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The struggling saints in Corinth

The struggling saints in Corinth

1Corinthians 1:1-17

KEY POINTS


Background:

1After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth.

9 Now the Lord spoke to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak, and do not keep silent; 10 for I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city.” 11 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

- Acts 18:1, 9-11


The Corinthian people were also world known: for partying, drunkenness, and loose sexual morals. The term Korinthiazomai was well known in the Roman Empire and it meant literally “to live like a Corinthian.” But everyone knew it really meant “to be sexually out of control.” “Aelian, the late Greek writer, tells us that if ever a Corinthian was shown upon the stage in a Greek play he was shown drunk.” (Barclay)


All of this evidence together suggests that Paul’s Corinth was at once the New York, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas of the ancient world.” Leon Morris describes Corinth as “Intellectually alert, materially prosperous, but morally corrupt.”


Who is Paul writing to?

Even though the audience of this letter had major problems, Paul calls

these people saints (1:2).

The following verses (1:4-9) make it clear that these were believers in Jesus.


How do we reconcile this with the rest of the letter?

Many struggle with the idea that Christians can badly sin

or remain immature in their faith. The Corinthians were fighting amongst

themselves (1-3), a man was living in gross immorality (5), they

were taking each other to court (6), they had marriage issues (7), they were having disorderly church gatherings and even getting drunk at the Lord's supper (11), they were abusing and misusing spiritual gifts (12-14),

and some had even begun to doubt the resurrection (15).


Paul rebukes them strongly for all of this and yet at no point does he question

their salvation. Even in the famous passage found in 2Corinthians 13:5 where he challenges them to "test themselves" to see if they are in the faith, he is confident that Christ lives in them (See also 2Corinthians 3:2-3).


We need to understand the differences between salvation/rewards, justification/sanctification, faith/discipleship or we will fall into a works based religion that inevitably makes salvation dependant on our good works.


Factions in the church (1:10-13)


Apparently a church member named Chloe sent Paul a letter

asking for his help and advice (1:11).

The first major issue Paul addresses is division and factions in this church.

They have formed groups following certain teachers (Paul, Apollos, Peter, "only Christ") and have divided themselves over this.


The danger of factions in the church (whatever the reason)

is that the infighting and backbiting takes our eyes

off of our main goal- which is the great commission.

Satan loves it when we fight each other because

then lost souls are not reached with the truth of the gospel.


How do we avoid factions in our own church?


1. Talk to each other

2. Be open to correction

3. Be willing to let things go

4. Continually check your heart

5. Trust and submit to leadership

6. Kill gossip and slander when you hear it

7. Keep the mission of the church at the forefront of your mind


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