Today’s selected reading is found in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first chapter of this New Testament book. “Paul, called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 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 lace call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours: Grace be unto your and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:1-3).
“I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:4-9).
“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. 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. 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. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other” (1 Corinthians 1:10-16).
“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. For the preaching of the cross is to the that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputed of this world? Hath not God made foolish he wisdom of this world? 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. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the owner of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Corinthians 1:17-25).
“For ye see your calling brethren, how. That not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 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; 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: that no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
When you come to the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will find an epistle that was written unto a church which the apostle Paul would spend a year and a half with. In order to truly understand the words and language which is found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints it is necessary to recognize the history surrounding this church and the saints which were present within it. The narrative and account of the city of Corinth which was a city in what is today known as the modern nation of Greece is found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. It is within the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. Important to note regarding the apostle Paul coming unto the city of Corinth is that he would come unto it having just left the Grecian city of Athens. Within the sixteenth chapter of this New Testament book you will find the apostle Paul in the city of Philippi which was a city in Macedonia which is of course considered Greece within our modern day. Having left and departed from Philippi the apostle Paul would come unto Thessalonica which is recorded in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts and a city where he would experience a tremendous degree of opposition and resistance from the Jews. What’s more is that within the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the apostle Paul being sent forth from the city of Thessalonica unto the city of Berea where he would teach and preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. There in Berea the apostle Paul would indeed experience affliction and persecution as the Jews which were present in Thessalonica would comer unto Berea when they heard that Paul had journeyed unto that place and had taught and preached the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Eventually and ultimately the apostle Paul would depart from Berea and would come unto the capital city of Greece which was the city of Athens. It would be there in the city of Athens the apostle Paul would teach and preach the word and name of the Lord Jesus—and not only the word and name of Jesus but also the resurrection from the dead.
I am absolutely convinced that if you want to truly understand that which is found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth it is necessary to understand the back story and the background surrounding his time leading up to entering into the city. What’s more is I would dare say that we must also think about and consider the words and language which is found in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts as it is in the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we encounter the tremendous reality of the apostle Paul within the city of Corinth. It would be in the city of Corinth the Lord Jesus would appear unto the apostle Paul by night in a vision exhorting and encouraging him in the midst of his time and tenure there. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the apostle Paul coming unto the city of Corinth and just as he had experienced in Lystra, Derbe, Iconium, Thessalonica and Berea he would experience affliction suffering, affliction and persecution from the Jews. With this being said, however, the apostle Paul would not be permitted to depart from the city of Corinth for the Lord Jesus would Himself appear unto Him and exhort and instruct him concerning his time there in the midst of the city. This is something we must needs recognize and understand when thinking about and considering this particular reality for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the time the apostle Paul would spend investing in the inhabitants of the city of Corinth laboring together with Aquila and his wife Priscilla. The apostle Paul would indeed spend a year and a half laboring and toiling among the Corinthian people which would eventually and ultimately result in a church and congregation being established in the midst of that city.
It is with all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts. That which we find in these particular chapters presents us with the backdrop and background for what we find in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth. If you want to truly understand the words and language found in this passage of Scripture it is absolutely necessary to understand that which led the apostle Paul unto the city of Corinth—and not only what led the apostle Paul unto the city of Corinth but also what led him to write this first epistle. Of course we know and understand there would be a second epistle written by the apostle Paul unto these saints, however, this first epistle was written with a corrective nature as the apostle Paul needed to rebuke and correct these saints based on a report that was received by him from someone who had witnessed and experienced everything that had taken place among the Corinthian saints. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth chapters of the New Testament book of Acts beginning with the time the apostle Paul would spend in Philippi together with Silas and Timothy:
“Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; and from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatria, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirt of divination met us, which brought her masters much grain by soothsaying: the same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, and brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jesus, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks” (Acts 16:11-24).
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundation of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and on every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light,a nd sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house” (Acts 16:25-34).
“And when it was day, the magistrates sent the sergeants, saying, Let those men go. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly unconcerned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privilege? Nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. And the sergeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. And they went out of the prison and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed” (Acts 16:35-40).
“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fallows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out fo the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go” (Acts 17:1-9).
“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Bearea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Bearea, they came that thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed” (Acts 17:10-15).
“Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? Other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ Hill and said, Ye meant of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom Therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should eek the Lord, if haply, they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; wherefore he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:16-31).
“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed from among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: and among the which was Dionysius and the Areopagite, and a women named Damaris, and others with them” (Acts 17:32-34).
Now we come unto the eighteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts where we find the account and narrative surrounding the apostle Paul coming unto the city of Corinth after departing from Athens. It would be there in the city of Corinth the apostle Paul would reason in the synagogue every sabbath day persuading both Jews and the Greeks. Eventually Silas and Timothy would come from Thessalonica where he had last seen them upon being sent forth by the brethren. It would be when Silas and Timothy came unto Corinth the apostle Paul would indeed be pressed in the spirit and would argue and contend that Jesus was Christ. It would be this declaration that Jesus was indeed Christ that would cause the unbelieving and envious Jews present in the city to blaspheme and oppose themselves thus assaulting and attacking the word and gospel which the apostle Paul had preached. When this had happened in Thessalonica the apostle Paul would be sent forth by the brethren unto Berea and when it happened in Berea the apostle Paul would be sent forth from Berea unto the city of Athens. Now the apostle Paul came unto the city of Corinth and would experience the resistance and opposition of the Jews yet the Lord Jesus would Himself appear unto him and restrict him from departing from that city. Just as the Holy Spirit would forbid the apostle Paul from entering into Asia to preach and teach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus so now the Lord Jesus would Himself restrict the apostle Paul from departing from the city of Corinth. What’s more is the Lord Jesus would appear unto the apostle Paul and command and exhort him to not be afraid but speak and hold not thy peace. Moreover the Lord Jesus would also declare unto the apostle Paul that he was with him and no man would set on him to hurt him for he had much people in the city. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in this passage of Scripture beginning with the first verse of the eighteenth chapter:
“After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; and found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. And he reasoned in the synagogues every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. And when Silas and Timotheus were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:1-11).
“And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallic said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: but if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such materials. And he drove them from the judgment seat. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things” (Acts 18:12-17).
It is with all of this background and having laid this scriptural foundation for the apostle Paul coming to and ministering within the city of Corinth we must now come unto the first epistle written by the apostle unto the Corinthian saints. If you begin reading with and from the opening verse of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul opening and beginning as was custom for him. In the opening verse of this epistle the apostle Paul would begin with his name thus indicating who it was that wrote the letter which was addressed and sent unto them. After presenting his name the apostle Paul would then go on to provide what might very well be considered his credentials as he would write of his being called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God. Not only this but the apostle Paul would also reference Sosthenes their brother who was undoubtedly present with the apostle Paul when he wrote these words. Sosthenes you will recall was the chief ruler of the synagogue of the Jews who believed on the name of the Lord. Sosthenes you will recall from the New Testament book of Acts was brought by the Greeks unto the judgment seat where Gallio sat and beat him there in the presence of all. How absolutely incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that although Gallio was beaten by the Greeks at the judgment seat which was present there in the midst of Corinth he would still believe and would not be dissuaded from worshipping and believing in Jesus who was the Christ and Lord. When the apostle Paul wrote this epistle written unto the Corinthian saints he would be present together with Sosthenes who had not only believed but who had also yielded his body to be beaten for the sake of the word and name of the Lord Jesus. The apostle Paul wrote the words which were found in this particular epistle and the apostle would write it together with Sosthenes who was indeed a brother and fellow labor in the work of the gospel and name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul acknowledging that he was writing this epistle “unto the church of God which is at Corinth.” This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the reality that the labor of the apostle Paul there in the midst of city—labor over a period of a year and a half—would not only result in those believing on the word and name of the Lord Jesus but also a church being established there in the midst of the city. That which we find here in the first chapter of this epistle calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding a church that was indeed established here in the city of Corinth—a reality which would fulfill the word which the Lord Jesus had spoken unto the apostle Paul. The Lord Jesus would declare unto the apostle Paul that He had much people in that city and now what we find here in this passage of Scripture provides us with a powerful witness and testimony to what the Lord Jesus would speak unto the apostle Paul. The Lord Jesus would appear and speak unto the apostle Paul and declare unto him that He had much people in the city and now when we begin reading the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints we find the apostle Paul referring to them as “the church of God” which was at Corinth. Oh how absolutely wonderful and incredible this truly is when you take the time to read these words for having labored and toiled for a year and a half the apostle Paul would indeed witness and behold the fruit of his labor as a church of God would be established in the midst of this city. Now when he was writing this epistle he was writing unto the church of God which was at Corinth.
