1 Corinthians


(1 Corinthians 1:1) Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

(1 Corinthians 1:2) Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

(1 Corinthians 1:3) Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Corinthians 1:4) I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

(1 Corinthians 1:5) That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

(1 Corinthians 1:6) Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

(1 Corinthians 1:7) So that ye come behind [lack] in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

We are to have all the gifts. Elsewhere, Paul says not everyone has every gift but we are to desire the best gifts. Probably this all means we should live to our full potential in the Spirit, in faith. God sends blessings as best he can in the circumstances of our living in a fallen world but we can hinder these by sinning or neglecting our faith life.

We should notice how often Paul mentions we are to be focused on the coming of Christ. Christ comes at our death and at his second coming.

(1 Corinthians 1:8) Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Since they are waiting for Christ's coming, this implies that he comes at their death; that everyone encounters Christ at death and they are received into the kingdom of heaven at that time. It doesn't make sense for them to be exhorted to wait for Christ's coming if it occurs thousands (millions?) of years after they have died.

(1 Corinthians 1:9) God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are called to fellowship with Christ, but this doesn't teach Calvinism. God calls everyone.

God calls us; Jesus is our Lord. Two persons of the deity, both the one God — a passage about the Trinity.

It is significant that God is faithful. We have a relationship with him. He is active in our lives moment by moment. If we don't experience his continual presence we need to change something about our journey in faith. I disagree that it is OK to not feel connected with God as a Christian, to ignore our emotional experience. Maybe someone suffering from deep depression or high stress will have trouble with this but it should not be the norm. Yet it is a common teaching that faith is not a feeling. If you don't feel it, is it even there? If you don't feel love and affection for someone you love, do you really love them?

(1 Corinthians 1:10) Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

In the early Church at the time of the book of Revevelation in 96 A.D we know from the letters to the seven churches that there were divisions. Certainly the Corinthian Church had divisions at the time of Paul and persisting until Clement of Rome in 96 A.D.

(1 Corinthians 1:11) For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

(1 Corinthians 1:12) Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 1:13) Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

(1 Corinthians 1:14) I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius;

(1 Corinthians 1:15) Lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name.

(1 Corinthians 1:16) And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

(1 Corinthians 1:17) For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

If baptism was required for salvation we should expect Paul to be more concerned with it.

Paul is concerned that people don't come to faith in Christ merely because of his eloquent preaching but rather, they should be focused on the gospel message. The essential event is the sacrifical death of Jesus on the cross. Some fundamentalist evangelical Protestants would make you think that only Christ's resurrection is important, but here, Paul emphasizes the cross.

(1 Corinthians 1:18) For the preaching [message] of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

The distinction between the redeemed and the unredeemed. The gospel makes no sense whatsoever to the unredeemed. As I listen to atheistic Ph.D.'s talk about various subjects such as science, philosophy, religion, and social science, I am struck by how utterly pointless it all is without eternal life, without God, without faith in Christ. They mock the "foolishness" of Christianity and of religion in general. I pray that all these would accept Christ when they finally eventually encounter him at their death.

(1 Corinthians 1:19) For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent [clever].

Using reason to determine Truth is doomed to fail. But wait, don't we have to use reason to interpret the Bible? Of course we do. I think Paul is distinguishing between God-rejecting reason vs. faith-filled reason. Anyway, rejecting the gospel is not wise but shows foolishness.

(1 Corinthians 1:20) Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

(1 Corinthians 1:21) For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

(1 Corinthians 1:22) For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

(1 Corinthians 1:23) But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

Paul distinguishes between Jews and Greeks (Gentiles) here, but Luke, the writer of the book of Acts distinguishes between the different kinds of Jews, Hebrews and Greeks. Thus, the word "Greek" has several usages depending on who is using it.

(1 Corinthians 1:24) But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

(1 Corinthians 1:25) Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

(1 Corinthians 1:26) For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

(1 Corinthians 1:27) But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

The gospel is generally rejected by those influential people of this world. But I should note that these same people argue amongst each other about philosophical truth; some are atheists, some agnostics, some New Age, most are pragmatists and utilitarians — whatever gets the job done is right, and whatever is beneficial for the most people is good. These have one thing in common: disinterest in pleasing the God who created them.

The gospel didn't match Greek philosophy and so it was rejected by the Greeks. The Jews were looking for a Messiah who would rid them of Roman rule; Christ's death by crucifixion was a sign to them that he was not this political Messiah.

The worldly wise and powerful of this world will not want to hear the message of the gospel. Therefore, of necessity, God had to use the weak and foolish to deliver his gospel message. Even Christ himself was considered lowly and deserving of death by both Jewish leaders and Roman leaders. We must choose which kingdom we give our allegiance to. True Christians will not fit in very well to this world.

(1 Corinthians 1:28) And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

(1 Corinthians 1:29) That no flesh should glory in his presence.

(1 Corinthians 1:30) But of [because of] him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made [become] unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

This verse mentions both God the Father ("him" and "God") and Jesus Christ, both as deity — a verse about the Trinity.

Paul lists four gifts and blessings the redeemed receive from God, from Jesus Christ: wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption. These characteristics can only reside in a person who is redeemed.

(1 Corinthians 1:31) That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

(1 Corinthians 2:1) And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

(1 Corinthians 2:2) For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

(1 Corinthians 2:3) And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.

It's hard to understand why Paul would be afraid or consider himself weak; he seems very confident and bold, fearless and courageous. Perhaps it's because he just came from Athens where he was ignored; usually he was run out of town and beaten which things he apparently preferred. In any case, God comforted him.

Fear and trembling: When the Old Testament nation of Israel was on the move to possess the promised land, the nations which would likely be conquered in the process were afraid, for good reason. David lived in constant fear because his enemies were persistent is seeking his demise. We are exhorted to fear God's judgment. Trembling before God is the natural response we are to have. Christians want to interpret the word "fear" as awe or reverence. But what can you do with the word "tremble"? how can you turn it into a happy word since it involves an uncontrollable bodily response?

The problem is the doctrine of saved by faith only; of once saved, always saved. But we should be afraid of eternal damnation, of falling into a life of mortal sin leading to loss of redemption.

(1 Corinthians 2:4) And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:

(1 Corinthians 2:5) That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

(1 Corinthians 2:6) Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:

(1 Corinthians 2:7) But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:

This verse does not support unconditional election, one of the 5 points of Calvinism. It is God's plan of salvation which was predetermined, not an individual believer's salvation.

(1 Corinthians 2:8) Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

(1 Corinthians 2:9) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.

Paul is referring to some yet-future day of glory. We cannot even imagine the awesomeness of our future life in the new heavens and new earth. Paul is not referring to entering heaven after death because many have experienced this; the final glorious goal is not heaven. In the new heavens and new earth we will literally see and hear with our bodily senses; we do not have these in heaven. The heart of man is the soul, a spiritual aspect of our being. This endures after death.

This glorious future is only for those who love God. Those who habitually commit mortal sin simply do not love God. Their sin will drive them away from him on judgment day, at their death when Jesus reveals himself to them and asks them to follow him.

(1 Corinthians 2:10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

(1 Corinthians 2:11) For what man knoweth the things of a man, save [except] the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

The spiritual part of our human nature is what knows about humanity, just as the Spirit of God is what knows about God. In other words, our physical side of human nature knows nothing.

(1 Corinthians 2:12) Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

At the resurrection of Jesus, Satan's plan was defeated. The holiness of God repelled Satan from the deified humanity. After this, humans receiving the indwelling of the Holy Spirit are immune to Satan's presence. He still affects them from outside their soul, not from the inside, not from within now-deified humanity.

(1 Corinthians 2:13) Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

(1 Corinthians 2:14) But the natural man receiveth [accepts] not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The natural man is that part of the human soul which attempts to discern truth apart from God's revelation.

(1 Corinthians 2:15) But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

The spiritual man is that part of the human soul which looks to the Spirit of God for wisdom, knowledge, and truth.

(1 Corinthians 2:16) For who hath [has] known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

It's hard to imagine why Paul would think to mention whether anyone can instruct God. The quoted passage in Isaiah refers to humans obviously not being anything like God because they can't do what God does. But without having this reference readily at hand the flow of ideas makes no sense. Probably Paul wants to ensure that, from the preceding verse, people don't think too highly of themselves. If a spiritual person can accurately judge everything while themselves not be judged by others, they might think they can even judge God. I doubt if any of the spiritual people will think this, but Paul just wants to be sure so he mentions it.

After letting us know a spiritual person can't instruct God, Paul realizes he had underestimated their spiritual powers so he corrects it. A spiritual person has the mind of Christ. I doubt if Paul means to say that Christ can't judge God the Father but he is sort of saying exactly that.

(1 Corinthians 3:1) And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

(1 Corinthians 3:2) I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

(1 Corinthians 3:3) For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?

(1 Corinthians 3:4) For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal?

(1 Corinthians 3:5) Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

(1 Corinthians 3:6) I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

(1 Corinthians 3:7) So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

(1 Corinthians 3:8) Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

We are rewarded based on our works.

(1 Corinthians 3:9) For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.

(1 Corinthians 3:10) According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.

(1 Corinthians 3:11) For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Christianity is focused on the person and work of Jesus Christ. We are to have a mystical relationship with him. Only those doctrines concerning Jesus are essential. Thus, the disputes about Creationism and Eschatology are side topics. Some Churches emphasize these to the extreme or dogmatically insists its teachers and members hold a particular view.

(1 Corinthians 3:12) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;

Each Christian's faith life is judged based on the faithfulness to God's commands and laws.

(1 Corinthians 3:13) Every man's work shall be made manifest [evident]: for the day shall declare [show] it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try [test] every man's work of what sort it is.

Notice our works matter; we are judged by our works. Notice these works are built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ.

(1 Corinthians 3:14) If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

The reward is spending eternity in the new heavens and new earth. We receive this reward by performing works built on the foundation of Christ.

Some teach this refers to the bema seat judgment of Christ in which we receive rewards in heaven for work performed on earth. I reject this notion. It turns our life on earth into a works-based struggle to earn as many rewards as we can so we can enjoy the benefits for eternity. We will never earn enough rewards so we will always be dissatisfied and think we could have done better if only.... I am surprised this teaching has such appeal to those who reject the notion that works have a role in salvation. Rather than accept the true biblical notion that we are judged based on our works (which is easy for true believers) they prefer we strive to maximize our rewards by working really hard every day. This, in my opinion, destroys any benefit of the saved-by-faith-only doctrine.

(1 Corinthians 3:15) If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Paul is discussing works unto the Lord, to ministry, to religious service. Those who are true servants of Jesus, who correctly teach and preach the true gospel; their good works will be judged and those workers will be rewarded. For the others, well, they will end up in the new heavens and new earth but after suffering the burning of the bad fruit of their works. This refers to purgatory.

(1 Corinthians 3:16) Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

The common understanding of Christians as the temple of God is as a nice allegory. But if the Holy Spirit dwells within each redeemed person, isn't that the essence of what a temple is? a physical place within which God's Spirit dwells and where the souls of the redeemed can come to interact with God; to worship and to praise him? As the redeemed of God, Christians interact with God in their minds and thoughts and will and feelings. We come into the temple, for example, when we choose to pray or sing praises; God inhabits these activities and we unite with him, much as we unite with each other when we converse with each other. The unity at such times is real and literal, not merely a nice allegory.

Our current indwelling of the Holy Spirit is incomplete, it is insufficient to prevent a willful and disobedient soul of weak faith from sinning.

(1 Corinthians 3:17) If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.

(1 Corinthians 3:18) Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

(1 Corinthians 3:19) For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

(1 Corinthians 3:20) And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

(1 Corinthians 3:21) Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;

(1 Corinthians 3:22) Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;

(1 Corinthians 3:23) And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

(1 Corinthians 4:1) Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.

The apostles were stewards and ministers.

(1 Corinthians 4:2) Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

Stewards and ministers are to be holy, orthodox, and qualified. Those who do not have these characteristics should be disqualified. Too bad the Church didn't do this over the centuries.

(1 Corinthians 4:3) But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

(1 Corinthians 4:4) For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

(1 Corinthians 4:5) Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

Only at the final judgment, the white throne judgment, will we see situations and people's hearts as they really are. In fact, in my view, this is a key purpose of the white throne judgment; to inform everyone of the truth so no one can accuse God of being unjust in his judgments.

(1 Corinthians 4:6) And these things, brethren, I have in a figure [figuratively] transferred [applied] to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up [arrogant} for one against another.

The word "figuratively" is not in the text.

We are not to add moral laws beyond the 10 commandments of the Old Testament. Doing so creates division; we divide based on our non-essential views and doctrines. Notice the context is of Paul defending his righteousness in his role as apostle.

Just as Paul's readers are to notice Paul's righteous dealings with them, so also, they are to correctly discern the righteousness of one another rather than use false standards to judge.

The phrase "that which is written" refers to the Old Testament, not the New Testament. Therefore, this verse does not support Sola Scriptura, Bible only.

(1 Corinthians 4:7) For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

(1 Corinthians 4:8) Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

(1 Corinthians 4:9) For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

The phrase "us the apostles" refers to Paul and Apollos.

(1 Corinthians 4:10) We are fools for Christ's sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.

(1 Corinthians 4:11) Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;

(1 Corinthians 4:12) And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it:

(1 Corinthians 4:13) Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

(1 Corinthians 4:14) I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you.

(1 Corinthians 4:15) For though ye have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

This verse completely refutes the anti-Catholic objection that we are to "call no man father". Paul is both a father and a teacher to these Christians in Corinth.

I should mention that, when a Catholic, I never felt comfortable calling priests father. They didn't seem like spiritual fathers at all and those that seemed to understand Christianity were complete strangers to me; I did not learn the faith from them at all. Most did not obey the Church's directives and many did not seem to have a very clear understanding of what apostolic and biblical Christianity was all about. Examples of their disobedience...

  1. They rarely spoke about the readings during the homily.
  2. Few seemed to believe that sins need to be confessed during the sacrament of confession.
  3. They would reveal details about people's private confessions.
  4. They were pro-gay or pro-feminist in disobedience to the directives of the Catholic Church.
  5. Various liturgical abuses; some severe.

