Text: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9
Starting today, we will be having a new series of sermons about the book of Corinthians. Before we start, let us take a short background study of the book of 1 Corinthians and the city itself.
The City of Corinth is:
- Center of Commerce. It has two harbors (1) Cenchrea, which is six miles to the east of the Saronic Gulf. (2) Lechion, which is a mile and a half to the north on the Corinthian gulf. Trade flowed through the city from Italy and Spain to the west and from Asia Minor, Phoenicia and Egypt to the east.
- Center of Culture. The city is predominantly influenced by the Greek culture. Furthermore, people are very interested in Greek philosophy and placed a high premium on wisdom.
- Center of Religion. Not necessarily Christian religion since Christianity is still expanding and has been newly introduced to the pagan society, nevertheless, Corinth is religious. It has at least 12 temples though we really don’t know if these temples stood at a single time during the time of Paul.
- Center of Immorality. Corinth is religious but because one of their main gods was Aphrodite, the goddess of love whose followers practice religious prostitution, then religious prostitution has been tolerable in the city.
The Corinthian Christian Church at this time is also having lots of problems to which we will talk one at a time as we go along this book slowly.
As for today, let us try to know first what is the Corinthian Church, and what they possess as Christians.
The Corinthian Church, Is A Called Church (v.2)
Though as we have mentioned earlier that the Corinthian Church is highly influenced with commerce, culture, pagan religion and immorality, Paul made it clear in the salutation that the Corinthian church is still a called church. The fact that there are believers of Jesus Christ in that city, the Christian Church that exist there is still considered a called Church.
There are lots of misconception about being called. Sometimes, just because we cannot meet what other people are expecting, we are being judged that we are not called. But the Bible speaks clearly that no matter how problematic the church is, as long as it desires to obey what the Lord is commanding us, even if some of its members will not turn to what is right, we still remain a called church.
Please do note that the reason while Paul wrote this letter is to correct the Corinthian church concerning the things that some of them are doing including the division inside the church, immorality, abuse of the Lord’s supper, lawsuites among them, etc.
The Corinthian Church, Is A Religious and Knowledgeable Church (v.5)
Paul used the word “speaking” here which refers to the speaking in tongues. They also possess the knowledge about what they believe. The Corinthian Church can do this “because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you (Paul here is speaking)” (v.6).
Let us talk about speaking in tongues. Yes, the Corinthian Church use to speak in tongues. And it is very notable that Paul gave an emphasis about it in chapters 12, 13 and 14. Many Pentecostal churches use these passages to claim that it is a must to practice speaking in tongues in order to show and as evidence of the working of the Holy Spirit. However, later on we will see that Paul is telling us that speaking in tongues is a gift that shows the filling of the Holy Spirit, but is not necessary for every Christian. Furthermore, there are gifts which are better and should be practiced by Christians other than speaking in tongues.
Not only that the Corinthian church is a spirit filled church, they are also a knowledgeable church. And probably many of them knows what they believe. This can be evidenced by their divisions due to disagreements of teachings.
The Corinthian Church, Is A Waiting Church (v.7)
Starting in verse 5, Paul said that the Corinthian Church is made rich in speech which means spiritual gifts and knowledge about the teachings of the apostles, that in the same way Chirst has been confirmed in their lives as a living testimony, that (in verse 7) they are not lacking any spiritual gift as they wait for the revealing of our Lord.
We can see here that Christians of the Corinthian Church is religious that Christ can be seen in their lives and that they are very eager in waiting for our Lord Jesus Christ. This just proves that they know that there is a second coming just what Christ has promised. They live as if Christ is coming very soon.
We can see here they live in a life with a good testimony outside that Paul can confidelty say that Christ has been confirmed in their lives.
Corinthian Church, Is A Problematic Church (v.10)
Now here comes a funny thing, Church has commended them about their spirituality, but starting at this point, we will start seeing here that the Corinthian Church is a problematic Church. In our passage, we will only be seeing one problem but as we move along the book of 1st Corinthians, we will be seeing that despite of the spirituality of the Corinthian Church, they still have lots of problems.
Similarly in our time, there is no such thing as a perfect church. And such problems did not started in our time, it started even during the time of Jesus. As Jesus lead the 12 disciples, there is one of them that always oppose the idea of the group, even the idea of Jesus.
In Paul’s time, lots of problems exists inside the Corinthian Church and we will be discussing them one by one as we go along. Not only this, Paul also had some arguments even to other apostles and new disciples like Peter, Barnabas and John (Mark).
But there are things that we can learn here. One is that no matter how good we are as Church, we will always have a problem, an opposition, a presence of division, disputes and all other problems. This is why what ever or where ever church we go, we will still have problems.
This is why (secondly), there is no use of transferring from one church to another if our intention is to look for a perfect church. But to make this statement clear, we have to understand that we can always see what is a true church or not by going back to the Bible. What we are discussing here is whether or not there is a Church that has no problem or there is none.