Archive for the ‘1 Corinthians Course’ Category

Should women stay quiet in the church? Check out verses 34 to 35 to find out! 1 Corinthians 14

November 30, 2020

Verse 15; When praying with the spirit, obviously one is in an emotional state.  That emotional state might have come about by God doing something very important for you.  You have a feeling of indebtedness to God and perhaps you show this outwardly through speaking in tongues.  Although this is important to you and it is important to Paul as well.  For the sake of other people praying with understanding is also important.  If everyone speaks in tongues and there is no interpretation there will be a lack of understanding and perhaps confusion.

Verse 16; Paul understands that the mind is the seat of understanding and it is where the spiritual battle takes place.  Blessing in the spirit can show thanks and gratitude but it cannot give reasons for this thanks and gratitude.

A person can only really be built up if he understands why!

Verse 18; I don’t know what to make of this verse.  Paul says that he speaks in tongues more than all of them.  What does he mean? Should we take this literally or is Paul using irony.

CK Barrett translates it as; “than any of you”.

If Paul was using irony, it would be to say that their gift wasn’t so important. On the other hand, I think it makes better sense to take it literally.  F.F. Bruce cites 2 Corinthians 123 In which Paul was caught up to heaven somehow and saw things that he wasn’t allowed to talk about!  If anyone could brag Paul could brag.  Even from a natural point of view, being a rabbi, he would have known possibly a few different languages; Hebrew, Greek and being a Roman citizen possibly Latin and also what language was spoken in Tarsus (a local Greek, or Aramaic). This is just guessing work. 

Verse 19-23; Although Paul could brag, that wasn’t the main point. In the Church one ought to speak intelligible words.  Paul is interested in order not chaos.  We have the same problems today in Churches.  In their thinking and speech, they should be mature. Concerning the evil, he is basically saying ‘stay away from it’. In verse 21 Paul quotes a verse from the Old Testament and he says that this is a sign for unbelievers (outsiders from the church).  Prophecy (preaching kind of) is for the believers (Those in the church)

Verse 23; There isn’t much point in tongues when outsiders walk into the church.  From Paul’s point of view, they will say that you are crazy.

When God speaks there is repentance.  There is one church there is order there will be convictions of the mind and heart.

Verse 25; He or she will see their sin and fall before God declaring that God is truly in that place.

Verse 26 give order to the church at Corinth. 

  1. A psalm; a hymn of worship
  2. A teaching; learning something new
  3. A revelation; a disclosure from God
  4. A tongue and interpretation; from experience.

Verse 27 coming to the final parts of Pauls argument about prophecy and speaking in tongues; Paul does not condemn tongues, but it has to be in a framework of order, and it must be for edification.

Verse 27; Paul gives directions for when they can speak in tongues and interpret.

Verse 28; No interpreter = no tongues spoken in the Church, but he can speak in tongues to himself and to God. 

Prophets were around for quite a long time in the church and there were directions on how to spot false ones. The information can be found in the Didache an early church manuscript.

Verse 29; when a prophet speaks the others had to check what they were saying was from God.

Verse 30; When God discloses something, this has to be done in order. Letting someone else speak is important.

Verse 31; Prophecy isn’t the way it was understood in the first century.  William Barclay and Margaret E Thrall make the point that it is closer to preaching as we understand it today.  We actually touched on this earlier in the chapter.

Verse 32; Prophets are not robots; they can also make decisions.

Verse 33: Order in the churches is very important.  Paul has pushed this agenda very hard.

Verses 34 – 35; These two verses are seriously misunderstood I hope my explanation helps;

1 Corinthians 14 34-35 Women being silent in the church.

Before we begin let us look at the places in which Paul uses the ‘keeping silent’ phrase.  There were different types of people that had to say silent in the Church under certain conditions.   At first reading it seems on the surface that Paul was biased towards women, but this is reading a 21st century mindset on to a first century document.   Within the congregation probable inherited from Judaism that women were not allowed to read the scripture publicly. All that Paul did was to validate a law that was already accepted by the churches in the first century.  I think that sometimes feminists find a pink elephant in an empty room devoid of historicity.  This is one of those situations. 

