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1 CORINTHIANS CHAPTER 1

OBSERVATION STAGE

The purpose of the observation stage is to maintain focus on the text at hand within the normative rules of language, context and logic .which limits the observer to the content offered by the letter of I Corinthians. This will serve to avoid going on unnecessary tangents elsewhere; and more importantly, it will provide the framework for a proper and objective comparison with passages located elsewhere in Scripture.

Remember that something elsewhere may be true, but in the text at hand it may not be in view.

I) [1 Corinthians 1:1 NKJV]:

"Paul, called [to be] an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes [our] brother"

A) PAUL DECLARES THAT HE WAS CALLED TO BE AN APOSTLE OF JESUS CHRIST BY THE WILL OF GOD

"Paul, called [to be] an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God" =

"apostle" = "apostolos" = a delegate, messenger, one sent forth with orders.

Paul opens this letter affirming that he has the specific office of Apostle. This announcement at the beginning of this letter cannot be an affirmation of the common duty of all believers to be an apostle/messenger of Jesus Christ through the will of God. It must be the specific authority of being called by God by the will of God to be an Apostle/Messenger of Jesus Christ.

The specific declaration points to a specific office and spiritual gift of Apostle with direct authority from God over the church authenticated by the demonstration of miraculous spiritual gifts. This is true especially in the absence of any reference such as, "as all believers are" or the like. This will be reaffirmed later on in verse 9:1-2 falling under the realm of the Spiritual gift of Apostle as well as 15:9. 2 Cor 12:12 goes into more detail re: the special spiritual gift and calling of an Apostle.

[The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Walvoord & Zuck, Eds., Victor Books, USA, 1988, p. 507]:

"The legitimacy of Paul's apostleship and its denial by some is hinted at in this letter (chap. 9), but receives explicit defense in 2 Corinthians. In the first words in 1 Corinthians Paul affirmed his appointement to his position by the will of God to represent not his own interests but those of Christ."

B) SOSTHENES IS DECLARED A BROTHER EVIDENTLY A COMPANION OF PAUL'S AT THE TIME OF HIS WRITING OF THIS EPISTLE

"and Sosthenes [our] brother" =

Sosthenes is declared a brother evidently a companion of Paul?s at the time of his writing of this epistle.

[BKC, cont., p. 507]:

"Sosthenes was probably Paul's amenuensis [secretary] and may have been the synagogue ruler publicly thrashed by the Jews (Acts 18:17). If so, he illustrates how God can turn the worst circumstances to a believer's ultimate advantage."

II) [1 Cor 1:1-2]:

(v. 1) "Paul, called [to be] an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes [our] brother

(v. 2) To the church of God in Corinth, to those [having been] sanctified in Christ Jesus and called saints, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ ? their Lord and ours:"

To the assembly of God which is in Corinth

tE ekklEsia tou theou tE ousE en korinthO

having been sanctified in Christ Jesus called saints with

hEgiasmenois en christO iEsou klEtois hagiois sun

all those calling on the name of the Lord

pasin tois epikaloumenois to onoma tou kuriou

our Jesus Christ in every place their and ours

hEmOn iEsou christou en panti topO autOn kai hEmOn

A) THE CONTEXT IS IMMEDIATELY TO THE CHURCH OF GOD IN CORINTH - TO THOSE IN THE ASSEMBLY IN CORINTH WHO BELONG TO GOD

"To the church of God in Corinth" =

Notice that the immediate context is to the Church of God in Corinth, the assembly of those who belong to God

B) THE CHURCH OF GOD IN CORINTH IS DEFINED AS THOSE HAVING BEEN SANCTIFIED IN CHRIST JESUS

"To the church of God in Corinth, to those [having been] sanctified in Christ Jesus" =

"having been sanctified in Christ Jesus" = having been set apart by God in Christ Jesus. The perfect passive participle, "having been sanctified" points to a completed action in the past with ongoing results in the present - an eternally secure salvation.

This phrase also stipulates and thus defines that those who are of the Church of God in Corinth are those who have actually been sanctified, i.e., set apart in Christ Jesus, suggesting an actual setting apart and placement in Christ Jesus, His body. Other passages in Scripture stipulate that this is an actual position, that the believer ? the one who believes in the gospel of salvation is actually set apart, i.e., placed into Christ Jesus, His body:

1) [Compare Eph 1:13-14]:

(v. 13) "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit (v. 14) Who is a deposit guaranteeing our [eternal] inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession to the praise of His glory."

