1 Corinthians Survey. Reproof
Pr Edi Giudetti
One of the most important Biblical truths we all need to accept is pivotal for our maturity as Christians is Reproof.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 says
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Forth: INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS
It is a theme we, as preachers of the Gospel and Teachers of the word of God, are instructed to follow in the outline of our sermons. Indeed, it could be even rightly considered that if we do not follow this manner of preaching we are likely not delivering a FULL SERMON.
Certainly if this is the balance of the Word of God and this is the manner in which man is ‘throughly furnished unto all good works’ then this is the balance of a full sermon.
It is incredible to me that as we read the scriptures we find elements of this throughout each of the Books of the Bible. But even more incredible is when we see the theme of individual books of the Bible to also present as their focus one of these.
ROMANS = Doctrine
1st & 2nd Corinthians = Reproof
Galatians = Correction
Ephesians = Instruction in Righteousness
Certainly it does not always fall out this way, but certainly it is evident in these books. But know that within each of them there is evidence of all four doors through which the entering in will Throughly furnish us unto all good works.
1st Corinthians is unquestionably a book of reproof
Reproof of Contention (1 Cor 1-4)
Reproof of Fornication (1 Cor 5-7)
Reproof of Idolatry (1 Cor 8-14)
Reminder of The Gospel (1 Cor 15-16)
But within these reproofs are also the corrections through the doctrines that will leave the Christian Throughly Furnished unto all Good works. The Apostle does not reprove without correcting, and cannot correct without instructing and no instruction has value without its doctrinal foundation.
1st Corinthians is a wonderful book, the depth of which you will no doubt plummet each time you read it. Particularly as you consider it in light of the world you live in today.
1st Corinthians is written for today’s world and todays Christians!
Please first allow me to place you in the setting of that world, I am sure you will recognise it.
The City of Corinth is located on an Isthmus, a narrow neck of land only about 6km wide that separates the mainland of Greece from the Peloponnese Peninsula.
In fact, it could be argued to be an island today as it has a narrow canal only 20m wide, that has been cut through the isthmus in the nineteenth century, an effort that had first been attempted 2700 years ago and again and again through history with success in 1893 after twelve years of work.
It’s not used for much more than tourism today as the width is far too narrow for todays ships.
Corinth was a wealthy commercial centre that became the crossroad of travel to all sides of the compass. As a result of their status as a commercial hub, the religion of the area was pluralistic, all manner of ideas and notions came to Corinth, it was a perfect melting pot of all forms of religious idolatry.
When we look at the world today we see little difference. We are wealthy, commercial with flowing ideas and communications, putting ideas of all religions together and on an equal plain, eager also to hear of some “new thing”.
Also as a result of their idolatry we also discover that the city of Corinth is filled with all manner of debauchery. The Greek word “korinthiazomai” is translated “to act the Corinthianian or to Corinthianise” and came to mean ‘to commit fornication” (Sex outside of marriage).
The KJV Bible Commentary notes that
“Corinth was a seaman’s paradise and a moral cesspool. Divorce was rampant. Prostitution plagued the streets, and the moral air was polluted with the luring aroma of sin. It was famous for all that is debauched. It was, no doubt, the inspiration for the catalogue of man’s sins in Romans 1:18–32 (written by Paul while a guest of Gaius in this wicked city)!
Again, not very different from the world we live in today. Sex outside of marriage is the norm. And if you want a picture of the depravity of our moral state all you need to do is turn on the television.
Corinth was also famous for the Isthmian Games, second only to the Olympic Games in the ancient world, it glorified sport and Gladiatorial contests played in the outdoor theatre that could seat twenty thousand people.
Those who preferred indoor entertainments could plays and music performed in the indoor theater.
During these times even the cooks were famous to the point of celebrity status.
Yes, back then top Chef’s were actually Idolized….sound familiar?
They beatified their buildings and adorned their temples, they made the outside of the Cup appear rich and increased with goods, they thought themselves in need of nothing and they knew not that they were wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.
The resemblance of the Corinthian world to our world today is striking.
The letter of Paul to the Corinthian Church seems perfectly addressed to today’s world and to today’s Church.
The mix of ideas of that world will naturally present itself in pride and division, then sexual promiscuity and idolatry just as it does today. It is not surprising therefore that we see pride and contention addressed as his first point!
Reproof of Contention (1 Cor 1-4)
10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. 11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor 1:10-13)
All people naturally follow someone.
When I was a baby Christian I had attended a Church that was not only liberal in its ideas but followed trends and teachings of whatever was popular at the time.
Books from certain authors, sermons from certain teachers, ideas from certain promotors.
Some men were given a higher place in our devotions than others and generally it was their books, their sermons, their ideas we would latch onto and run with.
There was the occasional ‘dissenter’ who wanted to create ‘division’, but we waved him off and continued to go with the flow, that is, the flow that our Church was drifting downstream with.
