The greatest thing is love

About 1 Corinthians

Paul wrote this letter to the Christians at Corinth city. Corinth was a big, important, busy port in the country that we call Greece now. Most of the Christians there were Gentiles (not Israel’s people). We think that Paul wrote this letter about the year AD 54. That was more than 20 years after Jesus died. Paul had stayed at Corinth for 18 months, to teach God’s message to the people. (See Acts 18:11.)

After he had left Corinth, Paul heard news about some serious problems among the Christians there. Also, the Christians at Corinth had written a letter to Paul to ask him questions about certain things. (See 7:1.)

So, in this letter to Corinth, Paul tells them about the problems that he has heard about. He tries to tell them why they are wrong about some things. Also, he answers the questions that the Christians at Corinth have asked him.

Chapter 1

1 This letter is from me, Paul, and from our Christian friend Sosthenes. God chose me to be a special worker and teacher on behalf of Christ Jesus. He sent me to tell the good news about Christ to people. God himself chose me for this purpose.

2 I am sending this letter to you Christians (the church) in the city called Corinth. God chose you for himself. He wanted you to be his special people, who belong to him. He has made you good and clean inside because he has made you join to Christ Jesus. Also, he has made you join to everyone everywhere who worships our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is their Lord, as he is our Lord.

3 We pray that God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ, will continue to be very kind to you. We pray also that they will cause you to be without trouble inside yourselves.

Paul thanks God because of the Christians at Corinth

4 I thank God always because of you. I thank him because he has been so very kind to you. He has given such great things to you because he has made you join to Christ Jesus. 5 And, as a result, Christ has made you really like rich people in every way. You are like rich people because you can do many things. Christ has made you able to speak as he wants you to speak. And he has made you able to know everything that he wants you to know. 6 God has made our message about Christ clear in you who believe it. 7 You are not without any of God’s gifts while you continue to wait for our Lord Jesus Christ’s return. You want him to return very much. 8 God will cause you to continue believing him until the end. Then, on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns, nobody will be able to say bad things about you. Nobody will be able to say that you have done anything wrong. 9 God always does what he has promised to do. And God has chosen you to know Christ. He has made you join to his Son, Jesus Christ, who is our Lord.

Paul tells the Christians that they must not quarrel about who is their leader

10 My Christian friends, I speak to you with the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ. I ask you to agree with each other in what you say. Then there will not be differences between you. All of you will have the same mind always. That is, you will think about things in the same way. 11 Some people from Chloe’s house have told me what is happening among you, my friends. They say that you are quarrelling among yourselves. 12 I will explain: One of you says, ‘Paul is my leader.’ Another person says, ‘Apollos is my leader.’ Another person says, ‘Peter is my leader.’ And another person says, ‘Christ is my leader.’

13 When you speak like that, it is bad. It is as if you are breaking Christ into several parts. Certainly, I, Paul, did not die on a cross on your behalf. Someone baptised you. But certainly, they did not use my name, as if you belonged to me. 14 I thank God that I did not baptise any of you except Crispus and Gaius. 15 So, none of you can say, ‘Paul is my leader because he baptised me.’ 16 (Oh yes, I baptised Stephanas and his family also. I cannot remember that I baptised anyone else.) 17 Christ did not send me to baptise people. But he did send me to tell the good news to people. He does not want me to tell it with the same kind of clever words that clever people might say. That would destroy the power of the message about Jesus. The message is about how he died on a cross to save us.

Verses 13-17 To baptise means to put a believer into water. (Or sometimes they put water on a believer.) This shows that the person believes Christ. It is like a picture of what God does in our spirits. He makes us join to Christ in our spirits. So, in our spirits, we die with Christ. And then we rise again, to live with him.

The message about Christ’s cross is powerful

18 People who are far from God cannot understand that message about Christ’s death on the cross. They think that it is silly. But that same message shows something to us whom God is saving. It shows us how powerful God is. 19 It says in the Old Testament:

            ‘I will destroy all the words and thoughts of clever people.

            I will put on one side the ideas of people who seem to understand a lot.’

            [Isaiah 29:14]

20 So then, the clever people in this world are not great really. The clever students in this world are not great really. Some people know how to argue. But those people are not great really. No, because God has different ideas. He has shown that even the cleverest people in this world are fools. 21 God has his own great thoughts and ideas. And he has made it impossible for people to know him by their own thoughts and ideas. Instead, God uses that message about Jesus. He uses it to save everyone who believes it. And we tell that same message to everyone, even if it seems crazy.

22 Jews want to see God do something powerful so that they will believe. And people who are not Jews want to believe other people’s clever ideas. 23 But as for us, we talk about how Christ died on a cross of wood. This is a message that the Jews refuse to believe. And the Gentiles (people who are not Jews) think that it is a silly message. 24 But all of us whom God has chosen, both Jews and the other people, we think different thoughts. To us, Christ is the power that comes from God. What Christ did is the result of God’s great thoughts and ideas. 25 It seems to be a crazy thing for God to do. But it is better than the cleverest human thoughts and ideas. What seems to be God’s weakness is stronger than any human power.

26 Christian friends, remember when God spoke to you. Remember what you were like then. Most of you were not clever or powerful. Most of you did not come from rich or important families. 27 People think that you are not great or important. But God chose you. He did this so that clever people would be ashamed. Yes, God chose the weak people in the world so that the powerful people would be ashamed. 28 God chose people who do not seem important in this world. He chose people who seem silly in this world. He chose people who seem to be worth nothing in this world. The people who do not know God think differently from him. They think that different kinds of people are great and important. But God destroys their ideas when he chooses his people.

29 So, because of all this, nobody can say in front of God: ‘I am better than other people.’ 30 It is God who has made you join to Christ Jesus. And, because of Christ, God causes us to know everything that he wants us to know. As a result of what Christ did, God makes us right with himself. Also he makes us his own special people. He makes us his free people, that he has bought. 31 So now, as it says in the Old Testament:

            ‘Anyone who wants to speak about great or important things should speak about the Lord.

            That person should not speak about himself, nor about the things that he himself has done.

            Instead, he should speak only about the great things that the Lord has done on his behalf.’

            [Jeremiah 9:24]

Chapter 2

We can understand God’s secrets only by his Spirit

1 Christian friends, I came to tell you God’s message, which is certainly true. I did not use clever words when I told it to you. I did not use great thoughts and ideas that were my own. 2 I decided to teach you only about Jesus Christ. I wanted to forget everything else while I was with you. So, I taught only about Jesus. I taught you about how he died on a cross of wood. 3 I was feeling very weak when I arrived. I was so afraid that I was trembling. 4 Neither clever words nor my own thoughts and ideas made you believe that my message was true. No, instead God’s Spirit showed by my words how powerful God is. 5 So, you believe because of God’s power. You do not believe because of human thoughts and ideas.

Verse 3 ‘Trembling’ means that Paul could not keep his body completely still, because he was so afraid.

6 But we do speak about great ideas to those of you who really know Christ. We do not speak about clever human thoughts and ideas that belong to this world. The rulers of this world think thoughts and ideas like that, but they will stop being powerful soon. 7 No, the great ideas that we speak about are secret. They belong to God. He hid them from the people who belong to this world. But he decided to show these secrets to us so that we could live with him always. He decided this before he made the world. 8 None of the rulers of this world understood these great ideas. If they had understood, they would not have killed the Lord on a cross. They would not have killed the Lord, who is so very great and good. 9 It says in the Old Testament:

            ‘Nobody ever saw or heard anything about this.

            Nobody ever thought that it could happen.

            But this is the thing that God has prepared for his people.

            He has prepared it for those people who love him.’

            [Isaiah 64:4]

10 But God has shown these secrets to us by his Spirit. God’s Spirit looks at everything. He looks even at the things that are deep in God. 11 Only a person’s own spirit, inside that person, can know everything about that person. And it is like that with God. Nobody can understand everything about God except God’s Spirit. 12 We have not received the spirit that belongs to this world. No! We have received the Spirit who is from God. So, as a result, we can understand all the things that God has done on our behalf. We can know what God has given to us. 13 These are the things that we speak about. We do not use human ideas that other people have taught us. Instead, we use ideas that God’s Spirit teaches us. That is why we can explain God’s ideas to people. But we can explain only to people in whom God’s Spirit is living.

14 If God’s Spirit is not living inside people, they cannot receive anything from God. They cannot understand what God wants to teach them. They think that it is crazy. They think that it is worth nothing. 15 Only people with God’s Spirit inside them can really understand and decide about all things. But people without God’s Spirit cannot understand anything about God’s people. 16 As it says in the Old Testament:

            ‘Nobody can know what the Lord is thinking.

            Nobody can teach him anything.’

            [Isaiah 40:13]

But we can think as Christ thinks.

