1 CORINTHIANS 16:13-24

13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love. 15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16 to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. 17 I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20 All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 21 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. 22 If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord! 23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.


Paul ends his letter with one final charge – stand firm in the gospel. It will require courage and strength from God to fulfill our calling in God. Notice the familial closeness Paul exhibits in his final words to the church. He wasn’t trying to build a stale organization but a living and growing spiritual family rooted in love.


Explain the expressions in 16:13-14. Why are these qualities needed?

What are some qualities that Paul commends in the people he mentions in wrapping up his letter? How did these qualities help build up the community?

What are you “bringing” on a regular basis to help the church community?





1 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. 2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made. 3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.

5 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me. 10 When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. 11 No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers. 12 Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.


As Paul is wrapping up his letter to the believers in Corinth he reminds them about how to handle their resources. Usually we tend to see the money we have as resources we spend on ourselves. But as followers of Jesus, we recognize that everything we have is f rom Him and therefore, we need to allow God to have control over our resources to advance the gospel through the community God has placed us in. To see the gospel integrated into every area of our life must include Him being Lord over our finances.


What event is discussed in 16:1-4? What are Paul’s instructions?

What is your practice of financially giving to the church look like? Does it match with Paul?

What treatment did Paul say they should give Timothy and why?




1 CORINTHIANS 15:50-58

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” 55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.


Paul is setting the record straight concerning our resurrected bodies and what will happen when Christ comes to those bodies. While there is some level of mystery about our eternal future, there are some things we do know: Jesus Christ is the sole source and hope of transformation in this life. It is part of God’s mysterious plan to redeem creation, not to reject it. And on the last day, when Christ returns, the enemy of death will finally and totally be defeated. It is in this that Paul charges his listeners – stand firm and let nothing move you from these truths of the gospel.


When will we all be changed?

Explain the phrase “Death has been swallowed up in victory”. Use the text to answer (15:53-55)

What does it mean to “give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord”? Is there anything the Lord might be leading you to do to see that happen more fully in your life?




1 CORINTHIANS 15:35-49

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.


For some Corinthian believers, their denial of the resurrection was based on an aversion to the idea that the body could be reanimated after death. Paul was familiar with the growing belief in Corinth (and throughout the Roman world) that anything mortal is evil, but the soul (that IS immortal) is pure. A hundred years after the writing of this letter, this Hellenistic belief grew into Gnosticism and led the church into great theological foolishness. But the core question remains: How does the common Roman belief (the flesh being evil/corrupted and soul/spirit being good/ pure) line up with the truth of the gospel and the truth of the resurrection when God makes all things new?


Explain the illustration of the seed (15:36-38). What then is resurrection? How did Jesus demonstrate what resurrection involves?

According to Paul, how will our spiritual bodies compare with our earthly ones?

What nature did we receive from the first man (Adam), and what nature did we receive from the heavenly man (Jesus) (15:47-49)?




1 CORINTHIANS 15:12-34

12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. 20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all. 29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.


Paul seems to hinge a great deal on the reality and implications of Jesus’ resurrection. If Christ has not been raised, his proclamation is in vain and he’s bearing false witness about God. If Christ has not been raised, our faith is in vain and futile, we are still in our sins (separated from God) and those who have died in Christ are lost. For Paul, the whole web of Christian discourse is high-minded nonsense if it is not anchored in the truth of the resurrection of Jesus.


What did some Corinthians say about the resurrection?

Define “firstfruits”. What is the point Paul is making regarding Jesus’ resurrection?

Explain the connection between Jesus’ reign and the resurrection (15:25-26).

What does it mean for all things to be “under His feet” (15:27).





1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.


The Apostle Paul transitions here to the final act of his letter to the Corinthians. He begins by anchoring them back to the gospel message he preached when he first came to Corinth. This was the message that drew them out of the pagan world and into the Kingdom of God and into a new community. For Paul, he knew that for the community to remain strong they must be anchored to Jesus and the gospel he preached among them.


Taken from the verses above, what are the basic facts of the gospel?

Are these facts all there is to the gospel? Explain.

For a bit of application, taken from what you said above, if someone was to ask you, “What is the gospel?”, what would you say?




