804.) 1 Corinthians 16

May 31, 2012

1 Corinthians 16

(New International Version)

The Collection for the Lord’s People

1 Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.

Paul is referring to a collection he was gathering for the saints in Jerusalem.  In several other passages it speaks of this effort among many different churches to help the poor Christians in Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30, 24:17, Romans 15: 26, 2 Corinthians 8:13, 9:9-12).

As I have given orders to the churches of Galatia: Paul mentioned his heart for the poor Christians in Jerusalem in Galatians 2:9-10.  “The business of relieving the poor members of the church is a moral duty, a sacrifice with which God is well pleased, Philippians 4:18; our faith must work by this love.” (Poole)

Why was the church in Jerusalem so needy?  There may be many reasons.  We know they supported a large number of widows (Acts 6:1-6) and were in the midst of famine (Acts 11:27-30).

Generally, Christians have excelled in these efforts of practical ministry.  For example, why do you think the Red Cross is named the Red Cross?  It started as a Christian organization.

–David Guzik

2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

We shouldn’t fear giving generously.  Proverbs 11:24 is a great commentary on this idea: There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty.  No one thinks a farmer is “wasting” grain when he scatters it as seed; the more he plants, the more he will harvest.

3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem. 4If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.

Personal Requests

5 After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. 6 Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits.

“I know the fascination of having a programme, and having everything in order, and knowing where we are going; but let us leave room, at any rate, for the interference of God.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

8 But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me. 10 When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. 11 No one, then, should treat him with contempt. Send him on his way in peace so that he may return to me. I am expecting him along with the brothers.

1 Timothy 4:12 (English Standard Version)

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

12 Now about our brother Apollos: I strongly urged him to go to you with the brothers. He was quite unwilling to go now, but he will go when he has the opportunity.

13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.

“The terms in this verse are all military: Watch ye, watch, and be continually on your guard, lest you be surprised by your enemies . . . Stand fast in the faith – Keep in your ranks; do not be disorderly; be determined to keep your ranks unbroken; keep close together . . . Quit yourselves like men – When you are attacked, do not flinch; maintain your ground; resist; press forward; strike home; keep compact; conquer . . . Be strong – If one company or division be opposed by too great a force of the enemy, strengthen that division, and maintain your position . . . summon up all your courage, sustain each other; fear not, for fear will enervate you.”

–Adam Clarke

14 Do everything in love.

15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16 to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. 17 I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition.

Paul holds up the family of Stephanas, who have taken as their particular responsibility, their piece of Christian service, the task of the service of the saints.  They did not assume a place of leadership or prominence, but one of lowly service.  That is the Christian way, and Paul commends it to the church at large.

–Leon Morris

Final Greetings

19 The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house. 20All the brothers and sisters here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 21 I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand.

22 If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed! Come, Lord!

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

24 My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen.



Decades of living have taught me it is much easier to be a Corinthian than a Christian.  Were it not for grace . . .  were it not for the love of God . . . were it not for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ . . . I would be truly without hope.

But the grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God are with me!  And I have been buried and raised with Christ!  So the question, “Who Am I?” has a wonderful answer:   Praise God, I am yours.  By Casting Crowns.


New International Version (NIV)    Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Do everything in love.   http://wallpaper4god.com/wallpapers/1-corinthians-1614_5666_1024x768.jpg
God loves the cheerful giver.   http://www.stpaulchurch.com/God%20Loves%20Cheerful%20Giver_3.jpg
To Do list.   http://www.itsthedishes.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/to-do-list.png
Be on guard . . .    http://24.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ktbobquT5h1qzlgb3o1_r3_500.jpg

803.) 1 Corinthians 15:35-58

May 30, 2012

1 Corinthians 15:35-58

(New International Version)

The Resurrection Body

“To die will be an awfully great adventure.”

