Lessons of First Corinthians
An Overview of First & Second Corinthians
Fred R. Coulter

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Many times we can learn an awful lot from the Bible by delving down into the minute, by going down into each verse and do a word study word-for-word going back to the original Greek or Hebrew and understand it from a minute point of view. There are other times when we can learn more by having an overview, when we pull ourselves back a from the minute and look at many things.

In the book of 1-Corinthians there are a tremendous number of lessons for us to learn, and I think it will help us also to answer many of the questions as to why the Church of God today is in the condition that it is. And also why the world, with its religions, is in the condition that it is in. The seeds of these things are right here in the book of 1-Cor. We may get into some parts of 2-Cor. just to cover a few things. But there are a tremendous amount of lessons for us to learn.

First of all, one of things that we all would like to assume when we read in the Bible that the Church is the Body of Christ, and that there is one Body. Some people assume that there is one organization that is the only church. You're really stuck with a lot of problems and difficulties, because so many churches claim that. Obviously, they can't all be right.

So then, how are we going to find how these things began, what the truth is concerning what Jesus told us and how things will be?

Matthew 10 will help us understand the setting in which the Church at Corinth was begun, and how it affects us today. We would all love to have everything beautiful, nice, peaceful, kind, loving and everything just perfect. But there is no such thing as perfection in this world because of the 'law of sin and death' in us, and because of human nature, and because this is not God's rule or reign or kingdom.

Because of that, Jesus said, Matthew 10:32: "Now then, whoever shall confess Me before men, that one will I also confess before My Father Who is in heaven." That's kind of a very broad thing—isn't it? What do you mean 'confess' Jesus? Today we have so many people claim the name of Jesus, is Jesus really confessing them before the Father? That's what we going to find out today!

Verse 33: "But whoever shall deny Me before men, that one will I also deny before My Father, Who is in heaven." Then we find in Titus, the first chapter, that people deny God being 'abominable in every work.' So, there are other Scriptures we need to tie in there to make this in the way of our understanding, so that we can understand it the way that Jesus wants us to.

Verse 34: "Do not think that I have come to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man at variance against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a man's enemies shall be those of his own household" (vs 34-36). That's really a startling statement because that flies in the face of what a lot of people think, that once you're a Christian that everything is good, rosy, merry, kind and wonderful, and we just go on in blessed happiness forever and ever.

Well, this statement is more true than the latter one. This is what happens in the lives of Christians, than the lives of Christians trying to survive also in the world.

Verse 37—the key: "The one who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and the one who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." This tells us that Jesus wants us to have the one-to-one contact with Him and God the Father. That's a vital key in understanding where the Church of God is today in its relationship with God.

We're going to see the book of First Corinthians, as we go through here, that Paul always stresses that direct connection between you and God. So therefore, that becomes the most vital thing in our lives. That becomes the most vital thing that the Church needs to preserve for all of those who are in the Church.

Anything that becomes between you and God—however completely, obliquely or indirectly—to deteriorate your relationship with God then is something we all need to be aware of and alert for. That's why today, and also down through history, God is more concerned with that connection

  • than He is with buildings
  • than He is with numbers of supposed members
  • than He is with conformity to a hierarchy
  • than He is with who is in charge

Maybe that will help you understand some of the problems that we're going to get an overview on in 1-Cor. God is more concerned with that individual connection and relationship between each person and God the Father and Jesus Christ. Everything that is in the Church, everything that is done in the Church, needs to fall into up-building of that relationship between the individual and God. We have to have that love for God and be willing to take whatever comes along.

Verse 38: "And the one who does not take up his cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me. The one who has found his life shall lose it; and the one who has lost his life for My sake shall find it" (vs 38-39). Those are some tremendous promises, but they are the opposite extremes—aren't they?

We do have decisions to make and things to do. That's partly the reason we find ourselves where we are in the Church of God today. People have had to choose between Jesus Christ and a man, or between Jesus Christ and an organization. We will see that the very seeds of these things were already planted the Church of Corinth as we find in 1-Cor.

Acts 18 goes back and shows where the Church at Corinth began. I'm going to show that Paul came to Corinth and then he was with Aquila and Priscilla. Acts 18:4: "And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks." Let's see the setting and see where the sword was drawn, right here, as Jesus said.

  • Paul didn't start out with a church of peace
  • Paul didn't start out with a church of docile, humble, obedient people just falling at his feet and kissing his ring

Paul started out with a tremendous battleground. When we understand that on the one hand we have a world that is totally pagan with all the Roman and Greek customs, which is 99.9% of the entire world. Not like we look at it today with all the various so-called Christian groups, but totally pagan.

Then on the other hand you have the Jews, whom Jesus said—in rejecting Him—were as bad as if not worse than all the pagans over here on the other side. That's kind of a tough environment to be in a Church, but nevertheless, Paul did.

Verse 5: "Now, when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul was stirred in his spirit and was earnestly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ." I'm sure he got the same reaction that is given by a lot of the Jews today.

Verse 6: "But when they set themselves in opposition and were blaspheming, Paul shook his garments and said to them, 'Your blood be upon your own heads. I am pure of it. From this time forward I will go to the Gentiles.'" What a 'wonderful, peaceful' way to start a Church, throwing down the gauntlet and telling them that 'your blood is on your own head! I'm going to go to the Gentiles.'

To a Jew that is one of the most obnoxious things that you can say. Just get the picture of what happened in Corinth for the foundation of the Church.

Verse 7: "And after departing from there, he went into the house of a certain one named Justus, who worshiped God, whose house adjoined the synagogue." In other words, his house came right up to the building where the synagogue was. He went out the door of the synagogue and into the house of Justus to continue the church services.

