1 Corinthians 14:40

Let all things be done decently and in order. 1 Corinthians 14:40

This is the last verse of Chapter 14, and it rather neatly and concisely sums up the intent of the entire passage. If people are speaking nonsensical tongues, or real languages without a translator, then there will be no order. If people are jumping up and giving a word of exhortation or explanation while someone else is speaking, there will not be order. In such cases, things will not be either decent or orderly, but rather chaotic.

This is contrary to the nature of God who is both logical and orderly. Ice floats, air rises when it is hot, stars emit light, spiders weave webs, and little trees convert CO2 into oxygen. These things occur because God is a God of order. The things that are out of whack are because of the fall of man and the disorder which occurred at that time. But it is incumbent upon the church to have order in the gathering in order to reflect the beautiful nature of our orderly Creator.

In an abbreviated form, Albert Barnes sums up the points of Chapter 14 which he feels are appropriate in regards to this verse with four principles –

(1) That public worship should be in a language understood by the people; the language which they commonly employ.
(2) preaching should be simple and intelligible.
(3) we should learn to value “useful” talent more than that which is splendid and showy
(4) ministers of the gospel should not aim to be admired.

God is worthy of our respect and honor, and so what we do within the church should reflect His holy nature. It should be befitting of His glory and bring glory to Him as we gather to understand Him and worship Him.
Life application: As Paul says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” So may it be.

Lord God, forgive us for the times we fail to honor and glorify You. May we never presume to ignore Your word, or to diminish Your glory through our actions. Instead, may we always bring honor to You. This we pray in the exalted and magnificent name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

1 Corinthians 16:24

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Friday, 15 May 2015

My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen. 1 Corinthians 16:24

After a short introduction, Paul’s words in this first epistle to the Corinthians began with grace and peace –

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:3

Now his words end in love. This is a beautiful example of Paul’s ability to take the most difficult of issues and weave them into a letter with painstaking care in order to ensure that they are neither misconstrued, nor taken in an ill light. During the letter, he has gone on a walk through the dark valley of discontent. He has gone over jagged rocks of disharmony, and over rough roads of bad-doctrine. He has traversed through a jungle of immorality. There in the midst of it, the sharp and painful thorns of misconduct caused the Corinthians to stray in their thinking.

He also traveled along a highway of introduced heresy. With each step, he confidently placed his feet where the snakes of wayward thinking could not strike out and ruin him. After all of this, and much more difficult terrain, he now arrives on the quiet and peaceful shore of a tranquil ending to the epistle with words of comfort and love. Such is the nature of Paul’s heart for the Corinthians. He was willing to take himself and his doctrine though all of this in order to bring them to that contented place with him. May we so conduct ourselves in such matters as well!

Life application: It is time-consuming and difficult to mentor people who are caught in spiritual confusion. It is so much easier to simply say, “They had it coming.” But to take the time to correct others in faulty doctrine is no less important than bringing a person to Christ. The reason for this is that those with faulty doctrine may be a witness of their beliefs to another at some point. If they teach an incorrect gospel, then the hearer of their words will never come to a saving knowledge of the Lord. Therefore, correction of doctrine is as important as the saving of souls.

Lord God, today I ask for patience in my interactions with others who have misunderstood Your word. Grant me the right approach to handling such difficult matters so that I will not be confrontational or belligerent in my attitude as their questions come forth. I know that if their doctrine is wrong and they teach it to another person, that poor soul may never come to a saving knowledge of Your gospel truth. And so help me in this. May my words be in love and my doctrine pure. Amen.

 

1 Corinthians 16:23

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Thursday, 14 May 2015

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 1 Corinthians 16:23

As with all of his epistles, Paul adds into his closing salutation a blessing which is a petition for divine favor to be upon his audience. In the Greek, there is a definite article in front of “grace.” Quite often English translations will insert “the” for clarity, but it may not be in the Greek. However, it is here.

“The grace” is different than saying something like, “May grace from the Lord Jesus be with you.” Paul is asking for a divine impartation of this attribute of the Lord to rest upon those in Corinth (and thus us!) and to sustain them in their walk. It must be truly considered that those who are not obedient to the epistle are to be excluded from this petition.

