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1 Corinthians



A.     Author:

Paul and Sosthenes. It was dictated by Paul and written by Sosthenes.

B.     Receiver:  

The church at Corinth. Corinth was a great Greek city in the ancient time. At that time, it was a colony of Rome, the capital of Achaia and a prosperous commercial city. The east and west of Corinth were surrounded by the sea, so it became an important path between Asia and Rome. The inhabitants were indulgent in luxurious and expensive habits. It's a very immoral city with thousand-odd harlots. At that time, people even called the immoral behaviors "Korinthiazenthai". In spite of the corrupted morals, academic development and art were well-developed. Paul had lived here for one and a half years and established the church (Acts 18:1-18). After that, Apollos came here to preach the gospel (Acts 18:24-28). Later on, some teachers of Judaism came here and disturbed the church (2 Cor 11:4-15). Therefore, there were dissensions among them (1 Cor 1:12), and some stood against Paul (1 Cor 4:6-20). Moreover, the customs of immorality encroached on the church and corrupted it. So Paul went there in person to encourage them for the second time (cf. 2 Cor 12:14; 13:1; the second visit was not recorded in Acts.) and sent a letter to advise them (2 Cor 5:9). This letter was lost and had been sent earlier than the first letter to the Corinthians. But the situation was still not improved, so Paul wrote this letter in tears to exhort them (2 Cor 2:4).

C.     Purpose: 

The church at Corinth appointed someone to bring a letter for asking some questions (about marriage and the prohibition of the food offered to idols). Besides, Paul heard some worrying conditions (dissensions, immorality and lawsuits) and some matters which need explanation (the order of the assembly, the questions about resurrection). Therefore Paul wrote this letter.

D.     Date and place:

It was written in Ephesus in about the spring of A.D. 57 (1 Cor 16:5-6).

E.     The characteristics of this epistle:

Unlike the letter to the Romans, Paul wrote this epistle to answer some practical questions.


A.     Greetings (1:1-3).

B.     Paul gave thanks to God for the Corinthian church (1:4-9).

C.     Advising them to be peaceable

1.        There should not be dissensions among them (1:19-17).

2.        The characteristics the word of the Cross (1:18-25).

3.        The characteristics of the chosen people (1:26-31).

4.        The characteristics of Paul's preaching (2:1-16).

5.        Paul reproaches the Corinthians for being not spiritual (3:1-9).

6.        The preacher is like the master builder (3:10-15).

7.        Nobody can destroy God's temple (3:16-17).

8.        No one should boast about men (3:18-23).

9.        The understanding about the preachers that we should have (4:1-15).

10.     Paul asked the Corinthians to imitate and remember him (4:6-21).

D.     Paul advised them not to associate with the immoral (5:1-13).

E.     Paul advised them not to go to law before unbelievers (6:1-11).

F.      Paul advised them to shun immorality (6:13-20).

G.     Paul answered the questions about marriage (7:1-40).

1.        On celibacy (7:1-9).

2.        On divorcement (7:10-17).

3.        Paul advised that every one should remain in the state in which he was called (7:18-24).

4.        On the unmarried (7:25-38).

5.        On remarriage (7:39-40).

H.    Paul answered the questions about food offered to idols (8:1-11:1).

1.        The knowledge that they didn't really know (8:1-13).

2.        Paul didn't make full use of his right (9:1-27).

3.        The failure of the Israel as a warning (10:1-13).

4.        Paul advised that they should not be partners of demons (10:14-22).

5.        Paul advised them not to seek their own good (10:23-11)

I.       The order of the Church (11:2-14:40).

1.        The veiling of women (11:2-16)

2.        The order of the Lord's Supper (11:17-34).

3.        Concerning spiritual gifts (12:1-31).

4.        Concerning love (13:1-13).

5.        On the application of prophesying or speaking in tongue.

J.      Concerning resurrection (15:1-58).

1.        The resurrection of Jesus is the center of the gospel (15:1-58).

2.        Paul confuted the erroneous words of those who didn't believe the resurrection (15:12-19).

3.        The resurrection of Christ is the first fruit of those rising from the dead (15:20-28).

4.        Paul urged them not to be associated with those who didn't believe (15:29-34).

5.        The bodies of who rise from the dead (15:35-49).

6.        The mystery of resurrection (15:50-57).

7.        Encouraging them to be steadfast and always abounding in the work of the Lord.

K.    Last words

1.        Paul advised them to prepare the contribution for the
saints (16:1-4).

2.        The plan of Paul's journey (16:5-9).

3.        About Timothy and Apollos (16:10-12).

4.        Encouragement (16:13-14).

5.        Advice (16:15-18).

L.     Greetings (16:19-24).


A.     Greetings (1:1-3).


"Called by the will of God." Paul didn't become an apostle by his own will or the encouragement of others, but by God's will and calling. So he can't decline no matter whatever happens. Sosthenes is supposed to be the writer.


