Paul's Message to the People of Corinth
Rev. Gene E. Murray, Ph.D.
The wickedness level in Corinth was worse than any other city in the ancient Mediterranean , where pagan alters, Hercules, and a vast array of gods and goddesses were the focus of worship for the citizens of Corinth.
On a hill overlooking the city was the Temple of Aphrodite, a house of prostitution with 1000 or more prostitutes, setting the moral standards of the city to a gutter level. This compares even today with the Gomorrah of the United States, Nevada, with legalized prostitution and virtually any other sin known to man or God.
The Jewish population of Corinth rejected Paul's teachings, so the apostle turned his efforts to the Gentiles and thus the Corinth church was born.
The church struggled with the usual growing pains. Paul moved on the Ephesus but remained in contact with the congregation by letter. These letters are the foundation of Paul's communication with the church members and represent the advice to and the prodding of the members of the Corinth church. They comprise I and II Corinthians of the New Testament.
Members of the Corinth Church tended to be loyal to the teachers and preachers of the message of Christ rather than the message itself.
Some intellectuals of the time thought the story of the cross to be laughable legend and foolish at best. Paul accused these "wise men" of worshiping reason as if it were God.
One of the many sins of the day was revealed by the lack of morality. Men and women alike did not honor the conjugal rights of their spouses. Weak and tempted members of the Corinth church were involved in affairs on a routine basis.
As the congregation matured these same sinful members sensed their sinfulness and confessed before God. Even though the church members looked heavenward for help, they failed at times and had to be forgiven again.
Paul's counsel to the members was to remain celibate if you wish, but because of temptations to immorality, marriage is a good solution. Each man should have his own wife and each wife her own husband and they were to honor the conjugal rights of the other. Couples should stay married and husbands should not divorce wives. If either husbands or wives were married to non Christians , they should remain married and assist their spouse in the conversion to becoming Christians.
Unfortunately the morals and incidence of sin in today's society don't seem to have improved.
Divorce is at an all time high, with fifty percent or more of marriages resulting in divorce. Single parent head of households represent more than half of all family units.
Prostitution frequently makes the headlines with "Johns" contributing equally to the problem. Our justice system is a revolving door and the sinful are back on the street in less than 24 hours.
Paul lamented to the misuse of the Lords Supper by the church of Corinth. Some of the members who came to break bread and drink wine in the name of Jesus, were leaving the house of God in a drunken state. These members had turned the holy feast of the sacraments into a pagan party. "Whoever, therefore eats the bread or drinks from the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord"
Paul continues to lecture, teach and preach to the church of Corinth through his letters concerning the laws of God and how Jewish laws given to Moses have been updated and modified to add Jesus as the central focus of Gods work.
Paul's explanations of Gods work for men to perform, statements of Christian values, the relation of man to God and God to man, plus a variety of other topics are repeated and presented from somewhat different points of view in the hope that the Corinthian church members would better understand the totality of being a Christian.
Paul describes Christian giving in this way:
Giving is the spontaneous response of a concerned people who have first given themselves to God. It is action that is as fervent as desire. It is generated by a compelling desire to be of service. Therefore the gift is always given willingly and never reluctantly or under compulsion. The fruits of it are threefold; The Heavenly Father, the giver and the receiver all reap rich benefits from true Christian giving.
Trying to teach and relate the story of the resurrection , raising from the dead and the meaning and significance of the events in the life and death of Jesus was a very difficult challenge for Paul and the other apostles.
Even today in our better educated and enlightened society, the concept of resurrection is difficult for people to comprehend. In our scientific era of today, people are looking for iron clad scientific proof that resurrection occurred.
Even if the human body of Jesus was found and verified to be valid, the resurrection would continue to have the legions of doubters.
Paul's final closing of his letter in II Corinthians states his philosophy and direction to the church members in simple, yet profound language:
Grow in Christ.
Pay attention to what I have said.
Live in harmony and peace.
And may the God of Love and peace be with you.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
May Gods love and the Holy Spirit's friendship be yours.
These are great words of guidance and blessings for Christians today and forever.