(1 Corinthians 4:16) Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

They were to follow Paul because his message was true.

(1 Corinthians 4:17) For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

Timothy's charge was to instruct them in Paul's gospel, the gospel of Christ.

Timothy was a son of Paul. Just as Jesus had no biological siblings (because Mary was a virgin for life) but had "brothers", so also Timothy was a son of Paul, but not a biological son.

If we are to allow someone into our life as a spiritual father, they must be qualified: teach and defend the true gospel, be holy, be good shepherds of the flock.

(1 Corinthians 4:18) Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

(1 Corinthians 4:19) But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

(1 Corinthians 4:20) For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

(1 Corinthians 4:21) What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

(1 Corinthians 5:1) It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife.

The Gentiles are pagans having all kinds of seriously immoral behaviors even as part of their religious practices. Even they don't do what this man has done yet some of the Christians in the Church at Corinth are so spiritually undiscerning that they aren't alarmed by it.

(1 Corinthians 5:2) And ye are puffed up [arrogant], and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you.

This is a strange church; I wonder if these people are even Christians at all? Likely there were many in the congregation who were holy and devout — Paul is not addressing these. Usually we think every word of the New Testament is addressed personally to us; this is not the case. It's like the altar calls of modern churches in which everyone is asked to get saved but everyone already is. How many times do you feel obligated to go up for the altar call to get saved? if you sit it out you must not really be saved?

Christians are to shun those who have committed mortal sin and not repented of it, especially if it is ongoing. In fact, these are to be put out of the church altogether. This implies a strong church authority that can enforce its edicts. Someone has to stand at the door and deny this person access; I would not want to be that person. This is why expecting Catholic priests to deny communion to certain public figures is misguided.

It is awkward to shy away from people needing shunning, certainly there is to be an emotional distancing. Perhaps aloof politeness is still expected but nothing more.

Why on earth would these Christians be happy in hearing that one of them was sinning so grievously? There should have been a scandal.

I suppose the responsibility for enforcing falls to the pastor-bishop who must regularly confront the person who refuses to honor his shunning. Not a fun job, in my opinion. This implies that the Corinthian church had no suitable qualified pastor-bishop. The rich pleasure-seeking mob ruled that church. A church with no holy pastor-bishop leading it is no church at all.

(1 Corinthians 5:3) For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed,

(1 Corinthians 5:4) In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ,

(1 Corinthians 5:5) To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

Since they are waiting for Christ's coming, this implies that he comes at their death; that everyone encounters Christ at death and they are received into the kingdom of heaven at that time. It doesn't make sense for them to be exhorted to wait for Christ's coming if it occurs thousands (millions?) of years after they have died.

I think this verse is often misinterpreted by confusing the meaning of the word "flesh". When taken as meaning the body we must conclude that Paul wants the sinful man excommunicated so he can be killed by Satan before he loses his salvation. But we see later that this man repented and was accepted back into the church. This seemed to be the hoped-for and expected outcome, not that the man died. One goal of excommunication is for the sinner to repent.

(1 Corinthians 5:6) Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven [yeast] leaveneth the whole lump [of dough]?

An example of a small amount of something infecting something far larger. This is not a figure of speech (not yet; not until the next verse).

(1 Corinthians 5:7) Purge out therefore the old leaven [yeast], that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

A figure of speech defined in the previous verse. The context is to remove the man from their fellowship so he doesn't corrupt them, after all, some already excused the sinful behavior. Others with weak faith might be tempted to indulge in other kinds of sin thinking maybe it's OK after all.

In this example they are to start over with a new batch of dough, this time free from yeast. This does not of course mean they expel everyone in their church and get new people: this figure of speech only approximately matches the image of dough having yeast.

Some insist leaven always means sin. Perhaps it does with the Passover meal and related feasts but certainly it doesn't in other contexts.

(1 Corinthians 5:8) Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity [purity] and truth.

Note this feast is the Eucharist which Paul mentions later in the letter.

Paul mentions two kinds of leaven, both of them bad. Old leaven doesn't work properly. Leaven of malice and wickedness doesn't work either because it is not leaven at all — you can't make dough rise by adding malice and wickedness to it. When celebrating the Eucharist we worship Jesus Christ who is present in the unleavened bread — this bread is purity and truth because Jesus is purity and truth. Fundamentalist evangelical Protestants reject the Eucharist preferring, instead, to believe communion is merely symbolic so none of this would make any sense to them.

Paul refers to their religious meetings in which they have a meal. This sinning man should be excluded from the feast, shunned, because his sin is corrupting them all. Just as the Passover meal is to be free from leaven, meaning, free from sin; so also the Christian meetings are to be free from people such as this very sinful man because everyone who participates is to be holy and pure.

Notice the word "leaven" is not a figure of speech referring to sin. It refers to the leaven used in making bread and which is to be excluded from the Passover meal. In ensuring there is no leaven in the bread, the participants also ensure there is no sin. The leaven merely reminds them of the presence of sin and the need to remove it; the leaven does not directly represent sin, as a symbol or metaphor. The figure of speech is between the Eucharist and the Passover meal, not between leaven and sin.

(1 Corinthians 5:9) I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:

(1 Corinthians 5:10) Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world.

(1 Corinthians 5:11) But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator [sexually immoral], or covetous [greedy], or an idolater, or a railer [reviler / slanderer], or a drunkard, or an extortioner [swindler]; with such an one no not to eat.

A list of mortal sins.

A remarkable verse. If we discover that a fellow-Christian is living in mortal sin, we are to reject fellowship with them. This has a dangerous side-effect; we usually learn about the behavior of others via gossip. Thus, the sharing of information about whether someone is living in mortal sin or not is itself a mortal sin.

I doubt whether these so-called fellow-Christians are really Christians at all.

(1 Corinthians 5:12) For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?

(1 Corinthians 5:13) But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.


Christians in Secular Court

(1 Corinthians 6:1) Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?

This hints at the notion that Christianity should be a society with its own laws, political institutions, and even courts. Certainly the Christian church became this rather early, both Orthodox in the east and Catholic in the west.

Paul states that the unjust wicked people of the secular political ruling institutions cannot be trusted as righteous judges. Certainly this is true; even in our modern civilization the strangest legal cases occur in which Godly people are persecuted and the wicked and depraved are released. But Christendom, although seeming like a good idea, it actuality destroyed the lively faith life of Christians. Even the Reformers wanted the state to control religion but it backfired every time it was attempted.

(1 Corinthians 6:2) Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?

(1 Corinthians 6:3) Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

At the great white throne judgment everyone will reveal the influences in their lives for all the world to see. Wicked spirit beings who have vexed us will be judged for their corrupting influence and for making living a Godly life harder.

Paul's point seems to be that if we can accurately determine that spirit beings are influencing us, surely we should be able to accurately discern the influences of other people. But in looking over the history of the Church I would say Paul's high regard for such Christian skills as these is misguided; the clergy placed Christians in a subservient position as lay people while they became aristocrats living a life of luxury on the people's backs. Certainly many bishops were holy men who served the people and defended the Christian faith, but all too many were not. How can we be sure only the Godly bishops were judges? Paul is sometimes an idealist thinking too highly of people.

At the great white throne judgment every person will indeed be able to judge accurately, but until that time this is not generally true; in this current era in which our soul see through a glass darkly we should not assume everyone has such clear vision, this includes the bishops and other church leaders. But perhaps at the time Paul wrote this the Roman judicial system was so corrupt that it, in general, would have been better if Christians turned to each other to resolve their disputes.

(1 Corinthians 6:4) If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.

(1 Corinthians 6:5) I speak [say this] to your shame [to shame you]. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren?

This idea of Paul's didn't "stick" and it's just as well. He seemed to think there should be courts for Christians having Christian judges. The problem is, of course, that the same people who are educated enough to act as judges are also the same people who have the know-how to take advantage of others. Sadly, even the bishops all-too-often exploited or neglected the laity.

This verse hints that Paul would have been a supporter of Christendom, that society should be Christian with laws reflecting Christian values.

Being wise enough to judge cases between people is not all that is required; these judges require the authority of having their decisions enforced; unlikely that the losers of these court cases will willingly agree to unhappy verdicts. And now we have entered the realm of politics, of power. Also, will the Romans stand idly by while the Christians establish their own society having judges, laws, police, jails, etc.?

(1 Corinthians 6:6) But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers.

(1 Corinthians 6:7) Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer [allow] yourselves to be defrauded?

We should allow ourselves to be ripped-off by our fellow Christians rather than take them to court. I would claim that if they are ripping us off, they are probably not really Christians at all but, rather, wolves in sheep's clothing. Why should we passively sit by while a so-called fellow Christian ruins our life? Shouldn't we seek justice if only to bring into the open what kind of people these are, to protect future victims?

An example of this in real life: the Catholic bishops didn't want the pervert priests they had been shuffling around from parish to parish to be taken to court. My response: kick out these bishops who prefer to pervert justice. These are no bishops at all; not teachers and defenders of the true faith.

Why is Paul so naive? What else is he wrong about? Perhaps the answer is that Paul's audience of this passage is the strong influential leaders who are trying to rip off others of the same as they jockey for power, prestige, and wealth — in short, dishonest politicians. Perhaps these are not harming the Christians at large who lived holy lives. Paul doesn't really think they will find Christian judges to settle disp utes; he is hoping to convert some of them into becoming true Christians by pretending they already are and mocking them for not living up to Christ's standards of holiness. As I think more about this it occurs to me that Paul was often interacting with these strong influential leader types of people. For example, in the second letter to the Corinthians he spent much of the letter defending his authority.


Corrupt, Unholy Christians

Paul rather abruptly and masterfully transitions from the topic of court cases to the unholiness, wickedness, and depravity of some so-called Christians. The link is: they only needed to settle disputes among each other because they were ripping off each other.

(1 Corinthians 6:8) Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren.

Fraud is a rather serious crime involving deliberate deception and trickery to steal their possessions or money, or harm them in some way. What kind of Christians were these?

(1 Corinthians 6:9) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

Paul has just been talking about Christians defrauding Christians; he then immediately gives this list of sins. We should expect that those who are defrauding their fellow Christians are regularly committing these sins. What kind of church was this in which Christians were doing these things?

A list of people who are not saved...

  1. Fornicators — Those (presumably men) engaged in sexual relations with others outside of marriage.
  2. Idolaters — Those who head off to the temple to practice pagan worship, sometimes involving temple prostitution.
  3. Adulterers — Violating their marriage vows by engaging is sexual relations with another.
  4. Effeminate — Unclear what this means, but it almost certainly refers to a person practicing promiscuous homosexual sex.
  5. Abusers of themselves with mankind — A person practicing promiscuous homosexual sex.

This verse does not address sex between two people of the same sex who are in a lifelong committed relationship.

The goal of life is to inherit the kingdom of God, to end up spending eternity in God's kingdom, the new heavens and new earth. I emphasize this point often because Christians often refer to heaven as being their final destination, such lines as "will you go to heaven when you die?" and such. But there is not one passage in the Bible saying this.

(1 Corinthians 6:10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

The list of people who are not saved continues...

  1. Thieves — It is hard to imagine that Christians would steal.
  2. Covetous — Greedy.
  3. Drunkards — I think Paul is meaning falling-on-the-floor drunk, and doing this regularly. As we see in the wedding of Cana, drinking had its place in that society. I recommend avoiding alcohol altogether.
  4. Revilers — Abusive speech or slander. This is really bad.
  5. Extortioners — Swindlers. Using their position or quirks of the economic system to illegally obtain things. This is really bad.

Grace and Freedom of the Christian

Another masterful transition: from the topic of sin to the topic of grace.

(1 Corinthians 6:11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

In the context, it seems Paul is referring to people who still regularly and habitually do the things listed in the previous verses. Perhaps he is hoping that by mocking them they will have a conversion experience.

Upon conversion, the sins of Christians are forgiven. Notice that Christians are both sanctified and justified while non-believers are neither sanctified nor justified. Many Protestants claim that justification means salvation while sanctification means growing in holiness after being saved. But in this verse I don't see much difference in these two terms; they both refer to what occurs to a true believer. Without either there is not true redemption. In other words, those who are not sanctified are not truly saved.

(1 Corinthians 6:12) All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.

I wish the Church had this view all those centuries rather than attempting to dominate everyone by making them obey rules not essential to the faith. It would be better for the Church to instruct about the consequences of doing certain things and then let people decide for themselves.

The second word "all" doesn't mean all; it means all of those things specified before; all the things that are lawful. The first word "all" doesn't mean all either; it means all things which are holy and righteous.


About ritual prostitution

(1 Corinthians 6:13) Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body.

Two examples of bad things people do in their pagan worship of idols...

  1. Eat meat sacrificed to idols (as a form of idolatry)
  2. Ritual prostitution

Paul hints at the topic of eating meat which was sacrificed to idols, that it might stumble someone if they see him eating it, and that is the only reason he should not do it. He discusses this at length later.

It seems Paul is saying that one day the belly will be destroyed as well as eating food. Perhaps this refers to conditions in the new heavens and new earth; he is slowly working towards the lengthy topic of the resurrected body and its functioning.

(1 Corinthians 6:14) And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.

Paul hints at the topic of resurrection which he will discuss at length later.

(1 Corinthians 6:15) Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.

Fornication and adultery are mortal sins; they result in the loss of salvation. The sex act joins together the souls of two people in a way that should only be reserved for those who are married, joined together for eternity, till death do us part.

(1 Corinthians 6:16) What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.

Paul refers to the verse above regarding the unity of the married couple. The conjugal act of union entangles the souls of the two people in a way that is only proper for married couples.

Just as a married couple are one flesh, so also anyone you have sexual relations with. This is why promiscuity and worse are mortal sins; it entangles the souls.

(1 Corinthians 6:17) But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.

(1 Corinthians 6:18) Flee fornication [sexual immorality]. Every sin that a man doeth [commits] is without [outside] the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.

