Today's Bible Commentary

  1 CORINTHIANS Daily Bible Readings
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DateScripturesDaily devotional commentary
Jan 1-18: Genesis
Jan 19:1Corinthians 1-4* Who Are You?, by N Sween
Jan 20:1Corinthians 5-8* Behave Yourself!, by G E Ertel
Jan 21:1Corinthians 9-11* Exercising Faith, by N Sween
Jan 22:1Corinthians 12-14* Spiritual Gifts, Love, Worship, by N Gomez
Jan 23:1Corinthians 15-16* Resurrection, by N Sween
Jan 24-Feb 8: Exodus

Who are you? top
Jan 19:
1 Corinthinas 1-4
1 Cor Commentary
Dictionary, and Books
1 Cor Bible Study
David Legge, Ireland
Thought to apply: What I believe is always going to be rejected by some people. Focus on Christ.
PROMISE: "God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful." (1:9)
What had some of the members of the Greek church at Corinth written Paul? It sounds as though they were having problems with differences of opinion, divisions, and leadership. Paul's two priorities were to clarify that God is faithful and that you in Christ Jesus actually already have all you need while waiting for His return.

Our being called to fellowship with other believers is God's plan - quarreling over which pastor has the best buildings, the best messages, the best programs, the best training is NOT.

Let's face it - if you don't have Jesus, even the basic message about the reasons for His dying on a cross sounds foolish. We who are being saved see the power of God behind Christ's death. We see Isaiah 29:14, a variation on the principle "God's ways are not man's ways". Just as the Lord didn't create the heavens and the earth with logic, neither does He let people reach His truth by looking for signs or using human logic. Man's requirements for proof, spiritually or physically, don't match God's way of thinking. What were you when God called you? Did you have a brilliant mind, lots of influence in your community, born into a royal family? Likely, you were not. Most of us were lowly, weak, despised - some would say we were nothing. But God didn't hesitate to create the world from nothing, and He doesn't hesitate to make something from nothing in the lives of people in Christ Jesus. We have nothing to boast about except for God. (Jer 9:24) Wise and persuasive speeches are nothing compared to the Spirit's power.

As we grow in Christ, we find out that God's wisdom was hidden in scripture for later disclosure. If the powers-that-be had understood it, they would not have crucified Jesus Christ, Lord of glory. But the only way to understand God's wisdom is to have God's Spirit, who comes as a gift from God. People without the Spirit of God (the mind of Christ) aren't being obstinent - they CAN'T understand any of this because it's spiritually discerned. New Christians start out worldly and, like babies, start growing on spiritual milk. Evidence of worldly Christians is that they are jealous and boastful over their knowledge and their pastors, quarreling among themselves. They don't get it - yet - that because the Lord assigns each of us our tasks, we are nothing and He is everything. Part of our growing process is to refocus on Him, stop deceiving ourselves, and stop boasting about men. It's all about You, Lord. You have laid Jesus Christ as the foundation. We believers together are God's temple because God's Spirit lives in us. We are sacred. We can't boast about wisdom - God is not impressed. [See Job 5:13 and Psalm 94:11]
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Behave Yourself
Jan 20:
1 Corinthians 5-8
1 Cor Commentary
Dictionary, and Books
1 Corinthians,
Ray C. Stedman
CAUTION: "Be careful, however, that the exercise of your freedom does not become a stumbling block to the weak." (8:9)

(Special thanks to guest commentator George Ertel author of Christ At Work.)

Paul has a tough job to do. He's trying to pastor long distance, and he's dealing with a church in a very corrupt community. In chapter four, Paul asserts his claim to ecclesiastical leadership and exhorts the Corinthian church to humility. ".it is required of stewards to be found trustworthy," (4.2) ".but the one who examines [Paul] is the Lord." Sarcastically he contrasts the church's opinion of itself with that of his own, then calls upon them to imitate him (v. 16) as he is their "father through the gospel" (v. 15). Paul informs them he is sending Timothy to instruct them and that he himself intends to come, too, for the purpose of discerning if the power of God infuses the church there (v 17-20).

Chapter five is important to us, not because we can be titillated by the church's scandal, but because we are taught three principles for our own churches.

One: moral rules remain applicable. Despite the popular antinomian notion today that only faith (or faith and motive) matters, and despite Paul's assertion that no one judges him but the Lord, here Paul condemns a behavior that is immoral according to an established standard. The offense is a "deed" (v. 2), not an attitude. One can argue whether the standard is Mosaic or natural law, but we can't escape Paul's point that some deeds are wrong.

