The Corinthian Correspondence
Happy New Year! Restoration is starting a new sermon series and working our way through St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. Make sure you read the first 2 sections of this post….
Why would you want to do that? (Don’t you know that it’s long and says true things that lots of people find offensive. #spoileralert)
Well, there are actually several reasons that this book seems really good for who Restoration is at this point in time:
- First, I am very grateful for our hard work in Jeremiah all fall. We got our heads and heart around a big, mildly unfamiliar story. As we seek to cover all of the Scriptures, it’s a good time to pivot to the New Testament and young churches that were getting started.
- It’s been a while since we worked through an epistle (a letter) and a while since we have worked through an entire book from start to finish. Let’s take that on this year!
- The issues they were dealing with in Corinth are raw and connected to the things we are dealing with at Restoration and in our world today: the foolishness of faith in the Gospel, discerning what is real wisdom and real prosperity, the consequence of identifying ourselves with our leaders (or not), sexual purity, lawsuits, the role of men and women in the church and in the home, spiritual gifts and how the Holy Spirit manifests in our worship, getting drunk at the Eucharist, marriage, not marriage, temptation and idols and rights and eating meat. As relevant as this morning’s headlines in the Post.
- I appreciate that the church in Corinth was young, freshly planted, and messy. Their questions are good things for Restoration and Incarnation to consider while we are still together (one being about 10 years older than the other…)
As always, we will have 30 small groups starting up with about half of them talking about the passages from 1 Corinthians. Registration opens on Sunday, January 7 and I hope that everyone who worships with us on Sunday will be actively involved in a Resto small group during the week. It’s the best place to get to know people, to pray together, and to wrestle through how these truths in the Scripture affect our hustle and bustle life.
Feel free to skip this last section, I just want to give a shout out to one of the names you will hear me frequently quote during this series: Ken Bailey. He is a preeminent author and scholar in Middle Eastern New Testament Studies. He teaches in English and Arabic and has written some of the most helpful stuff available for understanding First Century culture. His book, Paul through Mediterranean Eyes, has been so helpful to my preparation for this series. The book is almost 600 pages and heavily focused on Hebrew rhetorical style- so not light reading. But as appropriate, I will share helpful sections.
I love the way he describes himself:
Every commentator on the Scriptures writes in a context and out of a series of deep commitments. I am a confessing Christian with a high reverence for the Bible as the inspired Word of God, which I approach with awe and gratitude. Many of the ideas in this work come out of the non-Western world and have been presented by me in Arabic and in English to numerous audiences around the globe for more than 40 years… I am writing for native English speakers, but also looking to the new Global South where the majority of the world’s Christians now live.”
His hermeneutical methodology helps us appreciate the logic and coherence of the book.
The view presented in this study is that 1 Corinthians has a carefully designed inner coherence that exhibits amazing precision in composition and admirable grandeur in overall theological concept… the outline is as precise as any of Paul’s letters and it falls into 5 carefully constructed essays…
- The Cross and Christian Unity 1:5-4:16 (Epiphany)
- Men and Women in the Human Family 4:17-7:40 (Lent)
- Food offered to Idols (Christian and Pagan) 8:1-11:1 (post-Easter)
- Men and Women in Worship 11:2-14:40 (Autumn)
- The Resurrection 15 (Autumn)
As you look at those 5 essays, we discover that 3 principle ideas were on Paul’s mind as he wrote the letter:
- The Cross and Resurrection [1 and 5]
- Men and Women in the human family and in worship [2 and 4]
- Christians living among pagans: to identify or not to identify 
It is my hope that this letter will increase our love for Jesus and His Church while also filling us with joy and hope as we live in this age and wait for the age to come.
Looking forward to it,