The believers of the church at Corinth worship God are sanctified in Christ and are called to be saints together with all those in every place called on the name of Jesus Christ. Although there were many defects in the church at Corinth, it is still the church of God.

B.     Paul gave thanks to God for them (1:4-9).


In spite of many defects, there were still some points that Paul should thank God for. Therefore, Paul didn't give up the hope for them.


"In every way you were enriched in him with all speech and all knowledge." The Greeks have talent for speech and knowledge, and so do the believers at Corinth. After they are converted, they applied the genius in the truth. So we can learn from this situation that genius is also beneficial in the spiritual work.


The genius is helpful for them to accept the witness of Paul and makes their faith firm.


This is the Paul's expectation for them. Paul doesn't take a pessimistic view of them, so we should also take the proper attitude toward the weak believers and the Church, and concern them still more.

C.     Advising them to be peaceable (1:10-4:21).

1.        There should not be dissension among them (1:10-17).


Chloe is a woman believer at Corinth. Her people may refer to one of her family or a servant.


"Not with eloquent wisdom" doesn't mean that Paul doesn't have eloquent wisdom, but he avoids using it for revealing the cross of Christ.

2.       The characteristics of the word of the cross (1:18-25).


A quotation from Isaiah 29:14.


Where is the true wise man, the real scribe, and the real debater? In other words, there isn't any in the whole world.  In fact, wise men, scribes and debaters, from both Greeks or Jews, are foolish in comparison with the wisdom of God.


"For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom." it was God's wisdom to save those who believe what people think to be foolish.


"Jews demand signs" Because Jews think that Christ, who is coming into the world, would certainly do some signs (Jn 2:18; 6:30). But Jesus seems weak as he is crucified and dies on the cross. This becomes a stumbling blocks to Jews. "Greeks seek wisdom," as the Greeks emphasize wisdom and theory, and the gospel of Jesus' crucifixion is not a highly philosophic theory, so they thought it foolish.


Those who thought themselves without ability and wisdom and believe in God will find unlimited power and wisdom of God in Christ.

3.        The characteristics of the chosen people (1:16 -31).


God has chosen what is low in the world to shame the noble. "The things that are not" means what is thought nothing and not worth a straw by the world. "All flesh" means humans.


There is real wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption only in Christ.


cf. Jeremiah 9:23-24.

4.        The characteristics of Paul's preaching (2:1; 46).


Corinth is a center of philosophy, so we should notice what attitude Paul takes there. A man with good looks and eloquence would be welcome because elocution and sophistry are prevalent. Instead, Paul is criticized that his physical presence is weak and his speech is of no account (2 Cor 10:10). In addition, Paul does not come proclaiming to them the testimony of God in lofty words or wisdom.


Paul proclaims nothing but Jesus Christ and his death on the Cross.


The attitude Paul takes is different from those of the Greek scholars and sophists, so he also feels weak and is in much fear and trembling. Therefore, he depends on the power of the Spirit and God.


So his teaching and message depend upon the witness of the Spirit and of power.


"Before the ages" means before the world was made (Eph 1:4). "Our glorification" means that we will enter the Kingdom of God.


"The rulers of this age" has obvious example; that is, the one who crucified Jesus was not the foolish populace but the ruler of Jews and Romans.


The quotation is from Isaiah 64:4 in the Septuagint. It means the redemption of Christ was never thought of.


The secret of God is out of the realm of men's wisdom, so it has to be revealed through the Holy Spirit.


Just as only the spirits of men can know the things about men, and other kinds of animals can't understand.


"The spirit of the world" means the spirit of the devil.


