10 нояб. 2013 г.

1 Corinthians. Different message to different types of people.

Epistle of apostle Paul to the Corinthians is traditionally called first, although the accurate observer will notice the text suggests that Paul has already written to them (1 Cor 5:9), and they have responded (1 Cor 7:1).

Paul writes to the church in Corinth and addresses both the problems reported by the people of Chloe (1:11) and the questions raised by the Corinthians themselves (7:1).

The high-level outline of the 1st epistle to the Corinthians:
  1. Greetings, 1:1-9
  2. Answering Chloe people's report, 1:10-6:20
  3. Answering questions asked by the Corinthians, 7:1-16:18.
  4. Final greetings, 16:19-24
At the very beginning of epistle Paul states the problem in the church which he will address -- divisions (1:10). Believers in Corinth thought they were spiritual/mature/wise (3:18), yet they were not, but rather immature, babes (3:1). There were many indications of childish behavior, of acting like unbelievers (natural, merely human). 

  1. They tried to get their value by assosiating with certain spiritual heavies: Paul, Apollos, Cephas, Christ (1:12). 
  2. There were jealousy, strife among them (ch. 3).
  3. They misunderstood what the true ministry was (ch. 4).
  4. They failed to live according to new nature in Christ, but acted like before being re-born (ch. 5).
  5. They failed to be a proper testimony to the world (ch. 6).
As Paul addresses the issues, he helps them to realize their true spiritual state. His reasoning in chapters 2 and 3 can be illustrated as shown on the scheme. Paul points out three types of people: 
  1. Unbelievers (natural);
  2. Immature (people of the flesh, babes in Christ);
  3. Mature (spiritual).
Note that Paul's ministry and message to people depended on where they were spiritually. 

See more on Paul's calling and strategy in advancing the gospel in chapter 9:19-23.

Application
  • How does Paul's description of people's spiritual maturity help you to better see your own needs and the needs of those around you? 
  • In which way may you need to adapt your message to assist those you seek to help mature spiritually?

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