C) INDIVIDUALS IN THE CHURCH OF GOD HAVING BEEN SANCTIFIED IN CHRIST JESUS ARE CALLED SAINTS, I.E, CALLED TO BE HOLY

"To the church of God in Corinth, to those [having been] sanctified in Christ Jesus and called saints", i.e., called to be holy =

The assembly in Corinth being a possession of God, defined as those having been sanctified in Christ Jesus are furthermore literally "called saints", i.e., called to be holy, i.e., set apart to the calling of God to act in a manner of their being a possession of a Holy God as part of the assembly in Corinth.

[BKC, op. cit., p. 507]:

"The Church belongs to God, not man. Had the Corinthians recognized this, their problem of division might not have existed. Those who compose the church have been sanctified, set apart by God as His possession. The burden of Paul's letter was that the Corinthians' practice might more nearly approximate their position. Christ Jesus as Lord was to be obeyed. Herein was unity for Christians not only in Corinth but everywhere."

X) [1 Cor 1:8-9]:

(v. 8) "He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(v. 9) God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful."

Notice Who is keeping who strong to the end, so that you will be blameless - God, not the believer. It is not by the believer's effort that one is kept strong and blameless but by the effort of God. Because being blameless relative to eternal life, i.e., justification was God's work, (Ro 3:21-26; 4:1-2), Paul had no question about the outcome. Because the Corinthian believers were justified by God's grace, they would stand before Him blameless (anenklEtous, 'free from accusation; cr. Col 1:22) when Christ returns relative to eternal life. Thus they could eagerly wait the return of Christ [in the rapture]...".

On the other hand, consider in Col 1:22 that it is also the believer's responsibility to be faithful so that he can be declared blameless at the Judgment Seat of Christ relative to rewards in heaven and not for salvation which is by faith alone.

A) [Col 1:22-23]:

(v. 22) "And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight--

(v. 23) if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard . . ."

Bob Wilkin, (Grace in Focus), states, (http://gracenet.com/Grace/Index.html):

"If I had a nickel for every time I'd been asked about this verse I'd sure have some pocket change! Does this verse teach that eternal life can be lost by failing to continue in the faith?

Does it teach that those who fail to continue in the faith were never saved in the first place? The answer to both questions is no.

It is important, of course, to determine the spiritual condition of those being addressed. Fortunately the text is very explicit. Paul says that the Colossians he was addressing were once alienated from God, but were now reconciled to Him by the death of Christ. People who are no longer alienated from God are clearly believers.

The fact that those being addressed were believers is confirmed by Paul's exhortation to "continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel." This is in addition to Paul's earlier reference to the faith which the readers had in Jesus Christ (1:4). Unbelievers by definition do not believe. They have no faith to continue in, no hope to hang on to.

The key question is this: What did Paul mean when he said that God reconciled them in order "to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight"? It is a great mistake to view this purpose statement as dealing with the possession of eternal life.

Reconciliation has two goals. One goal of reconciliation is eternal life. That goal is guaranteed and is fulfilled immediately at the very moment of faith (John 3:16; 6:47). The second goal, being presented holy, blameless, and beyond reproach before God, is neither guaranteed nor fulfilled immediately at the point of faith.

The second goal concerns a future presentation. The question is, what is in view here? Is there to be some judgment of believers? Is there some time when believers will be presented before God?

Yes. The Judgment Seat of Christ is such a time. Believers will be judged and then presented by the Lord Jesus before God the Father. Some will be found to have been good and faithful servants (Luke 19:16-19). These are those who will be presented as having lived lives which were holy, blameless, and above reproach. Others will be found to have been worthless servants (Luke 19:20-26) and they will not be presented as having lived exemplary lives.

Many miss this simple solution because they jump to the conclusion that the terms holy, blameless, and beyond reproach must be taken in an absolute sense. However, the original Greek words used here are used elsewhere in the Scriptures to refer to the actual experience of those whose lives are exemplary, but certainly not perfect.

For example, elders are required to be beyond reproach in their experience (Titus 1:6).

Likewise, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists of the Tribulation are said to be blameless before the throne of God, since in their mouth was found no deceit (Rev 14:5). This clearly refers to their experience in this life, not to their position in Christ.