Chapter 3

You are God’s house

1 Christian friends, in past times, I could not talk to you as I wanted to talk. I should have been able to talk to you as people who understand things by God’s Spirit. But instead, I could only talk to you as people who understand things about this world. You were like babies because you did not understand very much about Christ. 2 I had to give milk to you, instead of proper food, because you were not ready to receive proper food. You are not ready for it even now! 3 You are still living like people who do not know God. You want things that other people have. And you quarrel with each other. This shows that you are not like God’s people. You are still like people who do not know God. 4 One of you says, ‘Paul is my leader.’ And another person says, ‘Apollos is my leader.’ With words like these, you are talking like people who do not know God.

5 You should know that we, Apollos and Paul, are not important really. God used us as his servants, who could help you to believe Christ. The Lord has given a special job to each of us. 6 I was like a servant who planted seeds. Apollos was like the servant who gave water to the young plants. But it was God who caused the seeds and the plants to grow. 7 The servant who plants the seeds is not important really. The servant who gives water to the plants is not important really. The important person is God, because he causes the plants to grow. 8 The person who plants is doing God’s work. The person who gives water is doing God’s work also. We are equal servants. And God will give to each of us what is right because of our own work. 9 We work together with God. You are like God’s field and you are like God’s building.

10 God has made me able to work for him like a very good builder. So, I built the foundation for God’s building. Now someone else is building on this foundation. But each person must be careful how he builds. 11 God has already put Jesus Christ as the only foundation of this building. So, nobody can put any other foundation there.

12 People may build on this foundation with gold, silver (another valuable metal) or valuable stones. Or instead, they may build on it with wood, grass or leaves. 13 But God will show how good each person’s work is. He will show it on the day when Christ returns. There will be a fire on that day and God will put each person’s work into the fire. The fire will show whether the work is good or not. 14 If the fire does not destroy the work, then the work is good. So, the person who did it will receive something good from God. 15 But if the fire destroys the work, then the work is not good. The person who did that work will lose it. God will still save that person. But that person will be like someone who must run through the fire to a safe place.

Verses 10-12 A foundation is the strong part, in the ground under a building, that holds the building up.

16 You ought to know that you yourselves are God’s house. You ought to know that God’s Spirit lives in you. 17 God’s house belongs only to God. So, God will destroy anyone who destroys God’s house. And you yourselves are God’s house.

18 Nobody should think things about himself that are not really true. The people in this world who do not know God think differently from God. Maybe one of you thinks like them, that you are a very clever person. But instead, you should be ready for other people to think that you are a fool. Then you will really be clever. 19 The people in this world think that their ideas are very clever. But God thinks that they are crazy. It says in the Old Testament:

            ‘People may try to show that they themselves are very clever.

            But God causes those people to become confused.’

            [Job 5:13]

20 In another place the Old Testament says:

            ‘The Lord knows that clever people’s thoughts are worth nothing.’

            [Psalm 94:11]

21 So, nobody should think that clever or great people are important really. Do not think like that, because all things are yours. 22 Paul, Apollos and Peter, all of us are yours. All of this world is yours. While you live, all things are yours. And when you die, all things are yours. Both today and tomorrow are yours, because all things are yours. 23 And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.

Chapter 4

Christ’s servants

1 You should think about us, who are special workers and teachers on Christ’s behalf, as Christ’s servants. God has given a special job to us. He has shown his secrets to us and now we must explain them to other people. 2 A servant must remember all the things that his master wants him to do every day. He must do all those things, because his master wants him to do them.

3 But it is not important to me how you think about me. You may decide about how good I am. It does not matter to me what people decide about me. I do not even try to decide about myself. 4 I may think that I have not done any wrong things. But that does not make me right. Only the Lord can decide about me. 5 So, you should not decide about things before the right time comes. You must wait until the Lord comes again. He knows every secret. He knows everything that people are hiding in the dark. He will bring all those things out into the light. He will show to everyone the secret purposes that people have deep inside themselves. Then God will say good things about every person who has done good work.

6 Now, my Christian friends, I want to help you to understand better everything that I have said. I have used Apollos and myself as examples. So then you can learn by us what this means: ‘Obey what it says in the Old Testament.’ None of you should say that one person is more valuable than any other person. 7 You yourselves are no better than other people. God gave everything that you have to you. You know that. What you have was a gift. So, you should not think that you are more important than anyone else. You have no reason to think that.

8 You have plenty of everything already! You think that you are very rich already! So, you are ready to rule like kings, even while we are not rulers at all! I would really like you to be rulers, so that we could rule together with you! 9 God sent us, his special workers, to teach his message to people. But I think that he has given the least important place to us. We are like prisoners on our way to die in a place where everyone can see. Both people and angels are watching us. 10 People think that we are fools because of Christ. But you think that you yourselves understand so much! You think that, because you are united with Christ. You think that we are weak. And you think that you are strong! You think that we are not valuable. And you think that you yourselves are very valuable!

Verse 9 A prisoner is someone who is not free.

11 Until this day, we are often hungry, and we do not have any water to drink. Our clothes are very old. Sometimes people hit us, and we do not have a home. 12 We work very much, so that we are very tired. When people say bad things about us, we ask God to be good to them. When people are cruel to us, we are patient and brave. 13 When people say cruel words about us, we answer with kind words. Until this day, we are like the dirt of the whole world. We are like the dirty things that people throw away.

14 I do not write these things to make you ashamed. You are like my own children that I love. And I want to explain to you why you are wrong. I want you to understand correctly. 15 I told the good news to you, so I became like a father to you. You belong to Christ now. And even if you have ten thousand guides to help you, you do not have many fathers. 16 That is why I ask you to copy my example. 17 For this reason, I am sending Timothy to visit you. He is like a son to me, and I love him very much. He continues always to believe the Lord and to obey him. He will cause you to remember how I live as a Christian, united with Christ. I teach the same things to all groups of Christians everywhere.

18 Some of you think that I will never come to visit you. You think that you yourselves are very important and powerful. You think that you know everything. 19 But I will come to visit you soon, if the Lord sends me. Then I will discover more than only what you are saying about yourselves. I will discover what power you important people really have. 20 When people are really obeying God as their king, it shows. We can see it because God’s people live by his power. We will not know it only by what they say. 21 Certainly, I will come to visit you. So, you must choose what I come to do. I might come to be angry with you and to punish you. Or, instead, I might come to speak kind words to you. I might show you that I love you. You must choose.

Chapter 5

Send the bad person away from you

1 We have heard very bad news about what is happening in your group. One of you is having sex with someone who is not his own wife. We have heard that he is having sex with his own father’s wife! Even people who do not know God do not do things as bad as this! 2 But, you still think that you are important and good! Instead, you ought to be very ashamed and sad. You must put this man, who has done this bad thing, outside your meetings. You should not let him continue to belong to your group.

3 Even if I am far away from you, my spirit is present with you. It is quite the same as when I am with you. So, I have decided already about the man who has done this very bad thing. I have decided what you should do to this bad man. 4 When you meet together with the authority of the Lord Jesus, my spirit is with you. The power of our Lord Jesus is with you too. 5 When you meet like this, you must give this man to Satan. And Satan will destroy the man’s body. So then God can save the man’s spirit on the day when the Lord Jesus returns.

6 You should not think that you yourselves are so good and so important. You have no reason to think that. You should know about what yeast does in bread. A small amount of yeast makes the whole lot of dough become bigger. 7 This yeast in the dough is like one person among you who does wrong things. You must remove this old yeast from among you. Then you will be like new dough, with no yeast in it. You are like that really, because Christ died on our behalf. He is our lamb for the Passover. And that Passover is ready now, because he died. 8 So, we can have our Passover, but not with the old yeast. We must remove everything that is bad or wrong. Instead, we must be good and honest and true, so that we are like new bread, without any yeast.

Verses 6-8 Yeast is something that people put into bread (dough). They put it in to make the bread become bigger. Dough is the bread before anyone has baked it. Israel’s people ate a lamb (a young sheep) and bread without any yeast in it for the Passover. The Passover was a very special day for Israel’s people. They had to remember when God saved them from Egypt. So they ate a special meal every year. See Exodus 12.

9 I wrote a letter to you. In that letter, I told you that you must not be friends with bad people. You must stay away from people who have sex with anyone other than their own wife or husband. I told you that. 10 But I did not mean people who do not know God. I did not mean that you must stay away from all those people. Some of those people often have sex with people who are not their own wife or husband. Some of them want more things than they need. Some of them take things that belong to other people. And some of them worship false gods. To stay away from all those people, you would have to leave this world.

11 What I meant was this: You should not be friends with any bad person among your group. That person may say that they are Christ’s. But if they have sex with people other than their own wife or husband, do not be friends with them. Some people want a lot more things than they need. Do not be friends with those people. If they worship false gods, do not be friends with them. If they say wrong things about other people, do not be friends with them. If they get drunk, do not be friends with them. If they take other people’s things, do not be friends with them. Do not even eat a meal with anyone who does things like that. 12 It is not right for me to decide about the people outside – the people who do not believe Christ. But you should decide about the people inside – the people who meet together with you as Christians. It is right for you to decide whether they are right or wrong. 13 But God will decide about the people outside, who are not Christians. As the Old Testament says:

            ‘You must send a bad person away from among yourselves.’