"Words taught by human wisdom" are technical terms in philosophy. The spiritual words to explain the spiritual truth are hard to understand, so the Greeks thought them as folly.


The thoughts of Christians are not understood by others.


The former part is a quotation from Isaiah 40:13. Since we have the Spirit, we have the mind of Christ.

5.        Paul blamed the Corinthian church for being not spiritual (3:1-9).


Paul blamed the Corinthian church for its being immature and not spiritual.


The church that raises men is not spiritual.


Paul thought himself as a servant of God.


The church is like a farm or a house, and the preacher is like a farmer or a master builder.

6.        The pastor is like the master builder (3:10-15).


As to Paul, he is indeed the founder of the church in Corinth, as well as a sower mentioned above because it is he who lays the foundation of the church in Corinth.


The foundation refers to Jesus Christ. Some are built upon the foundation with precious materials like gold, silver or costly stones; others may use base materials, like wood, hay or stubble, which will not withstand the testing fire.


"The day" refers to the Judgment Day.


"As through fire" means "scarcely saved" (1 Pet 4:18).

7.        No one can destroy God's temple (3:16-17).


"You are the temple of God". The temple refers to the church. The temple in chapter 6, verse 19 refers to each body of the believer as a temple of the Holy Spirit. Here, it refers to all of "you" as a temple of God. The two meanings are a little different.


"If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him" is a caution. For God's temple is holy and people cannot destroy it. Macroscopic ally, we may not destroy the church. Microscopically, we may not destroy our own body where the Holy Spirit dwells in.

8.        Do not boast of men (18-23).


"Let no one deceive himself" means we should let no one be self-important and self-deceptive, because human wisdom is quite little.


It is quoted from Job 5:13. (3:20)  It is quoted from Ps 94:11.


"For all things are yours". It is because God will be glad to give us all things along with Christ (Rom 8:32).


This verse tells us all are yours including people, the world, life and death, the present and the future. They are all done by God for human-beings.


This verse is to show the respectable position of the believers. Let us combine verse 22 and 23 and get the illustration: "God-Christ- church (us)-the stuff". Therefore, to boast of men is wrong. Also, to say "I belong to Apollos" is wrong.

9.        Necessary understanding toward preachers (4:1-5).

IV.  (4:1)

"Stewards of the mysteries of God". Each of us is a good steward of God's varied grace (1 Pet 4:10). Everyone is given different grace, so, his post is different. The preachers' post is about mysteries of God, that is, the mission of telling and interpreting the good news.


The kind of gifts is given according to God's will and is not our business. Yet, what God requires us is to be trustworthy. The Lord said, "Who then is the faithful and wise steward, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master when he comes will find so doing. ...... Everyone to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more" (Lk 12:42-48).


One who behaves himself well won't be moved by others' judgment, neither does he judge himself. Whatever he does is to please the Lord. He that judges us is the Lord. Moreover, all things shall be very clear when the Lord comes. Therefore, the Lord judges people not according to the frequency of activities, but to his purpose. If one does anything for vanity or partisanship, he is not trustworthy.

1.        Urging the believers to be imitators and be reminded of Paul (4:6-21).


That "You may learn by us not to go beyond what is written" means the believers should be imitator of Paul's behavior but not to be over the teaching in the Bible and become self-important.


"Without us you have become Kings". It means that Paul still suffers for the practice of the Kingdom. Yet, they are already reigning in glory with Christ. This is an ironic speech.


Paul compares himself to be led to a theatre, in the end of the parade, shown in front of the public and a prisoner that is going to be swallowed by lions and tigers.


Paul compares himself with those who are self-important and looking down upon Paul.


"Guides" refers to the tutors who are the slaves for taking care of and teaching children. "You do not have many fathers" means those who love them with a real love heart are not many. Paul is their father through the gospel because it is he who lays the foundation of the church of Corinth. Other preachers are later to guide them.


Timothy is Paul’s beloved disciple as John is Jesus’ beloved disciple.


Those who are against Paul think that Paul will never come.


"If God wills". Paul did not used to say it. He really does everything under God's will.


The power from God, rather than beautiful words is important.


"With a rod" means to come to them with a strict attitude. It's painful both to Paul and to the church. Paul wishes them to repent, not to be divided, and to practice the harmony of the church modestly.

