Faith In First Corinthians, Part 5: The Carnal Corinthians - The Believer’s Primer to a Sanctified Life:Volume 5, Number 46
Created Date: September 17, 2022
Posted Date: September 17, 2022
The King James Version (KJV) of Paul’s 1st Corinthian epistle contains 9,462 words, more than any of his other epistles. Romans has 40 less words at 9,422. Hebrews is 3rd with 6,897 and 2nd Corinthians is 4th with 6,046 (KJF-Stats). Romans describes the Gospel of Grace revealed to Paul and lays the groundwork for his epistles to the other 6 churches: Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossi and Thessalonica. (Paul write to 7 churches and 7 in Scripture is the number for Spiritual perfection.) Romans reveals God’s wrath against sin, and the only ground upon which the sinner can stand righteous before Him; “… the just shall live by faith,” . “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” . Faith alone connects mankind to Almighty God in the Person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The word “faith” occurs 7 times (spiritual perfection) in 1st Corinthians and 7 in 2nd Corinthians. The first occurrence of “faith” in 1st Corinthians sets the tone for the teaching therein; “And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”. This is as true for believers today as it was for the Corinthians almost 2000 years ago; it is the unlimited power of God in which the believer’s faith stands. It can’t get any better than that, thus the epistle of 1st Corinthians points out that nothing the believer does can mitigate the bond of faith that stands in the power of God between man and God.
Many preachers and Bible teachers emphasize the Corinthians as the most carnal of all to whom Paul wrote and his epistles to them certainly points out their carnality. However, we don’t know about the carnal state of those in Paul’s other churches, simply because it is not stressed in his letters to them. The fact is that it was predominantly former pagan Gentiles who were saved in all his churches. Like the Corinthians, they were previously steeped in the lewd practices of that day, such as offering sacrifices in the pagan temples in exchange for the services of prostitutes. When visiting the ruins of Ephesus I observed a phallic symbol in stone on a road pointing the way to a house of prostitution. I submit that the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to write each of his epistles for a specific reason, so the total provides everything a believer needs to know and live a life pleasing to God. The Corinthian epistles are a primer that provide the basics of the sanctified (set aside to God) life.
All true believers since Paul have begun their lives in Christ needing the lessons taught in Corinthians: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. 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.”. Believing parents should teach their children the Corinthian lessons just as the man or woman who is saved after living many years in sin needs the Corinthian lessons when they come to believe the Gospel. All believers begin as babes in Christ and must learn the blessings of living lives as members of The Body of Christ. Also, although the unsaved may not read the Bible, the believer’s life is the epistle of Christ: “ … Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.” . “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” .
First Corinthians is unique among Paul’s epistles in a number of ways. One is the subject of baptism. Note the following 5 Greek words relating to baptism in the New Testament (NT):
1) “baptid’zo” (G907) usually translated “baptize;”
2) “bap’tisma” (G908) always translated “baptism;”
3) “baptismos’” (G909) translated three times “washing” and once “baptism;”
4) “Baptistes’” (G910) always translated “Baptist;”
5) “bap’to” (G911) always translated “dip.”
Washing by water was necessary and common under the Law of Moses and water baptism was required under the Kingdom Gospel as evidenced in Matthew through John and the first part of Acts. On the other hand, 1st Corinthians is the only one of Paul’s epistles that addresses water baptism. In his other epistles baptism refers to being baptized into Jesus Christ’s death, which has nothing to do with water;; ; ; . A passage in 1st Corinthians provides the basis for this: “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. 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. For the body is not one member, but many.” . Paul wrote specifically that he was not sent to baptize, but to preach the Gospel. .
First Corinthians is the only epistle by Paul mentioning the miraculous sign gift of tongues, which was the ability to speak in languages foreign to an individual. Tongues were part of the Kingdom message,and lasted throughout the time recorded in the book of Acts. Paul wrote that he spoke more in tongues than anyone, . As an Apostle, he needed this gift during his travels where he met people speaking many different languages. In fact, he possessed all the signs, wonders and mighty deeds God bestowed on Apostles. He had the same power and authority as the 12 Apostles, ; ; ; ; ; .
The Corinthians who believed the Gospel,were saints, i.e., they were Holy, set aside by God (like all those to whom he wrote): “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:” . “Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 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.” .
But in spite of their righteous standing before God, there were; 1) divisions among them; 2) sexual immorality; 3) lawsuits against fellow believers; 4) marriage problems; 5) poor testimony by some mature believers that hurt those weak in the faith; 6) idolatry; 7) abuse of the communion meal in remembrance of Christ’s death and shed blood; 8) failure to recognize all were Members of Christ’s Body, each with different functions; 9) misuse of spiritual gifts such as prophesy and tongues; 10) some denied the resurrection of the dead; 11) the need to learn the Love of God in relation to faith and hope:
• “Faith,” Greek “pistis” (G4102), which the Holy Spirit defines: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”.
• “Hope,” Greek “elpis’” (G1680), found 7 times in Paul’s two letters to Corinth along with its variant “elpid’zo” (G1679) translated “hope” 3 times and “trust” 5 times. Biblical hope is not a mere wish or desire for something that might be possible, it is a sure well-grounded expectation of good in the future, it is the joyful expectation of what believers know will happen.
• “Love,” from three Greek words; 1) “agapa’o” (G25) found 6 times in 1st & 2nd Corinthians always translated “love;” 2) “agape” (G26) found 23 times total in the two epistles, translated “love” 11 times and “charity” 12 times; and 3) “agapetos’” (G27) found 6 times in the two epistles, translated “beloved” 3 times “dearly beloved” twice and “dear” once. Thus, some form of the word love occurs 35 times in the two epistles to the Corinth church.
As pointed out, all believers begin their lives in Christ like little children but what a shame some never grow up. “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. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity (love), these three; but the greatest of these is charity (love).”. By studying and absorbing God’s Word, the believer grows in faith, hope and love and some bright future day when caught up with our Lord will see what cannot presently be seen, and hope will be experienced when Members of Christ’s Body are embraced for eternity in God’s Love.
From the primer of Corinthians, Paul moves on to mature believers, such as in the church at Colosse: “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:”.