Two: our churches are supposed to judge their members, and that failure to do so is wrong. Paul criticizes (v 2-6) the Corinthian church for not mourning and removing the perpetrator, saying that it was arrogant and boastful - presumably, it claimed to be just fine the way it operated. Paul encouraged (v 7-8, 13) them to clean out the yeast/virus that threatened to infect the rest of the church, thus compromising its holiness.

Three: while churches are to judge and exclude its misbehaving participants, we are not to judge and shut ourselves off from misbehaving people outside the church (v 10-13). Later, in a subsequent letter, Paul will clarify this instruction with the directive to avoid partnering with unbelievers (2 Cor 6.14-16). So the guideline is to be in the world but not part of it.

Chapter six opens with advice to resolve differences between believers without going before secular authorities (6.1-8), even if the result is unfair. The bulk of the section (v 9-20), though, addresses misbehavior defined by deeds. While this passage does contain the phrase, "All things are lawful for me" (v 12a), the message is clearly: Do not use your life for anti-God purposes. It is easy to avoid this message by disputing whether or not you can lose your salvation - easy, but wrong. The message remains: Do not use your life for anti-God purposes. Especially if you're saved.

Chapter seven has disappeared. Or at least, all except one partial verse - the one that reads, "if you should marry, you have not sinned.." (7.28). Of course all the words are there, but since about the sixth century, when the church began accommodating multiple marriages, the message of the words has been deleted. If you feel the need to get married, then get married (v 2, 9), but stay married (v 10-11, 27) until one of you dies (v 39). How quaint.

Chapter eight, for us, is not so much about food sacrificed to idols, since when do you ever encounter that? For us, this chapter teaches us about how to behave in relation to others. Just as Paul advised the church to judge its members in chapter five, in this section he tells us as individuals to avoid doing things that cause our fellow believers to judge us inappropriately. Paul said in 6.12, "all things are lawful for me;" here he says don't use your freedom to facilitate moral failure in a co-believer. For example, you may believe it is lawful for you to drive slow in the left lane, but because it triggers resentment in me, your weaker brother, you should stay to the right. You know who you are. Get out of the way.

To summarize: Behave yourself. Encourage your church to maintain standards. Avoid offending co-believers, even if it costs you. Stay married. Use your life for God; avoid wasting it on anti-God activities.
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Exercising Faith
Jan 21:
1 Corinthians 9-11
1 Cor Commentary
Dictionary, and Books
Concerning Women and the
Lord's Supper
, Guzik
Thought to apply today: I'm not here to call attention to myself, but to God and His glory.
PROMISE: "..And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.." (10:13)
The apostle Paul's practice was to volunteer his time preaching and teaching, being self-supported financially as a tent maker. Is it wrong for people working for the Lord's local churches to be paid? Should they volunteer? Could a traveling teacher bring his believing wife with him like Cephas/Peter and others did? Should the church feed them both? Paul takes the opportunity of these questions to check and apply the Law of Moses (Deut 25:4) to human workers for the Lord and to discuss the principles he lives and evangelizes by.

Yes, financially support those who are Christ's workers. Scripture gives them this right. But any worker of Christ who volunteers, waives available rights - and has the reward of offering the gospel free of charge. Yes, we are free, but can waive available rights to serve others as slaves, to save more people with the gospel. Yes, the gospel offers blessings under Christ's law, and for this we exercise self-discipline as those training for competition. Yes, we are warned from the Scriptures that people with Moses were spiritually immersed but didn't see the benefits. Instead, they liked the temptations of idolatry, partying, sexual freedom, and grumbling. Yes, living in a society of idolaters whose gods are demons presents special challenges and discipline. Be thankful. "Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble." (10:31-32a)

Organize according to what is proper. It's proper for both men and women to pray and to prophesy in church, but proper clothing and hair length for them is different. To some degree, differences show who has God's approval. But back to the idea in 10:17 of many being one by partaking together of one bread (i.e., the body of Christ). Taking the Lord's supper as one is important. Taking communion is a proper time to be united, individually examining and judging ourselves while waiting for each other. Receiving the Lord's discipline in this way avoids condemnation with the world.
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Spiritual Gifts, Love, and Worship
Jan 22:
1 Corinthians 12-14
1 Cor Commentary
Dictionary, and Books
* Wesley's Notes
* What Language Does God Speak?
Prophesy: "But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!" (14:24-25) * (Also see Isa 28:11)

(Special thanks to guest commentator Nile Gomez, author of Basic Blog.)

If today's Bible reading were a sandwich, the "meat" would be Paul's famous prose on the excellence of Love in chapter 13 and chapters 12 and 14 on the spiritual gifts merely the bread. Not to minimize the importance of the gifts, since Paul specifically tells us in verse 1 of chapter 12 that he doesn't want us to be unaware about them, but as he later reminds us in verse 1 of chapter 13: "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." (NASB-U) Love, particularly a divine kind of love, is essential to the Christian life.