B.     Not to associate with immoral men (5:1-31).


"A man is living with his father's wife" is probably in the situation that one lives with his father's wife after his father died. It's immorality even if his father's wife is not his real mother. This kind of thing is not found even among pagans.


"Let him who has done this be removed from among you" refers to the punishment of removal.


"To deliver this man to Satan" means to remove him from among you. "The flesh" in "The destruction of the flesh" refers to desire. That is, to make him know that he is wrong by removing him from you in order to remove his desire. "That his spirit may be saved in the days of the Lord Jesus" is Paul's expectation; yet, it doesn't mean that they will surely be saved.


It means that even a little bit of sin can destroy the church. In the past, the Israelites had to cleanse out the old leaven before the Passover Feast. Now, we must cleanse out the old leaven from the church. The so-called old leaven is the sinful life of the past. "The unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" suggests that the church must be holy and pure as well as be sincere to each other.


"I wrote to you in my letter...." The letter did not survive.


"Not even to eat with such a one" means not to associate with any one of them, including a reviler or drunkard.


"The wicked" refers to the man who lives with his father's wife in chapter 5, verse 1. It tells us Paul doesn't bear with those who are sinful and he orders to give them a strict punishment.

C.     Do not go to the court before unbelievers (6:1-11).


"The saints will judge the world". It means that the Christian shall reign with Christ at the end of the world (2 Tim 2:12); and shall judge the people (Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30).


"To judge angels" means to judge the sinful angels and the demons at the end of the world. "How much more, matters pertaining to this life" means that we shall judge the spirits, let alone this life.


After we are baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God our sins are washed away.

D.     To shun immorality (6:12-20).


"All things are lawful for me". It is mentioned again in chapter 10, verse 13. The Christian are free, yet we may not use the freedom casually. We may not do the things that are not helpful, and we shouldn't be enslaved by anything. For example, appetite and desire are humanity, but we still have to tell good from evil.


The relationship between food and appetite is quite temporary. Both of them will disappear along with the death of human, while the relationship between body and desire affects our faith and morality. Our bodies are for the Lord; the Lord is for our bodies because our bodies will resurrect in the future (Rom 8:11). Moreover, our bodies are the body of the Christ and also the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we ought to keep our bodies holy and pure.


"You were bought with a price" refers to the price of Christ's suffering on the cross. "So glorify God in your body". It is the purpose for a Christian to live.

E.     Answering the questions on marriage (7:1-40).

1.        On Asceticism (7:1-9).


In the Corinthian church, some stand for the freedom of desire; others stand for the strict limitation of desire. So they ask Paul the questions about both in the letter. "It is well for a man not to touch a woman" means that it's not bad to be single.


This doesn't mean that the purpose of marriage is to prevent immorality; the purpose of marriage is much more meaningful (Eph 5:22-23). Yet those who want to live alone but has no this gift had better get married.


It is not an order that we must get married but we may get married.


Has Paul been married? There are two opinions among biblical scholars. One says that he was married but his wife died early. The other says that he was too young when he was on the way to Damascus to get married, and later he had no opportunity to get married.

2.        On divorce (7:10-17).


This is in the situation that both husband and wife are believers. They should do according to the teaching of the Lord (Mt 5:31-32).


This refers to the situation that either husband or wife is an unbeliever. Since they get married, they had better not divorce. "Be consecrated" means to be pleasing because God's grace will spread to the whole family, due to even one member's believing in God (Acts 16:31). On the other hand, God will save the generations because of their fore-fathers' being pious. Especially, God will be pleased by the prayer of believers (1 Tim 4:5).


When married to unbeliever who later wants to get divorced, the believer is allowed to do so. "Is not bound" means that we don't have to force ourselves to maintain the marriage. "Has called us to peace" means to keep peace in the family. If asking our partner not to divorce will make our family worse, we had better get divorced.


It means that only God knows if our partner will be saved. So, let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him and in which God has called him. There is no rule, no matter you get married or not and get re-married or not. Every one is in his position.

3.        Every one should remain in the position in which he was called (7:18-24).


The principle is mentioned in the last verse, that is, "let every one lead the life which the Lord has assigned to him, and in which God has called him." Paul is reminded of the problem of circumcision and the position of slaves, so he states the following teaching.