–Peter Pan (J. M. Barrie)

35 But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 36 How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. 37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 Not all flesh is the same: People have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another. 40 There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. 41The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. 42 So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

Let every man and woman count himself immortal.  Let him catch the revelation of Jesus in his resurrection.  Let him say not merely, “Christ is risen,” but “I shall rise.” 

–Phillips Brooks

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. 48 As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.

The Watergate cover-up reveals the true nature of humanity. Even political zealots at the pinnacle of power will, in the crunch, save their own necks, even at the expense of the ones they profess to serve so loyally. But the apostles could not deny Jesus because they had seen Him face to face, and they knew He had risen from the dead. No, you can take it from an expert in cover-ups — I’ve lived through Watergate — that nothing less than a resurrected Christ could have caused those men to maintain to their dying whispers that Jesus is alive and is Lord. Two thousand years later, nothing less than the power of the risen Christ could inspire Christians around the world to remain faithful — despite prison, torture, and death.

–Charles (Chuck) Colson

50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.” 

–Clarence W. Hall

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

We live and die; Christ died and lived! 

–John Stott

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

The king of Egypt who tried to do most for his people, and utterly failed, was the last of his dynasty (the 18th dynasty).  He died in 1350 B.C. cursed by his people, and his palace was abandoned and the records of his reign were flung on a rubbish heap and left there as worthless.

Hundreds of years later this old rubbish heap was found.  When the records were read, much that had been laughed at in the Bible as “impossible” was proved to be true, for there were allusions to those very things in these records.

So God used a “failure” to help to do one of the greatest things that can be done—establish faith in His Book.  That king, Akh Naten, was His servant, and He never wastes the lives of His servants.  Their very failures are gathered up and used.

Even when we feel we have failed, God writes Not in vain over everything we have tried to do in His name.


“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.”

–Emily Dickinson



Here is some advice you haven’t asked for!  Whenever you feel anxious or fearful about death, come back here, to 1 Corinthians 15, and to Handel’s music put to these words of St. Paul — and put your heart and mind to rest.  Death is the final enemy, but YOU HAVE THE VICTORY through Jesus Christ!

Alastair Miles sings from Handel’s Messiah:   “Behold, I tell you a mystery” and “The trumpet shall sound.”  Crispian Steele-Perkins is the trumpet soloist.  Stephen Cleobury conducts the Brandenburg Consort.


New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
1 Corinthians 15:42.  http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/1Corinthians15_42.jpg
Chuck Colson.  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/chuck-colson-47.jpg
Akhnaten.   http://astro1.panet.utoledo.edu/~lsa/_color/03_akhnatenL.jpg
robin.  http://www.d.umn.edu/cla/faculty/troufs/anthfood/images/robin%27s_nest.jpeg

802.) 1 Corinthians 15:1-34

May 29, 2012

On the third day he rose again from the dead . . .

1 Corinthians 15

(New International Version)

The Resurrection of Christ

1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

Suggesting a married Jesus is one thing, but questioning the Resurrection undermines the very heart of Christian belief.

–Dan Brown

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

Because of the reference to the third day, and because in Matthew 12:40 Jesus refers to three days and three nights, some have thought it necessary for Jesus to spend at least 72 hours in the grave.  This upsets most chronologies of the death and resurrection of Jesus, and is unnecessary, being unaware of the use of ancient figures of speech.  Eleazar ben Azariah (around the year 100 a.d.) said: “A day and a night make a whole day, and a portion of a whole day is reckoned as a whole day.”  This demonstrates how in Jesus’ day, the phrase three days and three nights did not necessarily mean a 72-hour period, but a period including at least the portions of three days and three nights.

–David Guzik

5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

“Everything depends on our retaining a firm hold on this doctrine in particular; for if this one totters and no longer counts, all the others will lose their value and validity.”

