1 Corinthians 1:1-19
Corinth was located in a commercially strategic location in Greece with ports providing access to Rome in the west and Asia Minor (Turkey) in the east. Consequently, the church in Corinth was among the wealthiest churches in the Roman Empire. See if their struggles mirror the challenges that we face as Christians in America as we are also among the wealthiest churches of our time.
How does Paul identify himself as the author of this letter (along with Sosthenes who was most likely an assistant / missionary intern serving with Paul)? The word ‘apostle’ means ‘one who is sent.’
How does Paul identify the recipients of the letter, the Christians in Corinth? The word sanctified here means to be made holy or set apart by God. So what Paul is saying here is that God has made you holy (sanctified – past tense) now go and be holy. That is a common theme in the Bible. God has made you who you are. Now go and be who you are.
What is it about the Corinthian church that causes Paul to give thanks to God? Why is Paul confident that the Corinthian church will be ‘strong to the end’?
What does Paul see in the Corinthian church that troubles him? What do you think Paul would think of the state of the church today with its many denominations and divisions? Who or what is to be unifying force in the church? How does Paul view the rejection of the gospel by the the wise and the intelligent?
1 Corinthians 1:20-31
What can not know God? How is it that we come to know God? Why does Jewish wisdom reject the gospel? Why do the Greeks? What has God offered in the place of human wisdom and power? Why?What does it take for someone to accept the “foolishness” and “weakness” of God?
The Corinthians’ wealth and power tempted them, as it tempts us, to trust in their strength rather than the power of God. How does Paul undercut their faith in themselves and point them to a faith in Christ?
1 Corinthians 2:1-13
The Greeks valued good communication skills just as a politician today is judged by his ability to connect on camera rather than the substance of the message. How did Paul appear weak to the Greeks? Why was it important for Paul to communicate the gospel in weakness? Whose power was it that opened the eyes of the Corinthians? How is it that any of us comes to know “the secret wisdom of God”?
1 Corinthians 2:14-3:15
What role does the Holy Spirit play in our coming to know God?
Why does Paul consider the Corinthian church to be worldly and infantile?
How does Paul see himself, Apollos, and God working together and not in competition with each other? Think about Paul’s farming analogy. What roles do people play in spreading the message of Jesus? What role does God play?
Think now about Paul’s construction analogy. What is the foundation? Who builds the house? How will we know if our work has been of any value?
1 Corinthians 3:16-23
Keep in mind that the “you” of verse 16 is plural. If we were in the south we could say “y’all are God’s temple.”What is God’s new temple on earth? How highly does God value his new temple?
Apparently there were great divisions in the early church as early Christians identified themselves as followers of Paul, Apollos and Cephas (Peter) not unlike the way Christians today hitch their wagons to Calvin, Wesley or Rick Warren. What does Paul exhort the Corinthian Christians to do instead of boasting and arguing about their great wisdom?
1 Corinthians 4:1-17
Why does Paul ask the Corinthian Christians to follow his and Apollos’ teaching? How were they to determine if Paul and Apollos were true teachers? Why were the Corinthians asked not to “go beyond what was written”?
The Corinthian Christians were not unlike American Christians. We often believe that our economic prosperity is an indicator of our superior wisdom. It is that kind of pride that leads to divisions in the church and stunts our growth as Christians.
The picture here of baptism is one of immersion. Here the sinner is placed under the water which symbolizes the death or the drowning of our old lives. When the convert is raised out of the water, he is raised from the dead and into a new life.
In what ways does our baptism connect us to the life and death of Jesus Christ? What is the significance for us in Christ’s death? What has died in us as we died with Christ? What difference does Christ’s resurrection make in our own lives?
What is true about sin in our lives now that we have died and risen with Jesus Christ? Why can we never say “I am a sinner and I can not change”?