Category Archives: 1 Corinthians

Christian Unity: Trouble in Corinth

Christian unity was slipping away in Corinth. The church there was fractured and was in danger of falling into sectarian division. Paul gently rebuked the brethren and called for their unity. We can learn from their troubles.

Ultimately, Christian unity is founded in Jesus Christ. When I enjoy the proper relationship with my Lord, I will then have a similar relationship with all others who enjoy that same relationship. Addressing the Corinthians Paul asked, “Is Christ divided?” (1 Corinthians 1:13). The obvious answer is no! He continues, “Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?” Again, the answer is no. The Corinthians had allowed Jesus to slip from his place of preeminence and instead were dividing into clicks (1 Corinthians 1:12).

What was  the result of this cliquishness? They were no longer united and were speaking different things. Their allegiance was to mortal men (most of them) and only a few were clinging to Jesus. Look at Paul’s encouragement:

” I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.  For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.  What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.”  Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?  I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.)” (1 Corinthians 1:10-16)

Jesus Desired Christian Unity

Paul’s encouragement is rooted in the authority of Jesus. That’s what he means when he says “by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Jesus wants his people to speak with a single voice. Jesus desires unity. 

His authority arises from his own sacrifice and from his place as our High Priest (Hebrews 8:1) and Chief Shepard (1 Peter 5:4). By gathering themselves into groups, their were rejecting Jesus’ own desires.

Christian Unity in All Things

Some suggest a so-called unity-in-diversity as an acceptable concept. It is not. Paul’s call, by the authority of Jesus, was to speak the same thing, have no divisions and to share in the same judgement (vs. 10). Such is impossible with unity-in-diversity.

The religious landscape is not united. We do not all speak the same thing. There is little unity among Christ believing people today. We have surrounded our favorite preachers and accept anything and everything they say. We are no longer interested in the authority of Jesus but instead place our faith in men and in their councils, conventions and synods. How embarrassing to quote a creed or confession when discussing some doctrine.

Christian Unity Ends Quarrels

Evidently, Paul was responding to a letter from someone in Chloe’s house. They were concerned because arguments were arising between members. It would seem that the only quarrel that would arise would pertain to the teachings, doctrines and direction of the church. Almost the entire book of 1 Corinthians deals with sin in the church family and chaotic worship.

Where would such quarrels lead? They would lead to our world. They would lead to sectarianism and denominationalism. I don’t think it is a stretch to look at 1 Corinthians chapter one as a form of incipient denominationalism. Remember, there were no denominations in the earliest days of the church. There was one church. In fact, the oneness of the church was so strong that there was not even a single name for the church. There was no need to denominate the brethren into groups. They were striving to be the body of Christ. Only when we begin to divide do we face quarrels.

It’s time to end our acceptance and tolerance of a divided Christendom. Jesus was not divided and he prayed that his people would not be divided. Can we reject everything but his Word? Can we all stand together there?

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter  @jbevans.


Proof of the Resurrection: Paul

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest miracle in Scripture. Not only the truthfulness of the Bible generally is at stake but specifically the veracity of Christianity. As author Lee Strobel says, the resurrection not only proves Christianity but disproves all other contenders and pretenders to the faith which was once delivered for all (Jude 3). It is Paul who says “…if Christ has not been raised…you faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). One of the fine proofs for the resurrection is Paul himself. His stunning about-face is without parallel in the Bible. His conversion would be like Pharaoh suddenly bowing to Jehovah and then escorting the children of Israel into the Promised Land and fighting their battles for them. The conversion of Saul/Paul is one of many events that prove the truthfulness of the resurrection story.

Born in the Roman provincial city of Tarsus, Saul was a free-born Roman citizen (Acts 22:25-29) who was also fully Jewish. His pedigree among the ancient people was beyond question which makes his conversion to Christianity even more surprising. He was taught by the famed Jewish teacher, Gamaliel and was raised in strict adherence to the law as a Pharisee (Acts 21:39; Acts 22:3; Acts 23:6). Although from the tribe of Benjamin and thus not eligible for the priesthood, Saul was a rising star within the leadership of first century Judaism.