 –Martin Luther

12 But IF it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 IF there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And IF Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

“If Jesus rose, then this gospel is what is professes to be; if He rose not from the dead, then it is all deceit and delusion.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For IF the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And IF Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19IF only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

There is no IF about it!  Look at what rests on the resurrection:

The divinity of Jesus rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 1:4).

The sovereignty of Jesus rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 14:9).

Our justification rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 4:25).

Our regeneration rests on the resurrection of Jesus (1 Peter 1:3).

Our ultimate resurrection rests on the resurrection of Jesus (Romans 8:11).

–David Guzik

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.

In Ephesians 1:10, Paul reveals God’s eternal purpose in history: that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him.  Paul wrote of the “gathering together” of all things in Jesus, or of the “summing up” of all things in Him.  Here, in 1 Corinthians, he looks forward to the time when all things are resolved in Jesus Christ and He presents it all to God the Father, giving glory to the God who authored this eternal plan of the ages.

25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

Here, Paul refers to God the Son’s desire to glorify God the Father through all eternity.  Importantly, each person of the Trinity desires to glorify another person of the Trinity.  The Son glorifies the Father (John 17:4), the Father glorifies the Son (John 17:5), and the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son (John 16:14).  This aspect of the nature of God is something God wants us to walk in, having a concern for the glory of others, and not our own (Philippians 2:3-4).

–David Guzik

29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?

Here is another verse that has caused much consternation.  Many interpretations have been presented — that Paul is speaking of a pagan custom, that some Corinthian Christians were being baptized for friends or relatives who had already died, that “baptism” here actually refers to martyrdom . . . I leave it to you to wrestle with this!

30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,

“Let us eat and drink,
for tomorrow we die.”

33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.



“Hear the Bells Ringing!” sung by a group called Second Chapter of Acts.


New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
empty tomb.  http://creationrevolution.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/empty-tomb.jpg
the risen Christ.  http://www.turnbacktogod.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/jesus-christ-risen-0603.jpg

801.) 1 Corinthians 14:26-40

May 28, 2012

Rev. Donna McClellan is one of my pastors, and I love the way she understands, teaches, and lives Scripture and community and prayer.  She does it all in joyful submission to our Lord Jesus Christ.  I have learned much from her, and I am grateful for her gifts in our church.

1 Corinthians 14:26-40

(New International Version)

Good Order in Worship

26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

Paul sees the gathering of the church as a time when people come to participate and to give to one another, not merely to passively receive.

We can easily picture how this dynamic would work among the Corinthian Christians.  They would, out of necessity, meet in small groups in different homes.  There would be many “house churches” scattered all over the city of Corinth.  As they would meet in these small groups, there would be a freedom, and a responsibility to not only receive but to give.  So, one might give by reading or singing a psalm.  Another might offer a word of teaching.  Someone might pray in a tongue, along with an interpretation.  Still someone else might have a revelation, a word from God’s heart and mind to the gathered church.  In a small, home-fellowship type setting, this is how the church should work together.

When more people are gathered together, this “everybody shares something with everyone else” becomes more difficult.  Among ten people, ten can share something with all the other ten.  But among thirty, or sixty, or a hundred people, there isn’t time to allow everyone to share something with everyone else.   This is why so many are blessed and find great spiritual growth through a home group, because it provides a perfect context for the “everyone shares something with everyone else” idea.  The hunger for this has also led to the growth of the home church movement in our generation.

At the same time, there are potential pitfalls in this approach.  It is easy for people of poor doctrine or weak character to dominate the group.  It is easy for the group to focus not on the truth of the word, but on how one “feels” about the word.  Spurgeon once described a man coming from such a gathering, and meeting a friend.  “How was the meeting?” the one asked.  The other answered, “Oh, it was wonderful.  No one knew anything and we all taught each other!”

 It is safe to say that when it comes to the “house church” or “larger church” issue there is no “right” or “wrong.”  God has used both, is using both, and will use both.  Both are essential and greatly needed for the health and the strength of the whole body of Christ today.