Moving further within this epistle you will find the apostle Paul not only referring to these saints as “the church of God” which was at Corinth but you will also find him writing unto them as those who were sanctified in Christ Jesus and those who were called to be saints with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the words and language which the apostle Paul used. The apostle Paul didn’t merely refer to the believers in Corinth as the church of God but he would also refer to them as those who were sanctified in Christ Jesus and those who were called to be saints. In addition to this the apostle Paul would directly link and connect them to the saints which were present in all cities, towns, villages and nations throughout the known world at that time. The apostle Paul would indeed speak unto them of their being called to be saints together call upon the name of the Lord Jesus. These words are incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about them for they bring us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding these saints which the apostle Paul would write this epistle to. These unto whom the apostle Paul was writing these words were not only part of the church of God, and they were not only those who were sanctified in Christ Jesus but they were those who were called to be saints. What’s more is they were called to be saints together with all that in every place called upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Those who were in Corinth and believed were not only part of the church of God but they were also directly connected and linked to the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something which the apostle Paul would explain and express in the twelfth chapter of this epistle beginning with the first verse.
With this in mind I would like to jump ahead just slightly and call your attention to the words the apostle Paul would write in the twelfth chapter of this epistle for the apostle Paul sought to demonstrate unto them that they were not only part of the church of God and were called to be saints but they were also called to be part of the universal and spiritual body of Christ. The apostle Paul sought to draw and invite the Corinthian saints into a place where they would indeed recognize and understand that they were indeed called to be part of the spiritual body of Christ which had begun within the city of Jerusalem and yet had expanded beyond Judaea, Galilee and even Samaria. By the time the apostle Paul would write these words the spiritual body of Christ would indeed be present throughout much of the known world diner those days and at that time. When the apostle Paul wrote the words which were found in this passage of Scripture the apostle would indeed refer and speak to them as part of the church of God and those who were called to be saints with all that in every place call upon the name of the Lord. The saints here in Corinth were directly linked and connected to the saints which were present all over the world who called upon the name of the Lord just as they did. This is something which desperately needs to be understood when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for although these believers were called to be saints and although they were part of the church of God they had allowed division and schisms to enter in among them. Although they were part of the church of God themselves and were indeed a body—so to speak—unto themselves they were part of a much larger body which was present in the world during those days. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the words and language found in this epistle and how the apostle sought to demonstrate that they were indeed part of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ and were each members of that body with their own unique role, function and purpose. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the twelfth chapter of this epistle beginning with the first and opening verse of the chapter:
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking but the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
“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. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the hear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefor not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. 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. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 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. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which l caked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent away” (1 Corinthians 12:28-31).
There is a great need for us to recognize and understand the words which are found within the twelfth chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints for the words presented within it sought to demonstrate unto the Corinthian saints that they were indeed part of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul sought to demonstrate unto them that they were each unique in their own way being members of the body of Christ which were made as such by the eternal Spirit. The apostle Paul sought to demonstrate that there was indeed one body which was made up of many members and each member was unique in and of themselves and had a crucial and integral part of the spiritual body of Christ. This is something we must needs acknowledge when reading the opening chapter of this epistle for in the first three verses of the first chapter the apostle Paul wrote and spoke unto them concerning their being the church of God which was present at Corinth. Not only this but the apostle Paul wrote unto them as those who were sanctified in Christ Jesus and were called to be saints. What’s more is the apostle Paul would also call and draw their attention to the tremendous reality that they were called to be saints with all that in every place which called upon the name of Jesus Christ the Lord—both their Lord and the Lord whom others called upon. That which the apostle Paul sought to demonstrate was not only that they were united together as the spiritual body unto and among themselves but they were also united together in and by the eternal Spirit unto those who were part of the spiritual body of Christ in every place—those who called upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you continue reading the words which are found in this epistle—and specifically the first chapter—you will find the apostle Paul speaking unto these dear saints emphatically declaring how he thanked his God always on their behalf for the grace of God which was given unto them by Jesus Christ. Furthermore the apostle Paul would go on to declare unto them how that in every thing they were enriched by him in all utterance, and in all knowledge. The apostle Paul was writing unto a church and congregation which was not only called to be saints together with all those who called upon the name of the Lord Jesus Christ but they were also enriched in all utterance and in all knowledge. What’s more is the apostle Paul would go on to declare that they came behind in no gift as they waited for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ who would confirm them unto the end that they might be blameless in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ. With this being said, however, it is important for us to recognize that although this church was and might have been gifted they were divided. GIFTED YET DIVIDED! GIFTED YET CARNAL! This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of when reading the words found in this epistle for although this church might have been gifted and coming behind in no spiritual gifts they were indeed divided among themselves. The apostle Paul would write unto them—not as spiritual but as carnal—because they were indeed divided among and within themselves. Oh there is something truly captivating and challenging about this for although they were indeed gifted and enriched by the Lord Jesus Christ in all utterance and in all knowledge they were indeed divided among themselves. What’s more is that within this epistle the apostle Paul would make mention of this schism and division which was present among them on more than one occasion. In the first, third and even the eleventh and twelfth chapters of this epistle the apostle Paul would speak unto these saints concerning the schism and division which was present among them and it is this reality I would like to now call and draw your attention to:
“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. 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. 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. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crudified for you? Or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius; lest any should say that I had baptized in mine own name. And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other” (1 Corinthians 1:10-16).
“And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as 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 not are ye able. For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then. Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are laborers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:1-9).
“Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church< I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken. What? Have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? Or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. 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: 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. 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. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come. 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. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 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 11:17-34).
“For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honour Ed, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:24-27).
There is a great need for us to recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found within these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely incredible truth regarding the schism(s) and the division(s) which were present among the Corinthian saints. Despite the fact that the grace of God had been bestowed upon them and despite the fact that in every thing they had been enriched by Jesus Christ in all utterance and in all knowledge they were a divided church. It is absolutely inescapable and undeniable when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for the words which are present within it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding this church which was indeed gifted and yet was also divided. The apostle Paul made it perfectly clear when writing this epistle unto the Corinthian saints that although they were gifted they were a divided congregation of believers. What’s more is that although they were gifted they were carnal. What’s more is the reason why they were carnal was because there was envying, strife and divisions which were present among them. The apostle Paul declared that he could not write unto them as spiritual but carnal because they had allowed themselves to become divided with and among themselves. This is something we dare not and must not miss and ignore for it demonstrates the incredible truth that we can be as gifted as we think would like to be and yet we can be divided—and not only divided within ourselves but also divided within and among the spiritual body of Christ. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that one of the greatest signs of division within the spiritual body of Christ is indeed the division that is present within the heart and soul of an individual member of the body. Show me a body of believers where each of them is divided within themselves first and foremost and I will show you a spiritual body that is divided amongst and within itself.
I sit here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in this passage of scripture and I am brought face to face with the fact that we can indeed think we are gifted according to the Spirit and yet not only are we divided but we are also carnal. Pause for a moment and consider the incredible truth that it is possible to be gifted and to possess many if not all spiritual gifts and yet be carnal in our nature. If there is one thing this epistle proved and demonstrated it’s that we as the spiritual body of Christ can indeed by gifted by the Holy Spirit and yet are carnal within and of ourselves. There would be those who would like to think that this simply is not the case and yet even Jesus’ own words demonstrate the fact that we can be gifted and yet still carnal. In the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find Jesus speaking of how many would come unto Him in that day, saying, “Lord, Lord” and He will declare unto them, “Depart from me thou worker of iniquity, I never knew you.” These individuals will make great boasts of how they prophesied in His name, how they cast out devils in His name and how they did many wonderful things in His name and yet he will profess unto them that He never knew them. Pause for a moment and consider this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it brings us face to face with the fact that we can indeed be those who cast out devils, prophesy and do many great and wonderful works in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet we are indeed carnal. Please don’t miss the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for Jesus declared that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord” will enter into the kingdom of His Father in heaven but only those who do the will of the Father. What’s more is Jesus would also go on to declare unto these individuals that He did not know them—and not only that He did not know them but that they were workers of iniquity.
