Pastor, tell your flock the truth about itself [Studies in 1 Corinthians]

brad pitt

(Actually, I think my caricature turned out pretty well)

It’s summertime, let’s stroll down the boardwalk! Inevitably there’s someone drawing chalk pictures of self-conscious passersby. His caricature is a sketch of a person which exaggerates some aspect of one’s appearance or character. At the beach, it’s meant to be fun; on the editorial page it might demean. In some hands, it is a weapon: all propaganda contains a dollop of truth blended with distortion.

The Scripture tells us not to bear false witness against our neighbor (Exod 20:16). The CEV version has, “Do not tell lies about others,” which captures part of the verse; you might say something untrue: “Shemaiah stole my ox!” (when he really hadn’t). Another, more sinister version is to offer a distorted picture: “Shemaiah” (who is quite reputable) “has over the years committed the following 27 offenses against me; he is no good.”

In 1 Corinthians, Paul delivered a carload of hard statements: You harbor an incestuous church member! You nullify the meaning of the Lord’s Supper! You go to prostitutes! You’re arrogant! And this is only the beginning. He will speak frankly and at time angrily. But that does not prevent him from sincerely noting the Corinthians’ spiritual successes in the first few sentences of the letter. His disappointment does not poison (more…)

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Why you’ve never heard of the Second Corinthian Church [Studies in 1 Corinthians]

Second Corinthian Church

Second Corinthian Church

Paul was a traveling apostle, not the local pastor of Corinth. Nevertheless, he had to deal with the members of this flock in a pastoral way, teaching, encouraging and rebuking them.

I’ve spend some years studying 1 Corinthians, and I must admit honestly, that if I had been Paul, I would have been heavily tempted to abandon the Corinthian church, and that long before he wrote 1 Corinthians in AD 56. The fact that Paul did not do so is a testimony to what God was doing at Corinth. It is estimated that there were perhaps 60-100 Christians in Corinth, distributed among 3-4 congregations, which met in private homes. It took two years to plant that church; it had then received five years of further apostolic care from Paul, then Apollos, probably Cephas/Peter, not to mention Timothy, Titus and other team members. It carried on regular written correspondence with Paul. It was a church for which Paul (more…)

FREE Commentary on 1 Corinthians! by Gary Shogren

The epistle was sent to a church stationed deep within pagan territory. In Corinth as in no other place to that date, the God of Jesus Christ was pitted against the god of this world. The church sprang up in a soil that was saturated with idolatry, philosophical posturing and social stratification, all driven by a service economy that provided opportunities for the clever and made many rich off the sweat of slaves and the poor. Here Christianity could show in stark relief how it might transform the arrogant, the oppressed, the hopeless, the corrupted and the dissipated.

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I also have a commentary that came out from Zondervan in 2012; you can order it here – http://www.amazon.com/Thessalonians-Zondervan-Exegetical-Commentary-Testament/dp/0310243963/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1343856671&sr=8-1&keywords=shogren

“Dear Paul: We are sorry, but you are unqualified to be our apostle…” [Studies in 1 Corinthians]

Paul had a precise idea of how to serve God. He worked day and night with his own hands; he risked his life and his health; he “served” the churches and did not exploit them. As a teacher he acted with patience and consideration: when people wanted answers he gave them careful, detailed explanations. He communicated the gospel in a way that anyone could understand (1 Cor 9:20-22).

From what we can glean in 1 and 2 Corinthians, that church wanted a different breed of apostle:

Church at Corinth, Achaia

Wanted: an apostle with style

The church in Corinth is seeking applicants for the position of apostle. We wish to avoid leaders who do not measure up to the highest standards of Christian ministry. Hence we insist that all candidates fulfill the following conditions:

Professional demeanor

  • We want a man who holds his head high, not one with a slavish attitude of “service.” We want to show the appeal of the gospel for people with ambition.
  • He should own a vehicle; travel by foot gives the impression that one is a loser. (more…)