Actually, every sin is performed with the body, with parts of the body. The contamination from sin is to the soul residing in the spiritual realm.

(1 Corinthians 6:19) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

This verse is not a figure of speech but is strictly literal. A true temple of God is a physical object in a physical location where God is present and worshippers come to worship. The Jewish tabernacle and temples had this role, as does the human body of each of the redeemed. Just as God's presence resided on the mercy seat of the Ark of the Covenant in the tabernacle and temple, so also the Holy Spirit resides in each baptized believer. Just as the sins of the people resulted in the presence of God departing from the temple, so also the Holy Spirit departs the body in those who sin. Our soul enters into the temple, into our body, and worships God there; by our actions and thoughts. This supports my Creative Frames theory in which the soul attaches itself to the body a trillion trillion trillion times a second; it enters the body just as a worshipper enters the temple.

Once we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which is imparted via baptism, we are no longer our own; in being baptized we have officially announced to the world and to God that we are turning our life and will over to God. Sadly, many are not taught this true teaching of baptism and it becomes merely an act performed in obedience. But this is not what the apostles taught, nor what the early church believed and practiced.

(1 Corinthians 6:20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Because our redemption has been purchased by Christ's sacrifice, we should not sin. God owns us completely: body (in the physical realm) and spirit (in the spiritual realm).


Marriage and Consecrated Singleness

Yet another masterful transition by Paul to the topics of marriage and of consecrated lifelong singleness.

(1 Corinthians 7:1) Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.

Some seem to think being unmarried is somehow abnormal. Others place such a high value on singleness it might seem being married is somehow inferior to being single. By single I assume they are living a life dedicated to the Lord. Paul clears it all up.

The question Paul seems to be answering is whether being single is somehow spiritually superior to marriage. This was a common heresy back then, to refrain from relationships between men and women to prove they are devoted only to God. This clashed with the culture of the day which demanded everyone be married, usually in marriages arranged by their parents.


To the Married

(1 Corinthians 7:2) Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.

Note that Paul seems to only grudgingly allow for marriage as an option. Because of this the Church has had wrongheaded views of marriage and singleness over the centuries. He also has a low view of marriage; it is only to avoid sin.

I think Paul here is referring to people who wish to be single but can't, because of a lack of self-control or because they are too tempted. For those, they should seek to be married. Thus, the social pressure to refrain from marriage in order to be truly holy should be ignored; we should know ourselves and our limitations. The emphasis of the Catholic Church on celibacy for all Christian leaders, even for those not called to this, is misguided.

(1 Corinthians 7:3) Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.

Paul is still on topic of whether or not being single is better than being married. If someone who is married wants to deny their role in marriage and live as if they are single (thinking it is better to do this) Paul corrects this thinking; Marriage has certain obligations.

(1 Corinthians 7:4) The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

(1 Corinthians 7:5) Defraud [refuse] ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency [lack of self-control].

It's OK to abstain for a short time as part of a devotional practice, but not long-term. Paul doesn't mention what the person might do if their partner refuses them — perhaps they might commit adultery.

Paul doesn't mention how it is that engaging in conjugal relations hampers a devotional life. Again, this emphasizes his bias that it is somehow bad.


To the Unmarried — whether or not to marry

(1 Corinthians 7:6) But I speak this by permission, and not of commandment.

Even though Paul is not commanding people to be married as the Jewish culture of the day demanded, you can tell he personally has a strong preference for it; but only for those who must do so to avoid sin; he would prefer to command them to be single if he had his way about it. His bias is very strong but he resists the urge to command his preferences on the faithful. I wish the Catholic Church had practiced such restraint as Paul did; instead they institutionalized all kinds of non-essential practices and doctrines.

(1 Corinthians 7:7) For I would that all men were even as I myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.

Paul was single when he wrote this. If he had been married in the past why would he now think it better that everyone was single? Perhaps it was because he had experienced the benefits first-hand of having the time and focus to serve the Lord wholeheartedly. If he had been married before, presumably his wife had died at some point a while before all this.

Paul considers being single as a gift. Those who are married have other gifts — but it doesn't seem Paul is considering being married as a gift in the same category as marriage, only singleness.

Clearly Paul prefers consecrated singleness to marriage, but he doesn't command it.

(1 Corinthians 7:8) I say therefore to the unmarried and widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I.

Paul apparently was married but his wife died.

Paul strongly wants to encourge the unmarried to remain that way — he reveals his bias.

(1 Corinthians 7:9) But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn [with passion].

Even more clearly we see Paul's bias in favor of consecrated singleness. It is only out of weakness that people should be married.

Not everyone can get married, therefore, some are doomed to a life of burning.

This verse clearly refers to marriage for the purpose of avoiding sin due to sexual desire. It makes no reference to marriage for the purpose of raising children. Therefore, contraception is not unbiblical since this passage does not link the procreative elements and the unitive elements of the sex act.

The entire passage in chapter 7 makes no reference whatsoever to having children. This is very surprising if, as the Catholic Church teaches, contraception is immoral. If the purpose for marriage is in avoiding sexual sin as this verse indicates, then surely contraception is allowed.

The word "burn" is not a figure of speech but, rather, an idiom. Idioms are not figures of speech, at least not according to several dictionaries.


To the Married — both Christians

(1 Corinthians 7:10) And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:

In the Greek and Roman culture of the day, women were free to abandon their husbands (and vice versa) via a permanent separation equivalent to divorce. But I find it odd that Paul would address women doing this first and in more detail than of men.

So therefore, I think Paul now addresses married men who might think they should become single again, based on Paul favoring it. The poor wife is apparently a victim in this situation with no legal rights whatsoever.

I believe Paul here, in referring to a wife departing her husband, means she is kicked-out by her husband, as the next verse makes clear (if she were leaving of her own volition to live the consecrated single life, she would not wish to remarry). She should not willingly leave, only if forced to do so through abuse or divorce.

(1 Corinthians 7:11) But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

More evidence that Paul is discussing a woman who is kick-out by her husband since Paul mentions she should prefer to be again reconciled if possible. She would have no such preference if she was initiating a permanent separation or divorce.

If the man divorces her she should not remarry because this is not a valid divorce in God's eyes; you can't divorce someone because you want to live a single life unto the Lord. The poor woman in this case is still considered to be married by God even though her husband is an idiot and has abandoned her.

This verse and verse 10 imply that both men and women were able to initiate a divorce.


To the Married — one converts, the other doesn't

(1 Corinthians 7:12) But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.

Paul doesn't say it but he seems to be referring to the situation after someone converts; about how those around him react to it; about whether their spouse wants to divorce them.

It appears to be morally acceptable for a person to divorce their spouse when they convert to Christianity if their spouse remains a non-Christian. Paul, however, personally thinks it is better to not divorce in such a situation unless the non-Christian initiates the divorce.

(1 Corinthians 7:13) And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.

(1 Corinthians 7:14) For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.

It seems to me that the words "clean" and "unclean" are commonly misunderstood.

Paul's concepts here are foreign to us Christians today. If we were to say a sentence such as Paul's in 7:14 we would be laughed out of church. Two concepts...

  1. Believers are sanctified; unbelievers are not sanctified. But an unbeliever married to a believer becomes sanctified, so some unbelievers are sanctified after all.
  2. Children of believers are clean; children of unbelievers are unclean. If at least one parent is a believer the children are clean (holy).

All this is based on the Old Testament notion of a holy clean nation called-out by God. Foreigners could join this nation and become holy and clean too. What is missing in all this is consideration of personal sin. In other words, being clean and holy as Paul is using the terms does not mean you are heaven-bound. What seems to be implied is that if you are unclean and not sanctified you will not be saved since you are outside of God's protection and grace.

This verse is an example in which Paul is wrong; he is tangled-up in his Jewish perspective and can't free himself from it. What is remarkable is that the Holy Spirit allows it in scripture and that this verse is, in fact, inspired, inerrant, and infallible. This doesn't bode well for those believing in Sola Scriptura; interpretation is everything. This passage (and much of the Old Testament) forms part of scripture not because the ideas expressed are true and correct, but because they give insight into Paul's perspective.

Other silly passages from the apostles...

(1 Corinthians 7:15) But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

(1 Corinthians 7:16) For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?

How can someone save someone else? Apparently it doesn't always work. When someone becomes a Christian and their spouse wants to divorce them over it, it is pointless to refuse even if you think you will be able to get them saved. This seems to imply that we are under no obligation to try to get someone saved if there doesn't seem to be much hope of it succeeding.

(1 Corinthians 7:17) But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain [direct] I in all churches.

The word "every" doesn't mean every; it means every Christian.

Each person is to live their life based on the circumstances that God provided.

(1 Corinthians 7:18) Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised.

(1 Corinthians 7:19) Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.

(1 Corinthians 7:20) Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

(1 Corinthians 7:21) Art [were] thou called being [while] a servant [slave]? care [worry] not for [about] it: but if thou mayest [are able to] be made free, use [do] it rather.

Probably referring to household servants, some who were previously or still slaves. Notice Paul doesn't advocate an uprising to abolish slavery; neither did Jesus.

Just as in the days of slavery in the USA, slaves of Roman times were exposed to the gospel and able to convert.

This verse sounds like some slaves were able to obtain their freedom but the next verse contradicts this.

Paul assures them that being a slave does not in any way interfere with their being a Christian. But they were likely denied the ability to go to Church or to have fellowship or prayer with fellow believers. If so, this indicates all these things are not essentials for Christians; a very private faith life is all that is strictly needed.

(1 Corinthians 7:22) For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant.

Notice no hint of Paul thinking that slaves who convert to Christianity would be freed from their slavery. Elsewhere, Paul refers to Christian slave owners who do not release their slaves so it is unlikely he is referring to the practice here.

In the Roman empire, slaves who were freed were still attached to their masters, the head of the household, as a part of that household. Most slaves were eventually freed unless they died too soon.

(1 Corinthians 7:23) Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.

Christian slaves should think of themselves as slaves to Christ and perform their duties to him. We can apply the same thinking in our lives while performing the many uninspiring duties demanded of us for our survival and by our social obligations.

(1 Corinthians 7:24) Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.

Notice each individual Christian is called. The question is whether each of us has a role in receiving this calling or whether it is irresistible. Why does Paul emphasize our calling when referring to Christians? He seems to use the word "called" the same way fundamentalist evangelical Protestants use the word "saved".


Whether to Remain Unmarried

This passage about virgins seems to assume a two-phase marriage...

Phase 1: Often when the woman is too young to get married she is pledged to be married.

Phase 2: When the woman is old enough, they get married.

Paul is advising the man on whether or not he should cancel phase 2 due to the current situation and states it is not a sin to cancel it. He doesn't address the topic of the woman's welfare in this case: whether she feels rejected and abandoned, whether she becomes destitute, etc.

(1 Corinthians 7:25) Now concerning virgins I have no commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful [trustworthy].

This section is from Paul, not from God. The whole extended passage is steeped in the false views of the day regarding marriage, sex, and the roles of men and women in that culture.

Paul's qualification is he has been shown to be trustworthy, but we should note this does not guarantee correctness for all ages. In his day his views on this topic were the best that could be expected but he did not attempt to correct social unjustness. For example, he did not address slavery either.

(1 Corinthians 7:26) I suppose therefore that this is good for the present distress, I say, that it is good for a man so to be [to remain as he is].

Due to the circumstances of the day, Paul thought being unmarried was preferable. We might wonder what he means by "present distress"? Could it be economic hardship for Christians or persecution of Christians? And what about the women who likely needed a husband to look after them in the culture of the day?

Paul has already encountered plenty of opposition to Christianity and Christians are taught to expect persecution.

Notice Paul is directing his comments primarily to men, those who are in charge of the culture of his day. The women have few rights and depend on the men to treat them justly.

There was no persecution or economic hardship in that day. Certainly the Jews ever more and more harassed Christians. Christians probably have as much hardship in life today as they did back then; does that mean we should not get married either? In verse 29 Paul says the time is short.

(1 Corinthians 7:27) Art thou bound [pledged] unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife [unmarried]? seek not a wife.

The usual interpretation is: If you are married, stay married; if you are not married, stay single. This is Paul's general advice based on his assessment of their "present distress". It is wrong to get divorced so they must remain married if they are. But for those who aren't, beware the "present distress".

This interpretation doesn't make any sense in the context. Nowhere else is Paul referring to people who are already married; the question is whether or not they should get married.

I wonder what became of those women who were "dumped" after Paul came through town with this teaching; likely they became destitute, in the same predicament as widows. The society of the day did not provide for people such as these.

(1 Corinthians 7:28) But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.

It is remarkable that Paul had to mention it is not a sin to get married. Perhaps he merely wanted to let them know that even if they went against Paul's recommendation it wasn't necessarily a sin. But he mentioned again that, even though it is not a sin to get married, they will have trouble if they ignore Paul's recommendation.

They will have difficulties as a Christian couple trying to raise children due to persecution.

(1 Corinthians 7:29) But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth [from now on], that both they that have wives be as though they had none;

The time is short. If we knew we would die soon and come into the presence of Christ would we not change our habits and focus more on prayer and charity? Well the time is short; all will die someday and we don't know when — it could be later today.

These Christians were not living in a time of persecution nor of economic hardship. The destruction of Jerusalem and the temple would occur in a couple of decades but this would not affect the Christians in Corinth. The madman Nero would martyr Christians in Rome in a decade or so but that wouldn't affect them either. The era of general Roman persecution of Christians was a long way in the future; all the recipients of his letter would have already died by then.

(1 Corinthians 7:30) And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;

(1 Corinthians 7:31) And they that use [the things in] this world, as not abusing it [preoccupied with them]: for the fashion [form] of this world passeth away.

This world passes away. It doesn't leave us; we leave it — when we die. But we get it back again as paradise in the new heavens and new earth. Sometimes we may have a great life situation but it goes sour because of war or other change in society. For the Christians, their world will soon be racked in persecution. We are to keep our hearts on the final goal and remain aloof from the cares of this world.

