This week we are reading the conclusion of Romans (I think I hear a sigh of relief from some of you) and the introduction to 1 Corinthians. There is actually some overlap in the two books in these readings. Conflict comes up in both churches. Seems like things haven’t changed all that much in the past two millennia. If you are using these notes and questions for group Bible study, you’ll have to narrow down your focus. There is way more material here than a group can possibly cover in one hour.
Verses 1-16 & 21-23
There are several important things to note in this long list of names (26 in total) First, Paul believed in shared ministry. He may have been the leader, but he did not labor alone. Everyone has a role to play in ministry and mission. Second, there are ten women included in the list. Paul allowed women to utilize their gifts and recognized the valuable contributions they made to his ministry. Third, there were some on the list who risked their lives for Paul and the gospel and some who went to prison. Fourth, Paul was a missionary to the Gentiles. Notice that there are many more Greek names than Jewish names on the list. Paul did mission with the people in his mission field not to the people in his mission field. Contextualization matters.
- How are you engaging in ministry with others?
- What role do women play in the ministry of your church?
- When was the last time you took a risk for the Gospel? On behalf of your pastor.
- Who are your Mission partners?
It seems as though Paul just couldn’t end the letter. It’s as if he says, “Oh, yeah. One more thing.” So, he includes to a final warning. Apparently, there are those in the church at Rome who are causing problems because they are not adhering to Paul’s teaching. Paul says the proper response to people who do not adhere to the Gospel is to avoid them, “turn away from them (verse 17).”
- What are the critical criteria by which we are to judge whether or not we are to break fellowship or not (v. 18)?
- How do we discern the difference between an honest disagreement and deceptive error (v. 19)?
- How might you respond to someone who is causing problems before you break fellowship with them? (maybe Matthew 18:15-20 could be a guide)?
Paul provides a very brief overview of his gospel:
- The gospel is a __________________ in the past but has been revealed in the person of ______________________________ (v. 25).
- The Purpose of the Gospel of Jesus is so that all nations will result in ________________ God’s command (v. 26)
- The result of the Gospel Paul preaches is for the ____________________ of God through _________________.
What is the core of your gospel message?
1 Corinthians 1
In verse 2 Paul writes that the Corinthians have been “sanctified in Christ Jesus” and are “saints by calling.” First, notice that sanctification is something that happens to us, not something we do ourselves. To be sanctified is to be cleansed from our sin and to be made holy and acceptable to God. As believers in Jesus, we ARE saints. That identity is at the core of who we are.
- If we are sanctified saints, why do we sin? (see Romans 7:15-20)
Paul describes the result of the sanctification for the Corinthians: grace, enriched in Him in speech and knowledge, message of Christ confirmed in them, lack nothing. For all these things, Paul gives thanks for the Corinthians.
- How is your life different because I Jesus?
- For what are you thankful about what Jesus has done and is doing in your life?
We may have difference of opinion, we may follow different teachers, but Paul urges us to avoid contention. Rather, Paul tells us that we are to keep our focus on Jesus. This reminds me of the quote: “in essential unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things love.” The difficulty throughout the ages has been defining what goes into which category: “essential” or “non-essential.”
- Why is it that Christians have such a hard time keeping Jesus first when they disagree? (see Romans 16:18)
- What Can we do to avoid unnecessary disagreements? (see Colossians 3:12)
Paul describes competing systems of wisdom and strength. On one side, there is God who is all-powerful and wise beyond compare. Yet, the world views the wisdom of God as foolishness and the strength of God as weakness. It is as if worldly wisdom and godly wisdom are a photograph and it’s negative. They do not seem to overlap at all (at least at times). The Corinthians were apparently a fairly unimpressive bunch. They could have been insulted by Paul in verses 26-27. They apparently did not receive what Paul said as an insult because they later wrote to him for more advice (hence, 2 Corinthians). What the Corinthians natural talents, etc. may have been, they were considered weak and unwise by the world. And yet God chose them for righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
- Can you think of instances when worldly wisdom and godly wisdom overlap? Do not overlap? (the ten commandments at a good starting place to start)
- What does verse 25 tells us about God? About ourselves?
- If you are believer, you have been chosen by God for the same reasons the Corinthians have been chosen, despite your perceived weaknesses. How do you respond to that knowledge?
1 Corinthians 2
Paul continues and extends the previous discussion in this section. He says that his preaching is empowered, not by worldly wisdom, but by the Spirit of God. He says that the most important thing that he can know about anyone is whether or not they are Christians (2:2).
- If faith in Christ was Paul’s most important interpersonal priority, what does that say about our interpersonal priorities?
Paul begins by contrasting godly wisdom and worldly wisdom saying that if the rulers in Jesus’ day had known godly wisdom, they would not have crucified Jesus. Paul goes on to say that no one can know the wisdom of God except the Spirit of God. What a depressing thought. EXCEPT, that God has given His Spirit to those of us who believe in Jesus so that we can know God’s wisdom. If we are sensitive to the voice of the Spirit within us, we can manifest godly wisdom in the way we live our lives.
- What can we do to make ourselves more sensitive to or receptive to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives?
This section describes the unfortunate downside of insensitivity to or imperviousness to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. A natural man (or woman) does no accept the godly wisdom the Spirit of God reveals. The person does not have the ability to comprehend godly wisdom. In fact, godly wisdom is frequently considered foolish by non-Christians. Paul concludes verse 16 by posing a question about knowing the mind of God and responds by saying, “we have the mind of Christ.”
- Do you ever have a difficult time accepting or understanding a particular biblical teaching?
- Has there ever been a time when you have a difficult time accepting or understanding a biblical teaching, and then suddenly you came to understand the reasoning or benefits of living by godly wisdom revealed in the Bible?
- Do you possess the mind of Christ? What do you need to do to possess it?
God bless your reading and studying of God’s Word.
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