            [Deuteronomy 17:7] [Deuteronomy 19:19] [Deuteronomy 22:21] [Deuteronomy 22:24] [Deuteronomy 24:7]

Chapter 6

People who do not believe Christ should not decide about your quarrels

1 Perhaps one of you does not agree with another Christian about something that matters. But you should not go for help to people who do not know God. No! Instead, you should go to God’s people. And you should ask them to decide about this thing. 2 You should know that God’s people will decide about all the people in the world one day. So, if you will decide about the world, certainly you should be able to decide about small things among yourselves. 3 You should know that we will even decide about the angels one day. So certainly, we should be able to decide about things that belong only to our lives here on earth.

4 Sometimes you may not agree among yourselves about things that belong to our lives here on earth. But when that happens, do not go to people outside the church (group of Christians). Do not choose to go to people who are nothing to the church. Do not choose those people to decide about these things. 5 I say this so that you will feel ashamed. Certainly, there should be one person in your group who understands enough to decide about things like this between believers. 6 But instead, you have let believers go to people in the government to argue against other believers! You stand in front of people who do not believe Christ! Then you let them decide what is right!

7 When you do this, you are completely wrong. You should not go to people in the government to argue with each other. It would be better to let other people do wrong things to you. Even if people rob you, that would be better. 8 Instead, you yourselves do wrong things, and you do those things to other believers! You even rob them.

9 God has prepared good things for his own people that he rules over. But he will never let any bad person receive those good things. You ought to know this. You can be very sure that no kind of bad person will receive those good things. People who have sex with anyone other than their own wife or husband will not receive them. People who worship false gods will not receive them. Men who have sex with men will not receive them. And women who have sex with women will not receive those good things either. 10 People who rob will not receive them. Some people want more than they need. Those people will not receive them. Drunks will not receive them. People who say wrong things about other people will not receive them. People who are not honest about other people’s things will not receive those good things either. God has prepared things for his own people that he rules over. But no bad people will ever receive those things. 11 Some of you did bad things like this. But the Spirit of our God has washed you clean with the Lord Jesus Christ’s authority. He has made you God’s own people, who are separate from bad things. He has made you right with God, so that God can accept you now.

Use your bodies as God’s servants should use them

12 One of you may say: ‘I am free to do anything. I can do anything that I want to do.’ But not everything will help you. I myself could say: ‘I am free. I can do whatever things I want to do.’ Yes, but I will not let anything rule over me. 13 Someone else may say: ‘Food is there for the stomach. So the stomach is there for me to fill it with food.’ Yes, but God will destroy both the stomach and the food. The Lord gave our bodies to us. So, you should not have sex with anyone who is not your own wife or husband. You should not use your bodies like that. Instead, you should use your bodies as the Lord wants you to use them. 14 God raised the Lord Jesus. God made him alive again after he had died. And God will use his own power to make us alive again also. 15 You ought to know that your bodies are parts of Christ’s body. So, you must never take part of his body and make it part of a prostitute’s body. Never let that happen! 16 Anyone who makes his own body join to a prostitute becomes one body with that prostitute. You should know that. It says in the Old Testament:

            ‘The two people (the man and the woman) shall become one body.’

            [Genesis 2:24]

Verses 15-16 A prostitute is a woman who sells her body to men for sex.

17 But everyone who is united to the Lord is one spirit with him. 18 So, do not have sex with anyone who is not your own wife or husband. Be careful never to do that. Any other bad thing that you do is outside your own body. But if you have sex with the wrong person, you do something wrong to your own body. 19 Your body is the home of God’s Spirit, who is completely good and separate from everything bad. You should know that. God gave his Spirit to you and he lives in you. You do not belong to yourselves any longer. But you belong to God, 20 because God bought you. He paid the price for you. So, show how great and how good God is. Use your body to show that.

Chapter 7

Questions about marriage

1 You wrote to ask me about certain things. And now I will answer your questions. Yes, it is a good thing when a man does not marry. 2 Many people have sex with other people who are not their own wife or husband. But you must be careful never to do that. So, every man should have his own wife and every woman should have her own husband.

3 The husband should have sex with his wife to make her happy. He should do that because it is his duty. And the wife should do the same thing for her husband. 4 The wife does not rule over her own body, but her husband rules over it. In the same way, the husband does not rule over his own body, but his wife rules over it. 5 Do not refuse to have sex with each other, unless both of you agree to stop for a short time. So then you can use your time to pray. But you should come together again soon. You need each other so that Satan cannot cause you to have sex with other people. 6 I am not saying that you must do this. No, but I am saying that you can do it. You can stop like this for a short time if you want. 7 It would be good if all of you could be like me. But each person has his own gift from God. One person has a gift to do a certain thing. And another person has a different gift.

8 Now I want to say something to those of you who have not married yet. Also, I am speaking to those of you whose husbands or wives have died. It is better for all of you to continue alone. That is what I do myself. 9 But if you cannot rule yourselves well, then you should marry. It is better for you to marry. That is better than to always want sex very much.

10 I speak now to people who have married. I tell you a rule that comes from the Lord himself, not from me. A wife must not leave her husband. 11 But if she does leave, she must continue to be alone. Or she must go back to stay with her husband. And a husband must not send his wife away.

12 To you other people, I myself say this. The Lord has not spoken about it. If a Christian man’s wife does not believe Christ, that man must not send his wife away. She may agree to continue living with him. Then he must not send her away. 13 If a Christian woman’s husband does not believe Christ, she must not send him away. He may agree to continue living with her. Then she must not send him away. 14 God accepts a husband who does not believe Christ. God accepts him because of his Christian wife. Also, God accepts a wife who does not believe Christ. God accepts her because of her Christian husband. If this was not true, God would not accept your children. But God does accept them, because to him they are clean.

15 But the husband or wife who does not believe Christ may want to leave. If they want to do that, let them leave. Then the Christian man or woman does not have a duty to make them stay. God does not want us to fight with each other. 16 Perhaps, Christian wife, you will save your husband. Or perhaps, Christian husband, you will save your wife.

17 Each one of you has what the Lord has given to you. So, each of you should continue to live as God has chosen for you to live. I teach this rule to the churches (groups of Christians) in every place. 18 Some of you are Jews, so people circumcised you. That happened before you came to Christ. So, do not try to change it. Some of you are not Jews and nobody has ever circumcised you. So, continue like that and do not ask anyone to circumcise you. 19 It is not important whether someone has circumcised you or not. The important thing is this. Obey what God says.

Verses 17-19 To circumcise means to cut the skin from the end of a boy’s or man’s sex part. God had told Abraham that he must do this. (See Genesis 17:9-14.) They circumcised men and boys like this. It showed that Israel’s people belonged to God. It was like a picture. It showed that they were separate from bad things.

20 At a certain time, God chose to speak to you so that you came to Christ. So, each of you should continue as you were then. 21 You may have been a slave when God spoke to you. That does not matter. But you may have the chance to become a free person. If you do, then use it. 22 Sometimes the Lord chooses a slave to belong to him. Then, that slave becomes the Lord’s free person. In the same way, when a free person comes to Christ, he becomes Christ’s slave. 23 God has bought you and he has paid the price for you. So, do not let anyone else make you their slave. 24 My friends, who are like brothers to me, each one of you should live for God. He put you where you were. Then he spoke to you. So, each of you should continue as you were then.

25 Now I want to answer your question about people who have not married. The Lord has not given any special rule about this. But I will tell you what I myself think about it. You can believe me. I speak as someone to whom the Lord has been very kind. He has made me able to be honest and true. 26 It is very difficult to live in the world today. So, it is better that each man continues as he is. That is what I think. 27 If you have a wife, you should continue like that. If you do not have a wife, do not look for one. 28 But if you do marry, that is not wrong. And if a young woman marries, that is not wrong. But those people who marry will have many troubles during their life together in this world. And I want to save you from that kind of trouble.

29 My friends, what I mean is this: The end of time will come soon. So, those men with wives should live as if they had none. 30 Some of you weep. But you should live as if you were not sad. Some of you laugh because you are happy. But you should live as if you were not happy. Some of you buy things. But you should live as if you did not have those things. 31 Some of you are busy with things in this world. But you should live as if these things were not important. This world, as it is now, will finish.