(1 Corinthians 7:32) But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

(1 Corinthians 7:33) But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

(1 Corinthians 7:34) There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.

The implication is that a married woman is not holy in body. This passage provided the basis for the wrong view of the Church that married sex (or any other kind) is bad.

Verses 32 to 35 clearly state that the unmarried state in which a person consecrates their lives to God is superior to that of marriage. This is exactly what occurs in Catholic orders yet Protestants mock them for doing this. Weird.

This verse seems to assume that an unmarried woman will not become destitute; that she will have ways to have her material needs provided.

(1 Corinthians 7:35) And this I speak for your own profit; not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that which is comely [attractive], and that ye may attend upon the Lord without distraction.

(1 Corinthians 7:36) But if any man think that he behaveth himself uncomely [improperly] toward his virgin, if she pass the flower of her age [she is past her youth and able to be married], and need so require, let him do what he will, he sinneth not: let them marry.

Notice that the woman has no say in the matter, she is powerless, it is completely up to the man. Of course, this is true even today; if a man won't propose the woman can't force him to. What is odd here is that the discussion is entirely from the perspective of the man. This requires us of today, now that we have equal rights for women, to consider issues from both sides and to adapt our views accordingly. (This does not mean we should accept Liberal Christianity; that system rejects Christ's teaching at its very heart.)

It is hard to imagine why the woman no longer being young would have any bearing on the matter. Perhaps the thought is that the man is only allowed to marry her once she is old enough, but they were engaged before that, when she was too young to get married.

Some think verses 36–38 refer to the father who has a social obligation to give his daughters in marriage. But based on Paul's teaching that a consecrated single life is superior, the father would do well to refrain from allowing his daughter to be married (but only if she agrees to it) so she could remain a consecrated single woman. Presumably the father would take care of her financial needs. (But who would do this when the father died?) Anyway, the grammar of this verse for this idea is extremely awkward at best as is the transition from the previous verse.

(1 Corinthians 7:37) Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

Is it possible this verse refers to a man not marrying the woman but looking after her needs for the rest of their lives? In other words, they remain engaged but never get married?

(1 Corinthians 7:38) So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

This verse sounds like it refers to the father who is giving his daughter in marriage, and perhaps does mean this. I suppose Paul wants to recognize the father's role in all this. Perhaps after hearing Paul's teaching, out of obedience, there were cases in which the father would not allow his daughter to be married because he wanted to "do better".

Verses 36 & 37 don't seem to refer to the father at all so if verse 38 does refer to the father, there is a sharp jump in meaning and context. But the next verse, verse 39, also has a clear jump in meaning so perhaps Paul is merely tacking on afterthoughts as they occur to him.

(1 Corinthians 7:39) The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.

This is one of those verses in which there is a different standard for men than women similar to verses 10 & 11.

(1 Corinthians 7:40) But she is happier if she so abide, after my judgment: and I think also that I have the Spirit of God.

This is an odd verse. Paul is not certain whether his views on this topic are from God or whether they are just his opinion.


Meat offered to idols

(1 Corinthians 8:1) Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

(1 Corinthians 8:2) And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know.

(1 Corinthians 8:3) But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

(1 Corinthians 8:4) As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.

This doesn't apply to us today, certainly not to Christians except perhaps those in a culture still practicing voodoo, shamanism, witchcraft, sorcery, trance channeling, or other kinds of spiritual practices.

(1 Corinthians 8:5) For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,)

(1 Corinthians 8:6) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

(1 Corinthians 8:7) Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled.

Some Christians, out of a false view of the workings of the spiritual realm and of the power of Christ over the powers of darkness; these Christians think the act of offering food to idols in some way contaminates the food. Paul refers to this kind of thinking as being weak.

(1 Corinthians 8:8) But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse.

We don't approach God through eating food offered to God. The Eucharist involves eating and does result in mystical communion with Jesus for those of faith but this is competely different. In pagan worship they offer food and other gifts to false gods and idols to win favors from them; in the Eucharist we merely join closer together with Jesus who already resides within us in Spirit. Just as in prayer or Bible reading or other devotions our soul encounters God more deeply, so also in the Eucharist.

(1 Corinthians 8:9) But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.

Even though those with wrong views are weak in their faith, those having correct views should strive to not confuse these by doing things causing them to stumble in their faith. In other words, if someone thinks eating food offered to idols is idolatry, Christians should avoid eating food offered to idols so as to not stumble these weak Christians.

Though I am sympathetic to Paul's concern, there is a real problem here. This means that Christians cannot live out their freedom in Christ because somewhere there might be a Christian weak in faith who gets stumbled. For example, Catholics would have to give up most of their devotions and liturgy because some Protestants somewhere consider it idol worship. Paul has not thought this one through to its logical conclusion. Another example: fundamentalist evangelical Protestants would have to give up their doctrines of Sola Fide (saved by faith only) and Sola Scriptura (Bible only) because Catholics and Orthodox Christians consider these as false doctrines (which they are).

(1 Corinthians 8:10) For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols;

Apparently, pagan temples offered meals attended by some Christians strong in their faith. This reminds me of the Hari Krishna or Sikh Gurudwara services having food as part of the service. Yes, I would eat food at these; it's the best food in the world. No, I would not consider this food to be contaminated by demons. If a weak Christian saw me eating this food I would say to them, "get a life; learn the faith; don't judge other Christians by your unbiblical standards". I am not as sympathetic to the weak and narrow-minded Christians as Paul was. (But Paul doesn't consistently follow his own guidelines; he allows them to speak in tongues even though some associate it with pagan idolatry.)

(1 Corinthians 8:11) And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died?

Notice that the weak brother perishes through ignorance. This is the problem with false doctrine in Christianity. For example, those thinking they are saved by faith only and that they cannot lose their salvation through wicked deeds may end up among the unredeemed. Or those Catholics who emphasize devotions to Mary, the Saints, and other things may not have saving faith in Christ (I think this is far less common than anti-Catholics claim).

(1 Corinthians 8:12) But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

It's hard to imagine how it is a sin to not sin, in other words, if we do something that is not sinful yet it really is a sin after all due to the interactions with weak Christians. Especially so when they might completely misunderstand what we are doing; how can we know what kinds of false views people have about our activities and beliefs? For example, as a Catholic, I was called an idol worshipper, yet I didn't worship idols at all. The only thing Catholics can do in the face of such blatant misinformation and calumny is to convert to Protestantism. This is madness! I suppose a key difference is that those Paul refers to may fall from the faith altogether whereas in my example the anti-Catholics are just being divisive and ignorant.

(1 Corinthians 8:13) Wherefore, if meat [food] make my brother to offend [stumble], I will eat no flesh [meat] while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.

I doubt if Paul follows this policy in every aspect of his faith life; it is impossible to not offend others having weak faith or false doctrines.

(1 Corinthians 9:1) Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?

(1 Corinthians 9:2) If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are ye in the Lord.

Paul entertains the notion that his role as apostle may not extend to every Christian group. Perhaps he is not being completely serious since he is dealing with some hard-hearted people. But clearly he considers his apostolic authority to extend to those he had a particular relationship with; to those he shared the gospel with and planted churches.

(1 Corinthians 9:3) Mine answer to them that do examine me is this,

(1 Corinthians 9:4) Have we not power [privilege] to eat and to drink?

(1 Corinthians 9:5) Have we not power [privilege] to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas [Peter]?

This verse seems to state Paul had been married and had travelled with his wife. Those in the church at Corinth probably knew Paul's wife.

Some commentaries assume the word sister refers to a believing wife who is a "sister in the Lord". Maybe so. If not, it would make sense for men to take care of their sisters in a society in which women could become destitute unless a man took care of them. If a woman's husband died or if they never married (as Paul was promoting) once the father died they would have no one to take care of them except their brothers. If they had no brothers or their brothers were deadbeats, well, they were in trouble.

This verse seems to state Peter was married or had been married.

Some claim Paul wasn't married because his wife was never mentioned, but this logic doesn't make sense. For example, Peter was married and his wife was only mentioned once in passing; Peter never mentioned her in his writings.

Notice the reference to brothers of the Lord, meaning, relatives of Jesus. Critics of Catholicism assume the word "brother" refers to blood brothers but this notion is easy to refute.

Paul mentions other apostles who were apparently married. James was one of these.

(1 Corinthians 9:6) Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power [privilege] to forbear [refrain from] working?

The apostles had the right to material and financial support from the Christian churches. Paul chose to not use this right so they wouldn't think he was just in it for the money. But note that later when in prison he did accept support.

(1 Corinthians 9:7) Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?

(1 Corinthians 9:8) Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?

(1 Corinthians 9:9) For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?

(1 Corinthians 9:10) Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope.

(1 Corinthians 9:11) If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?

(1 Corinthians 9:12) If others be partakers of this power [privilege] over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer [endure] all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 9:13) Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?

In Old Testament Israel the priests ate the sacrifices (but not the burnt offerings); it was their source of food.

(1 Corinthians 9:14) Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.

Christian leaders who work for the gospel full time should be allowed to earn their livelihood from this. This implies that the people benefited or philanthropists give sufficient money. Paul specifically mentions only those who preach the gospel. Based on Sola Scriptura only preachers or evangelists should be paid for their efforts; everyone else should work for free. This implies there is not a large bureaucracy of administrators as is common in some Churches or denominations. Thus, the Church is to be small and local, no global or national Churches.

(1 Corinthians 9:15) But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.

Should we take Paul at his word here or is he exaggerating? Does Paul really prefer death to accepting material and financial assistance? I think the theme is stumbling your brother; if receiving financial support causes a weak Christian to apostatize, Paul would rather die of starvation than see that happen.

Paul boasts or glories in his ministry of preaching the gospel. He was called of God for this purpose.

(1 Corinthians 9:16) For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

Paul's use of the term "glory" in the previous verse seems to have triggered this sudden change of topic to Paul's calling and its origin.

(1 Corinthians 9:17) For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.

(1 Corinthians 9:18) What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.

(1 Corinthians 9:19) For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more.

Paul emphasizes the subject of slavery often. Perhaps many converts to Christianity were slaves. If so, it appears they had some freedoms.

(1 Corinthians 9:20) And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

(1 Corinthians 9:21) To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

Paul is careful to state that Christians are free from law. They are under Christ's law, not the Old Testament Mosaic law. Fundamentalist evangelical Protestants often claim that Christians are no longer under the obligations of the law but the New Testament doesn't support this notion.

(1 Corinthians 9:22) To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

(1 Corinthians 9:23) And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

(1 Corinthians 9:24) Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

It is necessary to persevere in our faith in order to win the prize.

(1 Corinthians 9:25) And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

(1 Corinthians 9:26) I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

Paul fights the good fight and runs the race intending to win the prize. The prize in the Christian life is eternal redemption in the new heavens and new earth. Why would we need to strive for this goal unless we could lose it? In other words, this verse contradicts once saved always saved.

(1 Corinthians 9:27) But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

It is necessary to persevere in our faith in order to win the prize.

(1 Corinthians 10:1) Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea;

(1 Corinthians 10:2) And were all baptized unto [into] Moses in the cloud and in the sea;

Baptism unites you into a group having traditions and doctrines. Baptism should be all that is needed to join the Church but for some reason unknown to me most churches think you need to join them as well. Probably so they can exploit and control you, cultlike.

(1 Corinthians 10:3) And did all eat the same spiritual meat [food];

Referring to manna. It was literally spiritual food; this is not a mere figure of speech. It's source was the spiritual realm where it manifested into the physical ream supernaturally. This is a preview of how things will work in the new heavens and new earth.

(1 Corinthians 10:4) And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Notice it says Christ is the spiritual rock. It does not say he was a physical rock. The spiritual rock followed them, not the physical rock. The physical rock did not follow them.

The rock having water followed them because it was with them twice. The miracle of water from the rock was a spiritual event, as all miracles are. Miracles are spiritual because the laws of nature reside in the spiritual realm.

Typically this verse is considered an example of typology. I reject typology.

Here's what's wrong with the usual fundamentalist evangelical Protestant interpretation: confusion about the rock. The rock that followed them was either Christ or it was not Christ. Using allegory or typology is a ploy to have it both ways. It is not Christ because it is merely a rock, but it is Christ because it is a rock symbolically. Using this rationale you could say something similar for many other images of Christ: the lamb of God, the word, etc.

I prefer a strictly literal interpretation. In the spiritual realm Jesus actually manifests as the objects in question just as the consecrated bread and wine of the Eucharist literally becomes Jesus. Jesus made himself present in the rock that followed them and provided water for them. He blessed them by indwelling the object, the rock, the spiritual rock, Christ. Certainly when God manifests a miracle he is present in the miracle; he doesn't work miracles disinterested from a distance.

(1 Corinthians 10:5) But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

(1 Corinthians 10:6) Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.

Notice that both are examples: (1) both the miraculous events God did, (2) as well as the faithless response of the people who fell into sin and apostasy.

The word "example" in this verse is the same word as in verse 11.

(1 Corinthians 10:7) Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.

This verse refers to the worship of the golden calf when Moses was bringing down the tablets of the 10 commandments.

(1 Corinthians 10:8) Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand [23,000].

This verse refers to the corruption of the Israelites by the Moabites, including pagan practices.

(1 Corinthians 10:9) Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents.

(1 Corinthians 10:10) Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer.

(1 Corinthians 10:11) Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples [examples]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Paul gives a few more examples of evil deeds of these unbelieving Israelites. Their evil deeds and the judgment by God are examples for us; they are not types. But the things listed above that Paul mentions are usually considered to be types. The purpose of these events is to provide examples of errors. When we do the same things we should realize we are also in error and change our ways.

The word "example" in this verse is the same word as in verse 6. Therefore if you want to use this passage to support Typology you have to include the wicked deeds of the people as types also since that is also referred to by the word "example".

(1 Corinthians 10:12) Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.

(1 Corinthians 10:13) There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer [allow] you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

The easiest way to avoid sinning is to choose to not sin; there is no way of escape for someone who doesn't make that choice. All humans are tempted to sin, some more so than others based on their temperament, their training as a child, their influences, their conviction and commitment to holiness.