  • Can you imagine what an uproar that that caused?
  • Can you imagine the feelings that were there?

Think of what Jesus said, 'I came to send a sword, not peace.' We'll see that's how the Church at Corinth began, which also was the hotbed of the seeds of their own problems in the future.

Verse 8: "But Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord with his whole house; and many of the Corinthians who heard believed and were baptized." So, Paul came into the synagogue, preached several Sabbaths, split the synagogue right down the middle—half of them went out one door and into the other to continue with Paul. Even the chief ruler of the synagogue left and was with Paul.

If you know anything of how the Jews react, this created a terrible and fantastic problem. It kind of reminds me of what I read in the paper this morning. The Orthodox Jews, in order to enforce the Sabbath, are having riots on Friday night to close down the movies.

I can't, in my own mind, reconcile that the Orthodox Jews are not breaking the Sabbath by rioting to close down the movies going on Friday night. I mean, if one is sin and labor, then the other has got to be sin and labor. When you get into these human arguments and you get into trying to justify all these things, you find yourself in a horrible predicament. That's exactly where Paul found himself.

Verse 9:  And the Lord said to Paul in a vision in the night, 'Do not be afraid; but speak, and do not be silent… [do not hold back] …for I am with you; and no one shall set upon you to mistreat you because I have many people in this city.' And he remained there for a year and six months, teaching the Word of God among them. Now, when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews rose up against Paul with one accord…" (vs 9-12). Here we have an Orthodox Jewish insurrection and riot against Paul because he split the congregation.

This is how the Church at Corinth began. It remained in an uproar all through the time that Paul was the apostle to the Corinthians. Let's see what Paul told the people in Asia, just across the Aegean Sea from Greece; same kind of situation around there. Wherever Paul went in to the synagogue, there were believers and went out and raised up their own church or met in someone's home or in another building right close by. It caused a tremendous amount of problems with the Gentiles and with the Jews.

After the churches have been established and after Paul has done all the things that he has done, let's see the atmosphere that Paul was leaving these people in:

Acts 20:16: "For Paul had decided to sail by Ephesus… [It was a little ways inland from Miletus] …because he did not want to spend time in Asia; for he hastened in order to be in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, if possible. Now from Miletus, he sent to Ephesus and called for the elders of the Church. And when they had come to him, he said to them…" (vs 16-18).

Notice the testimony and the warning that Paul is giving, even the elders: "…'You know how, from the first day I came to Asia, and all the time I was with you, I served the Lord with all humility and with many tears and temptations, which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; and how I did not keep back anything that was profitable, but preached to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house'" (vs 18-20).

That doesn't mean that, as the Jehovah Witnesses go from house to house, but he was teaching in various homes of the various brethren where they would gather together; obviously, because of the problems with the Jews. It appears here that Paul also had to hold Sabbath services in someone's house because the Jews would come and riot if they knew where they were holding their meetings. So, he would go from house to house.

Verse 21: "Earnestly testifying, both to the Jews and the Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. And now behold, I am bound in the spirit, and am going to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall happen to me there; except that the Holy Spirit fully testifies in every city, saying that bonds and tribulations await me. But I myself do not take any of these things into account, nor do I hold my life dear to myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to fully testify the Gospel of the grace of God. And now behold, I know that you all, among whom I have gone about proclaiming the Kingdom of God, will see my face no more; wherefore I testify to you on this day…" (vs 21-26). This is a record; this is being recorded.

I kind of, in my own mind in going through this, equated this to Deut. 30. Remember, just before they went into the 'promised land' Moses stood up and he read the Law the second time for all the Israelites. He went through and explained all the things that they were to do when they went into the land. In Deut. 32 it talks about when Jeshrun waxes fat he will be corrupted and corrupt himself; talking about what would happen when the nation of Israel once they got in there and settled down, and so forth. That's precisely what happened.

Remember in Deut. 30 He said, 'I set before you life and death, good and evil; I call heaven and earth to record against you this day…'

Paul says right here that "…I testify to you on this day… [so, this is a profound meaning] …that I am pure from the blood of all, for I have not held back from preaching to you all the counsel of God" (vs 26-27). He's done everything that God has wanted him to do.

Verse 28: "Take heed, therefore, to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers…" This tells us an awful lot! The Holy Spirit is the one that makes a person an elder or minister or an overseer.

"…to feed the Church of God, which He purchased with His own blood" (v 28). This tells us a lot of things about the Church of God. It is the Church of GOD, not the church of whoever the minister is, the elder is, the council is, whomever the pope may be. It is the Church of God, again that one-to-one relationship between the individual and God. We're going to see a little later that there are problems with that one-to-one relationship because of sin and people, and also problems because of ministers that we're going to see right here.

Verse 29: "For I know this… [How did Paul know this?] …that after my departure grievous wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock." This tells us that there was a lot going on; a lot of undercurrent going on in the Church.

Verse 30: "And from among your own selves men will rise up speaking perverse things… [things that Jesus didn't teach; things that were not in the Scriptures; things that were not of God, though done in the name of God] …to draw away disciples after themselves." So, he's telling them clearly, 'When I leave the Church is going to disintegrate and divide. We're going to see in 1-Cor. all the seeds that were there that did it.

Verse 31: "Watch, therefore, remembering that for three years I ceased not to admonish each one night and day with tears. And now I commit you, brethren, to God… [he didn't say that he committed them to the pope or anybody else] …and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified." (vs 31-32). That's quite a warning—isn't it?

In doing an overview we're going to cover and see how absolutely cracked the foundation of the Church at Corinth was. Not only the way that it began, but because of what they did and because of human nature.