28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 1 Corinthians 14:28

30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 1 Corinthians 14:30

34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 1 Corinthians 14:34

In the following article there is evidence to suggest that Paul wasn’t putting women down, only following a legal tradition accepted by first century Christians;

“An Inequality In Jesus’ time, women participated fully in the religious life of the community. This included participation in synagogue services and in the regular study sessions that were conducted in the synagogue’s bet midrash (house of study). There was no separation of the sexes in synagogues, and women could be counted as part of the required congregational quorum of ten adults. There was, however, one inequality. For social reasons, women were not allowed to read the Scriptures publicly.

In the Babylonian Talmud and the Tosefta, we find an early rabbinic (tannaic) ruling: “All are qualified to be among the seven [who read from the Torah in the synagogue on the Sabbath], even a minor or a woman; however, the sages ruled that a woman should not read from the Torah out of respect for the congregation.”21 This is apparently a reference to the same social custom or decorum that we find mentioned in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians: “Women should keep silent in the churches. They are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Torah states. If they want to learn anything, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is a disgrace for a woman to speak in the congregation.”22

Paul felt it necessary to issue his corrective because in early Christian congregations, following Jewish practice, it was permissible and customary to interrupt the preacher to ask questions. In first-century synagogues, a sermon followed the reading of Scripture. This exposition of Scripture was more a lesson than a sermon, and congregants were encouraged to ask questions. In fact, the asking of questions was so central to the rabbinic teaching method that often the preacher-teacher began his sermon by just seating himself and waiting until someone from the audience asked a question. There is a whole category of Jewish literature called xxx xxxxx (ye lam DE nu ra BE nu, May our teacher instruct us). It is similar to what we now call “Questions and Answers.” Today public speakers often employ a Question-and-Answer period, especially as a means of clarification at the end of a lecture. In first-century Jewish society this approach was usually the main method of instruction.

From Paul’s injunction we learn that at public religious gatherings of early Christians, women sat with men in the same hall, perhaps even next to their husbands or fathers. Paul’s command itself implies a mixed audience: there would have been nothing indecorous about a woman asking a question in a group composed entirely of women.

If there had been separation of men and women in first-century synagogues, it is likely that the early church would have continued the custom. However, the New Testament gives no indication that the early church had such a custom.” From https://www.cbeinternational.org/resource/article/priscilla-papers-academic-journal/place-women-first-century-synagogues

Verse 36; Paul challenges their pride that they think higher of themselves.  Verse 37; It is ok to be a Prophet but please follow Pauls advice. 

Verse 38; If anyone contradicts Paul and does not recognize what he said then they should not be recognized

Verse 39-40; Both prophecy (preaching) and speaking in tongues is allowed but desire prophecy more.  Make sure that everything in church is done in an orderly manner. 

I will return to this chapter at some point but before I finish, I found some of William Barclays words interesting here.  He said that in the early church they did not have professional ministers, and everyone had to take part somehow in the churches.  We may have gained something with having a main minister, but we might have also lost out.  Lost out because congregations don’t do much spadework like their predecessors from the early church.

You can also visit my other blog at; https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/       

An excursion from Corinthians in understanding Paul’s teaching on the mind.

November 27, 2020

Before I move on, I think that for Paul the ‘mind is very important’ in all his writings.  This is not an exhaustive study it is only on the word ‘nous’.

The Mind in Romans and Corinthians

As I said we need to look at Pauls use of nous (mind).  1/3 of all occurrences in Paul happens in Romans so it is an appropriate book to start from.  I am baffled with Galatians though.  He never uses it in Galatians.  I will save that question for a rainy day.  What we can do now is go through each verse and reflect on how mind is used there.  Please feel free to come to your own decisions about this.  You may come to conclusions I didn’t come to but that is ok.

Let us start;

28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, Romans 1:28

God gave them over to a depraved mind.  This use is negative.  If you live in sin then one is going to be sinful because the influence of the world is sin, for example materialsm, greed and so on.

23 but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Romans 7:23

There is a spiritual battle here and the body is physical and its nature is obviously pulled in the sin direction like a magnet.

25  Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

So, it is important to think about good things in Christ but there is a north pole and a south pole


Romans 7:25

6  For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:6

The mind can be set in a direction by God’s grace

7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, Romans 8:7

The mind without God can only point to the south pole of sin.