This verse clearly states that God never allows us to be tempted to sin so strongly that we can't resist. In other words, for those who so desire, it is possible to not sin at all! For those who do sin, their only excuse is that they allow themselves to do so because they are not fully committed to living holy and righteous lives. Of course, we require God's power and infilling of the Holy Spirit, but we can thwart this by choosing to sin. Thus, sinning causes more sinning. Many Christians do not consider not sinning to be a learned behavior that can be improved by practice, much as mastering a musical instrument requires practice.

With every temptation to sin there is also present the knowledge of what we must do to avoid the sin. The question is whether or not we will choose to avoid it.

A puzzle: when tempted, find the escape route. Is God toying with us?

Does God really tempt us? It says the temptation overtakes us just as with Eve. We don't need an escape route, rather, we can choose to reject the temptation; perhaps that is the escape route. At all times God's good and holy will is available to us if we will but choose it.

(1 Corinthians 10:14) Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.

The Christians of the early church were tempted by idolatry. This would be like having Christians in fundamentalist evangelical Protestant churches going to seances and orgies. As the letters to the seven churches in the book of Revelation demonstrate, the early Church had serious problems. We should be surprised that true doctrine survived at all.

(1 Corinthians 10:15) I speak as to wise men; judge ye what I say.

(1 Corinthians 10:16) The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?

Notice we commune with Christ's body and blood through consuming the consecrated bread and wine. The Eucharist is not merely symbolic. In consuming we become mystically united with Christ, including with his actual physical resurrected body.

A reason to not sin is because we commune with Christ in the Eucharist. Paul spends a lot of time in his letters exhorting them to not sin, giving them all kinds of reason why they should not, even listing long lists of mortal sins. What kind of Christians were these?

Paul mentions the Eucharist twice in this letter.

(1 Corinthians 10:17) For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.

(1 Corinthians 10:18) Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar?

The Eucharist is a sacrifice, the sacrifice of Christ's body. Just as the Israelite priests ate the sacrificed animals, so also Christians partaking of the consecrated bread and wine partake of Christ's body and blood.

(1 Corinthians 10:19) What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing?

(1 Corinthians 10:20) But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.

(1 Corinthians 10:21) Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils.

Just as Christianity has a sacred meal, so do pagan and other non-Christian religions. If you are practicing an anti-Christian religion you cannot also be a true Christian. The Eucharist doesn't work for other than true Christians; it does not bless God, it is not worship of God, it does not impart blessings to the partaker.

(1 Corinthians 10:22) Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?

(1 Corinthians 10:23) All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

(1 Corinthians 10:24) Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.

(1 Corinthians 10:25) Whatsoever is sold in the shambles [meat market], that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:

Don't ask, don't tell. As long as you don't know the meat has been offered to idols it's OK to eat it. But if you know, then you should not eat it. But it's proper to not ask about it so you won't know. This teaching is philosophically indefensible. If it's wrong to eat meat sacrificed to idols, you should verify whether or not it was. If it's not wrong, you should eat it no matter what. An example of politics guiding morality, never a good idea because it provides the culture with arguments to mock you. This is what has happened to modern Christianity; it is mocked by the culture for its idiotic ideas.

(1 Corinthians 10:26) For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.

(1 Corinthians 10:27) If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.

(1 Corinthians 10:28) But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:

Notice: for the man's sake and for conscience sake, seemingly referring to two people. But Paul clarifies in the next verse he is referring only to the one person. I wonder how many other verse contain this kind of confusion which the writer doesn't clarify.

Paul considers meat to be part of the fulness of the earth.

(1 Corinthians 10:29) Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?

Paul asks why his freedom is constrained by the conscience of somebody else? In refusing food that the other person sacrificed to idols, Paul is sending two messages, one intended, the other unintended...

  1. Sacrificing to idols is bad
  2. We should not eat food sacrificed to idols

This highlights the difficulty of communicating accurately. In these two verses Paul has miscommunicated once per sentence! Fortunately he goes on to explain it all.

(1 Corinthians 10:30) For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?

(1 Corinthians 10:31) Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

(1 Corinthians 10:32) Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:

(1 Corinthians 10:33) Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.

(1 Corinthians 11:1) Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 11:2) Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

(1 Corinthians 11:3) But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

The hierarchy of authority...

  1. God the Father
  2. Christ
  3. Men in authority (church leaders, husbands, fathers) and men in general (subject to Christ)
  4. Women

Paul forgets to mention that woman are subject to Christ. Perhaps he really believes that, for women, Christ works through the men in authority (husbands, fathers, and church leaders.) Or perhaps Paul is merely discussing the topic of authority — verse 1 supports this notion.


Head coverings in church

(1 Corinthians 11:4) Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.

The natural condition is short, uncovered hair. Women require special treatment as we shall see because they are considered inferior in that patriarchal society and require special protection.

(1 Corinthians 11:5) But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one [the same] as if she were shaven.

Just as it was a disgrace for a women to be shaved, so also it was a disgrace for a woman not to wear a head covering in church. He flips it in the next verse, a typical thing for Paul; to examine a question from all angles.

(1 Corinthians 11:6) For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

Paul assumes everyone believes it is bad for a woman to be shaved; probably it is a punishment for living improperly, to shame her. He says those women who don't wear head coverings in church should be punished in the same way. This verse loses its meaning in a society that doesn't practice shaving women's heads to shame them for punishment.

(1 Corinthians 11:7) For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

A very patriarchal society, discriminating of women. Paul doesn't try to correct this, in fact, he seems blind to it, assuming it to be true and correct. And he goes to great lengths to prove his view, as the following verses show. Notice his appeal to scripture, to the Old Testament. But his proofs are weak and his argument unconvincing. Even apostolic teaching must be judged using the lens of historical time.

(1 Corinthians 11:8) For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.

A terrible argument! Since woman was created from the man, from Adam's side, therefore, the woman is inferior and subservient to the man.

Eve was created from Adam.

(1 Corinthians 11:9) Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

Woman's only reason to exist is because Adam was lonely and needed a companion. But what does this have to do with all the other women after that? Paul seems to assume the circumstances of the origin of something determines its nature; I think Paul was influenced by the philosophers of the day too much.

Adam was created before Eve, therefore, he was not created for her. Eve was specifically created so Adam would have a suitable helper. Notice Paul is using an event occurring long ago to demonstrate the proper relationship between these things forever into the future. This is exactly the same kind of argument Catholics use in supporting their doctrines about Mary. Since Mary said yes and thereby brought the Messiah into the world, she is forever in this role of obtaining the graces of redemption as the mother of the redeemed, as the mother of the Church. I believe the Catholic doctrines concerning Mary.

(1 Corinthians 11:10) For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

Wearing a head covering protects a woman from the spiritual onslaughts of wicked spiritual beings. Perhaps this is because these wicked spiritual beings work through people, through men — the head covering stops men from lusting after women who have such beautiful long hair? After teaching that women are objects it is natural Paul needs a way to protect them; just cover them up. I should think he would hold the men accountable for their improper covetousness.

This passage about head coverings for women assumes they are dressed modestly, yet their hair is attractive. It must be covered because this makes the statement, "I belong to God".

(1 Corinthians 11:11) Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

In God's view, everyone is equal. Christian women and Christian men are equal in dignity; both are needed and useful. But Paul merely mentions it in passing.

(1 Corinthians 11:12) For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

Eve came from Adam's side; men (in fact, all humans) are born from the wombs of women.

(1 Corinthians 11:13) Judge in yourselves: is it comely [proper] that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

I think Paul assumes his arguments were convincing, but they are scrambled and idiotic. This is why most Christians say this passage is merely cultural and not binding on Christians today. I take it to the next step — he was just plain wrong, but in his cultural context, the conclusion made sense.


Hair length

(1 Corinthians 11:14) Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

Is this cultural, only true in Paul's day? Paul seems to be appealing to natural law but perhaps the concept he has in mind is the cultural norms of the day which are binding as social law; certainly Paul often mentions we do or don't do things based on the effect on others.

Paul uses this argument about hair length to demonstrate his previous teaching about head covering; he assumes people agree with his view about hair length. Just as the woman is to have long hair as a covering, so also she is to cover her head in church.

(1 Corinthians 11:15) But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

Paul mentions women with shaved heads above.

Four kinds of hair for women (from good to bad)...

  1. long and covered (required for church, provides protection and covering from the evil spirits [and from lustful men?])
  2. long (glorious, covers her inferior status which short hair would reveal — in other words, she is a mere object and needs long beautiful hair to give her some worth)
  3. short (bad)
  4. shaved (shameful, as a punishment)

(1 Corinthians 11:16) But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

All the churches practiced head coverings for women in church yet Paul acknowledges that some objected. Three things we learn from this...

  1. Head coverings was not the norm for all of society, just for Christians.
  2. Not everyone followed or agreed with apostolic teaching.
  3. Bishops were already by this time enforcing codes of conduct in the churches. The beginnings of clergy-laity division — and in this case, about something merely cultural!

(1 Corinthians 11:17) Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

(1 Corinthians 11:18) For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

They have divisions in their public Church meetings. Perhaps the various leaders argue and fight with one another during Church, perhaps saying bad things about each other during their sermons and homilies. I suppose the poor hapless Christians-at-large would be forced to choose sides; perhaps even pressured to do so.

This would be a terrible Church to be a member of. I wonder if it would be better for people to not go to church at all rather than go to this one. Of course, they had no other options in their day since they did not have the many denominations and non-denominational denominations to choose from as we have today.

(1 Corinthians 11:19) For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you.

(1 Corinthians 11:20) When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord's supper.

They were coming together to eat the Lord's supper but because of their wrong attitudes and disrespectful treatment of one another it was no longer the Lord's supper at all.

The bishop of this church was either one of the offenders or did not have control of this church.

(1 Corinthians 11:21) For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

It is hard to imagine why any Christian would get drunk in a public gathering of fellow Christians. I wonder if such as these are really Christians at all? I wonder the same of various so-called Christian crossover music artists or entertainers or politicians or businessmen.

(1 Corinthians 11:22) What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not [nothing]? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.

Is Paul really saying they should practice gluttony and drunkenness at home? They do this, but hate God so much they bring it into the Church. I wonder whether Paul would have kicked such as these out of the Church if he but had the authority to do so? Anyway, he seems to tolerate their unholy behavior as long as they keep it out of the public meetings.

Certain political factions in our modern society shame the poor by allowing them to be homeless, or without health care or psychological care.

(1 Corinthians 11:23) For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

Paul mentions the Eucharist twice in this letter.

(1 Corinthians 11:24) And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

Paul quotes Jesus' words as did the writers of the gospels. Apparently they quoted these words during the Eucharist. Note that Jesus states the bread is his body, not that it represents his body, or symbolizes his body. I prefer to interpret strictly literally.

(1 Corinthians 11:25) After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.

(1 Corinthians 11:26) For as often as [whenever] ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew [proclaim] the Lord's death till [until] he come.

One of the purposes for the Eucharist: it provides a way for us to proclaim Christ's sacrifical death as a form of worship.

It's the bread and wine that are the focus here, not the cup.

(1 Corinthians 11:27) Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

If you partake of the Eucharist in a condition of unholiness, of having committed unrepented and unconfessed mortal sin, you are guilty of participating in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. In other words, mortal sin severs your relationship with God; you are unredeemed; you have lost your salvation.

Notice Paul doesn't consider communion to be merely symbolic. Therefore, the fundamentalist evangelical Protestant view is unbiblical and they don't really regard the Bible as their sole authority as they claim.

(1 Corinthians 11:28) But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

We are to determine whether we are free from mortal sin before partaking of the Eucharist. Because God hates sin he insists we are free from it before he mystically unites with us. In fact, I doubt if Jesus is present in a consecrated wafer consumed by a person who is unworthy; the presence of Jesus vacates it when in their presence.

(1 Corinthians 11:29) For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

This verse proves that communion is not merely symbolic; why do you need to be holy to partake of a mere symbol?

(1 Corinthians 11:30) For this cause [reason] many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

They get sick and die because they partake of the Eucharist without having the proper disposition.

(1 Corinthians 11:31) For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.

(1 Corinthians 11:32) But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

(1 Corinthians 11:33) Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry [wait] one for another.

(1 Corinthians 11:34) And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

(1 Corinthians 12:1) Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

(1 Corinthians 12:2) Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb [unable to speak] idols, even as ye were led.

The reference to Gentiles means a pagan people who practiced idolatry, having temples.

This verse seems out of place. Perhaps he illustrates the kind of crazy practice pagans have regarding their animated and energetic pagan practices. Paul delves into a Charismatic discussion lasting for several chapters.

(1 Corinthians 12:3) Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

(1 Corinthians 12:4) Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

(1 Corinthians 12:5) And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

(1 Corinthians 12:6) And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

(1 Corinthians 12:7) But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.


Gifts of the Spirit

(1 Corinthians 12:8) For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;

10 gifts of the Spirit are mentioned...

  1. word of wisdom
  2. word of knowledge

(1 Corinthians 12:9) To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;

The list continues...

  1. faith
  2. gifts of healing

(1 Corinthians 12:10) To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers [diverse] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

The list continues...

  1. working of miracles
  2. prophecy
  3. diverse kinds of tongues
  4. interpretation of tongues

(1 Corinthians 12:11) But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

(1 Corinthians 12:12) For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

(1 Corinthians 12:13) For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

(1 Corinthians 12:14) For the body is not one member, but many.

(1 Corinthians 12:15) If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

(1 Corinthians 12:16) And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?

(1 Corinthians 12:17) If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

(1 Corinthians 12:18) But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.

(1 Corinthians 12:19) And if they were all one member, where were the body?

(1 Corinthians 12:20) But now are they many members, yet but one body.

(1 Corinthians 12:21) And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

(1 Corinthians 12:22) Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:

(1 Corinthians 12:23) And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

(1 Corinthians 12:24) For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:

(1 Corinthians 12:25) That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.