1-Corinthians 1

1-Corinthians 1:10: "Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you… [here they were, they had lots of divisions] …rather, that you be knit together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For my brethren, it has been declared to me concerning you, by those of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you" (vs 10-11).

We've lived in a time when we were going to Sabbath services in other congregations and there would be contentions and things and fightings as it were between the people and the minister verbally. And there would be a group over here and a group over there. We'll see that's exactly how the Church at Corinth was.

Verse 12: "Now this I say, since everyone among you says, 'I am of Paul'; or, 'I am of Apollos'; or, 'I am of Cephas'; or 'I am of Christ.' Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized into the name of Paul?" (vs 12-13). Of course, none of those things are true; we're to follow Christ.

There are also those who say, 'We will follow Christ,' but they end up not following Christ. They end up following a man, and when you read in Gal. 1 when people follow a man. They end up with a passel of problems.
Then Paul shows that one of their biggest problems was that they were using their own human wisdom to come to the understanding of the Truth of God. You can't do that! You can't use your own human wisdom to come to the understanding of God. The whole legacy of Catholic theology with their monasteries and their nunneries and different schools show the same thing. They study all of the human philosophies and all the pagan philosophies to try and understand God. The seeds of that were sown right here in Corinth.

Then Paul tells them, v 26: "For you see your calling… [v 27]: God has chosen the foolish things of the world, so that He might put to shame those who are wise…" He hasn't called many wise men; the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, and by the foolishness of the cross of Christ, God is preaching the Gospel to the world.

As we can see as we're going through, that we have the beginning of synthesizing or the syncretism of bringing together human thoughts, human 'religion' into the things of Christ to try and make a better 'religion,' which took them away from the Truth of God.

1-Corinthians 2

Paul had to really come on strong with them and tell them that it is not by the wisdom of men that the understanding of God comes, but it has to be revealed by the Holy Spirit. Again, that one-to-one connection between the individual and God, and also between the minister and God.

How can a minister teach the people if he does not maintain that relationship with God and grow in grace and knowledge himself? How can a minister—as Paul would say, 'be a minister'—unless he delves into the Word of God, teaches the Word of God, has faith himself? He can't be! He can't be a minister unless he does! Those things have to be revealed of God's Holy Spirit.

1-Corinthians 2:9: "But according as it is written, 'The eye has not seen, nor the ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'" We went though that section in detail in loving God and how important that is.

Verse 10: "But God has revealed them to us by His Spirit…" These things have to be revealed by the Spirit of God, through His Word; not the good things of the world that we may like or not like, or try and bring it all together. That just sows the seeds of discord and brings in a lot of carnality and stupidity into the Church, and that's what happened in Corinth.

So, he's telling them the only way it's going to be is with the Spirit of God. God has to reveal these things to us. God has to show these things to us. It's a combination of loving God, God's Spirit, the Word of God, and being taught the Word of God and letting God's way work in your heart, mind and being because you have put Christ ahead of all (Matt. 10). That's the only way you're going to get knowledge, Truth, understanding, and knowledge is going to increase. That's the only way that you're going to be in the Kingdom of God, by looking to Jesus Christ!

1-Corinthians 3

A very startling chapter, leading to more startling chapters as you go on through. 1-Corinthians 3:1: "And, I, brethren, was not able to speak to you as to those who are spiritual, but as to those who are carnal—even as to babes in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, and not meat; for you were not yet able to receive spiritual meat; and neither are you able now, for you are still carnal…." (vs 1-3). That presents a big problem.

Conversion and growing in grace and knowledge is a steady progression of God's grace, faith, love and your devotion to God. If that isn't there continually, then a lot of carnal things are going to come in. What does it say about the carnal mind?

Romans 8:7: "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God…" That enmity means enemy! It's an enemy. When you allow all this carnality to breed within a church, then you have all these human devices and things that people rely on:

  • human wisdom
  • human devices
  • human thoughts
  • being puffed up
  • filled with vanity
  • not submitting to the will of God

Verse 7: "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God; neither indeed can it be." You still have a lot of people who still want to confess Christ, but they don't want to give up their own way. That's exactly what was happening here.

1-Corinthians 3:3: "…For since envy and contention and divisions are among you, are you not carnal? And are you not walking according to human ways?" I've had quite a bit of time to think about—since we have not been with a great organization and church—to think about the structure of a church. I think I'm beginning to understand more about what needs to be with a church.

Obviously, the bigger it is the more structure you're going to need just to take care of the physical things of the Church. However, I think I have learned that the most important thing is to maintain with a congregation and every individual that connection with the person and God; that the minister doesn't stand between them and God. He's over here on the side helping. That makes a whole lot of difference when you view that that is the way a church should be.

Therefore, God is interested in that individual relationship. Just how it should be structured—so that will always be an assured thing—is what I'm going to ask God to help me learn and understand, because I came from a one-man dictatorship over to a committee of dictators, and left that and now were down to a few people who want to love God and serve Him.

The only thing I can say is that that turns out to be the best of all, because we're not striving. We don't have any of these problems that are here in Corinth. We're down to a few who love God and love each other and uphold each other. As a minister I don't have to crack any authority over anybody, and nobody is out there ready to stab me in the back. It's really a nice situation to be in.

I can see here that when you get a lot of carnal people in a church and you start using all these carnal devices in a church, there will be a whole panoply of problems that have coming through the whole book of 1-Corinthians.

This is the important thing, and notice how Paul points the people to Christ every time, v 11: "For no one is able to lay any other foundation besides that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now, if anyone builds upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or stubble" (vs 11-12). It shows it's awfully hard to get everyone growing and developing at the same rate, at the same time, and God doesn't expect it to be.

