Our latest discussion from Bay State Road!
1 Corinthians Bible Study
Weekly Recap – Tuesday, April 29, 2014
1 Corinthians 7-8
1 CORINTHIANS 7:1-16
1 Corinthians 7:1
“Now, about what you wrote: It’s good for a man not to have sex with a woman.”
- We kind of wish the letter to Paul had been preserved so we could better understand the context / concerns he was responding to.
- While Paul is responding to a specific statement from the church, “It’s good for a man not to have sex with a woman,” this could really be applied to so many other issues or conflicts in a church. It is simply a disagreement that a church is trying to reconcile. This piece of Paul’s letter is him trying to acknowledge both sides and find a balance. It isn’t any different from conflicts between liberals/conservatives, traditional/progressive, etc. etc. that churches face today.
- As with the rest of this letter, it’s always good to remember that they believed the end time was imminent and that reconciliation with God was the most important piece of faith and belief.
Prooftexting & Stumbling Blocks
1 Corinthians 7:4
4 The wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise, the husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
- We have to be careful with passages like this – oftentimes only the FIRST part of this passage is quoted. It can be dangerous to pick and choose which parts of this passage we want to quote and apply in our lives and in our churches.
- Paul wasn’t saying that men should have ownership over women – Paul was saying that marriage is a two-way covenantal partnership.
Family Values At Home
1 Corinthians 7:5
5 Don’t refuse to meet each other’s needs unless you both agree for a short period of time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come back together again so that Satan might not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
- Was Paul’s point more that there really is no ONE answer or one “formula” – all marriages/families/covenants require constant work and that we need to love out the same values we worship at church in our homes
Single vs. Marriage vs. Divorce
1 Corinthians 7:8-15
8 I’m telling those who are single and widows that it’s good for them to stay single like me. 9 But if they can’t control themselves, they should get married, because it’s better to marry than to burn with passion. 10 I’m passing on the Lord’s command to those who are married: A wife shouldn’t leave her husband, 11 but if she does leave him, then she should stay single or be reconciled to her husband. And a man shouldn’t divorce his wife.
12 I’m telling everyone else (the Lord didn’t say this specifically): If a believer has a wife who doesn’t believe, and she agrees to live with him, then he shouldn’t divorce her. 13 If a woman has a husband who doesn’t believe and he agrees to live with her, then she shouldn’t divorce him. 14 The husband who doesn’t believe belongs to God because of his wife, and the wife who doesn’t believe belongs to God because of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be contaminated by the world, but now they are spiritually set apart. 15 But if a spouse who doesn’t believe chooses to leave, then let them leave. The brother or sister isn’t tied down in these circumstances. God has called you to peace.
- Interesting to see Paul go back and forth between what “the Lord” is commanding us to do and what HE (Paul) is telling us to do (v. 10 vs. v. 12). Perhaps Paul was conflicted – he only had the Gospel to go off of, but was struggling to figure out how the Gospel fit into the complicated Corinthian system. I think Paul was truly struggling to find answers to these questions the same way that we do.
- Paul doesn’t really tell us what to do. He gives reasons for staying single, getting marriage and letting a spouse leave.
- Again, we have to ask the question – what is the context of this? What were the Corinthians asking? Paul does offer concessions for divorce on the grounds of unfaithfulness – are there other concessions?
1 Corinthians 7:15
God has called you to peace.
- This is one of the most important pieces for me. In the end, there may not be a black and white answer on right and wrong, but we are called by God to live in peace and we should always be in prayerful discernment for how to make that happen (even if it means making compromises!).
- The notes in my bible say, “Marriage shouldn’t be a place of conflict for the Christian but a place of harmony and wholeness. Thus is a marriage leads to conflict with an unbelieving partner, peace shouldn’t be sacrificed in order to maintain this kind of marriage.” Should we fight for a marriage and work hard at it? Yes – but ultimately we need to keep a greater understanding and calling of peace in mind.
- It’s hard to let go of things sometimes – but peace should always be our ultimate goal.
1 CORINTHIANS 7:17-31
Unique Individuals in the Body of Christ
1 Corinthians 7:17
17 Nevertheless, each person should live the kind of life that the Lord assigned when he called each one. This is what I teach in all the churches.