27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:27

Only the Holy Spirit can set the mind. It is a gift of God for the mind to be set towards the North Pole God and holiness.

34 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, OR WHO BECAME HIS COUNSELOR? Romans 11:34

Only the Holy Spirit knows the mind of the Lord.

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may  prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2

Your mind needs to be renewed and it can only be renewed by the Holy Spirit

16  Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Romans 12:16

Being of one mind is also a group of minds working together for the glory of God

5  One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. Romans 14:5

You are in control of your own mind by the Holy Spirit.

5 Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, Romans 15:5

Love is a  driving force for the mind as God is love.

10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree and that there be no  divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10

Being on the same page with each other.

16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:16

By the Holy Spirit we can have the mind of Christ

14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 1 Corinthians 14:14

The mind needs to understand

15  What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. 1 Corinthians 14:15

Praying with understanding and without understanding are both ok but with the mind is important.  Obviously when you feel in your soul something one cannot always put it into words.  I think this is part of the human condition; empathy, feel, sympathy et al.

19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
1 Corinthians 14:19

Understanding with the mind is more important than just living with not knowing or feeling.

13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 2 Corinthians 5:13

Sound mind is having an appropriate level of understanding.

Reflection

So for Paul the mind is the seat of understanding.  This mind can be influenced either by the Holy Spirit or by the world.  The mind can also be a group of minds agreed on something.   It is the main human processor for making rational judgments.  Metanoia (repentance) literally means change of mind.  The Holy Spirit gives us faith so that we have the capability to turn away from sin and to God.  Once we have accepted Christ as our saviour then we are grateful for his love towards us and we reciprocate this love back to God by worshiping Him and loving our neighbour through practical deeds (Ethics).

This is my basic understanding but there are many other words that Paul uses but I will leave this here.   We can now return to 1 Corinthians because we have an idea of how Paul uses the word mind.  I think knowing in an appropriate way and making rational decisions was very important for St Paul

You can also visit my other blog at; https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/           

The Gospel is Public Knowledge and when someone comes into a Church they should be able to understand what you say. We are not Gnostics there is no secret knowledge that make you into meta-human beings.

November 20, 2020

20th November 2020

6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? 7 Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? 8 For if the bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9 So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. 11 If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me. 12 So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church. 1 Corinthians 14:6-12

Verse 6; So his talk of edifying the Church is Pauls primary concern.  Tongues does not edify unless it comes with an interpretation.  He lays down for key words.

  • Revelation
  • Knowledge
  • Prophecy
  • Teaching

The above are important for Paul because it is through these ways of sharing that the church can be built up.  Paul is very concerned about understanding with the ‘mind’.   You just have to take my word for it for the moment but we will touch on this theme later.

Verse 7 – 9; He talks about music and the importance of the distinctive sounds.  This is a very important example because he is basically saying that tongues on its own cannot build the church because the elements from verse 6 are missing. 

Verse 10; Paul makes the point that there are many languages in the world, and they all have a meaning. I inverted the meaning, but the point is made.

Barbarian basically means a foreigner who cannot speak each other’s language hence there is no understanding between you and the Barbarian.  The context is tongues so his meaning must point to the lack of edification between brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Verse 12; So he is basically saying is that the gifts the believers need to seek have to touch on the list from verse 6;

Revelation; Knowledge; Prophecy; Teaching

The Gospel is no secret knowledge.  It is public knowledge that everyone ought to understand.  Obviously in Corinth there were aesthetic groups and some of these groups would have believed in this secret knowledge that only the initiated could take part in.  This type of knowledge has never been part of the Gospel.  Even with the gift of tongues, Paul I think emphasizes its meaning to you personally before God but apart from interpretation it has no part in the edification of the church. As a spiritual gift it has a place, but it is at the bottom of the list of importance.  Secret knowledge is a ‘no, no!’ because the New Testament is wary about this.  All you need to do is look at Johns Gospel and 1 John to realize why secret knowledge was a danger to the historicity of Christ.  The movement was known as Gnosticism and it took on various shapes and forms. 

Verse 13; Interpretation leads to edification because others understand what has been said.  Interpretation means that it is public knowledge that is open to all so that they can question what has been said

Verse 14; It is not good that the mind doesn’t understand what is going on.