However, let's make sure that we do not build our spiritual life out of "…wood, hay and stubble," because the fire is going to try it and to see what kind of work it is.

Verse 16: "Don't you understand that you are God's temple, and that the Spirit of God is dwelling in you?" Not with buildings!

I remember when we were in a church where we all got excited because we were going 'build a temple to God'—right? Almost, 'this is God's house.' Well, if God is not truly there in Spirit, it doesn't matter if it's the greatest mansion covered with gold from top to bottom. If the Spirit of God is not there it doesn't matter what kind of building it is.

Remember what Jesus said? That He is 'with the lowly and the humble.' He even said that the whole earth is 'not compared to a person who is of a humble heart and contrite spirit and trembles at the Word of God.

Verse 17: "If anyone defiles the temple of God, God shall destroy him because the temple of God is Holy, which temple you are." That's what's important. How can you defile the temple of God?

  • physically through sin
  • mentally through the wrong thoughts
  • lack of faith
  • lack of love

You're defiling the temple of God! That's the whole thrust of what we have here.

1-Corinthians 4

Paul gets stronger. He goes on to show them that they were thinking how great they were, how wonderful they were in Christ, with marvelous wisdom that they had. And after all, they had the greatest thing going and we are just so tolerant and loving. We will see that they allowed many sins to be in the Church.

1-Corinthians 4:14: "I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but as my beloved children I warn you…. [That's strong writing—isn't it?] …For you might have ten thousand tutors in Christ…" (vs 14-15). Everyone wanted to be a teacher in Christ; a great and marvelous thing. Isn't that what people want to do? Sure!

"…but you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I did beget you through the Gospel…. [You don't have as many who are as 'fathers'—not in the sense that the Catholics look at it.] …Therefore, I am exhorting you to be imitators of me" (vs 15-16). Who was he following? He was following Christ! If you're going to follow Paul, you're going to follow Christ. Very simple!

I've heard people that read that and say, 'I'm your minister, therefore, Paul says that you are to follow me; and if you you're going to follow Paul then you have to follow me. I then, as your minister, tell you what to do.' No! That's not what it means. Paul doesn't mean that he's setting up any kind of fatherhood or dictatorship here at all. If you truly follow Paul, you're going to truly follow Christ.

Verse 17: "For this cause I sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways that are in Christ… [there it is from his own mouth] …exactly as I teach everywhere in every church. Now some of you are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you" (vs 17-18). They had all this vanity creeping up.

Just like on television and you watch some of these 'religious' shows. The only thing you can say about a lot of them is that a lot of them are puff, a lot of vanity. That's what was going on here in the Church at Corinth. They were puffed up, filled with vanity.

Verse 19: "But I shall come to you shortly, if the Lord wills; and I will know not merely the words of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the Kingdom of God is not in words, but in power. What do you desire? Shall I come to you with a rod, or in love and a Spirit of meekness?" (vs 19-21). Those are pretty tough words—aren't they? Paul had his hands full with the Church.

Lots of times we like to read all the wonderful, good things in the Bible and we overlook the book of 1st and 2nd Corinthians, and it's really a troublesome book! Just think, this was the Church of God. Maybe it was out here on the fringe ready to fall apart, but it was still a Church of God.

1-Corinthians 5

We know the problem here; vanity and being puffed up. One was committing fornication with his step-mother. They were going around saying what a wonderful thing. 'We have understanding. This is a nice arrangement. It's not all that bad; we can reason our way around it with our wisdom and goodness. Paul said to kick him out, get rid of him, deliver him to Satan! Quite a difference—isn't it?

1-Corinthians 6

What shocking chapter this is: brethren going against brethren before the courts of the land! That's quite a thing!

We left a Church of God that that's all they were doing. They were going to court! Court of the State of California brought against people who were suing them. Rather than sitting down and having judgment and understanding, they ended up 'going to law before the unbelievers' and dragging everything through the courts. What an obnoxious mess that was to God! What an obnoxious mess that was to people who wanted to believe in God.

Yet, at the same time, with the next breath, say 'WE are the Church of God.' Well, not exactly. May be, but you really have some problems. These sound like modern day problems, but there were problems back then, too.

This is really a tough chapter, too; 1-Corinthians 6:9: "Don't you know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers of themselves as women, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the Kingdom of God" (vs 9-10). Why would Paul say that unless that's what was going on in the Church?

Can you imagine why Paul was in such doubt concerning the Church at Corinth? With all the problems that are there? I want to emphasize again. What is it that God is really concerned with more than anything else?

  • That you are right with God!
  • That you are under the grace of God!
  • That your fellowship is with God the Father and Jesus Christ, then with each other!

That is all based on love and the grace of God!

1-Corinthians 7

We have Paul's answer to one of their letters. 1-Corinthians 7:1: "Now concerning the things that you wrote to me, saying, 'It is good for a man not to touch a woman,'… [in other words, avoid fornication and all that sort of thing] …I say this: Rather, to avoid sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband" (vs 1-2). That is true down through history. There's no way you can change that; it is absolute fact!

All of the things of the monasteries and nunneries of the different religions—not only Catholic, but of Buddhism, and all of the other religions—prove exactly the same thing. So, Paul had to go through and in this chapter show how a marriage should be. It was all right to marry. There were problems that people were thinking, as Paul said, the time was short; but he pointed out that the most important thing is the keeping of the commandments of God. If they wanted to marry there would be no problem in it, but it should be right and proper before God.

1-Corinthians 8

We come to a problem that was very unique then; much different than what we have now. You have to understand that any meat that they ate was sacrificed before an idol, because that's where all the slaughtering took place, if you lived in the city.

