Someone asked me on Sunday if we were going to finish the 1st chapter of I Corinthians tonight. I said that perhaps we would although I thought it would take another couple of nights to finish.
I had the lesson for tonight prepared a couple of weeks ago. If I taught that lesson, we'd get pretty far into this chapter. But God had other plans and He began showing me some things in verse 10 on Monday. I went to bed at 10:40 still thinking of these things and couldn't go to sleep. So, I got up at 11:40 and started rewriting the lesson. So folks, we're not going to get past verse 10 in the first chapter of I Corinthians tonight. And, instead of the usual discussion, this lession is going to be a sermon.
But first, a review:
Paul opens this letter to the church at Corinth with the standard rhetorical elements:
A statement of who the letter is from and in what capacity he is writing - an apostle called by God
To whom he is writing the letter - those in Corinth who have been seperated out from the world by God for His purpose.
A wish prayer
and a thanksgiving
Within the 9 verses of Paul's opening, he does two more things. First, he lets them know that this letter is addressed to every member of the church - noone is excluded. He is not going to be a respector of persons. He does this in verse 1 by saying that the letter is also from Sosthenes. We didn't discuss Sosthenes last week and it's important that we do so. Who is Sosthenes? Turn with me to Acts 18:12-17.
The events we just read about occurred in 53 C.E. Four years later we find Sosthenes with Paul in Ephesus writing a letter to the Corinthian church, which Paul helped to establish just prior to the events we just read about. This is important because Paul already had a reputation for bias in ministering to the Gentiles and he is including Sosthenes, a leading Jew as a writer of this letter to the church at Corinth.
Paul again emphasizes that this letter is to all members of the church in Corinth, without partiality, by giving both a Jewish greeting - Peace unto you- and a Greek greeting - Grace unto you.
The second thing Paul does in the first 9 verses is establish a theological foundation:
The divinity and sovereignty of Christ in verses 3 and 8
An eternal versus temporal perspective in verses 2, 4, and 8.
Then we come to verse 10. In the King James Version of our scriptures, verse 10 begins with "Now...". Paul is saying, "OK, now let's get down to business." And, what is the business? We already have a hint that this is going to be a letter of admonition when Paul's thanksgiving in the introduction is to God instead of to the readers of the letter. And this is a strong admonition. Paul, int he capacity of an apostle called by God, begs the members of this church.
And what is the admonition? That you be united in speech, mind and judgement
Speak Laleo - words said Lego - purpose of the words i.e. "I Love You" could be said to butter you up or to express sincere feelings.
Mind knowledge that comes from intamate relationship understanding
Understanding effects our purpose. If our worldview is based on an understanding of eternal things it is going to effect our purpose somewhat differently from a worldview that is based only on an understanding of temporal things.
Paul recognizes the importance of speeck and understanding to the people in this church in the opening of this letter. Here he introduces another element - Judgement.
Translated into the English as Purpose. To understand how this is translated so, think of yourself as a juror. When you understand all the elements of a case, how does this change your purpose concerning the person on trial? Paul, by introducing this third element - purpose - is giving us the key for understanding the rest of his letter. What he is saying in verse 10 is that the Corinthian church is divided because they have varying purposes. If my purpose is to gain prestige, and your purpose is to gain power, we are not going to be united in the things we say and understand.
What am I doing here? (building with Legos - point to lego written on board).
What should be our purpose? It should be God's purpose - to build up the body of Christ for His glory.
God is in the building business. His purpose is to build the body of Christ. He is not in the business of building great church buildings. He can build His body without beautiful church buildings. When we have an edifice complex, we're not united with God in His purpose.