(1 Corinthians 12:26) And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

(1 Corinthians 12:27) Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

True believers are mystically joined to Jesus as the body of Christ. Those who think God's holy Church is ruled by unholy bishops are mad!

(1 Corinthians 12:28) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments [administrations], diversities of tongues.

8 gifts in the Church are mentioned...

  1. apostles
  2. prophets
  3. teachers
  4. miracles
  5. healings
  6. helps
  7. administrations
  8. diversities of tongues — I interpret this to refer to speaking in foreign languages, perhaps miraculously, perhaps not.

This list includes Church leadership, ministering to others, and miraculous kinds of activities.

Notice there is no mention of ordination via the sacrament of holy orders. It mentions apostles, prophets, and teachers but not bishops, priests, and deacons. This oversight does not bode well for the Church's later emphasis on these three; it smacks of revisionism, that the apostles did not really pass on those three leadership roles after all.

(1 Corinthians 12:29) Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

The unspoken answer to Paul's question is: no, some are not these things, some do not have these gifts. The teaching that everyone has every gift is unbiblical. This usually appers in charismatic groups.

(1 Corinthians 12:30) Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

The unspoken answer to Paul's question is: no, some do not have these gifts. The teaching that everyone has every gift is unbiblical. This usually appears in charismatic groups. Especially troubling are those churches that insist you should speak in tongues if you are filled with the Holy Spirit, otherwise you are not.

(1 Corinthians 12:31) But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.


Charity, love

(1 Corinthians 13:1) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

Paul uses the word "tongue" to mean a language having meaning, presumably with words, grammar, syntax, and etc. We should not the expect the word to ever refer to anything else.

Speaking foreign languages you've never heard and speaking the language the angels use; these are wondrous events. But simple love is a far superior experience.

(1 Corinthians 13:2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.

More supernatural experiences we might think amazing. But love is better by far. Having supernatural powers is worse than useless without God's love in us and our love for others.

(1 Corinthians 13:3) And though I bestow all my goods [possessions] to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

Even extreme acts of devotion are useless, even harmful, unless practiced with love, with charity.

Whatever could this mean to give up all your possessions to feed the poor? Jesus wasn't opposed to the idea and even suggested someone do it.

The image of martyrdom by fire does not refer to the age of martyrs that would occur in the future from the time of Paul. Probably Paul has in mind the scene from Daniel.

With verses like this in the New Testament, it's easy to understand why asceticism became so widely practiced in the early church and into medieval and even modern times.

(1 Corinthians 13:4) Charity [love] suffereth [endures] long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Love is directed toward others, not toward the self. Love requires self-sacrifice, that we practice virtue. It is simply impossible to be loving while practicing sin.

Paul lists the attributes and characteristics of love...

  1. Patient
  2. Kind
  3. Not envious or jealous
  4. Not boastful, doesn't brag
  5. Not proud, arrogant, or rude

These characteristics are all virtues, therefore, in truly loving you are also practicing the virtues.

(1 Corinthians 13:5) Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

The list continues...

  1. Doesn't behave in an unbecoming and inappropriate manner
  2. Not self-seeking
  3. Not easily angered or provoked
  4. Doesn't take into account the transgressions against oneself in dealing with others

Some Christians seem to allow for "righteous anger". Certainly this has its place, but we should note that Jesus only displayed this against two categories of people: (1) corrupt and unholy religious leaders who deceived the people, and (2) those who were using religious traditions for monetary gain. I suspect that what is often called "righteous anger" should really be called "rage addiction".

We should not ignore transgressions against us because we need to protect ourselves against repeat offenders. But we should allow for the possibility of true repentance, however, this doesn't always take place. It is not a virtue to allow ourselves to be exploited unless we are doing it purposively, perhaps because it is the best (or only) option.

(1 Corinthians 13:6) Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

The list continues...

  1. Does not rejoice in evil, unrighteousness, and wrongdoing
  2. Rejoices in truth

I personally don't understand how people can watch movies or play video games having violence, moral filth, and depravity; or in which the characters are committing mortal sins. I make an exception for historical accounts because we should know history; the good and the bad, but it should be tastefully presented. But I wouldn't want to make a strong case about this other than to note that if everyone boycotted everything unseemly, the world would be a far better place.

(1 Corinthians 13:7) Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

The list continues...

  1. Bears all things
  2. Trusts
  3. Hopes
  4. Perseveres

(1 Corinthians 13:8) Charity [love] never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

Paul has been discussing tongues and translations, prophecy and knowledge. These things are temporary, of use to us only while in this current world. In the new heavens and new earth, these kinds of things will no longer be part of our daily experience as they won't be needed. In the current world we must strive to connect with God but in the new heavens and new earth it will be automatic; we will always and forever live in God's direct presence.

Some who wish to deny that the gifts of the Spirit are for today interpret this ceasing and vanishing as occurring after the apostolic era, once John the apostle died, once all the books and letters of the New Testament were written. But this implies the perfect comes immediately after the apostles; this directly contradicts their very premise that the apostolic era was superior and that now the gifts of the Spirit are no longer in operation.

Some claim this vanishing and ceasing occurs at each person's death. But how do we exercise love once dead; love requires interaction with others? Strangely, these same people usually reject the Catholic notion that us who are still alive can interact with those who have died. Catholics accept this notion in praying to Saints and in accepting apparitions of Mary.

(1 Corinthians 13:9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.

Knowledge and tongues and prophecy as spoken of here by Paul exist, by definition, only in this current world; in the new heavens and new earth only love remains. So if we want to understand what Paul refers to by these terms we need only compare our current situation with the new heavens and new earth...

  1. Knowledge — In the new heavens and new earth we will know all that is needed, having a direct connection with Jesus and God. Thus, Paul means supernatural knowledge given by God, things we are blind to or can't discern otherwise.
  2. Tongues — In the new heavens and new earth we will apparently be able to communicate with everyone, perhaps via telepathy. No need for miraculously speaking their language.
  3. Prophecy — Same as for knowledge.

(1 Corinthians 13:10) But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.

What is the perfect referred to? Is it our death? It is hard to understand how dying can be considered perfect. Certainly life in the new heavens and new earth will be perfect.

Sadly, most churches have rejected prophecy as practiced in the early church. But weirdly, many of the Charismatic churches that do practice the gifts of the Spirit do it in direct violation of Paul's guidance in chapters 12 and 14 of this letter! In the early church, the bishops quickly usurped the ministry of the prophets as they divided Christians into clergy vs. laity.

Some think the nature of the Church changed after the apostles and these supernatural gifts ceased. Certainly they became radically less common but there are plenty of examples of miracles. Of course, there is much fraud also, giving Christianity a bad name.

These three verses Paul contrasts the world now, while living in this world, with a future glorious utopia, presumably the new heavens and new earth.

(1 Corinthians 13:11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

The childish things Paul is referring to in his analogy is prophecy, tongues, and the word of knowledge (and presumably all the other gifts of the Spirit as well); when in the new heavens and new earth we will not use these. Once there, we will not struggle to know truth, to stay fixed on Jesus, to strive to live a life of virtue. We will have no need to share the gospel with those who speak other languages. These "childish things" will no longer be needed. Rather, we will live fully and completely in love.

(1 Corinthians 13:12) For now we see through [in] a glass [mirror], darkly [dimly]; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

In our current world we can't see clearly; our soul is not fully activated; we are buffeted by wicked spirits in the spiritual realm. I think God has made us so dull to protect us from this, much as a child is innocent of the horrible things that may be going on around them.

Finally, in the new heavens and new earth we will be fully human, fully alive. The previous several verses are also about this contrast between our condition now and the final eternal glory.

Notice that God doesn't change how he views us; we finally become perfect but he is always and eternally perfect. And his perfection is far superior to ours. Each of us created creatures becomes perfect in the sense of being at the maximum possible.

(1 Corinthians 13:13) And now abideth faith, hope, charity [love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity [love].

Verses 10 — 12 contrast the present time with the new heavens and new earth, but verse 13 does not; it merely compares the 3 theological virtues: faith, hope, and love and declares love to be superior in some way.

Some Bible commentators make much of this and claim that hope and faith will still exist in the afterlife, but a side effect of this claim is that the word "hope" here has a different meaning than elsewhere. I personally have no opinion about this one way or the other. Certainly we will have human aspirations, goals, and motivations in the new heavens and new earth; perhaps some aspect of faith and hope are part of these.

Paul's main point in this verse is that love is superior to faith and hope. Whereas faith and hope are directed inward, toward ourselves; love is directed toward others, toward God and neighbor. We must spend a certain amount of time on ourselves, for example, we must brush our teeth, but loving others is simply a more significant aspect of life.


Prophecy vs. Tongues

In this entire first section Paul emphasizes the use of prophecy and criticizes the use of tongues.

(1 Corinthians 14:1) Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather [especially] that ye may prophesy.

We are to emphasize Christian love and spiritual gifts. Notice that these lead to the building up of the body of Christ. Of all the spiritual gifts, prophecy is the most important; but we should note that Paul immediately launches into a long section comparing and contrasting tongues with prophecy.

(1 Corinthians 14:2) For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

We should not speak to someone in a language they don't understand because the purpose of language is to communicate ideas.

Speaking in tongues does not help other people in the slightest, it is a solo activity. As such it has no place in the church service.

(1 Corinthians 14:3) But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

In contrast to tongues, prophecy has value to others.

(1 Corinthians 14:4) He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

Speaking in tongues has no benefit to anybody.

(1 Corinthians 14:5) I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

In this verse I believe Paul is referring to speaking another language that people can understand. If someone speaks in this kind of tongues then there also needs to be an interpreter so everyone can understand. I think Paul is mocking them by suggesting they should have interpreters when they know full well they are not speaking an intelligible language — no one could possibly interpret because they are speaking gibberish.

(1 Corinthians 14:6) Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

Paul reminds them he speaks to them in a language they understand.

(1 Corinthians 14:7) And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?

It is hard to understand how people can use chapter 14 to support their use of tongues in church services. Verse 7 states that even musical instruments are useless unless you can distinguish melodies within the individual notes. In like manner, speech without language, syntax, grammar, and most importantly, meaning, is useless — which is exactly what speaking in tongues is, as Paul makes clear.

Even musical instruments need to have clear tones and need to sound musical to be useful. Mere noise is useless; it is certainly not art nor worship.

(1 Corinthians 14:8) For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

For a trumpet to signal the troops it has to have clear tones and form a recognizable pattern. The tongues that are being spoken in the Corinthian church have neither — it is mere gibberish.

(1 Corinthians 14:9) So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.

The purpose of speech is communicating ideas.

(1 Corinthians 14:10) There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

(1 Corinthians 14:11) Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.

Speaking languages (or non-languages) uncomprehensible to others does not unite people.

(1 Corinthians 14:12) Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

Especially in church our use of spiritual gifts should edify one another. Tongues do not do this.


Interpretation

I think Paul is mocking the Corinthians by telling them they need to interpret these tongues. Of course they can't do it because it is not really a language.

(1 Corinthians 14:13) Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

If someone miraculously speaks a real foreign language (presumably that someone else within hearing range understands), they should also seek to miraculously interpret so that others can also understand what was said.

(1 Corinthians 14:14) For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

Speaking in tongues is like rocking back and forth and humming — it provides comfort, but it doesn't communicate anything to anyone.

Sometimes when I hear of the difficult life someone has had and wish I could have been God and made it all different, I sense empathy that almost hurts. I groan within and almost out loud, calling to God why do we have to suffer so, and when will we all finally get true rest in the new heavens and new earth. That is what speaking in tongues is like. I can't for the life of me imagine why anyone would want to do this in church, to make this kind of thing the main event in church?

The question is whether Paul thinks our spirit can pray without our being aware of it or without our being aware of the content or meaning of the prayer.

The phrase "unknown tongue" seems to refer to words that have no meaning to the listeners, whether it is a real foreign language or a nonsense language that is not really a language at all. Paul uses this phrase many times in this chapter.

(1 Corinthians 14:15) What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

Paul expects us to pray in an understandable manner. In other words, we need to know the content of what we are praying about. Prayer is not merely going through the motions of doing or saying things having no meaning.

(1 Corinthians 14:16) Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?

The phrase "bless with the spirit" seems to indicate speaking understandable words; perhaps to bless God; perhaps to bless others. In any case, Paul emphasizes that these kinds of utterances must be understandable to all, especially to those who are either not yet Christians or who are still learning the faith.

(1 Corinthians 14:17) For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

The phrase "giving thanks" seems to mean the same things as "bless with the spirit". Paul mentions again the importance of other people understanding the meaning of the utterances so they can be blessed by them.

(1 Corinthians 14:18) I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

It's hard to imagine Paul is bragging he speaks in a private prayer language more than anyone else does; how would he know such a thing? Likely there were some very devout Christians who would do this more than him. But this verse makes more sense if Paul is referring to miraculously speaking foreign languages he doesn't know as part of his evangelistic ministry.

In this verse Paul is referring to his activities outside of the church (see verse 19).

Paul speaks in tongues more than anyone else. After mentioning the importance of people being able to understand these utterances, why would Paul brag that he speaks gibberish? He wouldn't of course. When Paul speaks in tongues he certainly speaks a language understood by those around him. In my opinion, he is referring to speaking the language of the people, either languages he knows or, perhaps, miraculously through the power of the Holy Spirit, languages he doesn't know (as the apostles did in Acts 2:6).

(1 Corinthians 14:19) Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

Paul contrasts his speaking in tongues outside of church (verse 18) with his speaking in church (verse 19). In verse 19 he clearly states he doesn't want to speak in tongues at all and he seems to assume other Christians should have the same opinion about this as he does.

Even if verse 18 refers to Paul's speaking gibberish (in private) more than anyone else does, in verse 19 he clearly states this is not proper in church. Yet many charismatic Christians include speaking in tongues as part of their service.

Paul repeatedly highlights the importance of speaking words understandable to others. This is the key point he wants those reading this letter to take away from this chapter.

(1 Corinthians 14:20) Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit [in regards to] in malice [evil] be ye children, but in understanding be men.

Children need to learn proper thinking, the proper view of things. People with wrong views are still children in their thinking.