Obviously, if you lived in the country, you could kill your goat or your lamb and eat it right there. But remember, they didn't have refrigeration. They didn't have the kind of transportation we have now. We can get up from here and in an hour we can go 40 miles away to the restaurant of our choice. They didn't have that privilege then.

If you get on one of these little donkeys. That was their fastest transportation. Everything was close in, everything was confined. Everything in the way of meat they had to slaughter and eat it that day. If it weren't too hot of a day they could carry it over to the next day if they had some cool place to store it. So, when these things were sacrificed before an idol, Paul was saying, 'We know an idol is nothing, it's only a physical thing. It is not God! There's nothing magical in it. It doesn't have anything to it, so if you have eat meat that has been sacrificed to it, it isn't going to harm you. However, if someone points out that this is sacrificed before an idol, don't eat it for their sake. It talks about the liberty they had with it, and so forth.

1-Corinthians 8:3: "But if anyone loves God, he is known by Him." again, it shows that connection between God and the individual.

Verse 6: "Still, to us there is one God the Father, from Whom are all things, and we are in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we are by Him."

There again is the key. Notice that every chapter Paul points back to God, back to Christ, back to this relationship and the individual and God. He is doing all that he can to maintain that.

1-Corinthians 9

This shows that Paul had to power to collect the things of the people—whether it be tithes or offerings, food, or whatever—as God had provided. He preached to them free of charge.

You know the old saying: When you give something to someone free, they don't appreciate it. That's exactly what happened here in the book of 1-Cor. He gave the Gospel to them free, and said, 'No, don't give me anything; I'll take from the churches over….I'm going to let you bypass that because I want you to really learn of God's way. He actually admits later on that this was a mistake on his part to do so. But, it's the same thing. Once you start handing out things and giving it away, people don't appreciate it—do they? No, they don't!

1-Corinthians 9:18: "What then is my reward? That in preaching the Gospel, I may make the Gospel of Christ without expense, so that I may not abuse my authority in the Gospel." Can you imagine how sensitive he was, that he didn't want to, but yet, he should have.

Verse 19: "For although I am not under bondage to anyone…" He was trying to say, 'I'm going to do this so that no one is going to come and tell me what to do just because you give certain things to the Church.'

"…I have made myself a servant to all, so that I might gain the more. Now, to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to those who are under law, as under law, that I might gain those who are under law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law to God, but within law to Christ)… [showing again, law and back to God; everything back to God.] …that I might gain those who are without law. To the weak, I became as weak, that I might gain those who are weak. To all these, I have become all things, so that I might by all means save some" (vs 19-22).

Then he says, 'We are all in a race and we have to endure to the end; he keeps himself under his own discipline.

1-Corinthians 10 is very interesting. Let's see some more of the things that are given and we see the tremendous warning that Paul gives.

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1-Corinthians 10

Paul starts out by showing that even those Israelites were baptized unto Moses through the cloud and the sea, and they 'all followed that Rock, and that Rock was Christ.' Notice again, he's pointing them to Christ. Every chance he gets. He's not pointing them to himself. He's not pointing them to the authority of Timothy or Titus or Silvas; he's not doing any of that. He's pointing them always to Christ!

But with many of them, God was not well pleased. He overthrew them in the wilderness. Go back and read the book of Numbers and you will see all the things that the Israelites went through, it just takes your breath—all the problems that they went through, all the sins that they did; right in the presence of God. We think, 'If we would have had that fire by night and that cloud by day we would have been so good and so obedient and so wonderful!

Well, the point that Paul is making is, though they had that and they should have done the things to please God, 'you Christians have the Spirit of God within you and what are you doing?' Is God not closer if you have the Spirit of God within you, than standing on the earth and seeing the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud? Yes! This is what he's saying here, and he's making it really a tremendous point of correction here.

1-Corinthians 10:6: "Now, these things became examples for us, so that we might not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be idolaters…" (vs 6-7).

He's saying here to "…flee idolatry." (v 14) People were starting to bring in their little idols: 'we need this or that, or a nice statue of this, a cross over here would be nice. Oh, this is lovely, good, wonderful and religious.' Today the Catholics have it that if they kiss the cross—especially if it's one the pope has blessed—it's wonderful, great! NO! It's idolatry! It's stupidity! Here the seeds of that are sown—right here!

Verse 7: "…as were some of them; as it is written, 'The people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.' Neither should we commit sexual immorality, as some of them committed, and twenty-three thousand were destroyed in one day" (vs 7-8). That would be an awesome thing.

Verse 9: "Neither should we tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted Him, and were killed by serpents. Neither should we complain against God, as some of them also complained, and were killed by the destroyer. Now, all these things happened to them as examples, and were written for our admonition, on whom the ends of the ages are coming" (vs 9-11).

Not only was that true during the day that Paul wrote it, but it is also a prophecy for us. If the end of the age was coming upon them at that time, what do you think is coming upon us today? The end of the age!

Verse 12: "Therefore, let the one who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall." Obviously, the inner-mixing of all these 'religious' ideas with the teachings of Christ were leading to this point that they were ready to fall.

Verse 13: "No temptation has come upon you except what is common to mankind. For God, Who is faithful, will not permit you to be tempted beyond what you are able to bear; but with the temptation, He will make a way of escape, so that you may be able to bear it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry" (vs 13-14).

Then Paul brings out a very important thing. He says that you cannot mix the pagan 'religions' and the religion of God. Yet, that's exactly what the Catholics have done. I could read to you books and reams of what the Catholics have done to do that. Here is the seed where it began. He says that because the bread that we eat 'is that not the fellowship of Christ?' And the cup that we drink, 'is that not the fellowship of Christ?'

Verse 20: "But that which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God…" It may look beautiful, nice, and a wonderful looking ceremony, but it's not to God; it's to demons!