He who was called in the Lord as a slave is a freedom of the Lord because he can enjoy the freedom spiritually. On the contrary, he who was free when called is a slave of Christ because it is necessary for him to obey Christ spiritually. Therefore, being either a slave or a free man is about the same.


No matter you are a slave or a free man, do not become slaves of men because our highest principle is to obey Christ. The slaves who obey their lords are also under the principle of obeying Christ.


Paul didn't encourage the physical freedom because any one who is in faith can enjoy the freedom spiritually in any condition. Therefore, we don't have to change our environment but to change our mind, then we will be happy.

4.        On celibacy (7:25-38)


"The present distress” refers to the time of distress.


"The appointed time has grown very short" means the end of the world is near.


"Deal with the world" is referred to the kinds of pleasure in the world. Verse 29 to Verse 31 suggest us to view the life of this world in vain.


In the ancient time, the marriage was decided by the parents. At first many parents decided to keep their daughters single but changed their minds later. Paul thinks that they can do what they want and are not sinful.

5.        The question of the re-married. (7:39-40)


If the husband dies, the wife is free to be married to whom she wishes but it will be better if she remains as she is. "Only in the Lord" means if it fits God's will.

F.      Concerning food offered to idols.(8:1-11:1)

1.        The scanty knowledge.(8:1-13)


"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." Without love, knowledge will make one puff up and cannot build anything up.


The more knowledge we possess, the more modest we will become. Most people who imagine that they possess much knowledge are those who know nothing.


"One is known by him [God]" means that God will reveal to him. Therefore, if one loves God, one will know God.


"From whom [God]" and "For whom [God]" indicate that God is the source and the final resting-place of all creatures.


That "not all possess this knowledge" refers to the knowledge in verses 4-6. Some eat food as really offered to an idol because their conscience is weak - they eat the food and thus participate in the worship of idols - and their spirit is defiled.


"We are no worse off if we do not, and no better off if we do." This sentence means we shouldn't eat the food offered to idols.


In order to love one another, one should exercise self-control when he is likely to harm others' faith. Before giving an answer about whether we can eat food offered to an idol or not, Paul exhort them to love one another. In fact, their knowledge is not enough, so they don't understand that if one eat the food offered to idols, he becomes a partner with demons (10:19 - 22).

2.        Paul waives his apostolic rights (9:1-27).


The Corinthian church is established by Paul.


"We have no right to refrain from working for a living?" "Working" indicates working for worldly affairs and earning money for a living.


Dt. 25:4.


The teachers, after Paul, use their right. But Paul would not rather use it than have anyone misunderstand his preaching just for a living.


The Temple provides the living of levities and priests, who labor for holy affairs according to the law of the Old Testament.


Jesus said, "the laborer deserves his food" (Mt 10:10) and "the laborer deserves his wages. (Lk 10:7) But we should understand that one should not get wages without working.


"Those under the law" refer to those who obey the law of Moses strictly. Although Paul emphasizes that one would not be justified by the law (Gal 5:2-4), he circumcised Timothy in order to preach the Gospel (Acts 16:3). Paul also cut his hair at Cenchreae for a vow (Acts 18:18). In Jerusalem, he took four men and purified himself with them and thus caused the misunderstanding of the Jews who did not believe (Acts 21:17- 29).


"Those outside the law" indicates the Gentiles. "Not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ" means under the binding of Christ's teaching.


There was an athletic meeting every two years in the suburbs at Corinth at that time. Here Paul encourages the believers to win and advises them to exercise self-control (24-25). So what he does is according to the proper method and the goal, and he pommels himself.

3.        A warning against overconfidence (10:1-13)


"Cloud" prefigures the Holy Spirit (Ex 13:21-22; 14:19-20). "Pass[ing] through the sea" prefigures baptism (Ex 14:21-22).


Moses prefigures Christ.


"Spiritual food" indicates the bread in the Holy Communion which is prefigured by Manna. "Spiritual drink" indicates the cup of the Holy Communion which is prefigured by the rock. Moses struck the rock twice. At the first time the rock (Ex 17:6) means the "lower rock" and prefigures that Christ is strikes to blood. At the second time, the rock (Num 20:11) means "lofty rock" and prefigures that Christ is taken up into heaven. The "lofty rock" is not allowed to be stricken. So God told Moses to yield the rock into water. Moses struck the rock twice, and the water prefigures the Holy Spirit. "Spiritual food" and "spiritual drink" correspond to "true food" and "true drink" (Jn 6:55).