With this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke. Within this chapter we find Jesus ordaining and appointing seventy others whom He would send forth before His face into the cities, the towns, and the villages whithersoever He Himself would come. The Lord Jesus would send those seventy forth to teach and preach the gospel of the kingdom of heaven and gave them power and authority to heal the sick, to cast out devils and to manifest the kingdom of heaven. What we find within this passage of Scripture, however, is the seventy returning unto Jesus speaking of the great things they had done and how even the demons and unclean spirits were subject to them in His name. Jesus’ response is something which we must needs acknowledge and understand within our own hearts and lives for Jesus would instruct and command them to not boast that the devils and unclean spirits were subject to them in and through His name but that their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life in heaven. Oh there would indeed be those who would boast in the many great and wonderful works they have wrought and performed in the midst of the earth and yet the single greatest boast that we have is that our names are indeed and are in fact written in heaven and in the Lamb’s book of life. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it is possible to be gifted and it is possible to do many great things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and yet still find ourselves in a place and position where we are such who do not the will of the Father who is in heaven. It is possible to be such who might very well be gifted and might do many wonderful works in the name of the Lord Jesus and yet we are not only carnal but also those who work iniquity. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in there at: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall e niter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my FGather which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils:’ and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7;13-23).
“After these thins the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth laborers into his harvest. Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house. And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it? If not, it shall turn to you again. And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laboured is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. And into whatosever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you: and heal the sick that are therein, and say not them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you not, go your ways out into the streets of the same, and say, Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: not wist handing be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. But I say unto you, that it shall. Be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city” (Luke 10:1-12).
“And the seventy returned again w it’s joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17-20).
WE must needs recognize and understand the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they bring us face to face with the truth that we can prophesy, we can cast out devils and unclean spirits and we can even do many wonderful works and good things in Jesus’ name—even profess and confess Him as Lord when we are standing before Him in His presence—and He will not only declare unto us that He never knew us but will also refer to us as those who were workers of iniquity. Stop and consider this and how absolutely incredible it truly is for it is possible to be those who do good works and yet still be those who are workers of iniquity. It is possible to prophesy and cast out devils and yet still be considered as one who does iniquity in heaven. This is precisely what we find in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Corinth for the apostle Paul would emphasize in the very first chapter that although they were enriched in all wisdom and knowledge and although they came behind and were lacking in no gift they were divided among themselves. In the first and opening chapter—almost at the very outset of the epistle itself—the apostle Paul would speak unto them as those who were indeed divided within and among themselves. The apostle Paul did in fact speak unto the saints which were at Corinth and rebuke them for the divisions which were present among them—and not only for the division that was present among them but also what I would like to call celebrity-ism.
If you read the words which are found in the first chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul exhorting them that they all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among them. Moreover the apostle Paul would also speak unto them that they be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. With this being said the apostle Paul would write unto the Corinthian saints how it was declared unto him and brought to his attention that there were contentions among them. The source of these contentions were what I would consider to be parties and sects within the church as there would be those who followed Paul, those who followed Peter, those who followed Apollos and those who followed Christ. In all reality that which we find in the first and opening chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints is a perfect picture of the danger this nation is and has been in for quite some time. Even a cursory look at the past two and a half years will have to acknowledge and admit that this nation is and has been divided across party lines—and not merely along party lines but also along the lines of specific individuals. If you live in this nation right now you will discover that there is a great majority of those who stand behind and support the former president Donald J. Trump while there are others who support the current president Joe Biden. It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable when reading the words found in this epistle that the Corinthian church not only suffered from what I would call celebrity-itis but what I would also call celebrity-ism. The church in Corinth was essentially divided into four different factions and groups as there would be those who would claim they followed the apostle Paul, while there were others who claimed they followed the apostle Peter. Still there were others who claimed they followed Apollos while there were others who claimed they followed Christ.