1 CORINTHIANS 14:26-40

26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.


The Corinthians had received and were using many spiritual gifts – so much so that it sometimes things got rather chaotic in their gatherings! Just as a fireplace allows a fire to heat up a room without burning down a house, these instructions are intended to help them minister to one another in a way that gives room for the Holy Spirit to powerfully work through the members of the body, while ensuring that everything is also “done decently and in order” (v. 40).

Notice how these church gatherings do not involve passive consumers, but active participants. Each person is encouraged to “bring something” and be ready to minister to others when they come together (v. 26). Verses 34-35 are difficult to understand and apply. While it seems this instruction fits with the general theme of providing order and structure for the church’s meetings, it is important to look at what the rest of the Bible says, too. This includes what we read in chapter 11 - where it is assumed that women will be praying and prophesying during these gatherings. This passage cannot be prohibiting all speech, but (at most) a certain kind of speaking. For a more in-depth, practical and helpful treatment of this issue that lays out a few possible interpretations of these difficult verses, check out the link below.


When you come together with the church, are there ways you tend to think like a consumer? How might God be leading you to be more of a participant and a minister?

Are you more inclined to seek the fire of the Holy Spirit, or the structure of a fireplace? Are there any routines you need to let go of? Or, are there areas of your life and church that could benefit from some structure?





1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up. 6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. 13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.


Here, Paul discusses the purpose of two spiritual gifts – tongues and prophecy – and gives instruction about how, when and why they are to be used.

The most common way we are to use the gift of tongues is as a prayer language in our personal prayer time (v. 18-19). When we pray in tongues, we engage in “spirit-to-Spirit” communication with God with words from Him that we do not understand (v. 14), but that build up our faith (v. 4, Jude 1:20) and intercede for others according to His perfect will (Romans 8:26-27). Occasionally when we are gathered with other believers the Holy Spirit may prompt us to give a message in tongues, so that another person with the gift of interpretation can communicate what God is speaking to the group (v. 5,27).

Prophecy is more valuable to the community, because it builds up the church. While Paul would love it if everyone prayed in tongues, he would much rather they employ the gift of prophecy (v. 1,5). When we bring a prophetic message, it speaks to people in the deep places of their hearts and shows them that God is real, leading them to experience and follow Him (v. 24-25). Prophecy is an important and impactful way God uses us to build up others.

Paul encourages us to “earnestly desire” spiritual gifts – especially prophecy (v.1). If you have not experienced these gifts, you can ask God for them. It can also be helpful to ask a friend who is more experienced in this area to pray for you, too.


Do you have any unanswered questions about the gifts of tongues or prophecy?

If you have experienced either (or both) of these gifts, how have they benefited you? Have you seen them used in any awkward or seemingly unhelpful ways?

Would you like to ask God to experience one or both of these gifts (or another spiritual gift), either for the first time or to a greater degree?




1 CORINTHIANS 12:31b-13:13

31 ... And I will show you a still more excellent way. 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.


We may have heard this Scripture read at weddings – and it is very appropriate for married couples. However, it is important to remember that these words were not originally intended to go along with rose petals and romance, but to help a bunch of very different people from all sorts of backgrounds, cultures and classes form a unified Christian community.

Without love, the most noble-seeming religious behavior is in vain. Even spiritual gifts can become a source of pride, instead of a means of honoring God and blessing others. Loving others well does not happen overnight. It requires character formation, which comes as we choose to put others before ourselves and crucify our selfish inclinations - especially when we don’t feel like it.


What is one example of a time you’ve experienced love from another believer in a way that impacted you?

Is there an area of your life — in your home, at work, at church, or elsewhere — where love isn’t your main motivation, but you want it to be?

Where do you see God working to develop love in your life? What will you do with this?




1 CORINTHIANS 12:1-31a

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware. 2 You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. 3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. 4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills. 12 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear says, “Because I am not an eye, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired. 19 If they were all one member, where would the body be? 20 But now there are many members, but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; or again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”22 On the contrary, it is much truer that the members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary; 23 and those members of the body which we deem less honorable, on these we bestow more abundant honor, and our less presentable members become much more presentable, 24 whereas our more presentable members have no need of it. But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 27 Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues. 29 All are not apostles, are they? All are not prophets, are they? All are not teachers, are they? All are not workers of miracles, are they? 30 All do not have gifts of healings, do they? All do not speak with tongues, do they? All do not interpret, do they? 31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.