32 I want all of you to be free so that you are not thinking about problems and troubles. A Christian man who has not married thinks a lot about the Lord and his work. He wants to do what makes the Lord happy. 33 But a Christian man who has married is different. He thinks also about the things that belong to this world. He thinks like that because he wants to make his wife happy too. 34 So, these things make him think in two opposite ways. Also, a Christian woman or young girl who has not married thinks a lot about the Lord and his work. She wants to belong to the Lord completely, both in her body and in her spirit. But a Christian woman who has married is different. She thinks also about the things that belong to this world. She thinks like that because she wants to make her husband happy too.

35 I am saying this because I want to help you. I am not trying to make rules that you have to obey. Instead, I want you to live in a right and proper way. I want you to be the Lord’s servants, who listen to him. I do not want anything else to stop you thinking about the Lord.

36 Perhaps a man and a woman among you love each other but they have decided not to marry. They have agreed to wait. But, as they grow older, the man may begin to think differently. He may think that he cannot wait any longer. He may think that he needs to marry her. Then, if they want to marry, it is not wrong. 37 But another man among you may decide that he will never marry his young woman. He may be sure that he does not need to marry. He may be able to rule himself strongly, with authority. So, he need not marry her. He is doing the right thing also. 38 So, the man who marries does a good thing. But the man who does not marry does a better thing.

39 If a woman has married a man, he is her husband. She is not free to marry anyone else all the time that her husband is alive. But if he dies, then she is free. Then she can marry again. But she must marry someone who is the Lord’s. 40 Even so, she would be happier if she continued without a husband. That is what I myself think. And I think that God’s Spirit is my guide in all this.

Chapter 8

About food that people have offered to false gods

1 Now I want to answer your question about food that people have offered to false gods. We know that all of us know about many things. And when we know something, that can make us think wrongly about ourselves and about other people. It can make us think that we are more important than other people. But when we love other people, it helps to make them strong. 2 Nobody should think that they really know about something. Some people might think that. But those people do not know anything yet as well as they should know it. 3 But God knows every person who loves him.

4 So, I will speak about the food that people have offered to false gods. I will speak about whether you should eat it. We know that a false god is not really a god at all. We know that there is only the one God. 5 Yes, people may have many false gods and many false lords. People do call other things gods, whether in heaven or on earth. 6 But for us there is only one God, who is the Father. All things come from him and we live for him. There is only one Lord, who is Jesus Christ. He made everything by his power. And he causes us to continue living by his power.

7 But some people do not understand these facts. Some people have worshipped false gods for many years. So now they cannot eat food that people have offered to a false god. They think that the food really belongs to that false god. So, they are doing something wrong if they eat that food. That is what they think. It makes them feel as if they are not clean. They cannot easily decide what is right or wrong. 8 But food does not bring us near to God. If we do not eat the food, that will not make us worse. If we do eat the food, it will not make us better.

9 But you must be very careful. You are free to do anything that is right. But some Christians are not so sure about what is right. So, you must not do anything that might cause them to do something wrong. 10 You may be eating food in a place where people worship false gods. Perhaps another Christian, who is not so sure about this, will see you. That Christian may think that you know more than they know. So then, they may think that they can eat that food too. They may think that it is right for them too. 11 Then you would destroy other Christians who are not so sure. What you know would be their guide. You must remember that Christ died on behalf of them too. 12 When other Christians do something wrong because of you, you do something wrong too. They are not sure what is right or wrong. So, when you hurt them like this, really you are hurting Christ. 13 I must not cause any other Christian, who is like a brother or a sister to me, to do anything wrong. So, I have decided this. I will never eat meat again, if my food causes another Christian to do anything wrong.

Chapter 9

Paul talks about himself as an example

1 You know that I am a free man. You know also that God has sent me to be a special worker and teacher on his behalf. You know that I have seen Jesus, our Lord. He chose me to work on his behalf. And you are the result of that work. You know that. 2 Other people may not accept me as a special worker whom the Lord has sent to them. But I am sure that you accept me like that. As a result of my work, you have become united with the Lord. And that fact shows that the Lord really sent me.

3 When people say bad things about me, this is my answer to them: 4 It is right that people give food and drink to me for my work. 5 It is right for each of us special workers to have a Christian wife. And it is right if we take our wives with us. We can take them with us to all the places where we go. The other men whom the Lord has sent take their wives with them. So do the Lord’s brothers and Peter. 6 Barnabas and I seem to be the only ones who must work with our hands. 7 Think about these examples, which are certainly true. A soldier never has to pay for his own food and clothes. A farmer will eat some of the fruit from the bushes that he has planted. A person who works with cows or sheep or goats will drink some of the milk from those animals.

8 I am not only saying what a man would say. The rules that God gave say the same thing. 9 God told Moses that he should write down these rules. And they say this:

            ‘Your ox (strong male cow) works for you. It walks on your plants so that the seeds come out. Do not tie its mouth shut while it works. It is right for the ox to eat some of the seeds itself.’

            [Deuteronomy 25:4]

God is not telling us only about oxen (cows) that work. 10 No, certainly he is speaking about us. God told Moses that he should write these words down. That was because God wanted to help us. A man ploughs the fields so that he can plant seeds. He is like us. The man who threshes the plants from the fields is like us too. Both of them hope to enjoy some of the food that has grown in the fields. 11 We have planted spiritual things in you. So, you can give to us the food and clothes that we need. That is not wrong. And that should not be too much for you to do.

Verse 10 To thresh means to hit wheat (or other plants) on the ground to get the seeds out. (Wheat is a kind of plant that people grow on farms. They use the seeds to make flour for bread.)

12 Other people think that they should receive things like this from you. So, it is even more right for us to think like that. But we have not asked you to give anything to us. We do not want anyone to stop listening to the good news about Christ because of us. Instead, we would rather have any kind of trouble. So, we chose not to demand anything from you. 13 You know about the people who work in God’s special house (the temple). They get their food there from that place. Also, you know about the people who work at the special table in God’s house. On that table, they burn the gifts that other people bring to God. The people who work there at the table also get part of those gifts. 14 In the same way, the Lord has spoken about people who tell his good news. Those people need certain things so that they can live. Those people should receive those things as a result of their work. As a result of the good news, they should receive what they themselves need.

15 So, as a result of my work, I should receive everything that I need. That would be right. But I have not asked for anything. And I do not demand anything from you now, while I write to you. I would die, rather than demand anything for myself. This is the true reason that I can boast. And I do not want anyone to take it away. 16 I tell the good news to people. But I have no reason to boast because of that. No, because God has told me that I must tell it. If I did not tell the good news, I would be very sad. I would not be obeying God.

Verses 15-16 To boast means to say something good about yourself.

17 I was not the person who decided to tell the good news to people. If I myself had decided to do it, then I could demand money for this work. But it was God who decided. He has given a duty to me to tell the good news. 18 I do get something as a result of my work, but it is not money. Instead, it is this. It makes me very happy that I can tell the good news to people without any cost to them. It would be right if they did pay me for my work. But I do not ask them to pay, and that makes me very happy.

19 I am a free man. I am not anybody’s slave. But I have made myself everybody’s slave because I want to help as many people as possible. I want to bring them to Christ. 20 With Jews, I became like a Jew, because I wanted to bring Jews to Christ. The rules that God gave to Moses do not really have authority over me. But the Jews obey those rules. So, I chose to obey Moses’ rules too. I became like the Jews, because I really wanted them to know Christ. 21 With people who are without Moses’ rules, I became like someone without those rules too. (But this does not mean that I do not obey God’s rules. No, I let Christ rule me.) I became like the people without Moses’ rules because I really wanted them to know Christ. 22 With weak people, I became like someone who is weak too. I became weak like them because I really wanted them to know Christ. I have become all things to all people so that I could, by all possible ways, save some of them. 23 I do all these things because of the good news about Christ. I want other people, together with me, to enjoy the good things that the good news promises.

24 You should know that, in a race, all the runners run. But only one of them wins the race, and he receives the reward. You must run like that, to win the reward. 25 All people who do athletics make their own bodies practise. They want to make their bodies do what they want them to do. So they rule themselves in all things. They do this so that they will win a reward. But that reward continues for a short time only. But we rule ourselves in all things so that we will win God’s reward. And that reward continues always. 26 So, I run in a straight line to the end of the race. Also, I fight like someone who hits well. I do not hit the air. 27 I rule my own body strongly and I make it my slave. I have taught other people about how to run this race. And I myself also want to win the reward from God. I do not want God to say to me: ‘You yourself do not do the things that you teach. So, I am removing you from the race.’

Verses 24-27 A race is when people run together. They want to see who can run the fastest. A reward is what a person receives. He or she receives it as a result of what he or she has done.

Chapter 10

Stay away from false gods

1 My friends, I want you to remember something. Remember what happened to our grandfathers. They followed Moses many years ago. While they followed Moses, the cloud covered all of them. It covered them to keep them safe. And all of them walked through the Red Sea with dry feet. 2 God baptised all of them in the cloud and in the sea. He baptised them as those people who followed Moses. 3 All our grandfathers ate the same spiritual food. 4 All of them drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from the spiritual rock that went with them. And Christ was that rock. 5 But God was not happy with most of them. So, their dead bodies lay everywhere in that land, where there was no water.