Those who were over twenty and murmured against God were not allowed to enter Canaan (Num 14:29-32).


"Desire[ing] evil" indicates what is mentioned in verses 7-10.


The Israelites worshipped a molten calf (Ex 32:1-6) and about three thousand people were killed (Ex 32:25-28).


And they played harlots, twenty-four thousand people died because of plague (Num 25:1-9). They hold the teaching of Balaam, and they ate food sacrificed to idols and practiced immorality (Rev 2:14).


The third, they put the Lord to test (Num 21:4-9). The Israelites spoke against the Lord because of lack of faiths.


The fourth, they murmured against the Lord (Num 16:1-50). Therefore the ground swallowed up Korah and his company, and the fire consumed two hundred and fifty men, and fourteen thousand seven hundred men died by the plague because they murmured against Moses for Korah's sake. "Destroyer" means the destroying angel (1 Chr 21:14-15).


Concerning what is described in verses 1-11, Paul advises the believers to stand firm lest they fall, and he also ask them not to worry too much to keep the hope of salvation in verse 13.

4.        Not to participate in the sacrifice to demons


In order to discuss that whether we can eat the food sacrificed to idols or not, Paul gives a long talk (8:1-10:13). And he made two conclusions here : do not be partners with demons, and do not seek advantages of oneself. Paul exhorted the in practical life under the two principles. As to idol worship and the food sacrificed to idols, one should avoid both because of the warning example in verses 7-8.


"An idol has no real existence (8:4)", but the demon is real. The Gentiles offer the sacrifices to demons, therefore if one eats the food offered to idols, he participates in the sacrifice.

5.        Not to seek for one’s own advantage (10:23-11:1).


Restating the principle in 6:12.


"Conscience" indicates one's conscience. "But he who has doubts is condemned, if he eats, because he does not act from faith; for whatever does not proceed from faith is sin" (Rom 14:23). Therefore, we can apply the knowledge mentioned in next section. In Gentile cities, merchants often sell the food sacrificed to idols and they don't mention it to others.


One who has believed cannot avoid making friends with unbelievers. And if he goes to dinner with them, he would eat whatever is served without asking any question. We also apply the knowledge mentioned inverse 26. And here, "conscience" indicates one's own conscience.


The "conscience" indicates other's conscience. And that is the situation mentioned in 8:7.

G.     A discussion about the order of worship (11:2-14:40).

1.        A discussion about the veiling women (11:2-16).


"Traditions" indicate the traditions of apostles, different from the traditions of elders (Mt 15:2), and we should maintain the traditions of apostles.


That "the head of every man is Christ" means every man would be submissive to Christ for their faith. That "the head of a woman is her husband" means that every woman should be submissive to her husband for the sake of marriage. That "the head of Christ is God" means that Christ is submissive to God in his life. We should maintain these orders, but some people consider that a woman does not have to be modest for the sake of equality of man and woman. If the wife is submissive to her husband, and the man submissive to Christ, the order can operate well.


"For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God" This indicates that a man should respect himself and show the image and glory of God. That "woman is the glory of man" means that woman shows the glory of man by being submissive to man.


"Because of the angels" probably means that angels also take part in the assembly of believers.


Paul proves that a man ought not to cover his head and a woman ought to do it because of human nature.


The Church should accept and keep the social practices which are good and abolish those that are not.

2.        Concerning the order of the Lord's supper (11:17-34)


The Lord's supper takes place together with a communal meal, which came to be known as the agape, or love feast (Jude 12). The Holy Communion was held by Jesus on Passover, and the "breaking of bread" in Acts (2:42, 46; 20:7) refers to both. Later the Holy Communion was separated from the supper because there were some abuses; also it was not always held in the evening. Thus it lost the meaning of love feast, for one was hungry and another was drunk; and this is not a proper attitude.


What "I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you" refers to the teaching of the Holy Communion which came through the revelation of Jesus Christ, not from the other apostles (Gal. 1:12).


The content of "the new covenant" is mentioned in Heb 8:10-12, and the main idea is about forgiving sins.


As the Holy Communion is a serious sacrament, we should hold it with a thanksgiving heart.


This is the physical punishment.