Here, Paul moves from addressing specific problems to painting a vivid picture of how the gospel brings us into new kind of unified community. Made up of diverse people who confess Jesus as Lord, we are “one body, with many members.” We are joined together to honor and care for one another. And we are to suffer together, rejoice together, and serve our Lord together.

This community is not something we build with our own natural strength, but through the miraculous grace of God at work in our lives and relationships. Every believer is given unique spiritual gifts – and access to the grace of God through the gifts He has placed in our brothers and sisters. In order to build up the church even more, we are encouraged to desire and seek more of these gifts. To find definitions of the different spiritual gifts, check out the link below.


What do you most like about this vision of the church community?

What is one way you can give to others and use (or find out) your spiritual gifts?

Is there a spiritual gift you want to ask God to give you, or to increase in your life?




1 CORINTHIANS 11:17-34

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!
23 For I received f rom the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. 27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink f rom the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world. 33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.
And when I come I will give further directions.


The way the Corinthians are going about participating in the Lord’s Supper has drawn Paul’s ire. They are guilty of drinking the bread and the cup in an unworthy manner. This is a serious infraction, and has caused them to “eat and drink judgment on themselves.” Paul informs the church in Corinth that this offense is actually the reason many of them are weak and sick, and others have died.

What is the sin behind the inappropriate way the Corinthians are participating in the Lord’s Supper? Along with the sexual immorality and idolatry that Paul has been addressing already, an even more fundamental problem is that the Corinthians are self-centered and individualistic. Instead of considering the needs of other people in their approach to worship and the Lord’s Supper, they are going about things in a“private” and divisive way (vv. 18, 21), instead of as a unified community.

The church is the body of Christ (as Paul spells out in much detail in Chapter 12, which we will read tomorrow). Partaking of the bread and the cup is a spiritual act intended to help us experience communion with both God and one another. However, many of the Corinthians made it their practice to “eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ.”

Their individualism and lack of investing in the community was a very serious issue, and called for sorrow, confession of sin and repentance. Then God’s discipline would achieve its desired result. The believers would experience forgiveness, grace and transformation - and become the kind of community God intended them to be.


What do you think about the seriousness with which God viewed the unworthy way many of the Corinthians were approaching the Lord’s Supper?

Is it surprising to you that the main issue was how the Corinthians failed to understand the importance of the church body, and were not honoring others in a loving, unified way?

How will this change the way you participate in Communion?





2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. 7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come f rom woman, but woman f rom man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God. 13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.


Today’s reflection is longer, but not because this passage is more weighty than others. In fact, what we discuss about love in Chapter 13 this Thursday is the most important part of this letter - and other topics are more fundamental. However, this passage is one that is usually more difficult for us to understand and apply, and that often strikes us as controversial, or even offensive.

It is hard for us to understand the cultural context in first century Corinth. Also, what is meant by “head coverings,” as well as Paul’s theological reasoning, is not crystal clear to us. There are many different opinions and conjectures among believers. It is important for us to approach this text the way we approach all Scripture – as God-inspired and useful. It is also essential to maintain humility and honesty about any lack of clarity we have.

At the same time, when we encounter things in the Bible that are difficult to understand, it is a good opportunity to dig deeper. Often, this opens up new levels of understanding of God’s character, and leads us into a place of greater worship and faithfulness to him. Cultural norms certainly play into this situation, and it is hard for us to understand what those norms were. We have our own cultural norms about what is appropriate in certain situations. For example, it would be considered unacceptable for contemporary Americans if a man wore a ball cap to a formal dinner party, and it would probably be distracting if a man came to a church service without a shirt.

