Lesson 13


Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

4:6 Now these things, brothers, I have in a figure transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to think beyond the things which are written, that none of you be puffed up against one another. 4:7 For who makes you different? And what do you have that you didn't receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? 4:8 You are already filled. You have already become rich. You have come to reign without us. Yes, and I wish that you did reign, that we also might reign with you. 


Today's Lesson 

Like many Greeks of their day, the Corinthians valued wisdom. There's a certain elitism that can come with this attitude. People often, though not always, value wisdom in order to feel superior to others. So Paul has used a metaphor to describe the work of God. In describing this work, he has used the figure of himself and Apollos, the current pastor at Corinth, as examples of those that work in God's fields and those that work in building a house along with God.

 

Now Paul wants the Corinthians to apply the lesson Paul has been trying to preach about himself and Apollos to themselves. The Corinthians should apply these lessons because doing so will prevent them from falling into the sin of pride. "That none of you be puffed up against one another." Now being proud about the right things is not a sin. Being proud of God and what he is accomplishing is not sin. Being proud to be a part of the body of Christ is no vice. Being proud of the accomplishments of God, both the facts of the past and the faith of the future, is not a problem for Christians.

 

But being proud and taking credit for something that we have not accomplished is a sin. We are saved by grace through faith. It is a free gift. We do not merit it or earn it. We are not allowed by God to feel pride in the fact that we are saved. It is right and proper that we should be proud of our Savior, but not on the fact that without His salvation that we were powerless to help ourselves.

 

To have pride in your own wisdom and feel superior of other Christians denies several different fundamental truths about the Christian experience. Salvation is a gift, not something earned. Moreover, it is a gift that God gives freely to all who will accept it by faith. The salvation that I receive is the same that you receive. Those that are in Christ are saved completely. We are already rich. We are already filled.

 

God brings us into unity with one another by taking us all into the body of Christ. Everyone in Christ is saved. Everyone in Christ is rich beyond measure. That's why strife and jealousies among Christians is so foolish. What is mine is yours and what is yours is mine. We are all one in Christ. Why should I be envious of you or your advancement when I am one with you? Why should I not seek your betterment and your happiness when you are a part of me and I am a part of you and we are all one in Christ?

 

That is the perspective that the Corinthians were missing. From their perspective, one faction in the church was right and another was wrong. From God's perspective we are all one. There is never the right side or the wrong side. There is only Christ. Nothing else exists in God's kingdom.

 

Do you ever feel "puffed up" that you are not like some "other" group of Christians? Have you ever thought that you and your group had the "right side" of an issue of Christian doctrine? Even if you did, this is the very attitude that Paul is preaching against. In which case, your doctrine may be correct, but your attitude would be wrong.

 

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