3.        Concerning spiritual gifts (12:1-31).


There are nine gifts here for edifying the church. If one is given the utterance of wisdom, he would speak out to edify the church. There are two kinds of tongues, one of which edifies oneself by praying and the other of which edifies the church by prophesying (14:4-5).


That "by one spirit we were all baptized" indicates the Water baptism, because the Holy Spirit participate in the baptism. "To drink of one spirit" means to receive the Holy Spirit.


The believers are the members of the body of Christ in the church. Therefore everybody's gift, function, and work are all different. This is the good will of God to avoid discord in the body. Therefore the believers should work in cooperation to develop the spirit of one body. The importance of taking care of and harmonizing with one another is stated in verse 21.


Presenting many different functions according to different gifts from God.


"A still more excellent way" indicates "love" mentioned in the next chapter.

4.        On Love (13:1-13)


This chapter is a psalm of love. "Tongues" are the Tongues in the Spirit in our church. Without love, speaking in tongues is useless.


Presenting the behaviors of love. "Patient" and "kind" are the basis of love, and the below eight items are what we shouldn't do.


The four items teach us to be generous toward others (Mt 18:21-22).


Love is eternal and the gifts are temporary. The gifts become useless when the Lord comes again.


The mirror in the ancient time is a polished metal surface which doesn't produce a clear image.

5.        On the application of tongues and prophesies (14:1-40)


This verse is similar to the last verse of chapter 12, and it is a continuation of the above. It is significant to insert the discussion of love between chapters twelve and fourteen which discuss the gifts from God. That means we should make use of the gifts and love to make the world more beautiful. Here we will discuss the comparison between the tongues and prophesies.


"Speak[ing] to God" indicates the prayer, which means that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us (Rom. 8:26 - 27).


In the church at Corinth, the believers laid more stress on speaking in tongues than on prophesying.


Indicating the significance of praying with the mind and the importance of prophesying.


The "law" refers to Is 28:11-12. The Israelites didn't listen to the words of prophets, so the Lord let the Assyrians to attack them, in order to make those who did not believe hear the words of the gentiles. Paul used this to illustrate that we gave unbelievers evidence by speaking in tongues which nobody understand. And we can see that speaking in tongues does work before unbelievers (Mk. 16:17).


Paul exhorts them to maintain an order. The Spirit is one, but it can reveal separately (Rev 1:4). That "the spirits of the prophets are subject to prophets" means the inspiration of the Spirit can be controlled by the receivers. Therefore we should keep an order in the church whether we prophesy, speak in tongues or not. For whoever is inspired by the Holy Spirit to speak in tongues can still control himself.


Corresponding to 2 Tim 2:11-12. It emphasizes that a woman's covering her head when she is praying is a virtue of submission.


The word of God did not originate from the church at Corinth, so the Corinthians should obey the same rules as other churches did.


Paul hopes that the Corinthians would admit that his teachings are the command of the Lord.


The conclusion of the whole chapter.

H.    On Resurrection (15:1-58)

1.        Jesus' resurrection is the turning point of the Gospel (15:1-11)


The happenings on the first night after the Lord's resurrection (Lk 24:34-36)


Probably the happenings on mountGalilee where Jesus gave His disciples the promises (Mt 2:8-16).


This "James" probably refers to James the Lord's brother (Gal 1:19; 2:9). "Then to all the apostles", Jesus appeared when He ascended into the heavens (1:9-14).


The Lord Jesus appeared to Paul when Paul was heading for Damascus (Act 9:3-9; 26:16, 19). He refers to himself "as ... one untimely born" because he was called to be the Lord's disciple unexpectedly.


Paul and the other disciples all preached the Lord's resurrection, and the Corinthians believed the Lord's resurrection.

2.        Refuting those who do not believe in resurrection (15:12-19)


Some Corinthians do not believe in the resurrection of the dead.


The resurrection of the believers is connected with the resurrection of Christ. Therefore those who deny either of them deny the other.

3.        The resurrection of the Lord is the first fruit of the resurrection of all the dead (15:20-8)


"The first fruit" is the fruit or crop that ripens and is harvested before all other fruits and crops.


"Every rule and every authority and power" refers to all the powers against God.


Death is conquered and no longer exists (Rev 21:6).


A quotation from Psalm 8:7.


Thus all of Christ's work is completed.

