1 Corinthians 4:8-21
Read this portion of Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church keeping in mind that this church was among the wealthiest of its time. How did the Corinthians self-perception of being wealthy affect the way they viewed Paul and the other apostles? How did the apostles’ way of life challenge the Corinthian way of life? How does it challenge you? You might want to compare the apostle’s experience with the way of life Jesus laid out in Matthew 5:1-11.
What would it look like for the Corinthian church to make Paul their spiritual father? How would this new father-son relationship change the way they lived? What present sins would be overcome?
1 Corinthians 5:1-8
What major problem does Paul see with the Corinthians’ way of life? How should their attitude towards sin in their community change?
Paul’s command to hand the blatantly immoral brother over to Satan, is not a reference to final judgment, but a desire to see this person turn from their sin and return to God. Those who are proud of their sin and possess no desire to change were to be put out of the community (“handed over to Satan”) with the hopes that this person would struggle (as the younger son did in the story of the Prodigal Son – see Luke 15:11-31 ) and humbly return to God.
1 Corinthians 5:9-6:8
While Paul taught the Christians in Corinth not to associate with people who profess to be Christians and are blatantly immoral (and unrepentant), how were they to treat people who were immoral but did NOT profess to be followers of Jesus? Think about how Jesus treated unbelievers who were openly immoral (see John 4:1-26).
How are Christians called to handle disputes, even civil disputes that they might have with other Christians? What, in Paul’s eyes, is a better alternative than taking a Christian brother or sister to court and winning?
1 Corinthians 6:9-20
Paul, in verses 9 and 10, paints a contrast between who the Corinthians were and who they have now became because of Christ. What was their old life? Who are they now because of Jesus? How was this new identity to affect the way they lived?
How does what is permissible for a Christian compare to what is beneficial? How can you know if good things like food and sex have become twisted?
What picture does Paul use to describe a Christian’s relationship with God? Who does a Christian belong to and why? How is believer connected to God? Where is it that the Holy Spirit lives? How should all of this affect the way we live in our bodies in the world? How does it affect the way we see sex?
1 Corinthians 7:1-9
Christians today normally see singleness as a problem to be solved. How does Paul view singleness? What benefit is there in being single? Why does Paul encourage some people to get married? Is marriage ‘better’ than being single? In yesterday’s reading Paul argued that our bodies belong to God. For married couples there is a second owner, who is it?
1 Corinthians 7:10-24
What is Paul’s teaching for those who are in an unhappy marriage? How should a spouse live if they do decide to separate? How should a Christian live with a spouse who is an unbeliever? What options are open to a follower of Jesus if their unbelieving spouse decides to leave?
Does Paul view his teaching on marriage as the direct teaching of Jesus or his own interpretation of Jesus’ teaching on marriage?
How does Paul justify his position that in most situations, we are called to stay where we are (see verse 17)? How does Paul apply the principle of verse 17 to other areas of life? Look carefully again at how Paul describes our new identity because of Christ (verse 23). How is this identity related to this way of life that Paul is describing?
In Christ there is now no _______________.
Paul sets up a contrast between the ‘law of sin and death’ and the ‘law of the Spirit of Life’. What is the Law of the Spirit of Life able to do, that the law of sin and death was unable to do? How did Jesus set us free from the law of sin and death?
The law of sin and death (Old Testament) demanded death for those who broke it, unless someone who was perfect and lived up to its requirements gave up his life as a sacrifice for those who were condemned. Jesus’ death releases us from the curse of the law of sin and death so that we might live a new life according to the law of the Spirit of Life.
How does life controlled by the flesh/sinful nature contrast to life controlled by the Spirit? What will the Spirit of God do for our bodies that are deadened by sin?