"…and I do not wish you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord, and the table of demons" (vs 20-21). You can't do it! Even though you have liberty to do a few things, you cannot crossbreed and synchronize all these 'religions' into one and make it nice.

The Catholics go so far as to say that the bread that they bless and the cup that they drink is actually the literal flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, and that by the command of the priest: by the priest must come from heaven and Christ must go in that wafer and Christ must be their bodily, therefore, the priest is superior to Christ.

That's the end of the doctrine that we started here. Quite a thing, isn't it? Yet, we see how it is fully developed by Satan! That's quite a warning!

1-Corinthians 11

Another warning. We have problems of women's lib here, where the women were cutting their hair real short; men were wearing their hair long. We've gone through that in past times with the Church, when the whole society was involved with long hair for men and short hair for women. Then the question came up: What is long? What is short?

Paul gives the answer right here, 1-Corinthians 11:14: "Or does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a shame to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; because the long hair has been given to her instead of a veil to cover her head. But if anyone is contentious over this issue, we have no such custom, neither do the Churches of God" (vs 14-16). There's another correcting statement right in there.

Notice that this church must have been filled with so many pockets of dissidents, so many pockets of people going their own way and thinking their own thing. Chapter after chapter—there are 16 chapters in 1st Cor. and 13 chapters in 2nd Cor.—every one is covering a problem. Hardly has he said, 'Brethren, you're faithful. Your love is spoken of abroad and the world.' He did in Ephesus, Philippians and Colossians—hardly any correction at all. But here in Corinth what a dirge of correction.

Notice all these things were the seeds sown that were not only just in Corinth, but I'm sure throughout the whole Roman Empire so that that beast-type 'religion' of Roman Catholicism would rear it's ugly head. Here we have everything.

Once again, concerning the Passover, the people were getting together and they were having a debauchery, drunken revelry for the Passover. Paul said that when you get together 'it's not to eat the Lord's Supper.' Yet, today we still have people saying it's the Lord's Supper. You are not getting together for the Lord's Supper. You are getting together for the Passover. Then he warns them again concerning the Passover. Remember, we found in the seventh chapter where he says the 'time is short upon whom the ends of the ages have come.'

Concerning the bread and wine of the Passover, v 26: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you solemnly proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes." So, they were expecting it to be any time. It's not as often as you want to; it's often as you do yearly—until the Lord comes—you show His death.

Verse 27: "For this reason, if anyone shall eat this bread or shall drink the cup of the Lord unworthily, he shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord…. [again, a strict warning] …But let a man examine himself, and let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup accordingly because the one who eats and drinks unworthily is eating and drinking judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord" (vs 27-29).

1-Corinthians 12

Paul comes through and shows how we are bound together in the Body of Christ by one Spirit. It's the reverse of what we have been taught in the past. We have been taught, in the past, that if you are only in this one corporate structure, baptized in this one organization, then are you the Body of Christ.

 Well, I could probably pick up the Directory of Sabbath-Keeping Churches and I could show you out of that one book at least 50-100, because there are over 400 of them listed in there, which claim because they do this, or they do that—because you have sacred names, or they believe in Israel, or understand this or that—that they themselves are the only one where the Spirit of God is. Everybody else is wrong.

Remember, 1-Cor. 8 says that 'whosever loves God is known of God.' He didn't restrict it. Same way here. We are all part of the Body of Christ by the Spirit of God, not by the corporate organization.

  • Again, he points everyone to Christ.
  • Again, he points them to the Father

After the Church is formed and structured, then he says concerning how it should be structured and laid out, 1-Corinthians 12:27: "Now you are the Body of Christ, and you are all individual members. And God Himself has placed certain ones in the Church: first, apostles; secondly, prophets; thirdly, teachers; then miracles; then gifts of healings; helps; governments; various languages" (vs 27-28).

After you have all of this, v 29: "Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all perform miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in different languages? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the more edifying gifts; and yet, I show you a way far surpassing all these" (vs 29-31).

1-Corinthians 13

The most important thing is loving God; following God's way. 1-Corinthians 13:12: "For now we see through a glass darkly, but then we shall see face-to-face; now I know in part, but then I shall know exactly as I have been known. And now, these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love" (vs 12-13).

This is one of the crescendos in the book of 1-Cor. He's saying after all of this:

  • put away the carnality
  • put away the wisdom of the world
  • put away the fighting among yourselves
  • put away going to court to try and solve your problems
  • put away arguing over the Body of Christ
  • put away the disposition of who is who
  • who's the greatest
  • who's the best
  • who you are following

And get down to loving God because that's the most important thing!

1-Corinthians 14

 Paul gets into the talking in tongues and all the confusion that was going on in the Church; what a terrible situation that was. Let's see what this church was like:

1-Corinthians 14:26: "What is it then, brethren? When you assemble together, each of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a language, has a revelation, or has an interpretation…." Can you imagine all the clamoring going on to get all these things through in a church service? It was bedlam! It was confusion!
"…Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a foreign language, let it be by two, or three at the most, and let that be in succession; and let one interpret" (vs 26-27). Then he shows the confusion that was here

Verse 33: "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the Churches of the saints. Let your women be silent in the Churches…" (vs 33-34). Does this mean that women are to just walk and as soon as they enter the door of the church zip up their lips and not say anything? No! It doesn't mean that, but I've seen that applied. I've seen women rebuked publicly when, in an open forum, ask questions, because:

Verse 34: "Let your women be silent in the Churches, for they are not allowed to speak; but they are to be in subjection, exactly as the law says. And if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home. For it is a shame for a woman to speak in church" (vs 34-35).