Verses 1-2 See Exodus 14:19-22. We have used the word grandfathers. But Paul means people who lived a long time ago.

Verse 2 To baptise means to put someone completely into something – for example, into water.

Verse 3 See Exodus 16:4-30.

Verse 4 See Exodus 17:1-7 and Numbers 20:2-13.

Verse 5 See Numbers 14:22-23.

6 These things that happened to our grandfathers are examples to us. Our grandfathers wanted bad things very much. But we must not be like them. We must not want bad things. 7 Nor must we worship false gods, as some of them did. The Old Testament says:

‘The people sat down to eat and to drink. And they stood up to enjoy themselves. And they danced in front of their false god.’

            [Exodus 32:6]

8 Nor must we ever have sex with anyone who is not our own wife or husband. Some of our grandfathers did that, and so 23,000 of them died in one day. 9 Nor must we get angry with the Lord. We must not ask questions about what he is doing. Some of our grandfathers did that. And so God sent snakes to bite them. And then they died. 10 Nor must you say that God is doing bad things. Some of our grandfathers spoke like that. And so God sent an angel to kill them.

Verse 8 See Numbers 25:1-9.

Verse 9 See Numbers 21:4-7.

Verse 10 See Numbers 14:1-38 and 16:41.

11 All these things that happened to our grandfathers are examples to us. God caused people to write about these things so that we could learn from them. We ourselves must learn to be careful. We are alive today, but the end of all things will come soon. 12 Perhaps you think that you are standing strongly. But be very careful that you do not fall down! 13 Sometimes it will be difficult for you not to do something wrong. Or it will be difficult not to think something wrong. You will have difficulties like this. But they are the same kind of difficulties that every person has. God always does what he has promised to do. Remember this. He will not let any difficulty be too big for you. He does not want you to do anything wrong because of any difficulty. He will make you strong. He will show you a way out of the difficulty. So then you will be able to do what is right.

14 So then, my friends, whom I love, stay away from false gods. Do not worship them. 15 I am saying this to you because you are clever people. You can think clearly about things. You yourselves can decide about what I am saying. You can decide whether it is true. 16 At the Lord’s Supper, we remember that Christ died on our behalf. We thank God when we drink the wine from the cup. We want to show that we belong to Christ by his blood. That is why we drink it. We break the bread and then we eat it. We want to show that we belong to Christ by his body. That is why we eat it. 17 We are many people, but all of us eat from one loaf of bread. All of us are one body because we eat from the same loaf.

18 Think about Israel’s people. When they offer food to God in his special house, they are worshipping God. And all those people who eat any of that food are showing something about themselves. They are part of what is happening there in God’s house. They are worshipping God too. 19 But I was speaking about false gods. I do not want you to think that false gods are important. I do not mean that you should think like that. The food that people offer to false gods is not important either. 20 But the people who offer food to false gods are worshipping demons (bad spirits). They are not worshipping God when they offer food to demons. I do not want you to be part of anything with demons. 21 You cannot drink from the Lord’s cup and from the cup of demons. You cannot eat food from the Lord’s table and from the table of demons. 22 We will make the Lord angry if we do things like that. He will be angry because we should worship only him. And we are not stronger than the Lord is!

23 Some of you may say: ‘We are free. We can do anything that we want to do!’ But not everything is good for us to do. You may say: ‘We are free to do anything!’ But not everything helps to make us stronger. 24 None of you should think only about the things that matter to you yourselves. Instead, each of you should think about what matters to other people.

25 You can eat anything that people sell in the meat market. You do not need to ask questions about whether that is right or wrong. 26 As it says in the Old Testament:

            ‘The earth, and everything in it, is the Lord’s.’

            [Psalm 24:1]

27 Perhaps people who do not believe Christ will ask you to eat a meal with them. And perhaps you will decide to go there. Then you should eat whatever food they give to you. You should not ask questions about the food. It does not matter where that food comes from. 28 But someone there may say to you: ‘They offered this food to false gods.’ If someone says that, do not eat the food. Do not eat it, because of the person who told you about it. He may not be sure that it is right to eat that food. And you would not want to cause a problem for that person. 29 It will not matter to you yourself. You are sure about what is right or wrong. But it will matter to a person who is not sure. Perhaps you will say: ‘Why should another person decide what I ought to do? 30 I thank God for my food. So, when I eat that food, nobody else should say bad things about me. Nobody should say that it is wrong for me to eat it.’ 31 But do everything to show how great and how good God is. Even when you eat and drink, do it like that. 32 Do not do anything that might cause difficulties for other people. Do not cause difficulties either for Jews or for people who are not Jews. Do not cause difficulties for God’s church (the people who belong to God). 33 Do what I do. All the time I try to do what everyone thinks is good. I am not doing that to help myself. No, but I am trying to help other people. I hope that God will save many people among them. That is why I live like this.

Chapter 11

1 Copy my example, because I copy Christ’s example. I copy the example of how Christ lived.

Paul talks about men and women in Christian meetings

2 You make me very happy, because you always remember me. You remember everything that I taught you. And you are careful about what I taught you to do. 3 Now I want you to understand that Christ is the head (the leader) of every man. Also, the man is the head of the woman and God is the head of Christ.

4 So, when all of you meet together, you meet to worship God. When a man prays in your meeting, he should not cover his head. Or, when a man speaks a message from God in your meeting, he should not cover his head. If he covers his head, he is not showing the right thing about his leader. He is not showing that he respects Christ as his leader. 5 But when a woman prays in your meeting, she should cover her head. Or, when a woman speaks a message from God in your meeting, she should cover her head. If she does not cover her head, she is not showing the right thing about her leader. She is not showing that she respects the man as her leader. It looks very bad when someone cuts off all the hair from a woman’s head. And it is bad in the same way when a woman does not cover her head in your meetings. 6 So, if a woman does not cover her head, she should cut off all her hair. But, if it is bad for a woman to cut off her hair, then she should cover her head.

Verses 4-5 To respect means to show that someone or something is important. You do what is proper. You do that when you respect someone.

7 A man should not cover his head, because God made the man like himself. God wanted to show how great and how good God himself is. That is why God made the man. But a woman shows how good and how beautiful people can be. 8 God made a man first. After that, God made a woman from that first man. God did not make the man from the woman. 9 Neither did God make the man to help the woman. No, God made the woman to help the man. 10 That is why a woman should cover her head. It shows that she has authority on her head. It shows that to the angels.

11 But we must live as the Lord’s people. The women need the men. But the men need the women too. 12 It is true that God made the first woman from the first man. But it is also true that the mother of every man is a woman. But all things come from God.

13 Answer this question for yourselves: Perhaps a woman prays to God but she has not covered her head. Is that proper? 14 If a man has long hair, he should be ashamed. Everyone understands that. 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is beautiful. God gave long hair to her to cover her. 16 Some people may want to argue about this. But I have told you what we do. And all the churches (groups of Christians) do the same when they worship God.

The Lord’s Supper

17 Now I must speak about something else. I am not happy about what happens at your meetings. Your meetings are more bad than good. 18 First, some people have told me that there are different groups among you. And these groups do not agree with each other when you meet together as God’s people. I believe that some of this is true. 19 But perhaps these groups have some purpose. Perhaps you need to be in separate groups when you do not agree. Then, as a result, you can see clearly which people among you are right. You can see which people God is happy with.

20 You meet together so that you can worship the Lord. But you do not eat the Lord’s Supper as you should eat it. 21 Each of you eats your own meal, and you do not wait for anyone else. So, as a result, one of you may be hungry, while another one drinks too much. 22 But certainly, you have your own homes where you can eat! You can drink there in your own homes too! You seem to think that God’s church (the meeting of God’s people) is not important. When you eat like this, you make the poor people feel ashamed. You cannot think that I will say good things about this. Certainly, I am not happy about these things that you do.

23 The Lord himself gave me this message, which I taught to you:

On the night when Judas sold the Lord Jesus to Jesus’ enemies, Jesus had supper with his friends. Jesus took some bread at the supper. 24 He thanked God for the bread and then he broke it. He said: ‘This is my body, which is for you. Eat this bread, so that you remember me.’

25 Then after supper, Jesus took a cup of wine. He said: ‘Drink from this cup, because it is the new agreement. God has made this new agreement with my blood. Every time that you drink from the cup, do it to remember me.’

26 Every time that you eat bread together like this, you are telling about the Lord’s death. You eat bread and you drink wine together. You are showing that he died on your behalf. You should continue to do this until he returns.

Verse 25 An agreement is when two or more people, or God and people, agree about something.

