Alan F. Johnson’s deft analysis of 1 Corinthians features an introduction that explores the social, cultural and historical background of the city and its people. Rounding out the introduction, Johnson discusses the letter’s occasion and date, authorship and purpose, and major theological themes. His passage-by-passage commentary follows, seeking to explain what the letter of 1 Corinthians means for the church today as well as what it meant for its original hearers.
Upwardly mobile Christians facing radically diverse ethnic, religious, economic and social conditions. The church divided over issues of leadership and authority, sexual morality, gender and worship, marriage and divorce. Sound familiar? First-century Corinth and its challenges were not so different from our own. Yet in the midst of this detailed, practical letter is found one of the greatest paeans to love ever written. And, of course, love is just what is needed to address these complex human issues whether in the first century or the twenty-first.
In this deft analysis of 1 Corinthians, readers will find an introduction that discusses the social, cultural and historical background of the city and its people. Rounding out the introduction are explorations of the letter’s occasion and date, authorship and purpose, and major theological themes. Passage-by-passage commentary follows that seeks to explain what the letter means for us today as well as what it meant for its original hearers.
Students, pastors, Bible teachers and everyone who wants to understand Paul’s message for the church will benefit from this excellent resource.
“If athletes can expend focused effort and practice sustained, deliberate abstinence from whatever dulls the physical body’s performance, including mental concentration, in order to win the prize—a paltry, perishable vegetable crown (celery) and its fleeting glory—then how much more we Christians, who have at stake our eternal victor’s crown (2 Tim 4:8; Jas 1:12; 1 Pet 5:4; Rev 2:10), should we be willing to give up rights, lifestyles, habits of self-indulgence. We should make the necessary effort because we have the goal clearly in mind: to win people to Christ by such cruciform identification with them (1 Cor 9:19–23).” (Pages 149–150)
“In both views the problem is twofold. There has been an incursion of sinful secular social divisions into the practice of the observance of the Lord’s Supper, together with drunken gluttony on the part of some. This has also caused the poor in the church to be shamed. Both of these outrageous practices broke the unity and equality of the body of Christ, which are central to the significance of the Lord’s meal.” (Page 204)
“As John Chrysostom rightly sensed, the problem at Corinth was that ‘the Corinthians were disgracing themselves by turning the Lord’s Supper into a private meal and thus depriving it of its greatest prerogative. The Lord’s Supper ought to be common to all, because it is the Master’s, whose property does not belong to one servant or to another but ought to be shared by all together’ (in Bray 1999:111).” (Page 211)
“If Jesus had this in mind when he said, ‘Do this in remembrance of me,’ then he is in effect calling each of us to personally go back to the night of the Last Supper, as if we reclined at the Passover table as Jesus broke bread and gave it to us!” (Page 207)