What does that mean? Obviously, going through the 'tongues, the psalms, and the screaming and yelling, you had a group of women over here going through everything, and it wasn't simply a matter of just asking a question. They were taking over the whole church. So, Paul said, 'Stop it, it's over with, we're not going to do it.' It was a wild church!

1-Corinthians 15

Starts out showing the resurrection of Christ, how that He was buried, put in the grave for three days and three nights, seen by over 500 of the brethren all at once. There are some who believed that there was no resurrection.

  • What is the basis of the Church of God founded on? Jesus Christ!
  • What as one of the things that was the most important part of Jesus Christ? That He died and that He was resurrected!

You can go into the tomb of Buddha, Mohammed, many of the saints in the Catholic Church—and a lot of those bones are from chickens and sheep, not from human beings—but when you go the grave of Jesus Christ you don't find the bone because He is not dead, He is living!

1-Corinthians 15:12: "But if Christ is being preached that He rose from the dead, how is it that some among you… [In the Church at Corinth where they were having tongues, psalms, having all of the problems that we saw in the Church.] (then there's this little group over here): …are saying that there is no resurrection of the dead?"

Then Paul goes on showing that the whole basis for your belief is that, v 17: "…if Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins." Then his ministers are found to be false witnesses of God because we said He was raised.

Paul talks about the resurrection of Christ, the resurrection of those who are resurrected when Jesus returns. Quite a thing! That's the whole basis of what you believe. If you don't believe in the resurrection, and you don't believe in your resurrection that's going to occur at the return of Jesus Christ, why even bother being a Christian? That's what Paul is saying. Go off and be some pagan that doesn't believe in anything. Don't bother your mind with Christ.

Verse 33: "Do not be deceived; evil companionship corrupts good behavior. Awake to righteousness, and do not sin, for some of you do not have the knowledge of God. I say this to your shame" (vs 33-34). Right there in the congregation at Corinth. Then he explains how the dead are raised and so forth.

1-Corinthians 16

Has to do with the gathering of all the goods to take to the poor saints who were in Jerusalem and Judea.

2-Corinthians

There are several things I want cover in 2-Corinthians, showing how they solved some of their problems temporarily. They didn't solve them all; and how that God was able to help them and comfort them in their different problems, and so forth. The key thing I want to cover in 2-Corinthians is to show how this evil was still progressing within the Church.

2-Corinthians 2:17: "For we are not like the many, who for their own profit are corrupting the Word of God…" Many where? Within the Church! Pseudo Christians outside which corrupt the Word of God. That's what we have today. People who take a verse here and take a verse there, corrupt everything that God has done in the name of God. What can be more diabolical than in the name of God corrupt the Word of God? I can't think of anything!

"…but we speak with sincerity, as from God, and before God, and in Christ" (v 17).

2-Corinthians 3 shows how glorious the New Covenant is.

2-Corinthians 4

I just want to cover this part right here, just to show what Paul was still aiming at in the Church at Corinth.

2-Corinthians 4:2: "For we have personally renounced the hidden things of dishonest gain, not walking in cunning craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully… [Quite a statement!] …but by manifestation of the Truth, we are commending ourselves to every man's conscience before God." There again, between the person and God!

Verse 3: "But if our Gospel is hidden, it is hidden to those who are perishing; in whom the god of this world [Satan the devil] …has blinded the minds of those who do not believe, lest the light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God, should shine unto them" (vs 3-4). That's really a fantastic statement—isn't it?

The rest of chapter four shows how we have to overcome.

2-Corinthians 5:19: "Which is, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them; and He has entrusted to us this message of reconciliation"—through the grace of God we are saved.

1-Corinthians 6:14: "Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers…." I've had this explained to me many different ways. What are we talking about in a church situation? By having so many people in a church:

  • who didn't believe in the resurrection
  • who didn't take the Passover properly
  • who were having fellowship with demons; the things sacrificed to idols in that way
  • who were crossbreeding the religion of God with the wisdom of men

That's what he's saying here.

"…For what do righteousness and lawlessness have in common? And what fellowship does light have with darkness? And what union does Christ have with Belial? Or what part does a believer have with an unbeliever? And what agreement is there between a temple of God and idols?…." (vs 14-16). Those are really quite some statements—aren't they? Yes, they are!

This whole Church at Corinth was sitting there fractured, ready to completely fall apart. I'm sure that when Paul died—just like he said in Acts 20—different ones rose up and it completely disintegrated as far as being a church recognized by God, but grew in the world as that pseudo-Christian thing that we have today, being either Greek Orthodox or Roman Catholic.

2-Corinthians 7 shows the repentance that took place and how they let that one who committed the fornication back into the Church.

2-Corinthians 8 shows how the collecting for the food to be taken on down to Jerusalem.

2-Corinthians 9:6 summarized it: "But this I say: the one who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and the one who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Each one as he purposes in his heart, so let him give, but not grudgingly or by compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. For God is able to make all grace abound toward you so that in every way you may always have sufficiency in all things, and may abound unto every good work" (vs 6-8).

2-Corinthians 10

A highlight chapter. It talks about the difference between trying to be 'religious' with a carnal mind and following Christ.

2-Corinthians 10:1: "Now, I Paul am personally exhorting you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ…. [I want to emphasize how he points them to Christ.] …On the one hand, when present with you I am base; but on the other hand, when absent I am bold toward you. But I am beseeching you so that, when I am present, I may not have to be bold with the confidence with which I intend to show boldness toward some, who think that we are walking according to the flesh" (vs 1-2). In other words, we're doing this according to carnal ways.

Verse 3: "For although we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh." That's an important thing! You cannot overcome human nature by just doing physical things. All of the lust of the mind, the vanity, the imagination and the carnal mindedness comes from within!