27 We want to show how great and how good the Lord is. So, we eat this bread and we drink from this cup together. But perhaps someone among us does not do it for that reason. Perhaps they do it in a way that they ought to be ashamed about. Then that person is doing something wrong. He should not be eating the Lord’s Supper like that. He is doing something wrong against the Lord’s body and the Lord’s blood.

28 So, each of us needs to think very carefully about our own life. Then we will know whether everything is right. We need to be sure that everything in our life is right with God. We should do this first. Then we can eat this bread and we can drink from this cup. 29 Nobody should ever eat and drink at the Lord’s Supper in a wrong way. Anyone who does that is not recognising the Lord’s body. That person will cause God to be angry with them because they are doing something wrong. So, God will punish them. 30 That is why many of you are weak and sick. Some of you have died because of this. 31 But if we really think carefully about our own lives, we ourselves can recognise the wrong things. Then God will not need to decide about us because we are doing wrong things. He will not need to punish us. 32 The Lord decides to punish us now so that we will learn not to do wrong things any longer. At the end, he will punish all those people who do not believe Christ. But he does not want to punish us for always, together with them.

33 So, my Christian friends, you meet together to eat the Lord’s Supper. Wait for each other when you meet like that. 34 If any of you are hungry, you should eat at home. Eat before you come. Then there will be nothing wrong. So then, when you meet together, the Lord will not need to punish you.

I will come to visit you. Then I will talk to you about all the other things.

Chapter 12

Gifts from God’s Spirit

1 My friends, I want you to understand about those gifts that God’s Spirit gives to us. 2 You know how you lived in past times. You lived as people who do not know Christ. Things made you, in whatever way, worship false gods that cannot speak. 3 I want you to understand me now. If God’s Spirit is helping someone, they cannot say: ‘Jesus is bad.’ And, unless God’s Spirit is helping them, nobody can really say: ‘Jesus is Lord.’

4 There are different kinds of gifts. But it is the same Spirit who gives them. 5 We serve the Lord in many different ways, but all of us serve the same Lord. 6 Different people can do different things. But the same God gives everything that we need to each of us. He makes us able to work for him as he wants us to do. 7 In each one of us, God shows in certain ways that his Spirit is present in us. He gives certain gifts to each of us so that we can help each other.

Verse 5 To serve means to work on somebody’s behalf, as their servant.

8 The Spirit gives to one person a message that causes people to understand something. And he gives to another person a message that causes people to know something. 9 The same Spirit causes another person to believe God strongly. And he gives to someone else gifts to make sick people well. 10 The same Spirit causes another person to do miracles. And he causes another person to speak messages from God. He causes someone else to recognise the differences between different spirits. He causes another person to speak in different kinds of languages. And the same Spirit causes someone else to explain what those languages mean. 11 It is the same Spirit who does all these things. He decides which gifts he will give to each person.

Verse 9 A miracle is a great thing that can only happen by God’s power.

One body with many parts

12 Each person has only one body, but that body has many parts. All those different parts make only one body. And it is like that with Christ too. 13 God baptised all of us by his one Spirit into one body. It made no difference whether we were Jews or not. It made no difference whether we were slaves or free people. God gave his one Spirit to all of us to drink.

Verse 13 To baptise means ‘to put a person or a thing completely into something else (for example, into water)’. When God ‘baptises’ us into Christ, he ‘puts us into’ Christ. He makes us completely united with Christ in our spirits.

14 A person’s body does not have only one part. No, it has many parts. 15 If the foot could speak, it might say: ‘I am not a hand, so I do not belong to this body.’ But what it says makes no difference. It is still a part of the body. 16 If the ear could speak, it might say: ‘I am not an eye, so I do not belong to this body.’ But what it says makes no difference. It does still belong to the body. 17 If the whole body was an eye, it could not hear. Or if the whole body was an ear, it could not know about different smells. 18 But God decided where he wanted to put each different part in our bodies.

19 A body is not a body if it has only one part. 20 But there are many parts, and there is one whole body. 21 That is why 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.’ 22 No. Even the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are really very necessary. 23 And we are most careful about the parts of our bodies that seem not to be worth very much. And we cover carefully those parts that we do not want people to see. 24 But we do not need to cover the beautiful parts of our bodies. God has put all the parts together in one body and some parts seem not to be worth very much. But God has made those parts more important. 25 So, the parts of the body do not quarrel. All the parts work together so that they help each other. 26 Then if one part of the body hurts, every other part hurts with it. Or perhaps people say that one part is doing well. Then every part is happy.

27 All of you are Christ’s body. And each of you is a part of that body. 28 God has put different people in different places in his church (among his people). First, there are those people whom God sent to be special workers and leaders on his behalf. Second, there are those people whom God chose to speak his messages. Third, there are those people who are teachers. After that, there are people who do miracles. Then other people have gifts to make sick people well. There are those people who are able to help other people. There are those people who are guides to other people. And there are those people who can speak different kinds of languages.

29 God did not send all of you to be his special workers and leaders. Not all of you can speak his messages. Not all of you are teachers. Not all of you do miracles. 30 Not all of you have gifts to make sick people well. Not all of you can speak in different kinds of languages. Nor can all of you explain what they say in those languages. 31 But it is good if you really want the more important gifts.

Now I will show you a way that is better than any other way.

Verses 28 and 29 A miracle is a great thing that can only happen by God’s power.

Chapter 13

The most important thing is to love

1 If I do not love, I am nothing. I may be able to speak different languages that people use. I may be able to speak languages that angels use. But that is worth nothing unless I love. It is only like someone who is making a loud noise. It is only like someone who is hitting a loud bell. 2 I may be able to speak messages from God. I may know all the facts and I may understand all the secret things. I may believe God enough so that I could move mountains. But I am nothing if I do not love. 3 I may give all the things that I have to poor people. I may even let other people burn my body so that I die. But that is worth nothing if I do not love.

4 If I love, I will be very patient. I will be kind. I will not want to be like other people so much that I get angry with them. I will not tell people how good I am. I will not think that I am better than other people. 5 If I love, I will always be polite. I will think about what other people want. I will not think only about what I myself want. I will not get angry quickly. And I will not always be remembering the wrong things that other people have done to me. 6 If I love, I will not be happy about bad things. But instead, I will be happy about things that are right and true. 7 If I really love people, I will never stop loving them. It will not matter what happens. Whatever things may happen, I will still continue to love. If I love, then, during all things, I will still continue to believe. If I love, then, during all things, I will still continue to hope for good things. If I love then, during all things, I will still continue to be patient and strong.

8 If I love, that will never come to an end. But it is different for all those gifts that God has given to us. The time will come when we do not need them any longer. People will stop telling messages from God. They will stop speaking in special languages. The many things that people know will finish. 9 Now, at this time, we know only a small part of everything that is true. And we can tell other people only a small part of the messages that come from God. 10 Now, we have only a part of what God wants to give to us. But the time will come when he will give everything to us completely. Then we will not have only a part any longer.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child. I thought like a child thinks. I understood only what a child understands. But now that I am a man, I have stopped being like a child. 12 Now we see things as if we were looking at them in a dark mirror. What we see is not clear. But the time will come when we will see everything clearly. Now we know some things, but then we will understand all things. God knows us and he understands us completely. And we will understand like that too, then.

13 So, there are three things that continue. We continue to believe God. We continue to hope for good things. We continue to love. But the greatest of these things is love.

Chapter 14

A language that people know is better than special languages

1 So, want to love more than you want anything else. Also, want very much to have gifts from God’s Spirit. And want most to tell messages from God. Want that gift more than the other gifts. 2 Anyone who speaks in a special language speaks only to God. That person is not speaking to other people, because the other people do not understand him. The Spirit is causing him to speak about secret things, but other people do not understand. 3 But anyone who tells messages from God is speaking to other people. That person is helping other people to understand more, so that they become stronger. Also, he is helping people to be more sure and happier. He is helping them to be without trouble in their minds. 4 Anyone who speaks in a special language helps only himself. But a person who tells messages from God helps all the church (group of Christians) to be stronger.

5 I want all of you to speak in special languages. But even more, I want you to tell God’s messages to people. Anyone who can tell messages from God is a very valuable person. That person is greater than someone who can speak in special languages. Anyone who speaks in special languages is less valuable to you. That person is less valuable unless they themselves can explain their special words. Then everyone can understand those words, and so they will help the church (group of Christians).

6 My friends, if I come to visit you, perhaps I may speak in special languages to you. But that by itself will not help you. But I may tell you something that God has shown to me. Then, that will help you. I may tell you something that I know about God. Then, that will help you too. If I tell you a message from God, that will help you. Or if I teach you something, that will help you. 7 Think about music. The different kinds of instrument that we use to make music are not alive. We can use them to make clear, different sounds. If we do not use them like that, then nobody can recognise the music. 8 Soldiers will not prepare to fight the enemy unless they hear a clear sound from the trumpet.

Verse 7 An instrument is something that people use to make music.

