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1 Corinthians study guide

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Preparation Prior to the study session, participants should read :
1 Corinthians 1: 1-17 Introduction, dealing with divisions
1 Corinthians 12: Paul lists spiritual gifts
1 Corinthians 13: The Love chapter
1 Corinthians 15: Paul clarifies Christians will have a physical resurrection.
Orientation 1 Corinthians is book #7 of 27 in the New Testament, and is one of Paul's letters. For more information see the Bible Overview page.

Synopsis Paul had stayed with the church at Corinth, Greece two years previously, and now seeks to address problems that are cropping up since he has been gone.

Messengers arrive with a letter asking his help in solving some problems, and the messengers reveal even more ugly issues that are not written down. Problems include power struggles, formation of cliques (1:12), immorality (5:1), lawsuits against each other (6:1), and confusion over key beliefs such as the resurrection (15:1) *.

Paul deals with the immediate troubles in Ch. 1-6. Paul advises that while God is the ultimate judge, church leaders have an obligation to keep their membership in line (5:12). Beginning in Ch. 7, he provides practical advice on life and worship - on topics of marriage (7:9), eating food offered to idols (8:1), dressing for worship (11:1), proper observance of the Lord's Supper (11:20), and spiritual gifts (12:1). He closes with a tribute to love (13:1).

Activity List the types of spiritual gifts (12:1). List next to each any famous or public persons who come to mind with those gifts. Each may consider which gifts they have.

Paul encourages us to desire the greater gifts (12:31) - does this mean we can receive additional gifts? Are we born with them, given them as needed, or can we develop them?

Discussion points Paul deals with the issue of cliques (1:12). These certainly exist today. In what ways do we (intentionally or not) tend to allow cliques to occur? ** How can we avoid this?

Consider Paul's instruction on topics such as a congregation disciplining their own (5:12), haircuts and coverings (11:3), women's role in worship (14:34)? Was his instruction for a certain people at a certain time? Or do they apply to us as well?

Connections This is the first of two extant letters from Paul to the church at Corinth (an earlier letter did not survive - see 5:9). 2 Corinthians is a followup letter to this one.

For source citations see the home page. Revised April 9 2014

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* The church at Corinth had apparently lapsed into the Greek understanding that only the soul is immortal, and the body mortal. Paul teaches here that Jesus had a physical resurrection, as will all believers.

** Some possibilities: people grouping up in fellowship time, not greeting visitors, maintaining 'in' and 'out' groups in communication loops