Saul was almost certainly not a member of the Sanhedrin himself, for surely he would have made the claim, but was still respected among its 71 members. The Sanhedrin was largely composed of Pharisees, Saul’s own religious sect, and he was useful for the work of the governing body. In Acts 7:58, Saul is present and approving when Stephen is stoned to death following his hearing before the Sanhedrin. In Acts 8:3 Saul is described by Luke as “ravaging” the church. The result of Saul’s work, and others like him, was so horrific as to cause a mass exodus of Christians from Jerusalem (Acts 8:4). Inasmuch as Saul was raised in Jerusalem and was so prominent among the Sanhedrin members, it is likely that was knowledgeable of Jesus and possible that he was a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus. The persecutor-turned-preacher describes himself as giving approval to death sentences against Christians and lashing out at them in “raging fury” (Acts 26:11). Saul was the foremost enemy of the church.

While traveling to Damascus, under orders from the Chief Priests, everything changed for Paul. Jesus himself spoke to Paul and ordered him to go into the city and await instructions (Acts 9:6). Blinded as a result of this encounter, Saul entered the city, was taught by Ananias and was baptized into Christ. What changed? Why the sudden turnaround? There is only one explanation. Paul saw the risen Christ. He knew that Jesus was dead. He knew he was buried. He knew the stories of his resurrection but now he knew through his own senses. He saw Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:8).

Like his fellow apostles, Paul would become a martyr for the faith. His death is not recorded in Scripture although the events leading to it are. Writers outside the Scripture confirm that he died as a martyr. Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Tertullian, Dionysius of Corinth and Origen all record his death. So the question to the skeptic is simple: Why would Paul suddenly change and die for something untrue? What can account for his sudden and inexplicable change? It was the reality of the resurrection of Jesus.

Paul’s conversion is but one piece of a collection of evidence arguing for the resurrection of Jesus. Be encouraged and strengthened knowing that your faith is not in vain.

Leave the Unrighteous Out of It!

Unrighteous church gossipThe church of my Lord is perfect. Its government, doctrine, purpose and mission are without error. Obviously those who are part of the church, the members, are not perfect. But the church itself, as given by Jesus is perfect. The church is the body of Christ (Ephesians 5:23) and must be given the proper glory and respect due that which belongs to Jesus (Acts 20:28).

The people who make up the church often fail. Those failures hurt others. Sometimes elders make grievous mistakes. Members are hurt and sometimes even their faith is shaken by poor decisions. Nevertheless, the church is not to blame. The church was given by Jesus and its doctrine set by Him and given through his apostles (Matthew 16:15-20).

When some error is suspected it is painful to see that charge before the court of public opinion for discussion. The world is not the place for such discussion.

It is likely that part of Paul’s thinking in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8 was to prevent  public criticism of the church. His immediate focus was the practice of bringing lawsuits against fellow Christians which would be tried before the unrighteous.

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints?  Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?  Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life!  So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church?  I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers,  but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!

Could you agree that at some level Paul was suggesting that church keep its dirty laundry private?

Jesus offered a hint of keeping problems private when he told us how to handle issues between brothers. We first go, alone, to the brother that has offended us. If that fails we take one or two others along. Failing there we tell the problem to the church (Matthew 18:15-17).

Nowhere does Jesus or any of his apostles suggest taking our family grievances into public.

The reason is clear. The people of the unrighteous world are not qualified to decide issues among brethren. Their standards are different and their moral judgment is impaired. Also, taking a church matter into the world heaps reproach upon the church from the very people we are trying to reach.

The church doesn’t need more negativity from the world. Let us keep our issues private. The internet, Google+, Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media are not the right place for personal attacks when we sense we have been wronged. Use the media to teach and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Glorify God through the web. But let disagreements remain private.

Examples for Christian Living – 1 Corinthians 10 – Part 2

We are looking at Examples for Christian Living which is a continuation of an article begun yesterday. Today we continue by looking at 1 Corinthians 10:8-11.

Examples for Christian Living – Sexual Immorality – 1 Corinthians 10:6

The practice of sexual immorality is an example of something that must not be tolerated in our lives. Adultery was included among the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:14) and is included among the works of the flesh enumerated by Paul in Galatians 5:19-20. The ESV speaks broadly of “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality…orgies.” In 1 Corinthians 6:9 the list includes adultery (more specifically) and homosexuality.

Now I sure know that our world absolutely disagrees with the Bible on this subject but the world is dead wrong.  Continue reading Examples for Christian Living – 1 Corinthians 10 – Part 2

Examples for Christian Living – 1 Corinthians 10

We all need examples. We learn from them. A demonstration is always better than just hearing some words. I’m glad the Bible has given us plenty of examples and demonstrations to help us learn. On such set of examples comes in 1 Corinthians 10. Let’s take a quick look.