Before moving on to other verses I feel the need to do a Pauline Study on the mind.  The reason for this is that the term for me is loaded with inuendo.  As an example, a simple word such as metanoia in NT Greek literally means a change of mind.  In English meta can be used in various forms such as meta-physics. Beyond the physical realm.

Paul, Chrysostom, Calvin and speaking in tongues

November 10, 2020

Before we dig deeper which I have, let us see what some Bible commentators have said which represent quite a large section of the Church.  Historically in about ad 400 Chrysostom had a few words also to say about the gift.  Have they any words of wisdom for us as it seems to be the case that in various parts of the church anything goes, and I think this is not healthy and comes from a lack of understanding.  It is dangerous I think to read out of the text our culture or to read into the text our culture.  God speaks to us by his Holy Spirit and we must be humble and keen to learn.

Calvin wasn’t negative about tongues, but it had to be in its rightful place.  Prophecy was more important because it edifies the Church.  Tongues only edifies the person who does it and it is speaking to God.  Prophecy is speaking God’s message to the people.  As said earlier, I agree with Margaret. E Thrall that prophecy was more like preaching.  In verse 3 the functions of prophecy were “for edification and exhortation and consolation”.  Tongues doesn’t do any of that.  Tongues was in a sense ecstatic speech and it differed from the miracle of Acts of the Apostles when Peter preached, and many were converted. As Paul said this tongues that was spoken at Corinth was speaking to God. It didn’t touch on edification and exhortation and consolation.

The early church fathers were not negative either but an interesting thought from Chrysostom AD 407;  

“The Corinthians thought that speaking in tongues was a great gift because it was the one which the apostles received first, and with a great display. But this was no reason to think it was the greatest gift of all. The reason the apostles got it first was because it was a sign that they were to go everywhere, preaching the gospel. “ https://catenabible.com/1cor/14

He goes on to say;

“At this point he makes a comparison between the gifts, and lowers that of the tongues, showing it to be neither altogether useless, nor very profitable by itself. For in fact they were greatly puffed up on account of this, because the gift was considered to be a great one. And it was thought great because the Apostles received it first, and with so great display; it was not however therefore to be…”

Tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit but unfortunately for the Corinthians they were too puffed up and only thought about themselves.  Anyone seeking any gift of the Holy Spirit needs to start from humility but unfortunately today many churches prioritise this gift and they are as puffed up as much as the Corinthians.  Order in the church is very important but I get confused when I see ‘new gifts introduced’ which are not found in the Bible.  The Toronto blessing for example its characteristics;

Freshwind band leading worship at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship in 2008

The Toronto Blessing has become synonymous within charismatic Christian circles for terms and actions that include an increased awareness of the God’s love, religious ecstasy, external observances of ecstatic worship, being slain in the Spirit, uncontrollable laughter, emotional and/or physical euphoria, crying, healing from emotional wounds, healing of damaged relationships, and electric waves of the spirit.[1][4] “Holy laughter”, as a result of overwhelming joy, was a hallmark manifestation,[5] and there were also some reports of instances of participants roaring like lions or making other animal noises.[6][7] Leaders and participants present in these services claim that most of these manifestations, including some people roaring like lions, were physical manifestations of the Holy Spirit’s presence and power, while some Pentecostal and charismatic leaders believe these were the counterfeits of the Spirit as is mentioned in the biblical passage of 2 Thessalonians 2:9.[8][9] In December, 1994, Toronto Life Magazine declared TAV as Toronto’s most notable tourist attraction for the year.[10]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_Blessing#Characteristics

The Azuza street phenomenon of 1908 was different and it claimed that this was the tongues found in Scripture and it is possible to argue for it.  The Pentecostal movement was born from this.   However, this phenomenon from Toronto has to perhaps be rejected as unscriptural.  In other words, the experience is not found in the Bible at all.