Even the term holy is used in Scripture to refer to experience. Peter, citing a key OT verse from Leviticus, tells his believing readers, "Be holy, for I am holy." Similarly Paul refers to unmarried women believers who "care about the things of the Lord, that [they] may be holy both in body and in spirit" (1 Cor 7:34).

Trusting in Christ alone is the sole condition for eternal salvation. However, continuing in the faith is required in order to be presented at the Judgment Seat of Christ as holy, blameless, and beyond reproach. Continuing in the faith takes obedience over a lifetime. As Paul said elsewhere, "Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart" (Gal 6:9).

There was particular need for this stress on continuing in the faith at Colossae. The Colossian church was besieged with heretical teachings. These teachings were a mixture of Greek philosophy, mysticism, and Jewish legalism. For example, Paul had to warn the church not to worship angels (2:18) or to adopt ascetic lifestyles in the hope that neglecting the body could somehow aid in keeping the flesh at bay (2:20-23).

Colossians 1:21-23 does not teach that eternal salvation can be lost through failure to abide in the faith. Nor does it teach that one who fails to abide proves he wasn't saved in the first place. What it does teach is that abiding in the faith is required for one to have a good report at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Unstated here, but found in many other passages, is the truth that those who are found to have been good and faithful servants will obtain eternal treasures and rewards as a result of this good report. My prayer for each of you is that you might live lives which are holy, blameless, and above reproach so that someday the Lord Jesus will say to you, "Well done, My good and faithful servant.

XI) [1 Cor 1:18]:

(v. 18) "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God."

A) THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT MAN CANNOT REASON HIS WAY TO SPIRITUAL TRUTH AT ALL

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." =

Notice that while one remains an unbeliever one reasons that the message of the cross of the cross is foolishness. So an unbeliever's reason cannot arrive at the truth of the gospel. Only those who have been saved have received the message of the cross which was indeed the power by which God saved them.

1) [Compare Ro 8:7-8]:

(v. 7) "The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.

(v. 8) Those controlled by the sinful nature [which is all unsaved individuals and carnal believers (Ro 6:17-20) cannot please God."

Man has the capacity to obey God but his sinful nature has turned his will totally against the exercise of that capacity, hence he cannot please God because he will not.

Just as some individuals with the capacity and intelligence to do well in school cannot do well because they will not, i.e., they have an incorrigible attitude problem - they will not do homework, nor study, nor carry books, nor appear studious in any way because it would jeopardize their self-image and association with a peer group or for a number of other arbitrarily rebellious reasons;

so all unsaved individuals all of which have the capacity to trust alone in Christ alone unto eternal life, (otherwise God would not ask them to trust in His Son, (Jn 3:5-18, etc.), cannot please God by trusting in Christ as Savior because they will not, i.e., because they all have totally depraved natures that simply will not accept anything that God commands them to do and understand. They cannot believe in Christ as Savior because they will not.]

B) MAN'S REASONING IS FLAWED

1) INTRODUCTION

Although it seems reasonable to think that one can arrive at God consciousness and other spiritual truths through ones human reasoning, this is actually impossible without the intervention of God Himself. Man's natural reasoning is ungodly. In order to arrive at what God thinks, man must rely on the objective truths stated unequivocally in Scripture. Such truths are arrived at through the ministry of God the Holy Spirit within the mind of man and not at all by man's natural reasoning. Man is totally depraved and incapable of arriving at spiritual truths by himself - even when God's revelation is before him.

2) THOMAS AQUINAS TAUGHT THAT MAN COULD COMBINE REASON AND FAITH TO UNDERSTAND REVELATION FROM GOD

[Joseph Magee, Ph.D. a graduate of the Center for Thomistic Studies at the University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas. http://www.aquinasonline.com/]:

"Thomistic Philosophy is inspired by the philosophical methods and principles used by Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274), a Dominican Friar and Theologian, in his explanation of the Catholic faith. Aquinas, who is most renowned for his Five Ways of Proving the Existence of God, believed that both faith and reason discover truth, a conflict between them being impossible since they both originate in God. Believing that reason can, in principle, lead the mind to God, Aquinas defended reason's legitimacy, especially in the works of Aristotle."

Thomas Aquinas did not hold to the total depravity of man which the bible teaches. He maintained that reason and faith went hand in hand to discern spiritual truth. He taught that faith built on man's reason to arrive at those spiritual truths that man could not reason through. If one reasoned things through properly, he maintained, ones reason would not contradict what ones faith told one to do.

