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Lenten Reading Challenge1 Corinthians Chapters 1 to 7

• When and Where

Borg writes: “According to Acts, Paul created a Christ-community in Corinth in southern Greece around the year 50. Corinth was a major city, seaport, and capital of the Roman province of Achaia, which included Athens” but at this time Corinth was the more important of the two. It was a multi-ethnic hub, mostly gentile but with a synagogue. Paul most likely wrote this letter while in Ephesus in 53-54, and note that what we have here is not actually his first letter to the Corinthians (see 5:9 and 7:1).

• Key Insights

Paul is responding to a letter he has been sent, part of an ongoing correspondence with a beloved and familiar, but divided community. Paul here proclaims his gospel – that he preaches only Christ, and him crucified! Crucifixion was the worst form of punishment the empire had. The claim that God became flesh is scandalous enough; for to him to die on a Roman cross? Unthinkable. And yet this, and the resulting resurrection, is at the heart of Paul’s faith and message. Paul finds and urges strength in Christ, even as he also begins to wrestle with finding unity in diversity, setting standards but realizing each follower has different gifts and calling.

• Big Picture

This is the 2nd longest of Paul’s letters, so in the standard canonical order, it comes after Romans. Here we see it is an early letter, and we’re “hearing” one side of an ongoing conversation. Paul is not writing a systemic theology, but engaged in conversation as he, and the Corinthians, sort out what it means to follow Christ in their time and place. In some ways their world is not so different from our own pluralistic society.

Blessings on your reading!

Tomorrow we’ll read the rest of 1st Corinthians, then take a break for Sunday worship.

How you doing so far? Remember to note “things I notice” and “questions I have” in a notebook. Several are also posting favorite verses or questions on our Facebook group:

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2 thoughts on “LRC Day 3 Friday Feb 15th 1Corinthians 1 to 7

  1. This reading delves into morality and finally into an area I struggle with in my own belief and that is homosexuality. I personally believe that Jesus/God would not say that they will not inherit the kingdom. Homosexuality is born as are those with other physical and mental issues. God/Jesus believe in love one another so perhaps Paul is not correct.

    • I agree Sharon. This is one of the places I think we need to understand a 1st Century worldview and where it is helpful to dig into the original greek. We’ll revisit this again in Romans as well. One resource I highly recommend around these issues is an article by Mel White, one of the founders of Soulforce, a group I’ve belonged to for several years and which was very helpful in helping me return to the church. http://www.soulforce.org/resources/what-the-bible-says-and-doesnt-say-about-homosexuality/
      There is a whole section on this passage from 1st Corinthians – in short it is clear Paul is not talking about a modern understanding of sexual orientation and committed mutual, reciprocal relationships. There are some significant translation issues as Paul appears to have coined words in Greek. Check out the link for more. My own commitment as a Pastor is that same sex relationships are no more inherently sinful than heterosexual relationships, both can be good, both can be sinful, and the 13th chapter’s discussion on love applies well to both.

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