Verse 8 A trumpet is a kind of instrument that someone blows into to make music. It makes a loud sound. Armies used trumpets. They told the soldiers when they should fight.

9 It is the same for you. You must speak words that people can understand. Only then will your message be clear. If people do not understand your words, then you will only be speaking those words into the air. 10 Certainly, there are many different languages in this world, and all of them mean something. 11 Perhaps a person will speak to me in a language that I do not know. But I will not understand what his words mean. So, I will be like a foreign person to him. And he will be like a foreign person to me also. 12 You yourselves really want the gifts that come from God’s Spirit. That is good. But the best gifts are those that will help the church (group of Christians) to become stronger. So, want those gifts more than any other gifts.

13 So, anyone among you who speaks aloud in a special language should pray to God about it. Ask God to help you explain those words. 14 If I pray in a special language, only my spirit prays. But I do not use my mind while I pray like that. 15 So, the best way is this: I should pray both with my spirit and with my mind. Also, I should sing both with my spirit and with my mind. 16 If you thank God only with your spirit, other people cannot understand. They listen. But they do not understand what you are saying. So, they cannot agree with you and they cannot say ‘Amen’. 17 You may be really thanking God, but your words do not help anyone else there.

Verse 16 Amen means ‘Yes’ or ‘I agree’ or ‘That is true’. People say ‘Amen’ when they have finished praying something.

18 I thank God that I speak in special languages more than all of you. 19 But when the church (group of Christians) meets together, I want you to understand my words. When we worship God together, I want you to learn more about him. So, I would rather say five words that you understand then. I would rather say five words like that than thousands of words in a special language.

20 My friends, do not think like children think. Babies do not know very much about bad things. So, with bad things, be like babies. But do not think and understand things like children. No, instead, think and understand like proper men and women. 21 It says in the Old Testament:

‘I will cause foreign people to speak my messages to my people. These foreign people will speak to them in strange languages.

But my people will not listen to me, even if I speak to them by foreign people.’ That is what the Lord said.

[Isaiah 28:11-12]

22 So then, the gift from God that causes people to speak in special languages is a sign. It shows something to people who do not believe God. But it is not a sign for those people who do believe God. Also, the other gift from God that causes people to speak his messages is a sign. It shows something to those people who believe God. But it is not a sign for those people who do not believe.

23 Think about when the whole church (group of Christians) meets together. Think about what might happen. All of you might be speaking in special languages, and then some strangers might come in. Those strangers might not know very much, or they might not believe God. Then certainly, they would say that you are crazy! 24 But if all of you are telling messages from God, it will be different. If a stranger comes in, then he will listen. He might not know very much, or he might not believe God. But still, he will understand that he is not right with God. The messages that all of you are telling will make him sure about that. 25 The messages from God will show every secret thought that the stranger thinks. And so, he will bend himself down and he will worship God. He will say with a loud voice: ‘Certainly, God is here among you.’

How the church should worship properly

26 So, this is what you should do in your meetings, my friends. You meet together to worship God. And then, each person among you has something to bring. One of you can suggest a song that all of you can sing to God. Another person has something to teach you. Someone else has something that God has shown to him. Another person has words that he speaks aloud in a special language. So then someone else will explain what those words mean. Do all these things for one reason. Do them so that you help to make the church (group of Christians) stronger.

27 No more than two or three people should speak aloud in special languages. They should speak one person at a time. Then someone must explain what each person said. 28 But perhaps there is nobody there who can explain the special languages. Then, those people who can speak aloud in special languages must be quiet. They must speak only to themselves and to God.

29 Two or three people can tell messages from God. Then those of you who are listening must think carefully about each message. You should decide carefully whether each message is good. 30 Perhaps someone among you will receive a message from God during the meeting. Then, if another person is already telling a message at that time, that other person should stop. 31 Each person among you can tell a message from God, but you must speak one person at a time. Then everyone will learn something and it will help all of you to believe God more. 32 All of you who can tell messages from God have authority over your own spirits. 33 God does not want anyone to confuse his people. No, he wants us to do things properly. He wants us to be friends and to be without trouble among ourselves.

We think that verse 32 means, ‘You can decide when you should speak.’

As in all the churches (groups) of God’s people everywhere, 34 the women should be quiet in the meetings. They should not speak, because they should be under authority. That is what the Old Testament rules say also. 35 If a woman wants to ask about something, she should ask her husband at home. Women should be ashamed if they speak in the church. 36 Remember that the word of God certainly did not start from you! You are not the only people who have heard it, either.

37 Someone may think that he really tells messages from God well. He may think that he has received gifts from God’s Spirit. So, that person should understand about what I am writing to you. He should recognise that it comes from the Lord himself. The Lord is telling his people that they must do it. 38 If that person refuses to recognise this, you should not believe his messages. Do not believe what he says.

39 So, my friends, you should really want to tell messages from God. And do not stop someone when they speak in a special language. 40 But you must do everything in a right and proper way.

Chapter 15

Christ certainly did become alive again after he died

1 Now, my friends, I want you to remember the good news that I taught you. You were happy to believe that message. And you still believe strongly that it is true. 2 You must continue to believe strongly that same good news. If you do, then it has saved you. If you do not, you have believed it for nothing.

3 I received the good news from Christ and then I told that same most important message to you. I told you that Christ died on our behalf. So then, as a result, God chooses not to remember all the wrong things that we have done. And the Old Testament told us that Christ would do this. 4 I told you that people buried Christ. Then God caused him to live again after three days. The Old Testament tells us about this too. 5 After that, Christ appeared to Peter. Then later he appeared to his 12 special workers that he sent to tell the good news. 6 And after that, he appeared to more than 500 believers at the same time. Most of those 500 people are still alive, but some of them have died. 7 Then Christ appeared to James. Later he appeared to all the special workers that he had sent to tell the good news.

8 After all these people had seen him, Christ appeared to me also. I was like someone who was born at the wrong time. 9 Christ sent other people to tell his message. And all of those other people are greater than I am. People should not really call me one of them, because I caused so much trouble for God’s church (people). I hurt Christians and I killed them. 10 But God was very kind to me. He changed me. He has made me what I am today. And I have not wasted what he has done in me. No, because I have worked more than all the other people that Christ sent to tell his message. But it was not really I myself who did that work. No, it was God himself who made me able to do the work. 11 So then, all of us teach this same good news about Christ. I teach it. And all the other special workers that Christ sent teach it too. And this is the message that you have believed.

Dead people can live again in Christ

12 Our message is this: Christ died, but God raised him. God raised him, to make him alive again. So, some of you are wrong. You say that dead people do not live again. 13 But what you say cannot be true. It cannot be true, because then Christ would still be dead. You are saying, ‘God did not raise him, to make him alive again.’ 14 But if Christ is still dead, then our message to you is not true. There would be nothing for you to believe. 15 And even more important, we would have told you something false about God. We told you that God caused Christ to live again. But if dead people cannot live again, then that cannot be true. But it is true! 16 If God does not make dead people alive again, then Christ cannot be alive. But he is! 17 And if God did not make Christ alive again, then you have believed something false. There would be no reason for you to believe about Christ. God could not choose to forget all the wrong things that you have done. But he can! 18 Also, if God does not cause dead people to live again, then dead Christians would continue to be dead. They could not be alive with God. 19 And if Christ gives us a reason to hope during this life only, then we are the saddest people in the world! Then everybody should be more sorry for us than for any other people.

20 But it is true that God raised Christ. And he did make him alive again. Yes, Christ died. But he has become the first of all dead people to live again. 21 It was because of one man, Adam, that people died. And it is because of another man, Christ, that people can rise. And people can live again. 22 All of us are in Adam’s family, so all of us must die. But all people who are in Christ will live again. 23 It is like this: Christ died and then he became alive again. So, he shows us the way. When he returns, his people will live again too. 24 Then the end will come and Christ will destroy every other ruler and power and authority. Then he will give everything to God, the Father, and God will rule. 25 Christ must rule as king until God has put all enemies under Christ’s feet (authority). 26 God will destroy the last enemy. And that enemy is death. 27 It says in the Old Testament:

            ‘God has put all things under his feet (authority).’

            [Psalm 8:6]

But it is clear that the words ‘all things’ do not include God himself. No, because it is God who put all things under Christ’s authority. 28 When God has put all things under Christ’s authority, then Christ, the Son, will put himself under God’s authority. So then God will be everything to everyone.

29 Some Christians have died before anyone could baptise them. Some of you have let people baptise you on their behalf. But if dead people do not live again, there is no reason to baptise anyone on their behalf.

Verse 29 To baptise means to put a believer into water. (Or sometimes they put water on a believer.) It shows that the person believes Jesus Christ. It is like a picture of what God does in our spirits.