Paul made the point that there has to be order in the Church.  Has your church thought through these issues?  The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. He is God and He gives good gifts to his children not ‘electric shocks’.  One needs to be careful with the religious ecstasy as well.  Even though Paul himself had such as experience in 2 Corinthians 12 he would not put his name to it;

12 Boasting is necessary, though it is not profitable; but I will go on to visions and revelations [a]of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago—whether in the body I do not know, or out of the body I do not know, God knows—such a man was caught up to the third heaven. And I know how such a man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows— was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak. On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. NASB

Boasting is dangerous and it can puff up the selfish human Spirit.  All I am saying is that we need to be careful before our Holy God and give him the worship that is due to him alone.  None-charismatics will reject both Azuza Street and the so-called Toronto blessing.  I have a Pentecostal background in my faith but unfortunately, I have seen too much greed and unprofessional practices.   I used to enjoy the AOG.  The preaching of the word was central and Bible studies on top with the prayer meetings.  In a lot of these Churches; Where is the Bible? Where is the prayer meeting?  Tongues as a gift shouldn’t be pushed out but it ought not to be rejected either. 

You can also visit my other blog at; https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/

Persue Love second part of 1 Corinthians 4 verses 1 -5

November 8, 2020

Of course, love is more important, so sometimes both sides will disagree with me but remember Love.  Paul is so right for putting that chapter in the middle of this conversation.  The master Pastor at work weaving a tapestry of love by the Holy Spirit.   We can disagree God has given us a mind and that is so important. But let our minds be tempered with God’s grace and his love. 

6th November 2020

So, let us look at the first few verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 14 verses 1 to 5

1  Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men  . 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. 1 Corinthians 14:1-5

We will start from a general reading and then get more particular as we go deeper.  The first assumption we can make is that we ought to pursue love. This is Pauls command but even when he says yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts.  If we then jump to verse 3, we see that that the gift isn’t for any selfish reason but to edify others.  In love there is an I, you, and a them, it is relational. In verse 4 Paul spells it out and talks about the edification of the Church.  This is a long way from the earlier chapters of Corinthians where they were only interested in their own little groups.

When we look at prophecy Paul here in these verses gives it three functions

  1. Edification
  2. Exhortation
  3. Consolation

So, in whatever church even today Pauls advice is really important, and he lays down three principles that ought to be followed in any prophecy.  It is interesting that he didn’t make telling the future one of them.   This is very interesting because sermons in traditional churches would follow these three points and yet in a Charismatic setting the three points above would be a locus for encouraging the believers to come closer to God.  Could the understanding of prophecy in Corinth have a wider scope than the 21st century?  I don’t know the answer to that, but the ancient world certainly has a place for prophecy inside the church and outside of the church.  This was part of the culture and it a historical fact. 

The next general overview of these verse also talks about tongues.  I’m not interested in the question of whether they died out or not, you need to come to your own conclusions about that. 

  1. Tongues edifies the self and prophecy edifies the Church.
  2. Unless tongues have an interpreter

The main point I think is are other believers other than yourself being built up in the faith.  This is what Paul is getting at.  Love shows greater esteem to the other.  Isn’t that so?  It is a fact that Paul was a little upset in the early parts of the letter in which he has told them off. So however, your church works;

  1. through the sermon (A traditional reformed church type)
  2. or prophecy and the sermon (Pentecostal type)
  3. or tongues with interpretation and a sermon (Charismatic type)
  4. Or no sermon at all (I certainly think this is not healthy for a church// new age type)
  5. Sacramental, sermon, tongues with interpretation (Some type of neo- orthodox, for example a local Church of England type)

I’m not making any judgements but as you can see the Church has rich and diverse traditions.  It is not for me to say which is right. When one looks at the varied backgrounds of Christians; How could I ever say this is right or that is right.  We ought to agree on one thing though.  The Bible as Holy Scripture needs to be looked at and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we can get closer to God.

We will look at the Greek text of verses 1 – 5 next time. It just takes a long time to dig into the text so patience is needed!

my other blog is https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/

The Hermeneutic of Love, Introductory note to 1 Corinthians 14 before we start.

November 5, 2020

4th of November 2020

Introductory note to 1 Corinthians 14

As we said earlier, this world of the Corinthians seems very strange to the European mind.  Things are going on and as far as intellect is concerned, we can indeed say we only know in part.  It is so important to try to piece together the background to this letter without demeaning Holy Scripture because that is what it is.  Paul has given us the tools to walk through this maze.  The most important thing he has reminded us is the importance of love;

  1. Here we have a bunch of Christians who couldn’t even agree on a lot of things. 
  2. Paul reminds them of the importance of love.

