. There were Christians there who admired the way that Apollos *preached (1:2). Paul showed that he and Apollos were friends. He had tried to persuade him to go back to Corinth. For some reason, Apollos did not want to go at that time. He may have been too busy with the work in Ephesus. If he went back to Corinth, perhaps the Christians there would divide again (1:10-12). Perhaps he was worried about that. But Apollos would go at a suitable time.

Some commands 16:13-14

v13 Watch all the time. Be firm in the *faith. Be brave. Be strong. v14 Do everything with love.

Verse 13 Paul means that they must watch out for the enemy of Christ. The *devil is like a lion that is looking for someone to destroy (1 Peter 5:8). They must not allow people with wrong ideas to make their *faith weak (Acts 20:30-31). They must be ready at all times for Christ’s return (Mark 13:38). They must have courage and act like responsible adults. They will need strength to keep their *faith pure from wrong ideas and wrong behaviour.

Verse 14 This final command is about the relationships of Christians to each other, and to those outside the church. Paul had shown them what love was like in chapter 13. ‘Everything’ was a necessary word because of all their quarrels and selfish behaviour. Paul had heard about the way that they went to the courts with each other (6:1-11). He had blamed them for the way that they behaved at the *Lord’s Supper (11:17-22). They did not think about the gifts of other people when they met for *worship (chapter 14). So they must act with love in all that they do. In that way, they would show their *spiritual strength.

Stephanas 16:15-18

v15 You know that the first believers in Achaia were from the family of Stephanas. They have spent all their time to serve God’s people. *Brothers and *sisters, v16 I urge you to obey people like that. Follow everyone who works hard at the task with me. v17 I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived. They gave me what you could not give me. v18 They have cheered me up and they have cheered you up as well. You should appreciate people like them. They deserve your honour.

Verse 15 Paul had *baptised Stephanas and his family (1:16). They were the first people to become Christians in the region called Achaia. Stephanas and his family had taken the responsibility to serve other Christians.

Verse 16 Paul says that those who serve can lead other people. He urged the Christians at Corinth to obey people like Stephanas. They should obey anyone else who worked in this way. He used the word ‘task’. It meant that such work was not easy. It required great effort.

Verse 17 Fortunatus and Achaicus may have been slaves who belonged to the home of Stephanas. They had arrived from Corinth with news about what was happening there. Paul had felt sad without his friends in Corinth. These three made him feel that he was not completely separate from all of his friends in Corinth.

Verse 18 It had been a great pleasure for Paul to receive them. It was good for the Christians at Corinth to send their messages to Paul. The three men may have taken Paul’s letter back to Corinth.

Final greetings 16:19-24

v19 The churches in Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla send you warm good wishes in the *Lord. So does the church that meets in their house. v20 All the *brothers send you greetings. Greet each other with a holy kiss. v21 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. v22 If anyone does not love the *Lord, let a *curse be upon that person. Come, *Lord. v23 I pray that the *grace of the *Lord Jesus will be with you. v24 I give my love to you all because of your *faith in Christ Jesus.

Verse 19 The churches in the region called Asia were those that Christians had established during Paul’s stay in Ephesus. He stayed there for two years. Revelation chapters 2 and 3 tell us the places where those churches were.

Aquila and his wife Priscilla were good friends of Paul. They had lived in Rome. But the *Roman ruler Claudius had ordered the *Jews to leave Rome. This was perhaps because of trouble in a *synagogue. This trouble may have been because *Jews opposed Christian *preaching (Acts 18:2). When Paul arrived in Corinth, Aquila and Priscilla gave him a home. He worked with them in their business to make tents (Acts 18:1-3). They travelled with Paul to Ephesus. They remained there when he returned to Antioch. While he was away, they taught Apollos more about *Christianity (Acts 18:24-26). Then they returned to Rome, perhaps to prepare for Paul’s intended visit. A group of Christians met in their house. Paul says that they risked their lives for him. We do not know when this was. Paul says that he and the members of all the *Gentile churches are grateful to them (Romans 16:3-5).

Verse 20 Paul does not name the ‘*brothers’. But he means all the Christians who were working with him in Ephesus.

