Heavenly Father, thank You for traveling with us in this spiritual journey of faith through Paul’s epistle of 1 Corinthians. Thank You for the learning experience. Help us to convert head knowledge into heart knowledge. Help us be more and more Christ-like through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-4, 1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also, 2 On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. 3 And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. 4 But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.
Paul initiated a love offering from the prosperous churches in Asia Minor to the poverty-stricken mother church in Jerusalem. They should
set aside a sum of money on the first day of every week and gave it to Paul upon his arrival. He would send the love offering to Jerusalem through someone approved by them.
VV 5-9, 5 Now I will come to you when I pass through Macedonia (for I am passing through Macedonia). 6 And it may be that I will remain, or even spend the winter with you, that you may send me on my journey, wherever I go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now on the way; but I hope to stay awhile with you if the Lord permits. 8 But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.
Paul planned to spend the winter with them, on his way from Ephesus to Jerusalem via Macedonia if the Lord permits. Meanwhile, he would remain in Ephesus until the feast of Pentecost.
VV 10-12, 10 And if Timothy comes, see that he may be with you without fear, for he does the work of the Lord, as I also do. 11 Therefore let no one despise him. But send him on his journey in peace, that he may come to me, for I am waiting for him with the brethren. 12 Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to come to you with the brethren, but he was quite unwilling to come at this time; however, he will come when he has a convenient time.
Paul told his audience to expect Timothy, receive him cordially, and not despise him for his youth. Timothy would be their pastor and minister. Apollos was not ready to go to Corinth yet, although Paul had spoken to him about it.
VV 13-18, 13 Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done with love. 15 I urge you, brethren, you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints, 16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.17 I am glad about the coming of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus, for what was lacking on your part they supplied. 18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. Therefore acknowledge such men.
Paul encouraged his audience to be faithful, courageous, strong, and to love one another. Paul encouraged them to follow the examples of Stephanas’ household, who were faithful to the Lord. Paul encouraged them to submit to one another and labour in the ministry as a team. Paul also acknowledged the service of Fortunatus and Achaicus to the Corinthian church during Paul’s absence.
VV 19-25, 19 The churches of Asia greet you. Aquila and Priscilla greet you heartily in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. 20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. 21 The salutation with my own hand, Paul’s. 22 If anyone does not love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be accursed. O Lord, come! 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. 24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Paul sent greetings from Aquila, Priscilla, and other brethren in Ephesus. Paul acknowledged that he wrote this closing salutation with his own handwriting. He encouraged them to greet each other with a holy kiss and to love the Lord. Paul pronounced a blessing of grace from Christ, love from him, and close with Amen.
Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians Christian also applies to us. We should be faithful, courageous, and strong. We should submit to one another, love one another, and work together as a team to serve the Lord.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the epistle of 1 Corinthians. There are so many lessons that can be applied to our lives. Thank You for revealing the mysteries of Your Word and making them understandable. Thank You for the encouragement, enlightenment, and empowerment in our journey of faith, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:29-58, Final Victory
Heavenly Father, thank You for the promise of resurrection on the day rapture. We acknowledge that the rapture is imminent and can happen anytime. Help us to be prayerful, vigilant, watchful, and ready for Your return, in Jesus’ name.
VV 29-34, 29 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? 30 And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? 31 I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” 33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.” 34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
Concerning the resurrection of the dead, Paul asked two rhetorical questions. If Christ had not resurrected, why would Paul and the apostles
go through persecutions, hardships, trials, and sufferings? Paul quoted Isaiah 22:13 and Ecclesiastes 8:15. Beware of bad company because bad company corrupts good character.
Isaiah 22:13, But instead, joy and gladness, Slaying oxen and killing sheep, Eating meat and drinking wine: “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
Ecclesiastes 8:15, “So, I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun.”
VV 35-39, 35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain, perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh, but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of animals, another of fish, and another of birds.
Paul continued to ask two more rhetorical questions concerning resurrection of the dead. A seed is sown into the ground, but the plant that grows up will not be similar to a seed. A dead person is buried into the ground but the resurrected and glorified body will not be similar to the earthly body. Just as every plant belonged to the same seed, every resurrected and glorified body belonged to the same earthly person.
VV 40-41, 40 There are also celestial bodies and terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41 There is one glory of the sun, another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars, for one star differs from another star in glory.
Celestial bodies are heavenly objects in the sky. Terrestrial bodies are earthly objects on the earth. The glory of the resurrected bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The glory of the sun is different from that of the moon, the glory of the moon is different from that of the stars, and the glory of one star is different from that of another star.