4.        Not to have company with those who don't believe in resurrection (15:29-34)


This is the verse that is very difficult to understand. "The dead" refers to those who must die. The meaning is that since all men die someday, it would be in vain to baptize anyone if there were no hope of resurrection. The number of the two phrases "the dead" are plural in Greek text.


The fighting with beasts in Ephesus indicates the fierceness of the persecution. Some people consider this the persecution before the stir caused by Demetrius, for Paul left Ephesus after the stir (Acts 19:23-41; 20:1). The hedonistic thought in the last sentence of verse 32 is the consequence of the unbelief of resurrection.


The sentence "bad company ruins good morals" is a sentence by Menander the Greek poet and is a popular saying in Paul's time. Some people don't believe in resurrection and hold a hedonistic attitude, so the true believers should keep away from them.


Those who "have no knowledge of God" are the sinners (1 Jn 2:3,4).

5.        On the resurrected body (15:35-49)


The first question is: Is resurrection possible? The second question is: What becomes of the resurrected body?


The metaphor of plants.


Every creature in the cosmos has its form and glory, and so does the resurrected body.

6.        On the mystery of resurrection (15:50-7)


For us the mystery is to believe, not to ask why. "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed". Though the perishable can not inherit the imperishable, death (sleep) is not inevitable. Some may become the imperishable directly.


"The last trumpet" refers to the moment the Lord comes again (Mt 24:31; Rev 11:15-8). Those who died in the Lord shall be raised first (1 Th 4:16,17), and those who are still alive (referred to as "we" because Paul thinks that the Lord will come very soon) shall be changed.


The perishable body will put on the imperishable spirit. In another words, when the perishable put on the spirit which is imperishable, the words that death is swallowed up in victory is fulfilled, and the prophecy in Isaiah 25:8 comes true. Death has been ruling all human beings since the Fall of Adam (Ec 8:8), but through Jesus we can have victory over death, as the verse says that God has manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim 1:10).


An allusion to Hosea 13:14. The sting is the threatening of death.


Death comes through sin, and sin comes through the violating of laws (Rom 5:12, 13). There would be no sin if there were no law, and there would be no death if there were no sin.


In all this hopelessness Christ gives us hope. Therefore Paul exclaims that since Jesus has resurrected in the grave and had victory over death, He will also give us victory.

7.        Exhorting the believers to have steady faith and to be abundant in the work of the Lord (15:58)


The expectation is based on the hope mentioned above. All tasks and struggles are useless (Ec 2:11), but the labor for the Lord will bring forth rewards in heaven.

I.       The last words (16:1-18)

1.        Asking the believers to get the contribution ready (16:1-4)


There were many poor in Jerusalem, so Paul collected contribution for them (Rom 15:25-7; Gal 2:10).


"The first day of the seven days" is Sunday. Paul asks them to save their money by the week, lest they could not afford to spare so much at one time.


Paul takes care to do honorable things before God and man (2 Cor 8:16-22).

2.        Paul’s plan for his itinerant preaching (16:5-9)


The proof that this letter was written in Ephesus.

3.        Concerning Timothy and Apollos (16:10-12)


The care for young Timothy.


The proof that there was no dissension between Timothy and Apollos. As the Corinthians had disagreement over many things, Apollos was not willing to go there in order not to further enhance it.

4.        Exhortation (16:13,14)


To stand firm in their faith is to stand firm in the truth.

5.        Instruction (16:15-8)


The household of Stephanas are baptized by Paul (1:16).


Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicusare all believers at Corinth.

They serve as the representatives of the Corinthian church and made Paul rejoice.

J.      Greetings (16:19-24)


Paul represents the churches there, including Ephesus, Colossae, and Laodicea, to greet the Corinthians. Aquila and Prisca are the founders of the Corinthian church, together with Paul (Acts 18:1-3). Later they also accompany Paul to found the church in Ephesus (Acts 18:18,19, 24-6). Then they move back Rome and offer their house as the place for the believers' meeting (Rom 16:3-5).


Paul has asked some one to write down this letter for him, and the last words are his signature.


That "our Lord, come" is an Aramaic expression which the Jewish believers often used to remind themselves.


Paul, whose love for them was so sincere, had reproached them in the letter for the sake of love.



Publisher: True Jesus Church