Whatever wind of doctrine blew our way, I found we would follow. When one idea became fashionable, our pastor would latch on to it and promote it in the Church. We would get books promoted to us, Home group study series thrown our way, seminars we would be encouraged to attend.
Some of us settled in with teachers we liked, others with teachers they liked. Those we preferred more than others, we would defend and pride ourselves in knowing their teachings.
I was of Paul, others were of Apollos, and still others of Cephas. (I’ll use those names for now).
Now, I did not remain following men for long, but Long enough to have had some teachers errors remain for many years.
Outside the Church is no different. People follow dead philosophers and dead scientists, dead revolutionaries and dead presidents.
I have a book titled “Seven Men Who Rule the World From Their Graves”. People follow men and the world is moved by their teaching long after these men are dead.
But the teaching of Karl Marx on Communism is different from the teaching of Friedrich Hayek on Capitalism.
And the teaching of John Maynard Keynes on Theoretical Economics is different from the teaching of Ludwig Von Mises on the same subject.
The teaching of Aristotle’s Philosophy is different from his teacher Plato on Philosophy, which differs again from Bertrand Russel and so on.
The father of Epicureanism (Epicurus) taught the exact opposite of the father of Stoicism (Zeno of Citium) in the 4th century BC.
These men ARE STILL FOLLOWED TODAY!
Are there likely to be divisions?
Do the followers of Barack Obama agree with the presidency of Donald Trump?
Are there divisions today?
There will always be divisions both inside the Church and outside the Church when people follow men.
Paul addressed this at the beginning of his letter concerning the divisions spoken of by the house of Cloe.
The Corinthian Church was falling back to the prideful following of the wisdom of men and not the Lord.
17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. 18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. 20Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Cor 1:17-21)
According to Paul, the foolishness of following after men of wisdom is MADE WORSE BECAUSE wisdom cannot save man, but the foolishness of preaching can.
Simply, the more men are proud of their wisdom, the less chance they have of seeing their sin and need of a Saviour.
26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. (1 Cor 1:26-29)
The Lords purpose is saving man through the “foolishness of preaching” is simply that That no flesh should glory in his presence.
It is why, God in HIS wisdom, has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty.
Incidentally, it was Queen Elizabeth the first who is told to have looked at this passage and commented that “I was saved by an ‘M’”.
not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
the passage does not say “not any mighty, not any noble”
She was saved by an ‘M’.
Through to chapter four Paul continues to deal with contention and give answer.
These contentions are prideful and defend themselves in what they sometimes see as the prosperity of God.
How foolish it is when men justify their error because they think God has prospered them, thinking gain is Godliness (1 Tim 6:5).
Consider the contrast of Paul’s state as he argues with those who think their prosperous state should place them in high regard. Turn to 1 Cor 4:9
9 For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men. 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. 11 Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling place; 12 And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: 13 Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day. (1 Cor 4:9-13)
Reproof of Fornication (1 Cor 5-7)
1 It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. 2 And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3 For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6 Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
There is much I could write concerning this, but fornication is the sin of the ages. It transcends all centuries and all cultures, all languages and all lands. Fornication is simply Sex outside the bounds of marriage.
All modern versions have deleted the word Fornication, Yes even the New King James Bible, in preference to the word immorality, or sexual immorality. But this word and term is ambiguous.
That which is considered moral today was not moral yesterday, morals are determined by the popular ‘mores’ of the culture, it is movable and shifts like the sand in the desert.
The meaning can be changed, but fornication means only one thing, it can’t leave itself open to interpretation. But It’s a little TOO CLEAR for those of us who want to escape the reproof of Paul
Paul reproves the congregation for not dealing with a fornicator. In fact, he goes further to condemn them for doing the very opposite of what they should be doing;
2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned,
He says in verse 6 that they are Glorying in this rather than have taken him out of the congregation and handed over to Satan to deal with.
A fornicator should not be comfortable in his sin sitting among the congregation. If he is KNOWN to the congregation to have not repented but continues in it, they are to put him out, rather than tolerate it.
6 … Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
When known sin abides comfortable in a congregation several things happen.
- The sin is not preached upon.
- Its relative acceptance is justified.
- More people commit it.
- Hypocrisy abounds
- Gospel loses its efficacy.
This explains why the modern church congregation is growing in numbers but not in souls.
11 But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13 But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.
It is interesting today how many modern churches despise what they refer to as Judging. I have heard and read many preachers who condemn judging, none of them have I heard quote passages like these.
The duty of the Church is to rebuke and exhort with all long suffering that the Gospel of Christ is not hindered.
God judges the world that is ‘without’, that is, outside the Church. But it is the Church’s duty to judge itself from within.
(In 2 Corinthians Pauls deals with how this works in love and for the purpose of restoration.)
Paul extrapolates the Church judging itself by logical conclusions in matters of law in Chapter 6
1 Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? 2 Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? 4 If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.
In consideration of a world so foolish as not to believe even the existence of God, what wisdom are we to expect in matters of judgement from them?
