1 Corinthians 15:1

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Monday, 23 February 2015

Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 1 Corinthians 15:1

Paul now enters into a new chapter with a new direction. This chapters concerns, above all else, the doctrine of the resurrection. It is divided into six noticeable parts as follows:

  1. The good news of Christ which is realized in His resurrection (verses 1-11)
    2. Our hope in the resurrection of Christ (verses 12-19)
    3. Dead in Adam; alive in Christ (verses 20 – 28)
    4. Remaining awake to righteousness (verses 29-34)
    5. A contrast between our present earthly body and our coming heavenly body (verses 35-49)
    6. Victory in Christ (verses 50-58)

This chapter, along with 1 Corinthians 13, stands out as one of Paul’s most notable passages. In it is the hope of the believer and the surety of our faith. It gives us hints of the coming rapture, and it shows our unique and unbreakable tie to Christ our Lord. Should we find ourselves in a mental slump, we can come to the words of Chapter 15 and renew our souls in the hope we possess.

And so he begins with “Moreover.” The Greek conjunction can mean something like, “in addition to,” or “now I am about to say,” or something similar. In this case, it is a transition away from the doctrine of tongues and prophesying, and into that of the resurrection. This is directed to the “brethren.” In other words, what he will say does not apply to all people. It only applies to those who are in Christ.

Next he notes, “I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you.” In the coming verses, he will sum up the good news of Christ; the gospel of salvation for all who believe. The word he uses is gnorizo. It means “to make known.” But Vincent’s Word Studies notes that he is stating this reproachfully; having to make known all over again this news. It is as if they had forgotten the very basic information which they had believed at the beginning.

This gospel is the good news “which also you received and in which you stand.” He is making an effort to repeat the very basics which brought them to salvation and which continues to save them. But it is right and proper that Paul needed to repeat this to them in writing, because his letter to the Corinthians contains the same words which are now included in the Bible. Their failing memories prompted Paul’s hand to write the words of Scripture which continue to instruct the faithful 2000 years later.

Life application: Let us pay heed to the words of 1 Corinthians 15 and stand fast in the good news which Paul presents to us there. Let us apply them to our minds and fix them in our hearts in order to carry us through even the darkest moments of our continued walk in Christ.

Heavenly Father, if there is one thing that I am absolutely sure about, it is that of the record of Christ’s resurrection. It is as sure as anything else in all of history. I am more certain of the truth of that wondrous moment than I am that the sun will rise again each day. Even if the heavens fail to work properly, I have a sure foundation in the testimony of Your word that Christ is risen. And because I am in Him, I too will rise to eternal life. No fear here. Amen.

 

 

1 Corinthians 14:39

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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:39

In this verse, Paul inverts the order of the major areas of discussion of the chapter. In his comments, he first discussed tongues and then he moved to prophesying. After having demonstrated the superiority of prophesy, he places it first here.

“Therefore” is his conclusion on the matter. In essence, “Based on this detailed evaluation and the commands which I have issued, do the following.”

“Brethren” is his way of showing that he recognizes that they are in the faith and that his words ahead are exhortations for them to conduct themselves in that manner.

“Desire earnestly to prophesy.” As this is to be considered a more valuable gift than tongues, it should be the hope and aim of the brethren to speak words of instruction and edification. By doing so, not only will they be built up, but so will those who hear their words.

“And do not forbid to speak with tongues.” He has given strict guidelines concerning tongues. If those guidelines are adhered to, then the tongues may serve a valid purpose. If not, there will be no edification and they are not to be spoken.

Life application: Chapter 14 has many important points for us to consider and to remember. It contains commands which are to be adhered to and exhortations meant for orderly church conduct. Logically, we have seen that if someone violates these through supposed tongues, prophesying, or violating the precepts concerning women preaching or teaching, their conduct is not of God. One cannot truthfully claim they are led by the Spirit while being actively disobedient to the word of God. Let us apply truth and honesty to our actions in the congregation by being obedient to His word. Everything we do in the church should be for the glory of God and for the edification of others.