VV 42-45, 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption. 43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. 44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45 And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
The body sown in corruption is raised incorruptible. The body sown in dishonour is raised in glory. The body sown in weakness is raised in power. The body sown as a natural body is raised into a spiritual body. Adam is a living being. Christ is a life-giving spirit.
VV 46-49, 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust, and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.
The natural takes precedent over the spiritual. Adam was a natural man, made from dust, Christ is a spiritual man who came from heaven. Humans who possessed Adam’s image at death will put on Christ’s image when raised at the resurrection.
VV 50-54, 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery, We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
The natural man cannot inherit the kingdom of God. The corrupted man cannot inherit incorruption. One day, at an event, called the rapture, at the last trumpet, all Christian whether dead or still living will be instantaneously raised into a glorious, incorruptible, and immortal body to meet the Lord in the air, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. This is the final victory. After this, there will be no more death for the Christians, Rev 21:4.
Revelation 21:4, “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
VV 55-58, 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
Paul asked two rhetorical questions quoting from Hosea 13:14. Christ gave us victory over the law of sin and death. Paul encouraged his audience to remain faithful and obedient to the Lord because their labour is not in vain.
Hosea 13:14, ESV, “shall ransom them from the power of Sheol; I shall redeem them from Death.O Death, where are your plagues?O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion is hidden from my eyes.”
The next event on God’s prophetic calendar will be the rapture. No one knows when this will happen but this event is imminent and can happen at any time. Given this, we should be prayerful, watchful, vigilant, and prepared. You should confess your sins to Christ, believe that He died on the cross for you, and surrender Your life to Him if You have not done so. If you call on the name of Christ, confess, and believe in Him, you will be saved.
Romans 10:13, For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
Romans 10:9, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Heavenly Father, thank You for the promise that one day we will be raised into glorious incorruptible bodies to be with You in heaven eternally. Help us to know You as our Lord and Saviour. Time is short and Your return is imminent. Help us to live our lives worthy of Your calling, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 Corinthians 15: 1-28, Death, the last enemy
Heavenly Father, thank You that You rose from the dead to be the first fruit of the resurrection. Thank You for the promise of our resurrection at the rapture. Thank You for defeating death, the last enemy, and rendering it powerless, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-2, 1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain.
Paul preached the message of the gospel and those who believe and hold fast to the message will be saved.
VV 3-8, 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
The gospel is the death and burial of Jesus Christ on Good Friday as a substitutionary atonement for the sins of mankind, followed by His resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday, according to scripture. Peter, the other eleven apostles, more than five hundred other disciples, James, and lastly Paul had witnessed this resurrection. Most of the eye witnesses of Christ’s resurrection were still alive at this time although some had died.
VV 9-11, 9 For I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11 Therefore, whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
Pail was very humble. He called himself the least of the apostles although he was undoubtedly the greatest of the apostles. He felt unworthy because he brutally persecuted Christians before his conversion. He acknowledged God’s grace for his salvation and achievements.
VV 12-19, 12 Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up, if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
Some Corinthian Christians were sceptical of the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. If Jesus Christ had not resurrected from the dead, Paul’s preaching would be in vain, Christian’s faith would be in vain, the apostles would be liars and false witnesses of Christ. If Jesus Christ had not resurrect from the dead, Christians will still be living in sins and Christians who died would have died in vain. If there is no resurrection of the dead, Christians will be the most pitiful among all men.
VV 20-22, 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
But Jesus Christ had indeed resurrected from the dead. He is the first fruit of the resurrection, the first person to be resurrected from the dead. At a future event called the rapture, all Christians, whether they are dead or still living, will be resurrected to meet the Lord in the air, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. The resurrection of Jesus Christ vindicated His claim of Deity.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
VV 23-28, 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christs at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.
Christ is the first person to be resurrected. At the rapture, all Christians will be resurrected from the dead. This event will trigger the onset of the 7-year tribulation on earth, followed by Christ’s second coming, Christ’s 1000 years reign on earth, the new heaven and new earth, and the eternal state, Revelation 20-22. Christ’s resurrection from the dead destroyed the last enemy, death. Paul quoted Psalm 110:1.
Psalm 110:1, The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
Paul’s definition of the gospel in one sentence is very handy. The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ according to scripture.