Examples for Christian Living 1 – Background – 1 Corinthians 10:1-5

From verse 6 we learn that the prior material “took place as examples for us.” What is the example? It is the story of Israel’s wilderness wanderings and more specifically their failure to please God. The Hebrews had been delivered from Egyptian captivity but soon rebelled against their God. Because of their rebellion a brief month long journey became a 40 year wandering. Paul reminds his readers of this misadventure as the background to three examples from which we can learn.

First, the Israelite people were well cared for by God. They were “under the cloud” which is certainly a reference to God’s presence as seen in a cloud by day and a column of fire by night (Exodus 13:12). They also “all passed through the sea” (Exodus 14:22). This passage not only allowed their passage through a massive obstacle but also separated them from their enemies. This was a moment of redemption as the people were finally freed from the Egyptian oppressors.  Continue reading Examples for Christian Living – 1 Corinthians 10

Church Division – Part 2

Church division is never good although in a few cases it may be necessary. In this article we continue our previous discussion on church division and the reasons it is common. We previously spoke of sin and doctrine as reasons for division within the local body. These are areas in which division may necessary or even commanded. Of course the root which causes the division is always wrong.

There are other common causes for church controversy which we should examine in some detail.

Pride Causes Church Division

Pride is widely known as a serious problem both in the church and in society generally.  Continue reading Church Division – Part 2

Church Division – Part 1

Church division is never good. It follows discord, discontent, poor fellowship and sin. While it may be necessary to remove the disorderly  from  fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:1-2; Romans 16:17; Matthew 18:17 ) the roots which caused that removal are sad. Like surgery, division may be necessary but it is never good.

Paul addressed church division as the first issue in his first letter to the Corinthian church (1 Corinthians 1:10 ff). There, people were beginning to group themselves together based upon favorite teachers or leaders within the church. There is no indication that the leaders themselves were involved; one was Jesus himself ( 1 Corinthians 1:12). However Paul disapproved of the brethren separating themselves into groups. Paul asked the rhetorical question, “Is Christ divided” (1 Corinthians 1:13)? The obvious answer is “no.” While the apostle does not give many details about the division in Corinth, we can distill several reasons for division today and then seek to avoid those problems in the church that Jesus died for.

Sin Causes Church Division

Division erupts over sin. We mentioned three passages above in which sinful actions caused a person to be marked out or identified  (1 Corinthians 5:1-2; Romans 16:17; Matthew 18:17 ). A Christian persisting in ongoing, public sin may be removed from  fellowship. Removal or prevents the spread and acceptance of the sin ( 1 Corinthians 5:2; 1 Corinthians 5:6, 9). It protects the reputation of the church towards those on the outside and it tries to draw the erring one back into the faithfulness (1 Corinthians 5:5; 2 Corinthians 2:6-11). To remove fellowship is strong action which requires extensive prayer, study, patience and interaction with the sinner. It is done with the awareness of our own weaknesses (Galatians 6:1-5; Matthew 7:3) and with love toward the sinner.

Doctrine Causes Church Division

Why are there so many different churches and religious bodies in the world? It is because they all teach differing doctrines. While two denominations may be tolerant of their differences they are still divided and that does not please the Lord. Paul rebuked the church for divisions based upon favored leaders ( 1 Corinthians 1:10 ff) and for a myriad of worship issues which created divisions (I Corinthians 12:21-27;  1 Corinthians 11:17-22; 1 Corinthians 14:33).

The issues in Corinth were public issues. Sometimes a brother or sister may hold some errant teaching privately and does not promote it. New Christians may still carry denominational baggage when they enter the body of Christ. These people are to be taught and division should not come from their private thoughts.

Division is not good. In our next lesson on church division we will see some personal traits that divide the body of Christ. If you have not done so already, please subscribe to the Preacher’s Study Blog so that you won’t miss a single article

Resurrection Under Attack – Again

Time Magazine Online is attacking the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In an article published Monday, the magazine reports a dubious claim by a Jewish collector that an inscription has been found which shows the idea of three days in the tomb and then a resurrection was already known of in Jewish legend before Jesus actually did it. The article, entitled Was Jesus’ Resurrection a Sequel? appears at their online site, The claim is that a writing, dated before Jesus, records a command from the angel Gabriel to a Jewish rebel named Simon about the time of Jesus’ birth. The translation, which is open to much controversy, states: “In three days you shall live. I Gabriel command you. Continue reading Resurrection Under Attack – Again