Page:A Brief Bible History (Boyd and Machen, 1922).djvu/125

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The First Epistle to the Corinthians

In I Corinthians, the details of congregational life are more fully discussed than in any other of the Epistles of Paul. Paul had received information about the Corinthian church partly through what was said by the "household of Chloe," who had come to Ephesus from Corinth, and partly by a letter which the Corinthian church had written. The information was not all of a favorable character. In Corinth, a Christian church was in deadly battle with paganism—paganism in thought and paganism in life. But that battle was fought to a victorious conclusion, through the guidance of an inspired apostle, and through the Holy Spirit of God in the hearts of believers.

First Paul dealt in his letter with the parties in the Corinthian church. The Corinthian Christians were in the habit of saying, "I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ," I Cor. 1:12; they seem to have been more interested in the particular form in which the gospel message was delivered than in the message itself. Paul treated the subject in a grand and lofty way. The party spirit in Corinth was merely one manifestation of intellectual pride. In reply, the apostle directed his readers to the true wisdom. And if you would possess that wisdom, he said, give up your quarreling and give up your pride.

Then there was gross sin to be dealt with, and a certain lordly indifference to moral purity. In reply, Paul pointed to the true moral implications of the gospel, and to the law of love which sometimes, as in Paul's own case, causes a Christian man to give up even privileges which might be his by right.

In chs. 12 to 14 of the Epistle, Paul dealt with the supernatural gifts of the Spirit, such as prophecy and speaking with tongues. These gifts were not continued after the Apostolic Age. But it is important for us to know about them, and the principles which Paul used in dealing with them are of permanent validity. The greatest principle was the principle of love. It is in connection with the question of gifts of the Spirit that Paul wrote his wonderful hymn about Christian love. Ch. 13.

Paganism of thought was creeping into the Corinthian church in connection with the doctrine of the resurrection. Paul dealt with this question by appealing to the plain historical evidence for the resurrection of Christ. That fact itself had not been denied in Corinth. It was supported by the testimony not only of Paul himself, but also