I Corinthians

For some reason I feel that I should do a study in this Book, for now anyway. What I would like to do is stay in Isaiah for my personal devotions and do a study here to teach.

This will only be an interdiction to this book.

As we think of this Book, the background of it is quite significant. Because of its location, Corinth had become a major center of the ancient world. Of all the cities of the ancient world, it had become the most notorious for licentiousness. The city of Corinth was in an excellent location for trade, which made it the richest and most magnificent city in GREECE. It was destroyed in 120 B.C. and rebuilt by Augustus as a Roman province. By the time Paul reached it, it had regained much of its preeminence as the glory of Greece.

Corinth was not only the political capital of Greece, but the seat of commercial and intellectual life of the world. Its influence spread to the far corners of the world, under which we are still living. But, all of these things made it an ideal location for a church and the spread of the Gospel.

Acts chapter 18 gives us the record of Paul's visit here. He had left Athens, and went to Corinth. There he found Aquila and his wife, Perscilla who had to flee from Rome because of the edict against the Jews by the emptying, Claudius.

Paul stayed with them because they were of the same occupation. He went to the synagogue every sabbath and preached the gospel to the Jews and to the Greeks. Silas and Timotheus came from Macedonia to help Paul in this area. The Jews of the city opposed him, which caused him to shake his raiment, and say unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.

The Lord spoke to him in the night, telling him not to be afraid, but to remain in the city. The reason being that there were a great many ordained to eternal life that needed to hear the gospel.

In spite of the opposition which even resulted in his being drawn before the ruler Gallio, Paul remained here six months, teaching the word of God among them.

After Paul left, Apollos, an Alexandrian Jew preached in Corinth, with great power, Acts 18:24-28.

2 Cor. (13:1) indicates that Paul made several short trips back to Corinth, saddened over the worldliness of this church.

Quickly then, this city had been the glory of the Greeks. Although now a Roman provience, much of that glory had been regained. Greece, therefore Corinth, would have been quite different from the Greece when it was a free nation. The philosophy of Plato, Sophocles, Aristotle, and other 'thinkers, would not have been as strong, but this Greek city would still have been under the strong influence of the ancient classical world of that heathen society.

This means that it would have been the center of the Greek culture and learning which has permeated the world since. Even the church of our day is overwhelmed with Greek thought. As Hodges says, this was "A church composed of people of these characteristics, with a large infusion of Jewish converts, educated in the midst of refined heathenism, surrounded by all the incentives to indulgence, taught to consider pleasure, if not the chief good, yet in any form a good, plied on every hand by philosophers and false teachers, might be expected to exhibit the very characteristics which in this epistle are brought so clearly into view."

Thus, this church existed in the midst of the peak of pagan culture of its day, and not just any culture, GREEK CULTURE! This "refined heathenism" has been developed over the years and passed down to the Western Civilization of our day. This pagan Greek culture has replaced Christianity in the West. It is a shame that the world-conquering power of Christianity has been reduced and compromised so much that Greek thought has found such fertile soil.

This church would have been on the 'front line' in the war with Greek humanism. It would have been on the very point in the attack of Christianity against the paganism of the ancient Greek culture, which we see revived today. This would be one of the more practical Books for our day as we see a rebirth of this paganism and its acceptance into the Church.

This is exactly what happened to this church in Corinth. It was infiltrated with Greek wealth, learning and culture, 'refined heathenism.' The result was the death of this church.

But more importantly for us, we have these two Books, 1 & 2 Corinthians. In these Books, Paul is applying the total of God's word (the law, prophets and the gospel) against the invading Greek philosophy. Even though the church died, the word of God is still the word of God. The message contained especially in 1 Cor. is the power of God which will defeat the Greek wealth and thought which has made such inroads into the church.

Because of this, the message contained in this Book is probably the most needed of our day. The church is overrun with this same Greek love for money and philosophy to which Paul applies the word of God.

I find this sad. I would love to go on into the deeper things of the Scriptures. I get so tired of messages about faith, repentance, baptism, and eternal judgment (Heb. 6:1, 2) that I avoid them. Then when I do, Greek thought takes over. To me, the OT law and prophets hold such wonderful things to teach, but people just cannot handle it.

People do not really want to hear the 'deeper things' of the word of God, and will seek out a church where they do not have to tolerate them. Also, it seems as though if we let down for a moment in messages against sin and worldliness, these things take over.

As we mentioned, this would be written to a church which was heavily influenced by the world around it, Greek culture. As we will see from this book, the world was having more of an influence upon this church than what the church was having on the world. The situation would be close to what we have today as the church has lost its power to change the world, and the world is changing the church.

Again, referring to Hodge's introduction under the "Importance of this Epistle. "There is another consideration which gives special interest to these epistles. They show more clearly than any other portion of the New Testament, Christianity in conflict with heathenism. We see what method Paul adopted in founding the church in the midst of a refined and corrupt people; how he answered questions of conscience arising out ot the relations of Christians to the heathen around them. The cases may never occur again, but the principles involved in their decision, are perpetual obligation, and serve as lights to the church in all ages. Principles relation to church discipline, to social relations and intercourse, to public worship, the nature of the church, and of the sacraments, are here unfolded, not in an abstract form, so much as in application. These epistles, therefore, in reference to all practical measures in the establishment of the church among the heathen, and in its conduct in Christian lands,a re among the most important portions of the word of God."

In his letter, Paul is going against the wisdom of the then known world, Greek culture. In this letter we will see God's direct shot against sucn wisdom which is held in such high esteem today.

No doubt this is the most practical of Books for our day, because of the tremendous influx of the ideas of Greek philosophy and materialism.