Jesus Christ is the first fruit of the resurrection. At a future event called the rapture, all Christians whether dead or still living will be resurrected from the dead to meet the Lord in heaven, 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18. Resurrection from the dead is the hope of every Christians. Jesus Christ’s resurrection proved that He is God and everything written about Him in the Bible is true.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your amazing love. Thank You for sending Jesus Christ from heaven to earth to die for our sins. Thank You for His death, buried, and resurrection, according to the Scriptures. Thank You for salvation by grace and justification by faith in Christ, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
1 Corinthians 14: 1-40, prophecy and tongues
Heavenly Father, we acknowledge that we are sinners saved by grace. Thank You for justification by grace through faith in Christ. We pray for the daily bread of Your living Word to nourish our weary and thirsty souls today. Help us to be more Christ-like every day, every week, every month, every year, and every decade, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-5, 1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him, however, in the spirit, he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied, for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
Practice love, seek for spiritual gifts especially the gift of prophecy. Prophecy means foretelling, predicting the future as revealed by God, and forth telling, revealing God’s message. Speaking in tongue is the gift speaking to God in a foreign language through the Holy Spirit. Prophecy is better than tongue speaking because it edifies, encourages, and comforts everyone. Tongue speaking edifies only the person speaking in tongues unless accompanied by interpretation.
VV 6-8, 6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching? 7 Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? 8 For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?
Speaking in tongues is not understandable unless accompanied by interpretation. Even lifeless things like musical instruments must be played in a musical tune otherwise the sound will be meaningless. If an army trumpet is not blown to the correct tune soldiers will not prepare for battle.
VV 9-12, 9 So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. 11 Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me. 12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.
Paul asked a rhetorical question regarding speaking in tongues. Speaking in tongues is speaking a foreign language belonging a foreign culture, place, and race. The local audience will not understand its meaning. For example, if someone prays in Aramaic in a Chinese speaking congregation, how will anyone understand and benefit from it? If the Corinthians Christians were zealous for spiritual gifts, they should chose to excel in prophecy rather than speaking in tongues.
VV 13-19, 13 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with understanding. 16 Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? 17 For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
Anyone who has the gift of speaking in tongues should also pray for the gift of interpretation of tongues. Paul asked two more rhetorical questions. When someone prays in tongues during a corporate worship, that person should interpret the tongues so that others will be edified, blessed and say Amen. Even though Paul had the gift of speaking in tongues, he preferred not to exercise this gift in church. Paul underplayed the importance of speaking tongues. He preferred to speak five words with understanding rather than ten thousand words in tongues.
VV 20-21, 20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding, however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. 21 In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips, I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord.
Paul encouraged the Corinthian Christians to grow in spiritual maturity and not to behave as spiritual babies. He quoted Isaiah 28:11, Jeremiah 7:27.
Isaiah 28:11, “For with stammering lips and another tongue, he will speak to this people”.
Jeremiah 7:27, “Therefore you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not obey you. You shall also call to them, but they will not answer you.”
VV 22-25, 22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if all prophecy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
Tongues are signs for unbelievers. Prophecy is a sign for believers. If unbelievers come to church and hear the speaking of tongues, they will be surprised but not edified. If unbelievers come to church and hear prophecy revealing the deep secrets of their hearts, they will be convicted, fell on their knees, and worship God.
VV 26-28, 26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.
Orderliness must be maintained at all times during a corporate worship so that everyone is edified. Every one should take turns to sing, teach, prophesy, speak in tongues, or interpret the tongues, one person at a time. When some speak in tongues, another person should interpret them. Tongue speaking should be refrained if there is no interpreter.
VV 29-33, 29 Let two or three prophets speak and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
Prophets with prophetic gifting should speak one at a time so that everyone may learn, benefit, and be encouraged. Our God is a God of orderliness and peace, not confusion.
VV 34-35, 34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak, but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.
Paul’s ruling for women to keep silent in the church was a specific command to the Corinthian church in the first century world. This ruling should not be applied to the 21st-century world. Times had changed. In the 21st century world, women are uneducated, but today women are educated and capable of taking on leadership positions. Compare Paul’s ruling compelling women to wear head covering in church, 1 Corinthians 11.
VV 36-40, 36 Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? 37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
Paul asked two more rhetorical questions. The Word of God came from Paul and not from the Corinthian Christians. The Word of God is for everyone and not just for the Corinthians Christians. Paul encouraged his audience to earnestly seek the gift of prophecy but speaking in tongues should not be prohibited. Orderliness in church worship should always be maintained at all times.
Prophecy is better than tongues because it edifies, encourages, and comforts the church and convicts unbelievers to believe in God. Tongues are for personal worship but when used in the church, it should be accompanied by interpretation.
I am speaking as a Christian from an evangelical church background. You do not have to agree with me if you have a different perspective on the issue of speaking in tongues.
Heavenly Father, we pray for the impartation of spiritual gifts especially the gift of prophecy by the Holy Spirit. We humble ourselves before You. We acknowledge that we do not deserve to ask anything from You because we are sinners. We pray for forgiveness of sin and justification by grace through faith in Christ, in Jesus’ name, Amen.