There are differences of opinion about what head coverings were. Many think they were veils, and that this was the normal attire of married women in Corinth. Others say that it meant having her hair put up on her head, and that this was the orderly and dignified way Corinthian women wore their hair in public – in contrast with the way the hair of prostitutes and participants in certain ecstatic pagan temple rituals hung down in a loose fashion. The male priests in the Roman religions wore a hood over their head, so the instruction to them not to cover their head is likely to differentiate them from the pagan religions, and also so that they would not be attired in what could easily be seen as an effeminate style.

For articles and a video that deal with these issues in more depth – and with slightly different perspectives - you can check it out in the links below!

“What is the Bible Saying in 1 Corinthians 11 about Head Coverings” (https://www.beautifulchristianlife.com/blog/bible-first-corinthians-11-head-coverings), “Biblical Basis for Women’s Service in the Church” by N.T. Wright (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FSZPyZFWQI0 and http://ntwrightpage.com/2016/07/12/womens-service-in-the-church-the-biblical-basis), and  “Head to Head about 1 Corinthians 11:3-16” (https://au.thegospelcoalition.org/article/head-to-head-about-1-corinthians-11/)

Here are a few takeaways for us:

  • It is clear that both men and women are to have active, verbal roles in the life of the church. The passage starts off saying that women should have their heads covered when praying or prophesying (v.5) – taking for granted that women praying and prophesying was a regular part of the church’s worship. This is also consistent with what we see throughout the New Testament. This passage is not excluding women from public ministry, but defining how men and women are to minister together in a spiritually and culturally appropriate way (see v. 10).

  • Gender distinctions are important to God, and thus we should maintain these in the way we dress. He made us “in His image, male and female” in the beginning. Living, interacting with one another, and worshipping as men and women, with masculine and feminine qualities, is important. We are both made in His image (Genesis 1:27), and the way God has made us is glorious (1 Corinthians 11:7).

  • Submitting to and honoring others is a good thing, and is an essential part of submitting to and honoring Christ as Lord. Jesus Himself willingly submits to the Father (see 1 Corinthians 11:3 and 15:28, John 14:28). We all have authorities we are called to honor, including one another (Ephesians 5:21), civil authorities (Romans 13:1), husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1-2), and parents (Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20). Honoring and recognizing the authorities God has placed in our lives – while contrary to our cultural values and our flesh - is a good thing that honors God and blesses us.

  • Having “authority over our head” (or “on our head” in some translations, v. 10) – the result of living under God’s authority, with our lives submitted to Him and lined up with His ways – leads to us having authority as we serve Him and others. This is reminiscent of the centurion who described himself as a man who had authority because he was under authority in Matthew 8:9. The authority in our lives comes from being under God’s authority.

  • Being “in the Lord” (v. 11) is what brings us fully into our created purpose. (See also Galatians 3:28 about how our identity in Christ supersedes all other identities of gender, class, nationality or ethnicity.) Our created purpose is not to be in competition with each other – or independent of each other – but interdependent. None of us can live without the other, and our mutuality and interdependence reflects our Creator and Redeemer, and His intention for people, in a way nothing else can.


In what ways do you see the reality that Christ is your head as a blessing? In what ways is it difficult to have your will crossed?

What is your best understanding of how your manhood/womanhood affects the way you are to worship God and minister to others?

How might you intentionally honor those of a different gender from you in your church? How could you live more interdependently?

1 CORINTHIANS 10:23-11:1 - WEEK 3 - WE OVER ME



1 CORINTHIANS 10:23-11:1

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”— but not everything is constructive. 24 No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” 27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for? 31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. 11:1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.


The Apostle Paul wraps up this whole line of thought that started in chapter 8 with the overarching conclusion: use your freedom for the glory of God. By beginning with the argument for building up the community in love, Paul is teaching them a lesson they needed to learn. He wants them not only to stay out of the temples (and the feasts that go with them), but they need to see the Christian life in a radically different way! As Paul puts it in Philippians 2:4, “Let each of you look not only to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” So Paul’s conclusion is this: 1) All our actions should glorify God by seeking the benefit of others rather than ourselves and 2) Within the framework of that principle, we are free to eat whatever we like with thankfulness.


What are some actions you do that actively build up community in your church?

Do you have any prerogatives or rights that you sense the Lord leading you to surrender, in order to better aid the development of a loving community?