Verse 4: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the overthrowing of strongholds." That's where sin and carnal nature is strongholds in our mind!

Verse 5: "Casting down vain imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought into the obedience of Christ; and having a readiness to avenge all disobedience, whenever your obedience has been fulfilled. Are you looking at things according to their appearance? If anyone is persuaded in his own mind that he is Christ's, let him reconsider this concerning himself; for exactly as he is Christ's, so also are we Christ's" (vs 5-7).

Why did Paul have to make that statement? There were people saying that Paul was not in Christ! Since Paul was not in Christ 'you ought to follow us because we're better apostles than Paul is.' So, he says that those things have to cast down!

2-Corinthians 11:3: "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." It is simple if it's taken that way:

  • that you love God
  • that you keep His commandments
  • that you have the Spirit of God

—and that connection between you and Jesus Christ is always maintained in the love of God and the love of brethren. Nothing could be more simple than that.

Verse 4: "For indeed, if someone comes preaching another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you did not receive, or a different gospel, which you did not accept, you put up with it as something good. But I consider myself in no way inferior to those highly exalted so-called apostles" (vs 4-5). This is not talking about Peter. These are the hotshot false apostles that he's talking about.

Verse 13: "For such are false apostles…" Why would he mention false apostles if they weren't coming around the Church. Not like today. They don't have photographs, identity cards, television, telephones, communication like we do. So, someone comes in and he looks spiritual, sounds spiritual, uses the name of Christ and does a couple of miracles and 'Oh, an apostle of God!' No way!

"…—deceitful workers who are transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And it is no marvel, for Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his servants also transform themselves as ministers of righteousness—whose end shall be according to their works" (vs 13-15). Boy! Some statements! Really quite a desperate situation.

2-Corinthians 12 talks about his visions and his thorn in the flesh.

2-Corinthians 13:5—notice how he ends this: "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; prove your own selves. Don't you of your own selves know that Jesus Christ is in you? Otherwise, you are reprobates."

I don't recall ever talking to any people in the Church of God in that way. You can see what a tremendous problem they had; many, many, many problems within the Church at Corinth. All of these have been preserved for us in 1st and 2nd Corinthians, so we could touch on every one of these things. This gives us how the whole system of false religion reared itself up in the name of Christ, though it was pagan, and all the seeds were sown right there during Paul's time. You can imagine what happened just before Paul died.

Let's see what Paul said here concerning those and what happened in the churches. 2-Tim. is one of the last books that Paul wrote.

2-Timothy 4:7: "I have fought a good fight; I have finished the course; I have kept the faith. From this time forward, a crown of righteousness is laid up for me" (vs 7-8). He knew that he was at the end, but what happened to his churches in Greece and in Asia? It is very shocking. He told Timothy:

2-Timothy 1:13: "Hold as the standard for doctrine the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard the good thing that was committed to you by the Holy Spirit that is dwelling in us. You know this, that all those who are in Asia have rejected me…" (vs 13-15).

I want you to think about that for a minute. I want you to go back and just do your own overview in the book of Acts. How many churches did Paul raise up in Asia? What did he say? "…You know this, that all those who are in Asia have rejected me…"

"…of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes…." (v 15). Didn't Paul say that there would be 'wolves' come up among themselves? Think! Paul, though he did all this and wrote the Scriptures of God, every one of those churches turned their backs on Paul, except:

Verse 16: "May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus because he frequently refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. For when he was in Rome, he searched for me very diligently and found me. May the Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that day and how much he served me in Ephesus, you know very well" (vs 16-18). He was gone! Every one had gone!

He says in another place that 'Titus has gone into this world.' Paul was left alone. The forces of good will not triumph over the forces of evil until Jesus Christ returns. The most important thing you can do is, through the love of God and the keeping of His commandments, maintain that relationship between you and God!

Let God add to that what He desires. I hope this has been helpful to see the overview here in 1st and 2nd Corinthians and to learn the lessons of what happened, and how it sowed the seeds for all the problems in the churches today and everything that has transpired so that you can be faithful in God the Father and Jesus Christ!

All Scriptures from The Holy Bible in Its Original Order, A Faithful Version by Fred R. Coulter
Scriptural References:

  • Matthew 10:32-39
  • Acts 18:4-12
  • Acts 20:16-32
  • 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 26-27
  • 1 Corinthians 2:9-10
  • 1 Corinthians 3:1-3
  • Romans 8:7
  • 1 Corinthians 3:3, 11-12, 16-17
  • 1 Corinthians 4:14-21
  • 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
  • 1 Corinthians 7:1-2
  • 1 Corinthians 8:3, 6
  • 1 Corinthians 9:18-22
  • 1 Corinthians 10:6-7, 14, 7-14, 20-21
  • 1 Corinthians 11:14-16, 26-29
  • 1 Corinthians 12:27-31
  • 1 Corinthians 13:12-13
  • 1 Corinthians 14:26-27, 33-35
  • 1 Corinthians 15:12, 17, 33-34
  • 2 Corinthians 2:17
  • 2 Corinthians 4:2-4
  • 2 Corinthians 5:19
  • 2 Corinthians 6:14-16
  • 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
  • 2 Corinthians 10:1-7
  • 2 Corinthians 11:3-5, 13-15
  • 2 Corinthians 13:5
  • 2 Timothy 4:7-8
  • 2 Timothy 1:13-18

Scriptures referenced, not quoted:

  • Titus 1
  • Deuteronomy 30; 32
  • Galatians 1
  • 1 Corinthians 5; 16
  • 2 Corinthians 3; 7; 8; 12

FRC:bo
Transcribed: 4-7-13

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