Corinth was a big city with a long history by the time Paul arrived there in the first century. Disunity was the central problem, and the fundamental solution was love. Of all the books in the Bible, the letters to the church in Corinth read like a catalog of issues the church faces today. Human sexuality, divorce, tongues, disputable matters, church unity—these issues are as pressing today as they ever have been. The Corinthians also remind us of our own struggle to get along with each other in the church. This commentary introduces readers to the central problems in the church in Corinth, along with God’s revelation in the midst of turmoil—both then and now.
“There were too many people that needed to be persuaded of the gospel. It is an unfortunate thing that churches often spend so much time dealing with internal squabbles, hard feelings, and conflicts when there is so much work to be done for the kingdom. Still others spend most of their time preoccupied with their own relationship to God and never get to the point where they can look to ‘persuade’ those outside themselves. Paul brings our priorities into focus: we should aim to get beyond ourselves and our own individual worries. We should begin to minister to others in need of God.” (Pages 285–286)
“Some of the Corinthian wives in the church were not using veils in worship, perhaps affirming their equality with men before God. However, in so doing they brought shame on their husbands and were dressing like ‘available’ women. They acted this way in house churches where they were in close quarters with men who were not their own husbands. When we consider that a woman’s hair was considered highly sensual in that culture, we have a volatile and shameful mix.” (Page 159)
“True greatness is to be connected to the cosmic power source of the universe, whose resources and strength are without measure. For when I am weak, then I am strong (12:10). Our human weakness and difficulty only give us a chance to turn to God’s power. When God turns on the power, it brings a voltage far greater than anything we could produce on our own.” (Page 327)
“No one can boast of their spirituality or greatness. True wisdom and spiritual power comes from God. What this fact means is that we should be very careful about making some simple equation between spiritual gifts and natural abilities. Paul’s emphasis is on God as their source and origin, not on something built into us.” (Pages 174–175)