As Paul was a model for the Corinthians, who do you look to as a model of following Jesus? In what ways could you be more intentional in building that relationship? Who could you bring with you?





1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty- three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel. 11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf. 18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?


Paul continues the same train of thought he had beginning in chapter 8 and loops his point back to the issue of idols. Idolatry has been an issue for God’s people since Moses and Paul is connecting these Gentile Corinthians believers to that long history with God and His view of idols. Idols are anything that we turn to for what only our Heavenly Father can provide – comfort, peace, security, identity, meaning, value, salvation. And much like the culture in Corinth, we have our own idols in the 21st century.


What are some of the idols are have in our American culture?

Have you ever felt yourself drawn to these idols in the hopes that they would provide comfort, peace, etc. to you?

Paul affirms that there are spiritual forces behind idols (demons) and when we turn to these idols (money, success, pleasure, etc) and worship them we open ourselves up to demonic influences. Have you ever thought about it this way?

If we have idols in our lives, how does that affect the church community you are in?





18 What then is my reward? That in my preaching I may present the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. 19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. 20 To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. 21 To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.


Paul’s argument that began in chapter 8 seems to target those members of the Corinthian church who enjoy greater wealth and social prestige, who also are most enamored of their freedom to do what they like: to them, Paul says, in effect, “No, for the sake of the gospel you must exercise self-restraint. You must discipline yourself for the sake of the greater good of building up the community in love.” Let’s think about the text in light of that.


What does Paul mean “I become all things to all people” by the examples he uses?

Why does Paul use the example of an athlete? What does he equate between an athlete and a follower of Jesus?

Looking at your life in this season, what are some “aimless” habits or patterns that hold you back from being an effective minister to those around you?





1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are not you my workmanship in the Lord? 2 If to others I am not an apostle, at least I am to you, for you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 3 This is my defense to those who would examine me. 4 Do we not have the right to eat and drink? 5 Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from working for a living? 7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard without eating any of its fruit? Or who tends a flock without getting some of the milk? 8 Do I say these things on human authority? Does not the Law say the same? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was written for our sake, because the plowman should plow in hope and the thresher thresh in hope of sharing in the crop. 11 If we have sown spiritual things among you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? 12 If others share this rightful claim on you, do not we even more? Nevertheless, we have not made use of this right, but we endure anything rather than put an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ. 13 Do you not know that those who are employed in the temple service get their food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar share in the sacrificial offerings? 14 In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 15 But I have made no use of any of these rights, nor am I writing these things to secure any such provision. For I would rather die than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting. 16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.


It seems as though Paul changes subjects from chapter 8 and 9 and dives into a discussion about how he financially supports himself. However, Paul is going to use his means of support as an example of how to live as a servant of Christ. In other words, Paul is saying, “I have authority and freedom to be supported by the church financially, as other leaders in the church do. But even though I have that right, I choose to not allow money to get in the way of my chief duty of preaching the gospel to others.” Verse 12 illuminates this point. Paul is presenting his own pattern of renouncing rights as exemplary and he’s calling the Corinthian Christians to follow suit.


What would it mean for us to embrace Paul’s determination to do everything for the sake of the gospel? In what specific ways would your life be different?

Out of love his love for God and others, Paul is passionate about living in a way that won’t hinder the gospel. If a spiritually curious person was to peek closely into your life, would there be anything there that would hinder their journey to Christ? And in what ways would they be drawn closer to Christ?





1 Now concerning food offered to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” This “knowledge” puffs up, but love builds up. 2 If anyone imagines that he knows something, he does not yet know as he ought to know. 3 But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 4 Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth--as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”-- 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.


We could easily imagine that people were asking Paul and the leaders of the church about how walk out the gospel life in the midst of a pagan culture. How can we best love people and what is permissible as a follower of Jesus? With all these idols around us in everyday life, how do we live? Paul starts his train of thought with the issue of knowledge.


What’s the difference between knowledge and love?

Why is merely having knowledge (thinking through the lens of facts, laws and rules) not enough?What’s is Paul saying is most important?