(1 Corinthians 14:21) In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the LORD.

The reason I think Paul in verse 18 is referring to speaking other languages understandable to his audience is his reference to Isaiah 28:11. The Babylonians who took the Israelites away into captivity spoke another language which was not understandable to the Israelites. This act was a judgment on them for not being true to God's law. They should have noticed that this judgment was because of their disobedience but they failed to understand the message even though Isaiah and the other prophets told them ahead of time what was happening.

Why would Paul refer to an Old Testament passage about speaking in a foreign language unless that is what he was talking about? The answer: Paul is not talking about a personal prayer language.

(1 Corinthians 14:22) Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

Referring to Isaiah 28:11, the language of the Babylonians who carried the Israelites to captivity were a sign for those who didn't believe Isaiah's warnings, who wouldn't turn back to God. The words of the prophet Isaiah were believed by some.

This verse contrasts two kinds of words, two kinds of people, and two kinds of outcomes...

  1. The foreign language of the Babylonians: heard by the Israelites as they were being carried away into captivity as judgment of their sins.
  2. The prophetic warnings of Isaiah: heard by all the Israelites and understood by all the Israelites; but ignored and disbelieved by those faithless Israelites who didn't want to change their sinful lifestyle.

The faithful Israelites were also taken away into captivity by the Babylonians, but for them it was not in judgment of their sins but, rather, for the sins of their fellow countrymen. It is hard to see how Isaiah's warnings could possibly have served these faithful Israelites except that it would have encourged them to continue being faithful to God rather than fall into sin with their fellow countrymen. Being reminded God hates sin is always a good thing for those who wish to please God.


Evangelism

Paul is concerned for the unbelievers who are attending the church service. When everyone is speaking in tongues these unbelievers are not edified in the slightest; they do not hear the gospel message of salvation. One purpose of prophecy is to evangelize to these unbelievers.

It's hard to see how people can interpret this extended passage as pro-tongues. Multiple times Paul tries to dissuade them from speaking in tongues, at least during their public meetings. He tries to reason with them, informing them of the harm it will cause if newcomers and strangers hear them babbling nonsense. I don't know if they heard this, but I do know that Charismatics don't seem to be paying attention. Instead of hearing Paul say to not use tongues in public, they seem to think he is saying the opposite, as if all they hear is the word "tongues"; if Paul uses the word "tongues" in a sentence they assume he is saying to speak in tongues anytime and often, and to emphasize it.

(1 Corinthians 14:23) If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

Paul is concerned with the effects on unbelievers and those who are still learning about Christianity. He seems to think the church service should not offend them or confuse them. I would think it would be okay if certain parts of a church service were mysterious to these people, but Paul seems to think otherwise. Perhaps this is because the majority of the church service of the Corinthians was chaotic and confusing.

(1 Corinthians 14:24) But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

I doubt if Paul is suggesting the Corinthians merely exchange their chaotic tongues-speaking with chaotic prophesying. I suspect he is comparing the effect on these unbelievers or unlearned with hearing gibberish versus hearing clear teaching in a language they understand.

(1 Corinthians 14:25) And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

Speaking tongues not understandable by others does nothing to convince people of the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the message. People can only judge the value of a proposition if they understand it. Gibberish just confuses people and frustrates them. It has no place in a church service.


Order / Radically restricting the use of Charismatic gifts

The church service is to be orderly. Paul puts severe restrictions on the use of tongues and prophecy in the church service. Many charismatic denominations ignore Paul's commands.

(1 Corinthians 14:26) How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

If Paul is speaking to the congregation at large then it sounds like most everyone is very gifted and participates in the church service. This church is more like an interactive home fellowship than a church. Perhaps Paul is referring to merely those people who do lead the church service, perhaps a dozen people or so.

(1 Corinthians 14:27) If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

This is a severe restriction on their activities during the church service. If they followed Paul's command the church services would have changed drastically. But they probably ignored him.

Paul drastically restricts their use of tongues during the church service. Most churches I have been to that practice the public use of tongues totally ignore (disobey?) this verse. In my view, the true nature of the gift of tongues is speaking in a foreign language known by some of the listeners. I wonder if Paul is subtly mocking the Corinthians by requiring that interpreters must interpret every utterance in a foreign language so that those who don't speak that language can also understand the message (and it then becomes prophecy for them). It would soon become clear that (1) those claiming to be speaking in a foreign language were not really doing this at all, and (2) those claiming to interpret were really not doing so at all. This would restore the proper use of the gift of tongues to speaking in a foreign language understood by at least some of the listeners. Paul used this gift often as he travelled to various regions where they spoke various languages. During the birth of the Church at Pentecost there were present many from far-off lands who spoke many languages, and the disciples wandered among them speaking in their various languages. The gift of tongues does not have to be miraculous to be a true gift of the Spirit; if someone speaks multiple languages they can us this skill and it qualifies as the gift of tongues.

(1 Corinthians 14:28) But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

Charismatics often claim the utterances (babblings) of those speaking in tongues can be interpreted. But how can something which is not a language at all be interpreted? This idea is nonsense. I think it is more likely Paul is referring to people speaking in another language understood by some in the congregation. These utterances should be interpreted so the rest of the people can understand also.

(1 Corinthians 14:29) Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

Paul commands them to restrict their prophetic utterances by the congregation at large to 2 or 3. This surely would drastically change the character of the church service. I suspect all these prophets were not too happy about this. I also suspect they ignored Paul's commands.

(1 Corinthians 14:30) If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.

Charismatics seem to think every time the Holy Spirit plants a thought in their head they must speak it out for everyone to hear. But here we have an example of the Holy Spirit planting the same thought in several people's heads. Paul mentions only one of them needs to speak it out.

We should consider the mechanism by which divinely-inspired thoughts are planted in our heads. Rather than the idea that the Holy Spirit singles-out people to receive a message; perhaps we should consider that all human souls live in the spiritual realm and receive divine messages all the time — after all, God lives in the spiritual realm and is fully capable of being heard above the noise and chaos of the demonic and satanic influences. Perhaps the souls of many people often hear the same messages at the same time because their souls are located in the same general spiritual place where the message is being delivered by God through an angel. Only a few people actually notice these messages implanted in their souls in the spiritual realm. No one is under any obligation to share every message their soul receives in the spiritual realm.

(1 Corinthians 14:31) For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

I'm surprised they had to be told to prophecy one at a time. The church service must have been pandemonium, a lot like some charismatic churches of today that ignore Paul's commands.

(1 Corinthians 14:32) And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

Prophets are to control the use of their gifts. They must decide when and if to proclaim their prophetic utterances, whether it will be edifying to others. Don't throw your pearls before swine.

(1 Corinthians 14:33) For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

I believe Paul is accusing the Corinthians of having confusing, disorderly services. Charismatics who use this chapter to support their views don't seem to be understanding what Paul is really saying.

(1 Corinthians 14:34) Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

I wonder which law Paul is referring to? Perhaps a Jewish law added by the Pharisees.

(1 Corinthians 14:35) And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

These verses seem to continue the subject from verse 33 of confusion in the church service. Paul seems to tack this on as an afterthought, but this is common; to emphasize women's inferior role to men in that society. The apostles never attempted to correct this injustice; probably they didn't see it as a problem.

It seems Paul is commanding the women to not interrupt the service by asking questions during the service; they should instead ask their husbands when they get home. Perhaps the women of the culture felt free to interrupt the service and to interrupt anyone else who was speaking at the time. Perhaps the women did this more than the men.

I doubt if Paul is saying that in all cultures and at all times that women are to remain completely silent in church and that they are to have no role in the church.

(1 Corinthians 14:36) What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?

(1 Corinthians 14:37) If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

Those who are spiritually advanced are to obey these commands of Paul. Paul is not merely offering helpful suggestions for them to consider and to reject if they don't fit their situation. Yet many charismatic churches do ignore Paul's admonitions and even claim Paul is teaching them to do the very things he is telling them not to do.

(1 Corinthians 14:38) But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

If someone ignores Paul's admonitions, it is because they are ignorant, not because they are spiritually advanced.

(1 Corinthians 14:39) Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

I can't imagine why Paul would have told them not to forbid speaking in tongues; likely they were going to ignore him anyway. I doubt they would have forbidden the speaking in tongues altogether but it seems to me Paul actually would have preferred that outcome.

Perhaps Paul was afraid that squelching the use of the gifts of the Spirit would have deadened the faith life of the Christians at large. That is what happened in the very early church when the bishops began to create a division between clergy and laity. Perhaps church should have extemporaneous participation by the church members to keep the life in the church; to keep it from become spiritually dry.

(1 Corinthians 14:40) Let all things be done decently and in order.

It seems the Corinthian church had problems with having a decent and orderly service. People interrupted the service, the poor were neglected, there were wild displays of pagan-like tongues speaking.

I've been to church services of charismatic churches having these same problems. Because they teach that these charismatic practices are good things, they ignore Paul's clear admonitions in 1 Corinthians 14. Weirdly, they use this same chapter to justify their disorderly practices.

(1 Corinthians 15:1) Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

(1 Corinthians 15:2) By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

Receiving the gospel message in faith results in salvation. But a distorted false gospel is powerless to save. In the next few verses Paul repeats the essential gospel message: Christ died for our sins and was resurrected. This is a prelude to Paul's long discussion about resurrection.

Notice that the bodily resurrection of Christ is a key doctrine; without it Christianity falls. Those who teach otherwise are heretics. The Council of Nicea resolved this; here's a quote...

For us humans and for our salvation he [Jesus Christ] came down and became incarnate, became human, suffered and rose up on the third day, ascended into heaven, is coming to judge the living and the dead.

This illustrates why Sola Scriptura is false; we need to clearly know ahead of time of the correct interpretation of Paul's writing about this topic and that it is an essential to the faith. In the early centuries of the Church people came up with all kinds of wild heresies using the Bible as support. Only in learning of the true essential doctrines in the Council of Nicea (for example) and of correct Christian practice (regarding the Eucharist, for example), only in this way can we have a proper understanding about Christianity.

I should mention: there are various false views regarding the resurrection that are supported from the Bible using the same interpretation techniques that orthodox Christians use: bringing together verses from different passages, viewing phrases as allegories or figures of speech when it suits them, interpreting passages as cultural only having no relevance to the current time, harmonizing seemingly contradictory passages, interpreting difficult passages in light of easy passages, typology. If you doubt whether such a thing is possible see verses 44 & 46 in which Paul refers to the resurrected body as "spiritual". Depending on how you define this word, well... It was common for some people of the day to think matter (and therefore the body) was bad; thus, there would be no such thing as a bodily resurrection but a spiritual one. Jesus indicates that the resurrection is of the soul, not the body since Abraham was already resurrected. (Note: I accept the view of the Church, that resurrection is of the body, and I reject the heretical views I briefly mention above.)

(1 Corinthians 15:3) For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

The scriptures Paul is referring to is the Old Testament.

(1 Corinthians 15:4) And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The scriptures Paul is referring to is the Old Testament.

(1 Corinthians 15:5) And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:

The risen, resurrected Christ showed himself to the apostles: first to Peter, then to the 10 others (Judas was no more.) Paul calls these 11, the 12. Jesus honored Peter's role as head among the apostles by visiting him first.

But of course, he visited some of the women disciples even before that (Paul doesn't mention them), seemingly to honor those humble, faith-filled disciples as being pre-eminent before the leadership. Within a few decades the church leaders reversed this.

The fact that Paul refers to the 11 apostles as 12 implies that Peter didn't really need to add another to replace Judas. Catholics make much of Peter's initiating this but should not.

(1 Corinthians 15:6) After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.

The risen, resurrected Christ visited more than 500 others. Some had died since Paul wrote this letter to the Corinthians. Then in the next verse Jesus visits the apostles — again, he visits the humble disciples first, then the leaders.

(1 Corinthians 15:7) After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.

This is not James the disciple, but another James, probably the leader of the Church of Jerusalem. Notice that many church leaders, later called bishops, are called apostles. Certainly the book of Acts agrees with this and Paul refers to himself as an apostle.

(1 Corinthians 15:8) And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.

Finally, years later, Jesus visited Paul. The greatest shall be the least. The great apostle Paul is last on the list.

(1 Corinthians 15:9) For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet [suitable] to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

(1 Corinthians 15:10) But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.

Paul claims to have worked harder in his ministry then the other apostles. Perhaps he means he had to make up for his humble beginnings as one who persecuted Christians.

(1 Corinthians 15:11) Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.



Resurrection

(1 Corinthians 15:12) Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?

It is unclear who Paul is referring to, those that don't believe in the resurrection. Certainly the Sadducees did not believe this but these did not become Christians. Perhaps it's the same bunch that sent the forged letter to the Thessalonians. In any case, Paul wishes to set the matter straight.

Apparently these false teachers taught that Christ rose from the dead, but we won't. Perhaps they taught that Christ was an apparition, a phantasm, and only seemed to rise from the dead. This was the view of the early heresy Docetism.

The apostles preached very vehemently and clearly that Christ was resurrected. Paul wonders why some would ignore this preaching and claim there is no resurrection of the dead after all? Basically, some who were connected with the Church in some way felt they could simply ignore which ever apostolic teachings they choose to. The Catholic Church makes the same claim of having infallible teaching but, sadly, they have radically altered the gospel message (as have the Protestants).

(1 Corinthians 15:13) But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:

Paul reverses the argument: if there is no such thing as a resurrection for us, then neither did Christ rise either. It is unclear why Paul thinks this is a good argument; it is certainly a possible argument (but a false one) that Christ rose but we won't.

Perhaps Paul is merely stating an obvious fact, that if there is no resurrection at all (for anyone) then Christ didn't rise either (since there is no resurrection).

(1 Corinthians 15:14) And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

The doctrine of the resurrection of Christ is a cornerstone of true, apostolic Christianity. The Nicene Creed confirms it as true and all variations of true Christianity believe it. This includes Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Protestants, others. Those groups which deny this are not Christian at all.

(1 Corinthians 15:15) Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.