Glorious God! I stand in awe of Your majesty. I see the wondrous displays of Your wisdom and power throughout this world. And yet, it is a minute bubble in a sea of froth in comparison to this marvelous universe You have created. I know that for all eternity, I will continue to see Your immense and amazing wisdom and power on display as I search out the mysteries You reveal before us. And it is all possible because of the Lamb who was slain to reconcile me to You. Thank You, O God. I stand in awe of Your majesty! Amen.

 

 

1 Corinthians 14:38

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Saturday, 21 February 2015

But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. 1 Corinthians 14:38

There are two variant readings on this from the Greek texts. Compared side by side they say –

But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. (NKJV)
But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored. (NIV)

Either way, it is a continued rebuke on those who reject the word of God either ignorantly or purposefully. If ignorantly, the blame still rests upon the individual for speaking without first knowing. In this case, Paul is saying that if they should purpose to speak without knowledge, then let them remain in their ignorance. As Ellicott says in this situation –

“…a person who could not recognise such an evident and simple truth must be of a perverse mind—his opposition would give the Apostle no further concern.”

On the other hand, if the person is acting against the word purposefully, they have replaced their personal conduct above the explicit word of God. Such a person should be completely ignored. Only the word of God should guide the conduct of the saints. Therefore, if someone claims that speaking in incoherent tongues is acceptable, ignore him. If someone starts speaking (prophesying) while another person is speaking, then ignore him. And if a woman inappropriately speaks words of instruction in the congregation, ignore her.

This is the context of the passage and it is the intent of Paul’s words now. Unfortunately, they are often ignored in modern times. There has been a falling away from adherence to the word of God and an acceptance of that which is inappropriate. Let us turn our hearts and minds back to God’s word and away from those who manipulate it, either willingly or in ignorance.

Life application: The only way to know if a person is misguiding you in their words about Scripture is to know Scripture yourself. Read and study your Bible!

Praise You Lord! Again I face a new day knowing that You are here with me. There is food for me to eat, there is work to be done, and there is the unknown which is unfolding moment by moment before my eyes. Whether good things happen, or whether this is my last day in this life, I know that it has been directed by You and that Your purposes for me will come about. And so why should I fret? Thank You for the marvelous blessing of simply walking in Your presence! Amen.

 

1 Corinthians 14:37

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Friday, 20 February 2015

If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 1 Corinthians 14:37

What a logical way to determine if certain conduct within the church is truly of the Spirit or not! The Bible proclaims that it is the word of God. It also shows us how that word came about. Prophets and men of God, under divine inspiration, received the words of the Lord. They are inerrant, infallible, and are intended to guide the church. And so, in order to determine if Paul’s words are truly inspired, we can follow a logical process.

First, we can go to our thoughts about Jesus. Do we believe that the story about Him is true? If so, do we believe that He has the authority the Bible proclaims? If so, does that authority include the appointing of His apostles? If we have said “Yes” so far to each of these questions, then we can next go to find the Apostle Peter’s recorded appointment.

Peter’s selection, along with the other apostles, is found in Matthew 10, Mark 3, and Luke 6. His apostolic status is also noted in the Gospel of John and in Acts. If Peter is not accepted as an apostle, then there would be no point to accept any of the New Testament. It is as certain as it could be that he is, in fact, an apostle. Understanding this, we can then go to his second epistle for a note concerning Paul –

“Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless; 15 and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.” 2 Peter 3:14-16

Peter clearly identifies Paul as authoritative, and he places Paul’s epistles on the same level as “the rest of the Scriptures.” In other words, it is an explicit reference to the inspiration of Paul’s letters. Now, combining that with the selection of Paul as an apostle by Jesus’ own mouth, we can demonstrate that he has both the authority and the inspiration to back up his words to the Corinthians. In response to a question by Ananias, Jesus proclaims Paul’s commission and apostolic authority –

“Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:15, 16

It is impossible to deny Paul’s authority and his inspiration without denying the rest of the New Testament. They are inextricably intertwined. Therefore, Paul has the right to state, “If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.”