Paul encourages them to greet each other with ‘a holy kiss’. A kiss was a normal greeting in Paul’s time. Paul refers to this in three other letters. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 2 Corinthians 13:12; Romans 16:16.) Peter refers to a ‘kiss of love’ (1 Peter 5:14). It was a ‘holy’ kiss because it showed the special relationship of God’s ‘holy’ people with each other. It became part of the service of the *Lord’s Supper. But Judas used a kiss that was a false greeting (Luke 22:48).

Verse 21 Paul’s personal greeting is in his own handwriting. He usually dictated his letters to someone who wrote them down. We know that Tertius wrote down the letter to the Christians in Rome (Romans 16:22). Paul’s signature would show that the letter was genuine. He wrote in Galatians 6:11 about his large handwriting. In 2 Thessalonians 3:17, he said that the greeting in his own handwriting was in all his letters.

Verse 22 All those who did not love Jesus ought to suffer God’s punishment.

‘Maranatha’ is an Aramaic word that means ‘Our *Lord, come’. (Aramaic was the language that Jesus spoke.) Even Christians who spoke Greek knew this word. So the early Christians must have used it. It may have been a secret sign of Christians to each other. But it certainly was a prayer that Jesus would return soon. It is like the prayer at the end of Revelation (Revelation 22:20): ‘Come, *Lord Jesus’.

Verse 23 Paul prays that the *grace of the *Lord Jesus will be with his friends. Paul always ended his letters like this.

Verse 24 Paul ends this letter by sending his love to them all. In parts of his letter, he had blamed them for their actions. Many people had opposed Paul in Corinth. But he sent his love to ‘all’ of them. They were all united because of their *faith in Christ Jesus. So the *apostle of Christ Jesus (1:1) showed the same love as his *Lord.

Word List

altar ~ a table on which people placed *sacrifices.

Amen ~ we agree; it is true; that is right; let it be so.

ancestor ~ a member of one’s family in the past from whom one’s parents came.

angel ~ God’s special servant, who brings his messages.

apostle ~ a person that God or Jesus sent out to teach about Jesus.

baptise, baptism ~ to put a person in water as a sign that he is clean from past *sins.

being ~ a person or animal that is alive.

blessings ~ causes of happiness.

boast ~ talk with too much pride.

brother ~ Paul calls the Christians his brothers and *sisters because they are all in God’s family.

Christianity ~ what people believe and teach about Jesus.

circumcise, circumcision ~ to remove loose skin from the end of the male sex part; a sign of God’s agreement with the *Jews.

commandments ~ rules that God gave; the ten important rules that God gave to Moses on the mountain of Sinai.

covenant ~ agreement.

cross ~ wooden structure on which the *Romans killed people; to move one thing over another thing.

crucify, crucifixion ~ kill on a *cross.

curse ~ wish evil upon someone.

demon, devil ~ a bad *spirit that acts against God. The devil is God’s chief enemy.

disciple ~ person who learns from his master.

dough ~ bread mixture before you bake it.

eternal ~ without beginning or end.

eternity ~ the future life in heaven; time with no end.

exorcism ~ when someone frees a person or place from an evil *spirit.

faith ~ trust in someone or something; what people believe about Jesus.

feast ~ special meal, *religious ceremony.

foundation ~ base on which a building or a belief rests.

Gentiles ~ people who are not *Jews.

glorious ~ very beautiful and splendid.

glory ~ great beauty and honour.

gospel ~ the ‘good news’ about Jesus.

grace ~ God’s love that no one deserves.

grape ~ a small, sweet fruit that people make wine (a drink with alcohol) from.

Hebrew ~ the language that the *Jews spoke.

Holy Spirit ~ the Spirit of God; the Spirit of Jesus.

homosexuals ~ people of the same sex who have sex with each other.

idol ~ false god.

influence ~ the power to persuade.

Israelite ~ a *Jewish person.

Jew, Jewish ~ a person whose *ancestor was Abraham.

kingdom ~ area that a king rules; people that God rules.

lamb ~ young sheep.

Levite ~ a person from the *tribe of Levi. God chose them to work for him in his *temple.

Lord ~ master, God, Jesus.

manna ~ food from God. It came down from the sky. It was like bread.

mercy ~ to be kind when you do not have to be kind.

Messiah ~ *Jewish word for the king who would come to rescue them.

miracle ~ a great thing that only God can do.

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus.

offering ~ a gift to please God.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, which the writers wrote before the life of Jesus.

pagan ~ a person who *worships many gods or who has no *religious belief.

Passover ~ annual ceremony to remember God’s rescue of the *Jews from Egypt.