Since the apostles so strongly taught the doctrine of the resurrection of Christ; those who say the apostles are mistaken are, in effect, calling them liars, invalidating their apostolic credentials.

Notice Paul again mentions the idea that if there is no resurrection of the dead then Christ could not have been resurrected either. This seems to be a key component of the heresy he is refuting; they say there is no such thing as the resurrection of the dead for anyone, including Christ.

Notice the apostolic pedigree — the teaching is of God, from God. All the key elements of apostolic Christianity, of true Christianity, must contain the true gospel message.

(1 Corinthians 15:16) For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:

Paul leaves no stone unturned; he mentions all possible options. The final option is if there is no resurrection at all, for anyone. In this case certainly Christ did not rise (there being no resurrection at all). The same as verse 13.

(1 Corinthians 15:17) And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.

Similar to verse 14. Paul assumes the correctness of the whole Old Testament narrative about the fall of humanity and the need for redemption of our sins, of our sin nature. Without the resurrection of Christ to solve this problem, there is no hope for fallen humanity. And if we are all irretrievably doomed, why bother to have faith at all?

(1 Corinthians 15:18) Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.

Paul is always careful to address the fate of those who have already died. This will be the fate of us all one day so it is a good way to speak of our death without mentioning it directly.

It appears there was some worry that only those alive at the time of some soon-to-occur event would enjoy the benefits. But Paul corrects them by informing them that for most, death will occur, and they will enjoy the benefits of redemption even after having died.

(1 Corinthians 15:19) If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

(1 Corinthians 15:20) But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.

A reference to the feast of first fruits.

(1 Corinthians 15:21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.

Perhaps if Adam had not sinned, Satan would have been judged right then and the new heavens and new earth would have begun. Thus, Adam's sin brought death to humanity. I should note: there have been true modern humans for 200,000 years yet Adam appeared only about 10,000 B.C. at the time agriculture began.

(1 Corinthians 15:22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

Adam's rebellion against God allowed the human race to become entangled in Satan's kingdom of darkness, influenced to sin. Christ took on human nature, deifying it, and rescuing us from the consequences.

Notice it says "all made alive". I hope this means that Christ's love is so strong and the conditions in the lake of fire so bad that everyone, when confronted at death with Christ as he really is, will choose eternal redemption. We should hope for this and pray for this. This is not universalism, the doctrine that everyone will be redeemed. Rather, it is the hope that everyone is redeemed without knowing whether it will be so.

(1 Corinthians 15:23) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.

Notice there are only two events mentioned...

  1. The resurrection of Christ
  2. The resurrection of the redeemed at the 2nd coming of Christ

There is no 3rd event, no rapture centuries before the 2nd coming of Christ.

(1 Corinthians 15:24) Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.

At the start of the new heavens and new earth, Jesus hands the kingdom over to God the Father.

(1 Corinthians 15:25) For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.

Christ reigns for the entire Church age. Some claim he begins his reign only after the rapture and that he reigns only during an earthly 1,000 year millennium. There is no such thing as this rapture and millennium; most verses typically used to refer to the rapture actually concern the resurrection at Christ's second coming, and most verses typically used to refer to the 1,000 year earthly millennium actually concern the new heavens and new earth. During the Church age, Christ is putting his enemies under his feet. At the second coming of Christ, he will complete the task.

(1 Corinthians 15:26) The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

(1 Corinthians 15:27) For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.

I wonder why Paul felt he needed to mention that the word "all" here excludes God the Father?

(1 Corinthians 15:28) And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Once evil, sin, and death are judged forever, there is no longer any need for Jesus to act in the role of judge. After that he abandons that activity. Some (many?) claim time does not exist in the eternal state nor does time exist for God. But notice that Jesus as second person of the Trinity acts within the bounds of time. Time is part of God's nature.

(1 Corinthians 15:29) Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

Why would Paul refer to baptism for the dead this way if he were referring to a heretical practice? He implies that this baptizing for the dead actually accomplishes something. This is foreign to most Protestants because they jettisoned such ideas as being too Catholic. But it's biblical so we must accept it.

Certainly if baptizing for the dead accomplishes something, then baptism accomplishes something as well. Baptism is more than merely an act performed in obedience to Christ. During baptism with accompanying faith, the Holy Spirit indwells the new believer, their sins are remitted, and they become members of the body of Christ — they join the Church of Christ. Two errors...

  1. You should not need a second ceremony to join your local church; you join the Church during baptism. If you change churches you should not need an often-lengthy process of joining.
  2. It is wrong to think that rites and rituals are mere superstition. God honors them when performed in faith.

Fundamentalist evangelical Protestants consider this to be a "difficult verse". It is only difficult because they choose to reject its clear meaning (and the clear practice of the early Church).

Probably this rite of baptism of the dead was similar to offering a mass on behalf of a dead person. God honors the intent and blesses the dead person. This implies that our prayers can affect the dead. It also implies that the dead are in a condition in which it is beneficial to be prayed for — this is purgatory in a nutshell. The souls of most dead people are being improved in some way as they wait for the final resurrection and entry into the new heavens and new earth.

(1 Corinthians 15:30) And why stand we in jeopardy [danger] every hour?

(1 Corinthians 15:31) I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our LORD, I die daily.

(1 Corinthians 15:32) If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

This verse is strictly literal. The beasts referred to are people as well as the spirits empowering and influencing them. Humans are just animals, created creatures having a body and associated soul. Animals, especially carnivores, are preoccupied with hunting and killing; so it is with people who actively oppose God and his work among humans. They are literally beasts.

Paul illustrates the point he made back in verse 14. It is foolish to struggle and suffer to defend teachings and doctrines which are not true. An example is anti-Catholics who seek to destroy the Catholic Church by misrepresenting its teachings. (Certainly there are untrue teachings, and some Catholics are not very good Christians if they are even Christians at all, and this includes popes, bishops, priests, deacons, brothers, sisters, nuns, abbots — you name it.)

(1 Corinthians 15:33) Be not deceived: evil communications [bad company] corrupt good manners [character].

Paul quotes from the Greek poet Menander of Athens from hundreds of years previous, "Bad company corrupts good character".

(1 Corinthians 15:34) Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

Paul seems to imply that the reason people deny truths of the gospel is because they wish to live sinful lives.


Silly Objections

It seems every topic Paul speaks about, he has to refute silly and idiotic objections. The topic of resurrection is no exception.

(1 Corinthians 15:35) But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?

This is no objection at all except that the question is not honest.

Here's my answer: the body is raised up by the soul simply attaching itself to the body again. The resurrection body is exactly the same as this body. What is different is the conditions in the spiritual realm where the soul resides. There will be no more evil influences and this will have a tremendous effect on even the physical realm. Tree branches will still fall during storms, but no creatures will ever be harmed.

(1 Corinthians 15:36) Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened [come to life], except it die:

It should be easy to understand the resurrection, after all, everyone has seen how a seed is thrown into the ground and dies (stops being a seed), only to be transformed into a glorious plant. Of course, human resurrection is nothing like this. The decaying corpse does not grow to become the resurrected body.

(1 Corinthians 15:37) And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:

The body after resurrection (the wheat) is different than the body before resurrection (the seed). In my view, what has changed after the resurrection is the spiritual realm and who controls it, not the way the universe operates. But no matter, Paul didn't know about modern science back then so his descriptions are rather folksy.

(1 Corinthians 15:38) But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.

Each kind of seed grows into a particular kind of plant. Thus, each of us will be unique in the new heavens and new earth just as we are unique now. I'm not sure how this kind of information helps anybody understand the resurrection but, no matter. Perhaps they had all kinds of wrongheaded ideas that everyone will be exactly the same after the resurrection, that we will lose our individual identity as Buddhism and Hinduism teach.

(1 Corinthians 15:39) All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.

The next few verses seem to be about the topic of different kinds of physical objects. Paul emphasizes this so strongly, it must be very important to those living at that time. He points out the various kinds of objects — living and non-living — seemingly to illustrate that after the resurrection there will still be different kinds of objects.

The word "flesh" refers to the physical bodies of humans and animals. The word "flesh" is used for living bodies whereas the word "body" is used for other physical objects.

(1 Corinthians 15:40) There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

Is Paul taking about stars and planets or about spiritual beings? As the next verse shows, he is talking about stars and planets.

By referring to animals and stars and planets in his discussion, I must assume that Paul is teaching that these will all exist in the new heavens and new earth. In other words, the new heavens and new earth will be exactly like this world, but without sin and evil!

(1 Corinthians 15:41) There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.

I doubt if Paul is implying that stars and planets have souls just as humans have souls.

(1 Corinthians 15:42) So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

Paul returns to the image of a seed which is planted and grows into a plant. Our physical body dies but is resurrected and will never die after this. We will spend eternity in the new heavens and earth.

(1 Corinthians 15:43) It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:

(1 Corinthians 15:44) It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.

Paul is contrasting our current body (the natural body) with our resurrected body (a spiritual body).

(1 Corinthians 15:45) And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.

This verse illustrates that Paul is talking about the spiritual realm, not the physical realm. The soul/spirit influences events and conditions in the physical realm: wicked and evil spirits have a bad effect on it; holy and pure spirits have a good effect on it. Currently, there is a war in the spiritual realm. The wicked and evil spirits have caused pain, suffering, and death — and God allows this for a while, for his plans and purposes.

(1 Corinthians 15:46) Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.

The use of terms in these verses can cause confusion if we are not careful...

The words natural and spiritual refer to the totality of our being, physical and spiritual, with a strong emphasis on the spiritual which controls and guides the physical.

(1 Corinthians 15:47) The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

(1 Corinthians 15:48) As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

(1 Corinthians 15:49) And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

A surprising verse. Ultimately, us humans will have had both kinds of bodies, natural and spiritual, earthy and heavenly, just as Christ did! In this sense we will become deified, a concept, often misunderstood, of the Eastern Orthodox churches.

(1 Corinthians 15:50) Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

The phrase "flesh and blood" refers to our current carnal condition in which our souls are entangled with the wicked and evil spirits in the spiritual realm. Flesh is the body; blood is the soul — the life is in the blood, and the soul is the part of us that is truly living.

Notice the kingdom of God doesn't occur until the new heavens and new earth.

(1 Corinthians 15:51) Behold, I shew [show] you a mystery; We shall not all sleep [die], but we shall all be changed,

Everyone will be resurrected some day, even those who have already died. This is a mystery because the fact can't be determined without Divine revelation — only Christianity teaches this; every other religion has missed it.

Those who are alive when the general resurrection occurs will not first die, they will be raptured so to speak. This true-rapture occurs at the second coming of Christ; there is no other resurrection after this. I mention this because millennialism has some usually-ignored side-effects...

  1. Just as there must be a second-second coming of Christ (the first-second coming is the rapture; the second-second coming is Christ's final coming, the true second coming), there must also be a second rapture, one for each coming of Christ.
  2. At the start of the literal 1,000 year millennium, there must be radical and drastic evolution of all animals and plants, even bacteria and mosquitos: carnivores won't kill or eat animals (can you munch grass with fangs?) mosquitoes won't suck blood (will they suck fruit juice?) animals and plants currently having a symbiotic connection (think, parasites) won't do this anymore.
  3. There will be billions of resurrected saints flying around and ruling a rag-tag band of perhaps a million formerly non-Christians, now Christians, who are the initial inhabitants of the millennium after the ravages of the great tribulation which nearly destroys the world in a global nuclear holocaust. A weird world indeed. Who thought of such a crazy teaching as the millennium preceded by a rapture? Surely a madman!

(1 Corinthians 15:52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump [trumpet]: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The book of Revelation speaks of this trumpet, the final of the 7 trumpets; these are the only trumpets integral to the plot in the book of Revelation. (Look it up for yourself and you will see that I'm right.)

(1 Corinthians 15:53) For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

(1 Corinthians 15:54) So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

(1 Corinthians 15:55) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?

(1 Corinthians 15:56) The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

(1 Corinthians 15:57) But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

(1 Corinthians 15:58) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

What labor is Paul talking about? Why, it is the work of the Lord? And what is that? The only work Paul ever mentions is living virtuous lives, honoring God, including partaking of the Eucharist in a worthy manner.

We are to abound in the work of the Lord. We are to do this always, meaning, we are to not sin. We are to be steadfast and unmovable, not tempted to sin.

Our work in the Lord is not in vain. For one thing, in pleasing God we are fulfilling our purpose for having been created in the first place. We find our utmost joy and fulfillment in pleasing God. In addition, those who live a life of faith and virtue will be redeemed and will spend eternity with God in the new heavens and new earth. What greater joy and benefit could there possibly be?


(1 Corinthians 16:1) Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

Notice this collection is specifically to help fellow Christians, not for the population at large. There are no examples in the New Testament of the Church providing assistance to non-Christians.

(1 Corinthians 16:2) Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

(1 Corinthians 16:3) And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.

(1 Corinthians 16:4) And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

(1 Corinthians 16:5) Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.

(1 Corinthians 16:6) And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.

(1 Corinthians 16:7) For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.

(1 Corinthians 16:8) But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.

(1 Corinthians 16:9) For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

(1 Corinthians 16:10) Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.

(1 Corinthians 16:11) Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.

(1 Corinthians 16:12) As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.

(1 Corinthians 16:13) Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.

(1 Corinthians 16:14) Let all your things be done with charity.

(1 Corinthians 16:15) I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)

(1 Corinthians 16:16) That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.

(1 Corinthians 16:17) I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.

(1 Corinthians 16:18) For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.

(1 Corinthians 16:19) The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.

(1 Corinthians 16:20) All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.

(1 Corinthians 16:21) The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.

Paul wrote the final greeting himself, not using a scribe or secretary. Therefore, a scribe or secretary actually wrote this letter. It may bear the imprint of this writer's grammar, syntax, and writing style. Thus, you cannot use grammar, syntax, and writing style to identify who wrote a New Testament writing, yet modern interpretation of the Bible does just this.

(1 Corinthians 16:22) If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.

(1 Corinthians 16:23) The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

(1 Corinthians 16:24) My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.


King James Version