David Pawson - Unlocking the Bible - Corinthians Pt1

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Thoughtful Thoughts 25.11.22 by John Dunning:- 

Corinthians overview; Part 1.

“In the world, but not of it”

Paul simply dropped everything to write four papyrus letters, (only two of which survived to be included in the Bible). He sent a postman to Corinth four times. Altogether, the letters would have cost Paul the price of making many tents, so why was there such a great need? 

The Corinthian church had problems so big that Paul travelled there himself twice. On top of that, we can only imagine the toll it took on Paul, by way of the personal wear and tear that Paul exerted on the church at Corinth. It left him so exhausted that he became so angry, that two letters were not used by God for the Bible. So let’s start at the very beginning to see what was going on…

a). When Paul visited Corinth for the first time, he stayed 18 months whilst starting the church. After leaving, Paul received such a bad report concerning the Corinthian church, that he sent a letter off in anger, (which Paul does refer to in 1 Corinthians, but which we don’t have).

b). Following that, Paul received another bad report from Chloe’s household who reported about the ‘goings on’ in the church at Corinth. Then, three more believers arrived with a letter from the Corinthian church asking Paul for answers to questions. So it seems they looked to him to settle a dispute. At this, Paul wrote what we now call 1 Corinthians, (but which was really his 2nd letter, as his first one was not used by God in the Bible). Paul then sent Timothy off to deliver that letter, and at the same time asked him to do some trouble shooting in the church - in his name. That letter which Timothy took answered the questions brought by the congregation, as well as giving instructions to the church on the problems which Chloe had reported on.

c.) When Timothy returned from delivering that letter, he reported that they were now worse than ever. At this, Paul packed his bags and paid them a second visit. Paul found the situation was even worse than had been reported. It was so bad that Paul gave up in sheer frustration and walked out on them - leaving them to their evil. 

So, how much do we know? Paul was dealing with “touchy” issues…

i). There was sexual immorality, 

ii). They were taking each other to court.

iii). They were getting drunk when they had the fellowship meals, even whilst others weren’t having enough, (1 Cor.11:21 & 1 Cor. 5:11 & 6:10 for more. Notice that when they met together it was a whole meal.) I would like to add what happened as a result to all this, but this blog is about Paul’s letter to Corinth.

d). Paul responded to that visit by sending them a third letter, but this time he sent the tough talking ‘no- nonsense’ Titus to deliver it, but we don’t have that letter either. After delivering that letter Titus returned with the report that things were now much better. After receiving the news that the church was now ready to put their house in order, Paul sent Titus back with a fourth letter, which we now call “2 Corinthians”, which showed he hadn’t given up.

e). That excellent report led Paul on to make a more “upbeat” visit to Corinth for the third (and last) time.

These were the problems inside the church that made Paul divert his time and money away from his mission’s trip to deal with it. In the same way that a life-boat needs to be in the water without water getting into it, so the church must be in the world without allowing worldliness into it. 

In spite of Paul’s warning of the serious nature of these sins, the same compromise with sin in the church still makes the news 2,000 years later. Paul saw that there can be no compromise on these issues.

Summary…

1 Corinthians deals with practical issues, such as how church members should behave. 

Rev.3:20 speaks of Jesus knocking on the outside of the church door at Laodicea, where the church was going on its way - without the Lord. Jesus warned them they were on the brink of being removed out of His presence. 

Next week, our blog looks at 2 Corinthians which deals with the personal insults made against Paul. Paul defended himself against the insults to make sure that the message did not get undermined by bad people undermining the messenger. 

Paul also tells Christian leaders how they ought to behave. (Something to think about until we get to Part 2 next week, when we look closer at what Paul corrected. 

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This is John Dunning signing off from “Thoughtful Thoughts” for another week.

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