Pentecost ~ day when the *Jews thanked God for their food; day when God gave the *Holy Spirit to the church.

Pharisee ~ one of a group of *Jews who thought that they kept all God’s rules. They did not like the things that Jesus taught. They thought that they did not do any wrong things. So, they thought that they were very important and clever.

physical ~ about the body.

preach ~ tell people about Jesus and how to live for Jesus.

priest ~ a man who gave gifts and burned animals as a *sacrifice to God for the *Jews; a man whom God chose to do things for him.

prophecy ~ a message from God.

prophesy ~ to give a message from God.

prophet ~ a person who tells what God wants.

prostitute ~ a woman who has sex with men for money.

religious ~ something that people do as part of the *worship of God.

resurrection ~ to become alive after death.

revelation ~ something that God makes known to people.

Roman ~ Rome was the capital city of the rulers at that time. That which belonged to Rome was Roman.

sacrifice ~ a gift to God to ask him to forgive sins; or to thank him for something. A gift to God, often an animal or bird, by the *Jews to ask God to forgive their *sins. Jesus gave himself to die as a *sacrifice for our *sins.

salvation ~ rescue from evil things; God’s forgiveness that makes us well in body, mind and *spirit.

Satan ~ the chief evil *spirit.

save ~ rescue from *sin and its results.

Saviour ~ the one who rescues people from evil things.

Scripture(s) ~ book(s) of the Bible.

seal ~ a sign that something is genuine.

sexual ~ about sex.

sin ~ to break God’s laws; to fail to give God honour; what we do when we break God’s laws.

sinful ~ when people do things against God or other people; when we do not obey God’s rules; when we do not do what God wants us to do; the bad things that are in us which we have from birth.

sister ~ Paul calls the Christians his *brothers and sisters because they are all in God’s family.

soul ~ the part of a person that lives on after death.

spirit ~ the part of us that lives when our body dies; a *being that is always alive, even without a body; the part of a person that will always be alive, even after their body is dead. There are good spirits, like God’s Spirit and his *angels. And there are bad spirits, like *Satan and his *angels.

spiritual ~ about the *spirit.

statue ~ a person or animal that someone made out of metal or wood.

steward ~ a person who looks after another person’s house or land.

synagogue ~ a building where *Jews gather for prayer; a place for *Jews to meet.

temple ~ building in which to *worship a god; the building in Jerusalem where *Jews went to *worship God.

tempt, temptation ~ try to make someone do wrong.

thanksgiving ~ an expression of thanks to God.

thresh ~ to hit material like wheat so that the grains fall out; to separate grain from straw.

tradition ~ belief that passes from person to person.

trial ~ a legal examination by which a judge decides if a person has done a crime; the examination of a person in a court of law to discover whether he is guilty of a crime.

tribe ~ the whole family of one of Jacob’s 12 sons. A family from the same father.

trumpet ~ loud musical instrument; to play it, you blow into the tube.

tune ~ a pleasant series of notes.

uncircumcised ~ people that had not got *circumcision.

victory ~ success against an enemy.

vineyard ~ place where *grapes grow.

virgin ~ woman who has never had sex with a man.

warning ~ when we warn someone. We say that we are giving them a warning.

worship ~ show honour to God.

yeast ~ yeast is put into flour and water to make bread. The yeast grows in the bread and makes the bread grow bigger.

Book List

William Barclay ~ The Letters to the Corinthians ~ St Andrews Press, 1975

Donald Coggan ~ Meet Paul ~ SPCK, 1998

Gordon D. Fee ~ The First Epistle to the Corinthians ~ New International Commentary ~ Eerdmans, 1987

Hans Fror ~ You wretched Corinthians (translated by John Bowden) ~ SCM, 1995

Michael Green ~ To Corinth with love ~ Hodder & Stoughton, 1982

Leon Morris ~ 1 Corinthians ~ Tyndale NT Commentaries ~ IVP, 1985

Jerome Murphy-O’Connor ~ 1 Corinthians ~ People’s Bible Commentary~ BRF, 1999

David Prior ~ The message of 1 Corinthians ~ The Bible speaks today ~ IVP, 1993

Concise Oxford Dictionary

Chambers 21st Century Dictionary

Thesaurus ~ Geddes and Grosset



NIV Reader’s version

J B Phillips

Jerusalem Bible



© 1997-2004, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

December 2004

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