–David Guzik

27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

Though Paul seems more positive about the use of the gift of prophecy in church meetings than the use of the gift of tongues, he still believes prophecy should be regulated.  The gifts of the Spirit are never to be made the focus of congregational life.  Worship and the Word are the focus, and the gifts flow under God’s direction around the focus of worship and the Word.

34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

Because Paul assumed the right of women to pray and prophesy under proper authority in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, the context suggests that a woman speaking refers to either the judging of prophecy (something for the leadership of the church to do) or to disruptive speaking. 

I also like to apply Proverbs 14:1 here:  “The wise woman builds her house.”

36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.

39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.



A worship song sung by a godly woman — Twila Paris and “We Bow Down.”


New International Version (NIV)    Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Rev. Donna McClellan.   http://fpco.org/Images//InsideFPCO/D_McClellan_headshot_web.JPG
Worship and the Word.   http://www.familychristiancenter.ws/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/worship-and-word2.jpg
building a church.   http://www.familychristiancenter.ws/hp_wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/worship-and-word2.jpg

800.) 1 Corinthians 14:1-25

May 25, 2012

1 Corinthians 14:1-25

(New International Version)

Intelligibility in Worship

1 Follow the way of love

Blest be the tie that binds
our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above

and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.

Edification (the NIV, above, says strengthening) is “building up.”  It is a construction term, and speaks our being “built up” in the Lord.  A word of prophecy will build someone up, not tear him or her down.

Exhortation is encouragement.  It is like the speech from the coach in the locker room, rallying the team to go out and perform as they have been trained to perform.  A word of prophecy will encourage someone, not discourage him or her.

Comfort has the idea of not only consoling, but also strengthening.  It doesn’t just cry with someone hurting, it puts its arms around them and strengthens them to carry the load.  A word of prophecy will strengthen, not weaken someone.

–David Guzik

4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,

Paul was positive about the gift of tongues!  Paul valued the gift of tongues in his own life (I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all, 1 Corinthians 14:18), and wanted other Christians to speak with tongues.

Why?  No doubt, because he knew the value of it in his own life.  Paul was able, when praying in the spirit, to unburden his soul before God in a way going beyond human language and intellect.  He could pray, praise, and intercede beyond his ability to understand and articulate.  Paul wanted every Christian to know this same blessing!

but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

But the corporate value of any speech during worship is made possible only if the message given in tongues can be “translated” into a language understood by the congregation.  Prophesy requires no such translation, and is therefore preferred for public occasions.

Before our Father’s throne
we pour our ardent prayers;
our fears, our hopes, our aims are one,
our comforts and our cares.

6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

The goal must be mutual benefit at church meetings.  So if there are tongues, there must be interpretation, so there can be edification. 

But — If tongues are directed to God, how can a legitimate interpretation be edifying to others?  The same way our reading of Psalms can edify.  The prayer, or praise, or plea of another unto God can identify powerfully with our own heart before God, and we can agree with what another says to God.

13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.

We share each other’s woes,
Our mutual burdens bear;
And often for each other flows
The sympathizing tear.

18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21 In the Law it is written:

“With other tongues
and through the lips of foreigners
I will speak to this people,
but even then they will not listen to me,
says the Lord.”

22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.

This verse has caused no little amount of consternation, since it seems contradictory to what Paul writes after.  He says tongues are for unbelievers, yet in the next verse he says tongues make believers look mad.  He says prophecy is for believers, yet his comments below relate only to unbelievers.  Scholars differ — some say the verse is actually a question.  Others think scribes mis-copied it and it should read that tongues are for believers and prophecies for unbelievers.   Etc.  As the King of Siam would say, “Is a puzzlement.”

