Summary: What does it mean to be Corinthian? How far is too far to go? How is America like Corinth? This lessons begins a new series about the lives of those in Corinth and has some solid background of the gods worshipped in the region.
TO BE A CORINTHIAN
INTRODUCTION: So the other day my wife and I were browsing through the local Christian book store. And as always my eyes immediately go to the bargain book table. While there, I discovered one of the greatest Bible studies I have read in my entire life. It wasn’t that it was full of revelation (though it was and I was thrilled to receive it), but it was because it was/is entirely user friendly. Anybody could use the text whether it was for a devotional or a Bible Study teacher or a person doing his or her own personal Bible Study. I wanted to do lessons on Corinthians anyway, so I will be using the following tool listed below (I know I usually site sources at the end, but since this source was the primary, I felt I should give all credit up front for it as the tool used predominately for this series):
Bertolini, Dewey & Larry Richards. 1 & 2 Corinthians: the Smart Guide to the Bible series. Thomas Nelson Press, GRQ Incorporated, 2009.
Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother. To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
INTRO: THE BUMPER STICKER:
The bumper sticker reads “Christians Aren’t Perfect, They’re Just Forgiven.” Though Biblically and theologically true, and for all of us, thankfully important, I believe there is something more significant lost in that simple message. And the element that is lost is that I believe many Christians go on sinning in extreme ways because they are forgiven. If you don’t believe me that some people think this way, then let me introduce to you the people living inside the church of Corinth…
The letter was penned by Paul to the church of Corinth around 56 AD, and the church was putting up with severe morality issues (probably out of the name of tolerance, out of the name of not being “judgmental,” which ironically is absolutely against God’s commands and placed themselves directly in the line of sight for God’s judgment on them (this happens whenever we disobey the Lord’s commands). How extreme was the sin? Was their gossip? Yes. Was their groups formed and fighting against each other? Yes. Were some people claiming superiority over others? Yes. Moreover, lawsuits were taking place between church members. A man was visibly getting drunk at the Lord’s Supper and nothing was being done about it. The sins were so grievous, that adultery was allowed to run rampant inside the church—one man actually caused his father’s divorce by sleeping with his step-mom.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A CORINTHIAN (Be careful what is said to Middle School here)?
Corinth was the dirtiest city of the entire Greek empire, a holdover from the early days where the Greeks worshipped a plentiful number of gods. You know, Athens choose Athena as their chief deity, Olympus choose Zeus, and Corinth choose the goddess of love/sex/sensual desire…Aphrodite. They had a major temple of her in town in which prostitutes were called temple goddesses and people could buy one for a “so called religious” experience.
*Off the record, the Temple of Aphrodite was said to sit 1800 feet into the sky and noticeable by everyone in every direction. The temple prostitutes numbered in the thousands, and this style of living was shown off every year at the Isthmian Games—a sporting event 2nd only to the Olympics. In a nutshell, Corinth was just like America.
If you had said, I live in Corinth, you would have received the same glamour as someone living in New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago today. Those are the power cities. If CSI was done back in 56 AD, it wouldn’t have needed Las Vegas or Miami, it would have used Corinth. 700,000 sin crazed Corinthians running rampant.
*Off the record, Aphrodite is the Roman equivalent of Venus or the Mesopotamian equivalent of Ishtar—all meaning sex. There was a holiday called Aphrodisia (we get our word aphrodisiac from it) that was celebrated all over which glorified drunkenness, nudity, and debauchery. Good thing we don’t have anything like that in America…or do we (hmm…Mardi Gras comes to mind, but quite honestly, there are over 100 or so such festivals just like it in our present culture, with 100 being very, very modest).
1. If someone called you a Corinthian, it was like calling you a drunk.
A) Do you know any Corinthians in present times?
B) Would someone call you a Corinthian?