It is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and understand this for this was the same thing which was found during the days of Jesus when there were those who would walk with and follow Jesus as His disciples while there were the scribes, the Pharisees, the religious community and even many religious and devout Jews who claimed they were children of Abraham and Moses’ disciples. Jesus came introducing the reality of being children of the Father which was in heaven and it was this declaration that was rejected by much of the religious system and community during those days as well as by many devout and religious Jews which were present in Judaea and Jerusalem. There were those who not only professed that they were children of Abraham but they would also profess that they were disciples of Moses as well—something which Jesus directly challenged. What makes this truly unique is Jesus came into this world taking upon Himself the seed of Abraham and sought to introduce the kingdom of heaven and the beauty of a relationship with the Father which was in heaven. This completely and utterly messed with the thinking, the views and the opinions of many of the religious Jews as well as the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the chief priests, the elders of the people and the like. What we find in the first chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints is an incredibly unique and powerful picture of this party spirit which has absolutely no place within the church. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when speaking of the body of Christ it’s that there is absolutely no room nor is there any place for the party spirit. The nation itself may be divided across political, racial, gender, and other lines that have been drawn, however, that has absolutely no place within the spiritual body of Christ and the church. With that being said I fully recognize that there are those who associate themselves with the Republican Party, there are others who associate themselves with the Democrat party while there are still others who associate themselves with an independent or other party that might be present within this nation. This is something we must acknowledge within the spiritual body of Christ for within the body of Christ there is absolutely no room or place for the party spirit.
The more I read the words which are found in the first chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints the more I am brought face to face with the fact that there is absolutely no room nor is there any place for the party spirit to be present within the spiritual body of Christ nor within the church. IF there is one thing this passage reveals and demonstrates it’s that the Corinthian congregation was divided by a party spirit which sought to separate them from each other. If you want to truly understand how dangerous this truly is all you have to do is look at and examine the state of our nation right now and where it’s been for the past six years. This country has been incredibly divided by this party spirit—especially between Republican and Democratic parties—and it has almost brought this nation to a civil war. What’s more is that this has even found its way into many of our churches over the past several years and it has caused divisions between men and women who should be brothers and sisters in Christ. What I can and will say is that if you view yourself as a Democrat or as a Republican before and perhaps even above you’re being a Christian and disciple of Christ then you are heading down and perhaps have been on a dangerous path. If you view yourself as a citizen of this nation over and above you’re being a Christian and citizen of heaven and choose to focus on your “rights” granted to you by the Constitution then you are playing a dangerous game and might very well find yourself surrendering and succumbing to the party spirit. I have witnessed first hand how divisive this party spirit truly is over the past years as men and women—even within the church—have been divided along the lines of the events of January 6th, COVID-19 and masks, COVID-19 and the vaccines, voting for and/or supporting Trump and the like. I am convinced that even the church itself has played a dangerous game—or I should say members of the church—have played a dangerous game in recent weeks, months and perhaps even years as they have allowed themselves to be caught up and consumed with the party spirit.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to this for the apostle Paul rebuked the party spirit that was present among the Corinthian saints. In all reality the apostle Paul declared unto them that there was no room for this party spirit to be present among them for it not only caused divisions among them but also caused contentions and strife. If there is one thing we must needs recognize it’s that this party spirit can in fact create strife, contention, division, schism and even chaos and confusion among those who allow themselves to be caught up within it if they are not careful. The apostle Paul wrote unto these saints saying he could not write unto them as spiritual but carnal for they allowed envy, strife and contention to be present among them. I can’t help but wonder how many of our churches today would be classified and considered in the same light—such which are not spiritual but carnal—because they have allowed themselves to get caught up in a party spirit. How many churches would and could experience their own internal civil war between and among their members because they have given themselves over to this party spirit and have allowed division and contentions to be present among them? In the generation in which we are living we must needs ensure that we guard ourselves from and against the party spirit and not allow it to have any room or hold within our hearts, within our souls and within our minds. We must needs recognize that we are indeed and are in fact called to be citizens of heaven first and foremost and called to be saints of God and disciples of Christ. We have not been called and chosen to be Republican nor have we been called or chosen to be a Democrat. What’s more is if what you believe and follow is out of alignment with what is written in scripture then I would strongly consider what you are allowing and what you have allowed yourself to follow. Oh that we would indeed be men and women who recognize that we have been called to be citizens of heaven, we have been called to be saints of God and we have been called to be the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider and leave you with the following words which are found in the fourth chapter of the New Testament epistle written by James unto the saints which were scattered throughout Asia, Europe and the known world during those days:
“From whence come wars and fightings among you? Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:1-10).