New Testament Reading Guide – October 10-16, 2011

How do I use this reading guide?

1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1

The “cup of thanksgiving” and the “bread” are the bread and cup of communion. What is the significance of communion according to Paul? How does Communion bind us to God and to each other? Why couldn’t the Corinthians participate in communion (the Lord’s Table) and pagan sacrifices at the same time? If the idols are nothing, what is the harm?

Paul argues that we have a considerable amount of freedom as followers of Jesus. Why would we not do everything that is permissible for us? For what reasons should we set aside our freedoms? How should we exercise our freedoms in light of Jesus’ command to “love our neighbor as ourselves?”

Paul teaches a Christian way of life through words, but also by_______ (see 11:1).

1 Corinthians 11:2, 17-22

What drives Paul to conclude that the Corinthian churches meetings (church services) do more harm than good? What exists among them that should not exist?

It appears that the Corinthian church celebrated communion, the Lord’s Supper, as part of a meal that was shared by the whole community.

What is wrong with the way they celebrate the Lord’s Supper? (obviously getting drunk during communion is a big problem, but what else?)

1 Corinthians 11:23-34

Paul received the tradition of communion from __________ and passed it on to ___________.

Communion, sometimes called the Lord’s Supper was instituted by Jesus as he celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples on the night he was betrayed by Judas and arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. See Matthew 26:17-30. Just as the first Passover was celebrated on the night before Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt, so also the first Communion was celebrated on the night before Jesus liberated us from slavery to sin by going to the cross and rising from the dead. Just as the breaking of bread and the drinking of wine were part of the celebration of Passover, the cup and the bread are shared in communion.

What is the significance of the bread and the cup? For what purpose do we drink the cup and eat the bread? What should we do before we eat the bread and drink the cup?

Paul has a warning for those who participate in communion in an unworthy manner. Celebrating communion unworthily is connected to not “recognizing the body of the LORD”. While some have argued convincingly that failure to recognize the body of the LORD, is taking the bread and cup without recognizing Jesus’ body and blood in the elements, I believe that Paul has a different form of Christ’s body in mind. The church community is the body of Christ that has gone unrecognized.  Look at verse 33 and verses 20-22 to see what Paul means by celebrating communion unworthily. What have the Corinthian Christians experienced because they made a mockery of the Lord’s Supper?

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

What is true of everyone who has the Holy Spirit living within them?

“Jesus is Lord” was no idle statement. In Paul’s day, “Caesar is Lord” was the pledge of allegiance of the Roman Empire. To declare “Jesus is Lord” was considered to be an act of treason.

Even though all Christians possess the same Holy Spirit, how do we each of us experience Him uniquely? For what purpose is every Christian given “spiritual gifts” by the Holy Spirit? What examples of spiritual gifts does Paul give us? For a fuller list of spiritual gifts see 1 Corinthians 12:27-31; Romans 12:1-8; Ephesians 4:11-13; and 1 Peter 4:10-11. How would you define spiritual gifts? Which gifts do you think you have?

We live in a society where gifts and talents are a means to enriching the self. Who is to benefit from our personal spiritual gifts?

1 Corinthians 12:12-26

What metaphor does Paul use to describe the church? In what way is every member of the church equally valuable? In what way is each of us different and unique? In Paul’s understanding of the church and the Christian faith is it possible to be a Christian all by yourself? What responsibility do each of us have to the church community?

American society values people based on what they do. Therefore a CEO is valued more than the night janitor. Different roles exist in the church. Some are leaders and some are more behind the scenes. In what way is the church different from our world? How are the ‘lesser roles’ to be valued by the church?

1 Corinthians 12:27-13:3

The first ‘you’ in verse 27 is plural. We in New England don’t differentiate between the singular and plural you, but if we were among our brothers and sisters in the south, this passage could be translated: “y’all are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” What is our collective identity as a Christian community? How do each of us fit into the larger community? What roles and gifts do you see?

As great as the spiritual gifts are, what is the greatest ‘gift’ of them all as we transition to chapter 13? What must accompany our gifts, talents, and accomplishments if they are to have any meaning?

Acts 14:8-18

Paul and Barnabas traveled together through the cities of Asia Minor (Turkey today), preaching the gospel through words and by performing miracles, and gathering those who believed their message into churches.

What is the unexpected response to the crippled man’s healing? How do the people of Lystra misidentify Paul and Barnabas? How do Paul and Barnabas respond to the prospect of being worshiped? The crowds that Paul and Barnabas are Gentiles, people who were unfamiliar with Jewish customs, Scripture and traditions. What do you notice about the way Paul communicates the message of Jesus to the crowds?

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