30 Also, think about us! All the time we are in danger. 31 Christian friends, I say strongly to you that I die every day! That is as true as the fact that I am very happy because of you. It is a great thing that all of us are united with Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 At Ephesus city, I fought as a man fights wild animals. But that would be worth nothing if dead people do not live again. If dead people do not live again, then we could say:

            ‘Tomorrow we will die.

            So let us eat and drink.’

            [Isaiah 22:13]

Verse 32 Ephesus was a city in the country that we call Turkey now.

33 Do not believe false words. But these words are true:

            ‘Do not have friends who are bad. They will make you do the bad things that they do.’

34 Start thinking properly! Do what is right! Stop doing wrong things! Some of you do not really know God. So, I am saying all this to make you feel ashamed about that.

New bodies

35 One of you may ask: ‘How does God raise dead people, to make them alive again? What kind of body will they have?’ 36 You are a fool to ask those questions! When you plant a seed in the ground, it has to die first. It does not become alive again, unless it dies first. Then it can become alive again and grow into a new plant. 37 You put just a seed into the ground. It might be wheat or it might be another kind of seed. But you do not put into the ground the body of the plant that the seed will become. 38 But God makes that seed become a plant. He gives to it the special body that he has chosen for it. To each kind of seed, God gives its own body.

39 All things that are alive are not the same. They have different kinds of bodies. People have one kind of body. Animals have another, different kind of body. Birds have another kind of body and fish have another kind. 40 Also, there are bodies in the sky and there are bodies here on the earth. The bodies in the sky are beautiful. But they are beautiful in a different way from the bodies on the earth. 41 The sun is beautiful. The moon is beautiful also, but it is different from the sun. The stars are beautiful too, but again they are different from the sun and the moon. Also, among the stars, one star is brighter than another star.

Verse 37 Wheat is a kind of plant that people grow on farms. They use the seeds to make flour for bread.

42 So, when God makes a dead person alive again, it will be like this. The dead person’s human body, which we bury in the ground, had to die. But when God makes it alive again, it will never die. 43 At the time that we bury a body, it is not beautiful any longer. It is weak. When God makes it alive again, that body will be beautiful and strong. 44 What we bury in the ground is only a human body. What God makes alive again is a spiritual body. There is a human body, so there has to be a spiritual body also.

45 It says in the Old Testament:

            ‘The first man, Adam, became a human person who was alive.’

            [Genesis 2:7]

But the last Adam (Christ) is the spirit who makes people live.

46 The spiritual body does not come first. No, what is human comes first. Then, after that, what is spiritual comes. 47 God made the first man (Adam) out of the ground. But the second Adam came from heaven. 48 People who belong to the earth are like the first man. They are like the man who came from the ground. But people who belong to heaven are different. They are like the man who came from heaven. 49 Our human bodies are like the first man, that God made out of the ground. But our spiritual bodies will be like the man who came from heaven. 50 I tell you this, Christian friends: Our human bodies cannot live always with God, in the place where he rules. The human body has to die. It cannot receive something that will continue always.

51 Listen to me while I tell you a secret. Not all of us will die, but God will change all of us. 52 It will happen when the last trumpet makes a sound. He will change us in a moment of time. There will not even be enough time to close our eyes, while he is changing us. When that trumpet makes its sound, God will make the dead people alive again. He will give them bodies that will never die. And he will change all of us.

Verse 52 A trumpet is something that people make music with. They blow into it and it makes a loud sound.

53 All things that become old and weak must change. They must change into things that cannot become old and weak. Our bodies, that have to die, must change. They must become bodies that cannot die. 54 Our human bodies have to die. But they will become bodies that cannot die. And before this happens, God has told us about it in the Old Testament. It says:

            ‘I have destroyed death. I have won completely!’

            [Isaiah 25:8]

When he changes us, we will know this. We will know that it is true.

55 God says to believers:

            ‘When you believers die, that is not the end.

            There is nothing to hurt you at that time.’

            [Hosea 13:14]

56 All of us have been wrong because we have not obeyed God’s rules. So, without Jesus, we would be afraid to die, because then God would have to punish us. 57 But God causes us to win by our Lord Jesus Christ. So, we thank God! And we are not afraid to die.

58 So, my friends, that I love, continue to be strong. Continue holding on to God. Do not let anything move you from your place. Continue always to work on the Lord’s behalf. Work very much for him. Everything that you do for him will have good results. It will not be a waste of time. You know that this is true.

Chapter 16

The gift of money for God’s people

1 Now, I want to speak about the money that you will give to God’s people at Jerusalem. I told the churches (groups of Christians) in Galatia what they must do about that. You should do the same. 2 On the first day of every week, each of you should put some of your money in a special place. You should keep this money separate and safe. Then, when I come to you, your gift of money will be ready. Some of you have more money than other people, so you can give more. 3 Then you should choose people from your group who will take your gift to Jerusalem. I will visit you. And then, I will send those people to Jerusalem with letters from me. Those letters will tell the Christians at Jerusalem who is bringing your gift. 4 I may go myself also, if that seems the right thing for me to do. Then they can travel with me.

5 But I must go to Macedonia first. After I have travelled through Macedonia, then I will come to you. 6 Perhaps I could remain with you for some time then. I may even stay for the whole winter. Then you can help me to continue my journey to the next place. I am not sure yet where that may be. 7 I want to stay with you for more than a short time, so I will not come immediately. If the Lord says ‘Yes’ to this idea, then I hope to remain with you for many days. 8 But now, I will remain here at Ephesus city until Pentecost. 9 God has given me the chance to do a great and powerful work for him here. But there are many enemies here too.

Verse 1 Galatia was part of the country that is called Turkey now.

Verse 5 Macedonia was north from the country called Greece now.

Verse 8 Ephesus was a city in the country that we call Turkey now. Pentecost was the special time each year when Israel’s people thanked God for their food.

Paul finishes his letter

10 If Timothy comes to you, then make him feel completely happy there with you. He is doing the Lord’s work, the same as I am doing the Lord’s work. 11 So, nobody should think that Timothy is not important. You must help him to be free from trouble. Then, send him on his way, so that he can return to me. I am waiting for him, with the other Christian friends, to return here.

12 Now I want to talk about our friend Apollos. I asked him very seriously to go, with the other Christians, so that he could visit you. But he does not think that this is the right time. He will go when he gets the chance.

13 Be awake. Watch what is happening. Never stop believing God. Be brave and strong. 14 Do everything because you love God and other people.

15 You know about Stephanas and his family. They were the first people in Achaia to become Christians. And they have given themselves to be servants of God’s people always. So, my friends, I ask you this strongly. 16 I ask you to let people like these be your leaders. Also, be ready to obey everyone else who helps with the same work. 17 I was very happy when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived here. You could not help me because you were far away. But they have given to me what you could not give. 18 They have made my spirit strong and happy, the same as they made you strong and happy. People who are like that are very valuable. You ought to show them that you know that.

19 The churches (groups of Christians) here in Asia say ‘Hello’ to you. Aquila and Priscilla, and the group that meets in their house, want very much to say ‘Hello’ to you. They love you because you are also the Lord’s people. 20 All the Christians here say ‘Hello’ to you. When you meet each other, kiss each other like brothers and sisters.

21 I myself am writing this now with my own hand: Hello from Paul. 22 If any of you do not really love the Lord, he will punish you. Come, Lord, we are waiting for you! 23 I ask the Lord Jesus Christ to be kind to all of you. 24 I love all of you, because Christ Jesus makes us join together.

Verse 15 Achaia was the south part of the country that we call Greece.

Verse 19 Asia was the south and west part of the country that we call Turkey now.

Word List

AD 50 means the year that was 50 years after Jesus came, and so on.
spirit being. Good angels come from God’s home beyond the earth. They are God’s servants and they bring messages from God to people.
a person or animal that is alive.
a piece of wood that someone has fastened across another piece. People put Jesus on a cross to kill him.
the place beyond the earth where God and Jesus Christ live.
a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children (Israel’s people).
master; another name for God or for Jesus. It means that he is greater than everyone else. A lord is someone who has authority to rule people.
Lord’s Supper
when Christians eat bread and drink wine to remember Jesus.
Old Testament
the first part of the Bible, that describes events before Jesus’ life on earth.
what someone is able to do. Human power includes everything that we can think or do by ourselves, without God’s help.
to hurt someone, or to cause trouble for them, because they have done wrong things.
the bad spirit who wants to be God. He is the ruler of bad angels and of everything that is bad. He is the enemy of Christians. Another name for Satan is the Devil.
a being that is always alive, even without a body. A person’s spirit is the part of them that will always be alive. It will 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 (God’s enemy) and his angels.
about the spirit.
a drink that people make from small, sweet fruits called grapes. It has alcohol in it.
to love and thank someone (God) more than anyone else.

Book List

A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament

G. D. Fee ~ The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The First Epistle to the Corinthians

Various Bible versions


© Wycliffe Associates (UK), 1997-2006

This version published September 2006

The translated Bible text has been through Advanced Checking.