- What works for you might not work for someone else – we shouldn’t be so quick to judge others
- What works for someone else might not work for us – we have to listen to what God is calling US to do (in our lives and in our relationships)
What Matters Is Now
1 Corinthians 7:18-19
8 If someone was circumcised when called, he shouldn’t try to reverse it. If someone wasn’t circumcised when he was called, he shouldn’t be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing; not being circumcised is nothing. What matters is keeping God’s commandments.
- Don’t worry about outward signs – worry about your relationship with God
- It does not matter what you have / have not done in the past – what matters is where we are NOW. The moment is now to keep God’s commandment.
What Is At Stake
1 Corinthians 7:23-24
23 You were bought and paid for. Don’t become slaves of people. 4 So then, brothers and sisters, each of you should stay with God in the situation you were in when you were called.
- Also translated – “You were bought at a price”
- The price that Jesus paid was too high for us to get caught up on the little things that don’t matter.
- We need to cling to God, not to human concerns
1 Corinthians 7:25-31
- Paul is desperately trying to make everyone happy – we know from our experiences in churches that this just isn’t possible
- Paul gives a lot of options for how the Corinthians can live – careful not to say one thing is right or wrong, but that there are many ways God calls us to live
Cramming For Christ
V. 29 says, “This is what I’m saying, brothers and sisters: The time has drawn short.”
- A reminder once again that they believed the end time was imminent and that none of the petty stuff really mattered.
- They really did believe that the end time was coming and Paul wanted people to prioritize a little bit better – to put aside the human desires and focus on Christ. It’s almost like a student approaching finals for a class that they really didn’t pay attention in – they need to let everything else go and study! There wasn’t much time left to do that before Jesus returned.
1 CORINTHIANS 7:32-40
1 Corinthians 7:32-35
32 I want you to be free from concerns. A man who isn’t married is concerned about the Lord’s concerns—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the world’s concerns—how he can please his wife. 34 His attention is divided. A woman who isn’t married or who is a virgin is concerned about the Lord’s concerns so that she can be dedicated to God in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the world’s concerns—how she can please her husband. 35 I’m saying this for your own advantage. It’s not to restrict you but rather to promote effective and consistent service to the Lord without distraction.
- There are many ways to take this passage. Paul was saying that when a person is married, their attention is split and they aren’t completely focused on God – but it goes without saying that every person is different. Some people use their marriages to focus their faith and their relationship with God is stronger as a result.
- It’s important to remember that most signs point to Paul being single – so this is the only life that he knew. He likely didn’t know (from person experience) how to maintain a relationship with God in the context of a marriage.
- This could also just be used as a good reminder to us that we SHOULD be keeping God as a priority in our lives – even above marriage. Because if we allow our marriage to come between us and God, then why will God help us sustain our marriages later on?
1 CORINTHIANS 8
Knowledge vs. Spirit
1 Corinthians 8:1-3
Now concerning meat that has been sacrificed to a false god: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes people arrogant, but love builds people up. 2 If anyone thinks they know something, they don’t yet know as much as they should know. 3 But if someone loves God, then they are known by God.
- Knowledge makes people arrogant, but love builds people up. ß I want to frame this scripture! It doesn’t matter what we know (or we think we know), we need to keep the love of God in our hearts and use that to fuel us forward.
1 Corinthians 8:7-8
7 But not everybody knows this. Some are eating this food as though it really is food sacrificed to a real idol, because they were used to idol worship until now. Their conscience is weak because it has been damaged. 8 Food won’t bring us close to God. We’re not missing out if we don’t eat, and we don’t have any advantage if we do eat.
- The challenges of living in a society that believes something different than you do
- How do you live with non-believers? How do you live with people who believe and act differently than you do?
- Paul doesn’t necessarily give us an answer – he doesn’t have the answers!
- This reiterates the importance of going to church and having a community of faith as your foundation – it’s challenging, but it forces us to see and understand different points of view and define our own.
Our Influence On Others
1 Corinthians 8:9-13
9 But watch out or else this freedom of yours might be a problem for those who are weak. 10 Suppose someone sees you (the person who has knowledge) eating in an idol’s temple. Won’t the person with a weak conscience be encouraged to eat the meat sacrificed to false gods? 11 The weak brother or sister for whom Christ died is destroyed by your knowledge. 12 You sin against Christ if you sin against your brothers and sisters and hurt their weak consciences this way. 13 This is why, if food causes the downfall of my brother or sister, I won’t eat meat ever again, or else I may cause my brother or sister to fall.
- We have to be careful about how our actions affect other people