23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”



Dr. John Faw­cett was the pas­tor of a small church at Wains­gate, and was called from there to a larg­er church in Lon­don in 1772.  He ac­cept­ed the call and preached his fare­well ser­mon.  The wa­gons were load­ed with his books and fur­ni­ture and all was rea­dy for the de­part­ure when his pa­rish­ion­ers gath­ered around him and with tears in their eyes begged of him to stay.  His wife said, “Oh John, John, I can­not bear this.”  “Neither can I,” ex­claimed the good pas­tor, “and we will not go.  Un­load the wa­gons and put ev­ery­thing as it was be­fore.”  His de­ci­sion was hailed with great joy by his peo­ple, and he wrote the words of this hymn in com­mem­o­ra­tion of the event.  “Blest Be the Tie that Binds.”

When we asunder part,
It gives us inward pain;
But we shall still be joined in heart,
And hope to meet again.


New International Version (NIV)  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Love above all.   http://www.modart.com/wp-content/gallery/network_artist_lilshy/love-above-all-copy.jpg
the tie that binds.  http://narciejeter.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/the-tie-that-binds.jpg

799.) 1 Corinthians 13

May 24, 2012

1 Corinthians 13

(New International Version)

Love Is Indispensable

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Possession of the charismata is not the sign of the Spirit; Christian love is.

–Dr. Gordon Fee

3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

It should be simply impossible for us to think unkindly of anyone.  “Beloved, let us love” (1 John 4:7).

–Amy Carmichael

There is enough love and enough power in the cross of Christ to enable us to forget past hurts and continue our relationships as if there had never been anything wrong.  Even with the best intentions, this will never be done in human strength; only the Holy Spirit of Jesus can enable us to forget our pains and hurts.  If you choose to build up the memories of those hurts that other people have inflicted on you, you will pollute, corrupt, and destroy all of your relationships.  Resentments has destructive power, but the grace of Christ has a deeper power to keep human relationships as clean and fresh as springtime. 

–Dennis F. Kinlaw

6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.

“I would, my brothers and sisters, that we could all imitate the pearl oyster.  A hurtful particle intrudes itself into its shell, and this vexes and grieves it.  It cannot eject the evil, and what does it do but cover it with a precious substance extracted out of its own life, by which it turns the intruder into a pearl.  Oh, that we could do so with the provocations we receive from our fellow Christians, so that pearls of patience, gentleness, long-suffering, and forgiveness might be bred within us by that which has harmed us.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Thessalonians 1:3 (New International Version)

We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1:4-5 (New Living Translation)

For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven.



“The Gift of Love” — by Hal Hopson and sung by Doreen Lai.


New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Mother Teresa holding a baby.  http://youngadultcrisishotline.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/love-thumb.jpg
Love is patient . . .  http://images.art.com/images/products/regular/12007000/12007361.jpg
Faith.  Hope.  Love.    http://www.biblelockscreen.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/1-corinthians-13-13-ipad-bible-backgrounds-christian-bible-lock-screens.jpg

798.) 1 Corinthians 12

May 23, 2012

1 Corinthians 12

(New International Version)

Concerning Spiritual Gifts

1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus made it plain, saying that when the Holy Spirit would come, He will testify of Me (John 15:26), and He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you (John 16:14).  The ministry of the Holy Spirit is not to promote the Holy Spirit, or any man — but to glorify and represent Jesus.  We can therefore trust that the true ministry of the Holy Spirit will be according to the nature of Jesus.

–David Guzik

4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

The indwelling Christ calls his people to all kinds of service using a variety of gifts.  Humble, everyday service is not less than the supernatural phenomena  of the Spirit.  God is at work through them all.

7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

Apparently, the tendency to division among the Corinthian Christians had made them think separately or competitively about the gifts.  Perhaps the “tongues speakers” thought themselves superior to the “prophesiers,” as if the gifts had come from two different gods!  Paul emphasizes to them that “one and the same Spirit” works all these things, so they should reflect that same unity among themselves.