Aquinas taught that faith and reason are ways of arriving at truth -- and since all truths are harmonious with each other -- then faith is consistent with reason. If we understand faith and reason correctly, there will be no conflict between what faith tells us and what reason tells us.

2) BUT THE BIBLE TEACHES THAT GOD'S THOUGHTS ARE NOT REACHEABLE BY MAN'S REASON

The Bible actually contradicts Aquinas - man cannot rely on his reason to arrive at spiritual truths at all:

a) GOD'S THOUGHTS ARE BEYOND MAN'S REASON

i) [Isa 55:8]:

(v. 8) "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways declares the LORD.

(v. 9) As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."

Therefore man cannot reason his way to the thoughts of God.

b) THE BIBLE CONTAINS GOD'S WISDOM WHICH MAN MUST EXAMINE CAREFULLY TO UNDERSTAND

On the other hand, the bible is God's inspired thoughts, words and reason which man wrote down as a result of God's supernatural inspiration within the minds of the men that penned the 66 books of the Bible.

So if man is to discern the mind of God he must then examine God's reasoning as revealed in the bible and by the auspices of the Holy Spirit he will believe in God's reasoning, (1 Cor 2:14-15), otherwise without the Holy Spirit God's revealed wisdom will be foolishness to man:

XII) [1 Cor 1:19]:

(v. 19) For it is written: 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.'

[Notice that the reasoning of even the most intelligent and wise unbelievers would be frustrated from arriving at the truth. The OT reference by Paul is from Isa 29:14:

[David K. Lowery states, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament, Walvoord and Zuck Editors, Victor Books, USA, 1988]:

"Paul illustrated his point by an example of Israel who, following humanly wise counsel, formed an alliance with Egypt as a defense against Assyria, when in fact only the miraculous intervention of God was able to save them."]

XIII) [1 Cor 1:20-21]:

(v. 20) Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

(v. 21) For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

[Notice that no matter how wise, scholarly or philosophically adept man's reason is, i.e., the wisdom of the world, the result is nevertheless foolish, i.e. not able to arrive at the truth of the gospel of salvation and of the knowledge of God Himself. Yet those who believe (how they came to believe is not stipulated here except the inference that God somehow Himself enabled them to believe outside of man's reasoning capacity. This is specifically supported later in v. 24]

XIV) [1 Cor 1:22-25]:

(v. 22) Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,

(v. 23) but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,

(v. 24) but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

(v. 25) For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom [i.e., his reason] and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

[Notice that man's reason was futile. But to those whom God sovereignly called - they received the wisdom of God by God's sovereign enablement through the gift of faith and the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Teacher of Spiritual things and not at all by man's reasoning.]

XV) [1 Cor 1:26-31]:

(v. 26) Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

(v. 27) But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

(v. 28) He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are,

(v. 29) so that no one may boast before him.

(v. 30) It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, Who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

(v. 31) Therefore, as it is written: 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'

[Notice again that God enabled not the wise of the world, nor the influential, nor the strong to know the wisdom of God but the lowly, the weak and those the world considered in their human viewpoint as foolish, and those that the world despised. Again the simplest of truths would only be known by those whom God chose and not as a result of mans reasoning. Thus no one can claim to have arrived at the wisdom of God utilizing their own reasoning. So verse 31 says: 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.' for this wisdom.]

A) [Compare 1 Cor 2:13-14]:

(v. 13) This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

(v. 14) The man without the Spirit [i.e, the unbeliever, ref. Eph 1:13-14] does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."

[Notice that inspite of human wisdom man cannot discern spiritual truth. It takes the indwelling Spirit of God to do that.]:

(v. 15) The spiritual man makes judgments about all things..."

B) [Mt 16:16-17]:

(v. 16) '''Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

(v. 17) Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven." '''

[Notice that revelation from God re: Who Jesus is was not through man's capacity but 'By My Father in heaven.']

C) [Compare Luke 10:22]:

"All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and no one knows who the Father is except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

D) [Compare Jn 6:63-65]:

(v. 63) ''' "The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.

(v. 64) Yet there are some of you who do not believe." For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him.

(v. 65) He went on to say, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled him." '''

[Notice that in order for man to even express a moment of faith in Jesus, God the Father has to enable him to do that.]