David Pawson - Corinthians Part 1
Thoughtful Thoughts 20.4.18 Corinthians Part 1.
“In the world, but not of it”
The Corinthian church had problems so big that Paul simply dropped everything in order to fix them; so just what was going on? The problem would have cost Paul the price of making many tents. He wrote four papyrus letters, (only two of which we now have), and then sent his assistants to Corinth and back twice as troubleshooters, and then he traveled there himself twice. So why was it necessary for Paul to go to the expense of writing these letters? 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 to fix them, as it left him so exhausted that he became very angry indeed. 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 a really bad report concerning the Corinthian church. So, 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 believers arrived with a letter, asking Paul many questions. At this, Paul wrote what we now call 1 Corinthians, (but which was really his 2nd letter,) and he sent Timothy off to deliver that, and at the same time to do some trouble shooting for him in his name. That letter which Timothy took answered the questions brought by the congregation, as well as giving instructions on the problems which Chloe had told him about.
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, and he packed up and left them to their own devices. Paul was dealing with “touchy” issues, amongst which were sexual immorality, taking each other to court, and getting drunk when they remembered the Lord’s death at suppertime, even whilst others weren’t having enough, (1 Cor.11:21), etc... (see 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.
The image in the blog is of Holman Hunt’s “Light of the world”, inspired by Rev.3:20, shows Jesus knocking on the outside of the church door at Laodicea, where the church was just going merrily on its way, without the Lord. (Something to think about until we get to Part 2 next week.)
I’m John Dunning and that’s “Thoughtful Thoughts” for another week.
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