Unity and Diversity in the Body

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

Not only is this diversity in the body of Jesus Christ acceptable, it is essential.  The body cannot work properly if all are hands, or if all are eyes.  The body must have different parts and gifts, or it would not work together effectively as a body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

The parts of the body work together.  The eyes and ears do not only serve themselves, but the whole body.  The hands do not only feed and defend themselves, but the whole body.  The heart does not only supply blood to itself, but serves the whole body.  Sometimes there is a part of our body which only lives to serve itself.  It doesn’t contribute anything to the rest of the body, and everything it gets it uses to feed and grow itself.  We call this cancer.

–David Guzik

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

Love Is Indispensable

And yet I will show you the most excellent way.



“How Beautiful Is the Body of Christ.”


New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
spiritual gifts.   http://pastorbillholdridge.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/spiritualgifts.jpg
Jesus and Holy Spirit dove.  http://www.soulshepherding.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Dove-Holy-Spirit-on-Jesus.jpg
body of Christ.   http://everfaith.files.wordpress.com/2012/01/body-of-christ.jpg
body parts.   http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ae-0cH2OQEo/TfT3pbXsdSI/AAAAAAAACGM/48_E2HYhEto/s1600/1corinthians12_4.jpg
heart.   http://www.edgemarcenter.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/heart.jpg

797.) 1 Corinthians 11

May 22, 2012

There is a long-time tradition of head adornment in the black religious community. While it may have started with the biblical admonition from the Apostle Paul that a woman must cover her head before entering a house of worship, over time it has become a fashion statement and a cultural celebration.  And aren’t these ladies beautiful?

1 Corinthians 11

(New International Version)

1Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

1 Timothy 4:12 (New Living Translation)

Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.

On Covering the Head in Worship

2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

This section of Paul has caused much confusion, and I do not suggest that I could give you the definitive interpretation!  But several commentaries state that the Greek word here translated “head” could also mean “source.”  In that case, Paul is saying that woman derives her being from man (as in the creation story of Genesis 2:21-22), as man does from Christ, and Christ does from God.  Each of those relationships is somewhat different from the other, but the order of creation does seem, to Paul, to have consequences for worship.

4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head. 7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

Regarding head covering and hair length: 

Paul’s arguments here are closely related to a specific historical situation and an evaluation of cultural appropriateness.  We should be cautious about applying all these details universally.

Correcting an Abuse of the Lord’s Supper

17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk.

In the modern church, the Lord’s Supper is commonly celebrated in an atmosphere of dignity.  But the Corinthian Christians were coming from a culture where the pagans would commonly have wild, riotous banquets given in honor of a pagan god.  This is how it might not seem so strange to the Corinthian Christians to get drunk even at a church meal.

–David Guzik

Another point that Paul addresses here has to do with the lack of unity among the believers at the Lord’s Supper.  Some have plenty to eat and drink, yet do not share with those who do not.  The rich are not caring for the poor.  Such selfish conduct was disgraceful to the body of Christ as well as to Christ.

22Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter! 23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks,

In theology, and in church custom, the Lord’s Supper is often called the eucharist This word comes from the Greek phrase used here for “given thanks.”

he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

There is a very clear connection between preaching the gospel and celebrating the Lord’s Supper.  The meal sets forth God’s Word through visible rather than verbal means.  When we “eat this bread and drink this cup,” we are giving expression to our faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus and our sure hope of his return.

27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

And when I come I will give further directions.



“Come, Now Is the Time to Worship.”  Let us “gladly choose him now,” and not worry about our hair or our hats, or anything other than our hearts . . .


New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
women in hats.   http://writingforfame.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/senior_women_in_hats1233326586.jpg
bread and wine.  http://wallpaper4god.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/1corinthians11-26.jpg
hands holding the bread and wine.  http://gospelsunshine.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/art-communion_hands.jpg

796.) 1 Corinthians 10

May 21, 2012

1 Corinthians 10

(New International Version)

Warnings From Israel’s History

Paul has been writing about the need to finish what God has set before us, and how dangerous it is to not be willing to give up something which gets in the way of finishing.  Now he will use Israel’s experience in the Exodus from Egypt to illustrate this principle.

