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The 3rd Missionary Journey:
1 Corinthians

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1 Corinthians (Part 1)

Paul is ready for another missionary trip, this third one being more ambitious than either of the other two. He leaves from Antioch in Syria and heads overland through Galatia where he picks up his trusted porter and messenger, Timothy.

 

They wander through Asia Minor until they reach the huge metropolis of Ephesus on the coast of the Aegean Sea. On the way they either establish or visit many churches, including the seven listed in Revelation.

Paul will end up staying in Ephesus for three years. His ministry is powerful there, but as news comes to him about his other churches he dashes off letters--sometimes letters of praise, but mostly letters of correction.

We cover

    Acts 18:24-19:10

    1 Corinthians 1-2; 5:9; 16:12

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1 Corinthians (Part 2)

Paul is writing a scathing letter to the Corinthians. They are in serious danger of losing their way entirely. At this point there is not much to distinguish them from the unbelievers and idol worshippers they live among.

 

There is an overlay of puffed-up, prideful self-importance that is endangering the church. Everyone is all about themselves--and the more extreme they can be, the better.

 

Paul isn’t having any of it! He absolutely sticks a skewer into their pride over someone who is sleeping with his father’s wife. Paul says, “Not even the unbelievers think that’s a good idea!” 

 

We spend our breakout time talking about Paul’s recommendation that they immediately expel this person from their midst.

We cover 1 Corinthians 3-5.

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1 Corinthians (Part 3)

We hit 1 Corinthians 6:9 this week--one of the most famous “clobber” verses in the Bible. It’s one of those verses often used to bludgeon each other and to exclude each other from fellowship with other believers. 

 

We use our backpack tools to determine whether this is Paul’s intent and to see how his words might have landed on Roman ears. 

 

There is a strong divide within Christianity over how to interpret this passage. We try to do it carefully and respectfully, using historical context and linguistic context as well as taking a look at the witness of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible. Above all, we consider the words of Jesus and his advice to “look at the fruit.”

They wander through Asia Minor until they reach the huge metropolis of Ephesus on the coast of the Aegean Sea. On the way they either establish or visit many churches, including the seven listed in Revelation.

Paul will end up staying in Ephesus for three years. His ministry is powerful there, but as news comes to him about his other churches he dashes off letters--sometimes letters of praise, but mostly letters of correction.

We cover 1 Corinthians 6:1-11.

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1 Corinthians (Part 4)

Paul has a lot more to say to the Corinthians--some of it in response to a message they send to him with a bunch of their questions.

 

Paul focuses on the physical body in this part of his letter. He talks about sexual immorality, about marriage, and about treating your body as a holy temple.

 

But some of the most interesting and fruitful bit springs from his admonition that “You are not your own. You were bought with a price.” We use our backpack tools on that one--with very surprising results.

We cover 

    1 Corinthians 6:12-8:13

    Matthew 19:3-12

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1 Corinthians (Part 5)

Paul addresses two huge issues the Corinthians are having. 

 

It was a thing back then to be invited by your patron to dine at the local god or goddess’s temple. Can Christians eat in a pagan temple? And leftover meat sacrificed to these gods and goddesses was sold at a discount in the market. Can Christians buy food sacrificed to idols?

 

And what about women praying or prophesying in church? Should they have their heads covered or not? We carefully walk through Paul’s logic and arrive at surprising results.

We cover 1 Corinthians 8:1-11:16.

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1 Corinthians (Part 6)

The Corinthians are a clique-ish group. Some are rich and some are poor, and they obviously don’t mix.

 

The “Lord’s Supper” is a literal meal but everybody brings their own food and they don’t share! It’s not even a potluck. Paul is horrified. He says they are sinning when they do this and, as far as he’s concerned, that’s why some of them have fallen ill or died before Jesus comes back. (We, of course, have a different perspective on this after 2000 years.)

 

The Corinthians also have questions about the gifts of the Spirit. Don’t we all? Paul gives them a terrific answer. It’s one of the most famous passages in all of Scripture.

We cover 

    1 Corinthians 11:17-13:13

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1 Corinthians (Part 7)

We wrap up 1 Corinthians today. Paul continues with his strong words about the chaos in the worship gatherings the Corinthians have. They’ve been blessed with an abundance of spiritual gifts of the Spirit, but they’re trying to shout over each other. Are you getting the sense that the Corinthians have a problem with self-importance? 

 

It is in this context that Paul addresses women who are utterly derailing the worship service with their questions. He talks about how the law says women should be silent in the churches. The problem is, the Mosaic Law doesn’t say that. So what is Paul talking about?

 

On top of that, some of the Corinthians apparently don’t believe in resurrection. The Corinthian church is confused, and Paul is horrified. It boggles his mind that they would worship a risen Messiah and at the same time say they don’t believe in resurrection. You can bet he’s got some strong words about that. And in the process, we get another glimpse into his developing theology.

We cover 1 Corinthians 14-16.

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