Understanding this, we have been given a valuable tool to refute the speaking of false tongues, to direct the order of prophesying within the church, and to confirm that women are not to speak in the congregation (which includes having any authority over a man – see 1 Timothy 2:11,12 which is tied into his thoughts of 1 Corinthians 14 on this issue). When identifying any of these false practices, the one so charged must deny the authority of Scripture and thus the authority of Christ. Or, they must admit that their conduct is not in accord with Scripture and Christ’s authority; they are being disobedient to both.

Life application: Paul’s letters are prescriptive, they are of divine inspiration, and they bear the authority of the Lord Himself. To dismiss Paul’s commandments is to directly ignore the Lord’s authority. Do you want to be found in such a position of disobedience? If not, adhere to Paul’s words which are set doctrine for the church age.

Lord, my mind is often at odds with Your commandments and I know that it is my sinful nature pulling me in the wrong direction. When this happens, help me to redirect my heart and my attention back to You. Grant me friends who can build me up, and also give me the desire to know Your word more and more. For sure, my spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak. And so send those strengthening measures to keep me from going astray. Amen.

 

1 Corinthians 14:36

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Thursday, 19 February 2015

Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? 1 Corinthians 14:36

Paul’s two questions form a scathing rebuke of the practices of those in Corinth. The entire chapter has obviously been one of repeated instruction, and the emotion has only increased in him as the ink flowed from his pen. He may have been thinking, “I’ve told them all of this already!” But they didn’t heed.

He first asks, “Or did the word of God come originally from you?” It is a note of indignation. He is asking if they think they are the source of what should be considered church doctrine. Are they somehow the church which should establish doctrine for all the others? Paul is letting them know that it is he who brought them the word of Christ and established the church among them. His words of instruction demonstrate that they had fallen away from that. Instead they were involved in illicit practices. They very fact that he is writing instructions to them shows this to be true.

They have misused the gift of tongues; they had been disorderly in the preaching of the word, talking over one another; and they had allowed women to engage in these activities rather than having them remain silent as he had previously instructed them. In essence, he is showing that they have held in contempt the word of God and attempted to establish their own parameters for church conduct. If that doesn’t sound like many churches in the world today, it’s hard to see what else could! The word is ignored, women are ordained and speak openly on matters of doctrine when they are not authorized to by Scripture, and congregations spout out false tongues and false prophecies at will.

Paul was fed up then and we should be fed up now! And so he continues, “Or was it you only that it reached?” It is a second line of indignation. “Suppose you don’t feel you are the source of the word of God. Well then, the only other explanation is that you feel you are the only recipients of it; the only valid church.”

They were acting as if they alone held the authority to interpret Scripture and thus their interpretation was however they saw fit. But the word had gone out to many churches. The message was consistent and it was clear. Other churches had properly followed the practices as they were received. But somehow, this dysfunctional church at Corinth had gone out on its own, teaching aberrant guidelines that were not in sync with the rest of the churches. Paul’s lengthy letter demonstrates this.

But it must be understood that if this church wasn’t so dysfunctional, there would have been no letter to the Corinthians and then there would have been no written set-doctrine for later churches to follow. God, in His wisdom, allowed the church at Corinth to depart from Paul’s sound instruction in order to give all of us a sure word, in writing, which is understandable and clear. With it, combined with the other Pauline epistles, we have right doctrine to lead the church. And yet… we ignore it and continue with the same dysfunctional problems that Corinth faced.

Can one not see the absolute importance of the Word of God when reading this letter to Corinth? How precious a treasure and yet how ignored it is! Let us leave misguided passion, emotion, and self-seeking ostentation at the door and enter into the church with the desire to honor the Lord by following His word!

Life application: Find a church which doesn’t follow the crazy practices Paul outlines in his letter to the Corinthians.

How precious is the wondrous treasure! It is a gift from God beyond all measure. It is a sure and sound word for us to obey; and yet we ignore it and disobey it, day by day. Women preach; false prophecies are spoken; exhortations are ignored and commands are broken. We find more pleasure in twisting this superior word, than we do in being obedient to the Lord. O God, forgive us for our arrogant attitude towards this book. From now on, into its pages we will look. And then in obedience we will walk, and of its precepts we shall talk. Thank You, O God, for this right word of instruction. Thank You for Your superior word. Amen.