1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud

The cloud of Shekinah glory overshadowed Israel throughout their journey from Egypt to the Promised Land.  During the day, the cloud sheltered them from the brutal desert sun, and during the night, it burned as a pillar of fire.  It was a constant, ready reminder of God’s glory and presence (Exodus 13:21-22).

and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.

All of Israel came through the Red Sea and saw God’s incredible power in holding up the walls of the sea so Israel could cross over on dry ground, and then God’s work of sending the water back to drown the Egyptian army (Exodus 14:21-31).  It was not only an amazing demonstration of God’s love and power, but also a picture of baptism – by “passing through water,” all of Israel was identified with Moses, even as by “passing through water,” a Christian is identified with Jesus Christ (Romans 6:3-4).

3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink;

All of Israel was sustained by God’s miraculous provision of food and drink during their time in the wilderness (Exodus 16:35 and 17:6).  This was a remarkable display of God’s love and power for Israel, and a pre-figuring of the spiritual food and drink we receive at the Lord’s table (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

Israel even had the presence of Jesus Christ with them in the wilderness!  Perhaps Jesus had this in the back of his mind when he told the Samaritan woman at the well that he would give her “living water.”

5Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.

6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

You make your choice:

Proverbs 19:3 (New Living Translation)

People ruin their lives by their own foolishness
      and then are angry at the Lord.


Proverbs 17:22 (New Living Translation)

A cheerful heart is good medicine.

11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

We fight temptation with Jesus’ power, like the girl who explained what she did when Satan came with temptation at the door of her heart: “I send Jesus to answer the door.  When Satan sees Jesus, he says, ‘OOPS, sorry, I must have the wrong house.’”

Idol Feasts and the Lord’s Supper

 14 Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? 17Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.



“One Bread, One Body”  by John Michael Talbot.  Talbot, born in 1954, is an American Roman Catholic  singer-songwriter-guitarist who is founder of a monastic community, the Brothers and Sisters of Charity, located in the Ozarks.


18 Consider the people of Israel: Do not those who eat the sacrifices participate in the altar? 19 Do I mean then that food sacrificed to an idol is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s table and the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to arouse the Lord’s jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

There may be two Corinthian ideas Paul is trying to answer:

 1) The Corinthian Christians were thinking, “Since an idol is not real, it doesn’t matter what we eat, and it doesn’t matter where we eat it.”  Paul answers by agreeing that an idol is in itself nothing (1 Corinthians 8:4); but now explains that demons take advantage of man’s ignorant and self-serving worship.

 2) The Corinthian Christians were thinking, “As long as we are participating in the Lord’s Table, we are safe in Him.”  Paul answers that they are disgracing the Lord’s table when they fellowship with idols.

–David Guzik

The Believer’s Freedom

23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. 24No one should seek their own good, but the good of others. 25 Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, 26 for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”

Paul is reiterating his distinction between “knowledge” and “love.”

27 If an unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the one who told you and for the sake of conscience. 29 I am referring to the other person’s conscience, not yours. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?

So Paul says it is not the meat per se, but the atmosphere in which the meat is eaten.  If it is eaten at a pagan temple — no.  If it is purchased from a market — yes, because the meat is not infected; the cow belonged to the Lord on the hoof and it belongs to the Lord now (“The earth is the Lord’s.”).  If you eat at someone’s house, Paul says, do not ask about the meat — just eat it, yes, with a good conscience.  (Barclay says, “Don’t ask fussy questions.”)  But if someone makes a point to tell you that the meat was sacrificed to idols — then no, refuse it.  What we believers eat makes no matter; that we avoid giving offense, does.

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— 33 even as I try to please everyone in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

1Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.