Love is the glue that holds the church together.  Love is something that can overlook wrongs. Love makes a friend stick to you closer that a brother or sister.  Love makes the other person more esteemed than yourself. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.   Every person has baggage from their old life, but the baggage is not always anti.  Culture is not necessarily a bad thing; it just means things in that culture are done in a particular manner.  It isn’t a sin to come from a culture.  Everyone has a culture even anti-cultures, but I don’t want to go down that road just yet. So, let us remind ourselves where we came from.  In 1 Corinthians we had our Lord show us the power of love, even to die on the cross so that we wouldn’t die of the second death. We then went into 1 Corinthians 11 and we looked at the spiritual gifts.  We found out that perhaps the Corinthians at times could be a little proud.  Let us not get proud either because we are not any different to them.  1 Corinthians 13 was also about love and what love is all about.  Paul spelled it out to the Corinthians! Are we listening to the words of St Paul? Now we are going to embark on chapter 14 and we need to move with humility otherwise we will ‘miss the whole of the heavenly glory’ (Bruce Lee).  I don’t really care if you believe or don’t believe in the gifts but please stay humble before the Holy Spirit. Love should be a driving force not the gifts.  We need to get this the right way around. Isn’t this so?  O Charismatic person is love more important than the gift. Strict Brethren believer; Is love more important than thinking the gifts died out?

The Timeline for Faith, Hope and Love.

November 1, 2020

1st November 2020

Let us begin by reading the following from 1 Corinthians 139-1313.

9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:9-13 NASB

Verse 9

Love is still the theme but there is still a lot to unpack here.  We don’t know everything and because we don’t know everything, we can only say a certain amount. 

Verse 10

Teleios (end, maturation) This partial knowledge we have will one day give way to perfection or maturation, so that we understand everything.  The word hope in verse 13 is not an accident.  Hope is about the future.  Hope will one day be turned into the now and there will be no need for hope anymore. Because we will be there in God’s presence for all eternity.

Verse 11

With this example Paul is showing some type of timeline.  Where on the timeline can we be found as Christians?

Verse 12

Again, he speaks about a mirror.  We don’t know everything yet but hopefully one day we will.  One day we will see Jesus face to face and then we will understand but until then our knowledge is incomplete although the Lord’s knowledge is always complete.

Verse 13

Calvin makes a comment about this verse;

“Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” Calvin. (I haven’t found the source of this quote yet but I found it at; https://biblehub.com/commentaries/1_corinthians/13-13.htm It is very true, love indeed is the second greatest commandment and we are expected to show love to all our neighbours.  It is true also that faith is personal, and hope is personal, although hope can also be understood in a collective manner.  More thinking is needed here.

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The True Lover; 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verses 4 – 8

October 25, 2020

What love is?

Last time we looked at what love is not. Now we will look at what love is.  Before we go deeper, I think it is important to look at the idea of the nature of love.  In the English language love can be used in many different ways and it is not always love.  In the Greek language there are a few words for love

  • Eros, or sexual passion
  • Philia, or deep friendship
  • Storge  (Love of family, ptriotic love) https://conservapedia.com/Storge ()
  • Ludus, or playful love
  • Agape, or love for everyone
  • Pragma, or longstanding love (modern idea)
  • Philautia, or love of the self (Two types; healthy love of self or narcissistic)

Taken from (www.yesmagazine.org/health-happiness/2013/12/28/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life/)

The type of love Paul means is sacrificial love, putting others before yourself.

Let us now read 1 Corinthians 134-8 ;

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6  does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7   bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

So, there could be two types of people the Hater or the True Lover.  We as well as the Corinthians have choices to make.  I have personified the above text negatively and positively and this was the result;

The Hater

  1.  I am impatient and want things now; I am unkind and seriously jealous; I brag a lot and I am full of myself; At times I act disgracefully no matter what people may think;  I am selfish and always want my own way; I am provoked easily and get into verbal or physical fights regularly; If someone takes advantage of me I will make them pay for it; If someone breaks the law and steals something, I think good for them, I wish I could get away with that too.  I am a compulsive liar and if someone crosses me they are going to know about it;  I don’t trust anyone; Hope is for weaklings; if some one does me wrong they are going to pay me back in kind and then some more on top!