For example, in 1 Corinthians 5 he wrote concerning a disobedient congregant, saying to “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” It should be obvious that until this person is willing to adhere to the sound instruction of the epistle, this petition for divine grace is not intended for him.

And yet, at the same time, we all fall short of one precept or another. Therefore, it must be considered that it is for those who earnestly strive for adherence to it, even if they do fall short. Such is the nature of grace; undeserved merit. Paul, in one form or another, closes out every one of his epistles with such a note of request for this divine favor. And even the last words of the Bible are very closely aligned with his words here. There John writes –

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.”

Life application: The Bible, time and again, asks for an undeserved blessing to be bestowed upon those who pursue it, even if they fall short of what it states. Such is the nature of grace, and such is the nature of our gracious Lord. As you walk along life’s highway, take time to contemplate the wondrous grace which has been lavished upon you. And then thank the Lord and praise the Lord for that same grace.

Lord God, too often I take the many blessings of this life for granted and I even look at Your grace as something I deserve. The beautiful flower that I walk by could have just not been there. The jumping of the porpoise in the ocean happened just as I looked out. The sunset was adorned with ten thousand clouds which captured every color on the painter’s palette. Lord, I suppose that I could go on forever, but you know already… I have been blessed beyond measure and I thank You for it. Hallelujah to my God! Amen.

 

 

1 Corinthians 16:22

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Wednesday, 13 May 2015

If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! 1 Corinthians 16:22

This seems like an unusually harsh sentiment for Paul to introduce as he concludes his letter, but the entire content of the letter has been of doctrine, correction, and reproof. In chapter 15, he clearly laid out the truth of Christ’s ministry, from the gospel itself all the way through its implication for man. If man accepts the gospel, he moves from death to life. If not, he remains spiritually dead and he will be destroyed, just as Death and Hades will be destroyed.

As an indication of Paul’s intent, the word for “love” here is phileo not agape. This is a warm sort of love spoken of rather than the deeper “godly” and “reverent” love which agape normally refers to. And so to understand Paul’s intent, we can first go back to verse 20 which said, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” In that verse, the word for “kiss” is philéma, a word with the same root as phileo. Paul is probably tying the two words together in an emotional way.

The body of believers is to have the same heart for the Lord as they have for one another. It is not enough to be a tightly knit group of people who work well together, but to be one that is committed to the work and love of the Lord. If believers are willing to kiss one another and yet not kiss the Son, then their love is a misdirected love. In such an instance, Paul says “let him be accursed.” The word from which this is translated is anathema. Properly, it means “a thing devoted to God.” The implication then is something that is accursed. There is to be no association with such a person within the fellowship because he has no true part in the fellowship.

Finally, Paul closes the thought with, “O Lord, come!” It is translated from the Aramaic words marana and tha. Taken together, we say maranatha, meaning “Lord come!” Some translators use them in the past tense – “Our Lord has come!” Others in the future – “Our Lord is coming!” Others simply use the Aramaic to avoid choosing one over the other. The Lord has come and the Lord is coming again. Whichever Paul was thinking, he has proclaimed it after pronouncing his curse. Because of this, the Geneva Bible gives this thought –

“Let him be accursed even to the coming of the Lord, that is to say, to the day of his death, even for ever.”

Life application: There are times where imprecations are appropriate. Far too many Christians fail to relay the truly serious nature of the gospel. There is one path to God and only one. Without Jesus Christ, there is only death and hell ahead. For those who understand this and yet fail to love the Lord, they are to be treated as outsiders in relation to the church. Unless they change their hearts towards Him, they are accursed.

Lord God, help me to be firm in my convictions concerning biblical truths. There are many things in the Bible which we don’t want to consider because of some personal issue. Because of this, we often align our friendships with what we want rather than what the Bible says. And so Lord, do I hold to the Bible or is it more important to be their friend? In such times, give me the resolve to place Your word above all else. I know that in this I am showing my highest love to You, and this is my desire. Thank You for being with me in this. Amen.