New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Whatever you do . . .   http://i344.photobucket.com/albums/p346/diintx_album/1Corinthians10.jpg
Shekinah glory and the tabernacle.  http://www.gloryofgod.us/tabernaclesunset.jpg
Moses at the Red Sea.   http://appleofgodseye.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/12.png
water from the rock.  http://www.bible.ca/archeology/bible-archeology-exodus-kadesh-barnea-water-from-rock-moses.jpg
bread, wine, Word.    http://oneyearbibleimages.com/1corinthians10_16.jpg
steak dinner.   http://www.blarneystone-oneill.com/images/NewYorkStripSteak.jpg

795.) 1 Corinthians 9

May 18, 2012

1 Corinthians 9 (New International Version)

Paul’s Rights as an Apostle

At first sight this chapter seems quite disconnected from what goes before but in point of fact it is not.  The whole point of it lies in this—the Corinthians who considered themselves mature and advanced Christians have been claiming that they are in such a privileged position that they are free to eat meat offered to idols if they like.  Their Christian freedom and their Christian privilege give them—as they think—a special position in which they could do things which might not be permissible to lesser men  Paul’s way of answering that argument is to set forth the many privileges which he himself had a perfect right to claim, but which he did not claim lest they should turn out to be stumbling-blocks to others and hindrances to the effectiveness of the gospel.

— William Barclay

1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord? 2Even though I may not be an apostle to others, surely I am to you! For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord. 3 This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. 4 Don’t we have the right to food and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? 6 Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8 Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

But we did not use this right. On the contrary, we put up with anything rather than hinder the gospel of Christ.

13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple get their food from the temple, and that those who serve at the altar share in what is offered on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.

15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing this in the hope that you will do such things for me, for I would rather die than allow anyone to deprive me of this boast. 16 For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 17 If I preach voluntarily, I have a reward; if not voluntarily, I am simply discharging the trust committed to me. 18 What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights as a preacher of the gospel.

This blog, DWELLINGintheWord, offers the gospel free of charge to the world!  And may the Lord bless all who are reading it!

Paul’s Use of His Freedom

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Paul is not saying that one should alter the message to suit the various people to whom one is speaking.  No, he is saying he adjusts his approach, or even some of his habits, so as not to alienate anyone about some non-essential thing.  Paul would not be interested in making the Word more politically correct, but he would be urging us to be more available, more helpful, more willing to listen  to those around us who do not yet know Jesus as their Redeemer.

The Need for Self-Discipline

24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

Sporting events were big in Paul’s day, as they are in our own.  This reference to sports would have been especially meaningful to the Corinthians, because their city was the center for the Isthmian Games, second in prestige to the ancient Olympics.  Paul often uses figures from arena competition (at least twelve different references in his letters), including examples of runners, boxers, gladiators, chariot racers, and trophies.

Paul is telling us to train to compete as athletes who really want to win.  Without effort, nothing can be won in a sporting event.

–David Guzik

25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.



How can I talk about running and not think of one of my favorite movies, Chariots of Fire?

Based on a true story, Chariots of Fire is the internationally acclaimed Oscar-winning drama of two very different men who compete as runners in the 1924 Paris Olympics.  Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a serious Christian Scotsman, believes that he has to succeed as a testament to his undying religious faith.  Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), is a Jewish Englishman who wants desperately to be accepted and prove to the world that Jews are not inferior.  But this is not a movie only about sports.  It is about the human spirit and the many facts of God’s glory.

If you have never seen Chariots of Fire, give yourself that gift soon!  Here is a bit of the opening sequence and the stirring theme song.


New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Running for the prize.   http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_fgxC7AODmrc/S3rF7Y_Ej7I/AAAAAAAAAvI/mcpw14p256I/s400/Running+for+the+Prize_T.jpg
blog.  http://blog.abwebsitedesign.com/image.axd?picture=2011%2F7%2FBlog.jpg
race.  http://kevingriggs.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/running-race.jpg