The True Lover

  1. I am very patient even when it hurts me and makes me sad; I always show a kind act, if someone is hungry I will buy them a sandwich and put them in contact with the Salvation Army;  If I here something that is a little bit  off I keep quiet about it so that I can help them on the straight and narrow;  I am always doing the right thing and keep on the straight and narrow with humility; If someone does me wrong I will pray for them but I won’t look to pay them back because that isn’t me; When I see someone break the law and steals something then I feel sad and I pray about it; If someone want a fight I try peaceful means and if I do get hit I try to keep my composure even though I know the martial arts well, I understand the importance of wisdom; I like people who are always honest with me even if it means I get hurt sometimes; I will go the extra mile to help people out;  I have a great hope that I will one day be in heaven and I put up with people doing bad things to me on a regular basis although I am no weakling.

The question is; Paul is asking the Corinthians what type of person they want to be. A loving person or an unloving person.  They had their faults at Corinth and the majesty of the second type of person is what Paul wanted the Corinthians to become. The second type of person is only possible through the work of the Holy Spirit.  I personified this love in verses 4 -8 to find out what Paul was really getting at.  One does not need to understand the Greek to get the feel of Pauls meaning.  It is now your call and your choice. 

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When there is no love! 1 Corinthians 13

October 16, 2020

Once the late professor Stanton said to me, “A text out of context is a pretext”. (1 Corinthians in English lectures KCL about 1995).  So, I think a general discussion about the letter is important.  From the beginning of the book we learned that this group of people liked to argue, “I am of Paul, I am of Cephas, I am of Apollos” and so on.  Each group thought they were the best.  It doesn’t surprise me that there is a chapter on love. Having had discussions about moral/ethical issues he moved on to the Last Supper in which Christ showed ultimate love for us by dying on a cross.  He then began talking about Spiritual gifts (gifts from the Holy Spirit). Right smack bang in the middle of these gifts there is a chapter on love.  After the gifts Paul will move on to talk about the resurrection.  Paul is taking the believers of Corinth from their sinful earthy ways to the glorious heights of the Gospel.  He will finish the book by AOB (any other business)

Let us read the first three verses and reflect on it;

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NASB

IfExtreme activityPlus no love = A complete waste
  If   Able to speak divine and human languages.+ no love= Nothing achieved
  If    Prophet who knows everything.+ no love= Nothing achieved
  IfMost powerful faith+ no love= Nothing achieved
If  Giving all wealth away+ no love= Nothing achieved
IfDie for a cause+ no love= Nothing achieved
The Logic of the first three verses

I like the logic in these verses as we see Paul the great master of letter writing takes us to another dimension.  Let us break it down a little

It seems strange to a person born in the 21st century that Paul speaks in this way but let us remember that this was written approximately 2000 years ago.  It was a very different world, and this was the world of Rome.  They had many gods who the people consulted for advice.  Priestesses’ of orders would have claimed to be in contact with the gods.  They spoke in tongues; they believed the gods spoke to them so they could give advice to people how they should live.  They would have had a deep belief in their divine heroes.  Sometimes they would give their wealth away and even be willing to die for their god.  This was commonplace in a lot of Roman cities especially Corinth.  Poseidon’s Temple can still be seen. So why did I come to these conclusions you may ask. 1 Don’t be surprised then that this culture can also be found in the Church but here it has become a sanctified culture.  The believers are no longer under the influence of Paganism but under the Gospel.

A general introduction to the relationship of faith and love before proceeding to 1 Cor 13 proper

October 12, 2020

1 Corinthians chapter 13

Where should I start? God is love and being created in his image should love not be the goal of faith? So, we need to start to open up this glorious chapter.   The chapter is full of beautiful language it seems a long way away from earlier book in which there are all these factions vying for who’s preacher or teacher is the greatest.  Paul pushes in the opposite direction and his love for the Corinthians is to bring them to maturity as Christians. 

31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts.
   And I show you a still more excellent way. 1 Corinthians 12:31

At the end of chapter 12 and halfway through the discussion on gifts we have this excellent verse.   Without this ‘way’ the gifts are no different to the Pagan use of their gifts of the ‘spirit/spirits’.