The gifts, then as now, are certainly controversial. Many think that it is only since the advent of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements that this has been so, but this is not the case as can be seen here in 1 Corinthians. Paul would not be addressing the issue of how to properly use spiritual gifts unless they were being improperly used even in the early Christian Church. There is too much room for "spiritual" grandstanding and showboating if the gifts are not tempered by divine love.

Getting back to chapter 12, Paul emphasizes the unity of the body of Christ in verses 12 through 31. He points out that we should not envy the giftings of others but seek to discover and develop our own gifting and place in Christ's body. We have all been called to many different roles and tasks within the Body, but it is still one Body and Paul wants to make sure we know that we have all been put exactly where God wants us in Christ's body by God Himself (v. 18)! He concludes the chapter by encouraging his readers to "earnestly desire the greater gifts" before launching into his exposition on Love in chapter 13.

Paul says love is the "more excellent way"; greater than even faith and hope. Scripture tells us that "God is Love" (1 John 4:8) and it is interesting to note that one can replace the word "Love" with the name "Jesus" in this passage and end up with a beautiful portrait of our loving Lord. Even more interesting is what happens when we replace the word "Love" with our own name. This is a useful self-assessment tool to determine if we are growing in Love and walking in the way of Love as Jesus did.

Finally, in chapter 14 Paul tells us that we should especially desire to prophesy, or "speak forth the oracles of God", that we might edify others. Time and time again we see this "otherliness" that is so characteristic of Paul. To Paul, walking the way of Love meant living for Jesus and others, in that order. If it did not edify oneself or others, it was not worthy saying, but given the choice between edifying himself or edifying others, Paul would choose the building up of others.

Toward the end of chapter 14, Paul gives some instructions to the Church regarding orderly worship. He says to "let all things be done decently and in order." (NKJV) There has been much confusion in the Church regarding exactly what "decent and orderly" worship looks like. Paul was by no means advocating a life-quenching rigidity and formalism, but encouraging worshippers to come spiritually prepared, ready to share, to the gathering of the believers: "So here's what I want you to do. When you gather for worship, each one of you be prepared with something that will be useful for all: Sing a hymn, teach a lesson, tell a story, lead a prayer, provide an insight." (1 Cor. 14:26 MsgB)

Isn't it time we stopped squabbling about the gifts and started using them instead, letting the law of Love be our guide?
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Jan 23:
1 Corinthians 15-16
1 Cor Commentary
Dictionary, and Books
Evidences for Resurrection
PROMISE: "We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - 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." (15:51b-52) (Also see John 3:5-7)
Christianity is not something we just fall into naturally. Based upon promises God made in the scriptures written centuries before Jesus Christ was born, the gospel is not only "good news" but also unique and controversial news that early believers heard, believed, and passed on to others who, by God's grace, shared with others. At first, Paul disagreed so strongly with those who believed that Jesus was the promised Messiah that he campaigned to have believers either stoned to death or jailed. But by God's grace, Paul (like many of us reading this) eventually believed, and found it a priviledge to accept, discuss, and explain this way of thinking, believing, and living over and over to others.

Like other parts of Christianity, believing in the resurrection of the dead was - and is - controversial. Forget the world's horror, ghosts, and monsters - and doubt. Resurrection is not a haunting, but a physical thing. God demonstrated it to us through actions and visions of Elijiah, Jesus, and various apostles. Will you trust God on this? You need logic? Scriptures logically to compare that since all of us die because of one man, Adam, so because of Christ's resurrection, all will be made alive again - but differently. There is a process and a struggle going on that will lead to the end of the world as we know it. I can't explain how He will do this any more than I can explain how He created the heavens and the earth out of nothing but His Word. But I can see that a seed planted in soil perishes as a seed, but grows into a plant that doesn't look like the original seed. We humans have a natural body that comes first, seed-like, in the likeness of the earthly man, the first Adam. But because of Jesus Christ, we will all be changed from perishable into imperishable. Most of us will die before it's apparent what we are to become, but some will not die first. But don't worry about this plan. This is how God the Father will overcome death. Stand firm in this. Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Paul concludes his letter with details about how the Corinthians are to continue taking a large collection of money for believers in Jerusalem, Paul's work in Ephesus, his hopes of coming to Corinth before winter, and admonitions to take care of the physical and monetary needs of various missionary church workers traveling through Greece. Marana tha
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Tomorrow's reading (January 24) Exodus 1-3

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