“set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church, I speak to your shame” (4-5)
Brethren, if we who have the words of eternal life in our laps, do not even have the wisdom and humility to judge matters between us, what hope is there that the world has it?
Halfway through verse seven is a key thought;
Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?
If it will be the Lord who will repay, and that for all eternity, why do you not rather take wrong? This is a perfectly consistent thought respecting scripture. I have eternal life, and if I am defrauded by a brother without reconciliation, then suffering the temporary loss of it will grant me the eternal benefit of it.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Romans 12:19
Paul returns his focus to the purity of the Body toward the end of chapter six, only to pick up the teaching of Godly fidelity to a spouse in Chapter 7.
It seems clear by the introduction that these where questions written to him for an answer;
1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman. 2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband. 3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. 5 Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.
Together with Chapter 14 on idolatry, this is the second longest chapter in the book and goes into great detail concerning dealings with marriage and purity, fidelity and separation.
Reproof of Idolatry (1 Cor 8-14)
From chapters 8 to 14 Paul is dealing primarily with Idolatry but does so in the light of Christian liberty, True Christian worship and biblical spiritual gifts.
He does so by contrasting the idolatrous nature of the general population of the Corinthians, a nature that was beginning to permeate the Church itself.
4 As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
an idol is nothing in the world
So many of our modern Christians who, rather than trusting the scriptures trust the teaching of men, bind themselves up with fearfully removing any sign of idols in their homes.
I have spoken to Charismatic Christians who remove items purchased from foreign countries for fear that the wooden carvings are possessed of devils and will plague the home.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not in favour of filling my house with carved idols, but an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.
I don’t need to fear them.
7 Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.
Again we can’t help but witness the consistency of scripture, this is one of the ways the early church identified it was the word of God that was here penned and that Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy ghost.
It is love we are to be motivated by.
Though an idol is nothing, we should not offend a brother who is fearful of it, but bear with him and indulge them lest their conscience is defiled.
From chapters 12 to 14 the Apostle Paul begins to deal with the exaggerated use of a spiritual gift that may or may not be of the Lord. It is a gift most identified in the pagan world as ecstatic utterances, what many Pentecostal Christians believe as the gift of Tongues.
At the beginning of chapter 12 Paul introduces his reproof by reminding them of their idolatrous leanings of the past, giving thereby a hint that they may naturally be still inclined to indulge these same acts.
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
FOUR times a list of spiritual gifts is given in the first two of these chapters to ensure we get the focus point, let’s look at the context of one of them.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
How are the gifts distributed? Do all get the same gifts? Is one exalted above another?
No, Paul speaks to that stating all gifts are vital just as all the parts of the body is necessary for a fully functioning body. Modern Pentecostals hold the notion that ALL who are saved must speak with tongues. But what saith the scriptures?
27 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
In each of the three lists we just read, where is the gift of tongues listed?
But I put to you that it is tongues that is the focus of Paul’s reproof all the while he is teaching on the nature of gifts.
Consider how the list now BEGINS in Chapter thirteen
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
Suddenly Tongues is FIRST on the list; is it spoken of positively? NO, in light of Charity, it is nothing more than a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.
But still he goes on to deal with certain gifts;
8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
What we have just come across is what is referred to as Cessationism, that is the teaching brought out in this passage is the ultimate ceasing of certain gifts.
but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
I know, there is a lot to take in, but this is important to ensure you too are not blown about by every wind of doctrine and it is not that difficult to see.
Paul says Prophecies, tongues and knowledge shall fail, cease and vanish away, but not Charity, not Love.
What is the nature of these gifts?
Prophecy relates both to the telling of that which is to come but also simply the word of God. Tongues is the revelation of the word of God in a language not previously known to the speaker, but known to the hearer. Knowledge also relates to the revelation of the word of God, telling of that which edifies the Church.
Each of these are revelatory gifts given for a temporary purpose. The telling of God’s word prior to the completion of the New Testament. It’s ultimate purpose was for the Gospel!
Reminder of The Gospel (1 Cor 15-16)
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: 5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: 6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
Paul tells of the gospel, but his reproof of the Corinthian Church has not yet concluded. For with the Gospel to the spiritually dead comes also the resurrection of the dead. If Jesus died and rose so too with those who are now spiritually alive.
12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Paul draws the simplest conclusion from the notion of some Christians teaching that Christ did not rise from the dead.
Simply, v 17 your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
If that is true, then there IS NO SALVATION, we will simply all live in sin and die damned. There is no logical help for mankind, no salvation to preach of.
If Christ did not rise, then If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. We may as well eat and drink for tomorrow we die and are all damned.
But he did rise and was witnessed to have done so;
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
We are going to close the study here.
Paul brings out with such clear logic reproving the Corinthians for many errors, all of which stemmed from one thing;
They followed men and not the word of God.
Multiple versions of the Bible is the devils way of doing the same thing, creating division and contentions among brethren.
That is not God’s way.
We are to be united in Christ, we can only do so when we have his words not mans.