The way of love! As Bavinck says, ‘the fruit of faith is love’. (Pages 68- 69 of his ethics). 

  1. I think there are different strands we need to look at as a general introduction to the relationship of faith and love and we will do this through Herman Bavinck the great Dutch theologian (What Bavinck says).
  2. Our second stage will be to go through 1 Corinthians 13 and look at especially how he speaks in the negative and those key words.  Perhaps these words will give us a deeper understanding and goal found in Corinthians (What the Greek says).
  3. Our third stage will be to ask the questions; Why this chapter on love bang smack in the middle of the gifts and prophecies; There is a reason (The order and topic of love).
  4. Any other findings (any other Business)
  5. Conclusions

Stage 1

What Herman Bavinck Says

The following quotation is taken from;

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Ethics, created and fallen and converted Humanity, edited by John Bolt.

I hope John Bolt doesn’t mind me using this quote but I seriously would urge anyone to read it who is interested in the relationship of faith and love. 

Page 68

The fruit of faith is love:

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good Conscience

and a sincere faith. (1 Tim. 1:5)

Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar

and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love

of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he

abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:44

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything,

but only faith working through love. (Gal. 5:6)

So also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say,

“You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works,

and I will show you my faith by my works. (James 2:17-18)

Page 69

Similarly, “every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.  

A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good

Fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the

fire” (Matt. 7:17=195 cf. 12:33; Luke 3:9; 6:43- 45). A tree is known by its fruit.

The examples of people given in Scripture also demonstrate the same connection

between faith and deeds: Lydia (Acts 16:14-15); Tabitha (Acts 9:36);

Cornelius (Acts 10:2, 48); Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8); the church at Colossae

(Col. 1:4); the church at Thessalonica (1 Thess. 1:3). New birth brings about

changed lives: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were

sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the

Spirit of our God™ (1 Cor. 6:11). Love is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22); faith

in Christ Jesus results in love for the saints (Eph. 1:15). Paul’s prayer for the

Ephesians is that their new faith may bring forth love, “that according to the

riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through

his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through

faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to

comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height

and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that

you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:16—19; cf. Col. 1:4).

Love is the highest virtue, the bond of perfection: “And above all these put

on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col. 3:14).

So, Scripture teaches that also subjectively religion and morality cohere

intimately and inseparably. The one demonstrates itself and is authenticated

in the other. The one is the fruit of the other.

5. The church of all ages has taught this, including Gregory the Great,

Bernard of Clairvaux, Lactantius, Augustine, Luther, and Calvin.” Zwingli

showed the relation more psychologically and ethically. For Zwingli, even

the good works of the unbelievers were the fruit of faith. In answer to the

question “What are good works?” the Heidelberg Catechism (Q&A 91) gives

this answer: “Only those which are done out of true faith, conform to God’s

law, and are done for God’s glory; and not those based on our own opinion or

human tradition.” And this is what all the Reformed teach. There is no morality

except what proceeds from faith, but also there is no faith without morality.”

The problem is in a lot of theologies is that we get lots about faith but it seems to be disjointed on how we live this life in God’s way.  This is why Bavincks ethics advice is so important because we have a deeper understanding of this faith love rationale.  Galatians 5 6,another book of Paul’s, he says, ‘faith working through love’.  He then gives examples of people who after conversion lives ‘new lives.’  We are not any different!  Then he quotes;

15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, Ephesians 1:15

Then Bavinck quotes;

14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:14

‘put on’ is not in the Greek here but is implied by context.  I think you can see the link between faith and love.  There can be no sacred love without true faith and the outworking of faith is works and love in that order.  Faith is a gift and it comes from A God who is described by John as ‘Love’.  At the end Bavinck says;

There is no morality except what proceeds from faith, but also there is no faith without morality.”

So now we have a deeper understanding of the relationship of faith and love and how it works.  This was important because as we go through this chapter, we have an inkling into Pauls use of faith and love in his other writings.   This is where higher criticism fails: It tries to dissect each text individually and think of the books and letters as separate entities. How Many St Paul’s were there?  There is only one Paul, there are not five or six Pauls. I am stating the obvious, but this needs to be stressed.  The man Paul directed by the Holy Spirit will come to a sanctified understanding of love.