Paul is affirming that, in Christ, we now live in a greater reality in the culture of the Kingdom, which is of greater worth and value than the pagan culture around them. Which culture do you hold greater allegiance to in your DAILY life? The world or the Kingdom? Explain.




1 CORINTHIANS 7:25–40 (NASB95)

25 Now concerning virgins I have no command of the Lord, but I give an opinion as one who by the mercy of the Lord is trustworthy. 26 I think then that this is good in view of the present distress, that it is good for a man to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be released. Are you released from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you marry, you have not sinned; and if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. Yet such will have trouble in this life, and I am trying to spare you. 29 But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none; 30 and those who weep, as though they did not weep; and those who rejoice, as though they did not rejoice; and those who buy, as though they did not possess; 31 and those who use the world, as though they did not make full use of it; for the form of this world is passing away. 32 But I want you to be free from concern. One who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please the Lord; 33 but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. The woman who is unmarried, and the virgin, is concerned about the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and spirit; but one who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how she may please her husband. 35 This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord. 36 But if any man thinks that he is acting unbecomingly toward his virgin daughter, if she is past her youth, and if it must be so, let him do what he wishes, he does not sin; let her marry. 37 But he who stands firm in his heart, being under no constraint, but has authority over his own will, and has decided this in his own heart, to keep his own virgin daughter, he will do well. 38 So then both he who gives his own virgin daughter in marriage does well, and he who does not give her in marriage will do better. 39 A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 But in my opinion she is happier if she remains as she is; and I think that I also have the Spirit of God.


For us to understand Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, and in particular this passage, we have to be made aware of his belief that there was a soon approaching “Day of the Lord.” The “Day of the Lord” is known in the Hebrew tradition as time when God rights injustice. These times bring a dramatic change in the social order. To help understand this watch this video.

Paul wasn’t incorrect in his belief. The events in Jerusalem in 70 AD when the Romans laid siege to it and destroyed the temple was, in the opinion of many Biblical historians, a “Day of the Lord.”

This pastoral letter was written to a particular community at a specific time in history to give instructions for maintaining appropriate devotion to Jesus. This passage should help us to understand that we should live our lives with a watchful awareness that the present order of things is not ultimate.


What do you think Paul means by “secure undistracted devotion to the Lord?” (v. 35)

How important is community in light of a potential social upheaval?

What are we ultimately called to put our trust in?





1 Now concerning the things about which you wrote, it is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. 3 The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 But this I say by way of concession, not of command. 7 Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that. 8 But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I. 9 But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn with passion. 10 But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband 11 (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife. 12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? 17 Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches. 18 Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. 20 Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called. 21 Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. 22 For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. 24 Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.


In order to confront a false spirituality among the Corinthians, Paul encourages healthy sexual relations between husband and wife for the mutual benefit of one another. This idea of mutual submission was revolutionary in the first-century and was foundational to restoring dignity to women.

Besides promoting the Corinthians to maintain their marriage commitments, Paul exhorts them to continue in the state they were in when they first understood the good news about Jesus Christ. In the diverse culture of Corinth, people could easily value and identify others by marriage status, circumcision or uncircumcision, slave or free, or economic status. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to think differently about identity and to value themselves and others by a new identity that comes from Jesus.


Who does Paul encourage to have sexual relations? What is their attitude to be about it?

How would Paul’s attitude toward identity affect the culture of a community?




1 CORINTHIANS 6:12–20 (NASB95)

12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.


An erroneous idea had slipped into the Corinthian church that the grace of God had become a license to ignore the moral laws of God. “All things are lawful” was a common Corinthian saying, and Paul uses some clever rhetoric to confront it with an appeal to what is profitable and what leads to true freedom.

Paul addresses the issue of immorality through a reasoned argument about the nature and purpose of human bodies. Our bodies are the Lord’s and are not meant to be joined together in immorality. Our bodies matter and they are members of Christ. Immorality is a sin against one’s own body. Our bodies have meaning and purpose. We are called to steward them as “temples of the Holy Spirit” to glorify God and to use them to serve the common good.


What are the two responses Paul has for the Corinthian claim that “all things are lawful?” (v.12)

Is there anything in your life that is mastering you? How should we respond to immorality? (v.18)

What does is mean that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?